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"Is Unobtainium very easy to obtain?"
Peter Griffin, Family Guy

Unobtainium is engineering jargon for, "a material that would be perfect for our purposes, if we could get it, which we can't." Sometimes an object that actually exists, or existed at one time, becomes unobtainium because it's unavailable now. When used in the realm of fiction, Unobtainium is usually the exotic material that is needed to make the Applied Phlebotinum of a given story work. Without it, all your nifty machines and plot-enabling gadgets quit functioning.

Some forms of unobtainium are based on real physics, but beyond the current scope of human engineering, such as room-temperature superconductors; they would revolutionize just about every form of technology, but they are not in and of themselves dangerous or based on some exotic physics-bending principle.

Others are more fantastic "high-grade" unobtainium, such as antimatter, which would be a revolutionary way of storing huge amounts of energy, if it didn't violentlynote  undergo mutual annihilation with any conventional matter it comes into contact with, including air molecules and the walls of whatever you're trying to store the damn stuff in.


The most common varieties of unobtainium in fiction sit somewhere in the middle, like materials so resistant to heat and/or damage as to be Nigh Invulnerable compared to other, similar substances. Materials such as mithril are the fantasy version. Thunderbolt Iron is especially popular in fiction (and has some basis in reality – until smelting was invented (which takes ridiculously hot - 1250 °C or 2282 °F - furnaces, hence the term "Iron Age"), it was the only source of refined iron).

Much mad science uses unobtainium, such as chemicals with impossible properties, universal solvents that can dissolve anything in the blink of an eye, super-explosives that make nitroglycerin look like a weak cough, and plenty of other funny-colored solutions. Following this would be medical and/or chemical wish-fulfillers; Classical real-world alchemy casually referred to carmot, the base substance of the Philosopher's Stone, and Azoth, either the "universal medicine" or "universal solvent". The ancient Greek writer Plato referred to "Orichalcum" (Greek for "mountain bronze") in his description of Atlantis.


In Science Fiction, it will usually take one of three flavors: whatever stuff makes Faster-Than-Light Travel possible, closely followed by the stuff that can mess with gravity (if they're not one and the same), and finally, the stuff they make Humongous Mecha and Alien spacecraft out of, which is why they tend to be effectively immune from earthly weapons or environmental damage.

For Willing Suspension of Disbelief, authors may pick out something actively being researched within the scientific community at the time of writing and run with it. Naturally, this risks dating the work when Science Marches On and today's "super technology" buzzword becomes the next generation's comic-book junk science. The current favorite in hard sci-fi is helium-3 – believed by many to be the fuel of choice for those nifty fusion reactors that should be perfected any time now. Theoretically, it's a safe large-scale energy source with few environmental side effects. But more importantly, though, there's extremely little of it on Earth; on the Moon, it's Not Rare Over There — which would provide a good reason to go there.note 

The term "Unobtainium" originates from aerospace engineers in the late 1950s, where it was used as a Hand Wave for a material sufficiently strong, light, and/or durable to meet the needs of a particular situation under discussion, even if no known material could possibly do so. It has occasionally been used in official discussions to avoid directly identifying a material whose use is still considered top secret (such as the titanium skin in the project that eventually produced the SR-71 Blackbird). Most people, however, first heard the term as the mineral sought by the mining company in Avatar, and mistakenly think that is the Trope Namer. It was also infamously noted in The Core.

See Also: Minovsky Physics when the Unobtainium has well-thought-out properties that are strictly adhered to, and its opposite, Green Rocks, when it can do anything and everything the plot demands.

Compare Mineral MacGuffin, Spice of Life and Fantasy Metals.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion they have a special liquid called LCL which has several useful properties. One is its ability to conduct electrical signals, useful for electrically conducting nerve impulses between an Evangelion pilot and his/her Evangelion. But more amazing is its property that it can hold vast amounts of dissolved oxygen at concentrations high enough that once it has filled the lungs, a human can directly breath the oxygen present in it (handy thing when you have to fill a bio-mecha cockpit with this stuff and have the pilot be completely submerged in it). It's actually the blood of the Angel Lilith, which adds all sorts of retroactive squick when you realize they've been "breathing" it the whole time.
  • Orichalcum (or a variant spelling) is a metal with magical properties that makes appearances in several anime, including Slayers.
  • In some works by Osamu Tezuka there's the "Omotanium", a fictional substance that has several different properties depending on the plot, usually it's a highly radioactive metal that has beneficial powers but can also destroy the brain systems of a robotic character.
  • Digimon as a whole has the Chrome Digizoid metal (also spelled ChronDigizoid). It's characterized as a highly sought after super-metal (with a silly name) of any colour which is very strong and cannot be damaged, except by other samples of it; in addition to being mined in some Digimon canons, a small number of Digimon species are either made of/plated in it (e.g. MetalEtemon) or wield weapons made of it (e.g. Zudomon, who weakened the aforementioned MetalEtemon in Digimon Adventure with his hammer, giving the mortally-wounded SaberLeomon the opportunity to kill MetalEtemon). One time it's been referenced in the anime itself was briefly in the aforementioned Digimon Adventure incident between Zudomon and MetalEtemon, and then only mentioned offhand to give Zudomon, a lower-level Digimon, a way to defeat MetalEtemon; as such, most mentions of the substance occur in the broader source material. According to said source material, there exist several varieties with different properties denoted by specific colours: Blue, which provides high speed (as seen on UlforceV-dramon); Red, which provides even higher defence (e.g. Sleipmon); Gold, which increases a Digimon's offensive power (e.g. Shoutmon DX); and the vaguely described Black (e.g. Craniummon) and Obsidian (e.g. KaiserLeomon).
  • The entire Gundam franchise uses unobtanium to various degrees.
    • It is played straight and subverted in the very first series of all, Mobile Suit Gundam. Early on the Lunar Titanium Alloy used by the RX-78 Gundam is effectively indestructible to conventional fire, the oversized machineguns and bazookas used by mobile suits shaking it, but otherwise causing very little damage. This changed near the end of the series, when Zeon mobile suits gain beam weaponry technology, and we discover that beam weaponry trumps EVERYTHING in terms of armor. For the entire Universal Century timeline afterwords, combat becomes based around avoiding getting hit, since any significant hit at all is instantly fatal, regardless of armor. Even the large shields mobile suits carry generally only suffer one impact before getting blown away completely. Unless the shield in question has anti-beam coating, which itself is quite rare and still doesn't provide complete protection.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing plays the trope straight, and has the alloy Gundanium, which is incredibly tough, nearly immutable, heat-resistant, electrically neutral, and a natural radar damper. The "rare, hard-to-find" part comes from the fact that it can only be manufactured in space and the fact that at the start of the show, only six people in the world know how to make it. You might be surprised to learn that this has some basis in real-world science, as the crystalline structures that form as liquid metal solidifies can be very different in microgravity. The odds of creating an alloy with all the aforementioned properties remain fairly small, however.
    • The Cosmic Era Expanded Universe has its own unobtainium in the form of the beam-resistant alloy the Gerbera Straight was forged out of. Only one person in the entire Earth Sphere knows its composition and how to forge it.
  • Mazinger Z:
    • The show took the "ridiculously high strength/density ratio" thing to a whole new level when Japanium is alloyed into Super Alloy Z. The titular robot, built from the stuff, stands 18 meters tall, yet weighs a meager 20 tons. In one episode, Dr. Hell managed to steal a supply of the stuff and build his own robot with Super Alloy Z armor, but he wasn't able to completely cover it with the stuff. Eventually, the heroes found out which part of it wasn't made of it, and was able to Attack Its Weak Point to destroy it. Great Mazinger and Venus A are built from the same stuff. And Mazinkaiser.
    • UFO Robo Grendizer gives two examples: Gren, an alien metal Grendizer itself is built with. Since it can not be found on Earth, when Grendizer gets damaged, Alloy Z is used to repair it; and Vegatron, a highly radioactive material only can be mined from planet Vega. The Vegans used it to create powerful weapons, but its overexploitation led to the planet becoming highly unstable.
    • Super Alloy Z Alpha from the Mazinkaiser OVAs is several orders of magnitude more strong; it takes whithout a scratch the impact of two weapons of the original Mazinger and even is able to withstand swimming in hot lava.
  • Levistone from Kyouran Kazoku Nikki, a material which makes things hover when electricity runs through it.
  • Code Geass has Sakuradite, previously found and said to be the "Philosopher's Stone" in medieval times, and found in large amounts in Japan. It's now valued as a superconductor, being liquid in room temperature. It also explodes rather easily...
  • Various evolution-inducing stones aside, in one episode of Pokémon Team Rocket had a mecha composed of "polished unobtainium", which made it immune to Psychic attacks.
  • Done with a twist in Castle in the Sky where the Levistone (a Grade A unobtainium) is a well-known mineral (and the name of the material is Etherium instead of Levistone), commonly found in rocks — however, it rapidly decays when exposed to air and thus serves no practical purpose. The movie's Precursors knew how to refine it and fashion it into durable crystals, with many amazing properties. This technology has been lost and the world's nations will now stop at nothing to lay their hands on the few remaining samples.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne has 2 of these.
    • One of them is actually called Levistone here. It is heated to decrease its levitation (allowing one to control the height of an airship).
    • The other (and more often referred to) is Drag Energist. It gives life to dragons and sits in their chest cavity where their heart would normally be. It is mined from places where there's lots of dead dragons or from a dragon that is hunted and killed. This mineral is usually pink and it directly creates electrical energy (just makes electricity out of thin air, no input required) needed to power mechs and other machinery. It also undergoes "resonance" (what seems to more accurately be nuclear fission) if too many are placed together in the same area. In one of the last episodes, an atomic bomb is built using this same principle with this material.
  • One Piece:
    • Seastone, apparently "a solidified form of the sea". Contact with it will weaken Devil Fruit users, and drain them of their abilities. It's also apparently harder than diamond.
    • Adam, a super-strong type of wood.
    • Don Krieg's armour was made of Wootz steel, a real-world type of unobtanium (see below).
  • Vizorium is both the unobtainium that makes warp-drive possible, and the central plot driver of the Dirty Pair Movie Project Eden.
  • GEMs in My-Otome give Otome their robes (and thus, most of their powers). The Coral and Pearl GEMs used by students are artificially created, but the knowledge of how to create Meister GEMs was lost, making them extremely valuable.
  • Outlaw Star has dragonite, used for Faster-Than-Light Travel (and accidental Pokémon references).
  • Lupin III has used several different examples of this trope.
  • In Claymore swords are made from a rare ore which makes them indestructible. The near-impossibility of getting said ore and the ease at which the Claymore's organization is able to get the ore to make new swords becomes a big supporting evidence of a major plot point quite far into the story.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Supreme Kai summons a block of "Kachin", the hardest metal in the universe, to show just how awesome the Z Sword is. It consequently breaks to release Supreme Kai's predecessor from 15 generations ago and the metal is never heard of again.
    • Dragon Ball Super introduces Kachikachin, an alloy of kachin which is even harder, which is used to make up the arena for the Tournament of Power. Despite the fact that it's implied to be the strongest material in the multiverse, it gets trashed over during the Tournament...or perhaps it's meant to be a sign of how strong the fighters are.
  • A Certain Magical Index: the #2 Level 5 esper, Kakine Teitoku, is able to generate unobtainium as his esper power. It is colloquially called "Dark Matter", and he seems able to imbue it with various properties that are impossible in normal matter. The first time we see him, he's created wings out of it that have antigravity properties and light refracted through them becomes deadly radiation. Later on he's created a variant that mimicks the properties of living tissue, allowing him to create clone bodies of himself out of the stuff. And Academy City uses his "Dark Matter" in several of their technological wonders.
  • Godzilla: Singular Point has the Archetype, a mysterious material with time-bending properties made by SHIVA Consortium which is created from the red mist the Kaiju leave around.
    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Naturally, the setting has adamantium (in multiple flavors; see below), but it also has other "magic metals" like vibranium (of which there are two varieties, Wakandan [which absorbs kinetic energy/sound/vibrations] and Antarctic [atypically emits vibrations that cause other metals near it to liquefy]), Uru (an enchantable material, the same metal of which from Thor's hammer was forged), promethium (a magical metal found only in Otherplace/Limbo, which can be used as an energy source, despite it being a real chemical element with real properties), and netheranium (the material of Damien Hellstrom's trident). The best example, though, would have to be the infamous "unstable molecules" used to make so many heroes' and villains' costumes.
    • And Captain America's unobtainable unobtainium shield — completely indestructible, but also a handwavy one-off item. A number of stories suggest that Cap's shield is an otherwise impossible vibrainium/adamantium alloy reinforced by American righteousness (as opposed to ''self''-righteousness). Since the guy making it fell asleep during the forging process, we'll never know. The "vibranium/adamantium alloy" thing is due to a misprint in one of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe issues. His shield was made from a unique alloy of iron, Wakandan vibranium, and some unknown contaminant. When the metallurgist who had made it tried recreating the alloy (while Cap was frozen), the closest he could come up with is what's known as (true) adamantium, which is slightly weaker than the alloy in Cap's shield!
    • Speaking of, adamantium comes in a few flavors. True Adamantium is the nearly-indestructible metal alloy that's bonded to the bones and claws of Wolverine. There's also Secondary Adamantium, which is a lot cheaper to make but is still quite strong. Carbonadium (the stuff covering Omega Red's tentacles) is what the Soviets came up with when they tried to create true adamantium; it's about as strong as secondary adamantium, but is more malleable... and radioactive. Also, in the Ultimate Marvel universe, adamantium can block telepathy.
    • A metal native to the Breakworld in Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men run adversely affected Kitty Pryde when she phased through it, to the point where she ended up stranded inside a ten-mile long bullet of the stuff when she phased it through the Earth, and wasn't able to control her powers after Magneto rescued her.
  • In an early Marvel/DC crossover featuring the X-Men and the New Teen Titans, the villain Darkseid keeps both teams shackled, and states that Kitty Pryde's shackles are made of a rare metal with molecules so tightly packed, not even she can phase through them.
  • The DCU has its own varieties of unobtainium:
    • In the Silver Age DCU, Krypton became a gold mine of unobtainium. Any item, living or not, that originated there would become indestructible under a yellow sun. Kryptonite was also formed by the explosion of Krypton (with various varieties in the Silver and Bronze Ages).
    • Promethium is the DCU's equivalent of adamantium, a super hard metal that superstrong superheroes have a tough time damaging (it was used to create Cyborg's body), and Nth Metal, or "transuranic iron ore", was the key to Thanagarian technology (as seen frequently in Justice League). Irritatingly, promethium is a real metal (element 61), one with no stable isotopes and no special structural properties. DC's promethium comes in two flavors. "Raw" promethium can be used as an energy source or a mutagen. When alloyed with titanium and vanadium, it forms a near-invulnerable metal.
    • In the video game Batman: Vengeance, there's a substance called "prometheum," which shares its name with DC's metal, but it's a chemical formula that's used for keeping people cryogenically preserved, but bursts into flame very easily.
    • The first version of the Legion of Super-Heroes used "inertron" for this purpose, an invulnerable metal.
    • The pre-Crisis DCU also featured the invulnerable metals "Supermanium" (a metal once created by Superman) and "Amazonium" (the metal Wonder Woman's bracelets were made from), both invulnerable metals akin to inertron.
    • Radion is incredibly rare. It's also very special because it is the Kryptonite Factor of the New Gods. Even Darkseid can be truly and permanently killed by Radion poisoning and a Radion bullet — fired by Batman of all people — to the shoulder is the first part of Darkseid's Rasputinian Death in Final Crisis.
    • Stellarium is a very rare and special mineral that has the incredible ability to stabilize planets, prolonging their inevitable destruction. Green Lantern Tomar-Re tried to use a bit of stellarium to save Krypton, but was delayed. In Omega Men, the conflict over the Vega system is due to Vega being one of the only places where stellarium can be mined.
    • The ''Dark Nights: Metal" event is caused by Batman being exposed to several forms of unobtanium which opens a gateway to the dark multiverse. Several of those mentioned above are among them along with a new one, batmanium.
  • Tintin:
    • The adventure Tintin: The Shooting Star revolves around a mission to retrieve a sample of unobtainium (dubbed "Phostlite") from a fallen meteorite. The only obvious property of the stuff is making things grow fast, like mushrooms... and plants... and animals, like butterflies and spiders. Fortunately, germs don't seem to be included.
    • In Tintin: Destination Moon, Professor Calculus has invented a new substance — calculon — which can "resist even the highest temperatures", with which to make the nuclear fission motor for the rocket.
  • Epiphyte in The Metabarons, the original source of the Castaka family wealth. It is an oil with anti-gravity properties.
  • Chaos Emeralds in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) went from Kryptonite Is Everywhere to Unobtainium during the "Order From Chaos" storyline. Prior to the story, Mobius had hundreds of Chaos Emeralds and if the story needed one, poof, there ya go. However, when A.D.A.M. drew every Chaos Emerald in the solar system to Mobius, Turbo Tails and Super Shadow (the ones who were forced to bring them there) realize how dangerous that was and shove them all into the Zone of Silence. Feist, the being remaining there, became a god when he harnessed their power to remake the Zone and condensed all of those emeralds into only seven. Like their video game counterparts, they're used for either Super Mode activation or powering up super weapons. Like rewriting your reality.
  • Bombastium from the Disney Ducks Comic Universe is believed by a Brutopian secret agent (hinted to actually be his country's prime minister, since he is a caricature of Nikolas Khrouchtchev and seems to be able to command the Brutopian navy) to be an all-mighty unobtainium. It is a pink substance that's so rare that the world's whole quantity of bombastium looks like an ice cream ball. (Literally. The world's whole reserves of bombastium are a pink ball stuck inside a big ice cube.) Since Scrooge was pushed into buying the thing, the Brutopian dignitary chases him all around the world, trying to buy and later to steal the bombastium. When he finally gets hold on the ball, it is discovered that its only power is to make ice cream: one tiny bit of bombastic in a barrel of water transforms into a barrel of ice cream, each time of a different savor, and the Brutopian — who doesn't like ice cream — angrily gives the ball back to Scrooge.
  • Mickey Mouse Frontier Chronicles (a Mickey Mouse Comic Universe series) has Korkonium, which is basically space gold - it has limited use, but is highly priced because of its rarity. At least, until people discovers that it messes up the Enemy's creations, ranging from "temporary weakness, can't be affected or controlled by the Enemy ever again" to "melting into inanimate matter".
    Fan Works 
  • If Wishes Were Ponies introduces us to Painite in Chapter 25, where it is used by both the Goblins of Gringotts and the Ponies of Equestria as a Power Crystal to enhance magical capabilities within armored plating, and that by selling a fist-sized bag of Painite accidentally made the Cutie Mark Crusaders the 10th-largest depositors to Gringotts due to how rare the material is found on Earthnote . The Goblins were left completely gobsmacked when they heard a comment by Rarity saying that Painite is actually very quite common in Equestria, and that she usually ignores them when digging for gems since stitching them into her customers' dresses actually interferes with most of their spellcasting abilities.
    The other Goblins looked shocked at such casual use of an extremely rare gem. And what that mention meant for the actual rarity of the item.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, super metals like Nth Metal and feminum are mentioned throughout the story. Izuku's costume is as durable as he is thanks to being woven from Seventh Metal fibers provided by his father. Ochaco's costume is similarly durable thanks to being constructed from a diluted feminum alloy that cracks Tenya's armor when he tries to attack her in the Heroes vs. Villains exercise.
  • Taylor Varga: The Varga is able to create a pseudo-metallic substance referred to as Vargastuff or "the good stuff". It's eventually revealed to be electron-degenerate matter that has been altered by Varga magic to 1) remain stable outside the core of a dying star and 2) behave for purposes of momentum and gravitational attraction as if it were "only" six and a half times heavier than lead, rather than approximately nine hundred thousand times heavier. The substance has effectively infinite durability, hardness, and tensile, compressive, and shear strengths, is almost totally frictionless, is both a perfect electric insulator and a perfect thermal conductor, doesn't really react chemically with anything, and interacts oddly with certain parahuman powers. It becomes a major component of the devices, structures, and designs the Varga creates, used in everything from armor and weapons to creating artificial life.
  • White Sheep (RWBY): As in canon, Dust is the Applied Phlebotinum used for everything, but all the deposits that have been discovered are running out, and the world is approaching a Peak Oil situation. While there are still more deposits in the Grimmlands, one of the biggest game changers is the reveal that Dust actually grows the closer you get to Salem's tower and the Pools of Annihilation. Salem has basically unlimited money just from the Dust she clears off her tower every once in a while. Weiss, the heiress of the largest Dust company on the planet, is utterly gobsmacked and says this runs counter to everything the world knows about Dust. Giving mining rights to the other countries is a large step forward in getting the Grimmlands recognized as a nation.
    Films – Animation 
    Films – Live-Action 
  • Central to the plot of Black Lighting (Chernaya Molniya) is a mystery space element that powers the flying car. The Corrupt Corporate Executive spends the entire movie trying to get his hands on it.
  • Avatar refers to it by name. The movie features a mineral called unobtainium, although, in the film, the unobtainium functions as a Mineral MacGuffin; it's described as a room temperature superconductor that makes space travel more affordable, but never really expanded on apart from that. On the website wiki some of the other uses make it apply to this trope better. According to the guide, it's called "unobtainium" because this is a tongue-in-cheek designation for all high-temperature superconductor materials, called so by Earth scientists when they gave up on reliably synthesizing them. Cartoon Network's Mad series lampoon of Avatar lampshades and mocks the name by calling it "Stupidnameium".
  • Averted in The Cat from Outer Space. Jake's ship needs a piece of "Org-12" to get going again, and when he runs down the element's properties, Frank realizes it shares an atomic weight with, of all things, gold.
  • The Core lampshaded this, calling their Unobtainium Unobtainium ("Its real name is thirty-seven syllables long") which turned heat and pressure into electrical energy. Perfect for a journey through the Earth's molten core. Extremely practical, as all you had to do was to randomly cut supply wires and casually weld them to the substance in question, and you had an energy source that rivaled a nuclear reactor.note 
  • Metallic tritium serves this function in Spider-Man 2. Doctor Octopus has to make a Deal with the Devil (requiring him to beat the protagonist) in order to get some. Strangely enough, the way he's going to use the tritium is a scaled-down version of one way physicists are trying to develop fusion power called "inertial confinement". The idea is the same, vaporize an amount of an element with lasers in an attempt to create a miniature sun, only the scale and elements used are different. For more information, this writer's original reference is "Kaku, Michio Ph.D. Physics of the Impossible. Doubleday Publishing, 2008. Pages 43-45."
  • Parodied in the fifties B-movie homage The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra with Atmosphereum, a super-powerful and poorly-defined element capable of operating spacecraft, resurrecting evil skeletons, and delivering actual advances in the field of science.
  • Fluid Karma in Southland Tales. A compound found by drilling in the ocean that apparently can be used to generate electric power. Also, acts as a drug working somewhat like a Green Rock.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek (2009) has red matter, which can make black holes on cue.
    • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home also has an unobtainium in the form of Transparent Aluminum, the molecular formula for which Scotty gives the original inventor an ethically challenging time loop, in exchange for some high-quality transparent polymer slabs, the closest 20th century equivalent, to make a whale tank with. It should be noted that recent advances in materials science actually have created a form of transparent steel, at least in the lab.note 
  • In Outlander, after establishing that Viking swords aren't strong enough to injure the Moorwen, Kainan salvages some hull metal from his crashed starship, and gives this to the local blacksmith to forge some stronger swords.
  • Turbinium ore from the original Total Recall (1990), which is being mined on Mars against the local rebels' wishes and keeps Cohaagen's regime running, as his superiors on Earth give him carte blanche as long as their supply remains constant.
  • In District 9, the unnamed nanofluid is found in prawn technology in extremely small amounts, and is apparently quite precious. It has the power to activate the aliens' ship as well as transform a human into a prawn.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • During Iron Man 2, the palladium core inside Tony Stark's personal arc reactor has been gradually poisoning the rest of his body. However he can't find a replacement until Nick Fury guides him to some old footage his father left for him. Turns out his dad was trying to steer Tony to figuring out an engineering conundrum that he was unable to crack in his day thanks to the limits of 1970s technology. When synthesized, the element Howard Stark was researching turns out to be the nontoxic substance Tony needs to safely power his arc reactor.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger introduced Vibranium, a very rare material that can absorb vibrations like nothing else, that eventually became part of Cap's shield. It became a point of contention in Avengers: Age of Ultron when Ultron attempted to steal a supply to make himself a new body. His supplier, Ulysses Klaue, was later a minor villain in Black Panther, when it was revealed that he stole "the world's supply" from Wakanda, a mythical African nation sitting on several orders of magnitude more than the amount that Klaue stole. Black Panther also revealed that Vibranium had uses other than reducing vibrations in shields or catsuits - it could also power vehicles, propel technological progress centuries ahead of the rest of the world, and influence plant life so that consuming it would heighten strength, speed, and reflexes.
  • In 21 Jump Street, there is also a substance called Unobtainium, which apparently "has a nuclear reaction with the flux capacitor — carry the ’2′ — changing its atomic isotoner into a radioactive spider." Or, you know, this thing doesn't exist and the character speaking was just stoned out of his mind.
  • The spaceship in Galaxy Quest runs on beryllium, a natural but rare element. When the only beryllium sphere on board breaks under stress, the crew sets out to obtain a replacement sphere from a nearby planet. They eventually succeed but the distraction caused by this side quest enables the Big Bad to seize their ship.
  • Adamantium in X-Men Origins: Wolverine comes from meteors. Specifically, sacred African meteors, making it this continuity's answer to Vibranium. Thus completing the transformation begun in the Ultimate Avengers films.
  • In Transformers: Age of Extinction, much of the plot revolves around the humans trying to master and use "transformium," the mineral which forms the DNA of the Transformers and acts as programmable matter. A company with a military contract already exhausted all they can by salvaging transformer corpses and are seeking more. They discover some in an old Cybertronian method of Hostile Terraforming that converts organic matter into transformium with the range of a nuke.
  • Plattnerite from Stephen Baxter's The Time Machine sequel, The Time Ships, is an indeterminate, glowing green mineral that allows time travel. Its name and description are a Shout-Out to a character and material found in other Wells stories.
  • Tom Swift had Tomasite. A super plastic, a 1 inch layer of it was better than a foot of lead at shielding a nuclear reactor.
  • Harry Harrison:
    • "The Fourth Law of Robotics": US Robotics has copyrighted the use of positronic brains, especially the use of platinum-iridium plating. The robots manufactured with the Fourth Law use a completely different style of construction; solid-state circuits, fiber optics, PROM, and RAM.
    • In his 1973 Golden Age SF spoof novel, Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers, there is Cheddite (a fuel created from cheese). The heroes' 747 jet is turned into a spacecraft by means of windows armored with armolite, vacuum insulation with insulite, fuel tanks filled with combustite, guns firing pellets of destructite, batteries replaced with capacitite and a space-warp drive powered by warpite.
  • In the Spaceforce universe, ships' hyperdrives are powered by a crystal called garrium which is found on only a few planets in the known galaxy. It is so valuable that entire planetary economies are based on scooping up tiny fragments of it in tonnes of dust.
  • Melange, also called spice, in the Dune novels, extends life and grants limited prescience, allowing Faster-Than-Light Travel. And it tastes like cinnamon. Oh, and there are other uses. If it seems like something that would be extremely valuable and important, that's because it is. It's generally thought to be an Alternate Company Equivalent to oil in the way that it drives the greater economy and is controlled by warlike tribes.
  • The German SF/pulp series Perry Rhodan has over the course of its history collected a fair bit of unobtainium in various forms.
    • Classic examples are Ynkelonium, a metallic element that does not react with antimatter and can to an extent prevent such reactions from occurring in its immediate vicinity, and Luurs-Metal, which always maintains a constant temperature of about 3.4 degrees Celsius. Both materials occur naturally in the universe and cannot be synthesized.
    • That's only two of the many examples, the series frequently introducing new and exotic materials, practically whenever a new alien species is encountered. The wiki for the series alone consists of at least 150 entries for exotic materials and is by no means complete.
  • Mithril in The Lord of the Rings, an incredibly strong and silvery metal mined by dwarves.
  • Larry Niven's Ringworld has a few examples:
    • Scrith, the material used to make the titular megastructure. It is nearly frictionless, blocks almost all radiation (including 40% of neutrinos, which would take about a light-year thickness of lead) and has a tensile strength on the same order of magnitude as the strong nuclear force.
    • The unnamed substance the Puppeteers make General Products hulls out of. They're actually massive molecules big enough to live in.
  • In the Star Wars universe we have: bacta, tibanna gas, transparisteel and durasteel (which itself is an alloy of carvanium, lommite, carbon, meleenium, neutronium, and zersium)... Well, let's say there are lots of interesting materials and substances in the Star Wars EU. Special mention goes to cortosis, which is lightsaber-resistant. Or in its purest form actually causes lightsabers to short out. Cortosis doesn't have a monopoly on the lightsaber-resisting properties: phrik, beskar (Mandalorian Iron), ultrachrome, and songsteel also boast that property, Mandalorian Iron and phrik are said to be even stronger to near Adamantium-like degrees, with a container made of phrik actually managing to stay intact after being on Alderaan when the planet was destroyed. Cortosis's ability to short out a lightsaber blade on contact, however, is unique to it alone. It's also literally unobtanium for most of the series - it was introduced for Knights of the Old Republic, where the question of how regular swords don't get chopped into two halves of a sword the instant a lightsaber hits them is that all of the melee weapons in the game have a "cortosis weave" to them to make them resistant to lightsabers. And, in turn, the question of why cortosis isn't around four-thousand years after when KotOR takes place is answered: they ran out of the stuff putting it into everything. By the time of the Darth Bane trilogy (about a thousand years before the movies) it's used even more (for instance in starship hulls), but the latest ongoing war with the Sith has started to dry up the supply. It is still around in the movie era, bit it's vanishingly rare and mostly forgotten.
  • The Uplift Series by David Brin has a material of the name unobtainium.
  • The hyperdrive of Kevin J. Anderson's The Saga of Seven Suns is fuelled by "ekti," described as "an allotropic isotope of hydrogen."
  • Atium and Lerasium from the Mistborn books, atium is only mined in one place, it's extremely rare, and incredibly powerful, because it allows an allomancer to see a few moments into the future, effectively making them nearly invincible in combat. While only a few nuggets of Lerasium appear to exist and anyone who ingests Lerasium will instantaneously become a mistborn. All of the properties of Atium and Lerasium are ultimately justified by them being made from the bodies of gods.
    • In Wax and Wayne, Atium and Lerasium are no more due to some shuffling in the godly domain, but on the other hand, there's Harmonium, or Ettmetal, a metal with properties similar to Caesium and has the ability to produce power for specially designed airships. Similarly treated, aeluminum, which is allomantically neutral, provides the justification for wearing a Tinfoil Hat, and is rare enough that it's worth more than gold (see the Real Life folder. Despite being one of the most common metals in the earth's crust, before refining processes were perfected it was immensely valuable).
  • John Ringo's Looking Glass series is so named for the instantaneous transmission portals which were created by what were originally thought to be Higgs bosons. That identification was later corrected, and they were renamed Looking Glass Bosons. The looking glasses of the first book take a secondary role however, after the series takes off into space in a ship powered by a Black Box of alien origin, and when the ship is destroyed in the third book, it is entirely remade by an alien race the ship just saved. This leads to the fourth book where the captain of the ship discovers he is missing a large number of alien made spare parts and lampshades all of this saying, "And now I have to call SpaceCom and explain to them that we're non-mission-capable until a couple of tons of unobtainium parts and tools get found!"
  • John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata series has an alien race able to produce materials with physical properties that the Earth scientists consider flatly impossible. It turns out that they do this by mentally altering the probability of chemical reactions, such that extremely unlikely reactions occur consistently enough to form new compounds that the Earth scientists and engineers cannot replicate.
  • Practically every book in the old Danny Dunn children's sci-fi series starts out with the discovery of a new form of Unobtainium. Usually because Danny or a friend of his spilled something in the lab.
  • Tanglestone from the Elizabeth Bear book, Undertow, was only found on the planet named Greene's World, and allowed instant data and material transportation across many light years from the colonies to Earth.
  • In Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens series, there's living metal, which can only be gotten by one character, because it grows on her hand due to an accident involving fire and a staff with a metal top. Later she can make it faster by putting some in a jar and adding some of her blood to it, but she is still the only person who can make it, and thus the only one with consistent access to it.
  • Rudyard Kipling's story The Night Mail has airships lifted by "Fleury's gas" energized by "Fleury's ray." The lifting power of the gas can apparently be rapidly adjusted, and is so great that airships are made rigid enough to achieve speeds of two hundred miles per hour without straining the hull or engines. (No real-world airshipnote  has ever reached one hundred.)
  • In Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, industrialist Henry Rearden is introduced as a protagonist by way of his invention of "Rearden Metal," a somewhat vaguely-described alloy of steel and copper which is much stronger and cheaper to produce than industrial-grade steel.
    • It even started out the same way Unobtainium usually starts: as an engineers joke. Rearden was originally trying to design fantastic bridges; once he discovered that it was impossible with regular metal, he set out to make his own.
  • Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle gives us the Solomonic gold, and Stephenson also goes into a long digression on wootz steel, which is actually real and pretty damn awesome to boot.
  • Neal Stephenson's Anathem has a material called New Matter that has drastically different properties than regular matter. It is explicitly stated that it is an alternative chemistry created by rearranging subatomic particles. This is based on Real Life physics with Exotic Matter.
  • E. E. "Doc" Smith's Skylark Series features several nonexistent wonder-metals, including Arenak for super-tough armor, and Metal X which can convert matter completely into energy when exposed to X-rays.
  • Humanity's escape from the doomed planet earth in When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer is finally made possible when tides from the approaching planet tear open the earth, revealing the previously hypothetical wonder-metal needed for nuclear-powered space travel.
  • Wil McCarthy's Queendom of Sol series has quantum dots, which can imitate the properties of ordinary matter as well as manifesting exotic attributes like perfect reflectivity and frictionlessness. He also wrote a non-fiction novel called Hacking Matter that talks about the real-world possibility of using them. So, unobtainium today, but maybe not tomorrow.
  • Discworld subverts this trope with octiron, a fantastic metal that's really only useful as a substitute for spherical worlds' compass magnets (it points to the Hub). (Sourcery reveals you can also make a Magic Staff out of it, but that this is a really bad idea. There are also octiron bells that ring out audible silence; small ones are used in the Dark Morris, while a larger version is Old Tom in the Unseen University belltower). Played straight with sapient pearwood, which is to blame for the Luggage's animation and magical properties. Even that is subverted in that while the wood is so rare in the area most of the books are set that only a few small wands made of it exist, in the Counterweight Continent (where its original owner hails from) the stuff is so common that nobody even considers it unusual.
  • Neal Asher's The Polity series has Chainglass, a material made from silicon chain molecules that can be made near-indestructible and sharp enough to slice through steel with ease. Chainglass is used instead of metal and plastic in most applications. It also made the inventor the richest man in the galaxy.
  • Urim in L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy. Warrior angels wear it. It can hold the Water of Life. A gauntlet made of Urim allows the wielding of the Staff of Decay without harm.
  • The Sten series has Anti-Matter Two, the only energy source capable of generating enough power to run hyperspace engines and make interstellar travel feasible. In all the Universe there is only a single source of AM2, and only the Eternal Emperor knows where it is.
  • In Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Heaven, common coal have rare "slow" and "fast" coal that slow or speed up time inside it. The Big Bad had hundreds of young girl slaves move hands over small pieces of coal and pick out those specific coal pieces.
  • Animorphs made a brief mention of ramonite, the metal that makes up most spacecraft and gives it its properties of stretching open doorways and opaquing/clearing the viewports.
  • In Raise the Titanic! by Clive Cussler, the US hatches a military plan requiring ultra-rare byzanium. The only known deposit, on a remote Russian Arctic island, had been mined out in the early 20th century, and the entire output shipped out on an ocean liner to the United States. Guess which one.
  • Phlogiston in The Extraordinaires. It is a semi-magical substance that allows Time Machines and other Steampunk-ish gadgets beyond the realm of Edwardian science to function. Control of the supply of phlogiston is a powerful bargaining chip.
  • Valyrian steel in A Song of Ice and Fire, which is possibly an Expy of Damascus steel. It is a magical alloy created in old Valyria, reputedly with the aid of spells and dragonfire in the forging, and Valyrian steel weapons are far superior to weapons made of ordinary steel. The secret of creating Valyrian steel was lost when Valyria fell, but especially skilled blacksmiths can reforge swords from existing Valyrian steel.
  • A few Robert Heinlein stories reference "Shipstones". These are, basically, very very very good batteries. They're not actually unobtainable, as the Shipstone Corporation will be happy to lease (not sell) you one, but good luck getting one from any other source since their method of construction is secret and disassembling one to see how it works either gets you a non-working mess (if you're lucky) or dead (they tend to explode if taken apart).
  • In H. P. Lovecraft's "In the Walls of Eryx," the "crystals" on Venus are super high-energy sources for humans, though they have some strange psychic/religious value to the native Venusians.
  • Peter and the Starcatchers reimagined pixie dust as "starstuff", a mysterious substance that falls to earth every so often like a meteorite, and can be used to grant people the power of flight as well as heal and stop the aging process. A secret society known as the Starcatchers exists to guard its power from those who would seek to use it towards selfish ends. In the first book, a large quantity of it is accidentally released on an uncharted island, turning fish into mermaids, a bird into Tinker Bell, and the title character into a boy who can fly indefinitely and will never age.
  • The Four Horsemen Universe: Fluorine-11 (usually just called F11), a fictionalnote  rare isotope of fluorine, only found amid supernova remnants. It is necessary as a component for fusion reactors and is therefore extremely valuable, thus providing for No Blood for Phlebotinum plots.
  • Honor Harrington has "battle steel", the material used in modern warship hulls, which is stronger than titanium (used in older warships, such as those of the pre-alliance Grayson Space Navy in The Honor of the Queen) and requires chem-catalyst welding. This one is actually not terribly outlandish, as it's explained to be a composite of metal alloys and ceramics, and warship hulls as used in the Honorverse would be a good application (among other things, cermets combine the temperature resistance of ceramics with metals' ability to deform rather than shatter).
  • The Reunion With Twelve Fascinating Goddesses has Etherium, a rare and powerful alloy created from compressing high-quality ether. It is extremely compatible with Spirits and makes an ideal medium for them. However, Etherium production is small and working it is impossible for humans as this causes it to lose its special properties. There is exactly one Etherium weapon in existence, Tooi's sword Zodiac, which was created by the goddesses.
  • Deepsix. A human expedition is surprised to find a very long Big Dumb Object orbiting a planet with an abandoned civilization. They eventually work out it's the remains of a Space Elevator that Sufficiently Advanced Aliens built for a planetary evacuation of the world's less advanced inhabitants. They jokingly refer to the material used to build it as unobtanium in homage to this trope.
  • Skyward: The humans have no ability to make the acclivity stone that allows their ships to levitate, so it is immensely valuable. They have to salvage it from debris that falls from the broken defense fields orbiting the planet. The Krell of course are aware of this, and destroy acclivity rings in debris whenever they see a chance.
  • Discussed in this SF short (a Periodic Table Jubilee Special) from Nature Futures, among other thingamajiggiums.
    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • Dalek cases are made of Dalekanium, which makes them Immune to Bullets, although recent episodes showed that they now use a Deflector Shields variant to vaporize bullets before they even reach the case. Dalekanium is often called "bonded polycarbide" when they want it to sound less silly. Which basically means plastic, specifically Kevlar.
    • Various episodes have featured a group of people in a confined space looking for Unobtainium when suddenly they get attacked by the alien of the week. Dark Matter has been used as the unobtainium more than once and has several different uses and effects depending on what episode you see, from use as transport between dimensions to regular spaceship fuel to turning people into bloodthirsty monsters.
    • A variation in the serial The Daleks' Master Plan; the Daleks' Ultimate Weapon depends on a supply of the rare substance taranium. Unfortunately for them, the Doctor gets his hands on it first, and the Daleks spend the rest of the story trying to get it back.
  • Game of Thrones: Valyrian steel for Westeros. The Valyrian Freehold was able to forge a steel that was lighter but far stronger than ordinary steel. Absolutely nothing cuts like Valyrian steel; it would go through a knight in full armor like a hot knife through frozen butter. The secret of forging Valyrian steel was lost in the Doom, partially due to the fact that magic is used in its forging and magic is nigh extinct, but a handful of smiths are able to rework it. It's used by the Order of Maesters to signify mastery of the higher mysteries. Needless to say, the handful of Valyrian steel swords and daggers are thus prized heirlooms for the houses of Westeros such as Ice for House Stark (which was reforged into two for House Lannister) and Longclaw for House Mormont (which was passed on to Jon Snow of the Night's Watch).
  • Stargate-verse:
    • In Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, naquahdah is material the Gate is made of. Also, naquadah-enhanced nukes are used to Blow Stuff Up. This is demonstrated magnificently in the season 3 finale of Stargate Atlantis. Naquadah is also a powerful source of energy (naquadah reactors).
      • Also serves as a room-temperature superconductor, a component of hull armor by most major species, and a ludicrously efficient heat sink (deals with what gets generated not only by basic system(s) operations, but also sustained multi-megaton weapons fire).
    • Its evil twin is naquadriah, which can also be used to Blow Stuff Up, but is radioactive, "unstable" and has a track record of blowing up its users. Naquadriah also indirectly plays the Unobtainium role in Stargate Universe as the only known power source that can support a wormhole between the Milky Way and Destiny. Only problem is that it takes a planet full of the stuff to do it, and that planet tends to blow up in the process.
    • The iris on Earth's Stargate is made of a trinium-titanium alloy.
    • Human-form Replicators apparently need neutronium (which is a real thing, but a bit exotic in that it can only have stable existence in a neutron star).
    • Also ZPMs could be seen as a sort of unobtainium given that no-one knows how to make them and they're needed to run all the Ancient technology in the series (as well as providing a convenient bit of Tim Taylor Technology to the human ships).
  • The whole of Star Trek is liberally sprinkled with various types and grades of unobtainium.
    • The original (and most frequently recurring) example is dilithium, used in the reactor core of warp drives as a control medium because lithium's properties were well-known, but there are many others.
    • Corbomite, which doesn't actually exist; it was an Ass Pull by James T. Kirk to bluff an enemy — which means that Trek pulled a Lampshade Hanging on their own tendency to invent vaguely-magical substances in one of its earliest episodes.
    • Neutronium. Essentially this is used any time something's made of a material that the crew's weapons won't be able to penetrate. This is a real substance: a type of "degenerate matter" composed entirely of neutrons, thought to be what neutron stars are made of — but since even a thimbleful would weigh millions of tons, its usefulness as a material is rather limited. Astrophysicists rarely if ever use the word "neutronium" for this stuff, preferring terms like neutron-degenerate matter, and that that neutron star matter would not be stable without the extreme pressures of a neutron star in the first place anyway, i.e. it would instantly explode producing extremely intense neutron radiation.
    • Duranium, Tritanium, Baakonite, and other metals used in starship construction.
    • Latinum, a valuable liquid metal, used as a form of hard currency due to its rarity and the fact that replicator technology cannot recreate it.
    • Trilithium, less stable than dilithium, but equally magical (and extremely explosive).
    • Keiyurium, a Shout-Out to the original Dirty Pair.
    • Verterium Cortenide, a compound of two non-existent substances, used in the warp coils themselves.
    • Archerite, another Ass Pull, this time by the Andorian Shran when explaining to another alien commander what he was doing in their territory.
    • Transparent aluminum. which gets bonus points, given that a normal modern chemist could apparently figure out what it was just by looking at the atomic structure. Naturally, he would still be helpless to reproduce it without a diagram of said structure. Scotty thinks the chemist was the guy who invented it in the original timeline before their time travel shenanigans, so it makes sense he would grasp it immediately.
    • Cortenide, which comprises Data's skull with duranium, as he describes to a Klingon warrior who almost knocked himself out headbutting him.
    • Boronite, which is apparently used to synthesize the extremely powerful and highly unstable Omega molecules.
    • Benamite, a hard-to-find, hard to synthesize and unstable crystal similar to dilithium that can power a "quantum slipstream drive".
    • Trellium-D formed a major Mineral MacGuffin for the third season of Star Trek: Enterprise, which has the ability to negate the random anomalies that existed in the Expanse. Interestingly, there appeared to be a sub-science developed around the item, with a method of synthesizing the stuff.
    • At one point in Star Trek: Voyager when aliens try to kidnap Paris for the weapons research that has been implanted in his brain, Janeway mentions that they packed the shuttle he was captured in with fulmorite explosives.
    • The writers on Voyager and Enterprise used Deuterium as one of these a few times, apparently not being aware that it's both a real thing (an isotope of Hydrogen) and not all that rare. The way it's presented in the episodes has no relation to the real substance.
  • Both versions of Battlestar Galactica relied on a fictional element called "tylium" to power their FTL drives.
  • Power Rangers:
    • In Power Rangers Time Force, Trizirium Crystals are an very powerful energy source that originally won't be discovered about 200 years from 2001, because of the battles between the Time Force Rangers and Ransik, as well as Bio-Lab trying to reverse-engineer the future tech the early discovery nearly sucked the world into time vortices in the "End of Time" three-part finale.
    • Power Rangers RPM has flux overthrusters needed to handle advanced zord control stuff. The first one was lost in the wastelands after the plane it was installed in was shot down. The second...well, it's lucky that that's when the bad guys sent a bot capable of Power Copying.
  • The jumpgates and jumpdrives of Babylon 5 relied on an exotic and extremely rare mineral called Quantium-40 to function.
  • In Knight Rider (the original series), KITT was built out of a material called either Tri-Helical MBS (commonly referred to as a "Molecular-Bonded Shell") or Plasteel 1000, which rendered the car almost indestructible.
  • In the TV series of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, it's revealed that an element Wayne named "Szalinskium" is at the core of all his impossible inventions. In another episode it's revealed that he obtained it from the space alien Arnox.
  • In a two-part episode of the Lynda Carter TV adaptation of Wonder Woman, we learn that her indestructable bullet-deflecting bracelets are made of "Feminum." (This is in contrast with the Comic Book canon, which at the time held that her bracelets were made of "Amazonium.")
  • In The Amazing Extraordinary Friends, the X insignia is specifically stated to be made of unobtanium, which is how it bestows all manner of superpowers on Captain X.
  • Kamen Rider has a lot of this going on in the manual; as detailed on the official websites, the Riders' gear is typically made out of rare, unusual materials that can sustain all kinds of punishment and augment their abilities, yet still looks like vinyl and plastic. They typically have appropriately thematic names, too; to cite just one example, Kamen Rider Wizard's suit and weapons are made of "Sorcerium".
  • Ultraseven saw the debut of a robot known as King Joe, constructed by the Alien Pedan race using the metal Pedanium. In all of its subsequent appearance, its construction with this metal has granted King Joe ridiculous levels of Super Toughness.
  • Intergalactic: New aurum, exotic matter discovered by humans in 2124, is used for powering space ship's drives which lets them go faster than light (it has negative mass under a magnetic field). Consequently, the entire human interstellar civilization has come to rely on this greatly.
     Music Videos 
  • In Cat Hairballs, Stimpy's hairballs become this, what with apparently being so versatile that they can be made into everything from high heel shoes to Italian sports cars. Because of this, Stimpy is forced to hwarf hairballs up for Ren until Stimpy passes out from exhaustion and gets stamped on the butt cheeks.
    Myths & Religion 
  • The oldest example would be Orichalcum (Orichalc, orichalcos) which is part of the Atlantis myth - Plato describes it as somewhat reddish, shiny, and hard, and usable both as armor and art. Conspiracy buffs identify it with an alloy of gold and copper from South America that does, in fact, have these properties.
  • Adamant, which has a legendary hardness dating back centuries, being an older name for diamond. Unfortunately, it also shares a name with an adjective, and so tends to be saddled with suffixes. Look for Adamantine, or for that Sci-Fi twist, Adamantium.
  • The entire premise of ancient and medieval Alchemy was based on the pseudo-scientific search for Unobtainium ("philosopher's stone" or "quintessence"), usually described as a material which would catalyze the manufacture of gold from base metals.
    Newspaper Comics 
  • The Red Matter in Stern Pinball's Star Trek; getting enough of it creates a Black Hole, which awards a mystery prize.
  • Unobtainium is one of the playfield targets in Avatar.
  • In Embers in the Dusk, the Troll Remnant Kingdom spends millions of years trying to recreate their extinct War in Heaven ancestors, until it turns out the original process depended too heavily on some extremely advanced C'tan material. Once the Destroyer is killed, its intact corpse turns out to contain enough that, with all the preliminary work done by the Remnant, the True Trolls should only take a week to recreate.
    Tabletop Games 
  • Mechanical Dream: Orpee, a fruit-like plant found very deep underground. It naturally concentrates eflow within itself, and is used to fuel almost every piece of technology in existence and to imbue mundane tools with special properties. It's also necessary for basic survival, as the world's natives will die without regularly eating it. Orpee is, in every sense but the literal, the center of the world.
  • Shadowrun, true to its fantasy-scifi-blend form, borrows from myths for its Unobtainium, such as orichalcum, an alloy of copper, gold, silver, and mercury that couldn't even begin to exist if there wasn't magic in the world.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Almost every race has a form of this, from the psychic wraith bone to the ubiquitous armour plate the humans use on tanks, adamantium. Adamantium's properties are never really explained, though, in the books, it seems to suffer from a mineral variation of The Worf Effect ("How could they cut through X many feet of adamantium that easily?"). The technology levels in the setting also cause some rather strange applications for the unobtainium, such as adamantium bayonets fitted to the lasguns of the Imperial Guard.
    • When Adamantium first appeared, it could only be created in orbital plasma refineries and once set it was essentially indestructible. Plasteel was what Terminators were mostly made out of (Dreadnoughts had significant amounts of Adamantium, but most vehicles weren't made of the stuff — heck, no real mention of what material they were made out of at all. Even the Land Raiders were mostly titanium-bonded ceramite when it was first discussed what they were made out of). Once Adamantium became ubiquitous through the Imperium, that's when the stuff got Worfed.
    • Another Worf Effect example is the material used in Space Marine power armour, Ceramite. Often such examples involve either cutting blades or melta/heat weapons, as ceramite is reckoned to be extremely resistant to heat. (The name, incidentally, seems to refer to cermet, which is a real thing.) This also happens a lot with human building materials in that universe, all of which have odd but recognizable names and are supposedly better than what we have now, but which can be reduced to rubble in the first bombardment.
    • Promethium is some kind of super fuel (or a generic term for any fuel), which is used in everything from their warmachines and flamethrowers, and can be harvested from gas planets, some kinds of ice, and in mineral form.
  • Warhammer: Glowing green "warpstone" is used to create mutations, enhance magical powers, bring the dead to life, and as an energy source for powerful technology. In the Skaven rat-men society, it is even used as currency. Warpstone is considered rare, and is mined and collected by nearly all factions in the Warhammer setting. The Warhammer world also has a moon composed entirely of warpstone, Morrslieb, which rains warpstone meteor showers on occasion.
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: Sigmarite, a metal ore mined at great cost from Mallus, the Old World's core. It's mainly used in the weapons, armor and equipment of the Stormcast Eternals and it's rumored that Ghal Maraz, Sigmar's hammer, it's made of it. This reinforces the fan theory that Sigmarite it's just gromril, also called meteoric iron. A metal used extensively by the dwarves and the Empire in their magic weapons and heavy armors.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • mithril, adamantine, orichalchum, and the Philosopher's Stone are typical baseline unobtainiums.
    • Eberron has Dragonshards, Khyber Dragonshards, Siberys Dragonshards, Star Metal, Baatorian Steel, Residuum, Arcanite, Byeshk, Ironwood, Bronzewood, Densewood, Soarwood & Riedran Crysteel. Unobtainium overload indeed.
    • Mystara: Red steel, cinnabril, and related substances from the "Red Steel" region.
    • Birthright: Bloodsilver.
  • Exalted:
    • The five magical materials, Orichalcum, Moonsilver, Starmetal, some variants of Jade and Soulsteel. All of these are extremely difficult to obtain and work: Orichalcum only forms when gold touches magma and has to be worked in a lava flow while sunlight streams onto the forge; Moonsilver only forms in the Wyld, where reality is breaking down; Starmetal only comes from meteorites, which rarely fall (because they only fall when a god dies) and produce much less ore than the other materials; Soulsteel is made from ore from the Labyrinth (under the Underworld) and ghosts; and Jade requires hazardous chemicals to work and is used as a currency, admittedly an extremely high-value one. There is even an Unobtainium version of Jade - in rare and unrepeatable alchemical accidents Jade (most normally a mixture of white and green Jade) can be turned into Yellow Jade which is possibly the most coveted magical material out there.
    • With the release of the Alchemical sourcebook, there now exists a sixth basic magical material as well: Adamant. It is extremely rare in the main world of Creation, and only slightly more commonly found in the machine-body world of the Primordial Autochthon. To quote the sourcebook, "Adamant is composed of super-dense, electric-blue diamonds that form in yard-long rod-like masses with smaller crystals growing off larger ones. They can be found in areas that are under enormous pressure and are scorchingly hot. Mining for adamant is impossible without protective gear, even for Exalts, and special tools must be used to cut the crystalline rods free so that they can be taken back to a city and refined into useable forms." Though it is a crystal, rather than a metal or stone like the other materials, it is used in the forging of magic weapons and armor in an identical way to the others.
    • Solars. One of the reasons that Solar technology is unsustainable by anybody else is due to their Wyld Shaping powers. When Solars need a material with properties relevant to the artifact or Magitek they are building, they just go out into the Wyld and conjure it up, regardless of how impossible its existence would otherwise be.
  • Mage: The Awakening:
    • The "Perfected Metals". They have numerous extremely useful properties (perfected iron, for example, is practically indestructible, capable of cutting through diamond when properly sharpened, and can bend like rubber before returning to its original shape, with absolutely no metal fatigue), and can be used to create all manner of useful alloys (such as the anti-magic "thaumium"). There are only seven of them (only alchemical metals can be perfected), and it takes powerful magic to perfect them and alloy them. Perfecting is also a very expensive process, since it requires only naturally formed samples of metal (rather than transmuted or conjured) and only 10% of the mass yields perfected metal, with the rest being completely lost (hence, you perfect 100 grams of metal and only get 10 grams of perfected metal, with the remainder destroyed).
    • Apeiron, a material that can only be produced by some archmasters and appears to be some sort of Platonic ideal: it has whatever physical properties are best for the situation at hand. This is actually an example of an author being extremely informed; in a philosophical debate in ancient Greece philosophers argued over which Element was the foundation of all existence. The winner of the debate proposed 'Apeiron' over any of the traditional four elements, describing it as 'undifferentiated stuff' that could concentrate into different configurations to form anything.
  • Traveller: Besides the lanthanum used in jump drive technology, features so many varieties of unobtainium that the latest edition lampshades it by including "unobtainium" as a trade good.
  • Deadlands: Ghost Rock, which burns twice as long and twice as hot as coal, is used for all the weird high tech stuff and somehow stopped the collapse of the Confederacy. Oh, and it looks like coal that has had tortured human faces into it, and it moans faintly when burned.
  • GURPS: The various essential elements from GURPS Magic as well as orichalcum and adamantium in Fantasy and hyperdense matter in Ultra-Tech.
  • Although it's a tabletop war game rather than a tabletop RPG, Steve Jackson Games' OGRE features combat units protected by Biphase Carbide armor. This makes them tough enough to withstand anything short of a direct hit from a nuclear weapon.
  • Talislanta has a number of forms of Unobtainium, some based on historical alchemy and others made up for the setting, and fairly thorough rules for crafting and utilizing them.
  • Nexus Ops: The corporations fight for control of a mineral called Rubium. Nothing more is known about it from the manual, but it seems that some indigenous species on the planet it is mined on are linked to the mineral in some way as there is a creature called the "Rubium Dragon" which is also the most powerful unit in the game.
  • The Transformers franchise is a pretty good place to mine for Unobtainium.
    • Energon being the most frequent and the best example: Transformers need it to live, but too much unstable Energon radiation can cause shorting out. It's also highly volatile when stored in most environments (and likely to explode if dropped or fired upon), and other properties too bizarre and diverse to list. Other Unobtainium-like materials include...
    • Electrum — a real substance, actually, but given fictional properties.
    • Furmanite — Obscure, used only in one Botcon-exclusive comic.
    • Nucleon (Though used as an Energon substitute, it causes bizarre reactions in a Transformer's "biology", most notably the loss of transformation ability.)
    • Cybertonium (Never thoroughly explained, though it breaks down more rapidly in Earth's atmosphere than other Cybertronian minerals. Loss of this substance is serious for Transformers built on Cybertron. Like Energon, it can also be processed and stored in cubes.)
    • Destronium
  • BIONICLE's Matoran world has protodermis (often shortened to just "proto" by the fans), which admittedly isn't really rare because it makes up everything in that world: the water is made of liquid proto, rocks and metal ore are solid proto, and proto even makes up the organic tissues of living beings. Truer examples of Unobtainium that really are hard to obtain include a super-hard variant of metal protodermis called "protosteel" and "energized protodermis": an un-synthesizable liquid that either unpredictably transforms anything it touches or destroys it. Oh, and it turns out energized proto is alive, too.
    • Another world, Bara Magna, has its own Unobtainium called Exsidian, though unlike protodermis it doesn't have any special properties beyond better resistance to wear and tear.
    Video Games 
  • Chrono Trigger has Dreamstone, which was once more valuable than even gold. By the time Guardia was even in its medieval era, Dreamstone was long gone, nowhere to be found anymore. Thankfully, you can Time Travel back to Prehistory, when Dreamstone was more common, and earn a sufficent sample in a Drinking Contest.
  • The Warden's Keep DLC for Dragon Age: Origins adds a random encounter that lets you salvage a single chunk of Starmetal from a tiny meteor impact crater. Starmetal constitutes an unofficial 8th tier of crafting materials above even the top-level Dragonbone, and if you find the one Ultimate Blacksmith who can work it, can be crafted into Starfang, the most powerful melee weapon in the game. Its item description outright says that due to how the sword came to be, the world has never seen its like before, nor will it ever again.
  • Dragon Rage has Zeenium which is some sort of magical element.
  • EVE Online has a player economy built around mining for a rather long list of made up materials. And the rarer types are very hard to get. Bonus points for using "Tritanium", which is the most sought after element in high security space. However, most of the asteroids that refined minerals come from are made up of either real-world minerals (such as veldspar and gneiss) or slightly renamed versions of real minerals (like hemorphite and hedbergite).
    • It's implied that the mined and refined materials actually are all real-world elements and minerals. Civilization has fallen and re-built itself, so they've picked up new names and places in the technology tree. Salvaged wormhole materials are a straight example, though.
  • Excelsior Phase One Lysandia: Many powerful weapons and armor are forged from Eramel, which, oddly, is only mined in a tower.
  • Multiple kinds of unobtainium are mentioned in the background information of the Halo series:
    • An "unknown alloy" (read as: the writers couldn't think of a cool name) used to make the shields of the Hunters and the armor plating of Covenant warships.
    • The impressively resistant construction material used to make the Halos and other non-Hard Light Forerunner structures, described as being incredibly dense and accurately carved to the molecule. The author of this article from Gamasutra, a PhD., goes to the trouble of calculating just how much unobtainium would be needed to build the Halo , plus other stats you never knew you wanted to know.
    • Blamite, the explosive crystalline material used primarily to make Needler ammunition, which can only be found on one moon orbiting the Elite homeworld.
    • The ammo for the Covenant Carbine is an unnamed toxic and radioactive compound mined from several locations within Covenant space.
  • City of Heroes:
    • Various one-off missions in the MMORPG have the player retrieve various Mac Guffins, including one actually called Inobtainium. Fittingly enough, it's an alloy of Yeahritium and Nosuchium.
    • Played more straight in the game is Impervium, a metal found as a rare form of salvage (Enchanted Impervium is one of the most valuable drops), which the Vanguard soldiers are said in their profiles to be armored with.
    • Orichalcum shows up too, also as a salvage material for crafting.
  • Mega Man:
    • A recurring element in the series is a metal called "Ceratanium" (in the original Japanese, simply "Ceramic Titanium"). Its exact properties are unknown, but it seems to be involved in making all the Mega Mans' armor, and in Mega Man Zero 4, where you can collect parts and get the engineer to make body armor out of them, the Ceratanium is found once in a fixed spot each stage and goes exactly once into each piece of body armor you can make.
    • There's also officially "Bassnium," the power supply Wily says he used to make Bass, which is a bit silly. In the Japanese version, it has the much less silly-sounding name "Fortenium". However, since Wily himself discovered the element while designing Bass/Forte, it's not out of character for him to give it a silly name just to match his robot.
    • As well as the metal used to make the Met/Mettaurs/Methats that are so iconic in the series. One fan explanation for it not being used in every robot Wily makes is the fact that it's Unobtainium — or at least rare enough that only small objects can be created with it at a time.
  • Orichalcum, seen elsewhere in this article, also turned up in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis as a power source for the machines of Atlantis and potentially other machines as well. Which is why Indy had to stop the Nazis from getting to it first.
  • Harvest Moon:
    • Orichalcum also shows up in these various titles (usually used to make gift jewelry).
    • They also feature Mystrle and Mythic Ore — used to give tools semi-magical properties.
    • And plain ol' Mythril in Harvest Moon's spin-off titled Rune Factory.
  • Just Cause 3 has Bavarium, a minable substance found only in Medici, which has the power to fuel lasers, forcefields, and EMPs.
  • Command & Conquer and its sequels feature Tiberium, a plant-like but crystalline xenoforming agent (in growth patterns and behaviour — it leeches various elements out of anything it touches, and makes more of itself) but which is actually a crystalline substance of extraterrestrial origin, as a harvestable resource and Global Currency - it often leeches the most valuable minerals out of an area, making them far easier to mine than would be economically feasible. Its name derives from where it was first encountered — the impact site of the meteor that carried it to Earth at the Tiber River — ergo, it was called Tiberium.note  It's also terribly, terribly toxic, potentially radioactive (depending on what it leeches or assimilates), never stops growing (by the time of the second game, non-hovering watercraft are completely unusable because waterways are universally choked with Tiberium) and generally so dangerous that it explodes violently if processed improperly or stored in large enough quantities. Certain materials are more resistant to being turned into it, but all of them degrade eventually. With flesh, crystallization happens almost instantly. Nevermind the fact there's blue (canonical) and red/orange (semi-canonical) variants that are Made of Explodium — as if the green stuff didn't explode enough to begin with. With a bit of SCIENCE, you can turn tiberium (or tiberium-related substances, such as tiberium veins) into a chemical weapon that puts some of the deadliest stuff today to shame, or an explosive that makes a heavy-duty fuel air bomb look like a firecracker. Makes a lot more fictional sense if you know that C&C was itself based on the RTS game Dune II, which had you harvesting spice out of the ground.
  • Cleria, Emelas, etc. in the Ys series.
  • StarCraft, likewise, had "minerals" of an unspecified type and "Vespene Gas" (which you require more of, by the way), which each of the playable races uses in a different way to produce its various units and buildings. Neosteel, the material of Terran construction, is another example. Also, the Khaydarin Crystals.
  • XCOM:
    • The first two games of the series (UFO and TFTD) have Elerium, an element that formed in yellow crystals and had an atomic number of 115. By the third game, Elerium could be mined on Mars and extrasolar colonies. Elerium's in-game role was probably inspired by claims made about element-115 in the 1980s by a UFO enthusiast with the splendidly appropriate name of Bob Lazar. Sadly, when someone eventually got around to synthesising the stuff they called it Ununpentium instead, and it also appears that Lazar was talking through his hat.
      • Subverted by Alien Alloys, at least in this game. Producing Alien Alloys is prohibitively expensive, as it requires some rare elements and exotic molding methods, and you probably have other things you want your engineers to do anyway, but is entirely doable after research.
    • The second game reveals that Elerium-115 becomes inert if submerged in salt-water for too long, and since the second game is subtitled Terror from the Deep, that's a bit of a problem. The new source of power is Zrbite - apparently, an artificial material created through molecular manipulation. Following the victory in TFTD, however, the aliens' Molecular Manipulation network collapses, and all remaining Zrbite becomes inert. It maintains its Unobtainium status, however, and Inert Zrbite is later used to build FTL-drive engines (with Elerium-115 as fuel).
    • XCOM: Enemy Unknown also features Elerium, again used as a power source. Unfortunately, you can't synthesize it, and the only way to get it is looting it off the aliens. In-game, the heads of your R&D and engineering teams state that with a few years of focused research they could make both the Alien Alloys and the Elerium Generator commercially viable, but that there is no time for that big a project before the aliens are defeated.
    • Elerium returns in XCOM 2 as the ultimate and, in fact, only noteworthy power source on Vichy Earth after 20 years of alien occupation overrode most human-made technology. Once again it can't be synthesized on Earth, but now it also comes in two forms. Elerium dust is your higher-tier acquisition resource and implied to be what powers all of XCOM's more advanced tech. Your Friend in the Black Market claims that it also makes for a great pick-me-up. Elerium cores are self-contained power sources required for the construction of the really powerful stuff, as well as some Plot Coupons. There's also mention of some unknown metals and alloys that make the Chosen weapons more powerful/efficient than what should be physically possible, but these are just flavor text without an actual impact on the story or gameplay.
    • XCOM: Chimera Squad: Taking place five years after 2, Elerium remains a valuable resource for both you and criminals. Although most of the aliens are now working peacefully with humanity, the implication is that it is still impossible to create on Earth, and must be salvaged from ADVENT tech.
  • Xenonauts: Just like in X-Com, you can salvage the alien fuel source, Alenium, which cannot be reproduced terrestrially. Incidentally, even before attempting to use it as a power source, Xenonaut scientists decided they made for even better missile warheads, giving your interceptors an early shot in the arm in terms of firepower.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The first game requires the player to collect various exotic metals and crystals such as mythril, orichalcum, lightning stones, power crystals, and serenity gems in order to create items, eventually including the most powerful weapon in the game.
    • Extra points goes to Orichalcum+ in Kingdom Hearts II, which not only is like Orichalcum but better, but is in so few quantities that you just barely have enough to craft the only item which requires it: Ultima Weapon.
  • Minecraft:
    • Redstone, a nice little powder that can conduct electricity and can be used to open doors, power minecarts, make music, etc.. Although it actually is very common when mining deep enough. The unminable bedrock is sometimes referred to as Unobtainium. This is probably the most accurate use of the name, since, without the use of cheats, you cannot obtain it.
    • Emeralds. Although they can be traded for with villagers, trying to mine them isn't as easy. They rarely spawn and are only found in mountain biomes, scattered in random single block veins. Good luck. However, there are more emerald veins per chunk than diamond veins and occur at much higher levels, making them much more common in caves.
    • Netherite, a fireproof material (even lava can't burn it) which allows you to upgrade your diamond gear with better efficiency, durability and enchantments. The process to obtain it is rather convoluted and tedious, as you need to go to the Nether to mine ancient debris (only found in veins of up to three, with only one or two veins per chunk, usually near the bottom and never in the open air — meaning you can't spot them on cave walls, forcing you to dig at random and hope for the best — and requiring a diamond pickaxe to mine on top of that), then smelt those into netherite scrap, of which you'll then need four, along with four gold ingots, to craft into a single netherite ingot (phew!).
  • World of Warcraft has frightening amounts of Unobtainium.
    • Starting out around the time the player starts mining Mithril ore, proceeding through Truesilver, Arcanite, Fel Iron, Adamantium and finally Khorium and Eternium. To quote a recent Penny Arcade post on the subject, "What's next? Awesomite?"
    • There's also the equally-mundane Titanium, its enchanted cousin Titansteel, and the more fantastic Saronite. This contains or possibly is entirely the blood of the Eldritch Abomination Yog-Saron, God of Death, drives people who mine it mad, and naturally forms into the shape of skulls when smelted. And which for some inexplicable reason, people decided to make armor out of and wear. Yeah, sticking that on your head couldn't possibly go bad.
    • World of Warcraft is also littered with mundanely-named minerals that possess properties far greater than their real-life counterparts.
    • Engineers, Jewelcrafers, and Blacksmiths use Thorium (a radioactive metal used in some reactors as a replacement for uranium and of which powdered form has been known to spontaneously combust in the air... dust which would be prolific around any thorium mining, smelting or forging site... and causing liver damage if absorbed in the body pre-combustion) and later on Cobalt (which gives off toxic, arsenic containing fumes when smelted, is an active nutrient for bacteria, is the third highest rated metal for causing contact dermatitis, and can lead to cardiomyopathy or cobalt poisoning if too much is absorbed into the body from breathing or consuming cobalt dust or powder... which would be produced, as with thorium, by the mining, smelting, and forging process). And while these are real elements, the apparent ease and safety with which they can be mined, smelted, and forged adds an Unobtainium aspect to them. And we won't even start on mercury being as harmless as water in the Deepholm zone, with one quest even requiring you swim in a lake of it. Considering the average character's Power Level is way Over Nine Thousand by the time they get to Deepholm, plain old mercury shouldn't be a problem.
    • Dark Iron is a metal that can only be mined in a specific part of Blackrock Depths, and can only be smelted and worked on a special anvil in another specific part. Guarded by a giant fire elemental. It can be used to make rather strong armor.
    • All of that aside, a plot version exists called Kaja'mite. A rare mineral only found on two islands that we know of, its presence gave the goblins super-intelligence. When supplies ran out, their intellects gradually went into decline and they spread out across the world as traders in hopes of finding new sources.
    • Further expansions added obsidium, elementium, truegold, ghost iron, kyparite, trillium, living steel and lightning steel.
    • Leystone is rare enough, and can only be smelted using frost magic. Demonsteel is an even rarer alloy of it that and felslate, using another specific anvil, though it is located in a friendlier location.
    • Bacon could be considered this, at least the type used in Legion recipes, as you need to do a specific World Quest to hunt the Rare Mob that you get it from.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Element Zero or "eezo" is responsible for all of the technology in-game, as it has the ability to manipulate mass, which makes it valuable for propulsion systems, projectile weapons, kinetic force fields, artificial gravity, and a powerful, convenient method of Faster-Than-Light Travel. Indeed, "eezo" is a key element of virtually every advanced galactic technology.
    • "Biotics" are individuals who were exposed to Element Zero in utero and manifested biotic abilities (the power to manipulate dark energy) as a result. Those who don't manifest are often born normally with few complications, but unfortunately there also exist some who develop fatal cancers and rarely make it to term. Other problems faced by Human biotics is that because they are still part of the first generation, many were wired with older models of Biotic amps before humanity really knew what they were doing. While the L3 amps are stable, those wired with the L2 models experience some serious side effects, everything from nosebleeds, to occasional migraine headaches, to full-on insanity.
    • Another use for Element Zero, commonly used by criminals is to refine it into a Fantastic Drug called "Red Sand", so named after the first drugs were developed from Eezo found on Mars. It's like cocaine, but it gives you limited biotic powers. Oh, and it's highly addictive, and addicts who can't pay for their habit are sometimes sold into slavery.
  • The Final Fantasy series is also known to have various forms of Unobtainium, such as orichalcum or adamantite. In fact, every RPG ever made by Square Enix has something like that, often in the same relation as the Kingdom Hearts example.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 lives this trope to the full! Not only has it scores of metallic unobtainium, but also plenty of both osseous (bones) and dendritious (wood).
  • The Crusader games has two.
    • Di-corellium, a mineral that is apparently better for use in nuclear reactors than plutonium—to the point that it almost became a metaphor for petroleum, and at the very least for energy crises in general, what with the increasing scarcity of it and power shortages on Earth because of it—and of which vast quantities, about half of all known reserves, are on the moon.
    • Polonium — yes, ''that' polonium — an element than in real life is unstable, highly radioactive, and extremely toxic, is used as... body armor.
  • Metroid Prime Trilogy:
    • The games feature Phazon, which is a highly-mutagenic, violently unstable, sentient mineral. Being a bit more specific, there is an incredibly resistant metal made from it known as Phazite.
    • In addition, visor scans can identify the chemical properties of certain structures. When you see names such as "Talloric Alloy" and "Bendenzium" in the description of a destructible obstacle, it is usually an indication as to which weapon you will need to use to proceed.
  • Dwarf Fortress has a rather extensive simulation of real-world geology and metallurgy, including creating simple alloys such as bronze and electrum.
    • It also has Adamantine, an incredibly rare ore that can be processed into various forms that allow it to be used in almost any type of construction imaginable — weapons, armour, tools, clothing, furniture, building material... about the only things you can't make out of it (well, without modding) are beds and food. It also happens to be both as light as styrofoam, be more resistant than any steel manageable, and being sharpenable enough that you can drop a knife on a stone floor and it'll be embedded to the hilt. Naturally, you can buy out a whole caravan with just one implement made from it. Be careful, though - if the vein is hollow, you're going to get a visit from the Circus.
    • There's also slade, which can't be dug out. Even if you could, it's horrendously heavy (we're talking core of the sun heavy), so the potential uses for it are very limited — not that it matters, as the game won't let you use it even if you somehow get some out of the wallsnote . You're not thinking about this, though, because if you've even seen slade, you've got other problems to worry about.
    • Now the developer is planning for game worlds to each have their own unique unobtainium with each one making some rare materials with randomly generated properties. When he first tried it out, he expected metals but ended up getting cursed mist. So far, the closest approach to this has been the Divine Metals that you find in Vaults, worn by angels. They're only slightly worse than Adamantine (better in density regards if desired for blunt weaponry), but the only way to get yourself some is to kill the wearers, which is probably the hardest thing to achieve in the game.
  • The Myst series has the artificial stones nara and deretheni. There is also a tawny stone found on Riven, used for ornamental purposes.
  • The X-Universe has Nividiumnote , a rare material found in asteroids. Mining it seems to cause the ire of the hostile Kha'ak, whose ships use small amounts of nividium in their hull. Otherwise, it doesn't have many uses and its main value seems to come entirely from its rarity. However, X Rebirth states that Nividium is merely the Teladi's name for Platinum, and goes on to describe its usage as a catalyst in chemical reactions and as a heirloom for Teladi.
  • Spice in Spore, as a reference to Dune. It can be used for anything - it's a food, dietary supplement, fuel source, cleaning product, narcotic...
  • Ratchet & Clank's Raritanium zig-zags this a bit. In the first game, there's only one piece of it in the entire game, but then you can mine for it in Going Commando or get it by shooting enemies down in space. Then Up Your Arsenal and Deadlocked have no important appearance of it (some wrench upgrades are stated to contain Raritanium in the latter). Then Tools of Destruction and Into the Nexus have it and it's used to upgrade your weapons, but it's... well, rare, and you won't be upgrading too much... until Challenge Mode, where you'll probably be drowning in the stuff. A Crack in Time only mentions the ore in the Argorian Battleplex's "Raritanium Cup" tournament. In the meantime, All 4 One, Full Frontal Assault, Into the Nexus, and R&C 2016 all have the Warmonger, a rocket launcher whose rockets are stated to be tipped with Raritanium.
  • The Null Fragments in zOMG!, when in use, were like this. These little purple gems could be used to make anything you could think of, from tattoos, to figurines, to feather boas, to the armor of an alien species, to... you get the idea.
  • The browser game Skyrates includes Unobtainium (in fact, portrayed as Green Rocks ) as a trade good, and is also used in role play and player discussion as a reasoning for hard to explain occurrences, jokingly or otherwise.
  • A little-known RTS called Submarine Titans has "Corium-296"... which appears to suggest that it is an extremely heavy element. Corium is very important to achieving the advanced technologies in the game, but is not naturally found on Earth: the enormous comet that forced humanity under the seas was made of the stuff, and small deposits (fragments of the comet) are found all over the place. note 
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, you need the three pure metals (each corresponding to one of the creator godesses) to create a blade that turns the titular hourglass into the Phantom Sword. It's required by the plot, since the Phantom sword is the only thing that can hurt Bellum. The names of the Pure Metals are derived from their color: Crimsonine, Azurine, and Aquanine.
  • Psitanium from Psychonauts. High grade unobtainium — a meteorite that grants anything alive psychic powers and is the plot device for any number of absurd things in the game.
  • In Golden Sun, there are nine forgeable materials: in increasing order of power, Tear Stone, Star Dust, Sylph Feather, Dragon Skin, Salamander Tail, Golem Core, Mythril Silver, Dark Matter and Orihalcon.
  • Master of Orion:
    • Master of Orion 2 has Xentronium. It cannot be invented by the player and must instead be plundered from the Antarans, either by capturing and reverse engineering one of their warships or by defeating the Orion Guardian (both very difficult to pull off, and each only gives you a ~30% chance of acquiring the technology). If you're successful, you're rewarded with the best armor plating in existence (Xentronium edges out the best player-researchable armor by a 5:4 factor).
    • The MOO series also contains many other substances such as Tritanium, Zortrium, Uridium and Adamantium. Due to the way research works, any of these can be Unobtainium in a given game.
  • Snoopy vs. The Red Baron for the Playstation 2 and Playstation Portable does this bald-facedly. In order to make a superweapon called the Doodlebug, the Red Baron needs, what else? "Unobtainium." Subtle. Of course, the entire plot of the game is about a story Snoopy is imagining.
  • Half-Life series
    • Half-Life's Xenium: if you focus a particle beam on a pure crystal, it can rip through dimensions. And it can't be found on Earth but is an essential component to human-made teleporters.
    • Half-Life 2 Or that blue-ish metal Combine tech is made of. Whatever it is, it can't be scratched by anti-tank rocket impacts and reflects tau particle beams. Also, dark energy was the universe's scientific Unobtainium just like in real life — until the Combine came; the Citadel's central reactor is an inexhaustible supply of the stuff. It is used to generate plasma made of exotic matter which is the basis of all Combine tech.
  • The instruction manual for Supreme Commander 2 explicitly mentions that the humongous mecha King Kriptor is unobtainium-armored.
  • RuneScape features many odd metals, including Mithril and Adamantite. It also features "Runite" as a metal. Then there's the "Dragon" metal, which unlike the others, cannot be mined anywhere, nor can it be forged. Weapons made of Dragon metal can be obtained through drops, but not made.
  • In Original War a recently discovered material known as Siberite, or Alaskite, depending on timeline, is an efficient energy source, can be used as a nuclear weapon and can power up a time machine.
  • Australium in the backstory of Team Fortress 2, a material so powerful and versatile that it has granted the rather dim-witted Australians global technological supremacy. Shipped in bars marked with a picture of a man fighting a kangaroo. It also has the side effect of causing Testosterone Poisoning to those who handle it, turning anyone using into ridiculously manly Boisterous Bruisers with mustaches and Carpets Of Virility. Even the women. It's also usable as rocket fuel. Disclaimer: we didn't say it was good rocket fuel. The Life Extenders used by certain characters also run on the stuff.
  • The Phantasy Star series has laconia, a metal similar to silver in appearance that is found on the planet Dezoris; it is often refined and crafted into some of the best gear available in the series.
  • Sam & Max approach a mine tunnel in Beyond the Alley of the Dolls: "Maybe there's gold down this tunnel! Or rare deposits of Cantgetium!"
  • ADAM from BioShock is produced only by a specific variety of deep sea slugs and has the power to rewrite a human's entire genome in minutes, and even transfer memories from one individual to another to some extent.
  • The Perils of Akumos offers us naxonite and peryolitium, which are particularly hard to find considering that you're supposed to be near mines of them.
  • In The Elder Scrolls:
    • In the series in general, there are a number of materials which qualify, several with a Non-Indicative Name. Primarily, there is Ebony, which here is similar to a volcanic glass (and theorized to be the petrified blood of the dead creator god). It's worth more than gold when used as bullion, can be forged into extremely high quality weapons and armor, and can be imbued with Daedric souls to create devastating Daedric weapons and armor. There is also Glass, which is an iridescent green mineral, and like Ebony, can be forged into high-quality light armor and weapons.
    • Dwemer (Dwarven) metal is an interesting case, as it's unobtainium In-Universe: in-game books in Skyrim reveal that mages, smiths, and scholars have tried for years to imitate its properties, with no success. The Dwemer were known to tinker with the laws of nature and physics, so its highly likely they applied these skills to their metallurgy. The only reliable source is recycled scrap metal from Dwemer ruins.
    • As seen in Morrowind, Vvardenfell being incredibly rich in Ebony and Glass resources makes it extremely valuable to the Empire. Both substances are protected by Imperial law and can only be mined and sold with the proper permits.
    • In the Shivering Isles expansion to Oblivion, the smiths in New Sheoth can forge armor and weapons from amber and madness ore. (Lord only knows what the latter comes from.)
    • Skyrim:
      • Skyrim reveals that Orcish and Elven armor are partially forged from orichalcum and quicksilver, respectively.
      • Skyrim allows elite smiths to forge armor from dragon scales and bones. The modding community has seen fit to add dragonbone weapons as well. And Bethesda themselves later added dragonbone weapons when they released the Dawnguard DLC.
      • The Dawnguard DLC also adds Aetherium as part of the "Lost to the Ages" quest. Aetherium is an incredibly rare, luminescent blue crystal found deep underground. The crystal has a strong magical aura, but it is alchemically inert and harmonically volatile, and no known conventional process can enchant, smelt, mold, bind, or break it. The Dwemer of ancient Skyrim created the Aetherium Forge to smelt the crystal under precisely controlled conditions. The quest involves locating and activating the forge, which has just enough Aetherium left to produce one item with unique abilities.
  • The Fallout series features several.
    • Fallout: New Vegas's DLC's feature a metal called Saturnite, which holds both an edge and a temperature extremely well. In the Dead Money DLC, it is found as absurdly sharp kitchen knives that can be superheated for extra damage. In Old World Blues it is made into Power Fists, which can also be superheated.
    • Fallout 76 has Black Titanium, an extremely strong metal mostly used in mining, and Ultracite, a radioactive material that can be used as an extremely efficient power source.
  • Mega Man X: Command Mission has Force Metal, used in reploid engineering.
  • In the Sword of the Stars sequel, the loa build most things out of "wise clay", which is also the material that stores their thought processes, and can be shaped into just about anything. Loa fleets, for example, travel as a cube, which splits near the destination into all the loa ships.
  • Shin Super Robot Wars: "Tronium" only exists on the planet Tron; unfortunately, Tron vanished due to a meteor impact long ago. This caused the value of Tronium scattered throughout space to skyrocket, especially since it's needed for every warp-capable ship the feuding parts of the Ze Balmary Empire want to send into battle. According to Eiji, a rice-grain sized piece of Tronium is capable of powering over thirty battleships.
  • In Cookie Clicker, after purchasing the Plastic, Iron, Titanium, and Adamantiumnote  mice, the fifth mouse upgrade is explicitly called the "Unobtainium mouse".
  • The Irata colony in M.U.L.E. mines for Smithore, which is used make more of the eponymous Multi-Use Labor Elements, and Crystite, which is sold off-world for some unknown purpose.
  • SimCity's Cities of Tomorrow has Omega from OmegaCo. In order to produce this resource, one must combine oil and raw ore in such a secretive way in order to create what is essentially the ultimate unobtainium that many people are willing to pay handsomely for. As from the actual website blog:
    I do know that this mysterious, state-of-the-art, super-strong, super-conducting, lightweight, fruit-flavored, and all-around amazing substance is somehow created by combining tons of Oil and Ore in a very secretive, elaborate, and sometimes smelly process. I also know that Sims of the future will be chomping at the bit to get their hands on it, and that's where OmegaCo comes in.
  • In the space combat MMO Moon Breakers, Helium-3 is the main reason two factions are fighting each other in the first place.
  • In Space Age, one of the main objectives of the Proteus-Z's expedition to Kepler-16 is to locate sources of Nucleum ore.
  • Singularity has "Element-99", or "E99" for short. It's a mysterious mineral that can only be harvested on the island of Katorga-12, which the Soviet Union converted into an E99 research and mining facility during the Cold War. It is used to power the Time Manipulation Device (TMD), which does Exactly What It Says on the Tin, so long as the object it's pointed at is composed of E99 (it also works on biological creatures but that's ill-advised).
  • Civilization: Beyond Earth has three varieties, one used by each of the three primary Affinities. Firaxite is a volcanic mineral that can be processed into a room-temperature superconductor, used by the AI- and robot-centric Supremacy affinity. Floatstone is a pumice-like vesicular igneous rock that contains magnetic monopoles, used by Purity for their mag-lev Hover Tank units. Xenomass is a bacterial slime containing a number of proteins and substances that facilitate genetic engineering, used by the Bio Punk Harmony affinity.
  • Anti-Idle: The Game has a material that is called this letter for letter. It is used for crafting a number of high-rank items.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X has Miranium, a mineral unique to the planet the White Whale crashed on that can be refined into almost any material and is used as fuel for Skells. One sidequest also involves the team collecting a mineral with odd physical properties that ends up named after one of the recruitable characters.
  • A major part of Star Control II is gathering minerals from planets all over the quadrant to trade for fuel, crew, and ship upgrades. There's a whole category of "Exotic" materials ranging from relatively mundane items like antimatter and neutronium to more fantastical ones such as Aguuti nodules and Tzo crystals. Naturally, the exotics tend to be very rare, very valuable, and (if found in any significant quantities) very dangerous to collect.
  • In EarthBound, Zexonyte, which Dr. Andonuts requires for scientific projects, is an incredibly rare material that can only be obtained from a fallen meteorite in the game's environment.
  • Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare: The Chemist's upgrades include a chemical element called Unobtainium. And yes, it's literally called that.
  • Warframe: Quite a few different types.
    • Gameplay-wise, any rare resource is supposed to be this, but it doesn't always work out that way. Control Modules, Gallium, Morphics, Neural Sensors, and Tellurium are all reasonably difficult to obtain, but blueprints don't require them in very high numbers, so the supply tends to outpace the demand. Orokin Cells, on the other hand, are required in every high-end blueprint in large quantities, making them much more valuable.
    • Argon Crystals are only mildly difficult to obtain, but they have one flaw that makes them extremely frustrating: They decay outside of the Void, meaning it is impossible to stockpile them. Many high-end blueprints require Argon, requiring quick dips back in the Void for farming.
    • Nitain Extract was originally only obtained from rare Alerts, and the blueprints that needed it tended to require large quantities of it. The Nightwave system changed that, as large amounts of Nitain can be bought for relatively cheap with the Nightwave credits.
    • And then there are the research components: Detonite Ampules (which combine into Detonite Injectors), Fieldron Samples (which combine into Fieldron), and Mutagen Samples (which combine into Mutagen Masses). The lesser versions are uncommon drops from enemies, but converting them into the more advanced versions is expensive, so it's generally easier to run the tedious Invasion missions instead. Ironically, these are all extremely common in-universe; Detonite Injectors are used as ammo by Grineer, Fieldron is a basic component of Corpus energy weapons, and the Mutagen Mass is a still-living chunk of Infested flesh that produces toxins.
  • The Wonderful 101: At least three of the Wonderful Ones have weapons made out of some kind of powerful, fictional material. Wonder-Blue's Valiantium Blade is made out of, as the name suggests, Valiantium, while Wonder-Pink's Beautiful Whip is made with Belmont Alloy. In addition, Wonder-Yellow's Peta-Peta Hammer is made of Peta Omorium, the "heaviest metal in the galaxy", said to be " strong enough to smash through even the sturdiest GEATH-Titanium." All three of them form the basis of Unite Morphs capable of fighting giant aliens with advanced technology.
  • The Lost Planet series features a rare power source that can only be obtained by killing Akrid native to the planet E.D.N. III. For reasons that remain unclear, the energy source, usually a glowing orange liquid, is called "thermal energy", which while useful on an Ice World, is not in fact, rare, being known to modern science as heat.
  • The planet Tobal hosts a fighting tournament in order to decide who is allowed the exclusive mining rights of a mineral known as Molmoran, which can be used as an energy source.
  • Synergism parodies it with the name of the resource that is used for Research, Obtainium.
  • Phantomarine: All the known Phantomarine in the world was supposeddly used to make the Lighthouse Road, so Pavel's mother is baffled to find out some was made into a lantern and given to him.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has borfomite, a rare substance that becomes an unstoppable weapon when chemically combined with caramel. Later, when Galatea gets hold of a sample she invents a borfomite-powered Deflector Shield that is proof against borfomite weapons.
  • The Way of the Metagamer has actual unobtainium, which adheres to Minovsky Physics.
  • The Order of the Stick: Roy was told his broken ancestral sword was forged from starmetal, requiring a sidequest to obtain more. Roy was rather unimpressed when he discovered the "vast wealth" of starmetal was a chunk smaller than his fist. Furthermore, his sword never had any starmetal in it; the whole thing was a distraction to get rid of his party for a while. However, when he finds an honest smith, she tells him that the small chunk of starmetal he found is immensely valuable ("Most of it tends to burn up in the atmosphere, you know") and reforges his sword with it as an alloy. Making a full sword out of the stuff would require all the known starmetal in the world, and be far too heavy to be usable. It lets his sword overcome most forms of damage reduction and occasionally releases bursts of energy that are harmful to undead and evil outsiders.
  • The time machine in Times Like This is driven by the fictional element Sesquicentium (atomic number 150), a metal that has a tendency to time-warp by itself.
  • Chronologium permits Time Travel in GastroPhobia. Without it, two characters got stuck nine years and will stay probably much more in the past.
  • Catalysts in The Story of Anima are special minerals that are fueled by Anima to cause an effect.
  • In one fourth-wall breaking Arthur, King of Time and Space strip, Merlin, criticising Avatar for actually using the word "unobtanium", claims that the CAVE is powered by "runsoutatcriticalmomentsium".
  • Homestuck has Zillium among its Grist types. Grist in general is a building material in the game of Sburb/Sgrub, and most types are based on real-world materials. Zillium is a rare type of Grist with a unique appearance that, in large quantities, can be used to make some of the most powerful weapons in the comic's universe.
    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe has plenty of unobtainium. They've stolen adamantium from the Marvel Universe, and they've included some of the mystical variants, including orichalcium and mithril. Oddly enough, at the Super Hero School Whateley Academy, mithril no longer counts as true unobtainium, because there's a side character (Silver, a girl from India) who sweats mithril. The school has had to set up a mithril brokerage.
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, the good doctor powers his freeze ray with Wonderflonium, not far removed from Unobtainium as it has the power to make the impossible possible and power the freeze ray — which freezes time — for a short time, at least. Wonderflonium should also never be bounced for some reason.
  • The League of Intergalactic Cosmic Champions has Plotonium as a generic whatever-the-plot-required supermetal. Also a building block of the universe that allowed people to have superpowers was Nevesytrof (much more stable then the Sub-Reality or Super-Reality of other universes.)
  • Protectors of the Plot Continuum:
    • Generic Surface. A material created when locations and surfaces in fanfics are given little or no description, the Flowers have used it to build PPC Headquarters due to its durability, structural integrity, and the fact that there is a readily available supply to make such a huge building out of.
    • Not a metal, but falling under this heading, is Bleeprin and its derivatives. Bleeprin is a mixture of bleach and aspirin, advertised as "brain bleach", which erases the memory of a bad fanfic and then the headache it gave the agents. Derivatives include Bleepka (Bleeprin and synthetic vodka, a very popular derivative, often used for making cocktails), Bleepolate (Bleeprin and chocolate), and Bleepsinthe (Bleeprin and synthetic absinthe). Bleeprin's only real downside is that it explodes when mixed with real alcohol, hence the use of synthesised substitutes.
  • The SCP Foundation has SCP-148, also known as Telekill. In the initial write-up stuff is incredibly useful, allowing blocking of effects of many psychic-type anomalies. It was supposed to still be a mystery and very limited in quantity (and Foundation unable to make more of it), but ended up being used in far too many SCP writeups resulting in a mass rewrite/retcon. After it, it still blocks psychic influences, but with a catch - it absorbs them, while gaining mass, and eventually releases everything it accumulated in one big amplified burst. Needless to say, this is very very bad. Even when used in smaller quantities in personal protection equipment it now slowly drains intelligence and willpower of the wearer. It is still used sometimes, but in very careful and limited ways.
  • The inventions of The Spoony Experiment's Doctor Insano are powered by Raritanium.
  • Super Stories has Electronium, resistant to all known methods of scanning (including superpowered ones). Apart from one villain's secret lair being made out of the stuff, no known piece is larger than a pebble.
  • Allen Fesler writes stories set in the Chakona Space 'Verse. One of his inventions is boronike, which is extremely valuable and very useful to engineering types. It is commonly used in teleporter tech because of its inability to be teleported.
  • Orion's Arm has several flavours of unobtanium, but is notable that they try to be a reasonably hard sci-fi setting and so have put very careful thought into its plausibility and possible uses.
    • Magmatter, made from magnetic monopoles is perhaps one of the cleverest, and has a reasonable amount of vaguely plausible science behind it. Magmatter facilitates megastructures like Ringworlds thanks to its incredible tensile strength, Cool Starship engines that perfectly convert matter to energy without all that nasty mucking around with antimatter due to magmatters ability to catalyse baryon decay, dense enough magnetic current to make Plasma Cannon useful and Railguns easy and stranger things like gamma ray lenses and mirrors that couldn't be built out of normal matter.
    • Exotic bosonic matter with negative mass that can hold open a wormhole and support a slower-than-light inertialess drive system.
    • Antimatter, of course, but also curious things from theoretical physics like q-balls and q-mirrors that allow complete and easy conversion of matter to antimatter.
  • The Lay of Paul Twister: In the fantasy world that Paul Twister is stuck in, aluminum is considered Unobtanium, since they don't have the technology to produce it easily yet. (The story correctly notes that it requires electricity, which is still in the early stages of being discovered.) On the more fantastical side, the bones and scales of dead dragons are very rare and highly sought after by wizards, because they can apparently provide a material link that comes in handy should you ever end up in a fight with a living dragon.
  • Devil's Dust: The characters here need sugar to fuel their ship and, from the looks of it, they have to try hard to obtain it.
  • Screen Rant Pitch Meetings: In the Avatar pitch meeting, the Screenwriter calls the sought-after mineral Unobtanium because the humans are having a hard time obtaining it. The Producer assumes that it's a placeholder name, and the Screenwriter will come up with a less ridiculous name, to which the Screenwriter says, "Yep! For sure! I will!

    Western Animation 
  • The Powerpuff Girls employs this in the making of the show's namesake heroes. The Unobtainium here is the mysterious Chemical X (a fancy name for the contents of a Can Of Whoop Ass). It also produced the show's biggest recurring villain, and drove several single-episode plots. Powerpuff Girls Z upgrades it to Chemical Z. One episode shows that you can also get the same results from a prison toilet since that's what Mojo Jojo used to make the Rowdyruff Boys.
  • One arc on Rocky and Bullwinkle involved a search for a mountain full of "Upsidaisium", an anti-gravity metal.
  • The Flintstones had an episode featuring Urgonium — a mineral that exploded on solid impact.
  • Justice League
    • Nth Metal, can, among other abilities, generate electrical currents and disrupting magic.
    • The meson-graviton inversion.
  • Ninjago has a number of these:
    • Vengestone, which dampens one's Elemental Powers.
    • Chronosteel, which goes a step further and is able to absorb one's powers permanently.
      • A type of blue crystal, which can work in conjunction with Chronosteel to absorb and contain multiple powers at once.
    • Deepstone, which harms ghosts and prevents possession, as it's mined from the bottom of the ocean and the ghosts's weakness is water.
    • Clearstone, the hardest known substance.
  • The first 2009 episode of The Colbert Report's Show Within a Show Tek Jansen has the Big Bad enslaving some tiny doughboy aliens to mine Scarcerarium.
  • Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century: Duck Dodgers went to Planet X to find Illudium Phosdex, the Shaving Cream Atom, in his classic '50s adventure.
  • Spiral Zone has Neutron-90, the rare material that the Zone Riders' uniforms are made from; it protects the soldiers from the Spiral Zone's Mind Control effect. At the beginning of the series, there's only enough of it to make five suits. Later, enough Neutron-90 is discovered to make two additional uniforms, and so Sixth Rangers Ned Tucker and Ben Davis are able to join the team.
  • In Thunder Cats and ThunderCats (2011), machines are powered by Thundrilium.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • In "Phineas and Ferb's Quantum Boogaloo", Phineas and Ferb need a wood and steel fusing tool, which apparently won't be invented for 20 years.
    • In "Vanessassary Roughness", the element "Pizzazium Infinionite" is described as (maybe) having wondrous properties that could be used in the future to power generically-futuristic technology.
    • In "Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel", another element called "Mundanium Finite" is used as a substitute to Pizzazium Infinionite due to the latter's scarcity. While they appear to have similar properties, powering Doof's inator takes four times as much Mundanium than Pizzazium.
  • In Teen Titans (2003), the thief Red X used a suit that was powered by Xenothium, which was only described as being unstable and crazy dangerous, but was capable of insane things, such as creating explosive projectiles, shields, metallic bands and all kinds of crazy shizz. (Apparently, the stuff is so dangerous that even respectable superheroes like Robin aren't allowed to buy it; he had to get it from the black market.)
  • Futurama:
    • Professor Farnsworth once has the crew deliver a single atom of Jumbonium — a tennisball sized "single atom" that doesn't seem to do anything beyond adorn a tiara. If nothing else, it's valued for its rarity; that single atom is worth more than $50,000.
    • Dark matter would also count, though that was perfectlyobtainableium for the entire first run of the series as long as you have a member of Nibbler's species around (it's their poop). It goes back to being unobtainium in Bender's Game, and ships need to be retooled to use whale oil (just go with it, it's that kind of series) instead.
  • When Kowalski of The Penguins of Madagascar builds a time machine, he needs five grams of "Macguffium-239" to power it.
  • The 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles use this trope such as the episode, "The Big Zipp Attack", when Shredder needed to obtain an extremely rare and hard metal "rigidium" for the Technodrome.
  • In an episode of the children's show WordGirl, Chuck the Evil Sandwich Making Guy had built a giant sandwich press designed to crush City Hall. He claims it's made out of "super strong steel", and Word Girl is unable to damage it. Considering bending steel beams is usually like snapping a twig for her, it's somewhat ambiguous exactly what metal composition the press was constructed with.
  • Freakazoid! takes a shot at this in "The Island of Dr. Mystico." Freakazoid and a number of superpowered villains are held in a bamboo cage. When Freakazoid tries to bend the bars, Cave Guy says, "It's no use, we've already tried. It's molecular bamboo."
  • In the Green Lantern: The Animated Series episode "Steam Lantern" there is a material called hardtofindium because its hard to find.
  • Ben 10 featured two such elements which, combined, formed an explosive capable of wiping out entire solar systems. Only one known sample of Element X exists while the other, Bicenthium alloy, is only found in appreciable quantities on Earth. Except it's iron, the sixth most common element in the galaxy.
  • The whole reason New Texas was founded in Bravestarr (and the reason it attracted criminals) was the discovery of a precious ore called carium, which had dozens of uses, literally. It could power spaceships and energy weapons, had medicinal properties (in fact, it seemed quite a few episodes introduced new uses for it). Unfortunately, even legitimate prospectors seemed to develop a type of "gold fever" when looking for the stuff.
  • The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" parody of Avatar has the mineral Hilarium, which has the power to make people laugh.
    Krusty: And I need some now, I've got a Nazi party rally coming up. Oh yeah, they're back.
  • Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja: Viceroy invents a Time Machine that is fueled by hardtogetium. He cannot get more fuel than needed for a round trip.
  • In VeggieTales's The Fennel Frontier, the rare element Mewantium, which is something everyone wants, is the cause of a lot of conflict.
  • The first two parts of the Spider-Man: The Animated Series three-part episode "The Alien Costume" heaviy feature a newly discovered substance brought back to Earth from space. Prometheum X as it is called, is a highly fissile material, that is also non-reactive unless heated, which means it can be used to make a massive explosion, yet you can also carry it around in your pocket.
  • From an episode of Danger Mouse : "Have you seen my prototype indestructible handcuffs? They're made of Convenientium, a metal so rare there wasn't enough left over to make a key".
  • The Ducktales 2017 episode "Whatever Happened To Della Duck" reveals that the Spear of Selene rocket runs on gold for fuel, which Scrooge apparently never thought of putting inside when Della crash lands on the moon.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2021) introduces kirbinite, a glowing purple metal, that is the only known mineral in the world capable of channeling cosmic energy. The Sword of Power is forged from it, and Skeletor seeks the elusive metal to upgrade his Havoc Staff and improve his own mastery of the power of Havoc.
    Real Life 
  • This is the notional material used in the manufacture of that very important tool or part which you can't seem to find anywhere. For example, at this time, 16 bit PCMCIA cards are one of many peripherals that can be said to be made of Unobtainium.
  • Though never mentioned as such, a particular brand of orange wire mesh used in Star Trek: The Original Series was produced by a company that went out of business in the mid-1970's; a substitute had to be acquired for the filming of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations." This substitute mesh was correctly pointed out by episode writer David Gerrold as inaccurate to the original series.
  • There are many real world examples of unobtainium, perhaps making this one Truth in Television. While the ideas of Mithril and Vibranium actually existing on our earth may be laughable, the idea of a mineral/resource that is near impossible to obtain is almost a historical trope.
    • When Aluminium was first discovered, it was considered unobtainium, because although it's actually the most common metallic element on Earth, it was very difficult to extract from its ores. Hence, The Washington Monument was capped with a pyramidal ingot of pure aluminum, Napoleon III's sets of dinnerware made from aluminum, and the statue of Anteros in London. Then Hall (and, independently, Héroult) discovered an easy way to make aluminium, and it stopped being unobtainium two years later with the construction of the first large-scale aluminum refining plant. You're probably drinking out of an aluminum can right now.
      • Even today separating aluminum isn't as easy as you might think — it requires huge amounts of electrical power. Raw ore (bauxite) gets shipped around the world to take advantage of the cheapest possible electricity prices (Iceland smelts bauxite from South America to take advantage of its surplus geothermal power, while Quebec does the same to take advantage of its abundant hydroelectric power). It's also heavily recycled, as melting it down and re-casting it only requires 5% as much power as refining it.
    • Astatine: it was estimated that the amount of astatine in the planet barely can be gathered in a spoon, with around 30 grams existing on the entire Earth at any one time. This is because it is a product of radioactive decay, but is radioactive itself, with a half-life of 8.3 hours before decaying to lead.
      • It is also so radioactive that if you had enough astatine to be able to see it with the naked eye, you'd be dead from radiation poisoning in minutes.
    • The few who have ever attempted to make a catwhisker radio (the radio that needs no electricity whatsoever) may have found out that finding a chunk of Galena (lead sulfide) can prove to be tricky. Though the mineral is the main source of lead today, to the average hobbyist is not available. It was, however, more readily available to regular citizens in the old days due to its presence in the coal that powered the ubiquitous steam engines. Though there are workarounds, some hobbyists are willing to look around for a piece of it for an authentic galena radio.
  • During the Cold War, most of the significant titanium mines were either in the Soviet Union or elsewhere in the Eastern Bloc. As a result, Western aircraft designers often half-jokingly referred to the stuff as "unobtainium." The US was able to obtain some for its secret military projects, such as the SR-71 Blackbird, by using a long chain of middlemen buyers pretending to purchase it for other reasons. Eventually, new mines were discovered in Australia, South Africa, Canada, and Norway—all safely outside Soviet influence—and titanium stopped being unobtainium for the West. U.S. aircraft designers during this period are the Trope Namer.
    • On the other hand the largest producer in the world is still in Russia. Though they now sell to everyone, and actually almost all titanium Boeing now uses is bought from them.
  • Also during the Cold War, the US Air Force had a strong desire to develop antimatter bombs, perhaps feeling that hydrogen bombs just weren't apocalyptic enough. Fortunately, there is no known natural source of antimatter and no practical way to make it that can produce the macroscopic quantities of the stuff needed for bombs, and no practical way to contain the stuff safely enough for long enough to make such a weapon useful - critically, a nuclear bomb will not explode unless you want it to, while an antimatter bomb will always try to explode whether you want it to or not.
  • And yet again during the Cold War, a mythic substance known as "red mercury" was used for disinformation purposes by the Soviet Union. This substance was supposedly a high-temperature superconductor, a key ingredient in nuclear weapons, a ballotechnic and a component of certain types of stealth paint. It was apparently successfully used in a number of sting operations, since any organisation or rogue government seeking "red mercury" was clearly up to no good.
  • Fortunately for those concerned about rogue states or terrorists developing nuclear weapons, the required fissionable material is this. Plutonium does not occur naturally and must be manufactured in a nuclear reactor designed for the purpose. Uranium, while it can be mined, is all but useless for fueling a nuclear reaction in its natural state and must be enriched.note  The techniques involved in uranium enrichment require vast amounts of resources and specialized equipment, making it an expensive prospect for even a nation to attempt, let alone a terrorist group.note 
  • Wootz steel is a very specific historic case of this. It's made out of crucible-fired sand consisting of iron and tungsten carbide, which only naturally occurs in a very few places, almost all of them in central Asia. The process for making it was lost for centuries after the ore ran out, and was only rediscovered very recently through chemical analysis (the ore contained trace amounts of vanadium that created an unusual spiky crystal structure in the solidifying ingots). By all accounts, wootz steel is both stronger and more flexible than ordinary steel; back when swords were still used as weapons, Indo-Persian swords were highly valued throughout India and the Middle East because of this.
  • Pandemonium Chloride is the evil, HAZMAT twin of unobtainium, a material of unspecified composition that greatly endangers human life with the smallest spills or leaks.
    • Chlorine trifluoride is the real-world stuff. Derek Lowe has a nightmarish description at his blog. From that article, a quote from former U.S. Navy rocketry researcher and science fiction writer John Drury Clark: "It is, of course, extremely toxic, but that's the least of the problem. It is hypergolic (combusts spontaneously) with every known fuel, and so rapidly hypergolic that no ignition delay has ever been measured. It is also hypergolic with such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers, and asbestos, sand, and water—with which it reacts explosively."
    • Pandemonium was in fact an early name for the transuranic metal americium, which is highly radioactive. It was called such because it was extremely difficult to separate from the element curium which was originally called delirium. Amusingly enough, americium is today the transuranic element most likely to be found in your home, as it is a key component in most modern smoke detectors.
  • Greek Fire - Accounts say it was a combination of volatile chemicals in liquid form that, when launched, would burn on and be ignited by water. There are several possible candidates for its original formula, or possibly formulae, but the exact details are lost to history.
  • Carbon nanotubes have immensely useful electronic, optical, and mechanical properties, including a strength-to-weight ratio vastly superior to any building material currently in use. Sadly, as of 2010, even poor grade nanotubes go for about $100/gram. Guess that space elevator will have to wait a few more years. The biggest problem with them at the moment is to avoid cumulative weakening, as at the moment the more nanotubes you stock together, the more the nanoscopic faults accumulate, until their strength is all but gone. Still, many scientists are confident that they'll have long and durable nanotube strings in a couple of years.
  • Mountain biker slang for a bike made of a rare or expensive material is also 'unobtainium'.
  • In the late 70's Silicon Valley, there were two popular materials for solving otherwise intractable engineering problems, very specifically: Unobtainium-12 and Expensium-6. Neither was in the Grainger's or Thomas catalog.
  • Rare-earth elements are used in most modern electronics, and aren't really rare, but they are hard to find in an economically-usable state. And, in addition, 97% of rare-earth mining is done in China. Because of their usefulness, worries that the Chinese could cut off or severely reduce exports of it is enough that now others countries are looking into reopening mines almost solely so that the Chinese cannot make unobtainium of them. One of the main hurdles is that mining and processing them creates a staggering amount of toxic waste.
    • Dysprosium, one of the rare-earth elements, literally means "hard to get".
  • NASCAR racer Junior Johnson had a friend in the aerospace industry who wanted him to try out a brand new material they'd cooked up: carbon fiber. Johnson sent him a pair of control arms to be copied in the material, and was astounded that they weighed less than a single steel arm. Since he was the only person with access to it, there were no rules preventing him from replacing as many parts as he liked with CF. The racing body only took notice of these parts when they were worried that his carbon brakes, visibly glowing from heat, might cause a tire fire.
    • Needless to say, carbon fiber is now commonly used in both Formula 1 cars and many high-end exotic cars, starting with the 1994 McLaren F1.
  • Nuclear physics has created Exotic Matter in exceedingly minute quantities. Synthetic baryons (baryons are particles such as protons and neutrons) contain configurations other than the standard two up/one down, one up/two down, quark arrangements. Theoretically such femtotechnology could lead to a dazzling array of alternate chemistries. Thousands of alternate periodic tables may be possible, maybe more.
    • The synthetic baryons all decay rapidly (the order of 10^-10 sec or shorter halflifes). The chemistry of an atom is determined by the electrons surrounding the nucleus. Atoms with synthetic baryons would be considered different isotopes of the same element.
    • Recently a Japanese team reported the discovery of a so-called tetraquark — an exotic baryon consisting of four quarks instead of a normal three. Despite being roughly equally important to modern particle physics, the news were drowned by the buzz of a Higgs boson discovery, which has much better publicity.
  • The platinoid metal rhenium has all types of possible uses, mainly because it gives nearly magical properties to the metals it is alloyed with. Unfortunately, it is so incredibly rare and expensive that it's used mainly in aircraft engines, where its cost can be justified. (Not coincidentally, it was the very last of the stable elements to be discovered, in 1925.) There is one single concentrated deposit of rhenium on the whole planet, discharging as a sulfide gas from a single fumarole on the side of a volcano on the South Kurile island of Iturup, which is disputed between Russia and Japan. It is possible that the harder position Russia has recently taken about the Kurile issue might be explained by the wish to protect and exploit this deposit.
  • Wood for shipbuilding was an Unobtanium for Venice and for England and other similar naval empires. Not just any wood but the right kind of wood for the right jobs. Trees that had longer trunks, for instance, received favor, for their utility in building certain long parts of ships; oak was favored for many purposes—especially for warships—because it is sturdier (with live oak from the American South being particularly prized); trees with tall, straight trunks were needed to build masts; and pine was needed to produce pitch and tar, needed for waterproofing and other purposes (e.g. preventing shipworm from afflicting their vessels). Hence Wooden Ships and Iron Men. This could often be an element and not always a positive one in the relations between Britain and America and Scandinavian countries, both of which were among the main suppliers. The loss of the American supply of timber, pitch, and tar for the Royal Navy was actually a key catalyst for the Industrial Revolution; the search for a source of pitch led a particularly hapless poor Scottish earl to develop processes to efficiently produce coal tar, which directly led to the first gas lighting (and therefore the 24-hour factory and shift work) and indirectly led to the modern chemical industry. (Ironically, these processes didn't go anywhere with their original purpose; the Navy decided to cover the bottoms of its ships with copper plates to protect them against shipworm and other rot instead of coal tar.)
    • Earlier the English were responsible for converting yew into the wooden Unobtanium du jour due to their legendary enthusiasm for longbows. While yew trees were common throughout Europe, good knot-free lengths suitable for bowmaking were rare. By the 15th century the English had instituted an import fee payable in yew staves on every ship coming into the country, and forests as far away as Austria were being pillaged for yew. Only the introduction of guns put a stop to the demand.
  • Petroleum. Oil is needed to power a vast variety of modern-day vehicles, and without it, they would not function. It is worth tons of money, and those who extract and sell it have become world leaders.
    • There's an often overlooked significance to petroleum. Beyond its primary role as an energy resource (which has plenty of substitutes), the waste product of petroleum processing is *sulphur* - heavily used in industry, agriculture and medicine. Petroleum made sulphur cheap. It would be easy to ration fuel for tractors in an emergency - but without the sulphur, we'd lose fertilizers.
    • It's also the main source of lubricants and the only source for chemicals needed to produce everything from plastic to synthetic rubber.
  • Amateur chemist Maurice Ward claimed to have invented a material called Starlite, a largely organic compound which could withstand and insulate against incredible amounts of heat. In one live demonstration, an egg coated in the stuff was exposed to blowtorch flame for five minutes- after which the egg remained uncooked and cool enough to handle without protection. Despite allowing various scientific bodies to run tests on the material, Maurice kept the manufacturing process a closely guarded secret. He died in 2011, taking the secret formula with him, and leaving only a limited quantity of extant Starlite.
    • ThermaShield now claims to have obtained the formula from Maurice's family, and seems to have replicated the results.


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Alternative Title(s): Unobtanium



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