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Tunnel King

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"Heavy duty excavation — ain't no finer thing!"
The Driller, Deep Rock Galactic

A Tunnel King is a character who is an expert in, well, tunneling. His solution to any problem is likely to be, "We'll dig our way out." Carrying the trope to its extreme, the Tunnel King may dwell Beneath the Earth in an underground civilization that he constructed himself.

In animated series, this character will often be a burrowing animal with their digging abilities carried to ludicrous extremes. Once in a while, it will save the trapped main character(s) because "it knows a way out".

Human versions of this character are almost always nicknamed The Mole, but that title was already taken for a different trope. Mole Miners and Mole Men are often this. In a fight, expect some kind of Dig Attack. See also Our Dwarves Are All the Same for an entire race typically having this trait. For burrowing monsters resembling giant worms, snakes or fish, see Sand Worm and Land Shark.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Aquarion Evol: Andy W. Hol is pretty much obsessed with his holes. And rigging them to collapse under things.
  • Dokonjou Gaeru has Mogura, the local bully's sidekick, whose name is Japanese for "mole". As his name implies, he can dig underground.
  • Fairy Tail: Virgo and Everlue, with the former being a Tunnel Queen: their earth-based magic allows them to move freely into the ground and dig holes and tunnels with ease.
  • Ginga Densetsu Weed: Mole the dachshund may look small and useless to the group, but he proves to be a useful ally when he uses his digging skills to dig through a tunnel to Gin's prison for stealth purposes.
  • The Law of Ueki: A character has, as he calls it, "A power to turn my beautiful hair into a drill!" which allows him to dig extremely fast. Ueki states that this power is actually awesome, as he is pretty much unbeatable underground (that's the reason why he has to catch him in the air).
  • One Piece:
    • Miss Merry Christmas is a Tunnel Queen, as she has the power of the Mole Mole Fruit. The sheer tunneling power is awesome, considering that she can dig as fast as a running man, with only one arm, and while carrying, with the other one, a person that is out on the surface (meaning that that arm is cutting the terrain like a blade).
    • Level 5.5 of Impel Down is said to have been created by someone with a similar power. It eventually turns out to be Morley, a giant and okama with the Push-Push Fruit, granting him the ability to manipulate earth as if it were clay. He's since become an executive officer in the Revolutionary Army.
    • The Fishman Island arc gives us Daruma, one of Hody Jones's officers, who bites his way through the ground with nasty, big, pointy teeth. Chopper one-ups him by showing off his new Horn Point, which likewise lets him excavate at high speed.
  • Pokémon: The Series: One of Team Rocket's specialties, and often noted by them. Their holes are good enough to impress the very Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann-esque Byron.
  • Ranma ˝: Ryoga, once he learns the Bakusai Tenketsu, a pseudo-Pressure Points attack that lets him demolish rock with a touch of a finger. Once he learns the Shishi Hokodan, he gets even better at it. Why someone with his directional issues is burrowing under the ground in the first place is a mystery.
  • Soul Eater: Free wanted to escape prison using this method, but they only gave him chopsticks.
  • Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee: At first glance, Connor's dingo Gus seems rather useless, since Connor carries him around, but he turns out to be great at digging tunnels, such as when he burrows a hole to help free Connor from Sarah and Hunt.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Simon the Digger. Yes, "the Digger" is his title. Prior to discovering Lagann, his main job and talent was to dig very fast (that's how he discovered Lagann in the first place), and it's therefore fitting enough that his mecha (and its successive upgrades) employs drills as weapons. He manages to fight off several enemies with tunneling tactics, including Viral, the Dai-Gunzan, and the Dai-Gundo. Even his name reflects this, as it's pronounced "Shimon" — and "shimo" means "below" in Japanese.
  • Urusei Yatsura: The Prince of the Underworld. Being a Tunnel King is literally his power, akin to Lum's flight and lightning bolts, but with No Sense of Direction.
  • Zatch Bell! features the Majestic Twelve, a team of Western superheroes, as minor characters. Among them is Tremor Mole, who can burrow through the ground as easily as you can walk down the street.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: The Mole (inspired by an older villain named Melvin Mole) is a villain who, while attempting to tunnel out of his prison, tunneled his way into a pipeline carrying toxic waste and was mutated into something resembling an actual mole with phenomenal digging abilities.
  • DC Comics: Cave Carson, an obscure character from the '60s who still makes the occasional cameo. He's a spelunker with a tunneling machine that he and his team use to explore underground caverns. Revived by Young Animal in Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye.
  • Fantastic Four: Mole Man is a bit of a subversion. Even though he looks like a mole and lives underground, he lets his giant monsters do all the manual labor, including digging tunnels.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel): Tunnel Rat is the squad's tunnel-making expert. He was an EOD tech (like Hama) and the toy was designed to resemble him.
  • Lucky Luke: The Dalton Brothers are experts in escaping through tunnels. They often dig one tunnel each to get out of their single cell, but still.
  • MAD: An early (back when it was a comic book) story featured a character named Melvin Mole, who could dig through anything given an implement, be it a spade, a lunch spoon, a toothpick, or even his nose hair. This leads to his downfall when he tried to tunnel out of prison and ended up tunneling into his own execution chamber.
  • Digby the Human Mole from The '70s UK Anthology Comic Plug was a criminal whose mole-like appearance made him a brilliant tunneller, using this both to break into places and break out of jail. Unfortunately, his sense of direction wasn't quite so good. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Superlópez:
    • Chin Chao, an Asian associate of Giorgio Papino's band, is known for digging his way out of prisons... with spoons. He himself states as much when leaving the burning house in "El caserón fantasma" through the "emergency escape tunnel":
      Chin Chao: I dug it myself in 1990! Started with a spoon...
      Bast Honazo: How...?
      Chin Chao: How else? With patience... Chinese patience, of course.
      Dr. Tijera: Right... And where does it end?
      Chin Chao: In the house, that's how I found it and set up the up-and-down mechanism.
      Giorgio Papino: Okay, then where does it start?
      Chin Chao: In the Cuatro Caminos prison, it was my first escape... [every other character's eyes suddenly turn red, and some of them can clearly be seen making angry faces]
    • Referenced again in the sequel "Nosotros los Papino", as Chin Chao is in charge of tunneling the band out:
      Giorgio Papino: How's the tunnel progressing?
      Chin Chao: At a rate of 5 centimetres a day. The spoon isn't of much more use...
  • Superman:
    • Although he usually prefers to fly, Superman is able to burrow through the ground as easily as he soars across the sky thanks to his superhuman strength, speed, and toughness. When he was Superboy — during the Pre-Crisis and late Post-Crisis eras — he dug a tunnel connecting his parents' basement with the woods to get in and out of his house quickly and stealthily. In Kryptonite Nevermore, a hallucination shows him digging his way through Earth as battling the Sandman Superman.
    • At the beginning of the Silver Age, Supergirl couldn't let people learn of her existence, so she resorted to tunneling underground when she wanted to get anywhere or perform deeds unseen. Being a Pre-Crisis Kryptonian, she could dig one tunnel through the planet in seconds (as seen in Action Comics #267). She got so good at it that she builds a whole underground lair in a matter of minutes for her friend Batgirl in Detective Comics #509: The Attack of the Annihilator only because Babs mentioned in passing that she needed one. In The Killers of Krypton, Kyle Rainer attempts to capture Supergirl by forming an energy bubble around her, but he forgets to close his construct's bottom. Noticing that her feet are touching the floor, Kara capitalizes on his carelessness and tunnels her way out of the place.
    • The Condemned Legionnaires: When Supergirl follows Satan Girl to a lonely asteroid, her mysterious enemy slips into a cave. Supergirl waits for her coming back out during some few minutes as Satan Girl drills on through the asteroid to the other side and flies off.
    • Mon-El, another character linked to the Superman and Legion of Super-Heroes mythos, is an excellent digger. In The Dominator War Legion storyline, Mon-El has to go from Metropolis to Tokyo, so he tunnels his way to Japan merely because he felt like it.
    • Superman's villain the Mole is an expert tunneller. In Two for the Death of One he tries to bring the Daily Planet down by digging through the steel beams supporting the building.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Mole from the Dick Tracy comic strip. The Mole ran an underground hideout/hotel for criminals on the lam. Since reforming, he now uses his tunnels for more noble purposes.
  • The Mole is also an antagonist of Mandrake the Magician, a genius inventor with a head-mounted broad-beam heat ray capable of vaporising rock. It's so effective that his regular outfit includes a jetpack so he can keep up. Naturally, he uses it to steal from banks.
  • The Spook in The Wizard of Id. He can tunnel out of prison relatively easy, he just can't keep from getting caught again.

    Fan Works 
  • In Picking up the Pieces, it's revealed that as part of her earth-related powers, Cadenza Guard Captain Standing Wall can phase through the ground without leaving a trace.
  • In Touhou Galaxy, this is Virgo's ability just like in canon. She really puts this to use during Dream Team such as aiding in the fight against Torkscrew by booting him out of the dirt and appearing during the start of the fight against Robo-Drilldigger by burrowing all the way to the entrance of Dream's Deep and tells Starlow to hold down Luigi and Meiling's hats so they can grow giant and beat the robot.

    Films — Animated 
  • Gaetan Molière in Atlantis: The Lost Empire, full stop. He's not only the team excavations expert, but also absolutely obsessed with dirt. He keeps piles of it from different parts of the world! There's apparently an explanation for his... er, profession, and equally apparently, we don't want to know. Near the end of the movie, he even heads toward a potted plant to dig up the dirt once a formal photo-shoot of the team is over.
  • Behold the Underminer, the epilogue attacking villain in The Incredibles and Starter Villain of Incredibles 2! He may always be beneath us, but nothing is beneath him!
  • All the Meerkats in The Lion King 1 ˝. Except Timon. (He gets better at it, though, eventually using it in the series.)
    Dig, dig! Dig, dig a tunnel! Never ever gonna get done-eh! Dig, dig! Dig, dig a tunnel! Quick before the hyena come! Dig!
  • Bunnymund the Easter Bunny from Rise of the Guardians creates magical tunnels that can lead absolutely anywhere by just tapping his foot.
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: "The Mole" digs his way to the USO show stage to free Terrance and Phillip, but the boys forget to turn off the alarm on time and he's mauled to death by guard dogs.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Andersonville: Sgt. Gleason and his men (particularly Tobias and Blackburn) have been digging a tunnel out of the camp where the movie takes place for a long time, using skills they learned coal miners before the Civil War. They do complete their tunnel, but Gleason is the only man to escape.
  • Bad Boys II: When drug lord Johnny Tapia flees to Cuba with the kidnapped sister of DEA agent Burnett, agent Vargas mentions his crazy cousin Tito, who helps by using his network of tunnel diggers to infiltrate Tapia's guarded mansion.
  • Brodie in The Escapist. A lifer, he knows the layout of the prison like the back of his hand, including the vents and the drains and how they intersect. Equally important to the Great Escape, he worked for years in the London Underground before going to prison, and knows the tunnels that run under the prison.
  • Gnorm in A Gnome Named Gnorm is a tunneller gnome who helps investigate a botched sting by tunneling to a crime scene.
  • The Godzilla franchise:
    • Baragon uses his glowing horn to light his way underground and employs his burrowing to perform sneak attacks on Frankenstein's Monster and Godzilla.
    • Megalon, one of the most famous Tunnel Kings, has half-drills for lower arms that he can combine into a drill to move at great speed through the earth, and like Baragon, he uses his tunneling power to outmaneuver and surprise attack Godzilla and Jet Jaguar.
    • Zilla as well, with its son Zilla Jr. taking it up a notch, as well as comic!Zilla in Godzilla: Rulers of Earth, all using their tunneling ability to move quickly without detection, chase after subterranean opponents, and set up pitfalls and surprise attacks.
    • M.O.G.U.E.R.A.'s upper half is Land Moguera, a strong and speedy Drill Tank, which is used to weaken the underground supports of the crystal tower Spacegodzilla uses as an amplifier enough for Godzilla to push over and destroy.
  • The civil engineer digging the tunnel in the first camp where de Boeldieu and Maréchal are interned in The Grand Illusion.
  • The Trope Namer is The Great Escape, which features Danny and Willie, nicknamed "The Tunnel Kings", as well as Archibald "The Mole" Ives. Subverted in that Danny has claustrophobia, but it really just makes him more of a badass; he's scared as hell about the tight corners and cave-ins, but hey, stuck in a German POW camp, what choice does he have? Being portrayed by Charles Bronson also doesn't hurt.
  • The Ladykillers (2004): The General was a North Vietnamese tunnel rat in The Vietnam War and is the main force behind digging the Caper Crew's tunnel.
  • The McKenzie Break: Unger is an engineer who is assigned to supervise the POWs' tunnel-digging efforts, although his inexperience shows. In the book, the tunnel collapses prematurely, and in the film, Schulter complains about how slow the digging is going.
  • In Top Secret!, captured scientist Prof. Flammond is using a spoon to dig an escape tunnel when Nick and the Resistance Fighters break in to rescue him. Flammond tells them that he was almost finished with his tunnel and Nick takes a peek at what looks like the Holland Tunnel. He remarks, "Not bad!"
  • Trench 11: Berton, a soldier during World War I. He was caught in a tunnel collapse and left for dead, but dug his way out days later. British intelligence calls on his expertise to lead the expedition into an underground weapons facility.
  • Tunnel Rats: The Viet Cong have made some deep, complete, trap-laden tunnels. The American soldiers are the ones sent to explore them and flush the VC out.

  • In Animorphs has the Taxxons, one of the main alien species, which are good at digging (which makes sense, as they originally lived in mountain-sized hives). When Tobias morphs one, however, he notes that really Taxxons are good at eating, and simply devour the earth in front of them very quickly.
  • Mulch Diggums in Artemis Fowl is a dwarf who can unhinge his jaw and inhale the earth to dig tunnels, and is often the subject of Toilet Humor. Dwarves from Artemis Fowl wear trousers with bum-flaps so they can... well... you get the idea.
  • Batter Up, Wombat: Wombats can dig very big tunnels, which comes in handy when a tornado interrupts the Champs vs. Masked Bandits game and the teams have no dugout whence to retreat.
  • Relg, the zealot from The Belgariad. Though all his people are underground dwelling, Relg takes it to extremes, going as far as considering caves holey. Plus, he has a special magic that makes it possible for him (and people he carries along) to walk through solid rock.
  • The Black Echo: Why Billy Meadows is part of the plot in the first place, being a tunnel expert from his Vietnam days.
  • Beak in The Bonehunters, thanks to his affinity for Mockra. While Beak doesn't know anything about tunnels, the rat he's able to control and see through has all the necessary skills to guide the Bonehunters through the labyrinth of ruins beneath Y'Ghatan with no light to show them the way.
  • The Mole from the Burke novels by Andrew Vachss. He's an anti-Nazi Jew who specializes in bombs, weaponry, breaking and entering, biology, and computer hacking, and who lives in a series of tunnels he constructed under a junkyard.
  • Earthcrafters in Codex Alera can phase through earth and rock, allowing them to travel underground without leaving any sign of their passing.
  • The Day Before Midnight a novel by Stephen Hunter (creator of Shooter) is a "Die Hard" on an X story where Russian terrorists hijack a missile silo and the Army tries to come in under them through an old coal mine using two Vietnam tunnel rats: one who turned to crime and is willing to help in exchange for either a pardon or a transfer to a better prison, and a shell-shocked former enemy tunnel rat who lost most of her family in the war and emigrated to America afterwards. Each is assigned a Delta Force soldier to work with and they prove to be very adapt at tunneling into the silo and fighting underground.
  • Discworld dwarfs are a bit like this, since they all live in underground kingdoms, and are skilled miners. More traditionalist groups tunnel everywhere, and think seeing the sun is dangerous. In Thud!, the network of tunnels that it's hinted will become Ankh-Morpork's underground railway were dug by traditionalist dwarfs because they were looking for something and it didn't occur to them not to dig tunnels throughout the city.
  • Mr. Fox and his allies from Fantastic Mr. Fox are all digging animals, which works out nicely for them when they dig their way to the food-stuffed cellars of Farmer Boggis, Farmer Bunce, and Farmer Bean.
  • Tuxingsun/Earth-Traveler Sun from Fengshen Yanyi learnt the art of moving freely through the ground after a hundred years of training under his Taoist master. This allows him to dig his way into heavily fortified places undisturbed, escape from any danger as long as he's touching the soil and take his opponents by surprise. The only time this ability of his is nullified is when his own master uses his "Earth-in-Iron Transforming Talismans" to make the local dirt as hard as steel and leave him with nowhere to run. Much later in the series, the villain Zhang Kui demonstrates the very same power as Tuxingsun, the only difference being his speed. In both cases, they are apparently aware of what's happening/who's standing above them, though it's not clear if they're sensing through the dirt or if they simply poke their ears/eyes out to look.
  • Yuma prisoners Tom Badger (a Native American) and Gopher in Louis L'Amour's Kid Rodelo.
    Gopher: [explaining his nickname] I was forever tryin' to dig cut. Dug so meany tunnels. It was partly because of [Badger]. He was the Badger and bigger than me, so they called me the Gopher.
  • The Nome King from the Oz books. In Baum's universe, the Nomes are immortal rock fairies who dwell underground. They hide jewels and precious metals in the earth, and resent the "upstairs people" who dig down for those valuables. Apparently as revenge, the Nome King enjoys keeping surface-dwellers as slaves — not for their labor but simply to have them.
  • The moles in Redwall are expert diggers and often keep their ears and nose to the ground. Literally.

    Live Action TV 
  • In one episode of Angie Tribeca, Angie and Geils break out of prison by digging a tunnel (using tools made out of their blankets) out of their cell. They emerge through the ceiling of the police department several miles away.
  • Limitless: Lawrence Drake, a former engineer, manages to tunnel out of Rikers Island in "Headquarter".
  • Oz: Agamemnon "The Mole" Busmalis, who likes tunneling into banks and out of prisons, which is why they gave him a cell on an upper floor. Eventually, he finds a storeroom on the ground floor and starts tunneling out during the day. One time, a pair of Neo-Nazis forced him to switch cells with them so they could escape through his nearly-finished tunnel. Busmalis had already realized that the tunnel wasn't stable enough, so they ended up being Buried Alive.
  • The Horta from Star Trek are a race that chew through solid rock like it was air. Unlike most diggers on this page, Horta use powerful acid to burn perfectly round tunnels.
  • Many, many, many kaiju in the Ultra Series are burrowers (particularly the reptilian ones for some reason), usually striking at cities or fleeing from Ultras by tunneling underground. And just as many are encountered slumbering Beneath the Earth before being disturbed and rampaging towards the surface. A list can be found here.
  • White Rabbit Project:
    • One of the convicts in the "Jailbreak" episode is Mexican crime lord Joaquin Guzman (AKA El Chapo), who had miles of tunnels dug under the US-Mexico border to smuggle contraband narcotics across it. His method of escape upon being captured and jailed is, predictably, having his thugs dig a tunnel into his cell from the outside.
    • The French officers who were captured during World War IIthey dug a tunnel out of the camp and escaped against all odds, while at the same time documenting the escape on film.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Áksula (the king of termites) from Talamancan mythology. He made a tunnel between worlds so Sibú (the supreme God) and his mother could escape from the Sórbulu who wanted to kill them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Achtung! Cthulhu: Sand dwellers are capable of burying themselves very rapidly and effectively in sand with a shuddering motion that removes any tell-tale tracks from the vicinity. This permits them to ambush prey with great effectiveness, bursting up out of the desert almost from under the feet of their victims.
  • Golden Age of Champions: The Mole is a villain who constructed a mechanical exoskeleton that enables him to tunnel through anything.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Kobolds are almost completely helpless in the open (arguably the weakest common monster in the game, to the point where a housecat can rip one to shredsnote ), which they make up for by squeezing through narrow tunnels, leading attackers into traps, and using hit-and-run tactics. A tribe of kobolds in their home warren can be downright deadly.
    • Purple worms and umber hulks, which are often credited as having dug out many of the tunnels of the Underdark in their never-ending subterranean quests for food.
  • Godforsaken: Some moord possess the strange ability to tunnel through space, creating invisible passages. Though no faster than walking above ground, it does allow one to move undetected and untouchable.
  • Warhammer Fantasy:The Skaven have a tunneling unit. Whether it appears where it should (directly underneath the enemy's artillery units, usually) or the tunnelers screw up horribly and either collapse their tunnel or arrive somewhere on another continent or at least at a different spot on the battlefield than they should (whereupon they spend the rest of the turn bickering about who held the map the wrong side up) is dependent on the roll of a die. Dwarven miners are a somewhat more reliable version.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Genestealer Cult of the Four-Armed Emperor specializes in subterranean operations. They base their infestations in underground lairs, and excavate extensive tunnel systems to hide their movements, enter and literally undermine targets, and circumvent and ambush enemy positions.


    Video Games 
  • In Age of Wonders 3, the Dwarves' irregular and Tier III units, the Prospector and Firstborn respectively, have the Tunneling ability, which allows them to dig through dirt walls underground. As such, dwarves doesn't have to rely on Builders to dig through the caves.
  • Diggers from Battle Realms. While enslaved by the Lotus Clan, diggers were forced to claw their way deep into the shale mines to look for ore deposits where none of the other Wolf slaves dared venture. Now free, the digger uses the tools that once aided his Lotus enslavers as weapons against that hated clan.
  • Rockford in Boulder Dash is the only character in the game that can tunnel through dirt, and he's quite the quick digger to boot.
  • In Chapter 4 of Bug Fables, Kabbu gains the ability to burrow underground (or rather, finally decides to use it when the situation requires to do that), and does so with surprising ease. It lets him and his teammates go under certain barriers, dig treasure out of mounds of dirt, and avoid some enemies. Also, after gaining the Ant Compass, he can instantly revisit the Ant Mines.
  • One of the movement powers in Champions Online is tunnellingm which moves you underground as fast as flight moves you through air.
  • Daikaiju Daikessen: Irokus's profile mentions that he digs tunnels for nesting, and uses energy fields to make tunneling easier.
  • Deep Rock Galactic: While every dwarf has a pick to dig with, the Driller's the one that can truly get you from point A to point B in a timely manner no matter how many tons of rock are in between, thanks to his twin drills. Give him a point and enough fuel, and he'll get you there. Especially useful when the Drop Pod's waiting for everyone, and the main path through the caverns is a mess of glyphids and horrible terrain; it's often easier to just tunnel there directly.
  • Dig Dug might be one of the earliest video game examples. The title character Taizo Hori uses a drill to tunnel through layers of soil and hunt monsters.
  • Dwarves being Tunnel Kings is a central game mechanic in Dwarf Fortress, as the game is balanced around the assumption that your dwarves will be digging an Underground City rather than building on the surface: The Point Build System for selecting starting resources/skills doesn't allow for bringing much in the way of building materials without sacrificing a lot of other vital equipment, chopping down enough trees for lumber takes much longer than carving a basic set of living and working space out of the rock and dwarven settlers can't start the game with any seeds for crops that don't require an underground farm without modding.
  • The Escapists: You can become one, and dig your way to freedom. Just have plenty of braces for the tunnel and a place to move the dirt.
  • Both Baragon and Megalon in Godzilla Unleashed can burrow as their special ability.
  • Nugget from Kindergarten has dug a pit he calls the Nugget Cave in the sandbox that is deep enough that you'll die from falling/jumping into it unless you have something to cushion your fall. Ms. Applegate suspects that he's accomplished this by digging straight through the bottom of the box. His digging abilities come in handy more than once in Kindergarten 2, and both Ms. Applegate and Felix call him a "mole creature" at separate occasions.
  • Kirby: Squeak Squad:
    • A new Copy Ability named "Animal" allows Kirby to dig through patches of dirt and similar things. The Copy Scroll for said ability allows it to perform a drill attack.
    • Mrs. Moley, one of the bosses, is naturally one.
  • Mogmas in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, though they aren't always quick to think of digging under a barrier even though they can barely move above ground.
  • Mega Man:
    • Drill Man from Mega Man 4, who can burrow into the ground and pop up under Mega Man. He gets even more skill in Rockman 4 Minus Infinity. In that game, he can cause the ceiling to collapse on Mega Man and pop out of it to confuse him as well.
    • Ground Man from Mega Man & Bass can burrow just like Drill Man, and he can also drill into the ceiling too and spike you with a giant drill from there.
  • The player in Minecraft can certainly become this, and likely will since the only way to get many necessary resources is by digging underground and mining them out; many players begin this way by digging out a simple shelter to avoid monsters at night, and most will end up this way in the late game when their mining ends up digging out a massive system of tunnels.
  • Muddy of Mole Mania digs to solve environmental puzzles.
  • Mr. Driller is the spiritual successor of the aforementioned Dig Dug, and the title character Susumu Hori is the son of Taizo Hori. Susumu can drill through blocks in the vast underground tunnels with ease, but he has to take care to avoid drilling through wooden "X" blocks, which release Deadly Gas that causes a significant penalty to his Oxygen Meter.
  • Pokémon:
    • The Underground Man in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, responsible for starting out Sinnoh's extensive Underground with his digging, along with his son and grandson, Roark and Byron, respectively.
    • Diglett, who is forever half submerged in the ground, and whose species is responsible for the digging of Diglett's Cave.
    • Clay, "The Underground Boss", is a Gym Leader whose Gym is an underground maze and who specializes in Ground-type Pokémon. His signature Pokémon is Excadrill, the Ground/Steel mole from Pokémon Black and White.
  • Prison Architect: Every prisoner as of Alpha 13 has the ability to attempt escape by way of digging a tunnel out of their cells using tools stolen from places such as the canteen. Prisoners will join tunnels together and tunnel under each other's toilets. One of the worst situations is when a tunnel starts in a dormitory, because the majority of the dormitory will take the opportunity to crawl out. Never place your dormitories anywhere near the fence, even packed with minimum-security prisoners.
  • Spelunky has the Tunnel Man, who digs shortcuts to later areas in the game in exchange for money (or various items in the HD version). In the original version, he was unlockable as a playable character, and came with an unbreakable mattock.
  • Super Mario Galaxy: The Undergrunts and Major Burrows, who are mole-like creatures, are pretty good at digging.
  • Terraria calls for the player character to be one if any progress is to be made. 95% of the game is underground.
  • Urban Rivals: Leo of the Junta used to hunt giant moles, then became a zombie hunter; both professions thankfully involve his phenomenal digging ability and using his shovel directly as a weapon.
  • Most Worms games will scold you if you do this. Players who make good use of the game's digging and tunneling tools are known as "Darksiders".

  • Digger from, well, Digger. Unsurprising, as Digger is an anthropomorphic wombat.
  • Sizemore from Erfworld epitomizes this trope. He can make braced, lighted, and reinforced tunnels as fast as he can walk.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation, SCP-2709 ("Can Anyone Hear You Scream?"). SCP-2709-1 is a giant anomalous antlion that digs tunnels underground. It performs a Dig Attack on human beings by collapsing the ground under their feet.
  • Whateley Universe: MoleAr, who can manipulate rock and similar materials by touch and directed a dig-out from a collapsed prison:
    He looked around. "The only way out is the rubble in the tunnel. We tunnel into the debris, dealing with the way the rubble will slide down toward us as we work. The magical spells in the tunnel ought to be as wrecked as the walls. So once we get far enough into the tunnel to get around the magical effects of the ceiling in here, we can go straight up. We just solidify the debris as we go. Then we tunnel upward a bit at a time, making sidesteps to deal with the problem we'll have when we finally get through the bedrock."

    The Black Tiger sneered, "Oh, and what makes you such a big expert on this shit?"

    MoleAr mildly said, "This is what I do. I have a Masters and a Ph.D. in mining engineering from Texas A & M."

    The Black Tiger didn't say anything, but his face was sure red.

    Western Animation 
  • Diesel from 101 Dalmatian Street is obsessed with digging and playing in the dirt. In the episode "Power to the Puppies" he digs so far down he hits a water pipe, and he even digs in his sleep.
  • The Amphibia episode "Flood, Sweat, and Tears" reveals Sprig to be a pretty good hole digger, as he helps clear out a bunch of burrowing giant bugs from the Plantar family farm by following them into their tunnels to force them aboveground.
  • The badger-moles of Avatar: The Last Airbender. In fact, they're the first Earthbenders!
  • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien: Ben's Armordillo form is able to move through earth as easily as we can swim through water.
  • Bravestarr: In "Fallen Idol", Deputy Fuzz's tunnel-digging skill allows him and Thirty-Thirty to follow BraveStarr undetected. He even knows that the impatient techno-steed's idea to speed up the process by firing Sara Jane has "collapse" written all over it, but he can't stop him. Afterwards, he reasserts his authority as the expert.
  • Bugs Bunny is shown doing it in almost every medium, though he often ends up taking a Wrong Turn at Albuquerque. In fact, a few games require Bugs to use tunneling to solve puzzles or bypass enemies, and another relies solely on him for transport between game worlds. note 
  • In Carmen Sandiego, El Topo "takes the low ground" and is a master of Fast Tunneling operations.
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers: Ming-Ting and Ting-a-Ling, the pandas from "An Elephant Never Suspects" with their dragon-shaped tunnel digging machine.
  • Professor Moliarty from Darkwing Duck, a mush-mouthed mole who schemes to cover the surface world in eternal darkness. His name is a reference to Sherlock Holmes nemesis James Moriarty, and his persona may be inspired by Marvel Comics' Mole Man.
  • In Dennis the Menace (UK) animated series, Gnasher is able to tunnel incredibly quickly as part of his ability to bite through anything.
  • In the Dinosaur Train episode "What's at the Center of the Earth? Layers!", when Natasha Necrolestes says she has big claws for digging, Don says she must be the best digger in the world, but she says there are creatures even better at digging than her. However, she knows her way around the underground and repeatedly reassures the kids that it's nothing to be afraid of.
  • The Whispering Death from Dragons: Riders of Berk has the ability to use its jaw (which has six inner rings of teeth that rotate in opposite directions of each other) to quickly travel through solid rock.
  • Tunnel Rat from G.I. Joe and related media. As with many Joes, often shown battling in situations having nothing to do with his speciality. His file card gives the following description:
    Nothing is darker than a tunnel at night! The darkness exerts a suffocating pressure Like the bottom of a great, black sea. In That awful absence of light, imagination becomes a fearsome enemy. Tunnel Rat glides through stygian tunnels with the surety of a natural denizen. The dark assumes the role of an ally and his weapon becomes his friend.
  • Zoop from Iggy Arbuckle. In "The Case of the Messy Marauder", she starts sleep tunneling.
  • My Little Pony:
  • In Ninjago, the Constrictai tribe of the Serpentine are notable for having the ability to easily burrow under the earth.
  • Superspeed digging is one of Zippy's many talents in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.
  • Pluto shows that he's a Tunnel King of sorts in the 1943 short Pluto and the Armadillo, diving underground to chase after a female armadillo who qualifies as a Tunnel Queen.
  • The Diggers from Recess, who are two boys who have enjoyed digging holes since kindergarten. In "The Break In", they end up digging a hole all the way to Beijing.


Video Example(s):


G.I. Jeff

Deep Dish has been digging a tunnel through the wall of his cell, covered by a Smash Mouth poster. All his hard work is rendered moot when an explosion destroys another wall, which the others use to escape.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / TunnelKing

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