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Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs

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The mystery is forever solved.

Fry: Wait, wait, wait! What really killed the dinosaurs?

While writing a story, an author needs a way to show how bad things would get if the Big Bad took control or the Applied Phlebotinum blew up. So the author attributes some historical disaster to their plot. And what's the biggest disaster one can imagine?

Why, none other than the extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs. Despite being confirmed with a huge degree of certainty and consensus to be some kind of asteroid or comet impact, the debate has made the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction ideal due to the sheer number of theories flying about, making it a Stock Unsolved Mystery to rival even Who Shot JFK? What's one more crazy theory going to hurt? Other works go along with the mainstream hypothesis, but say that their factor caused the impactor to fall to earth, or was the impactor itself.

Often ignored in fictional portrayals is that the dinosaurs were the top of a food chain–wide extinction event; the "direct" victims of the event (whatever it was) probably would have been plants, algae, and plankton, and it was their disappearance that killed the animals which ate them, killing the animals which ate them, etc.

Similarly fantastic theories have sometimes been suggested to explain why other species went extinct, though due to Small Reference Pools, most writers tend to ignore the Permian–Triassic extinction, which was the biggest mass extinction ever. The Triassic–Jurassic extinction, which was almost as widespread as the Cretaceous–Paleogene and directly led to dinosaurs becoming the dominant forms of life for the next 135 million years, is even more obscure. Apparently, it's only the fall of the dinosaurs, and not their rise to prominence, that's deemed interesting enough for fiction. Despite the fact that both of these events have considerably more uncertainty about their causes (and thus more room to invent a Phlebotinum-based explanation) than the by this point rather well-understood Cretaceous–Paleogene.

A subtrope of Historical In-Joke and Real Event, Fictional Cause. See The Dinosaurs Had It Coming when the dinosaurs' extinction is blamed on themselves. Compare Artistic License – Paleontology, which this trope can fall into if not done well. Contrast with Lost World, where the dinosaurs manage to duck and cover in a cave/valley/jungle before the big event. See also The Cretaceous Is Always Doomed, which is about the tendency of time-travelers to arrive at dates of historical significance — especially the end of the dinosaurs — by complete coincidence; that trope can overlap with this one if the reason they're present for the extinction is that they caused it.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In an extended cut of Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, a throwaway line by Beerus recounts that he went to Earth millions of years ago, and that he wiped out the dinosaurs because they were rude to him. This is reconfirmed in Dragon Ball Super. This is ignoring the weird world of Dragon Ball showed us many times that it still has Living Dinosaurs (both regular and anthropomorphic). Then again, later arcs in Super show that Beerus is practically the poster child for The Gods Must Be Lazy and very bad at his job as a Destroyer Deity despite his absurdly high power level, so it's totally in-character for him to have just plain missed some.
  • In one chapter of Franken Fran, Fran claims that the dinosaurs were too large and inefficient to survive so they evolved to be smaller and became birds, to try and justify her disbelief at how the Monster of the Week could even exist. She fails biology forever and makes paleontologists cry, but kudos to having a T. rex with protofeathers.
  • ChoRyuJin killed the dinosaurs in GaoGaiGar. A giant meteor was involved, but the fans like to think it was all ChoRyuJin's fault.
  • Getter Rays in Getter Robo are deadly to dinosaurs. They didn't completely wipe out the Dinosaurs though, as the Dinosaur Empire was able to hide in the Magma Layer. Hence the heroes using Getter Robo to finish the job when the Dinos show up in modern times.
  • The meteor was deliberately dropped by aliens in Guyver, to clear out their initial experimental soldiers — dinosaurs — and make way for whatever survived.
  • In the The Prince of Tennis movie The Two Samurai: The First Game, the power of Tezuka Kunimitsu's technique, Tezuka Zone was visually compared to the meteor storm responsible of the extintion of dinosaurs, when he hits the tennis ball so strongly that it appears as if multiple giant tennis balls from space rain down on Earth and wipe out the dinosaurs, utterly "destroying" his opponent along with the creatures. And it was awesome. What do you mean it's not awesome?
  • Queen Millennia: The extinction of the dinosaurs and the formation of the Himalayas are attributed to La-Metal passing by at that time.
  • The Manga version of Scryed shows that Kazuma accidentally killed the dinosaurs with one of his punches (that broke through the walls of space and time).
  • From Sgt. Frog, Angol Mois' mother is credited for this. (In context, the Angol are a race of planet-splitting world destroyers, so this crosses into Holding Back the Phlebotinum.)
    • The first movie contradicts this however, by showing murals of ancient Keronian weapon Kiruru of being responsible.
  • This Ugly Yet Beautiful World: Hikari is the embodiment of extinction, and travels from planet to planet, causing mass extinctions to make room for new species. Last time she came to Earth was to wipe out the dinosaurs for mammals.

    Comic Books 
  • In 1963: No One Escapes The Fury!, the villain's opening line is, "Who killed the dinosaurs? I did!" Given that he's a psychic living fossil T. rex, he can back that up.
  • In the 2000 AD serial Flesh, the dinosaurs were wiped out due to over hunting by time-traveling cowboys. Yeah...
  • In the Armageddon 2001 sequel The Alien Agenda, Captain Atom activates an alien power source that obliterates the dinosaurs to stop time traveling aliens from destroying prehistoric Earth.
  • The comic continuation of Angel has a in-universe movie adaptation of Angel's adventures claiming that it was a Vampire Tyrannosaurus that killed all the Dinosaurs, after having cursed God in his "own Dinosaur way" after losing a mate, and Satan giving him the power.
  • Atomic Robo: According to Dr. Dinosaur, mammal energies from the Large Hadron Collider in the present traveled back to the past, killing all of the dinosaurs except for the Doctor himself (who gained his GENIUS INTELLIGENCE!). Dr. Atomic Robo Tesla strongly disagrees with this hypothesis (but then again, Dr. Dinosaur's insane pseudoscience has an odd habit of actually working...).
  • In one Disney Comic featuring Donald, Donald goes back in time and accidentally makes a second moon explode.
  • In Godzilla: Rage Across Time, the dinosaurs were killed out by a fight between Earth's Kaiju and a Xillian invasion that included Kaiser Ghidorah.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • In Iron Man Annual #10, Gaea saw the dinosaurs as an evolutionary dead end that would prevent mammals from evolving to their full potential, and focused on mammals instead, angering Set.
    • In Dan Jurgens's Thor #80, a meteor shower wiped out the dinosaurs, caused by the creation of the forge that forged Mjölnir.
    • In West Coast Avengers #44–49, That Which Endures, a collective entity responsible for natural selection, decided reptilians were a dead and chose to focus on mammalians, leading to the dinosaurs dying out.
    • In The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Loki claimed that the last time Ratotoskr was loose, "all the raptors got replaced by hairless apes who invented fax machines."
  • In Planetary giant multi-dimensional ship (similar a little to The Carrier) crashed on Earth, killing the dinosaurs.
  • In Predator: Concrete Jungle, it is said that the Predators exterminated the dinosaurs. This is ignored by virtually all other Predator works.
  • According to one issue of the Red Dwarf Smegazine, it was the crew of Red Dwarf, who accidentally kill them all via a neutrino-tachyon shockwave in an attempt in get back to their own time after having been stranded in the past.

    Comic Strips 
  • In FoxTrot, Jason theorizes that time-traveling big game hunters killed the dinosaurs.
  • One The Far Side strip shows dinosaurs smoking cigarettes, with the caption "what really killed the dinosaurs."

    Fan Works 
  • Codex Equus: The end of the Dinosaurs — both the non-sapient species and sapient races — over 65 million years ago was the result of not one but a conga-line of multiple cataclysms and catastrophes occurring at roughly the same time, devastating them to the point that most of them were wiped out and those that survive either retreated into seclusion or left the planet altogether.
    • On top of a comet impact, another natural disaster from outer space occurred in the form of a cosmic shower of mysterious Shinka Rays, which caused a mass die-off owing to its utter lethality to the Dinosaurs and other creatures deemed "evolutionarily unfit". Some of the unfortunate Dinosaurs suffered the truly gruesome demise of having their flesh melt off their shattering bones.
    • Internecine conflict between the sapient Dinosaur races, factions and civilizations caused widespread destruction that greatly weakened them.
    • A plague of Space Kaijus attacks occurred during the twilight of the Dinosaurs. One of these — a certain three-headed monster — did quite a number on them in particular.
    • A (suspected) Child of the Void, Fegrð, the Author of Beautiful Ends, was one of the final nails in the coffin for the Dinosaurs. Given that the last couple of disasters the Dinosaurs already went through, he claims he was there mostly to "finish the job".
  • Day of the Barney Trilogy: Barney and Baby Bop summoned the meteor that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago by singing "I love you, you love me." Believe it or not, this isn't the most heinous deed on their Historical Rap Sheet.
  • Harry Potter and the Prince of Slytherin: The dinosaurs were wiped out by a meteor summoned by Magic itself to retroactively prevent the rise of the Naga, one of which would make their language inherently magical with devastating consequences. Magic then punished the responsible for it by trapping him forever in a cave, where he can only wait for visitors to grant them one wish, with the echoes of their language becoming Parseltongue (that Salazar Slytherin made hereditary for his descendants when he reached the Last Naga).
  • I Shall Endure to the End: The dinosaurs died out as a result of the Great Flood due to prioritization on Noah, Crowley and Aziraphale's parts — there was just no way to fit a breeding pair of brontosauruses on the Ark, and the tyrannosaurs would have eaten out all the other animals by the time the trip was over, so they had to be left out.
  • Kaiju Revolution: When King Ghidorah's hatred for earth's chemical-based life grew to a boiling point, he went on a killing spree and caused the Great Dying, forcing Godzilla to defeat him and throw Ghidorah into a fiery pit where he sank into the earth's core. After millions of years, Ghidorah uses his newly acquired electromagnetic and gravity powers to draw a massive asteroid to earth, freeing him and causing the KT extinction in the process and after he's set adrift in space in his prison of Mothra bodies, he dissipates Mars's magnetosphere and wipes out all life on it as he's leaving the solar system.
  • Mesozoic Effect: The dinosaurs and their ancient civilization were wiped out by the Reapers, except for those who escaped in cryosleep in their bunkers.
  • Nobledark Imperium: During the days of the Old Ones, Earth was at the tail end of the Mesozoic and mostly served as a wildlife preserve and source of fresh experimental stock for the Old Ones. During the War in Heaven, the battle between the Void Dragon and the other C'tan happened to take place in the Sol System, and included one of the fighters getting body-slammed in the future Yucatan peninsula, resulting in the Chicxulub bolide impact and killing off Earth's megafauna.
  • Rise of the Galeforces actually gives as close to the correct scientific explanation as the author — and his Author Avatar — is aware of, when he briefly interrupts the narrative to correct several other characters who thought that a heatwave killed off the dinosaurs.note  Humorously, Frozone later gets to make a jab at the infamous "Ice age" line from Batman & Robin, as noted below.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Batman & Robin, Mr. Freeze thinks the Ice Age killed the dinosaurs—a bit of a suspect statement coming from a scientist, even if paleontology isn't his field. He is wrong, but that doesn't stop the line from being one of the most memorable.
  • Eternals: The Deviants were designed by the Celestials to wipe out a planet's apex predators so that sapient life had a chance to emerge. They aren't actually shown killing the dinosaurs but they are seen destroying some creatures that look a lot like dinosaurs on another planet.
  • In Jupiter Ascending, the extinction of the dinosaurs was engineered by aliens because they were deemed too hostile to human life. Once they were gone, Earth was seeded for eventual harvesting.
  • In Kamen Rider J, the extinction of the dinosaurs was due to the parasitic lifeform Fog Mother who arrived on Earth to feed and spawn her offspring.
  • MonsterVerse: It's suggested in the films' tie-in comic Godzilla: Aftershock that the MUTOs caused at least two of Earth's prehistoric mass extinctions in the process of living out their natural life cycle.
  • The opening narration for Night of the Comet states that the comet (which turns most animal life into red dust) last came close to Earth when the dinosaurs disappeared.
  • In Pacific Rim there's a deliberately-ambiguous statement that the dinosaurs were either killed off by Kaiju, or were the first failed attempt at creating Kaiju.
  • Power Rangers (2017) has Zordon and the other ancient Rangers fighting Rita on Earth. In a last-ditch effort, Zordon has a meteor dropped on their location to stop her.
  • Rebirth of Mothra:
  • In Reign of Fire, it was the dragons that killed the dinosaurs. Scientists only learn of this too late to warn everyone of them.
  • Inverted in Super Mario Bros. (1993), with the meteorite that caused the dinosaurs' extinction splitting the world into parallel dimensions, one of which had the dinosaurs continue to thrive and evolve into sentient beings.
  • In Transformers: Age of Extinction, the extinction of the Dinosaurs was caused by terraforming performed by the creators of the Transformers who tried to turn the earth into Transformium.

  • In one path on Star Challenge's book "Dimension of Doom", exploring an Alternate Universe you find a planet with dinosaurs larger than its original Earth counterparts. If you ask the one who's in charge there about that he comments that one of their robots in a mission of exploration found the Earth in the Cretaceous era. They wanted a sample of the dominant creatures living in that planet... and said robot brought all of them to that alternate universe planet.

  • A variation happens in All Tomorrows. An extinct species of extraterrestrial dinosaur, Panderavis, was found in an alien planet; given what we soon learn about the Qu, there's a very heavy implication that they messed around with the dinosaurs, and given that Panderavis evolved from one of the younger non-avian groups (therizinosaurs) they may very well have something to do with their extinction.
  • Animorphs:
    • The Monster of the Week in Megamorphs #2 causes the extinction of the dinosaurs by redirecting a meteor earthward. To rephrase it, the dinosaurs were killed by a plain old meteor... FLUNG BY ALIENS! To wipe out OTHER aliens who wanted to settle on Earth and plant broccoli. For extra craziness, the benign alien settlers had a plan to divert the meteor with a nuclear missile, but it was sabotaged... by one of the heroes, because, well, that extinction was necessary for the human race to emerge.
    • The Ellimist Chronicles shows that the titular character prevented Crayak from inflicting an even worse disaster on Earth back when Mars still had life, but he intentionally did not interfere with the progress of an asteroid towards the planet because he saw more potential in those tiny mammals.
  • The Astrosaurs series, similar to the Star Trek example, which said that dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures discovered space travel and left Earth before the meteor struck.
  • The Ryk E. Spoor and Eric Flint novel Boundary (and the sequels) also used the alien-directed asteroid projectile explanation (apparently in a civil war against bases on Earth).
  • In Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers, Tippy Tinkletrousers not only killed the dinosaurs with his nuclear bomb, but also caused the Ice Age and Caused the Big Bang.
  • In Kage Baker's The Company Novels, a defective Immortal claims to have wiped out the dinosaurs through his abuse of time travel. However, he's also quite clearly insane, so it isn't certain if he's telling the truth.
  • In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, Lisa Randall presents the hypothesis that dark matter (the source of gravity that holds galaxies and galactic clusters together, observable only due to its gravitational lensing, making it one of the Phlebotina of astrophysics) deflected the asteroid responsible for the dinosaurs' extinction.
  • In Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, it's not the dinosaurs whose extinction is blamed on phlebotinum, but that of the dodo. A time-traveler indirectly caused it to be wiped out because he'd meddled with prehistory to save the coelacanth.
  • The Steve Alten novel Domain, the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs was in fact a spaceship of an evil multi-dimensional entity that was shot down by the good aliens, who then land on the planet (Earth), genetically mess with the local fauna to eventually create Humanity, create the Mayan civilization, and use its prophecies to foretell the end of the world which will happen when the bad alien's ship gains enough power to reactivate, on December 21, 2012.
  • In Dracula Unbound, the extinction of the dinosaurs was triggered by a nuclear bomb set off by time-travelers in order to wipe out a nest of vampires, which evolved from pterosaurs.
  • In The Dresden Files, Thomas Raith claims that love killed the dinosaurs. Harry calls him out on it. Essentially, the tale talks about how the meteor did wipe out the big stuff, but the dinosaurs didn't regain their position because mammals could feel love and be devoted to their mates and offspring, making them more likely to survive. This is a vampire folk tale being told to a wizard with a GED, and should be taken with a grain of salt, especially given that some dinosaurs did have strong nesting instincts.
  • David Weber's Empire from the Ashes trilogy has the Achuultani, genocidal aliens who have been wiping out all complex life in the galaxy (besides themselves) for over seventy million years. While they were destroying a defensive base of the alien "First Imperium" on the planet that the asteroid belt used to be, they whacked Earth with a much smaller asteroid, causing the extinction.
  • The second book of Empire of the Ants reveal Ants were responsible for the extinction of the Dinosaurs.
  • Robert J. Sawyer's End Of An Era features time travelers who pop into the end of the Cretaceous to discover that Earth's gravity was purposefully modified by Martians in order to breed biological war machines (aka dinosaurs) against a fifth planet in the Solar System orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. In the end, the scientists cause the KT Extinction Event by turning off the antigravity generators, simultaneously killing off both the dinosaurs and the Martians. Essentially, phlebotinum created the dinosaurs. Taking it away killed them.
  • David Brin's Existence posits that a war between alien probes that took place millions of years in the past caused an object to fall to Earth and trigger the Cretaceous extinction. Whether it was an actual alien probe, a piece of rock flung by one of the probes at another, done on purpose or by accident, is not known.
  • In Charles Pellegrino's Flying to Valhalla, it's suggested that the mass extinction between the Eocene and the Oligocene was engineered by aliens to prevent Earth from becoming a threat.
  • In Fortunately, the Milk, the protagonist learns early on that the dinosaurs actually had a technological civilization when he meets a time-traveling stegosaurus inventor (who is naturally rather interested to discover what happened in the intervening centuries to cause there to be no dinosaurs on Earth any more). The climax of the book features the revelation that the dinosaurs didn't die out, but invented space travel and took to the stars.
  • From I, Cthulhu by Neil Gaiman:
    You know what killed off the dinosaurs, Whateley? We did. In one barbecue.
  • Author and physician Robin Cook's novel Invasion, had the dinosaurs completely wiped out by super advanced alien entities hoping to assimilate intelligent creatures like humanity into their collective.
  • Played with in The Lives of Tao. The Dinosaurs were killed off by a large comet/asteroid-like object impacting the earth. It just that the object in question was a damaged alien spaceship crash landing on our planet.
  • Played with in Michael Crichton's The Lost World (1995), in which Ian Malcolm makes a study on extinction and begins to debunk the theory of the dinosaurs being wiped out by a meteor. Towards the end, they establish that any mistake or miscalculation in an ecosystem, no matter how small, can compromise the survival of a species.
  • In Monster, Big Bad Lotus mentions having to "undo" the dinosaurs because they were part of the universe's master plan to destroy her.
  • Of Ants and Dinosaurs: A combination of the ants killing off the most important figures of dinosaur society and two antimatter weapons going off (anyone who could have reset the timer which prevents them from going off had been killed) killed them off in the end in this novel.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter, Miranda, commenting on the winds (who work for her), mentions that the extinction was not caused by the meteor hitting. It is only logical that people don't know the truth, though; there is a secret order that censors magic out of history, so that people will resort to science rather than evil spirits to improve their lives.
  • In Protector, by Larry Niven, there's a delightful little throwaway line about the Protectors killing the dinosaurs and other megafauna.
  • In Startide Rising, it's mentioned that when the Galactics leave a planet fallow, they dispose of all signs of civilization in a subduction zone, which usually results in a thin layer of iridium being found in the fossil record later as these rare elements come back up to the surface through vulcanism. There is a thin layer of iridium right where the Cretaceous ends, and in the novels Earth was overlooked for so very long because a series of devastating wars led the Galactics to designate the entire sector to lay fallow.
  • In The Science of Discworld, the Terribly Dull Lizards — like many organisms from other time periods, very nearly including humans — were indeed wiped out by a random and cataclysmic meteorite impact. It's still Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs, because the reason there are so many rocks drifting around the solar system to become meteorites is because the UU student body had been tossing them at "The Target" (= Jupiter) as part of a cross-cosmic video game, and they never bothered to sweep up their unused ammunition.
  • Star Trek;
    • The Q Continuum trilogy reveals that Q himself accidentally sent the iridium meteor to Earth during a titanic battle between members of the Continuum and four powerful beings (0, Gorgan, (*), and The One). One of the latter supercharges the meteor and hurls it at female!Q. Fearing for her life, Q hurriedly creates a temporary wormhole in the meteor's path, not thinking about where the rock ends up. After the battle, the Continuum learns about the destruction of the dinosaurs and, as punishment, charges Q with protecting Earth and any lifeforms that evolve on it.
    • In the Star Trek: The Lost Era novel The Buried Age, the Permian extinction event is chosen instead — it was a consequence of an artificially induced galaxy-wide disaster. The Sufficiently Advanced Aliens known as Manraloth accidentally caused the galactic population to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, releasing terrible amounts of energy which irradiated planets. In the aftermath, the artificially maintained habitats of the Manraloth degraded, destabilizing stars, among other dangerous side-effects. The galaxy was an irradiated hellhole until sapient life evolved again millions of years later.
  • David Drake's Time Safari. Human beings travel back in time to hunt dinosaurs, and most of these trips go back to the Late Cretaceous because everybody wants to bag a T. rex. You may think you know where this was going, but its subverted — what actually does in the dinosaurs is a captive tyrannosaur that was re-released into the Cretaceous wild. Seems it was carrying a bird infection that it picked up while it was in the 20th century... Which makes this Hilarious in Hindsight.
  • The novel Tyrannosaur Canyon revolves around finding that Imported Alien Phlebotinum killed the dinosaurs. Specifically, that aliens sent a disease to wipe out the dinosaurs so mammals would diversify and eventually evolve into humans. Yeah...
  • In the Tunnels series, a Styx Phase killed off the dinosaurs, presumably triggering an environmental collapse that spelled doom for millions of other organisms that also went extinct.
  • Jack Chalker's Well World series has it that when the universe was manually rebooted, a world was chosen for each of the races to get seeded upon. Earth came up almost perfect for humanity, but had developed dinosaurs naturally. So the Guardian tweaked the axial tilt of the world slightly, thus killing most of them off to make room for the incoming colonists. Time was moving at an extremely fast pace during this — only moments passed by during the process.
  • In the Zachary Nixon Johnson series, an alien race called the Gladians killed the dinosaurs because they were "getting uppity". They threaten to do the same to humanity in The Doomsday Brunette.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Baldrick's unwashed underpants. (From the short film shown at the Millennium Dome, Blackadder Back and Forth.)
  • Doctor Who: According to "Earthshock", the "meteor" that wiped out the dinosaurs was actually a far-future human spaceship which had been hijacked by the Cybermen and accidentally sent millions of years back in time (they had intended to crash it into the Earth in its own era to wipe out humanity), and which had Adric on board.
  • Power Rangers
    • Power Rangers: Dino Thunder plays an odd twist on it — it was just a random asteroid, but it became a magical asteroid, which shattered into mineral macguffins, which then imprinted on the dinosaurs (ensuring that they could plausibly be used to bring the dinosaurs back). These became the Dino Gems that granted our heroes their powers.
    • In Power Rangers Dino Charge, an evil bounty hunter was in orbit over the planet with a large haul of asteroids he'd collected. But then his ship got bombed, causing them to break away and fall... Interestingly, the involvement of the Mac Guffins that would go on to grant the Rangers' powers — stones that choose worthy wielders just like the Dino Gems — means this would make the perfect origin for the Dino Gems found among the asteroids. In the finale, the Rangers go back in time to prevent this, meaning the dinosaurs never went extinct. This briefly caused a Continuity Snarl, but later seasons established that Dino Charge is in a parallel universe compared to the series' main continuity.
  • The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Distant Origin" suggests that some of them evolved, built spaceships and just outright left. The rest? Probably SOL.
    • The Expanded Universe intimates that Q killed the dinosaurs after using a spatial rift to divert an asteroid hurled at him by another omnipotent being. He would later be charged with overseeing the rebuilding of Earth's ecosystem, including nurturing any sentients that might arise. He left a gift for us in the form of the platypus.
      • Bonus points for explicitly stating that the asteroid had iridium in it, which was determined to be true for the dinosaur-ending asteroid.
      • In another novel, he claims that he gave humanity fire as a joke (predictably, the first thing they did was light one another on fire and laugh hysterically). The other Q were angry, as this made humans dominant instead of cockroaches, and punished him in the way we know from the Prometheus myth. The Star Trek Expanded Universe doesn't keep a tight grip on continuity, but In-Universe, the best answer is that Q is an Unreliable Narrator.
  • Super Sentai has had no less than six possible fates for the dinosaurs.
    • Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger gives us Bandora, whose son was killed by a dinosaur. She sold her soul to the devil to gain the power to destroy the dinosaurs. When she was sealed, only two dinosaur eggs remained, and her main goal after being revived is to destroy those two eggs.
    • Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger holds it that a meteorite did hit Earth but didn't kill the dinosaurs, instead splitting the Earth into two parallel universes; one where humans evolved and rule the earth and one where dinosaurs did.
    • Engine Sentai Go-onger has the villains reviving the monster who destroyed the dinosaurs.
    • The Big Bad of GoGo Sentai Boukenger's movie also killed the dinosaurs.
    • Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger has the Deboss Legion exterminate the dinosaurs and try to do the same to humanity, with three recurring monsters having directly killed the dinos: an Ice Age one, a disease-themed one, and a meteor one (reflecting major theories as to the real-life extinction). They haven't regained their full power yet — the Ice Age monster was even first episode cannon fodder — but they're still usually a step up from a normal Monster of the Week.
    • The "Phlebotinum" part is averted in Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger — it was just a meteor in this version. The catch is that an evil tribe fled to space before the impact, and now they want their planet back. The Movie involves time travel to the moments of the impact, and a Stable Time Loop is involved that results in the Ryusoulgers diminishing the meteor’s total mass so that it merely results in the extinction of the dinosaurs rather than causing an outright Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
  • In The Walking Dead (2010), Eugene suggests that the Zombie Apocalypse may have killed the dinosaurs. He doesn't think it's what happened, but he likes the idea.
  • The X-Files two-parter "The Sixth Extinction" briefly skirts the topic of what killed the dinosaurs, suggesting that Ancient Astronauts visited Earth five times before, destroying its dominant species and introducing new ones. The mammals (including us humans) are the latest masters of Earth, introduced after the "fifth extinction" — a.k.a. the Dinosaur Extinction Event. And our own time to go is nearing fast.

  • Ayreon: "We vanquished the dinosaurs with the trajectory of a child's lost meteorite."
  • The heavy metal band GWAR wiped out the dinosaurs.
  • The 1980 vintage song "Die Dinosaurier" by Lonzo (page is in German) plays with the flood myth by having the dinosaurs be simply too big to fit into Noah's ark and therefore not allowed to board.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible doesn't mention dinosaurs or their extinction directly, but Creationists have come up with a number of Fanon theories to try and reconcile the book of Genesis with paleontology:
    • Dinosaurs died from Noah's Flood; most from the flood itself (along with every other species), and the few left that were on the ark died out because either they were too big to be fed consistnet rations or their food sources couldn't handle the resulting climate changes.
    • The seven "days" of creation are actually a metaphor for seven much longer eras, and dinosaurs went extinct somewhere in that timeframe. This tends to be the approach that "theistic evolutionists" who accept evolution as a part of creation take.
    • When the Earth was cursed due to the Fall of Man, dinosaurs were corrupted and made Always Chaotic Evil. (This doesn't explain where they went, though...)
    • Dinosaurs never existed and their remains were placed by either God or Satan to test the faith of the less committed Christians.
    • Dinosaurs are still alive and that’s why we have Nessie and Mkele Mbenbe.
    • Dinosaurs were part of a failed experiment by God, who got rid of them for being sinful in His eyes.
    • A lot of the doomsday prophecies mentioned in the Book of Revalations appear to clearly parrael the commonly believed scenario as to how the dinosaurs went extinct.
      • Wormwood being described as a celestial body falling to Earth can obviously be compared to the asteroid that fell to Earth and bootstrapped the dinosaurs' judgement day, and the water turning bitter after Wormwood fell to Earth was much like how common watering holes were poisoned following the aftermath of the collision due to it releasing toxic chemicals into them as well as the impacting causing drastic acidification of the oceans that destroyed its food web.
      • The world shaking to its core during the start of many apocalypse scenarios can be thought similarly to the magnitude 11 earthquake that ripped apart entire mountains and islands mere moments after impact.
      • The ring of megatsunamis drowning entire archipelagos and shorelines created by the Collison could've resemble a real life Great Flood ala Noah's Ark.
      • The global firestorm that razes the earth a few days after the impact is similar to many depictions of rapture involving the world being set on fire as the demons of hell erupt from the Earth much like how toxic chemicals from below the earth were displaced towards the surface.
      • The world going dark from the soot and debris released into the atmosphere is reminiscent of the second to last plague from the Book of Exodus where darkness enshrouds the Earth.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In Dinosaurs the dinosaurs drove themselves to extinction when the construction of a wax fruit factory causes a chain reaction that leads to a new ice age that will kill off the dinosaurs. For those that want the chain: the factory was built on the breeding grounds of the bunch beetles, which caused them to go extinct, which means the vines they feed on grow unchecked. Trying to use herbicide to kill them off causes all the other plants to die off as well, causing global warming. Trying to check that by creating clouds leads them to bomb volcanoes, which creates ash clouds that block out the sun, which causes a new ice age that will last for tens of thousands of years. And the worst part is that Richfield, who was behind most of the above, doesn't even care that he doomed the world because he's making an immense profit from it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • One of three alien races who commonly interact with Earth humans in Conspiracy X are the "Saurians", mysterious reptilian aliens with many forms who want to take over. They are actually the dinosaurs, they owned the planet long before us, and they had extremely advanced technology. What finally did them in was an experimental FTL drive that failed in the middle of a huge space civil war, trapping every single Saurian still alive at the time within the temporal stasis field around an artificial black hole. It took the black hole 65 million years to shrink to the point that some Saurian ships have managed to free themselves of its pull, and the crew members have discovered, to their great dismay, that while they were gone... all kinds of things happened to their planet.
  • In Dark•Matter (1999), while the dinosaurs are not specifically mentioned, numerous historical disasters, and also times of prosperity, are tied to the ebb and flow of dark matter, used as the setting's Applied Phlebotinum.
  • Nobilis features a vignette where a representative of Heaven, an aspect of perfection and purity, descends onto Earth for the first time... and then a dinosaur craps on him. So they have to go. This is par for the course in Nobilis.
  • Implied by some of the background fluff in Warhammer 40,000. The Necron/Old One conflict known as The War In Heaven occurred around the time the dinosaurs died out and the Necrons/C'Tan are known to have come to Earth in the distant past.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse has the Mokole, werelizards tasked with serving as Gaia's Memory who are the oldest (still-living) Changing Breed in existence... so yes, they were (and still are; it's complicated) dinosaurs. They had a massive empire until the "Wonder-Work" - or, as we call it, the K-T extinction - happened. Whether it was Phlebotinum is up in the air, but the living Mokole, who still have the memories of their ancestors, attribute this event to everything from a not-yet-corrupted Wyrm trying to restore balance to Gaia herself reaching down to slap the Mokole for their hubris and allow mammals a chance to evolve.

    Video Games 
  • Chrono Trigger has the dinosaurs being killed off because of the fall of Lavos. The world isn't Earth, but it's similar enough that this event occurred 65 million years ago like the actual extinction of the dinosaurs. For contrast, the rulers of said dinosaurs were bipedal and sentient. Lavos happened to land on their capital, killing the majority of them, and the resulting Ice Age finished the job (in one alternate future seen by defeating Lavos before it's seen to hit, they survived to become the dominant species).
  • Darkstalkers has a character, Huitzil, who was part of a series of robots made by Pyron to wipe the Earth clean of life. This was 65 million years ago. As such, they slaughtered the dinosaurs and went into hibernation, though they didn't realize they'd missed the lesser mammals...
  • The Day the World Broke: Osgood Jr., better known as Ozzie, a technician at the World Works, is responsible for the dinosaurs' disappearance. He accidentally started a cataclysm that killed some of them, and judged the best way to stop it was to throw the vents into reverse. In the process most of the remaining dinos, and some other Cretaceous critters, were sucked through into the core. Metals in the core wound up in their digestive systems, turning this first generation's hatchlings into biomechanical Mechanimals, who inhabit the core to this day.
  • The Black Marker from Dead Space lore was found in the Chicxulub crater and is about 65 million years old. Ironically, the Brethren Moons fire off their Markers randomly with the intent of seeding life forms, not wiping them out, but it was pretty destructive in the inbetween.
  • Deep Town: Mining Factory: It's revealed that the Elders you've been fighting throughout the game were beings created by an ancient race, and were originally benevolent before their corruption by the Amber Elder's chaotic frequencies. The Ancients were reluctant to destroy their own creations and thus sealed them in an asteroid then sent it towards a planet with an iron core, which would imprison the Elders and their chaotic frequencies.
  • In Demonbane, Demonbane and Liber Legis begin randomly teleporting across time and space during their final battle. Eventually they end up back at Earth... 65 million years ago. Liber Legis does a super-charged body slam on Demonbane from orbit, causing both Humongous Mecha to slam into the Earth at extreme speed... in the area that would eventually become known as the Yucatan Peninsula.
  • In Fate/Grand Order, the sentient divine bacteria that would later become the Mayan pantheon arrived on Earth via the Chicxulub asteroid. Quetzalcoatl claims that said asteroid was also the Mayan underworld Xibalba. Lostbelt #7, Nahui Mictlan, reveals this particular claim to be false - the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs was actually ORT, the Ultimate One of the Oort Cloud. The meteor carrying the Mayan Pantheon arrived a little later.
  • Final Fantasy VII hints at this trope. There are enormous, dinosaur-like bones on the Northern Continent. You even run down one's spine in the final dungeon, which is where a cosmic horror meteor thing hit.
  • Inverted in Fossil Fighters, where it's revealed that dinosaurs were actually alien prehistoric creatures introduced to Earth by the Dinaurians, a species ascended from them, in an attempt to recreate their endangered race on Earth. But the dinosaurs died out, Earth's native life forms didn't, and the Dinaurians awoke from stasis too late to rectify it.
  • In The Impossible Quiz Book Chapter 3, one of the questions requires the player to open a time portal in the "It's the End of the World!!!!!" question (previously seen in The Impossible Quiz 1) to send a meteor through to the dinosaur age and wipe them out.
  • In Pathways into Darkness, the dinosaur-killing asteroid strike was the work of an Eldritch Abomination that is about to wake up.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time: The player encounters and thwarts zomboss at multiple time periods, and at the end of the prehistoric level Jurassic Marsh, it's revealed that Dr. Zomboss is the one who sent a meteor to Earth.
  • Averted with more or less every single fossil Pokémon, since there isn't any mention of an extinction event 65 million years ago that killed off such critters as Aerodactyl or Tyrantrum en masse. Some of the Flavor Text gives relatively plausible reasons for why certain specific fossil Pokemon went extinct, such as that Omastar's shell eventually became too heavy for it to catch prey.
  • The Chimeras of Resistance are either responsible for the creation or destruction of Dinosaurs, while the creators of Grey Tech are responsible for the other part. Unfortunately, the Grey Civilization and their Cloven human successors become an Aborted Arc.
  • One of the missions in Super Scribblenauts is to cause the dinosaurs to go extinct without asteroids or weapons. You have many options: plague, flooding, drought, a black hole, God, Cthulhu...
  • X-COM: Terror from the Deep explained away the asteroid a crashed colony ship.


    Web Original 
  • In asdfmovie, the dinosaurs were killed by mine turtles, who stole alien technology to travel back in time.
  • A variant is seen in BIGTOP BURGER. In the Season 2 finale, UP, it is revealed that the Late Devonian extinction was caused by Steve, upon crashing into the center of the Earth after he was banished from his home planet.
  • When discussing the several different Marvel Universe explanations the people at scans_daily came up with this:
    It was a dark day. Five separate crisis happened at once, overwhelming even Captain Stegasaurus, the Mighty Velocirapthor, and Iron Rex, collectively known as the Dinovengers.

    The dinosaurs stood no chance.
  • According to SCP-1050, a race of Eldritch Abominations known only as 'The Destroyers' were responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs, as well as virtually every other mass extinction in Earth's history.

    Western Animation 
  • An example very similar to Samurai Jack is with The Lich from Adventure Time, as it's strongly implied that his essence arrived from a possessed comet millions of years ago and well...
  • American Dad!:
    • "That's just preposterous, dinosaurs going extinct. They were just forced underground during the last human-dinosaur wars and we occasionally find their bones sometimes".
    • Another episode has Stan die and force his way into Heaven, where he finds God playing with some toy dinosaurs in His office.
      God: These guys are awesome. Why'd I ever send them to Mars?
  • Inverted in Back to the Future: The Animated Series. In the episode "Forward to the Past" (and its comic book adaptation), Doc travels to the Cretaceous period to test his new disintegrator device in seclusion. He happens to arrive just as The Meteor is about to crash, so he reflexively disintegrates it. When he returns to the present, he discovers that the dinosaurs never went extinct and remained the dominant species on Earth, complete with dino-Hill Valley and dino-Biff Tannen. To avoid getting erased from history, he has to go back and put the meteor back in the sky. Essentially "Phlebotinum saved the dinosaurs... then killed them".
  • In the two-part Bionic Six episode "Back to the Past", the protagonists are sent back to find out what killed the dinosaurs. Naturally, they end up getting involved with it. The dinosaurs died from the radiation that leaked from the weapon taken to the past by villains sent there to obtain the power that killed them.
  • In one of the "Terrible Thunder Lizards" segments in Eek! The Cat, the dinosaurs became extinct because of giant robot clown the dinosaurs unleashed. In another episode, they become extinct because a sitcom was keeping them too distracted to do anything about the Ice Age.
  • One episode of The Emperor's New School has Yzma combine a time machine, invisibility device and an evil MP3 player (it only plays disco music!), which is then lost in time. It becomes a Brick Joke at the end of the episode when Kuzco flips the show to a documentary about dinosaurs, who begin dying off from the disco music.
  • In Extreme Dinosaurs, the cataclysm that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct was caused by Bad Rap, a mutated raptor, using an alien Wave-Motion Gun in a fight. Since the weapon was conceived by aliens from a different dimension, it wasn't adapted to be used on Earth, and ended up causing the cataclysm instead of merely killing the protagonists like initially intended.
  • In The Fairly OddParents!, Wanda claims to have wiped out the dinosaurs the last time she "went bad." But she didn't — it was Sylvester Calzone doing a species-wide No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
    Calzone: Uh, you're da species, and I'm da extinction!!
  • Family Guy: As a kid, Peter asks a museum tour guide why the dinosaurs died out:
    Tour guide: Because you touch yourself at night.
  • In Futurama, Fry encounters a giant brain that knows everything. The result of one of his questions is the page-quote above.
  • In a time travel-themed episode of I Am Weasel, the dinosaurs laughed at I. R. Baboon's red butt so hard that they fell off the world (which was flat at that time period for some odd reason) and to their deaths. Weasel calls him out at first, but then realizes that dinosaurs are supposed to go extinct and instead takes this as a sign that Baboon was destined to correct history.
  • In Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, the dinosaurs were wiped out by an incredibly powerful nuke, which an insane cult leader intended to use to wipe out humans instead. The heroes use a time machine to send it back 65 million years.
  • Subverted in the Justice League Unlimited episode "The Once and Future Thing: Time, Warped". Chronos sends Chucko back to the time of the dinosaurs in punishment for betraying him. Chucko draws his weapon and confidently states that he'll be "running this dump in a few years" and we have just enough time to think he killed the dinosaurs... until he sees an asteroid Coming in Hot.
    Chronos: Do you know what killed the dinosaurs?
    Bonk: Uh, no, sir.
    Chronos: Well, Chucko does.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug "Style Queen", we learn that Plagg, the cat-like kwami of destruction, was responsible for making the dinosaurs go extinct. And also sinking Atlantis. As well as leaning the Tower of Piza.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: In "Prehistoric Stimpy", Wilbur Cobb ends his rambling story about prehistoric life by telling the titular characters several ridiculous theories on how the dinosaurs died, including "They thought they were Superman, and jumped off buildings." He finally claims that he was the one who killed the dinosaurs... as he's being taken away by security guards, who reveal that he's not a guide but a lowly bone-polisher.
  • In Samurai Jack, Aku falls to Earth in the form of a meteorite. Guess who happens to be in the blast radius when Aku hits.
  • In a Treehouse of Horror episode of The Simpsons (therefore, non-canon), Homer gets his hand caught in a toaster and when he "fixes" it, he travels back in time to the age of dinosaurs, where his simple sneeze causes a domino effect of dying dinos, causing ripple effects back to his present time.

    Real Life 
  • Now it's pretty certain that there was an asteroid impact that occurred right around the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction and that this was a significant contributor to the mass extinction event. A big reason this trope is still so pervasive is two fold. Firstly, there is still some ambiguity as to if the impact and resulting catastrophes did the gruntwork of the event itself or if it kicked off a chain reaction that did the majority of the ecosystem collapse. Secondly, while the asteroid impact hypothesis has been around since the 1980s, unambiguous support only sprung up in the following decades. Given many now-adult writers were children during this ambiguous period, you'll see this trope crop up more in their stories than youth tales which near unanimously point to the asteroid as the author might be under the impression the true cause of the extinction is still mysterious. The short of it is there was a mystery in the 1980s and early 1990s as to why the dinosaurs perished, but further findings have given reality significantly less wiggle room.
    • Dinosaurs aren't actually extinct: they survived in the form of birds. Next time you eat [chicken/turkey/duck/bald eagle], you will be eating an evolved dinosaur. What most people think of as dinosaurs are actually non-avian dinosaurs, which are quite extinct.


Video Example(s):


What killed the dinosaurs?

When Fry asks the Big Brain some questions, one of them is what really killed the dinosaurs. It turns out it was the Big Brain himself.

How well does it match the trope?

4.94 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / PhlebotinumKilledTheDinosaurs

Media sources: