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Star Scraper

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"1500th floor, please."

"Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves."
Genesis 11:4, The Bible (NIV)

A seriously tall building. So tall, it may literally reach into outer space. So tall, it would be impossible according to real-life physics as we know it.

Common in Speculative Fiction, these buildings tower over their surroundings or may be part of a city of similar buildings.

Indeed, it is not uncommon for them to be a single city in their own right.

To qualify as a Starscraper, a building must be clearly over 1,000 metres tall, or around 3,281 feet tall (for reference, a typical story is about 3.3 metres (11 feet), although some stories can be larger than others). The tallest building on Earth, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is 828 metres tall (or 2,717 feet tall). For a city entirely made of those, see Skyscraper City.

Compare Space Elevator, which is an elevator designed to extend past the atmosphere. When the Starscraper is the home of a villain, it becomes an Evil Tower of Ominousness.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the first episode of Cyber City Oedo 808, Sengoku and company must deal with a hostage situation in a building tall enough to reach into low Earth orbit.
  • Dragon Ball: Korin Tower is so tall that it takes days to get to the top, and not even aircraft can reach it. This is part of the challenge that Korin himself sets to people that seek the Sacred Water: to climb to his residence at the pinnacle of the tower without falling off by accident or from exhaustion. Korin's Tower is linked via the Power Pole to the even higher Kami's Lookout.
  • Eureka Seven: Most people live near or in some very, very tall tower-cities.
  • In the ending credits of the anime adaptation of Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story, Yachiyo rides an elevator. According to the floor numbers, the building she's in is at least 2,611 stories tall. The tower is actually a metaphor for her lifespan as a magical girl, and the floor number is the number of days she survived — just a little above 7 years.
  • Sword Art Online:
    • Castle Aincrad. So big, it's essentially a world within a world (though it's actually the playable world of the fictional SAO game, it does get ported to Alfheim in the second arc). The largest floor is 10 kilometres in diameter, and each one is 100 metres high. Given that there are 100 floors, that makes it 10 kilometres high. But then, that's not counting the fact that it all floats in the sky. The anime also depicts a massive structure extending almost as far down, below the first floor.
    • The Alicization arc has Central Cathedral, which is 100 floors tall and is easily the tallest structure in the Underworld. Kirito and Eugeo are imprisoned in the basement and are forced to fight their way to the top.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: In Parallel Works 8, Earth was shown with conical drill-themed buildings that reached the stars during the first war between Lordgenome and the Anti-Spirals.
  • The mysterious tower in The Place Promised in Our Early Days is so tall it surpasses clouds and mountains. Built in Hokkaido, it is visible from Tokyo on a clear day. That's a distance of more than 800 kilometres as the crow flies. For Europeans, that's more than double the distance between London and Paris. For Americans, that's one-fifth of the way between New York and Los Angeles.
  • Toriko: The Gourmet Tower, a massive tower filled with gourmet eateries, so big it has Airships to bring people to the higher floors of the tower!
  • The infinite tower where The Vertical World takes place stretches onwards in both directions with seemingly no end. Part of Ruska's goal is figuring out what's at the bottom. Turns out there is a "bottom", but it's not connected to any kind of ground — and more, there's a "true bottom" which represents the edge of the world's reality.

    Fan Works 
  • Half-Life: Full Life Consequences featured "the tower that was big onto the sun" that the Dark Man and Combines resided in. Whether squirrelking meant the Citadel or a different building is up for debate, but the ICTON Garry's Mod production took it literally and used the Citadel model to stretch from ground to Sun in the skybox.
  • Super Mario 63 has the central spire of Bowser's Castle, which is so tall that it reaches into space.

    Films — Animation 
  • Octan Tower in The LEGO Movie has an "infinitieth floor" where the Kragle is kept. Also the building is so tall that there is a loading bay for cargo spaceships.
  • The Thief and the Cobbler: ZigZag, the Evil Chancellor, has a tower that is ridiculously tall. The minaret with the three golden balls is supposed to be the tallest in the city but seems fairly normal in comparison.note 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Gods of Egypt: Set's obelisk is 2,220 cubits tall, which makes it even taller than the Burj Khalifa.
  • The Clamp office building in Gremlins 2: The New Batch. One scene shows a jet airliner passing by.
  • While there's no definitive height given for the buildings in Judge Dredd, the 2012 reboot Dredd places the height of the mega-structures dotting the landscape as over a kilometre tall.
  • Ourus from Jupiter Ascending has buildings which extend into space.
  • While its height is never mentioned, the model for Barad-dûr (Sauron's fortress) in The Lord of the Rings movies would be over a kilometre high if scaled up to full human scale. Arguably justified since it takes a literal divine being to keep it together and it promptly toppled over after he died. note 
  • Oblivion (2013). The protagonist flies his Future Copter from a Sky Tower located atop a 3000-foot spindle. Another such tower is simply placed on a high mountain.
  • The Star Wars galaxy has plenty of Ecumenopolis planets where seemingly every square kilometre of terrain is covered in kilometre-tall skyscrapers. The most prominent is the galactic capital, Coruscant. The peak of Coruscant's highest mountain, Umate, forms the centerpiece of a public plaza, not because it was lopped off and moved or anything but because it was simply enveloped by the city-planet's endless vertical growth.
    Atton Rand: Watch your step, or you'll be falling for hours.
  • The setting of The Towering Inferno, which is set aflame by faulty wiring, is treated as one of these, even though it's only about half the necessary 1,000+ metres. It's "the tallest building in the world" at 138 stories and 1,673 feet (505 metres) tall, which, as of July 2014, would only put it at #5.
  • Parodied in Who Framed Roger Rabbit with the Toon Hotel in Toontown which according to the lobby elevator is "450 floors" even though it still looks like it exceeds that.

  • Arthur C. Clarke's 3001 contains four towers that reach from the earth to geostationary orbit. Which means they're about 36 thousand kilometres tall — nearly three times the diameter of the planet itself — and several kilometres in diameter. "Seriously tall" doesn't begin to describe it. The engineering problem of actually making something that big and not collapsing under their own weight was solved by constructing them largely from diamond, which was harvested from space (huge amounts of it were ejected from Jupiter in 2010). They also double as space elevators and people lived on every floor to create vertical communities. They also link up to a single ring structure at geostationary orbit that completely circles the world to form a massive spaceport. It was unfinished even a thousand years in the future, and Frank Poole (who was recovered and revived at this point) privately doubted that it ever could be finished.
  • Bread Overhead, a sci-fi comedy by Fritz Leiber, has the managerial penthouse of Puffy Bread in one of the stratosphere-tickling towers of New New York, and the Sexy Secretary telling an unwelcome suitor to go jump out the window, "remembering to shut the airlock after you".
  • The Mile High MacIlwaine from Nancy Farmer's The Ear, the Eye and the Arm is... a hotel one mile tall.
  • The Cylinder from K. W. Jeter's Farewell Horizontal. A specific size isn't given, but most of humanity lives inside (or on) it, and most of the habitable area is well above the cloud layer.
  • Buildings with hundreds of floors are common in the Honor Harrington universe. Justified by the ubiquity of counter-grav technology.
  • Earthport in Cordwainer Smith's Instrumentality of Mankind stories is a vast, wineglass-shaped tower of virtually indestructible material reaching 25 kilometres above the city of Meeya Meefla (Miami, Fla), with foundations reaching down to the magma. It was built to absorb the exhaust from huge nuclear-powered spaceships but was soon rendered obsolete by new technology and so large parts of it stand empty. Ancient elevated roads climb to partway up the tower, but since they are not made of indestructible material they are now abandoned and dangerous.
  • The castle in the children's book The Knitting Knight towers over the entire kingdom in the illustrations.
  • The Last Redoubt/Great Redoubt from The Night Land — the main pyramid is seven miles tall, with a 3/4 mile observation tower on top of that.
  • While not quite an extremely tall building, the starscrapers in Peter F. Hamilton's The Night's Dawn Trilogy are named such — as they are skyscrapers IN SPACE. Hanging off the outside edge of rotating space habitats. Planet-bound versions play the trope straight; they're even designed to bend slightly to reduce the strain from crosswinds.
  • The Tyrant's Dark Pyramid in Outernet is so high it reaches outer space.
  • Ringworld by Larry Niven: The party pays a brief visit to the homeworld of the alien Puppeteers. It is mentioned that "on Earth few buildings were more than a mile high, here none were shorter."
  • The Dark Tower in Somewhither rises to a height three times as long as the circumference of the Earth (which means it's approximately one-third of the way to the Moon.)
  • In Sourcery, the New Tower, built of solidified magic, temporarily rose a mile above Ankh-Morpork.
  • Spearpoint, the last human city, and its counterpart on the other side of the world in Terminal World stretches from the ground all the way past the planet's atmosphere, tapering continuously. One character theorizes that they are a form of Space Elevator from before the fall of mankind and the creation of the Zones. They are hollow, and lead to a portal inside the planet for starships to use — hence why they extend out of the atmosphere.
  • In the short story Tower of Babylon by Ted Chiang, the Tower of Babel does not get destroyed, and is built up so high that one of the stars crashed into it. (The story takes place in Babylonian cosmology, so the star is the size of a cow and made of metal.) By the time the story starts, it literally scrapes the ceiling of the world.
  • In Updraft, the bone towers which constitute the city all reach well above the clouds, and their lower levels are essentially abandoned; as far as their inhabitants are concerned, the above-cloud portions of the towers are the whole world.
  • The tower of Asframore in The Wandering is an incredibly high one. Its Babel inferences are right there in the story, as Neshi and his team of Jerusalemites find plaques with Scripture quotes from the Book of Genesis. The purpose of its height was to set up a demonic-looking statue in defiance of the Almighty.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Altered Carbon, the ultra-wealthy Meths live in gigantic, architecturally impossible towers that pierce the world's perpetual cloud cover by several hundred metres, letting them enjoy perfectly sunny weather every day without the filthy masses toiling in the Wretched Hives on the ground offending their sensibilities.


    Myths & Religion 
  • In The Bible, mankind wanted to stay together and build a city to dwell in rather than disperse across the earth as God instructed. They included plans to build a tower that reached not only the stars but heaven itself. Naturally this didn't sit too well with God and He put the kibosh on these plans by confusing the language of mankind (which until that point had only consisted of a single language, universally understood and spoken by everyone).
    Genesis 11:4-8: And they said, “Come, let us build us a city, and a tower with its top in the sky, to make a name for ourselves; else we shall be scattered all over the world.” 5 The LORD came down to look at the city and tower that humanity had built, 6 and the LORD said, “If, as one people with one language for all, this is how they have begun to act, then nothing that they may propose to do will be out of their reach. 7 Let us, then, go down and confound their speech there, so that they shall not understand one another's speech.” 8 Thus the LORD scattered them from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Eberron: Sharn, the City of Towers, is built in a region with Reality Bleed from a dimension that enhances flight and levitation magic. Its towers rise up to a mile high, with the ultra-prestigious floating district of the Skyway above even them. Most of the transit takes place with flying vehicles such as Soarsleds and Skybarges.
  • The Cardinal's tower in Mutant Chronicles is so high that on the top floor, gravity is negligible.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Fang, the fortress of the Space Wolves, is so high, spaceships dock to its peak. The complex is carved out from the inside of a naturally-occurring mountain(!). The air circulation currents running from bottom to top of the mountain are strong enough to be used as a transportation network between levels.

    Video Games 
  • The geography of Dungeon Fighter Online includes two continents that may be part of complete worlds, one of which happens to be above the other. (The bottom's sky and clouds eventually turn into the top's ocean and abyssal fogbanks... somehow.) There's a tower connecting them, which players will find fairly early on. While the playable area of the tower isn't that big, it's implied that as players work their way through the multiple in-tower dungeons, they're unlocking access to rapid transit systems and skipping over most of what really is a monumental climb.
  • The Tower of Bab-il from Final Fantasy IV has its foot in the underworld (which is deep enough that airships have ample sailing space above its mountains), crosses the surface through a huge hole, and culminates high in the sky, way higher than the tallest mountains on the world map.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: The tower called Heaven-On-High in Othard. It actually disappears into the clouds.
  • Halo:
    • Inverted in Halo 4: On the artificial "shield world" of Requiem, giant Forerunner structures hang down from the ceiling in the sky, dropping down to nearly ground level. It's actually rather striking, in a beautiful way, since because the "ceiling" is so high that it can't really be seennote , the overall effect, visually, is of unimaginably tall skyscrapers that are floating off the ground.
    • The Forerunner Saga novels mention that the Precursors built towers that essentially bridged planets. They were also completely indestructible excluding a Halo's main weapon.
  • The Tower of Babel in Illusion of Gaia. After climbing to the top, the player can look out at the background and see the curvature of the Earth. It also might double as a Space Elevator, since the allows the main character to simply fly into space to fight the Big Bad, without worrying about any pesky little details like "gravity".
  • Kirby:
    • In Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, the second planet Rock Star's stage 4 and the subsequent boss take place in an impossibly grand octaeder-shaped building. The final part takes place in a tower that reaches so far into the sky that it's higher than the clouds.
    • Nutty Noon, the fifth level of Kirby's Return to Dream Land, takes place in a tower that extends high above Planet Popstar. It eventually extends far past the clouds themselves — even midway through, you can see the curvature of the planet in the background — by the end, you're looking at far-off planets amid the distant reaches of the cosmos.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Tower of the Gods in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is so tall it can be seen from almost anywhere on the map.
    • In Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland, as you throw more Rupees into the pool on top of the Rupee Tower, it grows taller, allowing you to fly out to more distant locations. Eventually, it becomes so tall it goes right through the freaking moon... just in time for the final showdown with Uncle Rupee.
  • The Kobold Tower in Shippu Mahou Daisakusen is a tower so tall that it extends into orbital altitudes.
  • The Neo Arcadia Tower in Mega Man Zero 3 used to be a space elevator connecting Earth and the Moon. It doesn't go quite that far anymore, thanks to the Maverick Wars, but its top floor is still high enough for the curvature of the Earth to be visible.
  • The Shard in Mirror's Edge Catalyst is 8000 feet (2.4 km or 1.5 miles) tall, more than four times the height of its original Mirror's Edge counterpart.
  • The plastic administrations building of Shachihata, in OFF is so tall that the elevator has you manually type in a five-digit floor number between 00000 and 99999. Yes, including the basement and secret floornote , the building has a whopping 100,000 floors. And that's not even counting the fact that at least one floor has several floors of its own. That's quite a lot of floors for a building that merely imports parcels of plastic.
  • Tartarus in Persona 3 has 262 floorsnote . You spend most of the game climbing it, and fight the final boss on top of the tower. In Persona 3 Reload, the characters sometimes talk about how large the tower is in their Tartarus conversations, noting around the 80th floor(less than halfway up the tower) that it's higher than any other building in Japan.
  • In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, the Hoenn region has the Sky Pillar. Its exact height is never clarified, but from the summit, the player can only see the blue sky and clouds drifting by below. One wonders how such a tall structure has managed to remain hidden for so long. The Pillar may or may not be of human origin; little of its history is ever given. The player may battle Rayquaza at the summit.
  • The Destiny Tower in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers and Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon consists of 99 floors, and wild Steelix live there, so every floor is at least ten metres in height. Therefore, it's safe to assume that the tower is a thousand metres high at minimum.
  • This is the goal of the Rabbids in Rabbids Go Home. They want to build a tower of junk that reaches all the way to the moon, so go on a mad robbery spree to take everything not nailed down to throw onto the pile.
  • Steelport in Saints Row: The Third has some belonging to the Syndicate. No heights or floor counts are explicitly given. They tower as far over normal skyscrapers as the normal skyscrapers tower over lesser buildings, with the tallest of them, the gigantic red-and-black Syndicate Tower, measuring in at approximately 965 metres, about 130 metres taller than the Burj.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, the Obelisk, which is said to be the place in the Vortex World closest to Kagutsuchi, is 142 stories tall. Near the end of the game, the Demi-Fiend calls down the tower of Kagutsuchi, which comes down on top of the Obelisk, and the resulting tower is 666 stories tall. Luckily, you don't have to visit every floor, and some elevators allow you to bypass dozens or even hundreds of floors.
  • In SimTower, the player can build a fully functioning hotel/office complex that spreads over several square blocks, ten underground levels, and up to 500 stories.
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2: The skyboxes of Slipsand Galaxy and Clockwork Ruins Galaxy contain many absurdly high towers in the distance whose floors cannot even be seen and they tower way above the navigatable area of the galaxy.
  • The Tower of Akenash in Styx: Master of Shadows looks to be about the same height as today's tallest buildings, but it is significantly wider: the interior vertically houses a medieval city, and the horizontal distances are closer to that of a town than a building. Furthermore, the Tower still extends some distance underground.
  • The Tower of Salvation in Tales of Symphonia reaches "unto the heavens", and the player never sees its top from the outside. When the player reaches around the topmost areas of the tower, you can actually see space outside and there's even areas that have no gravity, turning them into a variation of Frictionless Ice.
  • Tower Bloxx: It's possible to build a tower with more than a hundred floors which is likely to reach space. The main game only requires forty-floor buildings, though.
  • Simon Whittlebone (driver of Mr. Slamm) in Twisted Metal 2 is an architect who dreams to build a "structure so grand it will reach the gates of heaven" and was fired for his rather unhealthy obsession with it. Finishing the game as him has Calypso give his construction vehicle the power to build much faster and, within days, he has singlehandedly created a tower that reaches above the clouds and even is starting to reach into outer space. In his mad ramblings about him being God, Simon ends up falling from the roof of his tower and, as Calypso narrates, has left a permanent dent in the street where he landed.
  • The Sunspire in Unreal shows up in the skyboxes of several maps before you actually reach it. There are seven or eight regularly spaced levels near the entrance, another two near the top, and there is a lift that rides at such high speeds the Doppler effect comes into play, which you spend ten solid seconds on before you reach the other end. And that is because it's only the top half of the spire that's built into. Its purpose? To send you even higher up to a Floating Continent.
  • One of the arenas in Unreal Tournament, DM-Morpheus.note . Successors also appear in Unreal Tournament 2003 (DM-Plunge) and 2004 (DM-Morpheus3). To quote the map description:
    "LMC knew they had found an excellent arena at the very top of a newly constructed Galaxyscraper SuperStructure. Thanks to the modern miracle of super tensile solids, these three buildings reach a staggering 12 miles high at their pinnacle. The thin atmosphere and reduced influence of Earth's gravity provide an interesting test of the tournament athlete's ability to adapt and conquer in extreme environments."
  • On Lua in Warframe, there are six Orokin-designed spires and three circumlunar rings connecting them, which are big enough to be seen with the naked eye from Earth's surface once Lua is shifted back from the Void in "The Second Dream".
  • The Tower of Babel in Xenogears is an ancient hollow irregular metallic cylinder stretching kilometres into the sky. It is actually the ancient hull of the kilometres-long spaceship that crashed on the planet in the Distant Prologue of the game, and how humanity first arrived on that world.

  • In Homestuck, players of SBURB (or SGRUB) alter each others' houses with the game. Since one of the main goals is to reach increasingly high-up Gates in the sky, their houses eventually become these as a matter of necessity. Examples include John's house, Terezi's, and Jade's. Later panels show that these towers are nearly as tall as the Baby Planet's diameter in the late game. Even later on, they are tall enough to dwarf their planet.
  • Tower of God: The Tower has more than 134 floors, with each floor covering an area the size of North America, and the whole of the known universe exists within it.

    Web Original 
  • One What If? article discusses a billion-storey tower in "Billion-Storey Building". The tower is so tall it extends ten times past the Moon's orbit.
  • Discussed by Isaac Arthur, where he explores how these could actually be built under established physics and plausible materials and methods. The most common explanation for how mega-tall skyscrapers could exist usually involves active support systems and meta-materials like graphene.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In the Season 6 episode "The Tower", Finn builds an enormous tower reaching into space with a psychic arm in order to find his father and get revenge for him causing Finn to lose his right arm.
  • Batman Beyond. The title sequence highlights the scale by initially showing Old Gotham, a city whose skyscrapers are on par with a modern-day metropolis before Neo Gotham comes into focus and dwarfs the older buildings in comparison. In addition to public transportation which travels from building to building, there are also elevators that go up and down as essentially vertical trams.
  • The Color Classics cartoon "Greedy Humpty Dumpty" has Humpty Dumpty as the king of Fairytaleland, who orders the wall around his castle be built high enough to reach the sun, in the mistaken belief that it's made of gold. It does not go well for him when he actually gets there.
  • Gargoyles has the Eyrie Building in NY. With the Wyvern castle built on top of it, the building can touch the clouds.
  • Hero: 108: In one episode, High Roller plans to conquer the Moon, but can’t figure out how to get there, not least because he can’t solve his city’s traffic problems without creating housing problems and vice versa. When Woo the Wise suggests he simply build taller and slimmer buildings for everyone to live in, he decides to use this scheme to instead travel to the Moon. But when he gets there, he finds that there is nothing there to conquer.
  • Phineas and Ferb: One of the many things the title characters built and lost in a single day comes from "The Doof Side of the Moon", where they built a starscraper that touched the Earth's moon. When Doofenshmirtz rotates the moon, he ends up dragging the starscraper out of the ground before Linda can see it.
  • Thunderbirds Are Go: One episode has an architect buld one of these in order to break a world record, only to discover that someone beat him to it. In response to this, he installs elevator lifts to raise the building even higher, only for it to overtax the electric grid and cause a fire, necesitating International Rescue's help. By the end of the episode, the observation deck is cut off, putting the architect back at square one.

    Real Life 
  • Frank Lloyd Wright's fantasy plans for a "mile high building" in Chicago.
  • Back in The '60s, before people got to realise all the drawbacks inherent in more modest blocks of flats, there was much optimistic talk about "cities in the sky" where super-massive skyscrapers would arise on the sites of old cities, whose now purposeless suburbs could be destroyed and turned back to mile upon mile of attractive countryside.
    • In fact, the World Trade Centre was born out of the optimism of The '60s, and involved clearing out two whole neighborhoods of New York called Radio Row and Little Syria. It was held to be essential to Progress that two drab and boring old-time neighborhoods dating back to the mid-nineteenth century should make way for something explicitly described as a "city of the sky", and all that inefficient and limited use of the horizontal plane should be moved to the vertical.
  • In August 2011, Saudi Arabia announced plans and contracts signed to build a 1,000-metre building called the Jeddah Tower (previously Kingdom Tower). Yep, that's an even kilometre. With the project put on hold just as a large foundation has already been constructed, construction finally resumed in 2023, time will tell if or when it will be completed in the future.
  • The planned Sky Mile Tower to be erected in Tokyo, which would be a mile tall (or about 1.6 kilometres), and closer to an arcology than a traditional skyscraper. If they get the go-ahead, it would be expected to be complete in 2045.
  • During Japan's economic bubble in the 1980s, several mega-tall skyscrapers and arcologies were proposed for Tokyo, including Sky City 1000, the Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid, Aeropolis 2001, and the X-Seed 4000, the tallest building fully envisioned with design plans (taller than Mt. Fuji, and shaped like it, too). It's not meant for serious construction, though.

Alternative Title(s): Impossibly Tall Tower