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Giant Corpse World

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Land made out of a huge corpse. The dead body of a creature or giant so immense, people can live, grow crops and build houses on it. Sometimes it will be a literal, fleshy corpse, while other times its remnants will be transformed after death into more familiar substances such as stone and soil. Or maybe it consisted of those substances to begin with.

While these worlds are usually the regular, inert sort of dead, you may occasionally find undead corpse worlds, which can cross over with tropes such as Genius Loci and are more likely to be treated as inherently horrible places than other examples of this trope.

This trope is Older Than Dirt as numerous mythologies notably Mesopotamia thought the world was made from the corpse of some primal god or monster.

A landscape made of just the skeleton would probably be a Monster-Shaped Mountain — a stone mountain either shaped like a creature, or made out of a creature. Typically a far less squicky variety.

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For the still-living version, see Genius Loci, Turtle Island, Undead Abomination or Womb Level. See also Ribcage Ridge, which may overlap with this trope if the ridge is sufficiently big and inhabited. They may occasionaly involve Body Horror and Squick. Not the same as Corpse Land, a land full of corpses.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Inverted in The Authority: There is a giant (God, sort of) and there are things living in it (alien tapeworms having lived in his guts for so long they've evolved a civilization with cities), but the giant is very much alive. Instead, the team has to kill it (or rather make it brain-dead so as not to wipe out the aforementioned tapeworms) as it wants to de-terraform Earth into the Mordor-looking landscape that it intended Earth to have when it created the planet.
  • Beautiful Darkness is about a community of fairies living in the corpse of a little girl who got lost in the woods and died.
  • DC Comics: Terra's backstory is retconned into her being an engineered super soldier from a subterranean civilization that evolved in the body of a massive space alien that crashed on Earth. The spacesuit that protected it from the rigors of space travel kept its body intact as the DNA and Mutagenic Goo of its body diverged evolution within it from that of all other life on Earth.
  • Secret Identities has the Front Line's base in the body of a giant alien they killed on their first mission as a team. When newcomer Crosswind joins, the giant's antibodies have to be calibrated so they don't attack him. The end of the comic has other aliens showing up to avenge their fallen.
  • X-Men: The 1980s Brood storyline. The Death World surrounding one of the alien bases is in fact the semi-decomposed corpse of one of the Space Whales they had enslaved as Living Ships. To give an idea of the scale, the tips of the ribs poke out of the planetary atmosphere.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: The mining colony of Knowhere is built in the decapitated head of an ancient celestial being. Due to the nature of the planetoid it inhabits, the main resource it mines is actually the celestial being's cerebral fluid.
  • The Bone Slums in Pacific Rim are shanty towns built in and around the colossal remains of a Kaiju.
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    Literature 
  • Alan Dean Foster: Played with in short story "Gift of a Useless Man", in which a space traveller who crashes on an alien planet and is left almost completely paralyzed enters a symbiotic relationship with a telepathic, sentient insect colony, which could have been played for Body Horror but ends up sweet.
  • Angel Notes: The protagonist lives in a city built in and around the corpse of the Ultimate Life Form of Venus, which came to Earth to punish humanity for destroying Earth's spirit, Gaia, and with it, Earth's capacity to support life. Humans managed to kill it, however, and discovered that while Earth cannot support agriculture anymore, Venus still can, so they settled the alien's corpse and grow crops on it in order to survive.
  • Bas-Lag Cycle: The stories heavily feature the city of New Crobuzon, built in the shadow of the ribcage of a giant dead... something.
  • The Elder Empire: Nakothi, the Dead Mother, slowly transformed the island where she was buried into a massive corpse, with flesh for ground, a recognizable ribcage, and even tendons stretching throughout the structure. One person theorizes that she was trying to build herself a new body.
  • Ender's Game: Ender accidentally creates one of these, with the corpse of a giant he killed in a video game eventually becoming a village.
  • Jacek Dukaj: In "Linia Oporu", an in-universe MMO game is set inside a corpse of a colossal dragon, with whole cities in its guts.
  • Lucius Shepard has a series of stories about people living in towns on and around the body of a gigantic dragon — who isn't entirely dead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Farscape: "Home on the Remains" is set in a space "mining" colony that is actually looking for valuable substances in the corpse of an asteroid-sized Space Whale.

    Myths & Religion 
  • In Aztec Mythology, Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl created all dry land from the body of the primeval sea monster Cipactli.
  • In Chinese Mythology, after the death of Pan-gu, his body was made into the earth, his blood the sea, his eyes the sun and moon, and the lice around his body was turned into people.
  • In Mesopotamian Mythology, the god Marduk slew the goddess Tiamat, and he created the world from her corpse.
  • Norse Mythology: Ymir, the Father of the World. After the gods slew him, they made the whole world from his dead body — his flesh became the land, his blood the sea, his bones the mountains, his hair trees and vegetation, his skull the dome of heaven and his brains the clouds. In some traditions, the insects and maggots on his body were gifted with reason and transformed into the first dwarfs.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • One of the setting's nastier abominations is Atropus, the world born dead, a planet crawling with undead whose arrival in a system heralds disaster and that only leaves dead worlds in its wake. It's fairly consistent that it's the remains of something huge and (un)dead, but its exact nature varies — sometimes it's an enormous atropal (the undead corpse of a stillborn god), while other times it's the head of a colossal primordial being.
    • The current incarnation of the sixth layer of Hell, Malbolge, is formed out of the corpse of its former ruler, Malagard the Hag Countess. Its mountains, for instance, used to be the Hag Countess' bones, and there is a tunnel that used to be her throat that still contracts and expands rhythmically.
    • The Githyanki capital of Tu'narath is a metropolis built on — and into — the colossal, petrified corpse of a forgotten god, adrift in the timeless Void Between the Worlds of the Astral Plane.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE: In "The Kingdom" alternate dimension, Mata Nui, who is usually a Genius Loci, dies after Matoro fails to revive him. This causes a large exodus of nearly every being inside him to the island above due to the Pit Mutagen flooding most domes inside.

    Video Games 
  • Brütal Legend is set in a world created from the remains of the Eternal Firebeast Ormagoden, who was killed by the primordial First Ones and whose flesh/bones and blood became the landmasses and the oceans of the world, respectively.
  • Doshin the Giant: When Doshin dies trying to stop the Tower of Babel, his corpse turns into an island. The player then has to play on an island that was their own body.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The series has the twin moons Masser and Secunda. They are not typical sub-planetoids, but are in fact said to be the decaying remains ("flesh divinity") of the long-"dead" creator god, Lorkhan, symbolizing how he was sundered during the creation of Mundus, the mortal plane. They, like the rest of the cosmos in the Elder Scrolls series, are implied to look like as they do because it is the best mortal minds can do to interpret it. The two moons go through technically impossible phases; stars are visible behind the dark parts when they're not full, and they are unaffected by the series' occasional Reality Warping Time Crashes, which allow their cycles to be used to determine the passage of time when linear time is otherwise not applying.
    • The Daedric Planes of Oblivion are the realms of the Daedric Princes, which are theorized to also be part of their very beings. When a Prince is weakened through one means or another, it is said that his Daedric Plane literally shrinks. According to Oblivion's main villain, Mankar Camoran, Mundus (the mortal realm) itself was originally the Daedric realm of the aforementioned "dead" god, Lorkhan. Very few other sources agree with Camoran, but he does offer a few valid points supporting his theory, such as Lorkhan being a being of chaos like the Daedra rather than a being of order, like the Aedra (who he convinced/tricked into creating Mundus).
  • Fallen London:
    • The game is in "the Neath", which, if the story can be believed, is inside the skull of a dead god. It's not really true, it's just an otherwise normal cavern that the Gods of the setting literally cannot see, which let the laws of reality start drifting.
    • Sunless Sea features two comparatively smaller examples, the Chelonate and the Gant Pole; the former is the corpse of a giant turtle large enough to be an island in its own right, with an entire town built in its rotting shell, while the latter is the submerged, petrified heart of something colossal, easily the size of most surface islands, and likewise hosting a settlement within itself.
  • In Hollow Knight, there are three notable examples:
    • The corpse of the enormous Wyrm that was the Pale King's original form rests in Kingdom's Edge, its decay covering the landscape in white ash.
    • The corpse or shell of a giant creature now serves as the exterior of the Colosseum of Fools.
    • The Temple of the Black Egg's entrance looks awfully like a giant fossil of a six-horned bug.
  • Knights Of The Crystallion is set in a city built in the skeleton of a gigantic creature.
  • Monster Hunter: World:
    • The Rotten Vale is a region where elder dragons go to die, and is formed from the corpses of two immense serpentine dragons known as Dalamadur. They're so huge that even centuries (or possibly millennia) after their deaths, their bodies are still decomposing.
    • The endgame area of the Iceborne expansion, the Guiding Lands, is heavily implied to stand upon the corpse of a Zorah Magdaros, a titanic volcano dragon; when one such dragon was previously encountered in the original story, it was speculated that the vast stores of bioenergy it was set to release upon its death would be enough to birth an entire new ecosystem.
  • Xenoblade takes place on the corpses of two gods the size of continents, the Bionis and the Mechonis, on which biological and mechanical life respectively developed over time. Of course, both giants turn out to be not dead, but in a deep slumber. Nasty things start happening when they begin to wake up.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the region known as the Cliffs of Morytha is said to be the remnants of a Titan that died long ago. You get to explore a small part of the Titan that was once the kingdom of Torna, now a barren, fossilized husk, having reached its final resting place far beneath the Cloud Sea 500 years ago.

    Webcomics 
  • Awful Hospital: The Inert Vessel, to initial appearances, is a "Fantastic Voyage" Plot, but it's eventually explained that Fern wasn't actually shrunk, but rather transported into an alternate dimension modeled after her own decomposing corpse, complete with Mega-Microbes citizenry and scavenger worms going about the business of decomposing it.
  • 1/0: In the beginning, the webcomic consists of an infinite blank white void. Then Teddy Weddy (a character from Sluggy Freelance) falls out of the sky, and dies. The rest of the story focuses on the strange, tiny creatures who find him and build a village on his corpse.
  • In Tower of God, the Tower's 43rd floor, "the Floor of Death", is made up of the rotting corpse of the floor's Administrator. It wasn't always this way, however, and the Administrator's body is mentioned as being "put to sleep".

    Western Animation 
  • In The Owl House, the main characters live on the Boiling Isles, an island chain formed from the utterly titanic corpse of a horned humanoid creature lying dead in the middle of a vast ocean.

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