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World in the Sky

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"Five-thousand feet..."
"Ten-thousand feet..."
"Fifteen-thousand feet..."
Countdown Voice, BioShock Infinite

This is less a World Shape, and more a series of world pieces. Landmasses float suspended in an atmosphere. They can range in size from tiny "islands" to huge continents with vast civilizations. The smallest islands are typically just chunks of rock with some trees or the occasional house on them; the largest can be worlds in miniature, with forests, cities, and internal seas.

Impossiblenote  under physics resembling ours, worlds of this type are usually found exclusively in fantasy. What keeps them hovering? Where does the gravity come from? What's keeping the atmosphere in place? What, if anything, is there at the "bottom" of these worlds? Nobody knows, but maybe A Wizard Did It, or it may be Another Dimension or an Elemental Plane where things don't work quite by the rules of regular physics. Do not expect the outcome of falling off the side of one of these pieces to be properly explored.

In science fiction settings, this is often seen in the form of gas giants and of Venus-like worlds with thick atmospheres and unlivable surfaces. In these situations, mysteriously floating chunks of rock aren't generally an option and settlements chiefly consist of artificially built floating cities, usually held aloft by or outright built in giant balloons. In the case of gas giants, the question of the unseen surface world is answered by there not being one to begin with, just layers of increasingly toxic and pressurized gases.

Sometimes, a World in the Sky may be placed above a more conventional world which, for whichever reason, is largely or entirely uninhabitable. In these cases, the World in the Sky may have been created or settled specifically to escape whatever made the original surface unsuitable for life.

Waterfalls endlessly pouring into the void are a popular visual touch. Don't bother asking how all that water is renewed or how it can fall off in such quantities without running out.

Travel is often by Cool Airship and Those Magnificent Flying Machines. Flying Seafood Specials and Living Gasbags will also be common sights in the skies of these worlds.

Compare Shattered World, for broken worlds IN SPACE!, and Floating Continent, which usually exists in a more normal world with people also living on the surface below. See also The Sky Is an Ocean, which is almost always used in worlds like these. See also Ocean Punk, for an actual ocean. This can sometimes be a post-apocalyptic Earth.


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  • British Gas sold itself via TV advertising using the Your Home Is Your World theme, in which each individual customer's home was portrayed as a planet individual to itself, connected by British Gas and its fleet of spacecraft/service vans. Britain effectively became a country of Worlds In The sky for advertising purposes.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Kingdom of Clouds: The titular location is a city built by a race of technologically advanced ancient humans in the skies, using their technology to turn clouds into solid ground for them to construct their cities upon.
  • Fairy Tail: Edolas from the Anima arc is an Earthlike land with an assortment of floating islands, including the one carrying the Exceeds' homeland of Exteria, and another that the King used to store the Magnolia La'cryma.
  • Radiant: The islands aren't floating, they're the tops of very high and narrow mountains, but the effect is similar. Zeppelins and hot-air balloons are the most common transportations, alongside flying broomsticks for sorcerers.
  • RahXephon: The Mu world is not quite a World in the Sky: there's one landmass. However, that piece of land quickly got overcrowded, so the Mu built gigantic flying cities that allowed the vast majority of them to live anywhere over the vast ocean.
  • WorldEnd: What Do You Do at the End of the World? Are You Busy? Will You Save Us?: The Floating Islands were created for the specific purpose of keeping the surviving races safe from the seventeen Beasts that inhabit the surface world below, long after all humans (called here as the Emnetwyte) have gone extinct bar one.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: This appears in Flying Island: The Sky Adventure, as its name implies. Weslie's friends are sent to different floating worlds and Weslie has to travel through the sky to find his friends.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: The Urza's Saga arc visits Serra's realm, a realm of endless skies dotted with floating stretches of land where angels rule over peasants who can't travel from one farmland to another, as seen here and here.

    Comic Books 
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: The initial depiction of the 31st century version of Jupiter, published in 1968, depicted it as having a solid surface where the Jovians lived and mined Harkovite. With Jupiter, this is utterly impossible. By the fourth comic in which the Guardians appeared, published in 1975, this had changed to depicting the Jovians as living in spherical floating cities that hovered in the upper atmosphere and Harkovite was now mined on Mercury instead. Of course, science has now proven that with Jupiter, this would still be incredibly impossible.
  • Meridian has a society of inhabited floating islands above an inhabited planetary surface. There's little contact between the two areas, although they're aware of each other's existence.
  • The Mighty Thor: Marvel's Asgard was always depicted as a huge island floating in extradimensional space.
  • Shakara: Eva Procorpio lives in a floating villa on the planet Terraqueouis, a world which seems to consist entirely of floating villas.

    Films — Animation 
  • Dragon Hunters ("Chasseurs de dragons"), the full-lenght CGI prequel to the 2D animated series of the same name shows this kind of setting in all its beauty and picturesqueness.
  • The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello is set in a gothic-Steampunk world of floating islands and floating Victorian-style cities wreathed in smoke and criss-crossed by bridges. Airmen in steam-driven iron dirigibles trawl the aerial trading routes between city-states. Universities send explorers and cloud biologists on expeditions into "uncharted air". There is downward gravity: people can fall off airships into unknown depths.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie: Planet Freedom consists of a series of floating continents above an otherwise normal planet. This "inner world", called the Land of Darkness, is completely uninhabited except for Robotnik and his Mecha-Mooks, so from the perspective of the inhabiants of the Land of the Sky, they live in this. Unlike most examples of this trope, the anti-gravity actually does play a crucial plot-point: Robotnik's end-goal is to destroy the northern pole, which anchors the Land of the Sky to the Land of Darkness, whereupon the continents' anti-gravity properties will see them be hurled into space, killing everyone.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Flash Gordon (1980): It's implied that Ming's kingdom is actually a collection of floating continents in atmosphere. Near the end of the movie, Flash suggests escaping the Hawkmen's world by making parachutes and jumping down to Arborea, and Dr. Zarkov doesn't rule it out.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: Thor's "homeworld" Asgard is little more than a medium-sized city, surrounded by a compact landscape of oceans and craggy mountains, all of it floating freely in space. Said oceans cascade over the edges into the void, and the whole arrangement appears to have a diameter in the tens of kilometers, give or take, with many of the world's edges being easily visible from the shore. Question like "where does the seawater come from?" or "where do they grow all that food?" are never addressed.
  • Star Wars: Bespin is a gas giant whose inhabitants live chiefly in Cloud City, an artificial station that hovers in its upper levels, and in a few outlying installations built to harvest a valuable gas. The Star Wars Legends continuity also shows it as being home to a thriving ecology of Living Gasbags and flying fishes.

  • Animorphs: The Ellimist's world is stated to be this in The Ellimist Chronicles. Or rather, it's caused and maintained by the Ellimist's people — the surface is too inhospitable to live on, so they live on chunks of crystal held aloft by the constant flapping of their flying residents. Their names are more like addresses, they have strictly scheduled free-fly and rest time, and not much else about their culture (such as where they actually get food) is given much detail.
  • The Death Gate Cycle: Arianus, the world of air, is a series of islands and small continents floating at different heights in a world-sized volume of air. Some thought was put into how this kind of world would work — the islands are made of "coralite", a substance excreted by worm-like animals that contains many small bubbles of lighter-than-air gas (actual stone is very rare and precious). Drought is also an issue, as rain soaks right into the porous coralite and out of reach, and as such water is a very valuable resource, while most native plants have specialized adaptations for storing or producing it. Transportation is mainly by flying ship or dragonback. Unusually for this trope, it's an explicitly vertically oriented World in the Sky, taller than it is broad, and changes in temperature and air pressure become noticeable issues as one moves between its Low, Mid and High Realms.
  • The Edge Chronicles features a small city built on a floating rock, which in turn was anchored to a city built upon a much larger floating rock. Which has "gardens" of stones similar to it, that occasionally grow large enough to become less dense than air and float away into the sky. The floating city is kept from floating away via a combination of many huge anchors and a lump of impossibly dense material.
  • Faller: Earth gets turned into this by some physicists trying to use a zero-point energy phenomenon they don't fully understand.
  • The Integral Trees: An unusual, real-physics variation occurs in the form of the "smoke ring". This is a toroidal cloud of gas and matter which orbits a very low-output neutron star, which in turn orbits a sun-like star in a binary configuration. It includes a ring of breathable atmosphere, in which reside a number of flying plants and animals, including some humans who've "gone native".
  • Minlas Flowers: The protagonist is forced to land on a world with dozens of floating continents: the shattered remnants of a shield designed to camouflage the actual surface from the Absolute Xenophobe Huskers. The camouflage fragments have some form of anti-gravity, allowing them to hover several thousand meters in the air, where they have flipped over and subsequently gathered water and vegetation. The fragments hold a human society that uses zeppelins and primitive airplanes for travel.
  • The Player of Games: One of the character wants to build one of those, because it would cooler than the artificial worlds usually made by the Culture (which just show how blasé the Culture citizens can be: Ring Worlds and sapient spaceships with hundreds of millions of people living inside can be deemed boring). The Culture's technology would allow it to build such a world, except that it would be a lot of energy and matter lost on a whim.
  • Skyward: In ReDawn, the titular homeworld of the UrDail is a gas giant, with the UrDail themselves living on continent-sized trees that float in Re Dawn's upper atmosphere, processing the planet's toxic atmosphere into breathable air in addition to providing something to build on. The actual planetary surface is only visited by miners in protective gear.
  • Shadow of the Conqueror takes place in a world of endless sky called Everfall. Vertically, the world is looped like a game of Asteroids, such that if you jump off the edge of Telos (the setting's primary continent), you land back where you started 24 hours later. If you look up, you can actually see the underside of Telos itself, which is held in place by a giant tectonic deposit of a magical mineral called darkstone, which only moves when exposed to light.
  • The Shattered World (1984) by J. Michael Reaves is set entirely in a "world" consisting of floating islands (actually pieces of a former shattered planet) surrounded by a sphere of breathable air, each with its own ecosphere and some degree of (magically enhanced and directional) gravity. The islands are stabilized and kept from crashing into each other by magical rune stones created by the mages who originally saved mankind from being wiped out when the planet crumbled. The only way of crossing the void from one fragments to another is flying airships, since the void has no gravity, which means that fragments may float "upside down" over each other and vegetation can overgrow an island completely.
  • TP has a relatively hard example. Possibly inspired by the same discovery of Io's gas "doughnut". One of the antagonists keeps teleporting a kidnapped boy to different planets For the Evulz and one of the planets is a similar air torus, where everybody keeps falling indefinitely. It's inhabited by seemingly hostile archaeopteryx-like creatures. Later another antagonist gets stuck there forever.note  Archaeopteryxes turn out to be sentient and possess teleporter technology, but don't see humans as worth contacting — they treat their guest as a pet and keep him in a pen. Oh, and it was overuse of teleporters that destroyed their rocky planet and twisted gravity to hold its atmosphere in a torus.
  • Vertical by Rafał Kosik: Due to some unspecified phenomenon (possibly caused by the protagonists) the world is turned into infinite sky and infinite ocean full of vertical "strings" of infinite length. There are at least two large landmasses, which ended up suspended on strings that penetrated them, as well as a number of mechanical "cities" slowly climbing up.
  • Vigor Mortis takes place in a world where the sky is endlessly lit up, darkened only by the movement of the islands causing higher islands to block out the sky, all floating over a being known as the "Mistwatcher".
  • Virga takes place inside a Hollow World filled with air, where people, ships, entire cities, and man-made miniature "suns" float around. To the inhabitants, their world is the sky, filled with islands of matter.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Mystara: Sufficient numbers of floating continents turn up in the setting to suggest this trope, both in outer-world Floating Ar (A Wizard Did It) and orbiting the inner sun of the Hollow World (the Immortals Did It). Subverted in the former case, as the people of Ar still depend on resources from the land or sea beneath them.
    • Planescape: Several planes have this trait.
      • The Astral Plane exhibits this where solid matter is present, with the note that the "land" is actually the petrified corpses of deities who succumbed to Gods Need Prayer Badly.
      • The Elemental Plane of Air is mostly, well, air, but it has a few islands of earth or ice that are easy to get to due to its subjective gravity.
      • The Heroic Domain of Ysgard consists of continents floating atop immense rivers of earth flowing forever through an endless skyscape.
      • The Clockwork Nirvana of Mechanus combines this trope with Eternal Engine, with an infinite array of gears locked together, some the size of islands, others the size of continents, all boasting habitable land on their flat surfaces.
      • The Infernal Battlefield of Acheron is made up of enormous iron cubes floating in a void, which occasionally smash into each other, crushing the armies fighting on their surfaces.
      • The Bleak Eternity of Gehenna consists of vast volcanoes without bases or peaks rising endlessly into a smoky void, surrounded by free-floating volcanic "earthbergs".
    • Ravenloft: The Dempilane of Dread consists of chunks of landscape — the Core, Clusters, and Islands — adrift in a directionless zone of supernatural Mists. Each piece of landscape has its own gravity and own climate, and appears to have its own sky and horizons, but travel too far, dig too deep, or fly too high and you'll still wind up at the Misty Border. One of the domains, Aerie, is actually a Floating Continent of the conventional sort as well.
    • Spelljammer includes air-based worlds as possible setting (along with the classical earth planets, fire suns and water worlds), which have no solid ground but can include some floating islands.
  • Eclipse Phase: Venus has a dozen or so "aerostat" habitats in the upper atmosphere. Basically balloons filled with an Earth-like atmosphere and inhabited, the planet's atmosphere is so dense that they float safely above the planet's unlivable surface.
  • The Ladys Rock D10 setting combines floating sky-islands with the principles of Discordianism.
  • Numenera: Urvanas — what we know as Venus — is populated by clusters of living bubble-cities drifting endlessly in its cloudy skies, occasionally reproducing when they meet, which serve as home for the survivors of a long-lost expedition from Earth and to a native alien species. A planetary surface is present beneath it all, but it may as well not exist insofar as everyone is concerned — the toxic gases and atmospheric pressure will kill anyone diving below the level of the cities long before they'll catch so much as a glimpse.
  • Pathfinder:
    • The Elemental Plane of Air is an endless volume of air scattered through with storms the size of worlds, immense floating spheres of bronze and iron, the flying cities of the djinn, and floating masses of rock and ice where most non-elemental beings make their homes.
    • The Immortal Ambulatory, Apsu's divine realm, resembles a large volume of air containing numerous flying islands, each topped with a biome tailored to the preferences of a species of metallic dragon.
    • Starfinder features a number of floating platforms and colonies on the gas giant planets of Liavara and Bretheda, and even a few — known as the Burning Archipelago — floating over the surface of the sun.
  • Rocket Age: Jupiter has sky islands that form in the atmosphere from collected debris. The islands become a haven for various fast breeding creatures for the short time before they sink under their own weight deeper into the atmosphere.
  • The Strange: Mandala Zero is a collection of city skyscrapers and smaller buildings, each floating through a starry void on a separate mote of crumbling earth that holds the building's foundations.
  • Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies takes place within a dome thousands of miles across, filled with floating islands ranging from near-continents with their own seas to tiny islets. There's a region called the Sky of Stones filled with floating boulders.
  • Warbirds is set in Azure, which consists of a handful of regions from Earth whisked away in the early 19th century and suspended forever in the sky thanks to a mysterious gravity-negating substance called floatstone. The "sky" it floats in is only breathable to a certain depth: the deeper you go, the more it's dominated by heavy inert gases and gaseous hydrocarbons, which provides a useful supply of diesel for all those Cool Planes the Ace Pilot player characters fly around in.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The setting features an entire planet of floating islands, some about the size of a pebble, others entire cities. Of course, these Islands are floating in orbit around a black hole, so yeah...
    • Also the Vespid homeworld, which is described as an immense gas giant with islands of rock floating at levels in the atmosphere where displacement would dictate that they float in the super-dense gasses.
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: The Mortal Realms tend to become increasingly saturated by their magic, and thus increasingly alien and fantastical, the more one approaches their edges. Worlds of this sort become fairly common in their outer reaches, where the landscape fragments into islands and continents, some large enough to hold seas, floating through the void.

    Video Games 
  • Ara Fell features a series of floating continents, on one of which the story takes place. In the storyline of the aborted sequels, these continents are revealed to be a prison created by the all-around evil Shadow Spawn and on which all living creatures dwell, and their collapse is the story's final aim.
  • Ballance is set in a world of platforms high up in the sky. Whatever is down on the ground is not visible, but the occasional presence of long support poles reaching down into the clouds suggests that something is down there.
  • Bahamut Lagoon takes place almost entirely on floating continents, called "lagoons".
  • Baten Kaitos:
    • The first game takes place on several islands floating above the Earth, which was tainted during the War of the Gods to the point where it became uninhabitable.
    • Baten Kaitos Origins expands on this premise. Not only do you learn the Earth beneath the Taintclouds is very much inhabited and actually quite pleasant if a little gloomy, but you also get to travel back in time and not only witness but take part in the War of the Gods.
  • Battleborn: As a result of the mysterious force keeping Ekkunar, homeworld of the Eldrid somehow stable despite being shattered, there are various chunks of land of varying sizes that float in mid-air.
  • As per the page quote, BioShock Infinite takes place in a sprawling airborne city called Columbia, which is vast enough to essentially embody this trope. It hangs just above the clouds, held aloft by some vaguely-defined quantum technology.
  • Bug! has each level look like a series of huge Floating Platforms, and if you fell off any of them, you went splat.. in mid-air, as there was actually no ground below. Subverted as the entire level took place on a stage set, as Bug was a movie star.
  • City of Heroes: The Shadow Shard, a world shattered by a mad godlike being (it's implied that this world is an alternate version of Earth). It's also implied that the entire Shadow Shard is really inside the mind of said "god" and that the non-human inhabitants are all fractions of his shattered psyche.
  • Destiny: Not in the game itself, but a series of Grimoire cards from the Dark Below exapansion tells the story of a world called Fundament that was like this; it turns out a planet got caught in the gravity well of a gas giant, and broken up chunks formed into inhabitable floating continents. It was a major Death World to boot, with Everything Trying to Kill You. At one point, three sisters got the idea to take a ship deep into the planet's core... and the Worm Gods, who had been trapped there. A Deal with the Devil for immortality and power turned them into what would eventually become the Hive.
  • In EverQuest, there exists the Plane of Sky, the planar realm of Veeshan — the Goddess of the Sky. It consists of multiple floating islands that the players must advance through one by one. In Everquest II, the cataclysmic events that befell the world of Norrath results in many parts of the Plane of Sky to leak into the realm of Norrath. The Kingdom of Sky expansion pack is filled with numerous floating islands, Owl and Vulture versions of the Aviak race, numerous dragons, and other wonders.
  • EXA_PICO: Ar tonelico:
    • Ever since the Grathnode Inferia, the floating continent flocks of Sol Ciel, Metafalss and Sol Cluster (each preserved from destruction only by its central Server Tower) are the only habitable place in Ar Ciel, what with the Sea of Death below and the plasma Blastline above.
    • Metafalss isn't even a continent. The people are living on the mechanism that was supposed to build the Tower for temporary use. During the course of the game, they create an entirely new floating continent separate from the Tower because Metafalss was quite literally falling apart. The only tower that was actually designed from the start to live on was the First Tower, Sol Ciel.
  • Golden Sun: The setting is a flat world over an unknown void. In The Lost Age, part of the major plot twist is that the flat world is eroding, and the antagonists of the first game were trying to stop this process by any means possible because their hometown is already on the brink.
  • The Granstream Saga takes place on 4 floating islands (and a huge flying battleship), one for each element: Wind, Water, Fire, and Earth in that order.
  • Granblue Fantasy has the Sky Realm, where majority of the story takes place. The citizens are known as sky dwellers, and the main method of transportation between the islands is by flying on airships. Additionally, the main crew's goal is to reach Estalucia in the Astral Plane, which is another world in the sky higher than the Sky Realm.
  • Half-Life: The "border world" of Xen consists of strange islands floating through a nebulous void.
  • In Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth, the entire known world is a floating continent. And every time someone uses magic, it saps a little of the energy of the elemental spirits holding the continent up.
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia: Each nation in Gamindustri floats in the sky in its own landmass, connected to the others by cables. There's no know landmass below. Other games set Gamindustri on continents surrounded by oceans, however.
  • King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride: The land of Etheria is made of floating, beautifully vegetated rocks in the sky.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the inhabitants of Skyloft think their world is this, but they're really just a Floating Continent above a more normal world.
  • The Little Tail Bronx series takes place on floating islands that the inhabitants travel between using airships. The surface world is blocked by an electrified cloud sea. Solatorobo reveals that they're the remnants of a Post-Apocalyptic Earth
  • Meteos: This is the premise behind at least two planets, possibly three or four:
    • Megadom is a gas giant that contains at least one Floating Continent, with all of its inhabitants living on that continent. Unlike the usual examples of that trope, there is no ground underneath.
    • Brabbit is simply a mass of ionized gas with seemingly no central core. It has somehow developed a population of sentient, intelligent gas clouds that float freely within it.
    • Yooj and Bavoom have descriptions that imply there is solid ground on these planets, but they are never actually visible in-game. Neither planet's civilizations actually use any solid ground anyway, as they have been adapted to drift about in their planets' extremely strong winds for their entire lives, never needing to land.
  • Minecraft:
    • The "Floating" map type in Indev, the game's first publicly available version, generated the world as a cluster of islands floating in empty space. Other world settings would turn this floating archipelago into either a flat square cluster, a long line, or a vertical "stack" of islands where the bottom ones would be cast in perpetual shadow by the upper ones. Waterfalls and lavafalls pouring into the void were common features.
    • The End is a dimension that consists of islands made of a type of pale yellow stone that float in an endless gray void. You can find obsidian towers on the central island and the occasional purple stone tower on the outer islands. It's also the home dimension of the Endermen.
  • The Aether mod adds a dimension made up entirely of floating continents in a sky above nothing solid.
  • The "Skyblock" challenge map is technically a Floating Continent, but the surroundings have been completely erased for several hundred blocks in all directions in order to leave the player stranded on... well, a block in the sky.
  • Minecraft: Story Mode Season 1 Episode 5, "Order Up!", features a City of Gold built in the skies called "Sky City" as the main setting of the episode. The concept of the setting is heavily inspired by the "Skyblock" minigame/challenge mentioned above.
  • Myst:
    • Myst III: Exile: Narayan uses this concept, with lighter-than-air inflatable pods keeping chunks of vegetation afloat.
    • Myst IV: Revelation: The Age of Spire consists of giant floating mountains in orbit around what looks like a neutron star. The physics are sufficiently well-described to trigger massive fan speculation on exactly how it works. Supplemental materials explain that when the core of the world became too magnetically active, the planet tore itself into pieces as the core pushed away the rest of the planet. Now the fragments' aggregate gravity pulling inward is in equilibrium with the magnetic push outward. Fortunately for Sirrus, the fragments also had enough gravitational mass to keep an atmosphere.
  • Netstorm: Islands at War is set on Nimbus, a world of flying islands that the inhabitants maneuver to fight the occupants of other islands. Note that the islands themselves never move relative to each other during the actual game, they are just land on which you can build. They also can't be destroyed (but the things you build on them certainly can). Making scientific sense was not high on the agenda.
  • The Neverhood and other locations in the same universe float in a vast, mostly-empty blackness. The Hall of Records actually explains why this is, but it's hard to get through because it's just so freaking long.
  • The entire world of Owlboy seems to be a bunch of floating islands. It's because the Hex, created by the Owls, started making them float. As Otus finds out later, they're still going up, towards outer space.
  • Pokémon Platinum: the Distortion World consists of floating islands, not all of which share the same gravitational orientation. At one point you get to Surf vertically between two islands.
  • Project Nomads is set in a ruined steampunk world, where people pilot floating chunks of land.
  • Rage Of Mages uses the "long ago there was a cataclysm that shattered the world into floating islands, but some great mage or other managed to prevent it from falling apart completely". Oddly enough, this property of the world is more backstory than anything, as the locations look pretty much like you'd expect a typical fantasy world to look (forests, deserts, snow wastes, active volcanoes) and the characters are almost never confronted with "world's edge".
  • The Rays Maze series of World Builder graphical adventure games includes a setting known as "The Void", which is made up of hunks of dirt and rock varying in size between a pebble and a large island floating in a breathable atmosphere. Presumably infinite in size, it appears as though it even rains there, and falling off whatever you're standing on is a common way to die. While flying between islands is pretty much unknown (the "jump doors" of the series are the primary means of transport), two prominent features of the setting are the Lost Technology left behind by the Precursors and the giant voidbeast.
  • Sacrifice: The setting features several floating islands in a vast void. This is only vaguely explained as "In the early days when the world was torn asunder terrible magical energies were released and blah blah blah blah blah..." and yes, it actually says the blahs.
  • Samorost and Samorost 2 take place in a world like this except IN SPACE with very unusual islands/planets including ones that seem to made of giant driftwood. Machinarium takes place in the same world though seemingly on a much larger landmass (which also has a sky, unlike the ones from Samorost).
  • Skies of Arcadia would be the most obvious example, although there are hints that it may not always have been that way. Though there is solid ground below, it's not habitable and no-one even knows it's there until events late in the game.
  • Skylanders takes place in the floating realm of Skylands. There have apparently been attempts to find the bottom, but they've either ended in failure or the explorer never came back.
  • Spellforce uses the "long ago there was a cataclysm that shattered the world into floating islands, but some great mage or other managed to prevent it from falling apart completely". Oddly enough, this property of the world is more backstory than anything, as the locations look pretty much like you'd expect a typical fantasy world to look (forests, deserts, snow wastes, active volcanoes) and the characters are almost never confronted with "world's edge". At least it's little more than a Hand Wave for why the game world is composed of a number of completely disparate maps that can only be reached via portals — the technical reason being that it uses Real-Time Strategy style maps coupled with Role-Playing Game style backtracking, and this is what it ends up looking like.
  • Super Mario Galaxy: Some planets appear to be floating in a blue sky with nothing below them, although the level select map places them very, very far above the games' world. In the actual levels, there are blue skies and clouds, and sometimes faint multitudes of stars, in all directions. In these regions of the universe, space itself resembles a surreal version of Earth's daytime sky, with planets, moons, asteroids, artificial constructs and sometimes even stars floating around in it. It is possibly the most literal image of this trope.
  • Surface The Soaring City: The bonus-play segment reveals that its Floating Continent used to be one of many, until a mysterious force began disintegrating them one by one.
  • The setting of Temtem is the Airborne Archipelago, a series of floating islands orbiting around a star called the Pan-Sun.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse Earthblood: The Umbral Realm to which Yfen moves Cahal and Graner's forces during Endron's second attack on the Caern is a land of floating islands of earth amidst a misty white sky.
  • Wizard101 is a mixture of this and Shattered World. It use to be a single world but fighting between the Titans broke it apart and the islands are currently held in orbit by magic.
  • World of Warcraft: Outland consists of the blasted shards of Draenor, home of the orcs and ogres, which now hang suspended in an interdimensional void. The Skywall and Firelands sections of the Elemental Plane, as seen in some dungeons, raids, and daily zones, give this idea as well.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Alrest consists of a seemingly endless sky, called the Cloud Sea. The only solid land in the setting exists on the backs of colossal beasts called Titans, which swim on the surface of the Cloud Sea and provide homes for human nations and wild ecosystems alike. However, the Titans are reaching the end of their lifespans, after which they sink into the depths of the Cloud Sea. The gradual loss of livable land, the various nations of the Titans growing uneasy and edging closer to war and the looming threat of the end of the world are the main drivers of the plot.

  • Cloudscratcher: Everyone lives on tall plateaus. The land in between is completely covered in at least two layers of clouds, and is extremely dangerous (although it's possible to turn a big profit by going down there to scavenge wrecked aircraft).
  • Kill Six Billion Demons has Throne, the hub of Creation, which floats in an infinite black emptiness. Oddly, there is also the Void outside all of the setting's universes, but nobody knows whether it's the same thing or not.
  • Kukuburi's flipside world has floating islands on the top and bottom (the mainland's equator is the gravity plane both "above" and "below"). A first glimpse.

    Web Original 
  • Dreamscape: The Sky Dimension. It was similar to a Fluffy Cloud Heaven, complete with angel guards wielding flaming swords. However, thanks to Curien and Ethan's meddling, a dark rift formed there. The angel guards couldn't stop it, so they had to seal the Sky Dimension away. This worked for awhile, but Ethan and Curien went at it again, and released the Overlord of Evil from its confines.
  • Orion's Arm: Inhabited gas giants (e.g. Jupiter, Saturn), ice giants (e.g. Uranus, Neptune) and Cytherean planets (e.g. Venus) are like this. Because this setting aims to be as realistic as possible, the landmasses are artificial instead of natural, using balloons to remain in the air: for this reason they are known as "bubblehabs".

    Western Animation 
  • Baby Follies: Baby City is located high up in the sky above even the clouds, borderlines on Fluffy Cloud Heaven with a baby/toddler theme.
  • Code Lyoko: The four main sectors of Lyoko are composed of floating islands above the Digital Sea. The Mountain Sector, in particular, evokes this trope.
  • Dragon Hunters ("Chasseurs de dragons") is set in a dense archipelago of floating islands floating in an infinite skyscape. There's a definite "downward" direction, meaning you can fall off or jump off an island, and there are waterfalls. Populated fragments range in size from those sufficient for a house and small farm to those the size of a good-sized island, and even pebbles may float in the air over the surface of bigger landmasses. (It is never explained why some stones float and others don't, but hey, it looks cool.) Some populated fragments are tethered together with rope bridges. Uncommon in such settings, magic in Dragon Hunters is almost nonexistent, and where it exists it is part of the scenery, such as an enchanted fairy-tale spring or monsters breathing fire. The characters have clockwork and bamboo technology but no steam tech or magic items. One episode has the heroes dealing with an island-shaped dragon so rare it is considered a myth. After it's killed, it floats away as Lian-Chu says (paraphrased) "A dragon dies, an island is born", implying that some, if not all, of the Floating Continents are dead dragons of that species.
  • Skyland takes place a couple centuries in the future when the world has been torn apart into floating "blocks" rotating around the Earth's previous core.
  • Stormhawks: The land of Atmos is one of these, with the different teras ranging in size from large enough for a big city to small enough for a farm or two. The extremely dangerous and uninhabitable solid ground below is known as the Wasteland.

    Real Life 
  • Gases may leave a planet's atmosphere but stay near the planet's orbit, forming a gas torus. At least two such clouds are observed in Solar system: Jupiter's moon Io and Saturn's Enceladus, and similar doughnut may exist for Saturn's Titan. The former two have weak gravity (allowing quick gas loss), active volcanoes (allowing them to replenish what was lost) and orbit a primary with a strong magnetic field. Of course, none of them would allow Earth-like life, but it was the study of Io's plasma torus that inspired Niven's Integral Trees novels. While highly unlikely, it isn't entirely impossible for the torus to have thick breathable atmosphere.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hovering World



Hekseville is a floating city attacked to the World Pillar.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

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Main / WorldInTheSky

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