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Unholy Nuke

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Many works have the Holy Hand Grenade: a purifying, holy blast of light and goodness which eradicates evil in sight, turning it into a dusty pile of ash.

However, what happens if it gets reversed?

The Unholy Nuke tends to be a power fit for a Big Bad: a devastating magic/technique/ritual fueled by unholy power, often the Evil Counterpart to a technique used by the good guys. Usually it involves Black Magic and darkness, but other elements can play a role as well. Bonus points if it's Powered by a Forsaken Child. It may be a Dangerous Forbidden Technique. Sometimes an Evil Knockoff will use this as a dark mirror of one of the hero's own powers. In Video Games, expect to see it used by the Final Boss.

When handling the powers of darkness, don't forget that Evil Is Not a Toy.

See also Light Is Not Good, Casting a Shadow, Person of Mass Destruction, and World-Wrecking Wave. May or not be part of a Yin-Yang Bomb. Contrast Holy Hand Grenade. See also Fantastic Nuke, where the emphasis is on the scale of the damage done regardless of whether the spell is specifically "unholy" or not.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Naruto has the Bijudama, which literally means 'Tailed Beast Ball/Tailed Beast Bomb', the strongest attack of a Tailed Beast or its Jinchuuriki. It gathers positive and negative chakra into a sphere, compresses it, and turns it into a Wave-Motion Gun that, at full power, can wipe off mountains and even islands. The "unholy" part certainly fits when Naruto uses it in his berserk 4 / 6-tailed states, but Killer Bee is on good terms with his Beast and can use his full power at will. When Naruto achieves the same rapport with Kurama, they pull off a Bijudama stronger than six others put together.
    • The Ten-Tailed Beast has a far-more powerful version (which is a dark red instead of purple in the anime) that, at regular size, trumps even the strongest attacks the tailed beasts can pull off (and can travel nearly halfway around the world in just a couple of minutes to boot), and, at its largest, can wipe out an entire country.
    • Nagato destroyed Konoha via a giant gravity nuke which is a giant form of Shinra Tensei.
  • Fairy Tail:
  • Yaiba has the Devil King Sword's Full Moon Blast, used by Onimaru. Furthermore, all the attacks performed with the Devil King Sword are fueled by the negative feelings of the wielder.
  • Slayers:
    • Lina Inverse's Dragon Slave spell (when it is not Played for Laughs). Just listen to the incantation:
      One who is darker than twilight
      One who is redder than flowing blood
      Buried in the flow of time
      In thy great name,
      I hereby pledge myself to darkness
      Those who stand before us in our way
      All those who have become fools
      Merge your power and mine
      To grant destruction equally to all!!
    • The "one" to whom the incantation addresses is no one other than Shabranigdo, the Satan figure of the Slayers world. Yes, this spell is often Played for Laughs. It's that kind of series.
    • There's also the Giga Slave spell, which calls upon the (technically Chaotic Neutral) Lord of Nightmares, creator of all things. It's powerful enough to make the Dragon Slave look like a capgun, since it literally erases whatever it touches from existence... but if the caster loses control, it will destroy the entire universe. The risk comes from the fact that the spell doesn't just invoke the Lord of Nightmares' power it briefly summons the Lord of Nightmares herself.
  • In Dragon Ball GT there is the Revenge Death ball, powered by the hate of Baby's followers. Also Omega Shenron's negative energy ball, made from all the bad karma left over from all the sins on Earth.
  • In One Piece there's God Enel with his infamous, island-annihilating Raigou.
  • Bleach:
    • Ulquiorra Cifer's Cero Oscuras is a jet black Wave-Motion Gun capable of disintegrating a significant portion of Las Noches's roof. His Lanza del Relampago is even worse. When he fails to hit his target with it, it sails off into the distance and creates an explosion that's roughly the same radius as las Noches and dwarfs it in height. To put both of those into perspective, Las Noches is the size of a city.
    • Hollow Ichigo's crimson Cero is even stronger than Ulquiorra's Cero Oscuras and overpowers it when the two clash, resulting in an enormous mushroom cloud.
    • Coyote Starrk's spectral wolves are formed from his spiritual energy and explode with the force of a small nuke once they bite down on a target.
  • The Lyrical Nanoha series has Diabolic Emission, a massive sphere of black energy that covers several city blocks and greatly harms targets caught within its blast radius. Its incantation is "In an ancient land, sink to the darkness."
  • Digimon Frontier has a few. Velgemon has Dark Obliteration and ShadowSeraphimon has Strike of the Seven Dark Stars (Seven Hells in the Japanese version). Lucemon provides a more unusual example with his Ultimate Sacrifice attack, which uses light in addition to darkness.
  • Overlord (2012): Given who our protagonist is and what he can do, the series naturally gives us a few examples.
    • The Goal Of All Life Is Death is Ainz/Momonga's ultimate skill, which empowers instant death spells to ignore resistances but applies a delay of 12 seconds. The purpose of this spell in the game YGGDRASIL was to bypass heavy resistances to the normally Awesome, but Impractical death spells and allow them to hit normally invalid targets such as The Undead or golems. In the New World, it still does all this and more, when Ainz used it in combination with an area of effect death spell, it killed the entire target area so completely and utterly that the soil was turned to dead sand and the very air was rendered unbreathable.
    • Iä Shub-Niggurath is a Super-tier spell described as summoning a black cyclone of death magic that attempts to One-Hit KO everything in its (massive) area of effect, then summons a number of high-level Eldritch Abominations that serve the caster, depending on the number of creatures killed by the initial effect. And yes, it can be enhanced by the above for further devastation. When used in the aptly-named Massacre at Katze Plains, the initial effect killed 70,000 soldiers and raised five level 90-ish Dark Young that slaughtered about 100,000 more, making this spell easily qualify as both an Unholy Nuke and a Fantastic Nuke.
    • There is also Grand Catastrophe, the signature spell of the World Disaster class (played by the guild's resident edgelord Ulbert Alain Odle), which takes a good chunk out of the user's mana but surpasses the power of Super-Tier spells. We see Ulbert use it once in a side story, and it wipes out a room full of high-level elementals and takes a huge chunk of health out of the boss of the dungeon. That's for the "nuke" part. As for the "unholy" part, the name of the spell, the name of the class it's exclusive to, and its lore description as a manifestation of the wrath and sorrow of countless destroyed worlds should be a tip-off.

    Comic Books 

  • In The Invisibles, the testing for the atomic bomb in Los Alamos was secretly a plot by Oppenheimer to bring an Eldritch Abomination made of liquid information into our plane of reality.

    Fan Works 
  • An Italian Dragon Ball Z Fan Fiction features Super C17 performing the "Lurkodama", described as the "Hell version" of the "Genkidama" and based on negative energy. Is used to form a Yin-Yang Bomb along with Gogeta's Genkidama.
  • In the Pony POV Series
    • There's an unnamed dark magic spell that calls down Entropy's power into a gigantic Wave-Motion Gun. However, as Entropy herself is not evil, nor is the spell itself, but it is dangerous and more or less drains all of the user's power, with potentially crippling side effects. Something bad also happens if its miscast but is not elaborated on. Sweetie Belle learned it from Chrysalis, but is actually smart enough to use it as a Godzilla Threshold. The one time she's ever actually used it, it was a One-Hit Kill on Nyarlathotrot's immensely powerful Dark Storm avatar and blew a massive hole straight through it.
    • Sweetie Belle and Nightmare Nihilis attempt to fire these at each other during the Final Battle. The other characters have to stop them as two of them being fired at one another at the same time or either being miscast would be catastrophic.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Willow the main villain Bavmorda seeks to use the "Rite of Oblivion", an evil ritual that is intended to wipe its victim from existence itself, in order to destroy Elora Danan, the child who is prophesied to bring her down.

  • The Dresden Files:
    • The Darkhallow ritual from Dead Beat is the ultimate necromantic spell that kills everything, both living and spirit, within several miles' radius, then turns the caster into a Physical God.
    • There's also the bloodline curse from Changes, which kills everyone related to a sacrificial victim. It is ultimately used by Harry to destroy the entire Red Court.
  • The Thought Bomb in Darth Bane: Path of Destruction is one such example; using Sith energy, it obliterates all Force-sensitives (and for those close enough, all life-forms) within its radius, including the Sith who used it.
  • Empire of the East: Inverted since the race of demons were created from nuclear explosions. The world's magic interpreted a nuclear explosion as something evil.
  • The Psalms of Isaak series brings us the Seven Cacaphonic Deaths of Xhum Y'Zir, which is every bit as nasty as it sounds. Devised by the Wizard-King Xhum Y'Zir two thousand years ago using Blood Magic to avenge the deaths of his seven sons at the hands of rebels, it calls down seven successive cataclysms on the target location, which are collectively more than enough to kill anyone and level any structure within the vicinity, leaving behind only a charred wasteland filled with bones (since Y'Zir specifically designed the spell not to harm bone, presumably to leave evidence of his handiwork for anyone to see). This was responsible for devastating much of the known world in the backstory (Y'Zir went a little overboard in his revenge), and is considered the most powerful and darkest spell ever devised, to the point that the mere threat of it being rediscovered causes kings to Freak Out.
  • The Chronicles of Amber: Initiates of the Logrus possess the ability to summon elemental chaos, which effectively wipes anything they want out of existence, and if allowed to run wild can destroy a very large area before it runs out of energy. Merlin expressly compares it to a nuclear strike, and notes that it's so destructive there's almost no practical use for it.
  • The backstory of The Magician's Nephew establishes that Empress Jadis of Charn used a sinister Fantastic Nuke (complete with forbidden rituals involving a "Deplorable Word") to depopulate her world so her sister wouldn't depose her. Turns out it's hard to get overthrown if you're the only being left alive.
  • In The Fallen Arises, Vermillia uses a spell that not only creates an immense storm but increases its power before it drops a gigantic wall of lightning upon the Ravenstone estate.
  • Isaac Asimov's "Hell-Fire (1956)": Watching the expanding thermonuclear fireball in extreme slow motion, the audience realizes that the nuclear bomb is Made of Evil, and our viewpoint character decides Fear Is the Appropriate Response.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Deadlands: Hell on Earth, these are actual demonic Magitek nukes. That destroy the world.
  • Another very literal example is from GURPS Technomancer: the necronium bomb. Plain and simple nukes became unusable in that setting because they set off cataclysmic mana vortexes that may destroy the whole world in one blast, so the necromantic magical replacement was created.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Talisman of Ultimate Evil. In the hands of an Evil High Priest it could be used to open a flaming crack at the feet of a Good priest and send him or her to the center of the planet. 5th edition buffed it to be usable by any evil creature (though it gives an extra bonus to an evil Cleric or Paladin when held) and on any Good creature instead of just a Cleric or Paladin.
    • Unholy Water causes damage to creatures from the Upper Outer planes (the planes of Lawful Good, Neutral Good and Chaotic Good).
    • In the Second Edition of AD&D, the creature Death Knight is able to use a unique 20th level fireball, which was off-limits to player characters from this edition on (they were limited to 10th level fireballs).
  • Warhammer 40,000 is full of these. Basically any time Chaos is involved, expect Unholy Nukes to be flying thick and fast.
    • Virus bombs are Imperial superweapons used to clear a planet of all life, but leaving infrastructure intact. however, they've stopped using the ever since they found out using them strengthens Nurgle, the Chaos god of disease.
  • Exalted has a few of these to contrast the more enlightened ones:
    • The Solar Circle Sorcery spell Total Annihilation isn't automatically unholy, given who wields it... but it's still the equivalent of a fantasy nuke, and relies on calling on a portion of the energy of Ligier, Hell's green sun.
    • More directly descended from Ligier are Malfeas's more...extreme Green Sun Nimbus Flare expansions, and Demon Emperor Shintai. Both of which contain actual radiation sickness on hell steroids.
    • Mouth of the Void, a Void Circle Necromancy spell that does hideous amounts of damage to all creatures over a large area. Given its level, it can only be learned by Abyssals, who usually aren't on the side of goodness and light. Usually.
  • Magic: The Gathering has numerous black spells which qualify. Damnation is the most straightforward example, being the black Evil Counterpart to the white Holy Hand Grenade Wrath of God. Plague Wind is similar, but destroys only your opponent's creatures (and thus costs a lot more mana).
  • The Old World of Darkness featured the Technocracy's "Code Ragnorok," a literal nuke, albeit a fairly small scale one, that detonates in the spirit world as well as the physical, destroying ghosts, spiritual beings and the souls of anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in the blast. To their credit they only used it once, against a potentially world-ending threat.

    Video Games 
  • The spell "Flare" from Final Fantasy can be this, as its counterpart is the "Holy" spell from the White Mage. In Final Fantasy II, Flare takes the form of a dark nuclear blast and some powerful evil enemies can cast it.
  • From Final Fantasy VII there's the Meteor spell cast by Sephiroth. Note that in previous games Meteor was far more neutral (though less powerful).
  • Final Fantasy IX has the spell "Doomsday", which damages everyone on the battlefield with the Shadow element, and is the most potent Black Magic spell. To use it effectively, you have to shield your party from that element.
  • in Final Fantasy XIV, Ultima becomes this, being the ultimate attack of the main storyline's final boss and explicitly mentioned as being powered by the resident God of Evil, Zodiark.
  • The "Unholy Darkness"note  spell from Final Fantasy Tactics, used exclusively by the highest order of demons, fits this bill to a T. Its animation even parallels the Holy spell (Fade to Black vs Fade to White, ending with a deathly scream instead of an angelic choir).
  • In Mass Effect 2, when possessing a puppet, the Reaper Harbinger has a special version of of the "Warp" ability that probably qualifies (it's yellow with ominous black lightning as opposed to the usual blue).
  • In Jedi Knight Jerec can use the "Destruction" Force Power. It's a Dark Side attack that consist in a fiery ball of flames and negative energy that destroy everything on its path.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic, Death Ripple damages all non-undead units on the battlefield. Unholy Word from V does the same, but also excludes demons.
    • Armageddon from the third game probably qualifies too. It's a tier 4 spell that rains fire from the skies, dealing heavy damage to all units on the battlefield. Including the caster's, making the spell difficult to use unless one's army consists heavily of units immune to fire or immune to magic at least up to tier 4.
    • On a related note, the Armageddon's Blade, capable according to the lore of "setting the world on fire" and created by a Kreegan (this game's equivalent of demons, although they're actually more like evil aliens) qualifies especially. In gameplay, the Blade provides a not insignificant boost to a hero's stats and gives the user the ability to cast, at Expert level, an Armageddon spell that deals no damage to allies. Finding the sword in a non-campaign map gives the following ominous message:
    "Deep beneath the earth, you find a vault of the Ancients from before the Silence. Inside you find a sealed casket, deeply etched with dire warnings. Ignoring them, you break the seal. Inside, you find Armageddon's Blade."
  • Might and Magic has, like the HoMaM series, the Armageddon spell that is housed by Dark Magic school and deals damage to everything on map including your party. It can be cast only limited number of times per day and does not work in dungeons. The version from VII and VIII probably fits the bill better, as it explicitly deals dark magic damage (unlike in VI where it was just magic damage) but this difference aside, it's the same spell.
  • Spellforce: The Black Magic sub-branch of Death has the quickest damage output in the game.
  • Secret of Mana had the unholy nukes dark force and evil gate.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei NINE, the Desire Disks have this effect when destroyed. In addition to causing an explosion powerful enough to level a building, the resulting cloud of Desire Energy attracts demons to the area.
  • In Suikoden, pretty much all of the Soul Eater's spells are considered this.
  • The Ultimate Insult from Escape from Monkey Island is one of the most powerful Voodoo artifacts around. Though it's not lethal for the body, but instead annihilates the spirit, leaving its victims weak-willed and cowardly.
  • The Demonic Megiddo from the Castlevania series is the Dark Lord's most powerful attack, and tends to be a One-Hit Kill super powerful spell used mainly by Dracula or Death.
  • The Carronnade from Breath of Fire IV is possibly the most horrific example of this trope ever, fueling its Unholy Nukes with soul-crushing torment and turning that anguish into a weapon of mass destruction that turns the area for miles around into a nightmare that gives Hell a run for its money.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny gives the Ruler of Darkness, Lord Dearche, a new Limit Break called Juggernaut, which is her equivalent to Hayate's Ragnarok. In contrast to Hayate's converging beam of white light, she rains down several black beams around her target then detonates them, engulfing her opponent and the battlefield in several explosions of darkness.
  • While the series typically features demons armed with Black Magic curses versus angels equipped with Holy Hand Grenades, the first Nexus War game made an exception for Breath of the Dead Child, a nuke powered by the breaths of dying children harvested from haunted pediatric wards. The sequel's version is powered by dying breaths everywhere and is no longer age-specific.
  • Warcraft III:
    • The Death Coil spell is the Holy Light spell in reverse, healing a huge amount of life of an allied Undead unit or harming a living enemy for half the amount. In Warcraft II, it was (comparatively) even deadlier, as it could one-shot most units, two-shot the rest, and healed the Squishy Wizard caster with every cast.
    • The Undead faction is the only one where every Hero Unit has an immediate high-damage spell targeting at least one unit (Impale and Carrion Swarm do damage in a line, Impale also adds stun, and Frost Nova damages all units around the target and slows them), meaning three Undead heroes can reduce an enemy hero's life to nothing in less than five seconds, forcing a retreat.
  • Dota 2 has Nevermore, the Shadow Fiend, whose "Requiem of Souls" spell unleashes the souls he stole for massive damage in a circular area.
  • Copy Kitty: The "Vestige of the Lost", the most powerful Black Magic spell in existence. Legend states that the spell works by opening a portal to Hell itself and allowing evil gods to briefly wreak havoc on the world. The spell is so deadly that its only known wielder (the game's Superboss) cannot channel the full power of the spell, and has to split it into three lesser spells. Boki, not knowing the dangers, copies all three components and uses the full spell against the Superboss. The result kills the previously invincible boss in one blow, crashes the training simulation, and knocks Boki out cold, terrifying her teacher, who hadn't believed she would be capable of copying that power.
    • Turns out that, if you're really lucky in Pandemonium Mode, you can get all three spells and use "Vestige of the Lost" during normal gameplay. It has infinite range and lasts long enough to pulverize multiple waves of enemies, but Boki's health will fall to 1 in the process.
  • fault milestone two: Melano — the Big Bad — flicks a tiny glowing orange spell at the protagonists when they dismiss her claim of omnipotence... which creates a massive explosion that kills the party and devastates the surrounding area with a magical version of radiation poisoning. She then rewinds time while letting the party keep the memories of their deaths and what happened afterwards.
  • Kingdom of Loathing: One of the damage types in the game is Sleaze, which is defined as "Moral corruption, often having to do with laziness", technically making it a form of weaponized evil...Played for Laughs.
  • Elden Ring: The Scarlet Aeonia flower that blooms when the demigod Malenia gives in to the Scarlet Rot ravaging her body (and later learnable as an offensive spell by the player) is treated like this. In the backstory of the game, the flower bloomed during her fight with one of her demigod siblings and the resulting spread of Scarlet Rot turned a massive chunk of The Lands Between into an uninhabitable hellscape of poisonous swamps and mutated monsters.

    Web Comics 
  • In 8-Bit Theater Black Mage mentions that he gained his Hadoken spell (essentially an all-purpose nuke) through sacrificing children to his wanton gods of evil. This surprises no one. It's also mentioned that it's powered by consuming love from the universe, and that the divorce rate rises slightly every time he uses it.
  • Dominic Deegan has a rare example of one used by a good character. Dark Soul Burst is a spell powered by anger and hatred, and is typically used by Luna when someone REALLY pisses her off. The first time it's used, it knocks out Siegfried, a rather strong royal knight, in a single shot.
  • In The Order of the Stick, the "Familicide" spell is an extremely powerful necromantic spell that kills everyone related to its target, and everyone related to them. There are dire consequences when Spliced V uses it against a Black Dragon to avert a Cycle of Revenge, since Girard Draketooth and his entire clan, the guardians of one of the Gates, were related to that dragon.
  • In Heartcore, this is combined with Suicide Attack and Blood Magic for Volaster's most powerful spell, Blast Bomb: by allowing himself to be injured to the point of bleeding his volatile salamander demon blood profusely, Volaster can set himself off as a living nuclear bomb. He uses this spell in the Beastman capital to destroy it and drive the Beastman race to the brink of extinction.

    Web Original 
  • Vivere Militare Est has about as close to a literal example as you can get in the form of despoiler bombs. Equipped with a computer able to recite spells faster than any human (and with less corruption because computers don't have souls of their own) and "fuel" in the form of gastplasm extracted from human and animal sacrifices, the despoiler bomb consumes the souls of everybody caught in the blast radius and turns any place targeted with one into an Eldritch Location, and winds up replacing nuclear weapons in the Weird Cold War of its Alternate History setting. Kyoto, which was targeted with one in the closing days of World War II, is still uninhabitable in the 21st century, and it's estimated that, if World War III were fought with despoiler bombs, it would tear a hole in reality big enough to destroy the Earth. Nuclear weapons do still exist, but they're only used by the doggedly anti-preternatural Israelis.

    Western Animation 
  • The full extent of its effects is unknown, but the bomb that ended the Great Mushroom War in Adventure Time almost certainly qualifies. It does not appear to cause an explosion of the magnitude of a conventional nuke, but it exudes a greenish cloud of what appear to be tormented souls and creates a largish puddle of green toxic waste that mutates the first person exposed to it into an Omnicidal Maniac Lich powerful enough to serve as the series' Big Bad.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Eclipsa has two spells that qualify as this: the first is "the darkest spell" that she taught to Moon to kill Toffee, being the only spell in existence to be able to permanently harm an immortal, and the second is Black Velvet Inferno, the spell she used against her own daughter, Meteora, to stop the latter's destructive rampage against Star and Mewni. The spell encloses the victim in an orb of dark magic, then a massive energy release inside the orb fries the victim to a crisp. Eclipsa's mother Solaria was apparently trying to come up with a Total Annihilation Spell in order to exterminate monsterkind once and for all. Fortunately she failed, but she expected Eclipsa to succeed her and finish the spell in her place. At some point Eclipsa did succeed and this spell, which before even being cast exists within the wand, risks acting on its own and eliminating every dimension, including the barriers between them. When she does cast it, it emits a massive butterfly-winged skull made of energy that effortlessly melts through everything in its path, and keeps going into the horizon after striking its target.


Video Example(s):


Desire Disk Explosion

When one of the Desire Disks is shattered, it creates an explosion that devastates the surrounding area and attracts demons.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / UnholyNuke

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