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Gravity Sucks

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Ko-Dan Officer: Stardrive out. Thrusters out. We're caught in the moon's gravitational pull. What do we do?
Lord Kril: [matter-of-factly] We die.

When it is mentioned at all, the force of gravity is often portrayed as a sort of cosmic quicksand, an intractable mire that can yank spacecraft out of the sky without any consideration of orbital momentum. Frequently accompanied by exclamations like, "We're caught in the planet's gravitational field!" or "We're being sucked in!"

Obviously not Truth in Television. Gravity is what allows stable orbits to exist — without gravity, Earth would just fly away from the Sun (disregarding for a minute that without gravity, both would never have formed in the first place). Even increasing gravity, until a certain point, would not cause an orbiting body to fall onto the planet, but would simply shift it to a different orbit.

Black Holes are particular offenders of this nature, because everyone knows that their gravitational pull is so powerful even light cannot escape and the subatomic particles that constitute you will be ripped apart. Scientists even called this effect "spaghettification". In reality, this only applies past the event horizon of the black hole, not the orbiting accretion disk around it. From a distance, the gravity of a black hole is no different than that of any other massive body like a star, and it's even theoretically possible to have planets orbiting them. See also Analysis for cases on when this trope does not apply and when it does.

A subtrope of Artistic License – Space and the cousin of Space Friction. See also Gravity Master, when a character has the power to control it. Not to Be Confused with Gravity Falls.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball Z, the gravity from King Kai's miniature planet, which manages to be at 10 times the gravity as on Earth despite its size, doesn't affect anything unless it gets within a few hundred feet, then you immediately get pulled toward it. To be fair, that is in the afterlife, so there's no reason the physical laws would be the same, or even exist.note 
  • In Pokémon: Giratina and the Sky Warrior, there is A LOT of sucking in and out of the Reverse world through super gravity portals. It happens so much, it's not even funny.
  • This is one of the aspects of Blackbeard's Devil Fruit power in One Piece. He essentially becomes a black hole that draws everything into it. One downside to this is that he cannot dodge anything.
  • In the finale of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency, a volcanic eruption sends Kars and Joseph hurtling upward into space. The latter falls back down to Earth, but the slight velocity increase from a vent of gas sent the former hurtling into infinite space.

    Film — Animated 
  • The logical (illogical) extension of this occurs in Treasure Planet. The absence of gravity is the presence of antigravity. When the ship's gravity generators are turned off temporarily, rather than simply hovering in the vacuum of space, everything loose starts falling up - and continues to accelerate upwards, even if it isn't touching anything else.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Astronaut Farmer has loads of horrible physics, but one shining example is the eponymous character's reentry. After a de-orbit burn lasting less than a few seconds, the craft appears to stop, and just drops straight down.
  • The Last Starfighter: Alex knocks out the engine of the Ko-Dan command ship and a nearby moon does the rest, "sucking" it in.
  • When Mike crashes into, then attempts to save, the Hubble Space Telescope in MST3K: The Movie, it immediately drops away and falls to Earth. An incredulous Mike points out that it couldn't possibly do that.
  • Quantum Apocalypse is a Disaster Movie revolving around a strangelet, which is portrayed as a gravity vortex that only pulls in one direction. The word "suck" is actually used to describe what it does.
  • In Starship Troopers a fleet of spaceships is being attacked by bug plasma from the surface. Once hit the ships start to drop towards the surface at alarming angles and speeds.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek III. When the Enterprise's Self-Destruct Mechanism activates, the explosions in the saucer section are sufficient to knock it out of orbit and plummet dramatically as it burns up in the atmosphere.
    • Star Trek (2009): Kirk, Sulu and Ensign Ricky drop straight down toward Vulcan's surface as soon as they jump out of the shuttlecraft.
    • In Star Trek Into Darkness, the Enterprise is knocked out of warp near Lunar orbit. After some action, we find out that the ship has been caught in Earth's gravity and is rapidly falling, despite the fact that it would take a long time for an object close to the Moon to fall to Earth (it's more likely to fall into the Moon, actually).
  • Star Wars
    • The Star Destroyers fall (into a planet, moon or even Death Star) immediately after being severely hit. Fridge Logic hits when you realize this doesn't happen to the Death Star at Endor.
    • Very clear example of this in Revenge of the Sith. The Separatist flagship gets shot once too often and promptly plunges straight down. The massive deceleration that would have been needed to allow this would probably have flattened everyone on board the ship. That would be an issue, if the battle were taking place in orbit rather than the upper atmosphere, where the ships were more or less at sub-orbital speeds anyway.
    • The Super-Star-Destroyer-into-Death-Star was explained in the novel as them being at full speed maneuvering through the battle, and that A-Wing crashing into the bridge disabled the controls and the entire command hierarchy. If they hadn't been aimed directly at the Death Star, then they could have reestablished control from engineering and brought her back around. As Imperial designers were more concerned about a mutiny than the 1-in-a-million chance that you would be aimed at an object large enough to do damage when the bridge is destroyed, it wasn't designed to be easy to do.
    • A strange example in The Last Jedi, is at the beginning when the rebels mount a bombing run on an attacking Star Destroyer. The bombers have bomb racks straight out of WWII, in which the bomb bay doors open and the unguided bombs simply drop onto the target. In space. It helps that they're aided in their fall by the ship's artificial gravity, and simply retain that motion once they enter space.
  • Supernova has one scene where the medical ship Nightingale drops like a rock toward a moon as soon as it completes its FTL jump. Most of the movie's physics are accurate, but the ship would have retained the velocity and momentum it had before the jump. Even if the ship's velocity relative to the moon was below the moon's escape velocity, it would not have plummeted straight down.
  • Wing Commander has Beacon 147, a Negative Space Wedgie also known as Scylla. Apparently, it's a powerful gravity well in the Solar System which we've somehow never noticed.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: Averted; there is no "gravity suction" on the nukes Apocalypse shoots beyond the Earth's atmosphere, but this runs into a different kind of artistic license. The null-gravity effect experienced by astronauts is about moving around the world, not moving up far enough.

  • Inverted in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. When the Elevator gets "too high", it spontaneously starts orbiting the Earth.
  • Justified in Andre Norton's Sargasso of Space, where the entire planet was turned by the Precursors into a superweapon capable of generating a very powerful gravity-like field that pulls spaceships from afar (possibly even from hyperspace) and crashes them on the surface of the planet.
  • In The Skylark of Space, DuQuesne's ship is caught in the pull of a dead star. Notably it induces a sickening sensation of falling even though the characters are now used to freefall.
  • Deconstructed in Robert A. Heinlein’s Starman Jones:
    Sam: Suppose you were on a ship for Mars and they announced that the power plant had gone blooie and the ship was going to spiral into the Sun? What would you think?
    Max: I'd think somebody was trying to scare me. (... A) spiral isn't one of the possible orbits. And (...) if a ship was headed for Mars from Earth, it couldn't fall into the Sun; the orbit would be incompatible.
  • Actually averted in the Star Wars Legends novel Vector Prime, where the weird gravity device used by the Yuuzhan Vong to Colony Drop Sernpidal's moon onto the planet does not cause a "sucking" effect, but instead the moon's orbit decays more or less realistically every time it passes over the device. Not that there's anything realistic about a superweapon that produces a gravitational force greater than a planet's.
  • Justified via A Wizard Did It in The Stormlight Archive. Windrunners can create what's known as a Reverse Lashing, a bubble of folded gravity around an object that pulls projectiles towards it. This is primarily because Gravitation (the magical Surge that regulates Lashings) is a variant on the usual Gravity Master powerset: It redefines "down" for anything affected by Lashings. In this way, unattached items suddenly find that their "down" is substituted with "toward the Lashed object"

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit": The Doctor repeatedly says that it's "impossible" for a planet to be orbiting of a black hole — and when the artificial gravity machine fails, the planet gets sucked straight inward, as is the spaceship in which the humans are trying to escape.
    • "Voyage of the Damned": The starship Titanic begins to predictably crash into the Earth as soon as its engines fail. This might be justified, though, as the ship's owner was planning to crash it, so it was already on a collision course to begin with.
    • "The Name of the Doctor": The TARDIS drops like a stone towards the planet Trenzalore the very second the Doctor turns off the anti-gravs. To be fair, the TARDIS was probably not actually in orbit (instead using "anti-gravs" to simply hover in place).
  • In an early episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, a number of space dog skeletons (or whatever they were called) were piling up onto the space station in such numbers that they were weighing the station down to the point where it was dropping the orbit. Remember the MST3K Mantra.
  • An example of failing to recognize what an orbit is shows up in Stargate Atlantis. In "Inferno", they jump a ship to "orbit" using the hyperdrive and magically going into orbit (their sublight propulsion/maneuvering system was inoperable at the time). In reality, the ship would start to fall. Fast. Usually the problem of orbit vs. altitude is handwaved via the same mechanism which brakes the ship as it goes sub-light. That's the kind of thing which makes it so hard to make an actually realistic space simulator appear as realistic to the layman.
  • Blake's 7. In "Deliverance", the "gravity compensators" of a spacecraft are sabotaged, causing it to be caught in the "gravity drag" of a nearby planet.

    Video Games 
  • Recca has this boss who fires out two kinds of gravity wells, blue ones which suck your ship towards them and white ones that repel your ship. This is an NES game...
  • Halo:
    • Pelican dropships are shown dropping like a stone the second they are released from the spaceship suspending them above the surface of the planet below. Justified in that the spaceship itself is actually using its own systems to propel the Pelicans a bit; in fact, the Pelicans don't fall - they drift along until they engage their own propulsion. A more extreme mechanism is used for the ODST drop pods - they aren't dropped, they're literally shot out of the ship.
    • In Halo 5: Guardians, two of the power weapons you can requisition in the "Warzone" multiplayer mode are the "Void's Tear", a plasma pistol with special overcharge shots that can suck in and tear apart even tanks, and the T-50δ, a beam rifle which creates an unstable gravimetric vortex at wherever it fires at.
  • In Dead Space, the Ishimura ends up in a decaying orbit, and you have to restart the engines, and later Kendra tries to kill you by dropping a piece of the planet on you.
  • In Defense of the Ancients, the Enigma's Black Hole Last Disc Magic Limit Break acts like the stereotypical black hole, sucking stuff towards itself.
  • Final Fantasy X has multiple cutscenes of Sin manipulating gravity. One of them is actually listed as "Gravity Sucks" if you view it again in the Sphere Theater in Luca. Rocks are actually shown floating off of the moon in a roughly straight line toward Spira, implying this trope is somewhat in effect.
  • In Galaxy Angel II - Zettai Ryouiki no Tobira, Kahlua loses control of her ship because it will only respond to her alter ego Tequila (who at the time is afflicted by a curse and turned into a Superpowered Evil Side), and it plunges toward a planet.
  • In Mass Effect, the offensive “Singularity” skill works by creating a miniature black hole that levitates surrounding mooks in orbits around itself. On one hand, it is never strong enough to actually completely pull a person into the event horizon: however, it doesn’t affect anything beyond mooks and nothing will happen outside its 3-5 m effective radius. Enemies even slightly outside of this radius would not even have their movement impeded.
  • Mega Man 5 and Mega Man X3 actually avert this with the Gravity Hold and Gravity Well- both of them affect the entire screen. Played straight with Black Hole Bomb from Mega Man 9 and Squeeze Bomb from Mega Man X8- only enemies near the black hole get sucked in.
  • Averted in Osmos, which revolves around controlling and expanding a primordial cell in an aquatic environment. Since cells are too early in their evolution to have limbs, the only way to propel oneself is through inertia from ejecting pieces of itself, and once started, the cell will keep going due to inertia.
    • Similarly, some levels have Attractor or Repulsor special cells, which will push surrounding cells towards or away from them. Their influence is always present and gradually increases as your cell gets closer.
  • Played straight with black holes in Solar 2.
  • The orbital mechanics in the mobile game Space Agency are a little strange. On one hand, objects orbiting a planet are not going to fall as long as their orbital speed is in the "green" range. If it drops to the "yellow" range, the orbit will rapidly decay until the object either impacts the planet or lands (this is how you land on LUN and splash-down on HOM). Within the "green" range, your speed can change any which way, but your orbit won't change. To escape a planet's gravity, you just accelerate until the "red" range, at which the craft will shoot off out of its orbit in a straight line. Each planet has a ring shown around it, marking the limit of its gravitational pull. If you enter the "ring" at speeds in the "green" range, your craft will be instantly placed in a stable orbit. It's also entirely possible for objects to move at very different speeds in the same orbit.
  • The actual phrase appears as a graffiti in a prison cell in Space Quest 6.
  • As in the Film examples, Star Destroyers in the Star Wars Rogue Squadron series are prone to make sudden vertical 90-degree turns as soon as they're critically damaged; Rogue Leaders who aren't careful during the Battle of Endor will suddenly find the Star Destroyer they'd disabled swooping forward to crash into them.
  • Touhou Project has Suika and her ability to manipulate density. As this includes the creation of Black Holes, this trope is naturally present in the games she appears in.
    • Also Utsuho and her last spell card in TH11. Koishi of the same game has a similar spellcard, but it pushes you away instead — to a wall of danmaku with KILL written all over it.
    • Koishi's Suppression "Superego" spellcard in 13.5 plays it straight. Get too close to her and you get damaged.
  • Unreal features Na Pali, a planet that is notorious for pulling ships into its gravity field.
  • In Alien: Isolation, the space station Sevastopol falls into the atmosphere of a gas giant after an explosion disables its "orbital stabilizers".
  • The Sorceress' Gravity spell in Dragon's Crown works in this manner. It creates a black dome that forcibly sucks in every Mook caught in it towards its center, leaving them easy pickings for your team's attacks.
  • Star Trek Online:
    • One power players gain access to is the Gravity Well, a Science ability that allows players to create the titular spacial distortion, allowing them to pull enemies in. Since it's drawn from one's Auxiliary power level, the higher the power level, the stronger the pull. This is perfect for players to pull enemies in then nail them with either Beam: Fire at Will/Cannon: Scatter Volley and Torpedo: Spread.
    • Romulan ships, as they run on artificial singularities, have this effect when their ships are destroyed - their ships are pulled into their own overloading cores and anyone caught near them will be pulled in, then pushed away by the core's resulting explosion.

    Web Animation 
  • Dreamscape: Keedran, in her monster form, can open up a miniature vortex in her body that leads to a pocket dimension inside her, close it up, and then crush whoever is within her. If the target can't be crushed, they are permanently trapped instead.
  • DSBT InsaniT: Discussed by Andy in Frog in 'VRcade' about how black holes work.
    • Amber can generate a black hole...but it takes awhile to form. She has to run around the rings of a miniature Saturn to create it.
    • K-Seal can create a vacuum by diving through the ice really fast.

  • The Perry Bible Fellowship: "Astronaut Fall," in which an astronaut falls from space. This doesn't make any sense unless they were performing a spacewalk during a launch (i.e. before their ship reached orbit), or if he was launched away at a ridiculous relative speed (at least a few hundred meters per second). Slipping off a ship or space station in orbit would just leave him stuck in a slightly different orbit.

    Western Animation 
  • The Angry Beavers: The Sun's gravity in one episode takes this and manages to make it even less scientifically accurate, albeit covered by Rule of Funny. Upon discovering that this is the case for the Sun, the Beavers conclude that since gravity is like a river, they should do what beavers do best and dam that river. It works, although they may doom the planet Earth to a freezing death in the process.
    • Also almost said word for word by Norbert when they get trapped underground and eventually reach the Earth's Core. ("Sometimes... Gravity stinks.") When they're on the core itself, they're flat and baritone, and when they're off they're stretched out and higher pitched.
  • Played for comedy in the Rex the Runt episode "Adventures on Telly 3" - the entire planet (which the gang have accidentally deflated like a balloon) gets sucked into an Unrealistic Black Hole, complete with gurgling plughole sound effect.