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Interstellar Weapon

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The Interstellar equivalent of the ICBM. You fire it from a star system or from interstellar space, and it will hit a target light years away.

An Interstellar Weapon is distinct from a starship or an automated weapons platform. A starship or other weapons platform goes over to the target and blows the hell out of it. An Interstellar Weapon either fires its payload from one star system, which proceeds to impact a target in another star system, or it is the payload that gets delivered from one star system to the other. If there's no faster-than-light travel in the universe of your story, though, be prepared for some serious Fridge Logic about why it doesn't take the weapon years to reach its target.

If entire wars are fought this way, you can take it as the most extreme aversion of Old-School Dogfight.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Uchuu Senkan Yamato the Gamilas bombard Earth with radioactive bombs from their home planet.
  • Another old school anime that used this trope is Space Runaway Ideon, where the Buff Clan accelerates simple (albeit a kilometer-long) metal rods to speed close to that of light and flings them across space to wreck massive damage upon human colonies. Also, in the end of the series, Ideon itself generates swarms of meteors that remotely obliterate Earth and Buff Clan home planet.
  • The Backstory to Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS features a brief flashback featuring interdimensional/interplanetary ICBMs.

    Comic Books 
  • Astonishing X-Men has an arc about a giant silver bullet which was launched at Earth from some far-off alien world.
  • Green Lantern:
    • John Stewart once used his ring to create a sniper rifle, which he used to pick off an enemy on the other side of the galaxy.
    • The enemy in question, a Sinestro Corps member called Bedovian, has the natural ability to see across entire galaxies and act as a Cold Sniper.
  • In Dark Empire, there's the Galaxy Gun, a massive cannon which launches incredibly destructive projectiles through hyperspace. It can destroy planets.
  • Marvel's Skrulls had a weapon that could knock planets out of their orbits from across a galaxy
    • There was also a race called the Scy'ar Tal who built a machine (known as Finality) that could teleport stars across interstellar distances to use as weapons.
  • Magneto once had to focus all of his power to stop one of these, a gigantic interstellar bullet with enough kinetic energy to destroy a planet, which would become more powerful the further it traveled.
  • Thanos (well, technically, a clone of him), once acquired a magical artifact called the "Chalice of Ruin", which had the ability to send powerful waves of destruction that would bombard every planet in the universe and wipe them all of life. Obviously he was stopped before he could do too much damage.
  • In the first appearance of the Super Skrull in the pages of Fantastic Four, once Reed Richards realized that the villain's power was being remotely beamed to him from the Skrull homeworld, he managed to improvise one of these by using the Skrulls' own power beam as a target guide for his 'space-displacer', which could bombard the Skrull homeworld with lethal radiation if they threatened the Earth again.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In The Miracle at Palaven, thanks to the Mass Relays, it's relatively simple to send a weapon from one end of the galaxy to the next as long as there's an open Mass Relay on the other side. The tactic of sending a constant stream of Warp Bombs is used to force the Reapers to back off from the Trebia Mass Relay sufficiently that any ship that comes through doesn't get instantly shot down by Reaper forces.

  • Starship Troopers sees intelligent insects launch an asteroid through interstellar space to take out Buenos Aires. Hitting Buenos Aires with an asteroid from a planet light-years away is the equivalent of hitting someone on the other side of the planet with a pebble.
  • The Last Starfighter. Xur launches meteors at the Starfighter base.
  • In Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, a black hole weapon that could destroy a whole galaxy is deployed.
  • In Thor, we learn that keeping the Bifrost open too long will destroy any world it's currently connected to. Odin refuses to use it as a weapon of war. Loki, on the other hand...
  • This turns out to be the First Order's Superweapon Surprise in The Force Awakens. Not only can it one-shot a planet from lightyears away, but it can actually fire on multiple planets in one launch. It consumes an entire star to do this, and is so large that it effectively takes up the entire planet note  it's on.
    • The novelization handwaves why it doesn't take years for the beam to reach its target by saying it shoots through a deeper level of hyperspace called sub-hyperspace.

  • In Life, the Universe and Everything, a race of nihilistic aliens builds a weapon that supposedly could destroy the rest of the universe.
  • Alan Dean Foster is fond of this trope, most prominently in his Humanx Commonwealth series, which features a wide assortment of Lost Superweapons left scattered around the cosmos by various Precursors. The two greatest examples show up in the Grand Finale, Flinx Transcendent, and include a weapons platform whose Wave-Motion Gun fires through subspace across galaxies, and an even bigger superweapon whose power source is a galaxy (indeed, multiple galaxies).
  • In Arthur C. Clarke's Sunstorm, the eponymous event is caused by a planetoid hurled across the galaxy.
  • The Eschaton Series features guided, ramscoop-powered missiles designed to deter interplanetary invasions. If a planet is attacked, the missiles accelerate up to near-lightspeed and (eventually) hit the invaders' home planet.
  • Sergey Snegov's "Humans as Gods" have two types of interstellar weapons: Galaxians-created Biological Radiation Weapons, which fire non-dissipating beams of anti-organic radiation, capable of insta-killing anything living, and Ramirs-created Roton Beam, which can blow up the stars.
  • Colin Kapp wrote at least two of these. In Patterns Of Chaos, a technique for predicting the future let aliens in the Andromeda Galaxy seven hundred million years ago send sublight missiles at spots in our galaxy a few centuries from now with pinpoint accuracy, impacting close enough to the people they wanted to kill that a hand grenade would've done the job — but they still sent planet killers. And then there was the Chaos Weapon, in the book of the same title, a Wave-Motion Gun kept in another universe, which devoured entire stars for fuel.
  • Halo:
    • It's mentioned briefly in Halo: Ghosts of Onyx that the UNSC is capable of sending nukes through slipspace. It's not actually a useful tactic, though; human slipdrives are far too inaccurate (they'll send you to the right system, but that's as accurate as they get), and nukes fired through slipspace are super-easy to detect (and therefore to counter).
    • In The Forerunner Saga, the Halos produced at the Greater Ark are textbook examples of this, as they have a max range of hundreds of thousands of light-years; Omega Halo is able to wipe out an entire satellite galaxy with just one shot.
  • Stephen Baxter's Vacuum Diagrams contains an ICBM equivalent.
    • In the later Xeelee novels, the Photino Birds use entire galaxies as ammunition, and the Xeelee reply by cutting them in half with gigantic cosmic strings.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, there's Centerpoint Station. Built by the mysterious Celestials tens of thousands of years ago, it has the power to move and collapse stars across the galaxy, among other functions.
    • There's also the Starlancer Project, developed during the Siege of Borleias to remotely bombard the Yuuzhan Vong command ships at Coruscant from the fortified Pyria system. It's all a gigantic fake, and the Starlancer "prototype" does nothing - but it does force the Vong fleet to begin their final assault at a moment the Republic defenders dictate, allowing them to annihilate the fleet.
    • Also the Galaxy Gun, which fires hyperspace-capable planet-busting missiles while remaining in orbit above Byss. The missiles are of variable yield, meaning that the Empire can dial up for destroying anything from a single ship (whenever their intel is good enough to know exactly where a major New Republic ship is at the moment) to a planet. Not only are the missiles incredibly well-shielded and thus nearly impossible to stop once they drop out of hyperspace, the fact that the Galaxy Gun itself never leaves Byss (at the time, by far the most heavily defended planet in the galaxy, with a fleet at least 10 times larger than the one the Empire had at Endor) makes attempt at a direct attack both futile and suicidal. Ultimately, the New Republic takes the Galaxy Gun out by hacking the nav computer of another Imperial superweapon, the Emperor's gigantic flagship Eclipse II, and programming it to ram the Galaxy Gun. The incredibly durable Eclipse survives this...but it doesn't survive the planet-buster missile that misfires during the ramming and hits Byss, blowing up both the planet and everything in orbit.
  • How humanity is wiped out in the beginning of The Killing Star. Aliens who would rather not take the chance that we'd annihilate them decide to destroy us first, and they do so by launching missiles from their homeworld at the various inhabited planets of the Solar system. By the time the missiles arrive, they're moving at 92% of the speed of light, so we can't even see them coming before they impact.
  • The Genesis Wave in the Star Trek Novel Verse. Based on the genesis device from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the weapon fires a reality-warping wave of energy programmed to Terraform worlds in its path - to make them resemble the homeworld of the aliens who built it. Launched from an Asteroid Thicket, it destroys/reforms several planets in the Genesis Wave series.
  • Lensman had interdimensional PLANETS fired at fifteen times the speed of light through hyperspace. One to smash the enemy planet and one to supernova their star for good measure. This was followed by an intergalactic combined psychic attack...which barely worked.
    • And to a lesser extent, planetary sized antimatter bombs, focusing the full output of a sun into a single beam, planets fitted with FTL drives and heavy armament or simply used as nutcrackers...
  • Worldwar: In Harry Turtledove's Homeward Bound, after the FTL-capable Commodore Perry shows up in the orbit of Home (the Race's homeworld) in a clear case of Gunboat Diplomacy, the Race warns humans that they may have the advantage of speed (the Race doesn't expect to develop FTL-travel for at least 70 more years, now that they know it's possible), but the Race can still build ships capable of accelerating to 50% of the speed of light. Those ships can be launched to impact Earth with their great speed, causing an extinction-level event. While humans claims that they might be able to intercept the relativistic missiles, the Race representatives state that they wouldn't be able to stop them all. Odds are in the humans' favor; the existence of FTL drive make it possible (at least theoretically) to detect incoming relativistic projectiles and made enough intercept attempt on each to guarantee destruction/deflection during the time they need to crawl between the stars. And Worldwar humans have already been shown to develop tech and science much faster than the Race.
  • "The Three-Body Problem":
    • The climax reveals the Trisolarans have already launched one of these in the form of an enormous fleet of warships on a one-way, slower-than-light trip to Earth so it can be conquered and colonized. Meanwhile, they use sub-atomic drones called sophons to monitor human communications and sabotage any human attempts to develop countermeasures.
    • Later, it's discovered that the galaxy's real heavy hitters dispose of any and all other species whose homeworld they learn the location of by firing a 'photoid' at its star: a particle of matter accelerated to near-light speed, which blows a hole in the star with such violence that it explodes, incinerating every planet in orbit.
    • Later still, those same heavyweights are revealed to know there are ways a species can survive the explosion of its star, and have a second weapon they deploy to ensure everything dies. This weapon creates an expanding field that reduces the spatial dimensions of everything within it by one; in other words it turns three dimensions into two, which nothing three-dimensional can survive. This field expands at light speed and never stops expanding. Given enough time, and unrestrained use of such weapons, the whole universe will one day be reduced to two dimensions. And this has already happened before: the universe used to be ten-dimensional, but unrestricted dimensional warfare has whittled it down to three, and is in the process of whittling it down to two, and one day may reduce it to nothing at all.
  • In All These Worlds, in response to the aggression of the Others, Bill attaches SURGE mover plates to a small planet and a large moon and accelerates them to near-light speeds, aiming them at the Others' home star. Several decades later, just after the Battle of Terra, they impact the star at opposite poles. The simultaneous relativistic impact results in a supernova-like explosion that wipes it every living being in that system and for several light years beyond. You do not fuck with the Bobs!
  • Starship Troopers: The beings referred to as "Bugs" throw an asteroid at Earth after getting the coordinates from the "Skinnies". In the book, they weren't looking to hit any spot in particular; "hit Earth and damage humans" was the apparent game plan. What it did was tick the humans off and kill a lot of anti-war efforts.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • One of the Goa'uld sends an asteroid bomb on a collision course with Earth from outside the solar system.
    • Any weapon transmitted through the Stargate is this by definition, as the Stargates are essentially interstellar delivery systems (well, wormhole generators that connect different solar systems). Especially the one that used all the Stargates in the galaxy to destroy the Replicators once and for all.
    • There was also the Attero device in Atlantis which could cause all Wraith hyperdrives in the galaxy to explode upon activation, although it had the unfortunate drawback of destroying Stargates when used.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Hand Of Omega was a weapon to manipulate solar systems.
    • The Daleks' Reality Bomb, which would have destroyed all matter in every single universe permanently, save for the nebula it was fired from.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Both "Dreadnought" and "Warhead" involve warp-propelled warheads.
  • On one episode of Earth: Final Conflict, the Taelons developed a weapon that shot balls of lava from the Earth's core through the shows version of Hyperspace that could hit other planets in other solar systems.
  • Wormholes in Farscape: low-setting, shoot a chunk of a star at a spaceship or a planet you don't like. High-setting: annihilate the entire universe in a Class-Z Apocalypse with the Negative Space Wedgie to end all Negative Space Wedgies.

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS Space features the Azrael, an (unmanned) relativistic kill vehicle that delivers 42,000,000 megatons on its target and as a bonus its missiles impact with a force of 700 megatons thanks to its kinetic speed.

    Video Games 
  • Anacreon: Reconstruction 4021, the 1987 4X game, has "LAMs," Long-Range Attack Missiles, which are basically interstellar nukes. They're one of the lighter weapons, but can be launched by the tens of thousands and are frequently used to support the arrival of a proper attack force. Enough of them can destroy an entire fleet or scour the target world of all its defenses, both orbital and ground-based. There is no way to defend against a LAM attack. Anacreon is not a very happy game.
  • In Sins of a Solar Empire, each race has its own long-range doomsday device. Keep in mind that each of these can and usually are built in groups.
    • The TEC have the Novalith Cannon, which decimates planets.
    • The Vasari have the Kosutra Cannon, which decimates things orbiting planets.
    • The Advent have Deliverance Engines, which fire culture and propaganda.
      • One particularly "happy" strategy with the TEC Novalith is to fire it at planets that belong to your "ally". Because it takes the rounds some time to hit the planet, and because you can't see the round while it's underway (you don't even get a warning), you can pre-position your ships to attack as soon as the Novalith cannon rounds hit. This is largely considered both poor sportsmanship and exceedingly clever when pulled off properly.
  • The human Node Missiles in Sword of the Stars could be considered this, especially in the earlier versions of the game. Dozens of these could be sent to soften up enemy defenses before the arrival of the fleet. Unfortunately, later versions significantly reduced their damage and upped their cost, reducing their usefulness, especially given their slow interstellar speeds (Node Missile drives are not upgradeable).
    • They are only slow relative to the fastest available starship drives, and even then not that much slower. They are very speedy compared to drives that would be standard when you can actually research them, should you choose to make a priority of getting them.
  • In the Mass Effect series:
    • One of these is used in the backstory to take out a Reaper, and it grazed a planet, leaving a massive canyon/scar on the planet in question. It's theorized in the blurb that it would take a mass acceleration cannon kilometers long to create that much power. By comparison, the longest main cannon in the game series so far is half a kilometer long.
    • Technically, as described in such loving detail in Mass Effect 2, all kinetic weapons fall under this categorization, because once you fire a hunk of metal, it keeps going until it hits something. That can be a ship, or the planet behind that ship. It might go off into deep space and hit somebody else in ten thousand years. If you pull the trigger on it, you are ruining someone's day, somewhere and sometime. That is why you check your damn targets. That is why you wait for the computer to give you a damn firing solution. That is why, Serviceman Troper, we do not "eyeball it." It is a weapon of mass destruction. You are not a cowboy shooting from the hip.
    • The Crucible in Mass Effect 3 was supposed to be this. And it actually can become a weapon that destroys all Reapers (along with other synthetics) across the entire galaxy—but it's much more complicated than that.
  • Ogame has interplanetary missiles that damage enemy planet's defenses (but not ships) without any chance of repair (instead of the usual 70%), though counter missiles are cheaper and available earlier.
  • It doesn't show up in-game (missiles are fired from and land on the same planet), but these were used in in Starcraft's backstory: the planet Korhal was nuked by a thousand Apocalypse-class nuclear missiles fired from the planet Tarsonis. Nuclear weaponry on such a scale was banned after that, so the in-game ones are much, much smaller.
  • Asura's Wrath features a magical version, Chakravartin, who's large enough that his gravitational pull is drawing in entire galaxies shoots an equally massive laser towards Asura and Gaia from what could easily have been the Event Horizon.
  • An interplanetary weapon is found in Star Fox 2 in the form of IPBMs launched from planetary bases. Naturally they need to be shot down before impacting with Corneria, or else.
  • Downplayed in Dawn of War: Soulstorm's campaign, where the Tau's orbital stronghold has a cannon that automatically hits an enemy province no matter where in the star system it is (including another planet's moon).
  • The top tech of a weapon type in Starships Unlimited.
  • Halo: The titular ringworlds are capable of wiping out all sentient life in the galaxy when fired in unison.
  • The infamous Gigastructural engineering mod for Stellaris allows one to build a Nicoll-Dyson Laser (imagine a Dyson Sphere, but instead of absorbing all the output of a sun, it gets pointed in a specific direction) capable of destroying all a star system's planets from a distance. The Quasi-Stellar Obliterator is a scaled-up version built around a supermassive quasar black hole (something extremely rare — on the default settings it only has a chance of spawning as the black hole at the center of the galaxy), capable of scaling from wiping out a fleet to wiping out an entire star cluster.

  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Schlock Mercenary has the Long-Gunner Of The Apocalypse, an energy weapon the size of a planetoid, which fires through instantaneous wormholes and can hit any place in the galaxy. Its later reinvented/rediscovered by other factions, with the technology being dubbed "Long Guns" resulting in a M.A.D. scenario that only takes a backseat in story focus due to the war with the Pa'anuri who also demonstrate that with the power of a core generator behind it, Long Guns can become intergalactic weapons too.
    • There's also a number of others, including terapedoes (missiles fitted with a teraport system, theoretically letting them hit any target in the galaxy, often from the inside. Pity Teraport Area Denial systems are common), orbital plasma lancesnote , cee-sabotsnote , and the Pa'anuri occasionally induce supernovae and use the blast wave to kill everything living in nearby systems.
  • Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger has introduced the C-Sabot Launcher, a.k.a. "God's Shotgun". To quote the strip, The C-Sabot Launcher uses a series of FTL drives to rob Hyperspace Peter to pay Kinetic Paul and launch up to several thousand projectiles at relativistic velocities. The C-Sabots exit the accelerator through a hyper-wormhole. The end result is that a target — or targets; the weapon is shown destroying 98% of an enemy fleet that was dumb enough to be in too close a formation — is bombarded by thousands of slugs moving at a large percentage of the speed of light.

    Web Original 
  • The Creepypasta We Know You Are Out There features an alien race that launches a relativistic missile to destroy Earth before humanity can spread its destructive existence across the stars. To their horror, they discover that mankind has become a multi-planetary civilization that has embraced pacifism by the time the missile enters the Solar System.
  • Orion's Arm has many examples of this, almost always wielded by transapients. There are Dyson Sphere powered planet-killer beam weapons, kinetic relativistic kill vehicles aplenty, focused supernovae, monopole-based 'conversion bombs' which can destroy stars... The most extreme example of this trope are Metric Bombs, only accessible to the highest Archai. They can travel across space at near the speed of light almost entirely undetected inside a void bubble, and destroy entire star systems by altering the very nature of spacetime at the heart of the central star and causing it to go supernova regardless of its mass. All that remains afterward is a black hole.

    Real Life 
  • Near-Earth asteroids that almost routinely fly right past the planet. They never hit Earth, but they always hit our anxiety.
  • Gamma ray bursts. Real-life Death Stars. When a star goes supernova, it lets out a huge, concentrated beam of radiation. If one of those went off within a few thousand light years and was aimed at our solar system, it would obliterate the ozone layer and incinerate or irradiate every living thing. And there's popping off somewhere in the universe every single day. Sleep tight.
  • Relativistic weapons, if they are ever developed. While they may travel slower than light, they still are nearly impossible to see coming, since its own light would only be slightly outpacing it. Once you see a relativistic weapon being launched towards you, it's already most of the way here, it's not where it seems to be, and every few seconds it gets millions of kilometers closer to you. Fortunately, there are ways you can counter it. Namely, you use its own massive kinetic energy against it. As explained in Randall Munroe's What If?, any collision involving relativistic speeds is so energetic that atoms fuse at the site of impact. Even a grapefruit-sized rock standing in the path of a relativistic kill vehicle will cause a large thermonuclear explosion, reducing both it and the kill vehicle to a cloud of hot plasma unless the latter is somehow Made of Indestructium. Granted, that plasma is still speeding at you nearly at the speed of light, but at least it's now much more dispersed. If detected sufficiently early (possibly with the help of a Subspace Ansible), the worst you'll suffer is a mild EMP as the plasma is deflected by your planet's magnetosphere like a small solar flare.
  • There really isn't anything stopping us from firing a nuke at another solar system in the same way we launched Voyager and New Horizons out of our orbit. It would have to use a device that doesn't require any short-lived isotopes though.


Video Example(s):


Starkiller Base

Starkiller Base is an alpine planet that was converted by the First Order into a colossal superweapon that would make the two Death Stars look pale in comparison. By draining the entire star it is stationed to, the base's weapon system is powerful enough to destroy entire planetary systems.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / InterstellarWeapon

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