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Landfill Beyond the Stars

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But where do they dump the planet when it's full?

"This must be the junk capital of the universe."

In Speculative Fiction, one will sometimes find that entire planets get used as interstellar landfills. Implicitly this means that it is somehow worthwhile to launch refuse into space and take it to another planet, possibly one that is located in another solar system, in order to dump it there, rather than give it a push towards the nearest star, dump it on a nearby worthless, uninhabitable rock, or just recycle the stuff (not to mention massive and cheap energy sources that make such launches worthwhile in the first place— just getting into space in the first place is a lot harder than most people think).

In many cases, the landfill-planet will even be habitable, if only barely, for the convenience of the protagonists who will naturally end up spending time there at some point. Hobo cities built out of scrap optional.


For this trope to work at all, the setting must have very Casual (and VERY CHEAP) Interstellar Travel. There are, however, ways to harden this trope: make the planet in question a useless dwarf planet in a nearby asteroid belt, Ceres-like (delta-v to reach such a planet could be really low), used only to dump garbage of space origin from the same system, and equipped with dirty recycling industries that make it more efficient to fling refuse there, rather than into the star. Rarely will it ever be a recycling planet of some kind, which would justify moving massive amounts of junk there. For this trope on a smaller scale, see Down in the Dumps.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • An episode of the Kirby anime involved aliens trying to turn Popstar into one of these, as part of Dedede paying off his debts. Key word: Trying.
  • The ironically named Shangri-La colony from Gundam ZZ is mostly used as a scrapyard, collecting all the wreckage from the space wars that have been raging intermittently for the past 9 years. Unsurprisingly it's mostly populated by devil-may-care teens who dream of running away to a better world and lots of people with names ending in vowels.
  • In the American manga EV, the robotic alien Evie encounters seems to come from a world like this—specifically, a world based on Junkion from The Transformers.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Astral World is being destroyed... by humans intentionally dumping their garbage in it.
  • An episode of Doraemon involves how littering is wrong. The gang travel to an Earth-like planet where littering is Serious Business. Gian and Suneo got caught littering and sent to work at a disposal site where all garbage is compressed into giant balls and illegally launched into orbit.
    • This becomes a Broken Aesop due to a certain earlier episode. Nobita and Doraemon couldn't agree on how to split a dorayaki, so Doraemon lets out a gadget that will make something perpetually split into two while retaining the mass of the original (i.e. matter ex nihilo). Greed gets the better of them, and they let at least 1 dorayaki to remain so they will always have a dorayaki to eat. However, they eventually reach their stomach's limit, and can't do anything about the infinitely splitting dorayaki. The solution? Round up all the affected dorayaki and launch them to outer space. Out of sight, out of mind... at least for their lifetime.

    Comic Books 
  • In issue #12 of the Marvel comic of Battlestar Galactica (1978), Starbuck, Boomer, and Athena, on recon patrol, stumble across Scavenge World, a planet composed entirely of spare parts and inhabited by alien scavengers. They are captured and brought before the throne of Eurayle, the leader of the scavenger "family." Meanwhile, the Galactica is buffeted by an unexpected Cylon attack. The Cylons are momentarily averted, and the Fleet arrives at Scavenge World. Learning of the Galactica's situation, Eurayle makes a proposal - she will use her powers of the mind to free Commander Adama from the Memory Machine if she can receive Lieutenant Starbuck in return. Starbuck eventually agrees to her offer. After the Cylons are defeated, Starbuck stays behind with her while the Colonial fleet moves on. Starbuck escapes from Scavenge World and returns to the fleet in issue #19. Eurayle pursues the fleet in issue #20, and Starbuck and Apollo meet with her. Starbuck agrees to fight her in a duel to the death. Eurayle wins, but after she leaves it is revealed that Starbuck faked his own death. The Scavenge World ship that Starbuck used to escape winds up giving the Colonials the coordinates to Earth and the series ends with the fleet making a hyperjump to their final destination.
  • Morbus in the Archie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comics is a garbage planet within Dimension X, where Krang is banished by Cherubae.
  • 2000 AD: In the short strip Life Cycle, a child wakes up onboard a space station with no memory of how she got there. It turns out that it's inside of a giant waste plant.
  • In Star Wars: Allegiance, the Resistance have made camp on The Garbage Planet Of Anoat.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Transformers: The Movie: The Planet of Junk. While entirely comprised of junk, it is not a sphere so much as part of a crescent, implying that it is an artificial world. Whether the Planet of Junk was built by the Junkions is never actually explained. In various other media, it's given different explanations for its state: in the original G1 comic book it ended up like that after it was hit with a worse energy crisis than Cybertron, while in IDW's continuity it was a strategic planet in the Cybertron Civil war and neither the Autobots nor Decepticons were willing to let the other side have it, resulting in someone (no one actually knows who except the guilty party, who may already be dead) setting off an Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
  • WALL•E: Earth itself has become a junk planet, and humanity has gone beyond the stars instead. Not a usual example of the trope, as Earth was not intentionally made such, but the visual aesthetic is the same.
  • The planet Duplo from The Lego Movie 2 The Second Part is covered in piles of Lego bricks that the Duplo aliens sort and bring to Watevra Wan'abi's temple.
  • In Romie-0 and Julie-8, the titular robots escape to the junk planet, Trash-O-Lot and run afoul of an enormous Junk Monster named Sparepartski.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the film Soldier, the main character had been dumped on a "landfill planet" because he was taken for dead.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: The planet Sakaar, which is ruled by the Grandmaster, is an alien scrapyard for derelict spaceships and is known as the "Trash Can of the Universe." Apparently most rogue portals or other teleportation mishaps in the Universe dump crap on Sakaar, to justify why so many important characters all end up stranded in the same location.
  • Star Wars averts it with Coruscant. The planet's waste is recycled or composted where applicable, and the truly hazardous, irreclaimable garbage gets packed into containers and shot into orbit, where it gets a subsequent heave toward the sun.
  • An early script for Blade Runner opened on an "Off-World Termination Dump" where they bury expired androids. Three replicants that had been faking their deaths kill their dumpsters and escape to Earth.

  • Larry Niven's short story "The Woman in Del Rey Crater" involves humanity dumping most of their nuclear waste into a single crater on the Moon. This is actually explained pretty well: the radioactive waste is hideously dangerous now, but we may find a way to use it at some later time. The Moon has no environment to damage, is very sparsely populated, and is relatively easy for this near-future society to reach, so it makes an excellent landfill until recycling technology catches up.
  • Garbage World by Charles Pratt. An asteroid is used as the dumping ground for the trash of the pleasure asteroids.
  • In the Red Dwarf novelizations, the Garbage World on which Lister ended up stranded turned out to be Earth, after being voted such in a Eurovision Song Contest vote.
  • In one of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers stories, Rod Portlyn, a Corrupt Corporate Executive, turns the planet Phantas 61 into this.
  • The Cyberiad featured a substory about a piece of junk dumped into a landfill planet, triggering a chain reaction that led to the creation of an AI.
  • Star Wars Legends The Thrawn Trilogy features the planet Caamas as this after the planet was utterly devastated by orbital bombardment. This was something of a charitable endeavour, as the Caamasi were at least paid for the use of their (now mostly useless) planet.
  • Waste Dump B-19 in Graeme Base's interplanetary romp The Worst Band in the Universe. Not only is it covered with garbage; it's infested with Man-Eating Plants that react to the slightest noise, making it the perfect place to exile rebellious criminal rock stars.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: "The Tsuranga Conundrum" begins with the Doctor and company searching around one of these, which according to the Doctor is in an entire junkyard galaxy, but those are quite rare.
  • Firefly:
    • The Expanded Universe has Beylix, essentially a giant storage yard for the United Reclamation company.
    • Also, to some degree, Boros.
  • The setting of a Lexx episode. The system's other planets were mutually annihilated by war, leaving a few hundred employees stranded on the landfill planet. It got worse.
  • The '70s sci-fi spoof Quark was set on an interstellar garbage truck, presumably headed to one of these planets.
  • Gerry Anderson's Space: 1999 started with the moon being used as a nuclear waste dump.
  • In the "Shatnerverse" corner of Star Trek's Expanded Universe, a resurrected Kirk gets dumped onto a Borg planet used as a holding station for refuse before it's recycled. This is partially explained in that the Borg canonically have easy interstellar "transwarp", but it's still a Class-M planet (inhabited, even) when any random location in space would do, and far less efficient than just recycling on-site.
  • In a different version of this trope, the Malon in Star Trek: Voyager dump their dangerously radioactive "antimatter waste" (which is essentially nuclear waste - whatever's left after you do the energy generation that you can't use - but antimatter) in other regions of space, with less scrupulous captains not bothering to look for uninhabited ones. They do give a brief Hand Wave about why they can't just Hurl It into the Sun, though; doing so often enough would apparently cause a star to explode. Voyager tried to offer them waste-cleaning technology, but the one captain they tried this with declined because he didn't want to lose his waste disposal job, which is supposedly super lucrative.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The darkly humorous HoL (Human Occupied Landfill) takes place on one of these planets. It also takes the concept one step further and turns it into a landfill for people: the planet is the Confederation Of World's only prison.
  • Rifts
    • The Phase World setting has a unique justification: the planet in question is a deliberate social experiment to see what kind of civilization will emerge from such a place. It was set up by a Mega-Corp that operated across three galaxies, and a few dimensions besides, and collected debts that were sometimes measured in planets.
    • The Rifts megaverse builder sourcebook also has an entire Landfill dimension. Seems when you can use magic to open Rifts and just dump your garbage it has to all go somewhere.
  • The GURPS setting of Infinite Worlds features Empty worlds, parallel Earths where no intelligent life has evolved and some where no life has evolved at all. The latter are occasionally used as dumping grounds for hazardous waste. Nonetheless, Homeline's Greenpeace is still opposed to the idea.
  • Given the sheer scale and variety of environments, it's almost impossible for Warhammer 40,000 to NOT have a bunch of these. Interesting twist though: they weren't dedicated trash planets, but rather "hive worlds" that are so overpopulated, overdeveloped and over-mined that they're literally out of obtainable resources, the surface covered in barren rock, polluted (if not boiled-off/siphoned-away) seas and sprawling arcologies that house billions. Many of these worlds subsist on simply scrounging for material in sub-continent-sized piles of industrial refuse, and mass recycling of all water and organic products. Yes, that includes people. The lucky ones that reach this state are able to trade off millions of people a year (or month, or week)) as labor or military in exchange for fresh sustenance, although they of course just squander it away just as quickly.

    Video Games 
  • Total Annihilation had one of those planets, the moon of one of the factions' capital planet. Good thing about the junk, too. The moon was all mined out to cover the surface of said world in a metal shell, so the wreckage was the only source of war resources.
  • New Junk City, the first level of Earthworm Jim, looks like one of these on the surface, but according to the game's documentation the level actually takes place in Texas.
  • A more reasonable version appears in Mass Effect 2; the planet Korlus is used as a junkyard/recycling plant for old space-craft, and only those that were near a Mass Relay. It's a dirty and dangerous task due to the various volatile chemicals released during the process. So it is less of a planetary junkyard, and more like a planet whose primary industry is ship-breaking. In an interesting twist, the in-universe fluff material makes it clear that spaceship junkyards don’t actually cover the planet's surface, they’re just its primary industry and main source of revenue. Korlus does have a reputation for being this trope, however, with the same fluff mentioning that a Council member dismissively called the place "a garbage scow with a climate" in a press conference. It's also noted for insanely high levels of crime (organized and otherwise) and an astronomical murder rate.
  • In Escape Velocity, you can take random missions to dump garbage on uninhabited worlds.
  • Stage 2 of Gradius Gaiden, named "Requiem for Revengers". As the level name suggests, you'll meet the partially-functioning wreckage of past Gradius bosses trapped in the junk.
  • In Starcraft II, planet D-3794(aka, "Deadman's Rock") comes off as this. A lawless planet far outside of Dominion space, its surface is littered with debris and scrap, even near its two main settlements.
  • Some of the planets in Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 had planets covered in garbage in which the Gearmo living on it wants to get rid of it, and as a result he wants Mario to dispose the garbage by either blowing it up with Bob-ombs or burning it with the Fire Flower in order to give him a star as a reward.
  • The Deponia series takes place entirely on a world like this.
  • Star Fox 64 has the planet Zoness. Formerly a popular vacation spot of the Lylat System, Andross turned the place into his own personal wastebasket, which noticeably horrifies your team-members. It also appeared as though the copious amounts of toxic waste also mutated the native life on the planet. The usual Fridge Logic about whether it's really more economic to haul all this junk to another planet instead of recycling it or something is averted because Andross was pretty clearly doing it just to be a dick.
    • By Star Fox: Assault, if the Zoness multiplayer map is any indication, it seems that the cleanup effort, which is advertised on billboards in the Corneria stage, was successful.
  • Scraparap from Jazz Jackrabbit. Described by the game's manual as "the junkyard of the universe", Big Bad Devan Shell sent his scavenging underlings to loot the planet for spare parts with the objective of building his Mega Air Bases.
  • Star Wars The Force Unleashed prominently features Raxus Prime, which was so polluted from its long history as a manufacturing center that it eventually became this.
  • In Battleborn, the Detritus Ring the home of the Rogues faction is this. When the remaining beings in the universe started clustering around Solus the last star, the asteroid belt became a safe dumping ground. Everything from massive dead capitol ships and moonbase-sized colony ships now float among the near-moon-sized asteroids throughout the ring. Along with miners hunting for mineral deposits and salvagers making a tidy profit off the spacecraft graveyard, it quickly became the perfect hiding spot for outcasts from the universe's remaining civilizations.
  • In Obsidian The third dream world starts in a planet-wide junkyard like this, dreamed of and built by the nanobot-controlling AI, Ceres. But, as surreal as everything else in the game is, it also has unusual features: like a giant metal hand containing a flying machine, a radio that makes you levitate, three moons based on all three dream worlds, and a massive "Frame in the Sky".
  • Pandora in Borderlands is half-junkyard, half-desert. It gets so bad around the settlement of New Haven that a cave system nearby, Tetanus Warrens, has many walls and ceiling made out of garbage and scrap metal.
  • The Litter Glitter galaxy in Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages is where all the garbage produced in the nearby Galawynde galaxy ends up. The main environmental hazards are pieces of junk several times the size of your ship, and there's enough profit to be made in scavenging for salvager gangs to go to war over prime spots.

    Web Comics 
  • Freighter Tales is set on an interstellar sewer tank.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, an alternate universe that's a mash-up of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Alien regularly sends ships to a dimensional portal in deep space, where they dump toxic waste into whatever dimension happens to be on the other side.
  • In Sonichu, CWCville authorities work with NASA to dump contraband, such as tobacco and marijuana on the moon. The comic's author believes the government should do this in Real Life.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Planet Dirt from Invader Zim, one of many Irken planets dedicated to a single purpose.
  • Goo (as well as Junkion) in The Transformers (Season 3). Goo seems to be specifically purposed to catching floating garbage in space. That its full name is Goo 8739B suggests there may be a lot more like it.
  • The junkyard planet in the Justice League episode "War World."
  • Futurama:
    • One episode has the crew of Planet Express sent to destroy a ball of garbage that was previously thrown into orbit, Armageddon-style. The bomb, however, "misfires", and the Earth resorts to a different tactic: rolling up an identically-sized garbage ball and tossing it at the big ball of trash.
    • Another episode has the characters disposing of electronic waste on "The Third World" (of the Antares system).
  • Megas XLR features one in the episode "Junk In The Trunk", which on the surface looks quite similar to Junkion from Transformers. May be coincidence, although given the number of Shout Outs to Transformers in the series...
  • Vulpin in the fluff of Ben 10 is a galactic dumping ground totally devoid of all life that's not freakishly mutated by toxic wastes. For perspective, Wildmutt (think a vaguely canine gorilla with no eyes and a massive set of jaws) was sampled from the DNA of a creature native to the place.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars has Lotho Minor as a textbook example.
  • Danger Mouse and Penfold trek to the moon in order to find the reason for the tides to overrun land on Earth (episode "Turn of the Tide"). There they discover the crater of Copernicus filled to the brim with junked spacecrafts.

    Real Life 
  • Real World example of the sort of thinking that leads to this trope: the Apollo astronauts jettisoned urine (they said it made a beautiful sight) but were required to store all feces and return it to Earth; apparently the idea of turds in lunar orbit was too much for the mission planners, despite the fact that such matter would quickly desiccate in the cold vacuum.
  • The Soviets had plans to use their Energiya rocket to launch nuclear waste into a safe, planned solar orbit, but the plan came to nothing thanks to the fall of the USSR. This was less dangerous than it sounds because the Soviets sited their launch facilities in such a remote and lightly-populated part of their territory that they probably had less chance of hitting some innocent bystander with a failed rocket than NASA did with flightpaths aimed over the sea. Of course these days we can recycle nuclear waste a lot more easily than we could in the late Eighties anyway...
  • Having excessive amounts of space junk floating around is becoming a real concern for engineers. Generally, space garbage can either be burnt up in the atmosphere or tossed up into a graveyard orbit, which is beyond a geosynchronous orbit. This isn't a perfect solution, but requires less fuel in some cases, like for satellites in geosynchronous orbits. And that's where the space garbagemen come in...


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