Follow TV Tropes


Flat World

Go To

Columbus said the world is round?
Don't you believe a word of that.
For I've been down to the edge of the world,
Sat on the edge where the wild wind whirled,
Peeked over the ledge where the blue smoke curls,
And I can tell you, boys and girls,
The world is FLAT!
— "The Edge of the World", Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

If you walk far enough, you'll fall off the edge of the world. For this world is not round, but flat. What lies beyond the edge? No one knows.

In ancient history, many cultures believed the Earth was flat. Certainly, the curvature is so slight that it wasn't until the Greeks that the spherical Earth theory took hold, though some earlier people possibly knew it was round as well, such as Hindus and the early Hebrews. Contrary to popular belief, Christopher Columbus didn't have to try and convince people that the earth was round. Rather, he thought it was much smaller than it's turned out to be. His opponents were right in saying the Earth is much larger. The idea of it being about if the earth is flat or round dates from Washington Irving's 1828 novel A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, and has survived as an illustration of Medieval Morons.

Flat worlds typically only appear in fantasy, but some science fiction works include artificial megastructures that are for the most part equivalent in appearance.

Flat worlds can be broadly divided between several kinds:

  • "Hard edges": The most archetypal kind, a flat disk floating in space. Waterfalls pouring off into the void are a common aesthetic touch; questions about where the water goes or how it's replenished are rarely addressed, although the disk may be hemmed in by walls or mountains to prevent the issue to begin with. A variant found specifically in science fiction is the Alderson disc, a flat construct roughly the size of the inner solar system with a hole at its center for the sun to stay in and wildly different environments depending on each region's distance from the sun. Most worlds of this type are populated on only one surface, but some are explicitly inhabited and inhabitable on both sides.
  • "Soft edges": Roughly similar to the above, but the world fades away more gradually at its edges instead of having a sharp and dramatic cessation. More sedate cases may have the world float in a vast ocean; more fantastical ones may have its outer portions gradually fade into more magical and esoteric realms and become less and less real.
  • Infinite: The flat plane of the world goes on forever; there are no edges or boundaries. Overlap is possible with the soft edges kind if a central portion of the world is surrounded by an infinite featureless plane.
  • Bubble: The setting consists of a physically enclosed space, which is bisected by a flat, habitable surface. This also comes in "soft" and "hard" variants. In the former, the world is surrounded by immense physical barriers that could theoretically be surmounted even if in practice they never are; in the latter, the universe physically stops after a certain point, and its span is completely bisected by the flat world. Overlap is possible with the soft edges kind if the transition between the world and its edges happens gradually.

These worlds are almost always circular — other geometric shapes, such as triangles, squares or hexagons, are not unheard of but are much rarer.

It is worth noting that some people actually believe this, right now, in the 21st century. According to them, the world is a flat, circular disc with walls of ice surrounding Earth. Almost everything about astronomy that could be considered common knowledge is believed to be false.

A subtrope of World Shapes. Not be confused with Flatland or The World is Flat.


    open/close all folders 
  • The tale of Columbus trying to prove that the Earth was round was spoofed in an ad for Hamlet cigars: It turns out that the world was flat, and Chris decides to smoke a Hamlet before falling off.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon Tamers: The Digital World consists of seven discs stacked one on top of another.
  • Slayers: Lina Inverse describes her world as semi-flat, "Like a pancake held up by a fork".

  • Peter Sellers' sketch "Fuller's Earth" features himself as the eponymous Jeremiah Fuller, head of an Expy Flat Earh Society, who is such a flat-Earth fanatic that he can't stand to see balloons, electric light bulbs or even female curves.

    Comic Books 
  • The Department of Truth: Cole is brought in by the Department after he is invited to a party of rich people who fly a plane to the end of the Earth, appearing as a giant wall of ice. Oswald explains that this is a manifestation of the "Flat Earth" conspiracy on the verge of becoming real.
  • Disney Mouse and Duck Comics:
  • Superman: In The Immortal Superman, the Man of Steel discovers Earth has become uninhabitable in the far future due to catastrophic environmental damage. While terraforming Earth in order to make it inhabitable again, he changes its shape into a flat, semispherical world.
  • The Ultraverse: The Godwheel is an Alderson disc: a flat disc billions of kilometres across with a star in a hole in the middle, on which multiple ecosystems evolved in widely separated regions. All the alien species that visit Earth originate from this single world.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dilbert: In a 1989 strip, Dogbert suddenly insists that the world is flat. Dilbert rather weakly tries to use Columbus as an argument against Dogbert's claim (based on the already mentioned erroneous assumption that Columbus "discovered" that the Earth was round). Dogbert's counter-argument is that it's convenient that Dilbert's only witness is dead. In the next strip, Dilbert brings up then-Senator John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth (Yuri Gagarin was the first human, but died in 1968), to which Dogbert retorts that Dilbert's evidence relies on the honesty of politicians.
  • Hägar the Horrible: "The world is flat, and that is that!" is one of Hägar's slogans, and discussions about the shape of the Earth have been a recurring subject in his comic strip. Since the world is flat in Norse Mythology, it makes sense that Hägar, a viking, would believe that.
  • Non Sequitur: One week's plot arc has Danae come to the conclusion that the world is flat and steadfastly hold onto this belief. Whenever someone came up with proof the world was round, she sticks her fingers in her ears and chants "La-la-la-la-la-la-la!"

    Fan Works 
  • Austraeoh uses an interesting variant. The world is a flat plane with earth-like conditions on top and a chaotic netherworld on the bottom, and is a strip much longer in the east-west direction than north-south. Much like solar radiation on Earth, magical energies also congregate around the north and south edges of the world, meaning that when Rainbow Dash has to go to the other side, she has to take the long way around eastward. It's eventually revealed that it is actually only a fragment of an enormous dodecagon-shaped ringworld that was broken apart eons ago.
  • The Many Worlds Interpretation introduces the idea of Carrotworld as one of several alternative cosmologies. People living on the relatively flat bit at the top of Carrotworld would perceive themselves as living on a flat Earth. And it would be true as far as it goes. But how would they know the bit underneath, that they cannot directly see, is not a long thin roughly conical mass tapering down to a point? Sheldon Cooper and Ponder Stibbons agree this is feasible. Sheldon points out it's what you might expect to see of matter extruded out through the sphincter of a White Hole, squeezed down by cosmic forces to the point where it is pinched off by passage through the cosmic orifice... why are you sniggering, Howard?
  • Things I Am Not Allowed to Do at the PPC: While World One isn't actually flat (due to it being Like Reality, Unless Noted), there's a rule against telling newcomers that it is.
  • Under the Northern Lights: The world is a flat disk, with a vast dark void beyond its edges and the sun and moon orbiting around it.

    Films — Animation 
  • Asterix Conquers America: The introduction shows the Earth to be "as flat as a pizza". However, as the story goes on, the Earth is revealed to be round.
  • The LEGO Movie: From the Legos' perspective, the world is flat. One of them even falls from the edge. Of course it turns out their world is actually located in a table in the basement and they don't know they are toys.
  • Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas shows the world to be spherical (at least from goddess Eris' perspective) but in order to enter her realm one should sail till the edge which causes one of the sailors (who bet about it) to say: "Pay up, it's flat."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Erik the Viking: The characters sail off the edge of the world and land in Valhalla. This partially averts the usual "flat error" (that "back then everyone thought the world was flat"). The token Christian disbelieves in the edge of the world.
  • The Gods Must Be Crazy: Some of the characters think they are living on a flat world, and undertake a quest to throw an object off the edge of it to get rid of it. Since it's Earth, viewers might be inclined to smile knowingly at this, but... they succeed.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: Asgard is a giant floating continent in space, with great waterfalls constantly pouring off of its edges.
  • Men in Black: Agent Kay affirms that long ago everybody knew the Earth was flat, using it as a reference to people believing something that is wrong, and how suddenly enlightening them too fast can be dangerous. Thus, his and the MIB's reasons for keeping the existence of aliens a secret.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean has this in the third movie. Beyond the edge of the world is the entrance to Davy Jones's Locker. A rather strange case, since you apparently can't just pick a direction and sail there until you reach the end, because then anybody could get there. You have to be truly lost at sea, and then you magically teleport to the end. So, it's debatable if the world is flat in this universe, or if it's round and you just get transport to a strange waterfall place when you're lost.

  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Narnia exists in a classical flat world. The characters reach the edge in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The three children never do see what (if anything) lies beyond Aslan's Country (though it's implied that the dome of the sky comes down to meet the ground there). The Narnians are surprised and delighted to find out that the Pevensies come from a round world, because that's what their fantasy stories are about.
  • Circumpolar and Countersolar feature an alternate Solar System in which every planet and moon is a holed disc (but the Sun is still a spheroid). Earth's familiar continents are wrapped around the North Hole, with Antarctica stretched around the rim, and the first novel concerns a pair of rival expeditions to the unknown other side of the world.
  • Dave Barry Slept Here says that, though many people once believed that the world was flat, today "we know that this is true only in heavily Protestant states such as Iowa."
  • The Death Gate Cycle: While Pryan is technically a Dyson Sphere with miles-high jungles covering its inner surface, it gives this impression "on the ground". Most of its inhabitants live on the moss plains, vast expanses of moss stretching between the limbs of the world's titanic trees that are big and strong enough to bear the weight cities and even small seas. These plains tend to terminate rather suddenly, ending in enormous drops and chasms where the land suddenly stops and the waters of the moss seas thunder down into the seemingly endless darkness.
  • The Deerslayer: Hawkeye tries to convince his Noble Savage friends that the world is round, but they don't buy his arguments, since they can see the sun rise and set each day.
  • The titular Discworld is this, rested upon the backs of four elephants standing atop a great sea turtle.
  • Dominion and Duchy: Pandora is a flat world that is somewhat unique in that it exists, possibly naturally, in a space opera setting.
  • The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath: Dreamland is flat, or at least there is one place where you can sail off the edge of the world and "fall" into space.
  • The Edge Chronicles is set on a large, flat-topped cliff jutting out into an infinite sky from... somewhere. Its plane, triangular surface is all the world its inhabitants know.
  • Elcenia: The titular world is a ten mile-thick square. Elcenia is somewhat unusual in that you can walk over the edge, but not fall off: gravity just abruptly changes direction and you can continue walking down the side of the world, or even across the underside.
  • The Emperors Coloured Coat: Otto Prohaska is dumbfounded to find that the sea captain of the vessel he's sailing on thinks this due to his religious beliefs. Even more amazing is how he's able to accurately navigate his ship regardless.
  • Encyclopedia Brown: Discussed in book 23, where one of the kids in the neighborhood is Waldo Emerson, president and only member of the Idaville Junior Flat Earth Society. He is so firmly convinced that the world is actually flat that he flips out whenever he hears the word "round" in any context. One can only imagine his reaction to receiving a round globe as a prize in a contest, which happens to him in the book.
  • Flatland:
    • The titular Flatland is not merely flat but two-dimensional, and inhabited by squares, triangles, circles, and the like. There is air and rain but no mention of any actual ground...
    • Subverted in Sphereland, a follow-up to Flatland, wherein the narrator discovers that the world is circular, and that space itself curves spherically by a combination of circumnavigating the world and showing that sufficiently large triangles have interior angles that add up to more than 180 degrees. Naturally, he's disregarded as a heretic.
    • In Flatterland, a world is discovered that is a circular disk of finite size and infinite area. In the middle things are of "normal" size and, as you move away from the center, everything gets smaller, preventing anyone from ever reaching the actual edge.
    • Dewdney's novel The Planiverse goes further, positing an entire 2-dimensional universe with its own physics, chemistry, and biology. Circular planets orbit circular suns, and life exists on the "surfaces" (i.e. circumferences) of those circular planets. Some of these life forms even build 2-dimensional houses for themselves.
  • The Intercontinental Union of Disgusting Characters: In part 4 of The Sick Kids, it's shown that Central Earth is flat. ("What did you think it was anyway, round? Hah, we'd all fall off then!")
  • John The Valiant: Implied when John and the giant arrive at Fairyland.
    John asked him: "What sort of an island, then, is it?"
    "It's Fairyland, master - no place for a visit.
    Fairyland; where the world comes to a close,
    Beyond it, the Sea into Nothingness flows."
  • Larry Niven:
    • Niven's essay "Bigger than Worlds" includes a description of a world shaped like a phonograph record without grooves, hundreds of millions of miles wide, with its sun bobbing up and down through a center hole and a thousand-mile-high wall around the hole to keep the atmosphere in. Local gravity means that down is always toward the surface of the disc. Because the sun never gets overhead, the effect is a world of twilight alternating with night. Niven notes that this world would be ideal for Sword and Sorcery novels, especially should the builder civilization fall — it's got the right "strange, unfamiliar world" feel, and since areas at different distances from the sun could house aliens from very different worlds, natural spread and adaptation of alien life across the borders would provide for the monsters.
    • Known Space:
      • Plateau is a downplayed example — the planet itself is a typical spheroid, but its only habitable portion is an immense plateau, Mount Lookitthat, that happens to be the only part of it to rise above its global seas of toxic gas. From the point of view of people living there, their world is a comparatively small flat surface, and falling off the side of the world and to your doom is a real danger near its edges.
      • Ringworld: Technically, the landscape of the Ringworld is a flat world, as it only has one side and has edges walled off with hundred-thousand-mile high walls. Its diameter is so great that any local deviation from a flat plane is negligible.
  • The Legends of Ethshar: The world of Ethshar is the flat end-cap of a cylinder, surrounded on all sides by a yellow gas.
  • Missile Gap takes place on an Alderson disk big enough that multiple copies of Earth and possibly also one more planet have been flattened and placed on it. All the physics related with the fact how gigantic the megastructure is are played hard, meaning there are no "shortcuts" for travel and ballistics are messed up, while generating escape velocity, or even orbital speed, is impossible with the tech level the humans have.
  • The Neverending Story: Fantastica is apparently flat, and goes on forever in all directions.
  • Oracle of Tao has not one but two flat Earth models. Due to constant edits from being a self-published work, the first (which later turns out to be an illusory world) changed from "burrito shaped" world to being described as a mobius to a latest version where it is shaped like a waffle iron with two hemispheres separated by the thin strip of land and water. It is even possible to fall off or dig through the world. The second version has a much more "realistic" flat Earth model that essentially makes it like a globe, only the upper side is flat except for a domed atmosphere, and which you cannot fall off of due to curved space.
  • Philip José Farmer has a couple:
  • Pyramid Scheme features the flat world of Greek mythology — Europe and northern Africa, girdled by the River Ocean.
  • Shatterpoint: The planet Haruun Kal, homeworld of Mace Windu, is a partial example. The planet itself is as ball-shaped as any other, but most of it is covered with toxic clouds; the only part where anything can live is a large plateau that, presumably, one could fall off of if one got too close to the edge. So while the planet itself may not be flat, the livable part may as well be.
  • Terry Pratchett:
    • Discworld: The series takes place on a very slightly convex disc. It's supported by four giant elephants on the back of an insanely vast turtle. The immensely tall spire of Cori Celesti, the Home of the Gods, sits in its precise center and acts as its equivalent of a magnetic north. It has a (spherical) tiny sun and a tiny moon, which travel in complex patterns to make seasons. (Sometimes, one of the elephants has to cock a leg to let them go by.)
      • The Colour of Magic: After being lost at sea, Rincewind and Twoflower find themselves swept towards the Rim of the Disc, where the roar of water pouring off the edge can be heard long before it comes into sight, alongside an ocean's worth of flotsam and incautious sealife. They are caught up in the "Circumfence", a net-like structure built by the nation of Krull to catch treasure, resources, food and slaves as they're swept towards over the Rim. Krull itself is an island leaning slightly over the Rim, giving it an unparallelled view of the stars and thus giving it very advanced astronomy. After falling off again in the climax, Rincewind also becomes the first human to see a species of seabirds adaped for life past the end of the world, which feed by catching fish falling into the void.
      • Small Gods concerns the bold efforts of the Omnians, religious fanatics who believe the world is round because God prefers perfect circles, going about crushing dissent from any scientist who tries to prove the world is actually flat. Which it is.
      • This theme is continued in the fourth book of the The Science of Discworld series, which discusses the interface between Science and Religion.
      • Going Postal: Lord Vetinari says that 1000 years ago people thought the world was bowl-shaped, and 500 years ago the Omnian globe idea was mainstream.
      • The Moon at least, as shown in The Last Hero, is a globe shape.
    • Strata has an (artificially constructed) flat world with an orbiting sun designed to look like a Ptolemaic world map. The end reveals that the people there are humans before being evacuated to Earth, and those old maps were simply accurate.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • The Silmarillion: Arda, the world the books are set in, was originally flat. It was reshaped into a sphere by Eru Ilúvatar to prevent humanity from attempting to sail to Valinor.
    • In earlier versions of the cosmology, Arda was literally shaped like a boat, solid earth cupped to hold the "inner seas" with the continents and islands of the world rising up from its floor. The world floated upon the "outer seas" ("Vaiya", which was in turn split between a shadowy "water" that no mortal ship could float upon and a tenuous "air", both so cold as to freeze the inner seas where they meet), which were in turn vaguely separated by the boundary between the universe (Eä) and the sea-like "void" leading to the Timeless Halls where Eru Ilúvatar resides. Even stranger yet, the sky was a literal pennant-like sail, attached to Arda by the mast-like peaks of two inconceivably tall mountains. The sun and moon dipped into the seas of the vaiya in order to go underneath the "keel" of the world, and the sea god Ulmo had a residence built onto the bottom of the world like a barnacle on the hull of a ship.
    • Later, J. R. R. Tolkien decided this was bad fantasy — and stupid because Middle-Earth is supposed to be the real world — but his attempts to write a round-world creation story were consistently less beautiful than the flat-world versions.
    • There is still one small part of Arda that is flat. It's a narrow strip of ocean that leads to Valinor. Only the Elves and Maiar (such as Gandalf) know how to find it.

    Live Action TV 
  • Hey You! What If...: "The Earth Was Flat?" shows what it would be like if the Earth actually was flat. This includes seldom considered facts such as gravity not changing, which means that all the world's oceans would gather as a sphere at the centre of the disc.

  • Bob Rapper released a diss track towards astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson titled "Flatline". The song was inspired by B.o.B.'s beliefs in conspiracies, such as the Earth being flat, and even included audio clips of Tyson disproving B.o.B's comments.
  • Hal Ketchum's song "Small Town Saturday Night" includes a verse where Bobby tells his girlfriend, Lucy, that the world must be flat, because nobody ever comes back when they leave town. He says they fall straight off the edge.
  • Linda Ronstadt’s song “How Do I Make You” lyrics include: “Ooh, ooh, baby, The world's a wall of ice, You're gonna need someone, To treat you warm, And keep you nice”
  • The Beatles lyrics for “The Fool on The Hill” include “But the fool on the hill, sees the sun going down, And the eyes in his head, see the world spinning round”
  • Toto’s song “21st Century Blues” lyrics include “Am I the only one to see that it's a big machine, someone tell me...How can we believe the world is round (I just can't conceive it), all we see and hear the truth has drown”
  • Jethro Tull’s lyrics for “Skating Away” include “And as you cross the circle line,well, the ice wall creaks behind, you're a rabbit on the run”
  • Train’s song “My Private Nation” lyrics include “Why you gonna step on shoes, when you don't know whose been in em, have you ever been more than a bump, on a rock that likes to roll, in the middle of a soup bowl in the sky, use your eyes”
  • The Band’s song “Life is a Carnival” lyrics include “We're all in the same boat ready to float off the edge of the world, The flat old world”
  • Oasis song “Turn Up The Sun” include lyrics “The boys in the bubble, they wanna be free, and they got so blind, that they cannot see”


    Tabletop Games 
  • Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea takes place in the titular world, which is flat, hexagonal and wanders through space.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Dragon Magazine #160 has an article describing how to model exotic world shapes, including flat worlds. These have gravity pulling down along a flat plane running parallel to their surfaces, and need some means to keep their atmosphere from spilling out — some are ringed by high mountains, for instance, while others are slightly concave. Their day-night cycles can be peculiar — some rotate around their axis, but others always face towards or away from their suns. Others spin around their centers, creating vast spiraling weather systems.
  • Exalted: The world of Creation is flat. It's regulated by the four Elemental Poles in each direction (Air in the North, Water in the West, Fire in the South, and Wood in the East), as well as the Elemental Pole of Earth in the center. The sun is the the light-giving battle station of the king of the gods. The stars, planets and moon are also such representations. It doesn't have a definite boundary — instead, as one heads away from the stabilizing influence of the Pole of Earth, it slowly fades into the Wyld, a realm of ever-changing, pure formless chaos. Before the Primordial War, Creation did have a defined boundary, in the form of an enormous river (one of the bodies of one of the Primordials).
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Rath is a flat world — one card shows its edge, a cliff and cluster of floating rocks hanging over an abyss — which is "vibrating" on a different frequency than Dominaria. As Rath gets larger, its vibrations slow until it vibrates in sync with Dominaria. The whole plane exists so the Phyrexians can take over.
    • Lorwyn-Shadowmoor consists of a flat expanse of forested land surrounded by high mountains, outside of which lies an area of constantly shifting and changing land and magic known as the Primal Beyond.
    • Theros is a flat disk help up by immense World Pillars rooted in the Underworld of the dead. Voyage's End depicts an ocean falling into an abyss, with this flavor text:
      Philosophers say those lost at sea ascended to a more perfect realm. Sailors say they drowned.
  • Midgard: The world of Midgard resembles a coin surrounded by Veles, the Father of Serpents, who girds the edges of the earth. One face of the coin is the land most people know.
  • Nieboraki, a Polish parody RPG, describes the world as flat and lying down on a table.
  • RuneQuest: Glorantha is a flat perfect square, which lends its shape to the Earth Rune in the setting. It ends in an endless wall of ice in the north and a wall of fire in the south, which are too cold and hot respectively to approach. To the east and west there is endless ocean that can technically be sailed past the universe's borders, but at that point one enters into the realm of the gods where distance and direction have no meaning. Still, with powerful enough magic it is possible to find the Gates of Dusk and Dawn where the Sun God Yelm enters and exits the Underworld every day. Naturally this is best to observe from a safe distance.
  • TORG: Among the several extradimensional worlds invading Earth is the High Fantasy realm of Aysle, an Earth-sized discworld with life on both sides and a hole in the center through which a small sun rises and sets.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The primary world of Yo'vai, a T'au Sept, is a strange, flat planetary disc that orbits a dwarf star and used as a training ground for by the Fire Caste. The Earth Caste have many theories about how such an unusual world, the most popular being that it was created by a now extinct precursor race.
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: The Mortal Realms take the form of very large, spherical pocket universes each bisected by a vast flat plane on which the inhabitable landscape is found. They begin as fairly straightforward in the middle of each realm, but become increasingly charged with magic further out; towards the edges of the realm, the flat worlds gradually break up into areas of floating landmasses, exotic landscapes, and eventually areas of manifest magic.

    Video Games 
  • Creatures: The planet Albia is a disc-shaped world — but life only occurs on the outer edge, so essentially this combines a disc-shaped and a ring-shaped world. The discovery by the Shee that most planets are round is a plot point. Evidently, the faces would be able to support life, if not for the fact that while the planet itself is disc-shaped the gravitational pull acts as though it were spherical, so if you tried to stand on the faces you'd discover that the gravity pulls you towards the hub and slightly presses you against the face itself, so the net effect is akin to being held against a passing train in a subway station.
  • Golden Sun: The world is a flat disk in space, complete with the oceans constantly spilling an apparently infinite amount of water over the edges. Interestingly enough, the dangers inherent in such a system are actually brought to light in the second game. Without the power of Alchemy, Gaia Falls will eventually erode all of Weyard to nothing. One assumes that Alchemy is capable of producing enough earth and water to combat the erosion. In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, which takes place thirty years after the end of the Game Boy Advance duology, the world's oceans and continents are now separated into layers, with the heroes' ship being unable to reach any continents other than their own due to the other continents being separated by waterfalls. Other than the addition of layers, the world is still a flat one but may revert back to its original shape in the years down the road since there's still natural activity happening in the world in the thirty year gap.
  • Grandia had an interesting variation. The world was formerly believed to be round, as revealed if you examine a globe in the ghost ship; however, shortly before the game begins, the end of the world is found, and thus the world is believed to be flat. However, you eventually find out that there is no end of the world, and it is presumably round, and that you have to scale the wall at the world's end.
  • The Journey Down is set on a flat world. The focus of the first chapter is repairing a seaplane so you can go over the Edge and fly down to the Underland below.
  • Might and Magic:
    • One world, Xeen, is flat. One quest involves uniting the two halves (IE, transforming Xeen from this trope to a more standard planet). The player cannot fall off the edge, but can teleport to the nothingness and promptly die.
    • Both Cron and Varn are suggested to be flat, and are in fact "world-spaces" inside a giant starship.
  • Minecraft worlds are generated as extremely wide, thin versions of this, extending 384 blocks (meters, roughly) from the very bottom layer of unbreakable bedrock (beneath which there is only a black void) to the upper ceiling above the clouds above which no block can be placed. Thanks to Procedural Generation, however, the world's horizontal dimensions are quite a bit larger—15 million blocks/meters from your spawn point at the center, you'll find an impenetrable glowing barrier, added to conceal glitchy terrain-generation that appears farther out. You'll never encounter this endpoint without cheat commands, though. The playable zone encompasses almost twice the surface area of the Earth... yet it's only a third of a kilometer tall, making the whole affair seem paper-thin on a large scale. Some mods extend the vertical space to equally absurd lengths.
    • The Nether is an interesting derivative of this. Being directly inspired by the concept of the Fire and Brimstone Hell, it's presented as being "beneath" the regular Overworld, and as such it's sandwiched between two layers of bedrock, one at its bottom and one at its top. The console edition also features bedrock walls along its sides, boxing the Nether in. It's still just as much of a flat world as the Overworld, just one where the explorable environment is within its thickness rather than on its top surface.
    • There is also an option that lets you play a world that is literally flat, being made up of nothing but a smooth layer of grass, then two layers of dirt, and bedrock right below that. The main purpose of playing on a flat world is to assist in players that wish to build extensive projects without having to first terraform the landscape.
  • StarMade: All of the planets are flat. They appear round from a distance though.
  • Super Cane Magic ZERO: This game is set in what is referred to as a "planetoid": a roughly flat plane with an irregular edge.
  • Super Mario Bros.: Some of the planets in both Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 are flat shapes, with habitable surfaces on either side and optional black holes underneath. If you fall off the planet and into the black hole, you die. And if there isn't a black hole and you fall off, you still die.
  • Torin's Passage features a world that is at least six layers thick, with each layer possessing its own atmosphere, sunlight, and culture. The titular protagonist lives on the medieval top layer. The layer below is a bright ravine location. The layer below that one is an Eden-type world with talking plants. Below that is a neglected volcanic world. And the core of the planet apparently spans no greater size than that of an amphitheatre (and backstage). The very core of the planet serves as a sort of prison called the Null Void, where prisoners are tossed in and suspended in the perfect equilibrium of the planet's gravity. Travel between these layers happens through the Phenocryst system, a giant crystal that teleports passengers through itself, and the loading screen of each world serves as a progress marker, showing all the layers you've progressed through cut away.
  • World of Warcraft: The world of Outland is the largest fragment of a shattered world, and players in the game can fall off the edge and die (dying in such a way causes you to be resurrected at the nearest graveyard from the point you fell off)

  • Alice and the Nightmare: Wonderland and the Looking Glass Territories lie on one side of a flat plane. Word of God is that there's something of great interest on the other side.
  • Cucumber Quest: The world of Dreamside is flat. When asked how it was supposed to work, Word of God responded with "wizards".
  • Our Little Adventure takes place on the plane of Manjulias, which is a flat rectangle floating in the "planar void" of outer space. The sun and moon are Physical Gods manifested over the plane.
  • Rice Boy and its sequel comics take place on Overside, the top half of a flat world. Travel between the two sides was possible in the past, though it is now restricted, but Rice Boy himself eventually travels to Underside, where he meets his (for lack of a better word) parents.
  • Unicorn Jelly has Tryslmaistan, a universe where all worlds are flat triangular plates of extremely regular shape and size, justified due to having different laws of physics than our world. Each worldplate also has its own greater and lesser light source in a complex orbit, a "sun" and "moon". Since only objects of worldplate size are suspended against the omnipresent unidirectional "gravity", any time a plate breaks up or wears down too small, it falls, breaking others until Tryslmaistan is consumed in a "stormfall" of matter that eventually spreads throughout the entire universe (wrapping all the way around the universe's finite but unbounded vertical plane and likewise expanding horizontally until it meets itself). Then the debris is eventually clumped into triangular shapes by the natural forces of the universe, and it all starts over again. Its sequel, Pastel Defender Heliotrope, takes place in Pastel, a similar universe of rectangular worldplates.
  • Vanadys: Tales Of A Fallen Goddess: The world is not only flat, but also broken into two separate pieces, thanks to the actions of the titular fallen goddess.
  • xkcd: One strip has a character stranded in an infinite desert for an infinite period of time, alone and with no way out, unrestricted by physiological needs like food or water. His arranging of pebbles on the plane is a particle-by-particle simulation of our universe.

    Web Original 
  • The International Square Earth Society is an extremely deadpan parody of flat-earthers. It uses Bible verses to prove that the Earth is not only flat, it's square like a saltine cracker. To make it even more ridiculous, it uses verses that are obviously metaphors.
    Beware the slippery slope of interpreting a Biblical passage as "metaphor," for that way surely leads to Death. Next, you'll be saying the Earth wasn't created in six literal days, or that the Earth wasn't literally split in two in Genesis 10:25, and then your daughters will grow up to be temple prostitutes and your children will learn how to cast real spells by playing Dungeons & Dragons® and locusts will descend upon Israel and lions will lie down with lambs.
  • Jreg: Centricide 6.25 reveals that the world of Centricide takes place on a flat Earth, due to the whole series literally taking place on the political compass.
  • SCP Foundation;
    • SCP-1372 is a patch of ocean where the Earth seems to have an edge, but only if you're travelling from East to West. The problem isn't ships and people going over the edge, it's when they come back and try to get others to follow:
      Log of F███████ R███████: The captain... was only after a fashion onboard. The same goes for the crew... they are gone now, the flames took them. Today is mostly a blur. All I know is that the moment I heard the men onboard that ship speak, I didn't want to understand their far-off words. [...] Forgive me, Captain, but I no longer want to know what you saw beyond the edge of the Earth.
    • SCP-281-FR are series of magic swords stuck in the ground that keep the world in a spherical shape. They were placed there by SAPPHIRE, a group of atheists who found the Earth was flat when taking aerial photographs intending to prove that it's round.
  • Smegolia: Smegolia is flat and encased in firmament.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: While he never expresses it openly, Hop Pop expresses incredulity at the idea that the world is round, suggesting he believes that Earth and Amphibia are flat. A shot of Amphibia seen from space in the finale reveals that this is definitely not the case.
  • Big City Greens: Cricket is revealed to believe the Earth is one in "Garage Tales".
  • Les Shadoks has the planet Gibi, the rival to planet Shadok. Planet Gibi is literally nothing more than a flat square that tends to tilt over, causing some of the planet's inhabitants to fall off.
  • Looney Tunes: In "Hare We Go", everyone is certain that the world is flat, regardless of what Christopher Columbus says. Then Bugs Bunny proves the world is actually round by throwing a baseball all the way around the world.
  • The Owl House: King comes to believe that the Earth is flat after watching some Mewtube videos.
    Luz: Yeah... That's not right. (swipes her phone back from King)
  • Star Street: The Adventures of the Star Kids: The kids live in a star-shaped flat planetoid.
  • Tuttle Twins:
    • In "War of the Worms", Copernicus' science project is a model of the solar system, but with Flat Earth being in the center of it. Later at the end, Emily helps Copernicus rebuild his model by replacing the flat earth with a lemon, which represents the sun. However, being The Ditz that he is, Copernicus now thinks that the center of the solar system is a giant lemon. He then eats it.
    • The Tuttles visit an actual Flat Earth, also known as "Flearth", in "Cake, Pies, and Flat Earth Guys". Funnily enough, everything on Flearth is also flat; from cardboard-cutout trees and buildings to Paper People.

    Real Life 
  • The idea of everyone thinking the world was flat wasn't universal. Through history some people thought it was flat, some thought it may be round, but for the most part people probably didn't worry themselves about it much. While many people cite the idea that when a ship sailed to sea the mast was the last thing to disappear to the observer, the problem is that by the time a ship is that far out at sea (several miles for a 5.5-foot-tall person), the ship is so small to the unaided eye it's hard to make out the mast — and telescopes weren't developed until 1608 — a time when the fact that the Earth was round had been proven practically.
    • Fortunately it works both ways and ancient seafarers were aware that from ships approaching land mountaintops or lights atop beacon towers were visible earlier than the lower-lying areas of land, obscured by curvature of the Earth.note  This was pointed out by Graeco-Roman geographer Strabo in the 1st century CE - who also claimed that this was already mentioned in one verse of Homer's Odyssey. In other words, knowledge of the Earth's curvature is Older Than Feudalism - at least for the educated and/or interested people.
    • The first mention of a spherical Earth in history comes from 6th century BC Greece, but that doesn't mean the idea hadn't been batted around already.
    • In the Book of Job there is mention of a "circle of darkness" on the "waters" which could refer to the spherical shape of Earth. This would mean that some Hebrews knew about the true shape of the world around 2-3000 years ago.
    • The first person recorded to measure the circumference was Eratosthenes in 240 BC. Using the angles of shadows at noon, he was within a 2%-20% margin — pretty good for what he had to work with.
    • The "flat-Earth error" is a pervasive misconception that Europeans during the Middle Ages had no idea the Earth was spherical. St Thomas Aquinas wrote in the first part of his Summa Theologiae that the sciences are distinguished by the means of how knowledge is attained and cites how an astronomer and a physicist can both conclude that the Earth is round.
    • By the time of Columbus (1492) most educated people understood the Earth was round. There was less fear of Columbus sailing off the edge of the world than the simple fact that he was sailing into uncharted waters and no one knew when/if he would run into land. Also, Columbus had far underestimated the actual size of the Earth and combined that with the largest estimation of how far Asia stretched eastward to conclude that the distance from Europe to Asia westward was only about 2,500 miles (in reality, it's closer to 15,000 miles). See analysis by Samuel Eliot Morison in Admiral of the Ocean Sea. He was lucky enough to find Hispaniola (modern-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic) where he thought Asia was and died believing he had reached India (hence the name "West Indies" for the Caribbean islands).
    • The fact that the Earth was round was finally demonstrated by Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe, starting in 1519.
    • The model familiar to us from middle eastern mythology (and later the Bible) didn't have edges you could sail off of, the dome of the metal (or sometimes crystal) sky just met the ground at the edges. Everything outside the dome was made of water.
  • Some people with sophisticated astronomies, like the Indians, Chinese, and Mayans, still believed the Earth to be flat.
    • Aryabhata, better known as the Indian guy who invented trigonometry, decimal numerals, and algebra before al-Jabr, averted this: he not only advocated for a spherical Earth, but also that the Earth rotated, rather than the common perception that the celestial sphere rotated around the Earth. He even calculated the Earth's diameter to a surprisingly accurate degree.
  • Some people still believe this to be the case. In the words of The Other Wiki, the Flat Earth Society "seeks to further the belief that the Earth is flat instead of an oblate spheroid." Interestingly, they believe that the Earth is actually shaped like the azimuthal projection on the United Nations flag, which explains the whole sailing around the world thing at least.
  • Related to the above, in 2017 Mike Hughes from California made repeated headlines trying to prove Earth's flatness by shooting himself into the "atmosflat" with a home-made, steam-powered rocket launched from a modified RV. After a failed attempt of his in 2014 already led to serious injuries that crippled him for several weeks, this one ran into different obstacles, like federal authorities denying him launch permission on public land, forcing him to relocate to private property. Hughes finally managed to launch his rocket in 2018, but only reached a height of around 5% of the amount needed to see the curvature of the Earth. Hughes continued working on another rocket design to get the needed height, but tragically died in February of 2020 during his latest launch.
  • Data from missions that have studied the cosmic microwave background, such as Planck, show the Universe to be flat to the limit of their measurements. However this simply means space has no curvature or it's so small that cannot be detected. It's not known if it means the Universe extends to infinity withnote  or without curvature, is finite (and very big) but with a flat geometry such as a torus, or it's finite, very big, and curved.note  It should also be noted that this "flatness" is a metaphorical 2-dimensional projection of the four dimensions of spacetime and that the acceleration of the universe's expansion is within an order of magnitude of Einstein's "Universal Constant", which he'd added to the wrong side of his field equation to explain what we then believed to be a static universe.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The World Is Flat, Flat Earth



The Tuttles visit a dimension where a flat Earth actually exists. Even better, everything and everyone on the planet is flat as well.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / FlatWorld

Media sources: