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Fantastic Nuke

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"That was the secret of secrets," said the Queen Jadis. "It had long been known to the great kings of our race that there was a word which, if spoken with the proper ceremonies, would destroy all living things except the one who spoke it."

In a fantasy setting featuring Fantasy Gun Control, Medieval Stasis, and assorted other reasons why the culture would never develop anything even close to nuclear weaponry, there may be some form of magic attack so powerful and destructive that it is obviously a stand-in for nuclear weapons. This goes double if it leaves behind some sort of corrupting effect that lingers long after the spell itself is cast, a la fallout. Compare to how Automatic Crossbows stand in for guns. Kamehame Hadoken, Wave-Motion Gun, and Person of Mass Destruction are common ways of invoking it. Everything Makes a Mushroom is the usual result.

Elsewhere, this trope is about the deliberate insertion of something nuke-like into a civilization that hasn't even invented the steam engine yet. That isn't to say this trope doesn't ever appear in higher-tech settings, where it will instead be some nuke-like weapon that nonetheless isn't nuclear. Like Fantastic Racism and Fantastic Drug, in that the situation is obviously designed to parallel a real-world situation, either in order to make some point about the issue or simply to allow all the connotations and associations of the real-world situation to easily be applied to the fantastic. In Japanese works, may be related to Nuclear Weapons Taboo.

A Fantastic Nuke may set off a World-Wrecking Wave or precipitate The End of the World as We Know It. It's frequently also an Unholy Nuke based on The Dark Arts. Furthermore, the use of such a weapon may result in Fantastic Fallout: long-lasting and often harmful effects on the land upon which it's used.

In some less subtle cases, there might even be some kind of reference to matter-energy conversion.

And as with Fantastic Racism, we're not using the word "fantastic" to mean "wonderful and great" (i.e., the way the Ninth Doctor uses the word "fantastic"). That would be just plain sick.

Finally, we should note that while it's not just nuclear weapons that create the infamous "mushroom clouds" (any sort of explosion or even rapid combustion can do this in still air; it's just that the more powerful the explosion is the larger the cloud will be, the longer it will last and the less sensitive it is to disruption by wind, so it's primarily associated with very large explosions such as nukes), if something in fiction is described or depicted doing so, it's a good bet the author/creator was attempting to invoke this trope, and it might qualify for Superweapon status.

Compare Climate Change Allegory, a metaphor for another existential threat to humanity.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan, the Colossal Titan has the ability to function as one, weaponizing its transformation on a massive scale. This becomes a major aspect of the strategy during the battle at Shighanshina, with Bertolt transforming over the city and vaporizing a large chunk of it... and anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in the blast. It actually generates a mushroom cloud over the city, for bonus parallels. This turns out to be Marley's standard use for the Colossal Titan, earning it the title "God of Destruction". A flashback shows Bertolt as a child, being delivered to the edge of an enemy stronghold in order to wipe it out. Horrifying as it is, it turns out kicking a hole in the Wall was a subtle usage of the Colossal Titan.
  • Bleach:
    • In the Bount arc, it is revealed that the Soul Society previously used Jokai Crests to produce Reishi. They stopped using them and sealed the rest away under giant concrete blocks after one exploded and destroyed a 1/10 of the Seiretei, but now the Big Bad has absorbed one and plans to release its energy and detonate the others in a chain reaction. It's clear what the inspiration was.
  • Not to mention Soi Fon's bankai, which is pretty much a nuclear missile. She makes an anchor of sorts with a metallic sash to stop herself from being blown away by the blast.
  • Late into Code Geass R2, the Britannian army creates a WMD in the form of the Field Limitary Effective Implosion Armament, or "FLEIJA" for short. The weapon operates by using sakuradite to generate a massive Sphere of Destruction that completely obliterates everything in its area of effect, then suddenly collapsing and creating a powerful vacuum that expands its destructive range far beyond ground zero. When given a FLEIJA launcher, Suzaku originally intended to use it only as a deterrent, but the effects of Lelouch's Geass command for him to live forces him to launch it when his life becomes endangered, destroying most of the Tokyo Settlement in so doing. For bonus points, the weapon was conceptualized by Nina Einstein.
  • Dragon Ball started presented Ki Manipulation as this with the introduction of Piccolo Daimou, who when restored to his youth, reduced a large city to a wasteland that extended beyond visible site during his fight with Goku (the anime filler takes it up a notch by shaking buildings, bursting windows, and lingering on the view of the mushroom cloud). After Raditz's introduction, they were taken to Earth-Shattering Kaboom levels.
  • The Black Cores from Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai, which are basically magic-powered nukes. (created from a rare ore analogous to the plutonium / uranium, nonetheless) On the back-story, one of them was powerful enough to destroy an entire continent.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • The magitek Kill Sat called the Etherion, which fires a burst of magical energy to create a nuclear-level explosion. This blast also grows in power over time, if the initial burst is contained, like a chain reaction.
    • There's also Fairy Law, a spell that can annihilate everything in a radius of miles that the caster considers an enemy. If it's in the middle of a battlefield where you need to be selective about your targets, it's simply an extremely precise Wave-Motion Gun that destroys enemies without hurting allies. However, if the caster were in enemy territory surrounded by enemy units, then it would probably rival Etherion in its capability for taking huge numbers of lives in an instant.
    • Then there's Acnologia's Dragon Roar apparently capable of wiping out an entire island, make a crater on the sea floor, and leave no trace of said island. By the final arc, it turns out he knows another spell called "Eternal Flare", which involves shooting dozens of energy blasts across the sky that can individually wreck towns in their explosions. And he intends to keep firing it until every human on the planet is dead.
  • The Gundam series has Colony Drops as a variation. Because of their massive size, a space colony dropped onto Earth can inflict damage several orders of magnitude greater than contemporary nuclear weapons. One of the most prominent examples of this is "Operation British" from Mobile Suit Gundam, where a dropped colony fell onto southern Australia, obliterating a large part of the continent including the city of Sydney, as well as affecting the entire Earth for several years after.
  • Hunter × Hunter has The Poor Man's Rose, a thinly-veiled miniature nuke that even infects anyone who survives the blast with "poison" that can spread to other people who are exposed to the carrier. Netero carries a miniature version in his chest tied to a Dead Man's Switch when he goes to fight the Chimera Ant King. While the Chimera Ant King kills him and survives the blast with the help of his Royal Guards, he and the Royal Guards eventually succumb to radiation poisoning afterwards.
  • Izetta: The Last Witch has the Germanian Empire developing Hexenium bombs, which use crystallized magical energy to unleash incredible destructive power. A single bomb delivered by magically-guided V2 rocket is supposedly able to destroy a city.
  • Lyrical Nanoha: The Time-Space Administrative Bureau possesses a shipboard weapon, the Arc-En-Ciel, that is described as a "magical distortion cannon" and is far worse than a nuke. Fired at a planetary surface it will consume everything for hundreds of kilometers. Fitting a ship with an Arc-En-Ciel requires extensive background checks and briefing for all crew who have access to the bridge, and firing it requires both two separate verbal commands and a key-based interlock. The Arc might even adhere to the Two-Man Rule; the ship's technical specialist down in the sensor room appears to be the one who powers and arms the weapon, but only someone on the bridge can fire it.
    • Pretty much every spell Hayate is able of throwing out (at least at first) has this same kind of impact. Every time she gets ready to cast them, Mission Control at TSAB needs to authorize it, provide targeting data support, and sounds off alarm messages to order bystanders to evacuate the blast radius ASAP. This is also because, unlike her fellow nuker Nanoha, who needs none of those things, Hayate has terrible aim.
  • In the early days of Macross, the good guys used "reaction weaponry" which were not nuclear weapons in any way shape or form, instead being officially antimatter weapons. Later series, either not having to deal with or outright ignoring the Nuclear Weapons Taboo, have been more open to out-and-out using nuclear weapons as part of the setting (though they've been largely supplanted in-universe by more powerful weapons).
  • The titular Otome of My-Otome are weapons that singlehandedly win wars and determine a country's military strength. In the one major conflict since their creation, an entire country was wiped out, the survivors and their children suffering from debilitating illnesses. The underlying technology, if used peacefully, would improve the lives of millions. In the OVA, the various nations get together for Strategic Otome Limitation Talks (S.O.L.T.). And they're all entirely non-nuclear, nanomachine-powered, magical-girl maids.
  • In Naruto, the Bijuu and Jinchuuriki, giant monsters made out of chakra and humans with the things sealed within their bodies, are treated like nuclear weapons by the ninja villages that don't simply shun and fear them. The First Hokage, the guy that at one point had control of them all, even gave most of the bijuu away to other villages to prevent them from shifting the tide of war too heavily and help grant stability. Pain and his organization have been kidnapping all the Jinchuuriki, intending to extract their bijuu and use them to rapidly start and stop wars to convince the other nations of their power as part of their plan to Take Over the World. However, his real plan turns out to be to create a superweapon capable of wiping out entire countries instantly, available to any country who's will to pay, and likely to be used if one side doesn't have ninja. After being used once he thinks people will stop war altogether out of fear, until someone uses it again, repeating the cycle.
    • In Chapter 572, a Tailed Beast Bomb clash between Kurama and 5 other tailed beasts creates a fireball that is about 50 times the diameter of a normal Bijuu-Dama explosion. Suddenly that "wiping out an entire country" idea sounds plausible. Kurama one-ups it by having Hachibi join in and creating a Combined Tailed Beast Bomb many times their size in a vain attempt to stop the Juubi's revival in 609. The resulting explosion could be seen from all the battlefields in the war.
    • Following Pain's death, Tobi instead wants to use their chakra to fuel Mass Hypnosis.
    • A special material in the second movie has the capabilities of producing infinite free energy, and served as the foundation of an ancient civilization, that was gone since then. In the climax, the mines where this material is found begin to collapse, threatening to wipe out the entire continent in one giant explosion. Hmm.
    • In Chapter 613 the Ten-Tails completely revives and is very reminiscent of a familiar mobile nuke launcher. In fact, the first thing it does is launch a couple of hyper-Tailed Beast Bombs and destroy a couple of cities. Its range is so impressive some attacks take a few minutes to hit. Unlike a normal Tailed Beast Bomb, the Ten-Tails' bombs explode in a conical, rather than spherical, shape and can be seen the next country over.
      • The Ten-Tails, in frustration and having gathered more chakra, prepares a Tailed Beast Bomb similar to the aforementioned bombs, but as large as itself. Its explosion engulfs an entire sea.
    • Pain himself has a jutsu that creates a small gravitation pull towards everything in area that qualifies, given that he destroy Konoha with it. The real Madara also has one in the form a jutsu that calls in a gigantic meteor that's so big he considered it impractical to use in life because he had no way of making sure that he himself wasn't killed by it.
  • The god warriors and their main weapon in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, as well as the method of warfare of provoking an Ohmu stampede against enemy cities.
    • Almost subverted in the manga, which makes clear that the god warriors do emit plenty of harmful radiation.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi has Nagi reference this concept during the war when he mentioned his own world (earth) developing 'a very powerful bomb' that would end all wars. He said there were spells that were even more powerful available to mages.
    • Three examples are the 'High Ancient' (Greek) incantations: Khilipl Astrape (Thousand Thunderbolts), Kosmike Katasrophe (End of the World), and Ourania Phlogosis (Burning Sky). Their power seems to depend on the mage casting it, though.
      • Although never stated as 'Ultimate Incantation' like the previous three (and rendered in Latin), Terra Findens (Tearing Earth) is for all the intents and purposes their earth elemental equivalent.
    • Of course, Natsumi repeatedly refers to Jack Rakan as "the Human Atomic Bomb". Given his ridiculous amount of power, this is not entirely inaccurate.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has the N2 weapons (short for Non-Nuclear), explosive ordinance with power equivalent to nuclear weapons, but without the poisonous radiation left behind. While impressive in their destructive prowess (with their massive columns of flames from their detonations), against the Angels, the best one can hope to achieve is to slow them down.
  • One Piece has some major Does This Remind You of Anything? whenever it refers to the Buster Call or the ancient weapon Pluton.
    • The movie One Piece Film: Z has the Dyna Stones, which explode when exposed to oxygen. The biggest ones are the size of a football, and a single one of them can destroy an entire island.
    • The Warlord of the Sea Bartholomew Kuma can create his own mini-nuke with his "Ursus Shock" attack. Using his Paw-Paw Fruit powers, he can compress air pressure into a tiny sphere. After releasing the sphere, the air rapidly expands, creating a concussive blast the size of an island.
  • Mami Tomoe from Puella Magi Madoka Magica can create guns of any size using her ribbon magic, but on two occasions, her guns fire shots that explode like a nuke.
  • Re:CREATORS has Mamika Kirameki's Magical Splash Flare that she unleashes on Altair when the latter won't desist from her Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum.
  • The titular aircraft of Simoun possess extremely destructive capabilities, which are triggered by executing "Ri Maajons" — elaborate patterns in the sky usually performed in complex flight formations. Some Ri Maajons have the power to destroy several thousands of enemy aircraft and tanks in one go. That the Simoun are intended for use in religious services and are thus piloted by priestesses is rather ironic.
  • In Trigun, the Angel Arms and (manga only) photon-ion cannon are often seen by fans as analogous to nuclear weapons in their effects and their power. As an exception, references to actual atomic bombs are made in the final chapters of the manga. The special reload of this weapon in Doom the Roguelike is a nuclear blast.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne: Toward the end of the series, one country drops a Magitek nuke. The funny thing is that it was actually supposed to grant wishes. Of course, since there was a war on, what most people happened to be wishing for at that particular moment was for somebody else to be dead.

    Comic Books 
  • Monstress: The Lord Doctor creates a bomb fueled by infernal energies drained from a captive Monstrum, which upon detonation is capable of devastating a city, even causing a mushroom cloud in the process. In Issue #24, he uses one to destroy Aurum, in a False Flag Operation to kickstart a war between the Federation and the Arcanics.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): During Rucka's run the partially magical power source behind the Purple Ray is revealed to be dangerous and easily altered to become a weapon of mass destruction, which is the reason the Amazons refuse to hand the tech over to outside governments. At the end of the run, Io is forced to construct such a weapon due to the OMAC attack on Themyscira, even though she says it is a perversion of everything the Amazons stand for.

    Fan Works 
  • In Fallout: Equestria and its derived works, there are constant references to the "megaspells" which destroyed the cities and ravaged the landscape. Some were missiles, some were bombs. As it turns out, the megaspells were not actually inherently destructive. They were merely frameworks to boost any normal spell to epic levels; Fluttershy originally filled the megaspells with healing and protection spells, then gave the designs to the enemy as a gesture of peace. Unfortunately, everyone else immediately realized there was nothing stopping them from using the megaspells to boost destructive spells to epic levels. Most of the world-ending megaspells were balefire bombs, a clear analogue to nuclear weapons, but some of the worst (like the one that hit Canterlot) were more subtle horrors.
  • The Palaververse: In the backstory of The Motion of the Stars, the Equestria-Capra war ended with the mutual destruction of the two nations with an exchange of "megaspells" that included storms of fire, ice, razor wind, choking darkness, and crystals.
  • Under the Northern Lights: Twilight Sparkle stops a bomb-throwing assassin who seems to be destroyed by his own bomb when Twilight traps him and the bomb within a forcefield. Media and gossip make this into a "balefire bomb" — to Twilight's ire, because balefire bombs are just theoretical weapons, no assassin is stupid enough to use a nuke-equivalent to kill someone, and nopony could contain a balefire blast like that.
  • Kid Icarus Uprising 2: Hades Revenge manages to avert this trope, and play it straight in two different instances. Averted with the reset bombs from the source material, which are referred to as "nuclears", and treated as actual nukes. Later, a straight example of this troupe is used, known as the Commculear, which is said to be a nuke that doesn't kill those hit, but instead, it brainwashes those hit into becoming communists.
  • Ashes of the Past treats Victini's V-Generate like this, as it was used to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the fanfic world's history.
  • Sergey Yurchenko's works:
    • Harry Potter/Warhammer 40k crossover fanfiction School Daemon: the eponymous daemon Morion tells the inner circle members of the Tzeench's coven he founded that while making and using a nuke takes a lot of muggles, the magical equivalent, e.g. the rite that sunk Atlantis, can be performed by a single wizard.
    • Neon Genesis Evangelion/Warhammer 40k crossover Paths of Black Crystal: the Exterminatus rite used by the Empire's High Inquisitors. This magical version works on a much smaller scale, though, just about covering a single city, and can be survived given a rare chain of events.
  • The Last Son features the Kryptonian Nova Javelins. To illustrate, Superman used a hand-held one to destroy the entire Lemurian fleet of Orca ships with a single shot, and the impact shook the sea hard enough to be felt in the USA. Later General Zod fires one at North Korea when they try to destroy Battlestation Sentrius with a salvo of nukes.
  • Blessed with a Hero's Heart: Megumin has her canon Explosion spell. After Izuku teaches her nuclear physics, she develops Big Bang, which is an version of Explosion (the first time she uses it, she vaporizes Beldia's fortress and the cliff it stood on) at a third of the mana cost.

    Films — Animation 
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Atlantis attempted to use the power of their power crystal as a weapon, but it turned out to be too powerful to control and caused a giant explosion that caused Atlantis to sink into an undersea cavern.
  • In Hayao Miyazaki's film Castle in the Sky, the floating island of Laputa has the power to launch some sort of energy weapon that results in an explosion of nuclear scale.
  • Over the Hedge features one made of Doritos cheese dust.
  • The climax of The Super Mario Bros. Movie has Bowser launching a Bomber Bill (Banzai Bill) to destroy the Mushroom Kingdom. The explosion is redirected into a Warp Pipe, which ends up leveling an area of Brooklyn and warping Mushroom Kingdom elements and people into it.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the Czech film Císařův pekař — Pekařův císař the golem is an obvious allegory for nuclear power. (The villains attempt to use the golem to rule the world and get killed in the process, while the hero goes to use it for the good of all.)
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Doomsday is a living weapon of mass destruction. He is capable of generating dome-shaped explosions of energy that can level entire city blocks.
    • In Zack Snyder's Justice League, the Unity of the Mother Boxes can produce the Apokoliptian equivalent of a nuke. The resulting blast is powerful enough to disintegrate everything in its path even including a demigoddess (Diana) and a supercharged-biology Kryptonian (Superman). Only The Flash withstands it, by making himself intangible with the Speed Force. He then runs beyond the speed of light to Time Travel and save the League from the blast.
  • Godzilla:
    • Godzilla himself was meant as a stand-in for the destructive effects of nuclear weapons, and indeed his impact on Tokyo mirrors that of the devastation and fallout of an atomic bomb.
    • The first Godzilla movie also introduced the Oxygen Destroyer, a chemical weapon which its creator feared could become a superweapon worse than a nuke and is one of the only manmade devices in the entire franchise that has ever explicitly and completely killed Godzilla for good.
  • Ready Player One has the Cataclyst, a weapon capable of wiping out all terrain, NPCs, characters, and buildings in whichever OASIS sector its detonated in.
  • Star Wars: Rogue One depicts the infamous planet-shattering Death Star as such. Of course, it's capable of causing an Earth-Shattering Kaboom at whatever it's fired at, but as a test run, The Empire uses a mere fraction of its power to "only" destroy the city of Jedha. The resulting explosion would put most real nukes to shame, being very visible from orbit.

  • In the Age of Unreason series, France uses alchemical Magitek, building on the theory of creating resonance between two objects to make them attract, originally used to make target-seeking cannonballs, to attract an asteroid to London, creating the equivalent of a nuclear winter. This "Newton's Cannon" gives name to one of the books in the series.
  • The Cataclysm in An Outcast in Another World was a magic spell that essentially launched hundreds of magical nukes across the continent. The results weren’t pretty.
  • In The Arts of Dark and Light, the Witchkings' magic was powerful enough to qualify as this, and at least some of its applications were also somewhat similar to nuclear weapons in their effects (such as bluish-hot magical fire burning large areas to microscopic dust). It is said that in their wars, forests, cities, and even mountains were torn down by their wrath. The elves have a similar superweapon spell, which may be a literal nuke with a magic initiator charge. In the current day, The Empire Savondir doesn't, as yet, but there are hints that their state wizards are trying to replicate either or both of the processes.
  • The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga: The Great Fire, a ribbon of green fire from the skies sent by Merovenian mages that destroys the manors of the nobles of Donderath, including Quillarth Castle, the fortress of King Merrill, killing most of them. It's left as a Riddle for the Ages whether the mages who sent the Great Fire secretly intended to destroy tame hasithara magic by killing off the remaining Lords of the Blood, causing Apocalypse How, or if it was an unforeseen consequence of something done for purely military reasons.
  • In John Moore's Bad Prince Charlie, two neighboring kingdoms are both trying to find a "Weapon of Mass Magical Destruction" left behind by a previous king.
  • In Steampunk sci-fantasy Burton & Swinburne Series, the 19th century still isn't capable of making a nuclear bomb. But in the world war, the eugencists were able to selectively breed a colossal Destroying Angel toadstool, when this Destroying Angel blows up its poisonous spores end up killing so much of the remaining world's population. Prompting the heroes to go back in time and extensively rewrite history.
  • The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss portrays a Lensman Arms Race over a supremely Silly Reason for War, which leads to the development of "Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroos," objects about the size of a pea that can wipe out the entire country where they are dropped. Unluckily, the story ends with both sides having a Boomeroo and poised to drop it on the other, leaving the possibility for Mutually Assured Destruction unresolved.
  • The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump by Harry Turtledove has occasional mentions of military "megasalamanders", although details are never given.
  • In Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber anybody who passed through the Logrus — the maze-avatar of pure Chaos — and received sufficient training in magic is able to summon raw Chaos to permanently destroy everything in the designated area. The destruction can be localized, but there seems to be no upper limit on the area size. The protagonist Merlin explicitly compares this to calling in a nuclear strike, since Chaos obliterates everything in the area, even evidence or things that are of interest, and there's no way to stop it. Only to escape. A variation of the spell surrounds the caster with a slowly advancing wall of Chaos. Merlin cast it twice: once by accident, once to threaten an enemy.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Deplorable Word is a magic spell that destroys all life in the world save that of the person who speaks it. We see a world where it was used in The Magician's Nephew, complete with not-so-subtle allusions to nuclear weaponry.
  • The "Ritual of Desecration" in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant certainly seems to be rather nuke-like.
  • Making a volcano erupt in the Codex Alera series amounts to this. The series has several Persons of Mass Destruction, including one purely evil villain and one who's always ready to Shoot the Dog, so volcanoes get used as weapons in the series.
    • There's also Garados, the Great Fury in the Calderon Valley. Basically a giant Titan sleeping in the valley who doesn't like trespassers. And Tavi wakes it up in order to damage the Vord Queen.
  • Harry Turtledove's Darkness Series has a magic nuke in form of the unnamed product of the Naantali Project, a Kuusaman mega-spell that utilizes a link between the laws of similarity and contagion. It makes use of animals (or, theoretically, people...) that are grandparents and grandchildren of each other, pushing the elder one forward in time and the younger one back in order to create a massively destructive discharge of sorcerous energy that can be directed anywhere on a map.
  • In Zelazny's series Dilvish, the Damned, Dilvish escaped from hell with the knowledge of several highly destructive dark spells. Unfortunately they are way too powerful and devastate an area as large as a city. He refrains from using them most of the time for much the same reasons.
  • Discworld: Pratchett was in fact formerly a scientific journalist specializing in nuclear physics, so his books are full of in-jokes about the subject.
    • The civil war that breaks out between the wizards in Sourcery (as well as the earlier Mage Wars) has clear allusions to a nuclear war, though we don't get to see the truly powerful spells close up. There are areas mentioned repeatedly throughout the series but never shown where fallout from spells like this in ancient wizard conflicts make them uninhabitable. Finally, modern wizards essentially see it as their job to learn how to do magic and then never to do it, or at least not any of the seriously reality-warping stuff, aware of the Mutually Assured Destruction that Mage Wars had always ultimately caused.
    • There's a reference to the Mage Wars in Going Postal which makes this more explicit:
      Any ignorant fool can fail to turn someone else into a frog. You have to be clever to refrain from doing it when you knew how easy it was. There were places in the world commemorating those times when wizards hadn't been quite as clever as that, and on many of them, the grass would never grow again.
    • In Monstrous Regiment, Sam Vimes makes explicit reference to the "first use of magic" in a war... a clear parallel with nuclear weapons.
    • Pratchett is quite fond of using the adjective "thaumaturgical" in relation to the Mage Wars, which does the double duty of being Disc science's equivalent of the word "atomic" and bearing a cosmetic similarity to "thermonuclear".
    • In Reaper Man we get to finally see one up close, in the form of three powerful spells cast together at once. It is powerful enough to destroy a giant living shopping mall, causing it to explode and implode at the same time.
    • The Science of Discworld involves the magical equivalent of a nuclear reactor, designed largely from information contained in scrolls found in a cave in a dangerously magical area (everyone who went there died of rare, magically induced diseases) in the form of a bowl-shaped valley surrounded by rings of mountains. When the thing begins to overload, Ponder Stibbons says he thinks that the reactor at that site probably was shut down in this state, so they need to come up with a way to bleed off the magic FAST. (The implication is that the original example may have been a bizarre natural phenomenon similar to the real-world Oklo Reactor).
    • And inverted in Jingo, where it's implied that Leonard of Quirm has designed a bonafide nuclear bomb (the materials it's made from "don't like being squeezed. So they go bang. With extreme alacrity.") This is one of the many reasons he's kept locked up.
    • The Last Hero gives us Agatean Thunder Clay. Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde fill a fifty-pound keg with the stuff and plan to deliver it to the gods. Such an explosion would not only blow up Cori Celesti but temporarily erase the Discworld's magic field. And with no magic, there would be no Discworld.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Inverted in that the reason for The Masquerade is that involving vanilla mortals into a supernatural conflict is likened to using nukes — in part because humans have regular old nukes, in fact. The other reasons are, in order, that the sheer force of numbers means that whoever gets the humans on their side basically wins, and that pretty much the entirety of human folklore consists of a long how-to guide on dealing with the supernatural (e.g. In-Universe, Bram Stoker wrote Dracula as a manual for killing Black Court vampires).
    • The closest thing TDF has to a straight example is the Darkhallow ritual, the most potent necromantic spell known, which sucks an area the size of a large city dry of all living and undead energy for many miles around the caster. It should be noted that this is only a set-up condition of the spell, the purpose of which is actually to make the caster a god and need a lot of energy to do this.
    • The Bloodline Curse that Changes revolves around. Take a member of a bloodline, the younger the better, and perform a powerful ritual to kill every living relative they're descended from. In theory, this would only kill a handful of people, but when Harry shoves the most recently changed vampire of the Red Court in place of the intended victim it annihilates an entire subspecies of vampire in one shot.
    • Another, smaller, example is the Death Curse, which is the ultimate Taking You with Me attack, in which a Wizard uses all their magic and all the energy keeping them going in one go. The effects can vary based on power and, more importantly, based on intent — it can either be immediate and destructive, like turning a city block to glass (and probably more, in the case of the Senior Council), or, perhaps, more long term, like Harry's mother's, which crippled Lord Raith by preventing him from feeding.
    • Later in the series one more becomes known: the island of Demonreach, a magical prison containing a truly incredible amount of nasties. The magical equivalent of body heat that these prisoners give off is so powerful that it's created its own Leyline, and, in order to prevent them from ever getting free, the prison has a failsafe in case of a breakout. Said failsafe would reduce the majority of the middle of North America to a crater, and is still stated as being a method to slow them down, not eliminate them entirely.
    • Ethniu the Last Titan, Big Bad of Peace Talks and Battle Ground is armed with the Eye of Balor, an artificial eye of great mystical power. How strong, you ask? As a show of force, Ethniu casts a hex from it which fries everything electrical in the Chicago area, and that's it on a low power setting; according to Dresden, legends say when it's used at full power, it can destroy armies and devastate cities. When she wields it during the ensuing Battle of Chicago, it collapses skyscrapers in a single blast.
  • Empire of the East: Multiple layers. Exaggerated because this story world was transformed from magicless(scientific) to magic by "The Great Change", a world-changing blast. Zig Zagged in that this story world's demons are actual nuclear explosions transformed into malevolent beings during "The Great Change" (tech-to-magic). Inverted when Ardneh reverses "The Great Change" transforming magic items back into scientific technology.
  • When Louise uses Void Magic for the first time in The Familiar of Zero, the result is a flash of blinding light and then everything belonging to the enemy (that's what we see at least) spontaneously catches fire.
  • The Faraway Paladin: The Word of Entity Obliteration is a mighty spell of destruction that usually has to be cast by an entire team of mages. Gus ambushes the Echo of Stagnate with it in volume 1, since he's just so powerful and skilled of a mage that he's able to triple-cast: i.e. speak and scribe with his fingers a total of three different lines of Words simultaneously. Will is able to copy this tactic and tries it against the dragon Valacirca, who shapeshifts into wind to evade it.
  • The First Law trilogy focuses around the Wizard Bayaz' quest to obtain an ancient, forbidden artifact in order to defend The Union against his rival, Khalul. The artifact in question is a source of great power, forbidden from use for its' destructive potency, and using it causes people to vomit and makes their hair fall out. Does This Remind You of Anything??
  • The Gods Are Bastards used these to wipe out the orcs, ruining the entire continent and killing their god. It destroyed the Empire that used them as civil war erupted. After the nation was pieced back together, a few generations later the empress was trying it again. Her advisers stopped her.
  • In The Gone-Away World, things are portrayed as made by two parts — the physical matter that constitutes them, and the information about what the matter is supposed to be. At some point in the recent past humanity has created Go-Away Bombs, mass-destruction warheads that remove the information while leaving matter intact, and promptly waged planetary conflict with them. As a result, most of the world is drowning in Stuff — nondescript dust-like matter without information, which will latch on the first source of such information it can find in order to represent itself in reality. It just so happens that the most florid source of such information is human thought, and since most people who venture in Stuff-rich areas are hoping desperately it doesn't shape itself into hideous monsters, well...
  • Heralds of Valdemar: Powerful mages in this series are akin to walking nuclear weapons, and treated as such.
    • In the backstory of the series proper, a war was fought between rival Great Mages, aptly termed the Mage Wars. It culminated in the total and near-simultaneous destruction of both enemies, along with their respective strongholds, which were filled with magical artifacts. The resulting Cataclysm gouged vast craters and reshaped the entire continent, an event so powerful that it echoed through time to recur three thousand years later.
    • To a lesser extent, a sufficiently powerful mage can perform a form of Heroic Sacrifice called a Final Strike, expending all their magical power and any they can draw from their surroundings in a massive detonation. When Vanyel did this, he scoured a mountain pass down to bedrock and destroyed an entire invading army. In life, Vanyel was explicitly stated to be capable of leveling cities all by himself.
  • Sufficiently skilled mages in the Inheritance Cycle can unmake their own bodies down to a subatomic level by uttering "Waíse neiat" (be not in the Ancient language), releasing an atomic blast from the ensuing fission reaction. This is how both the Rider Thuviel and King Galbatorix attempted a Taking You with Me — successfully in the former case, which additionally blighted the surrounding landscape with fallout so the enemy wouldn't discover the Vault of Souls. Angela can apparently also do it but vows not to unless there is absolutely no other option to win.
  • The Irregular at Magic High School: "Strategic-class" magicians are People of Mass Destruction who can cast spells with extremely destructive effects — enough to serve as deterrents against war and/or invasion towards other nations. Examples include Angelina Sirius's 'Heavy Metal Burst',note  Itsuwa Mio's 'Abyss'note  and Shiba Tatsuya's 'Material Burst'note .
  • KonoSuba: The Explosion spell is both the most powerful spell in the Fire elemental school and widely regarded as the single most powerful attack spell known to humanity. It conjures a literally nuke-sized burst of fire that can incinerate strong foes or decimate swathes of lesser foes. Megumin is very proud of being able to cast it, and several times Kazuma directs her to use it to destroy armies or enemies thought literally invincible. Unfortunately, she absolutely refuses to learn any other spells, and because she's put all her points into Explosion damage and casting speed (instead of, say, magic capacity or efficiency), she collapses every time she uses it, and because of her Explosion fetish, she tends to pop it off at the first opportunity. Meaning she is completely useless unless Kazuma directs her very carefully.
  • In "The Last Page" by Anthony Huso, we have a solvitriol bomb. Its heart contains a soul split in half, with each piece kept in a separate bottle. The bomb's mechanism keeps them at distance because if they get closer to each other than a sixteenth of an inch, the attracting force grows so big that it literally rips the souls out of people in range. Caliph ends up using some of those in his final battle against Saergaeth, in a form of artillery shells. A single hit of such shell kills the entire crew of an airship. Not to mention the effects of Gru-ner Shie's hitting Fallow Down, which evaporates a few square kilometers of town, leaving only slag that emits toxic gas.
  • In Lawrence Watt-Evans' The Legends of Ethshar novels:
    • There is a simple spell that can permanently negate magic within a huge volume. This is a bad thing in a world that heavily depends on magic and is one of the reasons that no-one makes flying castles anymore. Naturally, the wizards have gone to great lengths to expunge knowledge of it from the world.
    • There is also The Seething Death, which summons a single drop of chaos in a golden thimble. Once it gets poured out, it grows and spreads, consuming everything it touches. It is believed that, left unchecked, it would destroy the world. It's a pity that the counter spell has been lost.
  • The Andadt from The Long Price Quartet make nukes seem like pop-guns. The Andat "Sightless" blinds the entire world, right down to the insects.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Tolkien got tired of people viewing the One Ring as an allegory for nuclear weapons. He was fond of noting that if the Ring was an allegory for the Bomb, Saruman wouldn't have tried to steal but, instead would have tried to develop his own, and the Alliance would have used the Ring against Sauron. Although, strictly speaking, Saruman DID create his own Ring, although it was never used as more than an indication of how mad he had become.
  • The Lost Metal has the harmonium-trellium bombs, which are almost an exact parallel to Real Life nuclear weapons. The device works by using a needle of trellium to split superheated harmonium into its two component godmetals. As with nuclear fission, this division causes a mass-energy conversion, releasing a blast far more powerful than any conventional bomb. It also requires a large amount of energy and precise timing to initiate the reaction, and the device can be effectively disarmed by detonating the harmonium with water (which still causes an explosion, but a much smaller one). About the only difference is that the detonation doesn't produce any kind of toxic fallout (instead producing trace amounts of atium).
  • In The Malazan Book of the Fallen, this is the origin story of the Crippled God. A cabal of wizards decided that High King Kallor needed to die, and so used their magic to ensnare a god, which they then launched at Kallor's head. The God's impact destroyed an entire continent, devastated the God's very being, and failed to kill Kallor.
  • In Simon R Green's Nightside series, a soulbomb. Basically, the user's own soul is converted into a magical nuke that can be detonated at any time by the wielder, obliterating the soul and denying it to both Heaven and Hell. The explosion can level the Mammon Emporium, a Bigger on the Inside mall that spans tens, if not hundreds of miles.
  • China Miéville's Perdido Street Station makes mention of Suroch, an area of the world that's been... twisted after New Crobuzon dropped a "torque-bomb" on it. Torque... twists things. That's what it means in physics, and that's definitely what one would call the results. The descriptions of Suroch try to avoid saying anything explicit. Apparently it was part nuke, part key to the gates of Hell. It can even be considered to be worse than Hell because demons are scared of the things that have crawled out of there.
    • "Colourbombs" in the same setting are implied to be less wrong but even more destructive; Mieville's influences being what they are, this latter might bear some relation to H. P. Lovecraft's short story "The Colour Out of Space". Colourbombs were used to cover up whatever the Torque did to Suroch. Basically, it was better to blanket nuke the area than try to explain the effects of torque to the populace of New Crobuzon.
    • The city-killer (aka Hecatomb) in Iron Council is beyond even colourbombs (another kind of fantastic nuke) for sheer alien annihilation. It ERASES CITIES. And casts ripples of destruction BACKWARDS IN TIME.
  • In the fourth book of Saga of Recluce, the heroes use a magical Wave-Motion Gun to annihilate the stronghold of the chaos mages. In the same book, they toy with the idea of building an actual nuke, before throwing out the idea and never speaking of it again.
  • In The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Tanya Degurechaffe uses a "defusive magical explosion" spell in the battle that earned her "The Devil of the Rhine". Said spell generates a massive explosion that instantly kills anyone caught in the blast, and kills even more victims over time due to oxygen deprivation from the resultant vacuum, or poisoning by carbon monoxide given off by the explosion.
  • Schooled in Magic: Emily finds out how to create a spell that splits an atom using magic, creating a nuclear blast. She uses it against necromancers, but keeps the spell secret so other people won't misuse this.
  • Scrapped Princess has the Ginnungagap, a "Long Ranged Strategic Class Spell", one of a whole class of nuke spells.
  • Second Apocalypse: Earwa is largely locked in a Medieval Stasis, but the Inchoroi, a race of star-traveling aliens, have the Tekne, advanced science that created their sky-ark and various weapons. When fighting against an Inchoroi army of weapon races, Kellhus discovers a "golden coffer" in Dagliash, set there as a trap. It even has a digital countdown, which bystanders see as animated symbols of light. It explodes in a mushroom cloud, killing a large portion of the army and inflicting radiation poisoning on another large portion.
  • In Arthur C. Clarke's story "Second Dawn", an alien civilization with great psychic power and limited physical manipulation abilities discovers a way to induce a psychic chain reaction to mind-wipe large numbers of enemies, leading to fears that the next war will destroy their civilization. During the story, they discover another sentient race with more nimble hands and start down the path toward discovering physical technologies. The story ends with the discovery of an odd glowing rock that burns and sickens anyone who carries it too long, implying that they will ultimately discover how to build actual nukes.
  • Shadow of the Conqueror,
  • In the Silver Tide by Michael Tod, the real reason given for why Grey Squirrels so rapidly displaced Reds in Britain in the 1960s is that as they can count in binary they can use numerology to tap into "stone power", creating squares that give of waves of energy, making anyone inside nauseous with small squares (sixteen stones) or killing everything inside with larger squares (4096 stones), disrupting ley-lines with its power, and sending waves of nausea and evil across the landscape. When one of the Red’s learns to count (base eight, non-binary), they retaliate with numerology-powered Beam Spam.
  • Sky Jumpers had "Green Bombs" which were launched forty years ago. The effects they had on the environment include...
    • Creating new plants.
    • Altering the properties of metals.
    • Changing weather patterns.
    • Creating a deadly gas called "Bomb's Breath". Breathing it in results in near-instantaneous death.
    • Destroying the ability to create a stable magnet.
  • Slayers quite famously has four: the most iconic is the Black Magic spell "Dragon Slave", and the most famous is the scaled-up super-version, the "Giga Slave" — which taps into the power of the Lord of Nightmares and thusly will obliterate the entire universe if the caster loses control of it, something that makes its creator seal it away so it can never be used again. Both of the aforementioned are also Unholy Nukes There's also the Fire Shamanism spell "Blast Bomb", which is even more destructive than Dragon Slave, and the Astral Shamanism spell "Ra Tilt", which is equivalent in power to Dragon Slave but only targets astral bodies.
    • The Dragon Slave has acquired a bit of No Endor Holocaust due to use in Contractual Gags from Character Exaggeration. This makes it all the more noticeable when the drama kicks in and ground-level imagery recalling atomic bomb test footage is suddenly turned way, way up.
    • Ra Tilt and Blast Bomb, on the other hand, never suffer from this effect. Blast Bomb is more or less novel-exclusive, only appearing in the anime once in a scene that contained no comical exaggerations, and the Blast Bomb is noted in-universe mostly for being so mana-expensive that nobody since Lei Magnus has had the bucket capacity to actually cast it. Ra Tilt is an astral spell with no physical effects, so it's less funny and usually subjected to the Worf Effect, since it's supposed to be the most powerful anti-demon spell in Astral Shamanism's arsenal, making it more impressive when the latest demonic threat No Sells it.
  • The mana bomb in The Sleeping Dragon by Jonny Nexus is a bomb that creates a self-sustaining feedback loop of meta-spells casting meta-spells until it sucks up all the mana in the area — which, in a Magitek universe, has the same result as an EMP — before releasing it all in a massive burst of energy and twisted space-time. The problem is in the words "self-sustaining"; the wizard whose theories inspired the bomb, but who was not involved in its development, realises that after the explosion, the energy drain will keep going until it's drained all the mana in the world.
  • Space Academy: SKAMMs (“Sun Killers”) serve as this both in-universe and as a Does This Remind You of Anything?? example. Notably, they’ve actually been used once already in-setting and left much of the galaxy traumatized.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Possibly the "Doom of Valyria" in which wiped out the series' Rome analogue and left a "demon-haunted" wasteland. As a result of the cataclysm, a lot of Valyrian inventions were lost or exist in the present as Lost Technology.
    • George R. R. Martin has also stated that he thinks of the dragons as a counterpart to the nuclear deterrent. This makes Daenerys the most powerful person in the world and Martin wishes to explore in his writing whether weaponry power can be used not only to destroy but also to accomplish something good.
    • Wildfire, on the face of it, doesn't seem as nukeworthy as the two examples above. Until enough of it gets used in the Battle of Blackwater to make a very good point: enough of that Fantasy Greek Fire can count. Enough deployed correctly could quite handily destroy a city, as King Aerys' pet Guild of Alchemists knew very well.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, this is how turbo lasers on large starships are depicted when fired at planets, with cases of things like three Star Destroyers bombarding a planet for a day, and by the end of it it was completely uninhabitable.
  • Star Wars Legends had the thought bomb, a Dark Side ritual that killed any Force user in a massive radius and trapped their souls in a Fate Worse than Death. A particularly unhinged Sith Lord used it as the final, spiteful act in a long and grinding Jedi-Sith war that left the planet they were fighting over a broken wasteland for centuries.
    Lord Kaan: I ask that you join me in one last task: the creation of a weapon so powerful that when it is detonated, the victors shall become the vanquished and be swept from the pages of history.
  • The Sword of Truth: The seventh book has a wizard activating an ancient spell in the middle of the enemy camp. The results are quite nuclear, and cost the enemy about a million soldiers.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Milim Nava has her Drago Nova, which fires a massive beam of her energy that, in its first shown usage, not only nuked the capital city of Yuurazania into a sea of fire and molten ground, it blew a hole through the mountain range the city was situated amongst. Later events would show Milim was vastly holding back its full power.
  • The web novel UnFamiliar features this as a part of the story. In the distant past, a pair of immensely powerful, near god-like wizards fought each other and reduced their world, previously a high magic utopia whose merest trinkets are considered national treasure-level artifacts in the current era, to a world of bronze age barbarism that took centuries to come out of.
    • Unnervingly, this has repeated numerous times on this world, and it is confirmed in-universe that this is the (so-far) inevitable result of a world producing ever more powerful wizards: Eventually, the strongest wizards develop a god complex... and decide that the world only needs one god.
  • David Weber's The War Gods series had a group of spells used to "strafe" the continent of Kontovar, killing everything not under the most powerful black wizards' shields.
  • The Wheel of Time has a few:
    • Balefire obliterates its target retroactively, rewriting the past around its absence. When it was used with sa'angreal Amplifier Artifacts in the War of Power to annihilate entire cities, the strain on existence scared both sides into banning its use. In the Last Battle, Demandred and Mazrim Taim spam it so much that reality starts to unravel, and it takes a sa'angreal and a Heroic Sacrifice to plug the hole before it spreads to delete the world.
    • The Choedan Kal, a pair of sa'angreal exponentially more powerful than any others in existence, also invoke this trope, not least in the utter terror they cause in anyone who knows what they are. Two channellers fighting over one destroys a nearby mountain as collateral damage, using one to cleanse the Dark One's taint from the True Source dissolves a city and its surroundings in a gigantic Sphere of Destruction, and Rand estimates that using one at its full power could undo all of existence. He destroys them both.
    • Trying to unravel a Weave of the One Power instead of letting it dissipate naturally has this result at least once: a Gateway explodes powerfully enough to flatten the surroundings on both ends.
  • Tides Of Protomis
    • Has the The FULDE- (F)usion p(ul)sed fleet (de)vastator, created as a anti space-fleet weapon, and designed to expand the destructive explosive bubble into a larger area.
  • Played with in Wolfhound Empire by Peter Higgins, in a fantasy analogue to the early Soviet Union, alien entities with living stone bodies referred to by the locals as Angels crash-land in the Vlast. Having the Angels inspires one madman to conceive of the idea of the atomic bomb in a project called Uncle Vanya, though it's unclear whether their highly versatile flesh was used in the construction. But without the Angels, the Vlast would never have been able to make nukes as they don't even have the technology for making tanks let alone the 10 nuclear artillery shells that defeated the technologically superior Archipelagos forces.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: The war that led to the creation of the Daleks was not fought with nuclear missiles but in fact "neutronic missiles". Presumably this was done because it gave them more creative freedom over what they could say the weapons do/did; for example, real nuclear missiles would just burn or vaporize a jungle rather than petrifying it.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The ship full of wildfire explodes into a giant green fireball complete with mushroom cloud out the top that consumes thousands.
    • Going further, the mere thought of someone using dragons in battle is enough to give wiser tacticians pause. Authority figures like Tywin Lannister brush off the severity of the threat they present (not without cause, as dragons are believed to be extinct at the show's outset and the last living specimens were known to be drastically undersized due to being raised in captivity) but when a fully grown beast takes the field in Season 7 against the Lannister/Tarly army, the results are horrific. Infantrymen are immediately reduced to ash in the face of searingly hot dragonfire (with lingering shots of burning living soldiers clawing at their helmets and trying desperately to drown the flames in swamp water), the Lannister/Tarly supply carriages are taken out like they're toys, the battlefield is quickly turned into an unrelenting sea of flames and a single dragon is enough to break the back of a powerful defensive line and completely turn the tide of battle. Minus Qyburn's scorpion ballista, which Bronn uses to wound Drogon, nothing the Lannister/Tarly army throws at him hinders the dragon in the slightest. Even in the ballista's case, Drogon manages to regain his composure, immolates the ballista, and destroys it with a single swipe of his tail for good measure. As the Night King's mount, Viserion destroys a whole portion of the Wall at Eastwatch by the Sea, allowing the undead army to finally cross south of the Wall. In Season 8, Daenerys uses Drogon to level King's Landing after Cersei refuses to surrender, civilians included.
    • That's just living dragons. Historically, Aegon and his sisters subdued the entire continent with their three dragons, particularly Balerion the Black Dread, an even larger beast than Drogon. They reduced Harrenhall, the biggest castle in all of Westeros, to rubble and torched tens of thousands in the Field of Fire. Plus, those three dragons? House Targaryen was a minor house of ancient Valyria, who first used dragons in warfare on a mass scale. Just imagine what an entire army of dragon riders would be capable of.
  • Kamen Rider Build: The Artifact of Doom humans came to call "Pandora Box" was brought back by the first manned expedition to Mars and paraded around as a great discovery. Then an unknown suspect activated it, causing the creation of the Sky Wall, a massive, deadly force field that split Japan into three parts. It also destroyed everything in its immediate path, rendered fields unusable for farming, and throw the country into chaos. The three parts formed their own governments and proceeded to lock each other into a cold war over the artifact for the next ten years, the lack of knowledge about it notwithstanding.
  • Legend of the Seeker features Whisperers, which are cylinder-shaped containers that hold the screams of the shadow people. When released manually or via the timer, the Whisperer emits an ear-piercing scream that kills every living thing within a league. Only creatures that can hear are affected, so a wizard may be able to place a temporary deafness spell to protect everyone in the affected area. Not surprisingly, used as weapons of terror by both the D'Harans and the more extreme rebels.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "The Light Brigade", humanity plans to bring the war to an end by destroying the aliens' homeworld with a subatomic bomb capable of disrupting matter on a subatomic level.
  • Photon Torpedoes from Star Trek are matter/antimatter warheads that serve as a standard armament on Federation starships, as well as the ships of many other races. While they are most commonly used for space combat, there are a few incidents of impressive surface detonations. (According to the TNG technical manual, each torpedo contains enough reaction mass for a 64 megaton blast, greater than the Tsar Bomba.) Some of the other torpedoes seen in the franchise are even more powerful, though they don't have exact specifications available. The Romulan plasma torpedo in TOS is akin to firing a small solar flare at a target, and the quantum torpedoes introduced in DS9 (powered by zero-point energy) are more powerful than photon torpedoes by orders of magnitude.
    • In one episode, Sisko responds to the use of biogenic weapons on Federation people by having a quantum torpedo modified with Trilithium and firing it on a planet, effectively launching a "Dirty Nuke" on an inhabited world. The result is that the planet has to be completely evacuated as it will be uninhabitable for decades.
  • The first episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds deals with a pre-warp civilization (hell, as they find out, pre-space colonization) discovering how to make a warp core and deciding to turn it into a bomb. Captain Pike has to convince these people that they're heading in the same direction Earth had long ago and they need to stop.
  • In Supernatural, this is basically what you could describe angelic smiting as. And it has effects just as bad as the immediate explosion of a proper atomic bomb, as Dean keeled over and started vomiting just by entering the close vicinity of the explosion. According to Castiel, humans directly hit by it are turned into salt.
  • Warehouse 13:
    • The brick from the House of Commons is said to have contained the entire force of the London Blitz. Artie calls it out as an "Artifact Nuclear Device".
    • The Minoan Trident in the Season 2 finale. If struck into the ground three times it causes huge earthquakes. Do it near a supervolcano and you don't just get a nuclear-level blast, but the ash causes the equivalent of nuclear winter as well.

  • The Hobo Johnson song "Me and the Cockroach" describes a society of intelligent cockroaches that arises after humanity destroys itself in a nuclear war. They succumb the same pressures as the humans and are pushed to develop a doomsday weapon, but cockroaches are immune to nukes so they need to come up with something else. The cockroach doomsday weapon is a missile tipped with a giant foot.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible: In 1st Samuel, God struck the Philistine cities where the Ark was taken as plunder with an outbreak of cancer. Atomic radiation causes cancer, and His go-to punishment illness is usually leprosy. It sounds an awful lot like He made the thing radioactive enough to glow in the dark in order to punish the country for stealing it.
  • Hindu Mythology and numerous associated stories (like the Ramayana and Mahabharata):
    • They describe the Brahmastra, a weapon that could only be used by someone who had meditated on the god Brahma and possessed the highest levels of concentration that could completely obliterate its target in a single strike and would never miss but would destroy all life in the area and render everyone nearby sterile. Yes, the ancient Indians were talking about nukes before nukes were invented.
    • The Brahmashirsha astra is the Brahmastra but 4 times as strong. When it strikes it turns the entire blast zone into a barren desert and forces everything within the zone to become poisoned, even metal. The drawback of both weapons isn't just their destructive power but the fact that, when summoned, they must be thrown. There is no other way to get rid of them but throwing them.
    • The Brahmanda astra is the strongest of these weapons because it has the power to destroy all 14 levels of Brahmand (the entire universe). When thrown, the oceans will boil away, the mountains will float, and all will be burned without leaving a single ash. The Brahmanda astra can be used to destroy the weapons above by eating them (the weapon's tip has the five heads of Brahma).
    • This webpage, while it definitely should be taken with a grain of salt, mentions the Brahmastra above indirectly, and also mentions the time of Joseph in Egypt (also around the same time period) where there were 7 years of famine throughout much of the world. The article notes that a famine of this length is consistent with nuclear winter, as is the sudden shortening of lifespan (feel free to ignore the rest, though).

  • Inverted in Attack from Mars: Weapons described as "atomic" and "nuclear" are readily manufactured by the Earthlings and used frequently against the Martians, but none of the negative effects are depicted and are, in fact, safer than standard explosives. Nukes strike Martian ships hovering over dense population centers like Paris and New York City, and all that happens is the ships disintegrating into nothing while the humans below are completely unharmed.

  • In Metamor City the world's equivalent to World War II ended with the Allied powers using an incredibly powerful spell whose details are still classified a hundred years later to vaporize the heartland of the aggressor nation. Killing millions of people and opening a mana rift that has left the area uninhabitable to ordinary humans ever since. Though it's been overgrown by a strange jungle of new organisms since then.

  • Bleak Expectations: The Forcelutonium bomb, a bomb made of particularly strong French cheese, theorised by 1800s scientists to be capable of destroying the world (they're not entirely certain, figuring about 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. 8.5 if they've been drinking). Mr. Benevolent plans to use it to hold the world hostage. Pip Bin joins him, and they take over the world until mankind gets fed up and calls Benevolent's bluff, at which point the bomb turns out to be a dud. It also gives off severe amounts of background cheese, disturbing the sleep of anyone nearby, making it easy to track.
  • Dimension X: In "episode eight", an adaptation of Ray Bradbury's "The Fox And The Forest", William Travis was working on a new and highly advanced atomic / bacteria bomb in 2155 before he and his wife Susan traveled back in time to 1950.

  • Fire Emblem On Forums:
  • During her meeting to obtain her spaceship parts in We Are Our Avatars, Imca suggested that Aurora could wipe out the Thalmor with a gigantic magic spell as a warning to those who try to take over the world. At first, Aurora thought it was bad because there's the possibility of civilian casualties. Mitch even compared it to the situation that caused America to drop the nukes on Japan.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Anima: Beyond Fantasy: Divine level spells of certain paths (and even certain Ki attacks) qualify as this. At the most extreme cases of the former, the spells affect everything within a radius of 1 AU (150,000,000 kilometers).
  • Deadlands: The apocalypse in Hell on Earth came about with ghost rock bombs, nukes made with irradiated Green Rocks. The physical destruction from a "city buster" is fairly limited, but it then releases a storm of damned souls that kill everyone within a 100-mile radius.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The first D&D nuke is from the Greyhawk campaign setting. The Twin Cataclysms, the Invoked Devastation and the Rain of Colorless Fire, which sound a lot like nuclear blasts and fallout. These were cast in what was basically a magical nuclear war between the Bakluni and the Suloise empires and left desert wastelands behind. Gary Gygax in fact instituted a de facto Nuclear Weapons Taboo with regards to the twin cataclysms, as they were absolutely guaranteed to destroy a campaign should the players be able to cast them. He later on went so far as to state in a Greyhawk fanzine note  that as far as it was under his control, no canon explanation would ever be given and no means of players replicating it would be published. The magic was a powerful spell of a bygone age, and nobody in the current Greyhawk universe (presumably even Mordenkainen or Zagyg) had sufficient ability to cast them.
    • The Greyhawk 2000 setting (where Medieval Stasis is firmly averted) features an apparently literal example where the setting's resident Evil Overlord, Iuz the Old, was finally killed by a weapon that left most of his old empire irradiated.
    • Apocalypse from the sky is a legal, non-epic spell in 3rd Edition that severely drains the caster and deals heavy acid or sonic damage to a 170-mile radius, minimum, caster included. Casting it in a densely populated area, such as Waterdeep on the Sword Coast, will also most likely cause enough death to call on Atropus, The World Born Dead.
    • Any Munchkin wizard can cook up one of these through Loophole Abuse. The Locate City Bomb is an infamous and dubiously legal example, modifying a harmless spell with a range in the tens of miles to hurt everything within that range to the edge of its effect — or, for optional overkill, animating every casualty of the Bomb as contagious undead. Another is a feat that allows Breath Weapons to be charged up to affect a wider area, with no limit to the extent of that area. It is entirely possible for this loophole to bathe the world in acid.
    • Mystara, according to The Principalities of Glantri (Dungeons & Dragons Gazetteer), has a force known as the Radiance meant to amplify magical powers. One of the spells related to the Radiance is a fireball variation that creates a mushroom cloud and causes some form of sickness for those who remain in the area.
    • Forgotten Realms had a few. The most destructive single spell about which there's some lore and not just mentions is "Killing Storm" from Elven High Magic. During ancient elven wars, these blasted one kingdom so thoroughly that after 11,000 years the place remained a moor. Other contenders for the title are the Cataract of Fire, Diluvial Torrent, and Necromantic Singularity Epic spells.
    • Eberron: The entire nation of Cyre was destroyed during the Last War by an event known as the Mourning. A thick mist covered the country and killed anyone caught in it. While the particulars of the event itself seem rather un-nukelike, the devastated Mournlands are described in a way reminiscent of an area destroyed by nukes and heavily contaminated by fallout, including a "Glass Plateau" and a rift in the ground that glows with an eerie light and mutates anything that stays too close too long.
  • Exalted has a lot:
    • The Soulbreaker Orb is a magical device that, when triggered, simply kills anything in a five-mile radius. No actual damage is done, there is no giant fireball, everything just falls down dead. In theory. Other canonical ones include the Gunzota Device, which turns every living thing in a several-mile radius into amethyst statues; the Godspear, a Wave-Motion Gun that does infinite damage to anything in its line of fire; and the Eye of Judgment, the Godspear's flying castle-mounted lesser version, which only kills everything within five miles or so.
    • The Thousand-Forged Dragons also count, being weapons of mass destruction that can utterly destroy local geomancy. Since Ley Lines and demesnes are the source of...pretty much every natural phenomenon and quite a few non-natural ones, this makes nuclear fallout look like a fairly minor side-effect in comparison.
    • The Imperial Defense Grid is the nuclear option; the details are kept secret, but its purpose is to defend Creation against wholesale invasion. One lone Dragon-Blooded soldier managed to crack its defenses and gain control in one of Creation's most dire moments. She became the Scarlet Empress because nobody wanted to screw with her after that.
    • Some of the Solar Circle spells, serve this purpose, such as Rain Of Doom and Total Annihilation.
    • Some of the Malfeas Charms for the Infernals approach this. The "Green Sun Nimbus Flare" charm tree allows you to turn opponents into mushroom clouds and inflict magical radiation sickness. There's even a Malfeas shintai charm that basically turns a significant area around you into Ground Zero except to allies and people who grovel at your feet.
  • F.A.T.A.L. had the titular spell F.A.T.A.L. which took a week to cast and killed all life on earth. Then again, as Sartin said, with this game, humanity wasn't going to amount to much anyway. Note that a F.A.T.A.L. effect can be randomly activated by simply fumbling any spell. Any. It's just a matter of time before something tragic happens in a F.A.T.A.L. campaign (as always).
  • GURPS Technomancer has two types:
    • First, our garden variety nukes become fantastic and display the ability to open portals into a world of pure mana, which manifest as enormous cyclones. Two were tested, one by USA and one by USSR, and it is theorized that a third one will be a civilization-ender.
    • Later a replacement for them was created, the so-called necronium bombs, which are similar to the ghost rock bombs from Deadlands above: they kill people via necromantic energy released. These bombs fill the niche where our world's nukes are, several countries have them and use them for scaring other nations.
  • Hackmaster has a spell named Fireball: Nuclear Winter. Its range is several hundred feet, while its area is several miles. Needless to say, casting it is a bad idea unless you're immune to fire.
  • Mage: The Ascension had a set of items called selective mines. Each of them looked like a large landmine and when properly activated, would totally devastate everything in a large radius — except for a small group of people selected by the user. Handy.
    • The Order of Hermes Splat book included the rote "Ball of Abyssal Flame", basically a really powerful Fireball that also converts matter in the target area (essentially disintegrating it) into Quintessence to directly fuel the spell. Associated with the destructive House Tytalus mages.
    • Mage: The Ascension also included "spirit nukes" in the metaplot, although exactly what they were was a little inconsistent. Their story use was apparently to imply hubris on the part of the Technocracy, despite the fact that they were used on a nearly unkillable vampire; different sourcebooks said different things about what would've happened had they not been used. In any case, they ripped people's souls apart in addition to the physical damage and wrecked the spirit world globally.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a fair number of mass-damage and mass-destruction cards, usually rare. World-killing spells are often much cheaper than one would expect. For example, calling down God to destroy the world costs the same amount of mana as summoning an antelope. The Golgothian Sylex is probably the most famous example: Urza used it to destroy Argoth, which led to nuclear winter and an ice age. However, the card only destroys Antiquities cards, which makes it nearly useless. Other classic examples are Armageddon (destroys all lands), Nevinyrral's Disk (destroys everything except lands... okay, and nowadays planeswalkers), Wrath of God and its alternate-universe counterpart Damnation (destroy all creatures, no regeneration to weasel out of it). Then there's Jokulhaups which destroys all artifacts, creatures, and lands, and the similar Obliterate which doesn't allow regeneration plus, unlike the others, can't be countered. Possibly the most devastating example printed to date, though, is Apocalypse which simply removes everything currently in play from the game, thus killing it Deader than Dead...
    • There are also Soul Bombs, which are powered by a sentient being's ethereal spirit, which were used by Urza and his strike team to destroy most of Phyrexia.
    • And Yawgmoth's own stone chargers, which turned the Meghiddon Defile from a narrow crevice into a massive bowl carved out of a rock... and unleashed a choking white-mana fog that destroyed the nearby city of Halcyon. (Yawgy wasn't actually planning that part.)
    • Another prime example would be Worldfire which somehow manages to make the above cards look rather tame.
  • Pathfinder: In the adventure path Tyrant's Grasp, Tar-Baphon the Whispering Tyrant devises a weapon called the Radiant Fire, which combines positive and negative energy to create explosions which can wipe entire cities off the map. The result of the explosion is a core area saturated in negative energy, sterilizing the land and raising slain creatures as undead, surrounded by a ring saturated in positive energy, causing anything from drastic mutations in organic life to entire populations of creatures springing up overnight.
  • SenZar's Astromancy and its Magikarp Power. Quoth Jason Sartin:
    The 10th level Black Hole spell is fun if you've ever wanted to cause a three-mile swath of obliteration and piss off the entire planet doing it.
  • Strike Legion, has WAY too many to list. Most weapons carried by Power Armor or frames would qualify as Weapons of Mass Destruction in most other settings if they aren't capable of outright blowing up a planet.
  • Warhammer:
    • The Skaven made a literal nuke out of Wyrdstone. It's currently armed but undetonated, sitting under the human city of Middenheim.
    • There's a spell as well that drops an asteroid on the battlefield. It can wipe out castles, and half the opposing army when timed right.
  • Warhammer 40,000, curiously enough, doesn't have that many nuclear weapons (which is not to say they have nothing that does as much damage, oh God-Emperor no). They feature in Krieg's backstory (a rebellion ended in a century of atomic fire, after which the population took atonement and trench warfare as their hat), and some Rad weapons (weapons that use radioactive fallout, not slang).
    • Cyclonic torpedoes are the most popular method for delivering an Exterminatus that burn away oceans, atmosphere, and anything alive (and an advanced two-stage version that kills the actual planet — useful for destroying Necron Tomb Worlds). Only the Inquisition and Space Marines have access to them.
    • Orks have an extremely effective method of travelling through space and conquering planets: Find really big meteors and asteroids, hollow them out and make them airtight, and fit colossal engines and reactors for propulsion. When they arrive on a planet, they either survive the landing, causing thousands of orks to crawl out of the wreckage looking to finish off the survivors, or it explodes in mid-air, resulting in a ginormous explosion, which is almost as much fun to them. In this case, it spreads their spores all over the planet that produce a new generation of Orks very quickly that will be increasingly difficult to get rid of.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Has several mass removal cards, with the ones capable of hitting every card on the field being commonly referred to as "field nukes" by the playerbase. The oldest (and unfortunately also the least useful) of them, Final Destiny, even has the artwork of a mushroom cloud, and its Japanese name is "Last War."

  • In BIONICLE, Toa have an ability called "Nova Blast" that unleashes the full extent of their power at once. Due to its devastating potential, it is regarded as a Dangerous Forbidden Technique that would only be used in the most desperate, all-or-nothing circumstances. To the point where it is only ever attempted twice, and only one of those times in full. One was when Gali Nuva was in a desperate battle with Makuta Icarax, who had already incapacitated the rest of the Toa Nuva with one swift strike each, in the realm of Karzahni, which created a tsunami so massive it sank entire realm like Atlantis...and it still didn't actually kill Icarax, just swept him away and gave the Nuva time to get away. The other time, Jaller was about to attempt it when his team (minus Matoro, who was busy trying to save Mata Nui's life in order to keep the Universe from dying) was about to be overwhelmed by the armies of the Barraki, knowing full well that the resulting blast would probably wipe out The Barraki, their armies, his team and himself. However, right before he was about to unleash it, Matoro succeeded in his mission, resulting in Jaller and his team being teleported back to Metro Nui. Jaller then had strenuously force the power back down, lest he turn his home city into a crater.

    Video Games 
  • The Carronade or Hex Cannon from Breath of Fire IV is one of the more blatant examples seen of the trope. It is powered from the pain and sorrow and despair of human sacrifices who are tortured to the point of insanity first and are explicitly selected based on their connection to the target (yes, you're reading this right; it's a Fantastic Nuke that literally runs on invoked Nightmare Fuel).
    • One town depicted as being "Hex Cannoned" requires people to go in with decontamination suits for years after its Fantastic Nuking, (although the harmful to all living things magic that fills the town isn't the only problem, as the town is haunted by ghosts created when the Hex Cannon blast kills people and filled with twisted monsters changed by the hex as well) and is depicted explicitly as being uninhabitable for at least a year past that point.
    • And unsurprisingly, the very thing that causes the God-Emperor of the game to decide that Humans Are Bastards is when the very empire he founded uses it on him...WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND AS THE FANTASTIC WARHEAD. He goes Laughing Mad and proceeds to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against humanity as a result.
  • Bring It On Home from Brütal Legend. It summons a flaming Zepplin to crash-land and explode at your location. It's kind of a Wave-Motion Gun, you're vulnerable while jammin' out the long and complex spell and it has a five-minute recharge.
  • One Expansion Pack for Civilization II features a scenario taking place in the world of Norse myth. The equivalent to the Cruise missile is a lightning bolt, and to the Nuclear bomb is a fireball.
  • Command & Conquer:
    • The series typically has actual nukes, but in Red Alert 3, where a Time Paradox led to them not be invented, the Soviets substituted with the Vacuum Imploder. The Allied campaign also depicted a intercontinental laser mounted inside Mt. Rushmore that in game dialogue implies can wipe out entire cities.
    • Even in the main series, only the Brotherhood of Nod uses nukes; GDI has an Ion Cannon. Apparently they got some flack for this in-universe, as they banned all nuclear weapons worldwide only to unveil a weapon of equal power shortly thereafter.
  • In Death Stranding, a devastating explosion known as a "voidout" occurs whenever a living human is devoured by a BT. Such a phenomenon necessitates the incineration of corpses in cremation facilities far from civilization, such that they don't necrotize into BTs within highly populated areas and cause their destruction, and is even exploited by the terrorist group Homo Demens, whose "bombers" lay waste to cities by taking their own lives and making sure their bodies aren't found before they go necro.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: Deathfog is a Deadly Gas that kills any and all living things unfortunate enough to enter it. In small amounts, it can wipe out a battlefield; in large amounts, it can slaughter an entire city (or even a whole region), and keep the area from ever being settled again. Prior to the events of the game, deathfog was set off throughout the elven forests in a desperate attempt to stop the Black Ring, indiscriminately killing everything in the area and nearly driving the elves to extinction. In modern times, it's been commandeered by the dwarven Queen Justinia, who plans to declare war against the Divine Order by pumping it into the city of Arx.
  • In Dragon Age II, Anders uses some combination of magic and gunpowder (!) to destroy the Kirkwall Chantry and kill Grand Cleric Elthina in the final mission, kicking off the Mage/Templar War.
  • This is how the end of the Old Kingdom is depicted in a flashback during Fable II, when the old Archon wished away the old world in favor of a new, less corrupt one.
  • The Destroy All spell available to Liches in Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony. The icon is, of course, a mushroom cloud.
  • In The Elder Scrolls lore, the greatest warriors of the ancient Yokudans (ancestors of the modern Redguards) could use a sword technique known as the Pankratosword. Using it, these warriors (known as Ansei or "Sword Saints") could "cut the atomos." They claim this is how Yokuda sank beneath the sea, and it is dangerous enough that even the Dunmeri Tribunal deity, Vivec, backed down when Cyrus threatened to use itnote . This technique is now forbidden, and quite possibly lost to history as a result. Its use is said to be why most of Yokuda, the original homeland of the Redguard, sank into the ocean. (Though other sources state that this is unlikely, and that the Redguard people left Yokuda to escape much more standard problems, such as a corrupt government.)
  • Etrian Odyssey Untold has Gungnir, a weapon designed to neutralize the Yggdrasil Cores before they awaken and wreak havoc upon the world. The party decides against using it once they learn of the widespread destruction its impact would cause. Given the setting, it could very well be an actual nuke .
  • Etrian Odyssey Untold 2: The Alchemist gains a powerful Non-Elemental skill called "Nuclear Formula", whose description outright states that it uses nuclear fusion to cause an explosion.
  • Lots of Final Fantasy examples.
    • Many summons in Final Fantasy arguably qualify. That is, if their damage actually lived up to the animation.
      • Bahamut's "Mega Flare" attack is much like any other dragon's Breath Weapon, except he breathes nuclear explosions.
      • In Final Fantasy IX, the summon Odin completely annihilated the settlement of Cleyra in a giant explosion (in a cutscene).
    • The well-known "Flare" spell, one of the most powerful ones (excluding summons) in the series, was translated as "NUKE" in Final Fantasy for good reason: Flare spells are pretty much a magical nuclear blast; whether this is accomplished by magically fissioning atoms around the opponent or teleporting a piece of the sun or whatever is never really specified. There exist even more powerful variants, like Bahamut's aforementioned Mega Flare and Zettaflare, the most powerful Black Magic spell in the entire Square Enix multiverse which is capable of producing an Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
    • Final Fantasy VI had Merton/Meltdown, which kinda looked like a big shockwave. Fire 3, Meteor, and Ultima make really big explosions, too, but Merton takes the nuclear-weapon-firestorm-and-shockwave similarity cake (if not the damage cake) by hitting every target, friend and foe.
    • Final Fantasy VII had the Enemy Skill BETA, which did massive fire damage to all enemies (4000+, and possible to obtain about a quarter of the way through the first disc). The animation was a mushroom cloud.
      • In-story, the spell Meteor is treated much like a nuclear weapon that a madman has acquired. The phrase Aeris uses for it is even "Ultimate Destruction Magic," sounding similar to the phrase "Weapon of Mass Destruction."
    • The animation for the Ultima spell in Final Fantasy VIII is a (green) fireball burning the center out of a pure white cloud.
    • From Final Fantasy X, Sin's strongest attack, when charged, caused a gravitational pull so strong that it ripped up part of the planet's crust, had a visible effect on the moon, and when fired it moved for miles and left no trace of anything it directly touched.
      • Final Fantasy X-2 had Vegnagun, which would supposedly inflict the same amount of damage as a nuclear weapon. It was a superweapon designed during the Bevelle-Zanarkand War but never deployed in fear of its destructive potential.
    • Final Fantasy XII features Nethicite weapons that qualify for this trope. Furthering the metaphor, Nethicite is also a potent power source for everyday life, but the characters forget this due to its destructive power.
    • Series mainstay Ultima has often been rendered as a massive explosion, but in terms of plot impact, Final Fantasy XIV's Ultima takes the cake. The spell has only been cast once in the game's lifespan, and it completely destroyed the game's original final dungeon. The act of protecting the heroes from it completely drained the goddess Hydaelyn, and it took years for her to regain even a fraction of her strength. Appropriately, allowing a second casting to go off in the final boss fight without her protection is a Total Party Kill enrage mechanic. In The Weapon's Refrain (Ultimate), the Ultima Weapon casts this twice throughout the fight, requiring tank Limit Break 3s and heavy mitigation to survive.
    • Early in Final Fantasy Type-0, the Militesi Empire uses an Ultima Bomb, for all intents and purposes a magic nuclear weapon, to wipe the Lorican Alliance from the face of Orience.
    • Final Fantasy XVI takes this trope and runs with it. Every nation has the Dominants, people who can transform into Eikons, such as Titan, Shiva, Bahamut, etc. These Dominants are treated as Fantastic Nukes. However, in spite of their awesome power, they are rarely used in battle, because if one nation were to use their dominant the other nation would almost certainly respond in kind. As such, Dominants are only to be used as an absolute last resort.
  • The 'Javelin of Light' in Fire Emblem: Three Houses is said to have struck a region long ago and turned it into the fiery wasteland that is known as the Valley of Torment today. Then you see the thing for real, and it's an orbital bombardment using actual ballistic missiles. To a world stuck in Medieval Stasis, the destruction caused by these weapons is unfathomable.
  • Guild Wars Prophecies ends its tutorial with the Charr using Titan magic to cause an event known as the Searing. Flaming crystals rained down across the entirety of Ascalon, destroying cities, shattering the Wall, and transforming the idyllic landscape into a barren wasteland. It took centuries for the land to recover from the resulting damage.
    • Only a few days later, Vizier Khilbron used magic from the time of Abaddon to stop a Charr army marching on Orr. The magic caused the Cataclysm, wherein nearly the entirety of the Orr peninsula sank beneath the waves and every living being was transformed into the undead.
  • The Ray Sphere from inFAMOUS. It's a spherical, bomb-like device created by the First Sons secret society. When the Ray Sphere is triggered by a Conduit, it generates a massive explosion of energy which activates or enhances the latent superhuman abilities of all nearby Conduits, while killing any normal people who get caught in the blast radius. An oblivious bike courier named Cole MacGrath is tricked into activating the Ray Sphere (which was hidden as a mail bomb in the package he was carrying), causing a deadly explosion that leveled several blocks of Empire City's Historic District. In addition to all the people who were killed in the Blast itself, it also resulted in a strange new disease called the Plague, which causes people to slowly die from symptoms resembling radiation poisoning.
  • The "Reset Bomb" in Kid Icarus: Uprising is a powerful weapon that explodes with the force of a nuclear bomb. What differentiates it from other nukes is that instead of simply laying everything in the blast radius to ashes and ruin, it creates a massive twisting forest in its wake. The objective of this weapon is to wipe out human cities and have the mass of brambles grow into a normal forest so that it can become a natural area again.
  • The Rune Wars in the back-story of League of Legends have some parallels to atomic warfare. Some places are laced with residual magic energy which delivers similar effects to radiation poisoning, for example Kalamanda, the location of the Crystal Scar game map.
  • In The Legend of Zelda game Hyrule Warriors, Fairy Magic unleashes a magical explosion that completely wipes out nearly every enemy Mook in its range while dealing heavy damage to all other enemies and leaving behind a passive effect based on the spell's element. Doubling up the same element on a single fairy will expand the radius of the effect and Refreshing a fairy when she reaches level 99 will add a little extra damage to the spell for each refresh.
  • In Lunar: Eternal Blue, Physical Goddess Althena's magic was used to take out another god, devastating the whole planet in the process, such that it would take thousands of years to recover.
  • Mass Effect 2 has a variant in its "Arrival" DLC: To stall the coming Reaper invasion, a plan is hatched to ram an asteroid into a mass relay. This collision resulted in the relay's energy being unleashed, wiping out an entire star system and killing over 300,000 Batarian colonists.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: The origins of the the Scourge turns out to be one of these. An unidentified race opposed to the Jardaan cooked it up and dropped it on them. The Scourge warps the laws of physics of the ME universe and was designed specifically to target and screw up Jardaan tech. By the time of the game, it's already destroyed at least one star system, and killed off one species in the Heleus Cluster, and utterly ravaged the eco-systems of several planets. Squadmate Liam compares it to a landmine: Difficult-to-impossible to get rid of completely, and makes normal life impossible. Another squadmate even questions what exactly had been going on that made something like that seem a viable option.
  • Master of Magic features the "Call the Void" spell, which sucks an enemy city into the void, with the game effect being much the same as that of a nuke in Civilization.
  • Might and Magic has the Armageddon spell (whose icon is a mushroom cloud...) it doesn't do that much damage, but it deals damage to everything living on the map; since most NPC's have very little HP it is known as the "Town killer" spell.
    • Similarly, Heroes of Might and Magic features a spell called Armageddon. It actually can do severe amounts of damage, though not as much as a single-target spell — but, again, the damage is done to every unit on the map, with a few exceptions: the Heroes themselves aren't affected, and any unit immune to fire magic or 4th- or higher-level spells is immune. In addition, units with magic resistance retain their ability to resit it. Finally, in the Armageddon's Blade expansion pack, the titular weapon is an artifact that, aside from boosting the wielding character's statistics significantly, also places Expert Armageddon in the hero's spellbook (regardless of whether they even have the ability to cast such a high-level spell) and makes their units immune to Armageddon. Ouch.
    • The intro to Heroes of Might and Magic IV shows the result of two extremely powerful swords (Armageddon's Blade and Sword of Frost) coming into contact with one another. The result is a gigantic explosion with the mushroom cloud seen from space. The world of Enroth is destroyed, forcing the survivors to flee to another world called Axeoth.
      • Given the two facts that the narrator turns out to be an in-universe character, and that basic facts about several of the campaigns directly contradicts the explosion being that large (we see it immediately cover areas we know had many survivors that weren't immortal), it is probable that the actual explosion wasn't quite so large, even if the clash of the swords caused the end of the world.
  • Minecraft: Story Mode: The Formidi-Bomb (AKA the "F-Bomb") is a powerful explosive developed by Soren considered the only thing capable of destroying the Wither Storm. While it's capable of severely damaging the Wither Storm and blowing it to pieces, the heroes fail to grab the command block in time, thus causing it to quickly reform.
  • The Meteor Storm spell in Neverwinter Nights 2 is a localized version.
  • Paper Mario: Color Splash has a Banzai Bill filled with black paint crash onto Sunglow Ridge, creating an ominous skull-shaped smoke cloud and covering the area in highly toxic black paint. Bowser's plan is to make an armory of black paint bombs and use them to destroy Prism Island.
  • After defeating the final boss in Phantasy Star III, your character makes use of the otherwise inaccessible "Megido" technique in a cutscene to destroy the final Dungeon Town.
  • In Pillars of Eternity, the Godhammer was an explosive created by various engineers as well as priests of Magran in order to destroy St. Waidwen, Avatar of Eothas after he began invading Dyrwood.
  • In Planescape: Torment: the spells Meteor Swarm Bombardment; Mechanus Cannon; and in particular Torment.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon X and Y introduced something that would later be dubbed as "Infinity Energy" in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. It was originally used by the King of Kalos, AZ, 3000 years before the events of X and Y. Much like nuclear energy. It was first used as a weapon to end a war. Violently. Later on, it was explored for more peaceful purposes such as being an energy source. The most horrific part about Infinity Energy is that It's actually made from the souls of Pokémon. Thousands of Pokémon were sacrificed to power AZ's nuke.
    • To a lesser extent. Victini is a mythical Pokémon that can create an infinite amount of energy in its body. This would make it a highly sought-after Pokémon.
    • A new move in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Light that Burns the Sky, is basically this. It's exclusive to Ultra-Necrozma, being its Z-move, and the end result of the move is a massive explosion.
  • Quest for Glory V had the aptly named "Thermonuclear Blast", which does Exactly What It Says on the Tin. There is just one problem with the spell: The explosion is centered on the caster. Usually, it's just a Non-Standard Game Over, but supposedly, casting it while fighting the final boss results in a Nonstandard victory, where the game mentions that you saved the rest of the world at the expense of Crete. However, the last boss fight can be very glitchy, so using the spell usually just crashes the game.
  • The Secret World features the Filth-Bomb that kicks off the events of the game. According to Issue #6, it's actually been adapted from a "Class 1 device," Third-Age technology capable of providing vast quantities of power, but also of inflicting unimaginable devastation if used without its protective ark — further parallels to nuclear power and radiation. In practice, it's used as the magical equivalent of a Radiological Dispersal Device, spreading the Filth across entire city districts and leaving countless thousands infected — resulting in Body Horror, Sanity Slippage, and all personality being subverted by the nightmarish will of the Dreamers. It's even referred to as a dirty bomb in one of the lore entries, which actually begin with the lines "NOW I AM BECOME DEATH, THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS." Given that its most famous usage was by an Apocalypse Cult in an attack on the Tokyo subways, it's also clearly meant to invoke the sarin gas attacks of 1995. Though it's later revealed that said Apocalypse Cult was actually aiming for Orochi Tower, and had to settle for less when their suicide bomber got caught by a guard and detonated the device a few stops early.
  • Subspace bombs in Super Smash Bros. Brawl's story mode, The Subspace Emissary. When they detonate, a large purple explosion sucks in everything in sight, including people (although whatever heroes are nearby usually have a mode of transportation handy). The explosion then remains there indefinitely, acting as a portal to the mysterious Subspace until the defeat of Tabuu, at which point all Subspace explosions are effectively undone, reverting the various ground zeros to their pre-exploded states except for the Isle of the Ancients, which was subjected to too many Subspace Bomb explosions at once and thus was completely obliterated.
  • The World of Light in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate begins with the Big Bad unleashing a hail of light beams that vaporize and assimilate everyone except Kirby and appear to have done the same to the rest of the in-game muliverse overall.
  • Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Phantasia feature the Mana Cannon. It causes mass destruction (its destroyed all civilization twice, and came damn close to doing so two more times), and leaves vast swaths of areas barren after use, although for different reasons than actual atomic weaponry.
    • The Heracles' unnamed main gun in Tales of Vesperia is one as well, looking at the cutscene where it's fired and the Pillar of Light that dwarfs the capital city.
  • The Rat Men species called Skaven of the Warhammer universe already had advanced (if...unreliable) Magitek through the application of Warpstone to create it, but Total War: Warhammer II's The Prophet & The Warlock Downloadable Content adds Doomrockets (used in battle) and Doomspheres (used on the campaign map) for Clan Skyre's use which for all intents and purposes are magical nukes that leave green mushroom clouds, as was shown off in the end of the DLC's trailer. Someone naturally decided that they had to make their game go all Dr. Strangelove after the possibility became available to them.
  • In Touhou Project, Utsuho Reiuji throws mini-suns at you and has Nuclear Power, fitting this trope.
  • In Tyranny, Kyros the Overlord was able to conquer most of the known world in part because they know how to cast Edicts. Edicts are spells of immense power that, when read, inflict horrific disasters on a massive scale. The Edict of Stone turned Cairn, the rebellious Archon of Stone (a powerful being in his own right which just emphasizes how strong Edicts are), into a living statue while turning the entire region around him into a barren wasteland that can't support life. The Edict of Fire turned the Vellum Citadel and the surrounding region into a Lethal Lava Land as punishment for the Citadel's Sages hoarding forbidden knowledge against Kyros' law. Even the Sages' time magic could only suspend the damage, not prevent it. The Edict of Storms inflicted typhoon level windstorms and thunderstorms over the land of Stalwart which would continue as long as Stalwart's rebellious line of Regents still existed. A huge part of Kyros' power is the ever-looming threat of an Edict. Edicts are not exclusive to Kyros, however, and a Fatebinder can declare them by themselves: The Edicts of Malediction (researched in the Spire Library) and Nightfall (given to you by Bleden Mark in the Anarchist Path) are more subtle but arguably even more devastating curses: the first can inflict bad luck on entire cities and the second can trap them in eternal night. One last thing to keep in mind on Edicts is that they have very specific conditions to fulfill, they're vulnerable to Exact Words, and they cannot be retracted once cast, not even by Kyros.
  • The Ultima series has its own Armageddon spell. It empties the planet, save for two or three people, and they are very upset.
  • The global mode of Universe at War depicts all three sides of the game with their own variant this in the form of their Mega Weapons, which when used on an area automatically kills an enemies on the map without needing a battle. The only one to feature in the game's campaign mode is the Hierarchy's Purifer, and gigantic walker that makes even their usual walkers look small, which they deploy as the final stage of the invasion of a planet to wipe out any remaining life on it.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, the Final Flame ability of the Valkyria. Valkyrias are bad enough. If they decide they're Taking You with Me they'll take out a city in a mushroom cloud. In the 4th game, the Valkyria bombs, which takes the whole fantastic nuke to a much more literal level: a Valkyria's Final Flame is used as fission trigger for ragnite implosion fusion.
  • In A Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky, the God's Eye is an example, as is unstable saecelium weaponry in general.
  • Wild ARMs 2 has a "nuclear weapon" being transported that the heroes have to stop. It gets released, and rather than causing a massive explosion, it turns into a nuclear dragon named the Grauswein, which breathes atomic fire but can be slain by the heroes before it causes any major damage.
  • The old computer game Wizardry had the Tiltowait spell.
    "The effect of this spell is somewhat like the detonation of a small tactical nuclear weapon."
    • From the same era, the original Bard's Tale games had a spell named Gotterdamurung. The four-letter codeword used to cast it? "NUKE."
    • Wizardry VI through 8 went one better with the Nuclear Blast spell. Description: "A miniature fusion bomb".
  • World of Warcraft has introduced a few examples.
    • The Cipher of Damnation is an ancient incantation capable of causing immense damage to a world. In the hands of Gul'dan, it created a massive volcano tainted by fel energy and severed the connection between Orcs and the elements. This may also be the incantation used by the Eredar seen in Velen's visions, which can level an entire world.
    • Blood elves under Kael'thas developed the Mana Bomb. Early versions didn't damage structures but would kill any sentient beings while irradiating the area. The first such bomb was used to wipe out a neutral outpost, while the second was turned on its own creators.
      • Garrosh Hellscream has apparently approved its use in warfare. Using the Focusing Iris, a Horde force reduced Theramore to a crater. In fact, the blast was so strong that it crossed timelines and destroyed every version of Theramore that ever existed.
    • The Forsaken Blight is a biological weapon strong enough to even kill undead that was first deployed in a Cavalry Betrayal that wiped out a combined force of Alliance and Horde (and even managed to give The Lich King a nasty cough... until he started using it himself). Since then, the Horde have banned using it... a ban the Forsaken don't seem to take that seriously at all. The "weaker" Blights they use are still horrifying and have rendered Southshore uninhabitable by anything except sentient slimes for years to come. Less of a nuke stand-in, and more of a stand-in for mustard gas. You have to stand in it for a few minutes before it kills you, and a gas mask can protect you from it.
    • Historically, the Apexis civilization created the Breath of Rukhmar, a solar-powered superweapon that destroyed the encroaching Evergrowth. Centuries later a civil war ended with one faction attempting to use the Breath and the other sabotaging it to prevent it from firing. The sabotage caused the Breath to detonate, wiping out the Apexis civilization, shattering the Spire of Arak, and nearly rendering the arakkoa extinct.

  • 8-Bit Theater has Black Mage's HADOKEN! Which actually managed to take out an entire world of dinosaurs, yes, now you know what killed them all off.
  • In Draconia Chronicles, the same Earth Magic used to ensure good crops and sturdy homes can be turned to devastate massive areas, summoning chasms and raising mountains. However, its patron deity Loessa despises her gift being misused in such a fashion (mostly because she has worshippers among both tiger and dragon factions), rendering the surrounding area barren forevermore. For this reason, most Earth dragons are Perfect Pacifist People. They used to be just as warlike as any other dragon race until they noticed wherever their magic was used for mass destruction was utterly devastated. In short, it could end both the war and the world in a day.
  • Girl Genius:
    • The Hive Engines, some unknown combination of bioengineering, pneumatics, and clockworks, each of which hatches into a hive queen and begins generating prodigious numbers of soldier bugs and revenant-producing slaver wasps.
    • The Lion, a machine specially built to hard-shutdown Europa's most powerful (and craziest) artificially intelligent fortress, has been given something of this treatment as well — it's more like a Fantastic EMP than a Nuke though.
  • In Heartcore, Volaster turns himself into one via the Blast Bomb spell: letting himself be sliced up by swords, shedding enough Salamander Demon blood to turn himself into a living bomb powerful enough to vaporize the Beastman capital.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons:
    • An unusual variant in the form of Ki Rata, the most dangerous martial art in the universe. Described as the martial arts equivalent of a weapon of mass destruction by comic author Abaddon, its basic tenet is the use of breathing techniques to focus the internal energies of the body into infinitesimally tiny points. A one-point tap with a pinky finger can shatter stone; a ten-point strike levels cities. Only one school of Ki Rata existed, and those monks practiced not simply to use it, but to recognize the signs of someone trying to learn it on their own and kill them before they become dangerous. By the present, there are only two masters of Ki Rata left: one of them is a mad hermit living on Throne, and the other killed the monks who trained him, killed a God-Emperor, and usurped his power, and joined the Big Bad Ensemble.
    • This gets topped by Division, a form of teleportation that splits someone into components (soul, skeleton, flesh, skin, or subatomic parcels when moving through a more precise Gate), then teleports each component in picoseconds and re-merges them precisely at the subatomic level. But if someone were to, say, interrupt the process between components, the remaining components will contain ludicrously radioactive particles (from atoms split during the partition process) that immediately trigger a thermonuclear explosion. This is what happens to the coliseum in Rabuya.
  • Unsounded: The allepakh (literally "juicer") is a scaled-up Limited-Use Magical Device that discharges a liquefying spell from its point of impact. The Background Magic Field reflexively heats every affected substance to its natural melting point, causing a regional Magic Misfire that further destabilizes reality and shuts down other magic. It's a Mundane Fantastic setting, but even elite soldiers are taken aback by the notion.
    Elka: Whole area becomes... foul, boiling, dead soup. On fire.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation has a literal example of this in SCP-4400, a stockpile of four nuclear weapons created by the real-life Maya city-state of Palenque and covered in primitive warnings and bas-reliefs. Notably, the Foundation considers them to be a relatively little problem, as they're actually just... well, nukes, and relatively small ones at that (the strongest hits only 30 kilotons, on par with World War II-era bombs, and far behind nearly any modern nuke). The only thing anomalous about them is that they work on the principles of alchemy and magic rather than science, hence why they were constructed by a civilization that was barely out of the Stone Age, and that going inside their containment zone (aside from the area being somewhat irradiated) can result in encounters with a demon who offers to share the secret of their creation. As the site director puts it:
    "Cáceres is a demon that will teach you how to split an atom. I already know of such a demon, and his name is Robert Oppenheimer."
  • In RWBY, the Long Memory has been storing up kinetic energy for centuries. In "Witch", using most of it blows up a Grimm the size of a city and disintegrates Salem so throughly that it takes her a good few hours to put herself back together rather than seconds. Unfortunately for the protagonists, it'll be a couple more centuries until it's ready again, so It Only Works Once.
    • In the same season, General Ironwood unveils a Dust bomb stated to have similar destructive output. He attempts to have it used on Salem, but the heroes beat him to it. After that, he threatens to use it to destroy the city of Mantle as blackmail to make the heroes hand over Penny. He even tries to have it deployed, and Vine Zeki is forced to use his Semblance to shield Mantle from the bomb, dying in the process. Considering how Vine was able to contain it, it may not have been that powerful.

    Western Animation 
  • The fictional history behind Adventure Time revolves around the effects of bombs that are distinctly equivalent to actual nukes and were seemingly created by civilizations very similar to those of the present day, but have had decidedly magical long-term effects on whatever was left following their destruction and its subsequent growth, therefore combining this trope with Artistic License – Nuclear Physics.
    • It's later revealed that the nukes in question were infused with the saliva of Golb, an Eldritch Abomination unspeakable power with the power to twist life which puts this squarely into this trope.
  • In the fourth season of The Legend of Korra, Varrick accidentally creates one by tapping into the power of the spirit vines, first accidentally releasing the energy as a concentrated beam and then redirecting the energy into a bomb to destroy all of his work so Kuvira won't weaponize it. Unfortunately, Kuvira's people are able to continue the project, eventually creating a giant spirit energy cannon attached to the arm of a 25-story Humongous Mecha. Similar to actual nukes, Varrick's original goal was to create a source of unlimited clean energy.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • Rainbow Dash is capable of a Sonic Rainboom, typically a combination of rainbow and sonic boom. However, as shown in the episode "Lesson Zero", it seems that if she directs the force at the ground, rather than at generating fancy flightwork, it creates a rainbow explosion, complete with mushroom cloud.
    • In "Twilight's Kingdom Part 2", Twilight creates another such cloud during her one-on-one fight with Tirek. As she is holding the power of four Alicorn Princesses at the time, two of whom are Physical Goddesses, it's pretty Justified.
  • In The Prince of Atlantis the B.I.G Corporation want to dig up Oracalc to make incredibly destructive bombs that resemble nuclear warheads.
  • Steven Universe:
    • It's revealed in the episode "Monster Reunion" that the corruption experienced by Gems such as Centipeetle is actually the result of a vast attack released by the Diamonds as they abandoned Earth. The attack is implied to have caused all Gems left on Earth (with the exception of Rose and those she protected) to go insane and devolve into monstrous versions of themselves. The exact nature of the attack hasn't been shown fully on-screen but was first represented as a blinding white flash, and later described as a song. Even later, we find out the attack wasn't meant to just corrupt gems, but destroy them entirely.
    • Even earlier, The Cluster is essentially one as well, built by Homeworld (via experiments into fusion, which Homeworld only sees as viable for military purposes, to hammer home the parallels further) specifically for the purpose of wiping out Earth completely. It fortunately fails because they both fail to understand just what fusion between gems is, as well as not anticipating that anyone would be able to reason with it.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Magic Nuke


Light That Burns the Sky

The Light That Burns the Sky Z-Move, which is exclusive to Ultra Necrozma, causes it to absorb all light into a gigantic ball of energy that results in a massive explosion.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / LimitBreak

Media sources: