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Planetary Core Manipulation

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"We Decepticons will possess an energy source richer than any in the galaxy: The molten might of this planet itself!"
Megatron, The Transformers, "The Core"

Someone's digging towards the center of the Earth. They aren't Digging to China, though. They're interested in the magma core itself. If they're evil, expect them to use the core as a potential power source or a way to end the world. If they're a hero, they might stabilize the core to prevent the planet from being destroyed. The latter is generally far rarer, because messing with the core of a planet is usually a bad thing.

Might have something to do with Hollywood Magnetism, specifically the idea that magnetism is a power akin to Green Rocks, so disrupting a planet's magnetic field can have crazy consequences.

Usually involves copious amounts of Artistic License – Geology. Compare Hollow World and Dug Too Deep.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • This is part of the modus operandi of Captain Silver in Doraemon: Nobita's Treasure Island: having seen a vision of a Bad Future depicting a destroyed earth, Silver decides to convert his island-sized floating vessel, the titular Treasure Island, into a spaceship and restart civilization in an empty planet, but in order to do so he must tap his ship's mining beacon into the earth's core to drain it's energy. Doraemon tries warning Silver that this will lead to an Earth-Shattering Kaboom, but sadly Silver is beyond reasoning and the heroes must stop him in the finale.
  • Promare: Kray Foresight's refusal to do this is used to highlight how selfish he is. The Earth's core has gone out of control since the Great World Blaze and will completely burn the surface in six months. Kray decides to build a spaceship and evacuate 10,000 people to live on another planet, but using the Burnish as fuel to power a wormhole to the planet will speed up the catastrophe. At the same time, Kray has devices designed to help colonize the new planet, including guns to create soil for farmland and freezing bullets to control volcanic activity. Several characters point out that the resources for migration could instead be used to stabilize the Earth's core, but Kray refuses as he wants to be seen by the survivors as humanity's savior.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons: In episode 33, an alien king wants to take over Planet Earth and tries to suck the planet's core out of it, his intention being to deprive it of its energy source. This results in everyone floating due to a lack of gravity, but becomes far more serious once they realize they are starting to have difficulty breathing due to a lack of an atmosphere.

    Comic Books 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Unite: Sigma's plan is ultimately to merge several worlds together to feed off their energy and power himself up to God-like status. He succeeds in doing this to Sonic and Mega Man's world, but the process drains the planet's core as well. By the time the heroes manage to beat him, it's too late to fix the damage and the combined planet nearly implodes on itself. The day's only saved because Xander Payne takes advantage of Eggman and Wily's Eternal Engine to open a portal back to the past and prevent Sigma from transferring himself to Orbot, stopping the events of the crossover from happening.
  • In one of the Tales from the Dark Multiverse, Terra jacks herself up by subjecting herself to the same process that turned Slade Wilson into Deathstroke. After renaming herself Gaia, killing Slade and the Teen Titans, she cripples the Justice League by using her powers to mess with the Earth's core in order to level multiple cities simultaneously.
  • In 2000 AD, Mega-City-One draws the immense power it needs to function by tapping molten lava underneath the Earth's crust, harnessing primal volcanic energy. This works fine - until the day it goes wrong.
  • Ultimate Vision: The Gah Lak Tus swarm was defeated and driven away during the Ultimate Galactus Trilogy, but one of the modules was left behind. Unable to do the things the whole swarm would do, it tried to dig into the core of the planet to make a planetary explosion.
  • Superman:
    • In DC Comics Presents #24, a villain named Mr. Genarian attempts to cure his heart condition by using a pacemaker-style device to link his heartbeat to the rhythm of the Earth's core. However, this backfires when instead of regulating his heartbeat, it gives the planet a series of 'heart attacks', causing global earthquakes. It is down to Superman and Deadman to save the day.
    • Kryptonite Nevermore: As Superman and his doppleganger fight across and through Earth, their battle damages the planet's core, triggering a massive chain reaction which destroys the world. Subverted, since it turned out to be an illusion to show why they should not fight at all.
    • "Luthor Unleashed": After discovering that Lexor's nucleus is alarmingly stressed due to a volatile mix of molten elements, Lex builds the Neutrarod, a humongous tower which reaches deep down into the planet to infuse a ceaseless flow of stabilizing neutrons into the core. Unfortunately, when Luthor hits Superman, one of his armor's power blasts hits the Neutrarod, triggering a chain reaction and obliterating the planet.
    • In The Supergirl Saga, the three Phantom Zone criminals decide wipe out all humans by burrowing their way to the Earth's core, destabilizing it to the point of causing hot gases to erupt and destroy the Earth's atmosphere, instantly killing everybody except those in Lex Luthor's Smallville citadel.

    Fan Works 

    Films - Animated 
  • Justice League Dark: Apokolips War: Having successfully conquered Earth, Darkseid implants three machines on the planet's surface in order to harvest the minerals on its core. Groups of surviving heroes attack the devices and ultimately fail to destroy them. By the end of the film, 31% of the planet's core has been lost, and Batman estimates that at least a billion people will die before they can restore the planet to its original orbit.
  • This is the reason why Krypton was destroyed in Justice League: Gods and Monsters. General Zod and his forces were drilling deep beneath the surface right next to the core, in order to mine resources to fuel Kyrpton's advanced technology. But this drilling destabilized the core and eventually led to Krypton imploding.
  • Treasure Planet: It's revealed in the climax of the movie that the title planet is actually a giant, alien teleportation hub, the core of which functions as the power regulator. Captain Flint used the core as the place to store his "loot of a thousand worlds," and also booby-trapped the thing so if anyone came to take his treasure, the whole place would suffer a destructive meltdown.

    Films - Live Action 
  • Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Dr. Evil's nefarious plot is to use a "big underground drill" to penetrate the Earth's crust and plant a 50 kiloton nuclear warhead deep in the core of the planet. When the bomb detonates, every volcano on Earth will erupt simultaneously.
  • In The Core the Earth's core slows down and needs to be restarted by four scientists in an Unobtainium-hulled drilling machine with five 200-megaton nukes.
  • Godzilla vs. Kong: Somewhat discussed. Team Kong and Apex Cybernetics' collaborative mission is to reach the Hollow Earth in order to harvest a power source there, but once Dr. Ilene Andrews sees the power source in person, she balks at the idea of Apex tampering with it. Nothing bad seems to happen to the planet itself when Apex extract and analyze one small sample, although Godzilla does immediately sense what they're doing from the surface world and gets thoroughly pissed.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: The final battle against Ego the Living Planet involves the Guardians drilling into the core of Ego's planet, where Ego's "brain" is located, and planting a bomb right on it. The subsequent explosion destroys the core, causing the entire planet to rupture and fall completely apart.
  • The ancient Krell machine in Forbidden Planet was powered by energy from the planet's core, and when the planet is destroyed in the end, it's done by setting off a chain reaction at the core.
  • Independence Day: Resurgence revises the objective of the Planet Looters from the first film by having them plasma-drill down to the mantle and harvest energy from the Earth's core.
  • In the opening act of Man of Steel, the Kryptonians have been harnessing their planet's core due to lack of resources, despite Jor-El's insistence that doing so would spell doom for them all.
  • In Star Trek (2009), Nero and his crew drill into Vulcan's surface so they can drop red matter into its core and create an artificial singularity which would destroy the planet. After succeeding with Vulcan, they try to do the same thing to Earth before the Enterprise stops them.
  • In 2037 in The Time Machine (2002), human colonists decide to use nukes to produce caves inside the Moon for future habitation. But the explosions instead split the Moon apart and cause it to rain down in chunks on the Earth, making the planet nearly uninhabitable.


    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the story "The Dalek Invasion of Earth", and its film adaptation Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., the Daleks' plan is to remove the core of the Earth so that they can turn the planet into a spaceship for... reasons.
    • Another example occurs in the Third Doctor story "Inferno". This concerns a project to drill through to the Earth's core, with the Doctor accidentally traveling to an Alternate Universe where the project is much further along. Not only does the drilling unleash a mutagenic ooze that turns anyone who touches it into a mindless savage (known as Primords), but when the drill finally reaches the core, it results in an eruption of lava that engulfs the entire alternate Earth (luckily, the Doctor returns to his universe in time to prevent history from repeating itself).
    • A subversion occurs in "The Pirate Planet". The titular planet Zanak has already had its core hollowed out, to turn it into a shell, to consume, pilfer and plunder the energy and resources of other planets. At the time the Doctor and Romana, the current companion of the serial arc, arrive on Zanak, the captain of the planet has already teleported it around another planet, Calufrax, and is mining it for its resources.
  • Smallville: Krypton's core is unstable, and General Zod takes advantage of this by using Brainiac to ignite it. This in turn causes the planet's destruction.
  • Supergirl (2015): "Hostile Takeover" reveals that Krypton's destruction was due to over-mining its core.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Progress", the government of Bajor decides to tap the molten core of their fifth moon, Jeraddo (which is somehow a habitable, if not particularly hospitable, world despite being a moon) as a power source. Since this will release large quantities of toxic gases, Jeraddo's fifty inhabitants have to be evacuated, which causes problems when some particularly stubborn residents refuse to leave.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Inheritance", the core of the planet Atrea IV has begun to cool down and solidify, which is causing havoc on the surface. The Enterprise crew have to reignite it by injecting superheated plasma into a series of underground lava pockets.

  • Hero Factory: The planet Quatros' core was once a mine site for the rare mineral Quaza, but mining was banned there once it was discovered that this affected the planet's plants and animals. As a result, the planet became a nature preserve. Of course the Witch Doctor, Big Bad of the Savage Planet arc, doesn't care about that. He begins illegally mining on Quatros, and the Heroes have to stop him before the planet dies from having its core depleted.

    Video Games 
  • In Doom Eternal, the Doomslayer must access a portal in the ancient city of Hebeth, located in the core of Mars. To reach it, the slayer fires the BFG 10,000 into Mars, blowing off a gigantic chunk of the planet, exposing the planet's core, and dropping inside through an Escape Pod.
  • Empire Earth: The final iron-gathering upgrade involves mining the Earth's core somehow (while mining iron in-game still involves a Worker Unit with a pick).
  • Endless Space: Backstory reveals a sub-species of the Endless accidentally caused this while mining in a deep-sea trench. Their fission mining operation breached the crust and exposed the core, whose lava erupted out the opening. This triggered a series of cataclysmic eruptions over the following months that left the planet nearly lifeless.
  • A Planetary Siege attack in Galactic Civilizations II involves "Detonating the planet's core," causing every volcano to erupt at once. Effective, but absolutely buggers Planet Quality.
  • Done for beneficial purposes in the mobile game Green The Planet, in which the player helps two aliens inject energy into the cores of a series of lifeless planets to make plants grow on them.
  • Master of Orion II has the Deep Core Mine and Core Waste Dump technologies available in the Engineering tree as "Tectonic Engineering" options. The Mine greatly increases a colony's industrial output, while the Waste Dump eliminates pollution from heavy industry.
  • In Planetary Annihilation, Ragnarok titan can drill a hole to the core of the planet it's built on before launching a powerful missile that explodes the core, destroying the entire planet in process.
  • The World Cracker superweapon carried by Colossi in Stellaris works similarly to the above: laser-drill a giant hole to the core from high orbit, then launch a massive energy blast into it, leading to the planet breaking up and exploding over the next couple of days. While mainly designed to enable one of the game's worst war crimes, it can also be used peacefully to crack uninhabitable planets and expose their mineral wealth for orbital mining. The rest of the galaxy still considers the mere construction of a Colossus a Godzilla Threshold worth starting interstellar war over, though, for understandable reasons.
  • In Ratchet & Clank (2016), Dr. Nefarious plans to use the Deplanetizer to blow up the Tetragen core of the Planet Umbris, which will create an explosion that will destroy all of the planets in its solar system.
  • Two heroic examples occur in Starcraft II Legacy Of The Void:
    • At the end of the Shakuras mission chain (and after securing an evacuation route for the Dark Templar), Artanis is assigned a final mission by Vorazun, leader of the Nerazim: overload the planet's core through the Xel'Naga Temple, resulting in an Earth-Shattering Kaboom for the planet, which was overrun by a Zerg infestation.
    • One of the co-op missions takes place on a planet that has been violently destabilized and is going to explode. In between the bouts of surging lava levels, you and your ally have to gather crystals to power a device to restabilize the planet's core and prevent its destruction.
  • In the first expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic Rise of the Hutt Cartel, the plot involves the titular criminal group harvests the planet Makeb's core, knowingly endangering its population. The Republic storyline ends with the planet crumbling. the Imperial storyline, however, reveals Makeb was actually kept stable thanks to the Empire's efforts.
  • Tales of the Abyss: Halfway through the game it's revealed that the planet's core vibrates and produces poisonous miasma. When Big Bad's actions disrupt system that contained miasma, heroes send an old warship, modified specifically for this goal, into the core to stop vibrations.
  • Transformers: War for Cybertron: The later portions of the Decepticon campaign are spent trying to find the Omega Key to gain access to Cybertron's core so that Megatron can infect it with Dark Energon and assume total control over the planet, which he does at the end. By the time the Autobots reach the core in their own campaign, the infection has taken its toll, forcing the core to lie dormant for millions of years and render Cybertron uninhabitable until it awakens.


    Web Original 
  • Done heroically on Neopets. The lore behind Moltara is that hundreds of years before, the core of Neopia started becoming imbalanced, causing disasters all over the planet. A group of Neopets went in to solve the problem and ended up staying. During the "Atlas Of The Ancients" plot, Moltara is rediscovered as the core is once again causing problems. With the help of the plot's heroes, Roxton Colchester III and Clara Chatham, the Moltarans once again have to go and stabilize the core to save Neopia.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-2798 is the result of extracting thousands of human souls, refining them together, and injecting them to circulate through the planetary mantle. It's an insane, vengeful psychic gestalt that's eroding the sanity of all human life... and it's Earth's only defense against something worse.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10:
    • In "The Big Tick" from the original series, the planet is attacked by a tick-like alien which destroys other planets. When doing so, The Great One injects its tentacles deeply in the planet to its core, devouring it from the inside out.
    • In his plot arc in Ben 10: Omniverse, Malware's final villainous plan was to reach the core of the Galvan homeworld, which would allow him to absorb and become the entire planet.
  • Catscratch: In "Core-uption", Gordon feels sorry for Human Kimberly when she gets an "F" on her science project, a diorama which says that the Earth's core is made from unicorns and rainbows and the like. He decides to make the core just as she thinks it is by drilling to the center of the Earth and sticking the diorama into it, which turns the world into a Sugar Bowl.
  • Futurama: In "That Darn Katz!", Amy invents a device that channels energy from the earth's rotation, connected straight to the mantle. Cats use it to slow down the Earth's rotation to replace their dying home planet. Amy saves the day by putting the device in reverse so that the planet starts rotating again, only in reverse.
  • Invader Zim: Tak's plan in the season one finale is to hollow out the Earth using the giant magma pump that is her base and fill the planet with snacks as an offering to The Tallest.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens (2013): A rare harmless example occurs in "The Grade That Wouldn't Pass!" After Dr. Cockroach drills to the Earth's core and finds that it's made of nougat, Sqweep explains that aliens put it there as a joke.
  • Rick and Morty: In the episode Ricktional Mortpoons Rickmas Mortcation, a perfectly vertical lightsabre is accidentally dropped, and everyone has to scramble to drill down and stop it before its kyber crystal reaches the core and causes the Earth to blow up.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: The Heart of Etheria is an ancient Superweapon created by the First Ones, who engineered it to absorb and store massive amounts of magical energy in the planet's core so She-Ra can harness it.
  • Steven Universe:
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode "Journey to the Center of ACME Acres" the Earth's core is revealed to made of solid gold. Montana Max, driven by greed, strip mines and acquires the core in the form of one giant nugget. In doing so, gremlins who live at the Earth's center start rampaging over having their gold stolen, causing earthquakes on the surface. Buster and Babs Bunny end up having to recover the gold in order to stop the earthquakes.
  • The Transformers: In "The Core", the Decepticons build a drill to tap into the Earth's core and obtain geothermal energy, which Megatron claims is the richest source of energy in the galaxy. Starscream informs Megatron that breaching the core might cause the Earth to explode, but Megatron brushes this off by setting up a space bridge next to the digging site in case the planet really does become unstable and the Decepticons need a quick getaway. Naturally, the Autobots spend the episode trying to destroy Megatron's drill.
  • Transformers: Prime: with the reveal that Unicron is the Earth's core and his awakening is causing natural disasters on the planet, Megatron and the Autobots form a temporary truce where the former will use his knowledge of Unicron to safely lead everyone to the core and Optimus Prime of the latter will use his power to pacify Unicron. Since the Earth had perfectly sustained life during Unicron's slumber and his awakening was making things worse, this is a case where deactivating the core is actually beneficial and has no ill effects on the planet.
  • Wander over Yonder: Lord Dominator travels the galaxy in search of Volcanium X, which she drains from planetary cores to fuel her spaceship and Doom Troops. She especially loves that this reduces the planet to a barren wasteland.
    Lord Dominator: I'm gonna rock this world! Literally, I'm gonna turn it into a rock about thiiiiis big.