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World Sundering

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"The world heaves with my torment. Its wretched kingdoms quake beneath my rage. But at last, the whole of Azeroth will break...and all will burn beneath the shadow of my wings."
Deathwing, prior to starting the Cataclysm, World of Warcraft

Since Medieval Stasis makes it so that a Magical Land will always be the same, and that 1,000 or so years in their world has the same amount of political, economic, and technological development as about five years in our world — that means that natural change happens pretty much never. Including geological shift. The continents, landmarks, etc. will remain exactly the same way they are across a span of 10,000 years, so the prophecy about the Sealed Evil in a Can in the Mountains of Shadowblood Peak will always be as so without the possibility of it having eroded away by the time that said prophecy is finally to be fulfilled.

The primary exception to this is the World Sundering, a huge magical cataclysm that does the job of millions of years of geological shift in anywhere from a year to a few seconds. As a general rule, this sort of events happens in one of two forms: either it's part of the setting's distant backstory, or it occurs at some point in the ongoing narrative.

If this happens in the backstory, it's usually as part of a general creation myth. This is often tied to some ancient Divine Conflict or Wizards' War, and is one of the most common ways for the ancient golden age of the Precursors to have ended. Traces of such Sunderings are often still present thousands of years later in the form of shattered mountain ranges, flooded continents, giant craters, huge derelict ruins, and so on.

When this happens in an ongoing story, it's usually employed as either part of a cataclysmic finale or, if between series or installments, as part of Expansion Pack World or a Cosmic Retcon to justify revamping an outdated setting. This allows writers to set two stories ten years apart in a world that's completely different from the old one.

In all of these cases, a war between gods or wizards, the Big Bad's machinations, Artifact of Doom, or some other event causes all of the continents of the world to shift rapidly. Geological change in these worlds doesn't happen because of tectonic plates or any nonsense like that. A Wizard Did It. Always.

Overlaps with The End of the World as We Know It, either a Class 1 or Class 2 apocalypse. World Sunderings drastic enough to break apart the physical planet itself may result in a Shattered World. See Also: Patchwork Map, Earth-Shattering Kaboom, Colony Drop, Atlantis, Regional Redecoration, and World-Wrecking Wave.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon:
    • Digimon Adventure has a minor/delayed example, with the Big Bads warping a giant mountain into existence and turning themselves into Load Bearing Bosses for different parts of the world (killing the water-themed villain removes the oceans, etc.). In addition, the entire Digital World is essentially rebooted in the time between the final battle and Digimon Adventure 02.
    • Digimon Frontier: The third arc has Dynasmon and Crusadermon converting huge areas of the Digital World to raw data and feeding it to Lucemon. By the time they're done, all that's left are a planet-sized web of train tacks and tiny floating islets. Defeating Lucemon once and for all allows the Digital World to be fully purified and restored to an intact state.
    • Digimon Fusion has the Digital World split into 108 Zones, the implication being that they were once one. They are merged into seven Lands halfway through. Bagramon's palace remains in its own Zone the whole time.
  • Rave Master: The Overdrive from the backstory destroyed one tenth of the entire planet and at one point the heroes have to stop it from happening again. To put it this way, it was so bad that Shiva had to rewrite reality to undo the damage it did to the planet. The bad guys are trying to undo his sacrifice, so that the world returns to its post-Overdrive state: a ruined wasteland nearly devoid of life.

    Comic Books 
  • Bone: According to the Valley's backstory, Queen Mim of the Dragons kept the cosmic balance of the Dreaming in place by encircling the entire world and holding her tail in her mouth. Eventually, she was driven mad by the Lord of the Locusts, and the other dragons had to turn her to stone, making the Valley's eastern mountain chain.

    Fan Works 
  • Austraeoh: The Sundering was an event in Equestria's distant past where the ringworld of Urohringr was shattered into different pieces; the modern setting takes place on a single such fragment.

  • Older Than Feudalism: Atlantis, according to Plato, was caused to sink beneath the ocean in a single day by the gods.
  • The Trope Codifier is J. R. R. Tolkien, of course. This happens at least three times in The Silmarillion:
    • Originally, the world consisted of a single, symmetrical supercontinent. The original battle between Morgoth and the Valar led to this shattering, creating an ocean with Valinor on the Western side of Arda and the great inland Sea of Helcar in Middle-Earth, forming the earliest versions of the modern continents.
    • The War of Wrath at the end of the First Age caused the entire subcontinent of Beleriand, which the stories of the First Age had all been set on, to sink into the ocean.
    • The Drowning of Númenor in the Second Age was an act of divine intervention which, in addition to sending the island-continent to the bottom of the sea, remade the entire world round rather than flat.
    • Finally, it's implied that Middle-earth is simply the Old World in a lost era of prehistory, so untold other cataclysmic changes would have occured between the setting of the novels and the present day to account for modern geography — primarily, a great deal of Eriador would need to have sunk beneath what today are the North Sea and the British Channel.

  • The Belgariad, by David Eddings, has this in the backstory, related in the prequel Belgarath the Sorcerer. When Belgarion acquires the Orb of Aldur (which caused the sundering at Torak's command), he muses about the destruction... and the Orb starts giving him precise instructions on how to fix it (he declines, for numerous reasons).
  • The Broken Earth Trilogy: The series begins with the world's only continent being torn in half along a faultline by Alabaster, setting off a Season of such severity that it promises to end humanity once and for all. The series ends with it closing, after being used as an energy source to return the Moon to stable orbit.
  • Conan the Barbarian: Hyborian Age Europe underwent such shifts to become the Europe we know today. In Conan's day, the Mediterranean is solid land, its future southern border delineated by an extension of the Nile; the Black Sea is considerably larger, stretching northward to form a continental divide; and the English Channel and much of the northern Atlantic are above water, linking Britain, Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland to the European landmass.
  • Discworld:
    • It's implied that the suspiciously regularly-shaped Circle Sea the separates Klatch from the Central Continent is the result of an unspecified cosmic catastrophe, possibly to do with The Fifth Elephant falling off the back of the World Turtle and re-impacting the Disc with some force. There is certainly enough ex-elephant underneath Überwald for there to still be a thriving mining industry capitalising on the bounty of fossilized tallow strata beneath its lands.
    • There was a Dark War in the antiquity of the Discworld, and before that magical wars between super-powerful wizards, and before that a primal conflict between the Gods and the Ice Giants (apparently owing to a dispute concerning ownership of a lawnmower). The land of the Wyrmberg is a survival of this early conflict, as is the cursed valley of Loko where men, Dwarfs and Trolls fear to tread.
  • The Death Gate Cycle: In the setting's ancient backstory, itself set in the Earth's distant future, a war between two races of feuding superhumans, the Sartan and the Patryn, ended when the Patryn used a powerful magical working to destroy the world and reshape it into five realms in an event called the Sundering — four worlds themed around the classical elements and a Labyrinth to serve as a prison-realm for their foes. Untold numbers of mortals died in the cataclysm, with the exceptions mostly having been preserved by the Sartan to populate their new worlds.
  • Dragonlance: The Cataclysm, a Colony Drop of a "flaming mountain", hit the nation of Istar, completely destroying it and drastically changing the entire continent of Ansalon. [[Hit So Hard, the Calendar Felt It The new calendar measured years "Prae Cataclius" (before) and "Alt Cataclius" (after).
  • Elantris: Inverted. The Chasm was probably created by a natural earthquake, but the changed landscape actually causes a breakdown in magic. Elantrian magic is based upon runes (Aons) that mimic the shape of the kingdom, so when the kingdom changes, the Aons stop working.
  • The Fifth Season: At the beginning, Alabaster uses his orogeny powers in conjunction with the obelisks to create a massive rift in the earth that splits the world's only continent in two permanently, killing everyone in the city where the rift appeared and many in the areas relatively close-by immediately, as well as ensuring the ensuing volcanic winter-type event will starve everyone in the world within a few decades.
  • Garrett, P.I.: Downplayed in Deadly Quicksilver Lies, where natural geological change really does take place in a fantasy setting and caused a buried treasure — one everyone in the book is fighting each other over clues to — to collapse into the sea, courtesy of plain ol' cliffside erosion, several hundred years ago.
  • Heralds of Valdemar has this as part of the Backstory — the entire modern world of Velgarth was shaped by the Cataclysm, a gargantuan magical explosion caused by the combined deaths of the two most powerful mages the world had ever known, along with all their magical artifacts, after a major magical war between them. The Cataclysm turned a swath of fertile farmland into a crater hundreds of miles in diameter, another into an inland sea, and formed a hellish borderland of magically warped creatures that persists three thousand years later.
  • The Riftwar Cycle, by Raymond E Feist: Happens at the very end due to Pug's manipulating magic to permanently seal off his world from a Eldritch Abomination intent on reducing the entire universe to nothing. It causes alot of casualties due to the changes to the planet that occur worldwide.
  • The Runelords: In the second book of the second quadrilogy (sixth overall), the main character fuses his world with another. 95% of the world from the first quadrilogy vanishes, unresolved.
  • Saga of the Exiles, by Julian May: An actual geographical event in the shaping of Europe as we know it is the (very) direct result of character actions. We're talking "Grab the faultline with telekinesis and pull" levels of directness.
  • Shannara: The (implied nuclear, later confirmed) apocalypse from thousands of years ago. The apocalypse changed the geography of the world, meaning that magical locations, etc. from before could not be located later. Then again, Shannara mostly averts Medieval Stasis anyway.
  • The Shattered World: Michael Reaves actually broke a planet, then wrote a novel about the thousand-years-later aftermath.
  • Slayers: The world was shaped due to the battle between the god Flare Dragon Ceifeed and the demon lord Ruby Eye Shabranigdu. Their battleground by Lina's time 4000 years later is in the center of a huge almost circular ocean.
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The section on Confrontations briefly goes over the Final Confrontation, or Last Battle, where the forces of Good and Evil will square off for good in a huge clash where a good deal of Fantasyland is going to get destroyed as collateral damage. This is touched upon in the entry on Conclusions, which mentions that the final leg of the tour typically ends with a dramatic view of the main continent being torn asunder in the final clash.
    This is a spectacular sight and should not be missed.
  • The Wheel of Time: The Breaking of the World, which ended the ancient civilization's golden age. The male channelers did it as a result of the Dark One's taint of saidin (the male half of the One Power), causing them to go violently insane. In a highly advanced Magitek culture that had spent the last few decades in a desperate arms race.
  • Witch World: Happens in some of the early novels by Andre Norton. The Witches of Estcarp use all their power (and in some cases, their lives and sanity) to twist and turn the mountain range between their country and the neighboring, invading kingdom of Karsten. This event is unimaginatively dubbed The Turning. This effectively kills the invading army and makes the mountains nearly impassable for any future invasions. Later, it's revealed the same thing was done thousands of years ago when the Old Race fled out of Escore to Estcarp.

    Live-Action TV 

    Mythology & Folklore 
  • Paul Bunyan was this trope solidified into human form, being responsible for just about every major geographical feature in America. Minnesota's ten thousand lakes? Paul's footprints that filled up with water. The Grand Canyon? What happened when Paul dragged his axe behind him. The Mississippi River? Dug by Paul so he could float his logs down the country. The Rocky Mountains? Well, all that dirt he dug up making the Mississippi had to go somewhere. Michigan happened when he lost his left mitten.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Forgotten Realms: The spellplague was caused when the goddess of magic died, which turned magic into a chaotic, destructive and unpredictable force until a replacement arose. The waves of wild magic radically changed the geography of the world, widening seas with the collapse of underground tunnels or lowering them by draining water underground, digging ravines and raising highlands, causing chunks of the landscape to float off into the sky, creating a chasm the size of a country and reaching down to the Underdark, causing settlements and landforms to vanish into the ether, and replacing an entire continent with one from the lost world of Abeir.
    • Mystara: The world suffered through several such cataclysms over its history.
      • The by all accounts self-inflicted destruction of Blackmoor was cataclysmic enough to shift the planet's axis.
      • The Wrath of the Immortals involved a massive asteroid impact and the teleportation of an India-sized continent from the surface world to the Hollow World. Gods were responsible for both.
  • Exalted: Before the Primordial known as "She Who Lives Within Her Name" was banished to Malfeas, she detonated three globes of her unquenchable flame on top of Creation, literally Retgonning nine-tenths of everything that had ever existed up to that point in time. Even people who lived through it can't remember the things she deleted, knowing only that most of Creation is gone.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • This has happened to Dominaria on a number of occasions, most notably when Urza used the Golgothian Sylex to create a powerful explosion on the island of Argoth. This completely destroyed the island and shattered the plate beneath it, creating a colossal deep-sea tech stretching almost from pole to pole, which allowed the cold water-loving homarids of the southern polar oceans to migrate into the northern hemisphere, and create large-scale climate shifts that culminated in a global ice age.
    • The Overlay, Yawgmoth's plan to invade Dominaria, consisted of physically superimposing the artificial plane of Rath, already dominated by his forces, onto Dominaria, with cataclysmic results. By the time the war was over, Skyshroud Forest (part of Rath) was part of Dominaria, and Teferi's magic had shunted the empire of Zhalfir and part of Shiv into another dimension. When he tried to bring them back during the Time Spiral block, the rifts caused by his original shunting hindered the process: he was able to return Shiv, but Zhalfir was lost to the rift.
    • Zendikar is periodically wracked by the Roil, a magical event that reshapes the landscape of even entire continents on a regular, though unpredictable, basis. This makes maps nigh useless, and permanent settlements few and far between.
    • Lorwyn is a plane resembling an idyllic fairytale land, but its periodically changed by the Great Aurora into the dark, haunted world of Shadowmoor.
    • Alara was one plane that became five, each missing two allied colors of magic and having a concentration of their more common enemy, when an incredibly powerful planeswalker ripped the world into pieces to strip away its mana — so for instance, Esper, lacking the authenticity of red and green mana, is a world of machines. In the Alara block, the shards are sent drifting back together, with cataclysmic results for their inhabitants as each shard comes into contact with creatures, philosophies and forms of magic once unheard of.
    • A number of cards, such as Sunder, Sundering Titan and Worldpurge, destroy all or a specific section of lands (or permanents in general) in play, representing cataclysmic disasters that reshape entire landscapes.
      The Aurora is not the only magic capable of remaking a world. — Flavor text for Worldpurge
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle:
    • In the backstory, the dimensional gates built by the Old Ones collapsed, resulting in a huge blast of magic energy, followed by massive earthquakes and an enormous demonic invasion. The most notable result in the present day is the existence of the Chaos Wastes on both poles.
    • Smaller-scale examples occurred when the Elves were forced to sink part of their homeland beneath the waves to contain the magic energies released from the aforementioned cataclysm in order to keep the entire world from being torn apart, and later when the Lizardmen decided to use their magic to alter some mountain ranges, leading to the destruction of several Dwarf holds.

    • About 100,000 years ago, the planet Spherus Magna exploded into three chunks in an event called the Shattering. One chunk used to be a major forest, and became the moon Bota Magna. Another was a significant part of the ocean, becoming the moon Aqua Magna. Between them, the remains of Spherus Magna became a planet-wide desert called Bara Magna. The climax of the story involved reforming Spherus Magna from the three pieces.
    • A second, smaller one happened 1000 years before the main story, when Mata Nui fell into a coma and crashed on Aqua Magna. This broke apart several continents inside the Great Spirit Robot, sending Voya Nui to the surface, punching a hole in Karda Nui that let mutagenic water in, and forming the island of Mata Nui over the robot's face.

    Video Games 
  • Aion: In the backstory, the planet was split in half, thanks to the misbehavior of the beings the creator god left behind to manage things.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: Several in-game documents detail various events that were caused by the Limen crater's supernatural anomalies resulted in a shift of the world's surface. The World Map fully shows the setting occurring across an open crater with floating rocks arising around it.
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt Series: In the backstory, it's revealed that conflict between Adepts have ravaged most of the world, with the city/country Gunvolt is in implied to be the last relatively save haven on Earth with a functioning government.
  • Bastion: The Calamity, which spanned at least an entire nation, if not the entire planet, wiped out a large majority of the population. Only a handful of people, some monsters and wild animals were left surviving. The land itself has been shattered and each place now exists as a separate floating island, accessible only via flying. Interestingly, these islands are not actually complete when you land on them. As you progress through the levels, the areas rebuild themselves before your feet: earth, plants, buildings and all.
  • Botania has this as a Norse myth-based backstory for Minecraft, of which Botania is a Game Mod. Once the Lexica Botania is sent to Alfheim to be filled in with elven knowledge, one of the entries it gains is Elven Lore – The Shattering, which recounts how the Nine Worlds were split from each other, starting with an earthquake induced by Thor shattering the Bifrost. This collapsed most of Nidavellir, left Jotunheim a Shattered World whose population was massacred to be never seen again (but not necessarily all dead), and sent Muspelheim falling into Midgard, killing off the population of the latter in a blaze of fire. Alfheim's Sylph emissary to Asgard saw the original event, and on her command the elven population of Midgard was evacuated in time, leaving behind enough Mana to later rejuvenate Midgard into what is most likely the Minecraftian world, but not before Alfheim lost its connection to the other realms.
  • Chrono Trigger: There were two world-altering cataclysms: the Fall of Zeal, in which an awakened Lavos annihilated the Magic Kingdom and the Day of Lavos in 1999 AD, which razed the entire planet. Lavos' arrival in 65,000,000 BC didn't change the face of the planet per se — only causing the Ice Age that killed off the dinosaurs and led to the world where the Kingdom of Zeal did make him change things a lot.
  • Dragon's Dogma: The game world undergoes a major change after slaying the Dragon: the Everfall rips open beneath Gran Soren, causing a massive chunk of the city to be completely destroyed. The Duke, who was given halted aging due to a deal with the dragon, suddenly ages into a wizened old man and sics his soldiers on you. At the same time, more powerful monsters begin to appear.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy V has a single planet which is magically separated into two worlds in the backstory, and then fused back together by Exdeath mid-game.
    • Final Fantasy VI: The World of Balance is sundered mid-game by Kefka disrupting with the balance of the statues of the Warring Triad, accompanied by a grim view from space with city-sized explosions blanketing the planet and reshaping the face of the earth, turning it into the World of Ruin. The Light of Judgment that issues from Kefka's Tower steadily makes this world more and more of an After the End scenario. The sundering results in continents all over the world becoming shifted and unrecognizable, and notably, Serpent's Trench, which had been underwater, is forced up and forms a large isthmus.
    • Final Fantasy XIV 1.0: Long in the past, there existed an unsundered world known as Etheirys, a world where the people were gifted with such powerful magic as to border on Reality Warping. Then came the Final Days, an apocalyptic event that caused the Ancients' creation magics to give birth to destructive beasts. In the hopes of setting the world right, half of Etheirys's population sacrificed themselves to summon a god, Zodiark. In the hopes of saving the world as she knew it from oblivion brought on by her peers' desire for their glory days, a woman named Venat took it upon herself to become Zodiark's equal and counterbalance, Hydaelyn, and sunder the world, splitting it and its aether into fourteen different realities: the "Source" and its thirteen "Reflections". The bulk of the game, thenceforth, takes place on the Source, with Shadowbringers taking place in The First.
  • Fuga: Melodies of Steel: When Shvein Hax reawakens and takes control of the Vanargand (another Titano-Machina), its Breath Weapon is so powerful that it breaks apart the singular floating continent of Gasco into an archipelago of numerous islands. Promotional material for Fuga: Melodies of Steel 2 notes that due to changing air currents, the individual islands of Gasco have radically shifted from their original positions and altitudes, with their new positions being closer to the ones they take in Solatorobo: Red the Hunter (since Gasco is Shepherd centuries in the past). In-game lore frequently discusses how the "great fragmentation" has impacted individual locales: Lhassa Apso's volcanic deposits have been destroyed and a new hot spring has been created in their place, Viszla's flora and fauna have begun to radically mutate and grow in size, and fresh water has become more and more difficult to come by across Gasco as a whole.
  • Golden Sun:
    • A version of this occurs in the events between the first game and the second, caused by the activation of Venus Lighthouse. At first, it seems that its greatest effect was to break an island off of one continent and drift it across the ocean (with some important characters brought along for the ride). During the opening of the second game, though, it's revealed that it also caused a massive tsunami that (as you find out later in the game) awoke an ancient monster from slumber and moved one continent for miles until it slammed into another.
    • Another case seems to have occurred since the release of Alchemy at the end of the second game, judging by the map for Dark Dawn. Particularly noticeable are the apparent sinking of Tolbi, the expanded mountain range near where Altin should be, the fact that Kolima Forest is on a completely different part of the continent it's on (and also more confusing), and the waterfalls between different levels of ocean.
  • Graal Classic: This happened very frequently — a cataclysm and an island appears, a cataclysm and it merges with the continent, a cataclysm and it gets invaded and burned down, a volcano erupts and another island sinks...
  • Guild Wars and its sequel have seen this occur in various locations.
    • The Crystal Sea was a shallow sea between Elona and Tyria until Abaddon was banished at its center. The northern half was drained and became the Crystal Desert while the south half rose several hundred feet and became the equally-dry Sulfurous Wastes.
    • The Jade Wind in Cantha transformed a sea to solid jade and petrified an entire forest, changing the geography of roughly half the continent.
    • The Searing not only devastated Ascalon's population, it also caused massive changes to the landscape. Many areas were uplifted while bodies of water receded, replaced with tar pits.
    • The Cataclysm was a spell cast in Orr as a stopgap measure when an invading Charr army broke their defenses. The backlash of the explosion sank nearly the entire Orrian peninsula into the ocean, now called the Sea of Sorrows, with only a handful of islands remaining above water.
    • Between the two games the sunken land rose back to the surface. This not only changed maps due to the new landmass but also sent out tsunamis which reshaped the surrounding coastlines.
  • .hack//G.U.: Used in the meta-plot of the second series of games. In The World 2's backstory, a war between the humans, elves, and gods happened that destroyed the old towns and landmarks to make new ones. In the real world, the servers were destroyed along with most of The World's data, which basically is a sundering to a virtual world.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Taken to extremes, although we only ever see the aftermath. Before the Cataclysm Backstory that is the Keyblade War, there was one planet. Now, there are several tiny separate worlds surrounded by a sea of Darkness.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: In the backstory, Hyrule was magically flooded by the gods to prevent the forces of evil from conquering the world, transforming the setting into a vast ocean dotted with islands that were once mountain peaks.
  • Lennus II: The Great Union turns out to be this, and it happens twice through the course of the game:
    • It first happens to Andel at the start of the game, when all of the Floating Continents crash into each other and begin to sink. When it's revisited later on, in order to obtain the eight seal, it turns out the whole thing is filling with lava as well.
    • The second time happens way later, when Eltz crashes into Lennus and the two fuse together. Both worlds fit neatly together with one another, with very little damage being done to each world. Granada later reveals this to be a part of his ultimate plan, to convert both planets into a new star.
  • Lineage 2 evoked this in its latest Expansion Pack World Awakening with the release of the death goddess Shillen from her prison, which resulted in the destruction of many many many zones, namely Elven, Dark Elven and Dwarven starting villages and the Seven Signs completely wiped out of existence.
  • Little Tail Bronx: The Reset is an extreme case — when humanity's warring with the Titano-Machina came close to causing the extinction of all life on Earth, a group of human researchers collectively authorized the Juno (sentient supercomputers of unknown origin that the humans used to create Titano-Machina) to restart all life on the planet. Juno did so, erasing humanity and storing all other organisms into data, and then converted the planet's collective landmasses into Floating Continents and blanketed the surface below with a volatile "Plasma Cloud Sea" to purify it. Afterwards, Juno used the data to create completely new flora and fauna, and dogs and cats were used as the basis for a new humanity — the Caninu and Felineko races.
  • Mega Man: The Elf Wars, a time period between Mega Man X and Zero. The world is completely devastated, with only one bastion of civilization left. Also, there's a radical decrease in the population (60% humans, 90% Reploids wiped out). It's all the cause of Energy Beings with the power of Mind Control and Rewriting Reality, which are in the hands of an Omnicidal Maniac. The war, which spanned only 4 years, was thankfully ended by the duo of the series' heroes before things got much, much worse.
  • Mortal Kombat: In the backstory, in the beginning, there was only the Elder Gods and The One Being. The Elder Gods rebelled against The One Being and defeated it by splitting its body into six fragments. These fragments would become the six Realms: Earthrealm, Outworld, Edenia, Netherrealm, Orderrealm, and Chaosrealm. One of the villains of the series, the fallen Elder God Shinnok, seeks to rejoin the realms to resurrect The One Being, which would lead to the destruction of all known reality.
  • Oracle of Tao: In the first scene, the world is split into Earth and the Void.
  • Pokémon Black 2 and White 2: Downplayed. Due to earthquakes, erosion, and human development, Unova has greatly expanded over the two years. Some areas are new and connect to other places, like Clay Tunnel which connects to Twist Mountain, and Ruin Passage which connects to Relic Castle. On the other hand, some areas are gone, like Route 10, which is closed off, and Challenger's Cave, whose cave entrance has collapsed. The old Victory Road has also collapsed, but in its place is a new Victory Road that connects to the Pokémon League from the east, only briefly passing by the old Victory Road's top section.
  • Riven: This happens to Riven at the end of the game. The Age was already undergoing this naturally due to Gehn's shortcomings when creating it. The five islands were originally a single island but had split apart.
  • Solatorobo: Red the Hunter: The heroes are trying to prevent this: CODA, or the "Continent Orientation Defloat Alignment", is a protocol by Juno to bring all the floating islands back to their original positions on the planet's surface. While Juno's intended purpose for CODA was for it to occur when they determined the planet's new civilization had matured enough to be contacted by them and thus also removed the Cloud Sea, Baion's plan is to activate CODA early and use the Cloud Sea to purge the planet of what he believes to be another failed species.
  • Sonic Unleashed: At the start of the game, Eggman captures Sonic, drain the Chaos Emeralds of their energy, and use them to power a big honking laser beam that awakens Dark Gaia and shatters Earth into seven pieces.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Downplayed. After the second Chernobyl disaster radiation, psy waves, mutants, gravitational anomalies, and more spill out into the Zone. Enormous radiation emissions happen daily which kills anything that hasn't taken cover. But despite all the catastrophic results, the geography of the area remains more or less the same. However in the sequel, Call of Pripyat, you see that the anomalies have started to warp the terrain. Gravity anomalies are creating bizarre rock formations, burner anomalies are causing areas that were formerly stone or concrete to melt, acidic anomalies are causing strange plant growths all over, and generally the anomalies are twisting around the landscape.
  • Tales Series:
    • Tales of Phantasia, Tales of Symphonia, and Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World take place in the same setting with a (literal) world sundering and world re-merging between each game. It was originally one planet, then split in two, then put back together again.
    • Tales of the Abyss has a very weird variation. While the Big Bad is the one who gets the ball rolling, it's your party that finishes the job.
    • Tales of Legendia has this as part of its backstory, twice. To wit: the world was once entirely ocean. Then the Orerines came along and used the Wings of Light to create an entire continent. At some later point, the Ferines got ahold of the Wings of Light and used it to destroy half of that continent. This is a bit of an odd example in that none of the gameplay even takes place on the continent in question.
  • The Tone Rebellion: The intro shows an enormous continent in space populated by peaceful Floaters. Then The Corruption appears and spreads throughout the land. The war with it results in the continent being split into dozens of smaller islands, all orbiting a central one - the heart of the corruption. Four of these islands have the remains of the Floater race. Over the next millennia, the four tribes evolve into distinct subspecies, each in alignment with one of the four elements (Natural, Supernatural, Physical, and Ethereal). After activating all the ancient bridges between the islands and defeating the corruption, the player witnesses the islands drifting towards each other and re-merging into the original continent.
  • Warcraft has this in its backstory, and is one of the Trope Namers.
    • Ten thousand years prior to the events of Warcraft, the War of the Ancients ended in an event called The Sundering where the Well of Eternity imploded. Half of the world's landmass was destroyed and the remaining land was split apart into four continents and a scattering of islands.
    • The Frozen Throne has Illidan attempting this with Northrend and failing due to Maiev and Furion. Even though he was trying to off the Lich King, it would've caused a global catastrophe had he succeeded.
    • World of Warcraft does it again in Cataclysm. A Dragon did it! It wasn't as severe as the first sundering, as most of the effects of this sundering were very minor in comparison (aside from opening portals to different parts of the Elemental Plane everywhere), but it counts. The larger plan was to make it much worse.
    • Also, the planet Draenor, where Orcs are originally from, was torn apart by the use of too many portals, turning a once beautiful world into a Floating Continent in space. Even before that, Gul'dan created a demon-tainted volcano in Shadowmoon Valley which transformed the verdant region in a volcanic wasteland.
  • Warlords Battlecry and the Warlords series in general have the Sundering, which happened when the first Dark Elf attempted to summon a powerful demon and bind it to his will, only for all of it to go terribly, terribly wrong. While there were plenty of tidal waves and cataclysmic storms, the more lasting effects included various places sinking into unusable swampland (leading to an exodus that ended in what became The Empire being founded), great tears into the land that uncovered veins of valuable gold and other treasures, and enormous caverns that opened up beneath the ground, which the Dwarves decided to claim for themselves as soon as they could and allowing them to found an actual kingdom below. There are likely many more effects, but it happened so long ago some details were lost, and the biggest impact (the Horsemen of the Apocalypse barging into the material realm and setting up shop) wasn't quite geographic in nature.
  • Xenogears: At least in the Perfect Works, the global thermonuclear war that wipes out nearly all of humanity 6000 years prior, actually causes cataclysmic movement of the planet's tectonic plates.

    Web Comics 
  • The Dragon Doctors: This happened four times in the backstory. One was a magical civil war, one was a nuclear war, one was a meteor impact, and the most recent was the most devastating; "The Dimension Fusion," combining bits and pieces of other worlds into this one.
  • Penny Arcade: Parodied in Epic Legends of the Hierarchs: The Elemenstor Saga, in which there are several of these, usually one every few thousand years. One was caused by a giant cow falling from outer space.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: A small-scale one happened in the backstory, when former Avatar Kyoshi used the power boost of the avatar state to separate her home peninsula from the Earth Kingdom mainland, creating Kyoshi Island.
  • Ninjago: In Ninjago's ancient past, the First Spinjitzu Master and the Overlord were locked in a brutal struggle. Eventually, the Overlord created the Nigh-Invulnerable Stone Army to assist him, forcing the First Spinjitzu Master to unleash an attack so powerful it destroyed the Overlord's physical form and rendered the Stone Army dormant. This attack also split Ninjago in two, with one half became Ninjago proper, and the other becoming the Dark Island, where the spirit of the defeated Overlord bided his time.
  • Steven Universe: Implied. The backstory involves an alien war taking place on Earth thousands of years ago, and there are notable changes to the geography: Florida is an island, there's a huge clunk missing out of Russia, etc. The Kindergartens have also left the surrounding areas barren and dead even after millennia.


Video Example(s):


Fake-Bright Falls

Being a world where reality is loose, the Dark Place's interpretation of Bright Falls is not only imperfectly made, but as time goes on parts of the world start vanishing. Thomas implies that this is the Dark Place playing tricks on him.

How well does it match the trope?

4 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / WorldSundering

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