Earth? That old dirtball? Who cares about that boring, useless planet crawling with its clueless lifeforms?
The opposite of Earth Is the Center of the Universe. Seems, if not the above, the main action is set on another civilized planet, and Earth is either radioactive, lost, forgotten, generally meaningless, or outright nonexistent in the setting of the work. It's not on any cosmic Evil Overlord's Take Over list, nor is it covered in any Milky Way Geography classes.
Double points for throwing in Earth All Along.
If the people on Earth think they're the center of the universe, but everyone else thinks they are just an Insignificant Little Blue Planet, then you can probably expect some sort of conflict over this or, at least, a few words about how stupid humans are for thinking that way.
See also: Earth That Was, Earth That Used to Be Better, and A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away.... Puny Earthlings usually goes hand-in-hand with this, for obvious reasons. Earth is also no longer the only planet subject to this — compare Pluto Is Expendable.
Can provoke Fridge Logic when aliens who plainly evolved in an environment similar to Earth call it thisas if their homeworlds were any different.
- Despite a good number of its cast being from Earth, to the Space/Time Administration of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha it's just "Non-Administrated World #97." Nobody looks down on earthlings, though, which somewhat both helps and hinders with its 'insignificance' status.
- Since Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, the setting is on Mid-Childa and the main characters have moved from Earth to there, with only two of them (Nanoha and Hayate) being real earthlings anyway. The Nakajima family is mentioned to originate from Earth, but we don't get specifics. The other characters from Earth don't have any origin there.
- In Cowboy Bebop, about half a century before the series, a disaster on the moon left a ring of moon rock orbiting Earth, with pieces regularly plummeting to the surface and causing problems for the inhabitants. Result: Mars is now the center of civilization, while Earth is a ghetto for those who couldn't afford to move off the planet.
Jet Black: Like I said: Nothing good ever comes from Earth.
- Haruhi Suzumiya: Initially, the Data Integration Entity almost completely ignored Earth. It's mostly "inhabited" by creatures who actually have to use physical matter to interact with each other, something at best, slightly interesting. But then one Haruhi Suzumiya showed evidence of being capable of "Auto-Evolution" and they had to start paying some real attention. They still don't really care about anyone else on the planet though. (Yuki Nagato doesn't count.)
- The primary motive of the Terran Cult in Legend of Galactic Heroes revolves around this trope. At one time Earth was the center of a massive colonial empire that spanned a significant portion of the galaxy. However, Earth began to brutally exploit and repress the people of its colonies, which led to a bloody revolution. The colonies barely scraped by with a victory and Earth was left a hollow shell of its former self, becoming less and less significant as time passed by. The Terran Cult's plan is to use organized religion and terrorist actions in order to manipulate politics and history so that Earth is made the center of the Universe once again.
Narrator: At this time, in the middle of the universe, an insignificant island, a galaxy, was at war.
- Furthermore, after they fail what little civilization left on Earth is destroyed. The protagonists respond to this with simple apathy.
- Also applied to the entire Milky Way during the show's opening monologue.
- In the final season of Sailor Moon, the main villain Sailor Galaxia, regards the earth this way. To the point, it's the last place she has in the Galaxy that she hasn't destroyed yet, which is the only reason she even bothers. Obviously she is proven wrong when the Senshi of earth actually beat her.
- In Tenchi Muyo!, Earth is just an insignificant [unaware] colony/territory of Jurai, the actual center of the universe in importance. Earth is only ever actually relevant to the overall story at all because the Jurian Emperor got one of his wives here, and her son lay low here for a few hundred years.
- Somewhat subverted in the third OAV series, when a person points out that due the main casts' presence there, Earth has technically become the single greatest concentration of power (in both the political and absolute sense) in the universe. It's just that very few people on the planet know it.
- In Gantz the aliens that save Earth from another alien race say this, along with the fact that human life is meaningless. Destruction of life is simply 'matter being reshaped.' Even when the humans try to point out that the alien took a vested interest in Earth, it simply says not to read too much into it.
- This is pretty much what attracted the Pict in Hetalia: Axis Powers: Paint it White. Said aliens expected Earth, with all its diverse countries and divisions to be a backwater that can easily be steamrolled. They thought wrong.
- In Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, the Galactic Patrol thinks this way about Earth, which is why they assigned their lowest member Jaco to help it, and remark that it wouldn't be a big deal if he failed.
- Dragon Ball:
- Most of the aliens and gods in Dragon Ball Z have this view of Earth. It was more or less said in Dragon Ball Minus (by the aforementioned Jaco, who even considered the anihilation of earthlings) and Dragon Ball Super: Broly that Frieza would have no interest in Earth, and King Cold is famous for calling it (in the Funimation dub) an insignificant mudball.
- Subverted with Beerus the God of Destruction and Whis who like the planet for the food and the Worthy Opponent in Goku and Vegeta. In Dragon Ball Super, Champa wants Earth for the food and wants to make a 5-on-5 tournament in owning it because his own Universe 6's Earth was ravaged by war. Basically, food pretty much makes Earth important enough to be spared! Further subverted when Whis makes an observation that those who interact with Earth and its native inhabitants have a tendency to end up changed by the experience... something which has even happened to Beerus, which is highly unusual.
- Calvin and Hobbes:
Test question: "What was the significance of the Erie Canal?"Calvin's answer: "In the cosmic sense, probably nil."
Calvin: I'M SIGNIFICANT!Calvin: ...screamed the dust speck.
- In another strip, Calvin is looking at the stars with Hobbes and talks about how small and insignificant Earth is in the universe... then says: "I wonder what's on TV now?".
- In yet another strip, Calvin is again looking at the stars with Hobbes:
Hobbes: What a clear night! Look at all the stars. Millions of them!Calvin: Yes, we're just tiny specks on a planet particle, hurling through the infinite blackness. (beat) Let's go in and turn on all the lights.
- In another, he's looking at the stars alone:
- Numerous members of the Green Lantern Corps in The DCU look down on Earth—partly because of Hal Jordan's actions as Parallax. Many others have never even heard of the planet or of the species that inhabits it.
- However, it has been revealed that while Oa is the center of the universe, Earth is the center of The Multiverse, destroy Earth and the rest of existence will follow.
- They do however like the food.
Flash: "Knew it! Johnny DOES have a chink in his armor! Bob and Terry's!" tosses carton of ice cream to Kilowog
Kilowog: (Chomp!) "Delicious!"
- However later that scene this notion is made fun of.
Flash: "Ahh, check this out, people's exhibit B! Old Yeller." tosses the video cassette to Kilowog
Kilowog: (Chomp!) "Delicious!"
- Also Guy opens up a Warrior (his superhero, namely him, theme restaurant) that does pretty well.
- There's also that Earth contains the Entity. Much like how the seven colors of the Emotional EM Spectrum have entities, the Entity here is the representation of the white light of life itself and so the prime target of the Eldritch Abomination, Nekron.
- In fact, the above reason is why the Guardians of Oa ensured Earth was viewed as insignificant; they downplayed Earth's importance to hide the existence of the Entity away and protect it. Furthermore, it being the center of the Multiverse, having it be out fo the way and not well known is a pretty good move.
- They've also been so far the only world with a significant amount (or at least known) magic users. The Guardians of Oa were also responsible as they gathered a majority of the magic in the universe and sealed it on Earth, viewing magic as very dangerous.
- Most of the alien races in the Marvel Universe view Earth in this way. Though while Earth is insignificant, population wise, it's in a pretty good area outside all the major intergalactic empires.
- Even some humans. After Annihilation Nova rips into Tony Stark for many of Earth's superheroes (some of whom have cosmic-level powers) having been totally wrapped up in what was, at the base, a bureaucratic dispute in the United States while he, entire civilizations, and cosmic entities including Galactus were fighting to save the entire universe.
- On the other hand, some aliens species fear Earth and their heroes since they have defeated several cosmic threats. The first time the Shi'ar went near Earth, their ship was scared of Earth because they are the only planet in the universe that stopped Galactus from eating their planet, twice.
- The Skrull Empire, after an adoption of manic religious fervour (and the event of Annihilation devastating their empire), decide Earth isn't so insignificant anymore, and devote everything to seizing it.
- In Nextwave, the Celestials derisively refer to Earth as an "orbiting trashcan".
- Similarly, the universe where most of Marvel's stories take place is numbered Earth #616 by at least one inter-dimensional organization.
- Several stories have subverted this by pointing out that this Earth is the most important one in the Multiverse. The numbering might be an intentional way of disguising its importance.
- See Number of the Beast. There are conflicting stories about where that number for the "core" universe comes from.
- Most of the aliens Mandrake the Magician has encountered (and for a crime-fighting stage magician, he has encountered surprisingly many aliens) view the Earth as this
- Scooby-Doo! Team-Up: Moltar doesn't expect Space Ghost to "find any useful help on a backward mudball like Earth!". Space Ghost even uses the word "primitives" to describe Earthlings.
- In Paperinik New Adventures the Evronians, who are currently trying to invade Earth, view it as so insignificant that the members of the Imperial Council have problem recalling its name. And the only reason they even bothered learning it is a combination of Earth being scheduled to have its oceans being used to cool off the engines of their Planet Spaceship and Earthling being relatively tough to conquer (enough they can't just bulldoze in).
- Later Subverted: the Evronians are Emotion Eaters who fuel most of their technology with stolen emotions with a process that drains the victim completely and forever, but Earthlings are so emotionally rich that a single shot of their Evronguns often isn't enough and they can recover... Meaning that humanity is an unending banquet and the possible solution to Evron's impending energy crisis. The Imperial Council still has trouble remembering the name.
- Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: While not Earth, Remnant is seen as a primitive mudball by the rest of the Star Wars galaxy. In terms of actual location, it's about as insignificant as you can get, being the lone planet in a remote star system within an uncharted area of the Unknown Regions. It's because of this trope that a team of adventurers maroon Darth Nihilus's mask there in order to hide it from the Galactic Empire. They also don't give much consideration to the people of Remnant and think nothing of leaving them to the mercy of a Planet Eater.
- Retro Chill plays this for laughs: the planet selector's explanation of Earth is "home to the most obsolete and stupidest aliens in the universe, THE EARTHLINGS!" Calvin argues against it, but the voice simply tells him that they're always fighting and have never visited another planet. He can't argue with that.
- From Bajor to the Black's viewpoint character isn't human. As far as Kanril Eleya is concerned, the only functional difference between Earth and any other Class M rock is that she has to pay taxes to it.
- The Gift: After Shinji and company defeat God, thereby freeing their universe from God's interference, the demons of Hell largely ignore Earth. Sure, some of them stop by from time to time (mostly as a vacation), but they have an entire universe to use.
- In Lilo & Stitch, Earth is considered quite insignificant, but is left alone by the aliens primarily because they have declared it a protected wildlife sanctuary. For mosquitoes. (Since humans are a major food source for mosquitoes, that means humans are also protected.) That was a bit of a diplomatic coup by the black ops division charged with dealing with aliens. The "diplomatic coup" portion at the end was a last-minute decision by the writers when they realized they'd need a good reason for Cobra Bubbles not to be surprised at all by the aliens. It also made a neat explanation for why a social worker would look like a Secret Service Agent.
- In Titan A.E., the aliens don't particularly care that Earth got destroyed. Those that do treat the surviving humanity as scum, teetering at the edge of extinction. The aliens didn't care, but the humans sure did. In fact, the entire movie is based around finding a device that can rebuild Earth. This proves to be a Despair Event Horizon for Korso, but he gets better.
- Flash Gordon. Ming and Klytus don't think much of the planet... Earth (stressing the word as the synonym for "dirt").
- In Battle Beyond the Stars Space Cowboy proudly tells everyone he's from Earth but no one has ever heard of it.
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes ends with the Earth being destroyed by the Doomsday Bomb. The somber voiceover man says, "In one of the countless billions of galaxies in the universe, lies a medium-sized star, and one of its satellites, a green and insignificant planet, is now dead."
- In Battlefield Earth, the aliens stationed on our post apocalyptic planet hate it because it's boring, small and the gravity's too low. They use any humans they can catch as slave labor but the captain of the settlement says that he would much rather use dogs. At first he saw them as more useful, but they lack the appendages needed for certain jobs. Most of the aliens are convinced that humans have no language and are too stupid to learn whatever the aliens speak in. The blow is softened a little when a man does learn the alien language and the captain enjoys explaining to him how it only took his ancestors 15 minutes to destroy all human civilization after finding Earth. Softened in that even though humanity's last stand was pathetic, he purposely wanted his staff not to know humans had some intelligence
- Even the defense wasn't that pathetic; they teleported in a massive number of gas weapons in a move no race had survived in three universes of conquests.
- Summed up nicely by Ron Perlman in Alien: Resurrection:
Johner: Earth, man. What a shithole.
- Which of course they proceed to make even worse by crashing a military starship into the surface. Granted, they did so to kill the Xenomorphs, but still...
- In The Last Starfighter, Earth is an underdeveloped backwater notable mainly for being neutral in the war between the Star League and the Kodan Armada and off-limits for mercenary Starfighter recruiters. That is, until Alex Rogan beat a certain video game...
- However, it's not that neutral.
Centauri: Earth's in danger, too, isn't it?
- However, it's not that neutral.
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Criminologist sums it up at the end.
And crawling note , on the planet's facenote Some insects, note called the Human Racenote Lost in time note and lost in space noteAnd meaning noteChorus: Meaning...
- In Men in Black, Earth's position as such is zigzaggd. On the one hand, Earth is viewed by a majority of the galaxy as an inconsequential mudball. However, because it's an inconsequential mudball, it exists as neutral territory and gets used a lot as such, going so far as to have members of alien royalty staying there.
- The ending suggests that Earth and the entire Milky Way exists inside a marble.
- The sequel implies all of existence is like that or at least structured in layers like K's locker
- In Star Trek: First Contact, we see how Earth transitions from this trope to Earth Is the Centre of the Universe, after Zefram Cochrane makes his first warp flight and sees the Earth from a distance:
Cochrane: Is that Earth?
Geordi: That's it!
Cochrane: It's so small...
Riker: It's about to get a whole lot bigger.
- In The Avengers, this is the Chitauri's attitude towards Earth, until the Avengers prove them wrong.
- In Avengers: Endgame, Thanos from 2014 views the Earth as this after learning that The Avengers will never stop interfering with his plans, and tells them that for the first time in his long career of conquest, he is going to enjoy burning the Earth to ash for all the trouble it has caused.
- Discussed in Hellraiser: Bloodline when Pinhead says that the insignificant creatures that walk the Earth only look to the light and are oblivious to the untold darkness beyond. He's delighted to see it reduced to a world of suffering and death when he takes over.
- The whole Star Wars franchise is set "a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away". Earth has never even been mentioned.
- Suburban Commando; Shep's nonchalant reaction to finding out where he has to crash-land his spaceship:
Shep: Earth? I hate Earth.
- In the Animorphs, the Andalites basically view Earth this way, as they continually refuse to send aid against the Yeerk invasion. It's the Yeerks, actually, who realize that Humans Are Special in that they make the perfect race to be conquered.Actually, Earth isn't that special
- Isaac Asimov:
- At the time of The Caves of Steel and its immediate sequels, Earth is primitive and backward compared to the Spacer worlds. Later, in his Empire series, humans have spread through the Galaxy and no longer even remember which planet is the homeworld. Earth is one claimant, but most people don't believe it, as it's become a radioactive ghetto.
- Foundation Series: Except for one person, R. Daneel Olivaw, nobody even remembers where the Earth is until Trevize, Pelorat, and Bliss find it in Foundation and Earth (the original name of the planet was even lost, so they try several missteps, including Gaia, Aurora, and Alpha). The question of the "Origin Planet" is studied by historians as early as "The Encyclopedists", where an amateur recites claims that "Earth" is from the Sirius sector of the galaxy, but is personally more invested in the claim that Arcturus is the origin of humanity. Earth has actually been made too radioactive to support life.
- John D. MacDonald's Ballroom Of The Skies: The galactic government deliberately keeps Earth impoverished and war-torn... because that toughens Earthpeople spiritually to the point that they make good recruits — to run the galactic government.
- Rebecca Ore's Being Alien trilogy makes Earth this by default because it portrays aliens as "just folks". The main concern for the Federation is that humans are violent xenophobic/philic flip-flops.
- The Bible
- The heavens are the glorious abode of God and His angels, where everyone lives forever, where as Earth is a degenerate realm of dirt and sin where all who tread upon it are destined to die after a handful of miserable decades.
- The Christian view of geocentrism was quite the opposite of how we think of it today. To a 12th Century cleric, the geocentric model placed the other bodies above the Earth, making us the dumping ground of the universe.
- Oleg Divov's Brothers In Reason: After the events of Steel Heart, Timofey Kostenko contacted some aliens and moved to their planet (he has a family there now). He still comes back every year or so. At first, it was a necessary part of his adaptation treatment. Then, it's mostly to satisfy his feelings of nostalgia and to visit the grave of his dead Love Interest. He explains to Igor Volkov that aliens view Earth as a garbage dump and turn their noses when passing it. Even for Timofey it's implied to be the last time he decides to visit his home planet, especially since he has just betrayed a childhood friend of his. On the other hand, not everyone has the luxury of being an extremely-powerful psychic who can call aliens to him. Of course, the events of the novel do show that Timofey may be right.
- In Mark Twain's "Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven", the protagonist finds out when dealing with the Celestial Bureaucracy that there are apparently many planets with intelligent species called "world", all of them saved by Jesus, and that our one is known as "Wart".
- In Donald Kingsbury's Courtship Rite, Earth isn't even a legend to the Getans, and when they finally discover and decrypt ancient historical documents that tell them about the world of their ancestors, their feelings are quite mixed. Though they're no strangers to violence, the idea of war, with its indiscriminate killing, seems like such a waste of tasty protein.
- Henrik Wergeland`s Magnum Opus, Creation Man And The Messiah has two celestial spirits ponder the newly created earth, with one of them asking "is God present in this lump"? The question is followed by a rant, casting doubt about whether this particular planet is "of any particular interest".
- Wergeland defined God as a being who literally spawned new planets while walking through cosmos ("planets are in his footprints").
- In Creatures of Light and Darkness, humanity has spread across the stars, and the only mention of Earth is as the original home, many centuries ago, of the immortal Steel General.
- Iain M. Banks has The Culture roaming the galaxy in the 12th Century, and they're not the only ones. They don't know about Earth until one of their ships visits in 1977, and even then they decide not to contact us. Though Consider Phlebas has an appendix which calls itself part of a "Contact-approved Earth Extro-Information Pack" made in 2110, so presumably they came back by then. Dammit.
- Dante's The Divine Comedy: In Paradisio, he makes this observation in Canto 22 after entering the Eighth Sphere of Heaven:
And turning there with the eternal Twins,
I saw the dusty little threshing ground
that makes us ravenous for our mad sins,
saw it from mountain crest to lowest shore.
Then I turned my eyes to Beauty's eyes once more.
- In Walter William's Dread Empire's Fall planets are important based on the number of wormhole connections in their system. Earth's unimportant enough that a character gets assigned there for punishment. The race who for a time managed to defend themselves against the Empire's expansion is the bird-like Lai-Own, humans got steamrolled over like nearly everybody else. It is mentioned that humanity's only contribution to galactic culture is pottery and the equally tempered tonescale.
- The existence of Earth is also considered dubious in E. C. Tubb's nearly endless Dumarest of Terra series, chronicling the Earth-born hero's attempt to find his home planet. The final stories make clear that a fan theory is in fact Canon: Earth is the Cyclan base planet.
- In Frank Herbert's Dune series, humanity rules an Empire of a million worlds that stretches across the galaxy. Thing is, not one of those is Earth.
- According to The Machine Crusade (written after Frank had died, so possibly not canon), humanity nuked Earth in a first strike against the thinking machines.
- It's inconsistent in the main series. You'd get that impression most of the time (and maybe the common people on the streets don't know) but information about Old Earth is mentioned in the appendices as being the place where the Ecumenical Council created the Orange Catholic Bible, and Paul mentions it in the sequel (though his information is garbled through thousands of years).
- This is mercilessly RetConned in more prequel novels as happened after the Butlerian Jihad, being met with a huge public outcry, as it basically told people of various faiths: "here, read and follow this book; forget all this other crap". The Commission of Ecumenical Translators was nearly lynched by the mobs, only protected by Emperor Jules Corrino's decree. That is until one of their number was caught possibly raping the Empress. Cue public beheadings.
- The Dune Encyclopedia has 'Terra' as stricken by a 'plantoid'. It is however re-seeded and set aside as a park by imperial edict.
- On the other hand, the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers certainly should be expected to know the truth, if they bother to want to remember it, via their access to the female ancestral memories of the human race. Leto II, the God-Emperor, most certainly knows all about Earth from his ancestral memories from both sexes. He knows more about Earth and its history, in fact, than we do today.
- A Fire Upon the Deep: Humans have been out in the galaxy so long that Earth is merely a legend; the origin planet most humans feel emotionally attached to is called Nyjora — meaning New Earth.
- This is pretty much the reaction to any mention of Earth in The History of the Galaxy books. The second (by in-universe chronology) half of the books, at least. The first half usually deals with the devastating First Galactic War involving the Earth Alliance attempting to forcibly subjugate the various Lost Colonies and relieve some pressure from the overpopulated Earth. At the end of the long and bloody conflict, Earth is defeated and isn't even included when the Confederacy of Suns is formed, based on five of the most developed colonies. One of the later books deals with a Space Marine discovering that his uncle died while studying something on Earth and goes there to check it out. He arrives to find an overgrown planet with dried up oceans and only a few million people living on it. The surviving major monuments were moved to safer locations near the remaining cities.
- The Trope Namer, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxynote : Earth's entire entry in the Guide is "Harmless". After 15 years of research, Ford Prefect has a revised entry to submit to the guide: "Mostly harmless." Ford initially submitted a much longer, painstakingly detailed entry — part of which later appears in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, to his considerable surprise — but nobody considered Earth to be important enough to warrant better than two words. And in any case, the Vogons made it somewhat academic early on; there's not much more you can really say about a smouldering heap of rubble. It's later Subverted, though, as it turns out Earth was a giant supercomputer meant to find the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything, and the Vogons were sent to destroy the Earth by a psychiatrist who feared that the discovery of the Question would put him out of business.
- In the Imperial Radch series, it's mentioned offhandedly that the original homeworld of humanity is known but is utterly inconsequential. Even the heart of the Radchaai Galactic Superpower, an ancient Dyson Sphere, is closed off from outside civilization.
- In the earlier parts of Larry Niven's Known Space chronology, the Earth needs the resources of the (asteroid) Belt more than the Belters need anything from Earth, and both know it. In later stories and novels, humans native to the various Terran colony worlds see "flatlanders" (that is, people from Earth) as arrogant, overly-restricted xenophobes who think the universe revolves around their little blue mudball. The flatlanders in question see the colonists as quaint rubes who don't know enough to realize that the universe revolves around Earth.
- A certain page of Pirandello's "The Late Mattia Pascal" (translated from Italian) goes something like this:
MATTIA: Oh, dear God, and should I care? We are but on an invisible top, that a sun thread makes spin, on a crazed sand crumb which spins and spins and spins, without knowing why, without ever reaching its destiny, as if it liked to roll, just to make us feel now just a bit hotter, now just a bit colder, and to make us die, often regretting a string of trivial nonsense -after fifty or sixty spinnings, aren't we?
- C. S. Lewis:
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Our entire universe is insignificant and little, compared with all the others in the Wood Between The Worlds. Very little of the action takes place in our universe—most takes place in Narnia. And
HeavenAslan's Country has this effect on any universe, seeing as it contains perfect versions of all of them.
- Perelandra: The Un-man calls life the "rind" of the universe, a thin cover that hides the truth of emptiness and death that defines space, the underground, and the oceans. Ransom argues that size does not define the value of the thing and comes to realize even the darkness of these places has a certain beauty to it. He even comes to realize a hundred-eyed spider monster he finds underground is an expression of Maleldil's love, beautiful in a way familiar to the All-Knowing and alien to man.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Our entire universe is insignificant and little, compared with all the others in the Wood Between The Worlds. Very little of the action takes place in our universe—most takes place in Narnia. And
- While Earth is of enormous cultural and religious importance to all human societies in the The Lost Fleet series, it's politically and economically irrelevant to the Alliance and the Syndicate Worlds and it's been a long time since they've been able to spare a warship for the annual goodwill visits that were a tradition in Admiral Geary's time. So imagine everyone's surprise when an alien race the Alliance made First Contact with asks to be taken to Earth before any negotiations take place. Why? To lay a dead human sailor to rest in his ancestral homeland, having recovered his prototype FTL starship from jumpspace many centuries ago.
- This is the trope that inspired many of the stories of H. P. Lovecraft. Rather than serving as the cosmological center of a battle between good and evil over men's souls, Earth is simply one more insignificant speck in a universe populated by brain-breaking Eldritch Abominations which regard humanity with about the same level and type of attention that we would give to gnats.
- It goes beyond just Earth. The entire universe and of all of its residents- even the other Outer Gods- are merely the product of a dream by Azathoth, the Blind Idiot God sleeping at the center of it all. He's completely unaware of reality and will be equally oblivious of its destruction when he finally wakes up.
- In Katherine Kerr's Polar City Blues, Earth has been abandoned after ecological collapse. Humanity has spread out to across the stars, but the Human Republic is quite insignificant compared to the two main alien power blocs, the Carli Confederation and H'Allevae Alliance.
- In Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, the namesake spaceship, en route from Point A to B, zips through the solar system and slingshots around the sun. Earth isn't even an afterthought.
- If there had been any sequels, they would have involved a couple more ships coming specifically to obtain humans. However, these ships contained life forms from other solar systems as well, so Earth still wasn't considered extremely important except for the humans.
- In Alastair Reynolds Revelation Space series, Earth is only mentioned a handful of times and none of the characters ever go there. Much of the plot takes place around the planet Yellowstone.
- In Rogue Star, Earth is Andy Quamodian's home, but as far as most of the people he knows and works with are concerned, it's "Planet 3, Star 7718, Sector Z-989-Q, Galaxy 5".
- In Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix, Earth has turned away from science in the name of stability. Unlike most uses of the trope, it is portrayed as a Crapsack World on the single occasion anybody even enters the atmosphere, and nobody visits any of the cities.
- The Sirens of Titan has the entirety of human existence as a means to build a part to repair a damaged alien spaceship, or send messages to said alien that help was on the way. For example, the Great Wall of China was a progress report. Just to twist the knife further, a discarded offcut of something else turns out to be that crucial part, and the ship's mission is utterly banal.
- In Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat novels, humans are all over the galaxy and their origin has mostly been forgotten. When the Rat has to go back in time, they're not even sure of the name: "Dirt, or Earth, or something" and dubious of its claim to be the ancestral home of mankind. In fact, humanity spread to the galaxy from Mars, after He blew up Earth with hundreds of H-bombs.
- Taken to its extreme in the short story "They're Made Out of Meat": Earth is blacklisted due to the freakishness of its inhabitants. The narrators clearly don't even think of them as people.
- In the novel Under Alien Stars, why did the Tsorians roll up, have a Curb-Stomp Battle with Earth's military, and take over? Were they curtailing a potential galactic rival? No. Were they interested in acquiring Earth's vast resources for their war machine? No. Did they even particularly like Earth as a location? Not really. They only wanted a military base so they could spy on their actual rival empire. Needless to say this is a bitter pill to swallow and actually caused some of the resistance to reason that the Tsorians stole Earth's destiny when they conquered it.
- In Stephen King's Under the Dome, the town of Chester's Mill is shown to not be the target of any terrorist attack, supernatural event, or even coordinated alien experiment, but rather the victim of a few alien children playing with human beings the way that human children might burn ants with a magnifying glass.
- Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga has a Planet of Adventure (the Vorkosigans' homeworld Barrayar), though the characters often venture forth across the galaxy. Only one book out of nearly 20 takes place on Earth. However, the first chapter of that book, Brothers in Arms, states, "Earth was still the largest, richest, most varied and populous planet in scattered humanity's entire worm-hole nexus of explored space. Its dearth of good exit points in solar local space and governmental disunity left it militarily and strategically minor... But Earth still reigned, if it did not rule, culturally supreme."
- In Vladimir Vasilyev's Wolfish Nature duology, the wolves explain that the galactic races view Earth in this manner. The fact that it's located far from any possible strategic location also means that most aliens don't bother coming there. The wolves' leader points out that the only thing that The Empire may find of interest on Earth is the dog-humans' bio-technology, and even that is child's play compared to the Empire's tech level. The only time any alien was interested on Earth was 400 years ago, when they abducted a Medieval clan to serve as their mercenaries.
- Much New Age literature detracts Earth as the "laggard planet" — some use far less polite terms — in great need of spiritual cleansing in order to be worthy of recognition by more advanced alien societies.
- The aliens of 3rd Rock from the Sun regarded Earth like this until they discovered that Humans Are Special.
- Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda sci-fi TV series: Earth, the origin of the human race, used to be part of the All Systems Commonwealth (an empire spanning three galaxies), but it was just one planet among many, the Commonwealh founded and run mostly by an enigmatic race of aliens. After the fall of the Commonwealth, Earth was taken over by the Nietzscheans and its people enslaved and forced into gulags for cheap labor, and the planet was invaded by the Magog several times. Earth became a Crapsack World, and no-one in the rest of the universe cared, even after the restoration and rebirth of the Commonwealth 2.0.
- And then finally, Earth is destroyed outright in the series finale.
- The new Battlestar Galactica (and the old one for that matter) centers around a journey across the cosmos to find the legendary planet known as "Earth". Earth is built up to almost mythical status over the course of the series partly due to the fact that perfect habitable planets are few and far between in the BSG universe (never mind that the series starts out in a set of four solar systems where there are, collectively 12 of 'em) and every almost-Earth-but-not-quite planet turns out to be a Crapsack World. When they finally find Earth it turns out to be just another Crapsack World, the original inhabitants having annihilated themselves millennia ago. After a period of much despair, the survivors happen upon a perfectly habitable planet due to angelic intervention seemingly sent by God, when they decide to cut their loses and settle on and dub it "Earth" just for the sake of saying they made it to Earth. That random planet turns out to be our Earth.
- Doctor Who:
- A view expressed many times in the show's run by a wide variety of alien races. To the Sontarans, Earth is another front to win in their war against the Rutans. To the Cybermen, Earth is another planet to harvest stock from. To the Daleks, Earth has just gotta go. The only reason it's still in existence is because the Doctor happens to be fond of it.
- Of course, at the same time, Earth seems like the centre of the universe. It's the favourite planet of the most famous Time Lord. It's right on a rift in space-time. It's the exact shape needed to make a reality bomb (one of 27, anyway). Its primary species, the humans, will one day become one of the most widely spread groups in the universe, lasting right until it is destroyed. So it's played straight and subverted.
- Clyde lampshades this in an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures. After hearing yet another alien call earth insignificant, Clyde says, "Y'know, a planet could start to get a complex."
- Crichton's shipmates in Farscape routinely put down his descriptions of earth as backwards and savage, and when ( a false) earth appears in a wormhole, it is dismissed immediately as an uninteresting little blue planet.
- The wrap-up mini-series reveals that Sebaceans (i.e. Peacekeepers) are descended from a group of genetically-modified humans taken from Earth by a race of ancient mediators to serve as their guards.
- The theme of an entire season of Lexx... beginning with the episode "Little Blue Planet".
- Subverted; Earth is insignificant to the main characters, who find it to be incredibly backwater largely because the technology level requires a giant rocket ship just to reach the moon (compared to their moth shuttles that flap wings and have tiny jets for vacuum travel) and also because the society they come from is so ridiculously different that they can't comprehend Earth cultures at all. However, in the series' cosmology, Earth is actually important; it's the last refuge for the dead, and the final wall of Satan's prison, after the Lexx blows up the Afterlife.
- Finding Earth may be a big deal to the crew of the Red Dwarf, but most of the galaxy apparently lost interest in it ages ago. The book series takes it a step further by revealing it was eventually selected to be the solar system's landfill.
- Stargate SG-1 starts out this way - Earth is just a source of slave labor for an interstellar alien civilization. After the U.S. Air Force kills a few Goa'uld, they have it in for us, but Earth is still just one human-populated planet among many, and not the most technologically advanced, nor the only one to rebel. However, it's eventually revealed that the Ancients are almost identical to humans and that's because they settled Earth millions of years ago after fleeing their home galaxy. The Ancients were allies of the Asgard and created most of the technology the Goa'uld rely on, so it seems Earth Is the Center of the Universe after all.
- The spinoff, Stargate Atlantis, makes Earth a main target of the villains in the pilot episode as the Wraith's first reaction to finding out about Earth and its astonishingly huge human population is "feast!".
- By Stargate Universe, Earth is secretly (for the majority of the people of Earth) involved in a Space Cold War with the Lucian Alliance, which has been steadily growing in power after the fall of the Goa'uld.
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation Riker demanded The Traveler explain why, if his species can travel through time as claimed, that there is no record of contact in Earths history. The Traveler replied there were no prior visits because Earth had not been previously interesting.
- In Star Trek: Voyager Seven of Nine and Naomi Wildman are determined not to share the crews' ridiculous emotional attachment to a planet they've never seen in person.
Naomi: "Mom thinks I need to learn more about Earth."
Seven: "I see. And does studying this image increase your desire to go there?"
Naomi: "Not really."
Seven: "I concur. It is unremarkable."
- Even among the human crew members those actually native to Earth were a minority.
- Return to Earth meant return to the Federation, and thus, return home. Many of the crew (and not a small number of the adopted Maquis) no doubt found this significant in some way, shape or form. Contrast Naomi and Seven, whose entire lives (or new life, in Seven's case) existed on that ship (and Naomi is only half-human). To them, the ship was home.
- Since Star Trek: Enterprise takes place before Starfleet really makes waves in the interstellar community, this trope is played fairly straight. As the Enterprise goes where no man has gone before, they run into folks who simply haven't heard of Earth.
- Keep in mind, in the Trek Verse, the Vulcans themselves would've continued ignoring Earth but for the flight of the Phoenix.
- Even among the human crew members those actually native to Earth were a minority.
- Supernatural. Death, after Dean tries to snark at him, gives him the speech:
Death: This is one little planet in one tiny solar system in a galaxy thats barely out of its diapers. Im old, Dean. Very old. So I invite you to contemplate how insignificant I find you.
- Daniel Amos' "Incredible Shrinking Man" includes the lyrics:
A world accountable
Among the stars a grain of sand
- The Coach gives a counterargument to this trope:
- Referenced in "Little Blue Dot" by James Bonamy:
And every tear we cry
Every word we say
Every dream we try
And every step we take
Someone up in heaven's
Lookin' down on this room
Through the long dark night
With a round white moon
At two people
Givin' everything they got
To a big ole' love
On a little blue dot
- In A Geek's Guide: DeathWorld Earth, Earth and humanity is essentially a galactic third-world country, with volunteers from other races helping provide basic education. The only thing of note about it is the fact that it got hit by two self-propagating bioweapons.
- A somewhat obscure example: In the out of print RPG Manhunter, the Earth is a polluted husk and all of its cultural sites have been hijacked by the Terran (offworld human) race and removed to the new Terran homeworld, called (with little imagination) Terra. The Earthers are none too pleased by this.
- Warhammer 40,000 either plays this straight or inverts it depending on which faction is in play. To the humans, Earth is Holy Terra, the holy of holies, the motherworld, and home of the God-Emperor. Pilgrims spend lifetimes waiting in line to land on its sacred soil. However, for those not of the Imperium (or non-seperatist traitors who want to replace it with a new human government serving Chaos), Holy Terra is only important because of its importance to the Imperium; if it weren't so critical to enemy morale, no one would care. As it is, it's probable that the Necrons and Orks don't care anyway (because they're too mysterious and too stupid, respectively). (The Tyrannids, however, are homing in on Earth specifically because they're drawn by the Astronomican. In WH40k, it sucks to be significant.)
- In Traveller when they first meet the Terrans think Earth Is the Center of the Universe and the Vilani think that Earth is an Insignificant Little Blue Planet. After they spend two hundred years arguing the point it is finally agreed that Earth Is the Center of the Universe because after all Terrans are warriors, and Asskicking Equals Authority.
- In the Dungeons & Dragons module "The Immortal Storm" (from way back in 1986, the first module to use Immortal Rules) the players' goal is to collect essences of Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste, and Smell, traveling to five exotic locales among the universe for each. Or rather, four exotic locales, and a facsimile of Earth, which is described as "a dirty, primitive society" where no magic is usable. In fact, it's pretty much unknown; the natives in this version of Earth don't even have fantasy literature, but science fiction is popular, given their focus on technology. It's also something of A World Half Full where "countries pursue an expensive nuclear hobby, spending vast sums on the creation of atomic weapons, but never using them, all the while ignoring widespread needs of the people, such as food, shelter, the arts, and so forth." This is supposed to challenge the players, by giving them a place where most of their methods just don't work, but it wasn't exactly well-received. (The players are Immortal, Epic Level heroes, and it's rather undignified for such characters to negotiate with street gangs.)
- In Makai Kingdom, Pram's opening narration has this to say about earth.
Pram: "There is of course more than one universe. In one such world, in the corner of some backwater galaxy humans rule over a senseless planet. However, that's about as important as a speck of dust in this pluralistic cosmos."
- In the Star Control series of games, Earth is just one of several planets that have banded together to fight the Ur-Quan. By the time of Star Control 2, Earth finds itself defeated and enslaved along with the rest of its allies. Freeing it may be a big deal to the player (as it's his homenote and all), but ultimately nothing makes its liberation any more important that that of dozens of other planets the Ur-Quan have conquered. In fact, to win the game, other worlds must get priority to free up stocks of Lost Technology to use against the Ur-Quan.
- Though in terms of gameplay, the trope is averted. Unless you're doing a no-starbase run of the game, Earth's space station is the only place to upgrade your ship, buy new ships (though you can find some elsewhere), get a special escape ability that allows you to run from combat. Basically, in a normal playthrough, you will come back there a lot and often.
- Spore: As an Easter egg, Maxis included our own solar system in the galaxy, including Earth. However, aside from being in one NASA presentation and part of two achievements, the planet itself is pointless and has a T1 incomplete atmosphere (the lowest inhabitable atmosphere possible), making it even more insignificant that many other insignificant planets outside of novelty. To make things even worse, one of those achievements is gained for blowing it up. Hilariously, the achievement is called "Oh, the humanity!"
- Mass Effect does this and Earth Is the Center of the Universe at the same time... somehow. Earth is important to humanity from a cultural standpoint, but otherwise has little interest and less relevance on the galactic stage—the Systems Alliance capital is a massive Space Station in the Arcturus system. The player can select the Earthborn origin for Shepard, the protagonist, in which case he/she is an orphan who grew up on the streets of Earth's slums...
- The codex entry however states that the planet is still home to the mass of humanity, while the biggest human colony is has only 4.4 million people compared to Earth population of 11 billion... resulting in heavy overpopulation. Humans are looked down on by other Citadel species for still having things like homelessness, especially on the homeworld, as well as only having been on the galactic stage for less than 30 years while the other species have been there for at least a thousand.
- Earth becomes very important in 3, however, mostly because it's important to Shepard - most of the game consists of rallying forces to eventually retake Earth from the Reapers, and the Reapers presumably struck Earth bright and early in the hope of taking out Shepard. It doesn't hurt that, for whatever reason, the Reapers move the Citadel - which you need for the mystery superweapon you've been working on all game - into Earth's orbit.
- Universe at War, Earth would had been on the next to be struck by the Hierarchy's Purifier (aka a Planet Buster meant to collect materials for the war machine) if it wasn't a plan to destroy the Novus.
- Earth, and the entire Milky Way Galaxy for that matter, vanished from existence in the Xenosaga universe some 4,000 years before the start of the trilogy and is referred to almost in mythological terms as "Lost Jerusalem", the long-forgotten homeworld of the human race, which has now colonized at least three separate galaxies thanks to the entire universe being devoid of other intelligent life. Getting back to Earth is a key part of a few of the villains' plots, but by-and-large humanity has forgotten about it except as a piece of trivial history.
- Marathon Trilogy:
Durandal: By Pfhor standards, Earth is a poorly defended low technology world, populated by billions of potential slaves.
- In the X-Universe games, Earth is only the center of the universe for the Terrans. The majority of humanity lives in their Lost Colony the Argon Federation.
- Played with in StarCraft; The human faction of the game, the Terrans, is merely the result of criminals and dissidents exiled from Earth who ended up the Koprulu sector and built their own civilization. As a result, Earth is little more than a sour memory to them. As for the alien factions, Word of God states that the Protoss are aware of Earth's existence, but are frankly uninterested in visiting it, while the Zerg are likely aware of its location but are more concerned with the Koprulu sector than this far away planet. Ironically, Earth itself is terrified by the prospect of either of those two alien species reaching them one day, and Brood War has them sending an army to the Koprulu sector in order to preempt such attempts as a plot point.
- In Half-Life 2, the Combine views Earth as simply another one of their millions of conquests. They don't even bother stationing most of their transhuman forces on it. Until, that is, they discover the humans have developed teleporter technology superior to their own....
- In Killroy and Tina, aliens consider Earth's only natural resource to be pornography and wonder what could have made Killroy travel there.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, the Nemesites consider Earth a nature preserve, with humans as part of the local wildlife.
- In Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, When the leaders of the human race caught wind of a plan to atomize Earth to find the Winslow, they had a minor Heroic BSoD. Not because the Earth was destroyed, but because they realized that humanity had expanded so much as a species that their homeworld had become expendable.
- Spoofed in xkcd Pale Blue Dot. The protagonist talks about the topic, but the audience thinks it's just an artefact on the photo.
- Among the Chosen plays this straight in the present, but averts it historically (where ancient aliens got their slave stock, before they had an uprising, making it the source of human life in the galaxy).
- Modern Earth is classified as a "Hick" planet in Star Trip, being technologically primitive and not in contact with the wider galactic community.
- Although Earth is physically the approximate center of the terragen sphere in Orion's Arm, since expansion in any direction is limited by light speed, it isn't really very important any more. Ever since the Great Expulsion, only a tiny population of hippy rianths and other modosophonts live there, under the ongoing rule of the caretaker archailect GAIA, as she continues to restore Earth to its pre-human pristinity. Physically and politically, it's nothing more a wildlife reserve and an exclusive tourist destination, though it is remembered with some sentiment by terragens of all kinds as their original homeworld and one of the richest and most biologically diverse natural planets ever known.
- Tech Infantry, especially in later seasons, when Earth has been devastated by an asteroid strike, abandoned, partially re-colonized by rebels against the now innacurately-named Earth Federation, then effectively destroyed. Mars and the asteroid belt remain important industrial centers, but Earth is a burnt-out cinder whose top several miles of crust melted to magma when the Moon was blown up and the fragments rained down over several years. The Earth Federation moves its capital to the garden planet of Avalon, then to Wilke's Star, and pretty much never looks back.
- The Onion does this with a video news story: Study Finds Earth Located In Lamest Part Of Universe (language NSFW)
- It's mentioned multiple times in the Tails Series that something happened to Earth that resulted in the planet being destroyed or otherwise uninhabitable. Hardly anyone seems to care, as the series mostly focuses on the various alien races populating the galaxies. The humans still left seem complacent with the fact that their home planet was destroyed centuries ago and have adjusted to living among aliens.
- The Amazing World of Gumball: When Gumball and Darwin are trying to figure out the meaning of life in "The Question", the planets of the solar system sing a "feelgood song" about how meaningless their existence is on the cosmic scale of things.
- Atomic Betty: Maximus had never even heard of the Earth, and when Minimus suggests testing their new Doomsday Device (in front of a captive Betty, no less) his reply is, "eh, why not?" (The significance here is, Maximus spent the whole series trying to identify, find, and destroy Betty's homeworld; he almost manages to do it by accident.)
- In the Battletoads cartoon, Professor T. Bird explains that Earth is "so backward and insignificant that the Dark Queen never dared to conquer it."
- All series of the Ben 10 franchise make it quite clear that in the eyes of almost every alien species in the Universe, Earth is nothing but a backwater planet with lowly advanced beings as the dominant species, and the only interesting part about it is Ben Tennyson living on it. This sometimes reach some ridiculous proportions, such as the Plumbers being reluctant to "waste" their resources on it if there is no apparent threat, aliens repeatedly threatening to destroy it for silly reason at least once in each series (Ben 10: Omniverse had an alien threatening to destroy Earth because one of its inhabitants wouldn't marry his daughter), and the list goes on. This is partially why the planet suddenly being a major strategic point to conquer the Universe in "Frogs of War" came up as an Ass Pull in the eyes of some fans.
- Then again, it's probably a strategic point because of Ben Tennyson. By that episode, he has saved the universe several times (once even recreating it) and fought off massive invasions, conquerors (especially Vilgax) and even played a part in defeating an Eldritch Abomination. Targeting him and his world is a pretty wise move (not to mention the Incursians love war so they don't need a reason as much as an excuse.)
- Danger Mouse: "The Intergalactic 147" (the finale of the original series) has a white sphere knocking Mars out of its orbit and into the black hole of Alpha Omega. Earth is in its projected path as a long, narrow craft is headed towards the white sphere. DM deduces that an interstellar snooker game is in progress and the players need to pot Earth into Alpha Omega to make the maximum score of 147.
- Futurama plays all over the scale from this to Earth Is the Center of the Universe in its typical Fantasy Kitchen Sink style. The very Sufficiently Advanced Aliens that have devoted a hell of a lot of time out of their universal schedule to protecting Earth call it the "Homeworld of the Pizza Bagel." Granted, the reason Earth is significant where they're concerned is that it happens to have produced Philip J. Fry, the only being with the necessary Disability Superpower to take on a species that otherwise have the potential to totally obliterate sapient life. This is treated as a fluke having little or nothing to do with Humans Are Special, and he's even asked by a holder of universal knowledge if he's the Philip J. Fry from Earth or "the Philip J. Fry from Hovering Squid World 97-A."
- Invader Zim: The conqueror Irkens, bent on taking over the entire galaxy, don't even know Earth exists (there's a note stuck to the edge of their vast map of the galaxy that reads "Planet?") until Zim lands there after being sent into a supposedly empty area of space on a cosmic Snipe Hunt. Even then, Earth is the one planet the conquerors are not interested in conquering, hence why they decide it's a safe place to stash the annoying, persistent eponymous character. Though it seems they might want to in the future, this actually turns out to be Dib in a Lotus-Eater Machine.
- This is further highlighted when Tak tries to conquer the Earth instead of Zim, specifically noting that it has no strategical value. However, since the point is more about retribution against Zim than anything, she just decides to make the planet valuable, hollowing it out and filling it with snacks the Almighty Tallests would like.
- In Rick and Morty, Earth is clearly known by some alien species but is not considered important in any shape or form. It can be justified as many aliens call out that the planet's name is synonymous to dirt. The Galactic Federation took over Earth in the Season 2 finale, it only did so to deny Rick a safe place to hole up and didn't have any real interest in the planet itself. To most of the Federation citizens, Earth is simply an exotic tourist spot and its inclusion into the Federation barely warrants a slot in the Federation's evening news.
- She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: While not Earth, it is revealed Hordak thinks of Etheria this way. He's from another world and he dismisses Etheria as a backwater world with primitive technology and natives who are so ignorant that out of the many worlds he's been to, they are the first to be completely unaware that they are not the only world. It seems the only reason why he's trying to conquer Etheria is because he's stuck there and is desperately trying to find enough technology to open a portal so he can leave.
- In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Hekapoo refers to Earth as a "stinky dirt rock". And Star herself was originally sent by her parents to Earth because it was considered expendable; if she caused devastation there with her uncontrolled magic that had a tendency to set things on fire even when she wasn't trying to and even if the objects weren't actually flammable... well better Earth than their own planet.
- Steven Universe: Earth is initially treated as little more than a blip on the radar (particularly when compared to Gemkind's galaxy-spanning empire), with most visitors from the Gem Homeworld being dismissive or derisive of it. However, as more is revealed about the Gems' history with the planet, and its role at the center of a Great Offscreen War, Earth turns out to be much more significant in the grand scheme of things than it first appears.
- The general view of Earth in Transformers Animated by many of the Autobots and Decepticons is that Earth is a puny, primitive backwater filled with filthy, disgusting organics, and if the All Spark didn't crash here, no Cybertronian would ever admit going there. There are some exceptions (for instance, Jazz thinks any planet that could design his adopted funky vehicle alt-mode couldn't be all bad and Prowl is a Friend to All Living Things, from bugs to cats to tree, and Earth is absolutely teeming). Pretty much every other continuity averts this, with Earth either being a resource powerhouse, a prison for stranded factions, or housing a MacGuffin worth landing armies on (or sometimes a combination of at least two of the three).