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Star Scraper

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"1042nd 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 them.

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. The tallest building on Earth, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is 828 metres tall. For a city entirely made of those, see Skyscraper City.

Compare Space Elevator. When the Starscraper is the home of the villain, it becomes an Evil Tower of Ominousness.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Sengoku and company must deal with a hostage situation in one of these in the first episode of Cyber City Oedo 808. The building itself is 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. Taken Up to Eleven when 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 of her lifespan as a magical girl, and the floor number is the number of days she survived — just a little above 7 years.
  • The Ziggurat in Metropolis, which is directly compared to the Tower of Babel. The project director shoots this down by saying that the Tower was intended to mock God, whereas the Ziggurat is (ostensibly) to glorify him.
  • Sword Art Online:
    • Castle Aincrad. So big, it's essentially a world within a world (though it's actually the entire playable world of the fictional SAO game, it does get ported to Alfheim in the second arc). The largest floor is 10 kilometers in diameter, and each one is 100 meters high. Given that there are 100 floors, that makes it 10 kilometers 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 entire 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.
  • 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 capital tower in UQ Holder!: It's actually an orbital elevator.

    Comic Books 
  • The Megacities of Judge Dredd have these.
  • The Gates Tower in Universal War One, which is named after Bill Gates. They built a spaceport on the top of this tower.

    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.

    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 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.
  • 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 

  • Blade Runner has the Tyrell Corporation Headquarters. It's sequel introduces a much larger building in the form of the Wallace Earth Headquarters.
  • The Fifth Element. Made startlingly clear when Leeloo escapes from the medical facility, goes outside, and looks down, down. Earth is starting to resemble Coruscant complete with oceans being drained. See how New York City looks when the starliner is leaving.
  • 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 kilometer 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 kilometer 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.
  • There are several planets covered in these in Star Wars, they're called Ecumenopolis. The most prominent is the galactic capital, Coruscant.
    Atton Rand: Watch your step, or you'll be falling for hours.
  • In Super Mario Bros., this is how Dinohattan appears on Koopa's toy globe, surrounded by desert and nothing else.
  • 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 1000+ meters. It's "the tallest building in the world" at 138 stories and 1673 feet (505 meters) 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 kilometers tall — nearly three times the diameter of the planet itself — and several kilometers 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 was ejected from Jupiter in 2010).
  • 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 Eye, the Ear, and the Arm is... Well... Exactly What It Says on the Tin — 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 kilometers 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.
  • Not a skyscraper but a pyramid, the Last Redoubt/Great Redoubt from The Night Land easily qualifies — 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. Literally 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 into outer space.
  • Ringworld by Larry Niven: The party pay a brief visit to the home world 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.)
  • The New Tower, built of solidified magic, temporarily rose a mile above Ankh-Morpork in Sourcery.
  • 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.)
  • 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 for 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 meters, letting them enjoy perfectly sunny weather every day without the filthy masses toiling in the Wretched Hives on the ground offending their sensibilities.
  • Several examples exist in Doctor Who. Satellite 5, for instance.
  • The Thompson Tower in Thunderbirds was one of these... until it came crashing down.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible subverts this trope. Rather than disperse across the earth as God instructed, mankind wanted to stay together and build a city to dwell in. 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: They said, “Come, let us build a city for ourselves, and a tower whose top will reach into the heavens, and let us make a [famous] name for ourselves, so that we will not be scattered [into separate groups] and be dispersed over the surface of the entire earth [as the Lord instructed].” 5 Now the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one [unified] people, and they all have the same language. This is only the beginning of what they will do [in rebellion against Me], and now no evil thing they imagine they can do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) go down and there confuse and mix up their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the surface of the entire 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.
  • Arcologies in Shadowrun can be this.
  • Hive Cities in Warhammer 40,000, most notably Hive Primus from Necromunda. In most cases, it's a necessity: the lower atmosphere is so polluted by millenia of reckless industrial production that only fresh air pumped in from the top of the hive allows them to survive.
    • The Fang, the fortress of the Space Wolves. It is so high, spaceships dock to its peak. A partial subversion however, as the entire 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.
    • Another non-hive example is the starscrapers of Extremis Six which housed the population of the mining world. They were toppled by Chaos Titans using Sonic weapons killing billions.
    • The spires of Commorragh would be this, if there were any stars in the Webway. Note the kilometers-long spaceship impaled on the spire on the far right.

    Video Games 
  • Specter's tower in the first Ape Escape game is so tall it extends into space.
  • The eponymous Ar tonelico actually reaches out into space. All of humanity lives on it or one of two similar towers, since they're the only things tall enough to reach over the cloud Sea of Death enveloping the entirety of Ar Ciel.
  • The Karma Temple in Digital Devil Saga.
  • The geography of Dungeon Fighter Online includes two continents which 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.
  • The Citadel in Half-Life 2, although that is an alien entity.
  • Halo:
    • Inverted (literally) 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 Cardinal Shaft in Hellsinker.
  • 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".
  • 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.
    • You're tasked with turning Rupee Tower into one of these in Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland. As you throw more Rupees into the pool on top of it, 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.
  • Dr. Wily's fortress in Mega Man 10.
  • The Neo Arcadia Tower in Mega Man Zero 3 used to be a space elevator connecting Earth and the Moon. (Official sourcebooks in fact state that this was none other than the Jakob Orbital Elevator.) It doesn't go quite that far any more, 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 Empire Porky Building in Mother 3 is made out to be one of these. Every elevator the party takes allegedly leads to the 100th floor where Porky claims to be, and one of the floors hasn't even been fully constructed yet!
  • The plastic administrations building of Shachihata, in OFF, probably takes the cake. It's 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 the Pokémon games, 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.
  • 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 or them, the gigantic red-and-black Syndicate Tower, measuring in at approximately 965 meters, about 130 meters 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.
  • An expansion pack for SimCity has an addition called Mega-Towers which clearly fit this trope.
  • The entire point of SimTower, where the player can build a fully functioning hotel/office complex that spreads over several square blocks, ten underground levels, and up to 500 stories.
  • 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 an entire 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. It literally reaches "unto the heavens" and the player never sees its top from the outside.
  • 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.
  • Whittlebone's (driver of Mr. Slamm) dream is to build one in Twisted Metal 2.
  • The Sunspire in Unreal, which 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 even then 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-Morpheusnote . 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."
  • The map returns in Unreal Tournament 2004 (DM-Morpheus3) with a similar companion in 2003 and 2004 (DM-Plunge).
  • The Tower of Babel in Xenogears, an ancient hollow irregular metallic cylinder stretching kilometers into the sky. It is actually the ancient hull of the kilometers-long spaceship that crashed on the planet in the Distant Prologue of the game, and how humanity first arrived on that world.

    Web Comics 
  • 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 entire Baby Planet's diameter in the late game. Even later on, they are tall enough to dwarf their planet.
  • Tower of God: The Tower probably puts most of the other examples to shame, considering it 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-story tower here. The tower is so tall it extends ten times past the Moon's orbit.

    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 literally 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.
  • 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.

    Real Life 

Alternative Title(s): Impossibly Tall Tower