Follow TV Tropes


World-Wrecking Wave

Go To

"Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world."
Bob Dylan, "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"

Natural disasters are scary enough, but what about supernatural or man-made disasters? One way to kick-start a story or motivate characters to pick up The Call is to threaten the setting with a World-Wrecking Wave. The Wave can have any of a number of triggers; it may happen when the Sealed Evil in a Can is released, some overwhelming evil force unleashes a powerful Curse, the Cosmic Keystone is stolen or corrupted, a global balance is ruined, or a scientific/technological device meant to better things Goes Horribly Wrong — or a Mad Scientist has figured out how to weaponize Applied Phlebotinum. The wave can have any or all of the following effects: natural disasters will be triggered, mutations will affect animal, plant, and even human life, areas will enter the Dark World or become haunted and toxic, landscapes may be blasted apart or destructively reshaped, and millions of Mooks (monsters, undead or other things) will roam the land and attack all humans. Maybe all of the humans in radius of the wave are turned into something else, or the planet might be scoured of life.

Once the wave stops rippling, the heroes will be faced with a world where Nothing Is the Same Anymore. The effects can range from a Cosy Catastrophe to After the End, and affect anywhere from a town to a universe. While you can be fairly certain the world will still be there afterwards, the fate of the setting after the Wave is whacked closer to Crapsack World (or further down the same). Narratively, it isn't supposed to destroy the world either - unless the world is expendable, it's an amped up way to show heroes that things can get much, much worse if the bad guys get their way.

On the plus side, heroes can sometimes Set Right What Once Went Wrong, though the method by this varies - it can be a piecemeal process involving healing the land one acre at a time, or all at once by healing the Fisher King, going back in time to prevent the event, or using an opposing World-Healing Wave. Also, a World-Wrecking Wave may end up helping the heroes by serving as a Mass Super-Empowering Event... though some of those may be Lovecraftian Superpowers.

Expect a Spreading Disaster Map Graphic to hammer home the scope of the threat. Compare Fantastic Nuke, which may set off a World-Wrecking Wave and Unholy Nuke, when the wave is explicitly made of evil. Contrast a Earth-Shattering Kaboom - for the world doesn't survive the experience. For when the World-Wrecking Wave is used with the express purpose of changing the planet to one's preference, see Hostile Terraforming.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk: At the conclusion of the Millennium Falcon Arc, Griffith uses the Skull Knight's dimension-warping attack to fuse the planes of existence together, which is perceived by everyone as a wall of light expanding from the epicenter in all directions and washing over the entire globe so that it's visible from outer space. The Magic Comes Back all over the world, stirring benign and evil magical creatures in equal measure. While nobody is directly harmed by the wave, the world is thrown into chaos and everyone who can begins migrating to the only place that is safe from monsters: Falconia, Griffith's Shining City at the foot of the World Tree.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Kid Buu destroys the Earth with a ball of energy that engulfs it. Goku and Vegeta try to outrun it to reach Kibito Kai, who can teleport them to safety. They first intend to take Piccolo, Gohan, Goten and Trunks with them, but then Goku has a Sadistic Choice to make and he decides to save Dende and Mr. Satan instead, since Dende can use Porunga's Dragon Balls to restore the Earth and everyone back to life.
  • Third Impact in End of Evangelion manifests using this trope. Wherever the wave passes, the oceans turn red, all people explode into LCL while their souls fly off into low orbit and the ground spontaneously sprouts billions of Creepy Crosses with the entire scene overlaid by humanity's collective Death Cry Echo. It's utterly awesome and horrifying at the same time.
  • Rockman.EXE Beast has the alternate universe world Beyondard. Prior to the start of the series a Dimensional Area experiment went out of control and permanently covered the entire planet in a Dimensional Area making it a Crapsack World where deadly computer viruses and rogue A.I.s exist in the real world.
  • Soul Eater's World-Wrecking Wave is The Kishin and his madness spreading through the world. His release divides the story between a previous and an after, and set up a world slowly being corrupted with the heroes desperate to find him and stop him before it's too late.
  • The Silent Möbius TV series has one in the first episode as a result of the failure of Project Gaia. It passes over a series of major landmarks and we later see some burning ruins.
  • The lore of Puella Magi Madoka Magica states that this would be what happened if Walpurgisnacht ever faced upright.
  • In Mini Moni The Movie: Okashi na Daibōken!, after Nakajalinu eats cake, power radiates from her and destroys her soldiers, then turns the castle back into cake—which immediately starts to melt and collapse.

    Comic Books 
  • In The DCU, the God-Wave created the gods out of a lifeless universe, and its echoes created superheroes (Superman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, The Flash...) and supervillains (Brainiac, Cheetah...).
  • In Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, Lex Luthor's weaponized satellite created a massive tsunami which threatened the whole US East Coast with flooding.
    Lex: The Atlantic Coast will still be smashed beneath a two hundred mile tidal wave!
  • North 40 has a localized World-Wrecking Wave on the town. However, this was only because one of the two (accidental) instigators of the event focused on containing the negative effects with a barrier so they wouldn't be able to leave.
  • The Ultimatum Wave, in the Ultimate Marvel Crisis Crossover, Ultimatum. (Guess what their favorite word is?) It was an actual wave and it ended with half the Ultimate Marvel cast dead.
  • Both the Ultimate Annhilator and the Genesis Waves of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) were this. Subverted in that the results of all three incidents, which were always meant to be destructive, didn't quite turn out how their architects had intended due to sabotage of some kind either before or after implementation. As a result, most of the intended changes didn't take or weren't permanent. Then it's doubly subverted with the reversion of the last Genesis Wave. Only this time, it's Eggman who sabotages Sonic.
  • A fiery wave of destruction passes through the Earth in 1945 when the Spectre reveals to Dr. Fate what Adolf Hitler has done with the Ancient Spear of Destiny in Last Days of the Justice Society. Even the likes of Superman were consumed by it, and then Earth was destroyed.
  • In Eight Billion Genies, someone makes a wish for an energy wave that scours the Earth and kills most life forms. The only survivors are people who were in reinforced bunkers or those living in wish-proofed enclaves.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): The Infinity Stone has the effect of converting any organic matter it touches into energy, unless it is held by a being of incredible power. If used on a planet, the resulting chain reaction would rip through the microbes in soil and seawater, rendering the entire planet lifeless.
  • The short film Pixels shows parts of New York being disintegrated into tiny cubes by various creatures and objects from arcade games that escaped into our world from a thrown-out TV. Then a giant bomb finishes it off by pixellating everything in the blast, and eventually turning entire world into one giant black cube that drifts silently through space.
  • In Rogue One, the Death Star is revealed to have this as a lower setting. Instead of shattering a planet completely, as in A New Hope, it just creates a massive physical upheaval in a localized area. The super-heated ground literally rises up and travels outward from the blast site like a thousand-foot tsunami. It's used twice.
    K-2SO: We have a problem on the horizon. [Beat] There is no horizon.
  • Rubikon. The protagonists watch as Earth is enveloped in a cloud of fatal toxins.
  • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The wave of corruption that spreads over Heartland after Mr. Mustard steals the title characters' musical instruments.
  • Technically, the Genesis Device from Star Trek II is this. Sure, it can create a completely new biosphere from a dead or lifeless planet... but when used on a world bustling with life, it utterly destroys the existing ecosystem to replace it with the new one.
  • In the climax of The World's End, a World-Wrecking Wave destroys Newton Haven after the Network leaves Earth for good... And then it keeps going, destroying all technology on Earth and sending humanity back to the Dark Ages, which makes for a somewhat Bittersweet Ending. This is supposed to be a comedy film by the way.
  • In Zack Snyder's Justice League, Darkseid's Evil Plan is to hit the Earth with one of these, incinerating the planet's surface, converting all the surviving humans into Parademon slaves, and revealing the Anti-Life Equation carved into the planet in order to enslave the universe. And for a brief moment he succeeds, until The Flash manages to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.

  • The world of the Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey is defined in large part by an ancient event known as the Cataclysm, which was a humongous magical detonation that devastated vast portions of the landscape and left magical ruin behind. It took the form of a sequence of waves radiating around the planet, and was so powerful that it bent time itself, returning three thousand years later.
  • In the Backstory of the first Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, High Lord Kevin Landwaster enacts the "Ritual of Desecration", releasing one of these in a desperate attempt to defeat Lord Foul. His success is only temporary while seriously nerfing the powers of his successors and ruining the land to boot. Well done.
  • The Darke Domaine in Septimus Heap is a slow version of this.
  • In The Dark Tower novel Wolves of the Calla, Roland and the crew experience a "Beamquake" as one of the Beams holding up the Tower gives way. Roland says the land was destroyed for thousands of miles near where the beam snapped.
  • Project Starscream in Galaxy of Fear. Oh, it only affected the one planet, but nothing on that planet survived. Instead the people there became furious wraiths, roaming the dead landscape and attacking some of the people who landed there.
  • Discworld:
    • A theme of The Light Fantastic is the Great Spells conspiring together to create a world-changing wave which begins in the representation of Unseen University in a model of the Disc, then spreads out to cover first the whole of the model Disc, the model elephants and Turtle beneath it, and then visibly surges over the entire world. Apparently it's a Change Spell. What it changes is that it rescues the Wizzard Rincewind, who has fallen over the side of the Disc. It pulls him out of a plummet into deep space, to drop him safely into the forest of Skund in the centre of the continental mass. As an unintended side-effect, it magically changes the species of the University librarian from human to orang-utan and calls a bowl of pineapple jelly into being. Apart from this the Disc is unchanged. Although it is seemingly on the catastrophe curve for a different reason - something only Rincewind can avert.
    • In Mort, a similar world-changing wave occurs in reverse as two different mutually exclusive timelines exist together. The larger, dominant, consensus timeline wraps the rogue timeline in a wave of visible energy which shrinks, trapping those inside it as it contracts.
  • The Poison Belt has this as its entire premise, the poison being reported from Sumatra long before it reaches Britain. It may seem atypical because the poison belt is something the Earth passes through, but perhaps that's because it was written in 1913. Also atypical because the protagonists didn't have to do anything to fix the problem. The story was merely about experiencing the horror.
  • In Death Star, the first test of the Death Star's superlaser against a planet is only at one-third power, so this is the result instead of an Earth-Shattering Kaboom. It's described in brutal detail and results in all life on the prison planet Despayre being obliterated.
  • Schild's Ladder: A reckless science experiment sets off a false vacuum decay that expands outwards at half the speed of light, annihilating everything in its path as it rewrites the underlying laws of physics. Much of the novel takes place on a research Space Station keeping pace with the wave, searching for a way to stop it before more inhabited planets are destroyed.

    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • Exaggerated in "Journey's End": Davros and the Daleks' Reality Bomb, if activated at full power, will unleash a wavelength that will gradually dismantle everything within range down to a subatomic level. And the wavelength will continue until it's wiped out everything within the obervable universe except for the Daleks, then it will break through a space-time rift into every parallel universe and alternate dimension until the Daleks are all that's left in ANY reality.
    • In "The End of Time", the Immortality Gate unleashes such a wave over the whole Earth, which promptly turns every human on the planet except Wilfred and Donna into a clone of the Master.
  • Maybe more a World-Changing Wave, or at least Town-Changing Wave, than a World-Wrecking Wave. But, Eureka has a Christmas episode where a Super Photon Generator goes haywire and turns the entire town into a cartoon. Each wave pulse from the generator changes the style of animation present. Still, non-real cartoon elements like Sninjas (Snowman Ninjas) are able to be created by a child's toy in this altered world which pose a threat.
  • The 6-part documentary Miracle Planet showed what would happen to the Earth if it got hit by a 300-mile-wide asteroid. A video clip is here. Watch what happens as the wave of vaporized rock propagates around the world. <shudder>
  • Attempted in Power Rangers Cosmic Fury, the 30th anniversary season of Power Rangers. In a mirror to the famous World-Healing Wave from Power Rangers in Space, the villains plan to release a pulse of pure evil energy that will sweep the cosmos and wipe out the forces of good forever.
  • The Dakara superweapon in Stargate SG-1 can be this, a World-Healing Wave, or even both at the same time, depending on how it's programmed before activation. And when tied into the Stargate network, its range spans not merely a world but the entire galaxy. Anubis, having a god complex that's massive even by Goa'uld standards, planned to use it in exactly that manner: wiping out all life in the Milky Way and simultaneously creating new life of his own design.
  • The Apocalypse in The Umbrella Academy season one resembles this, as once the energy lance from Vanya hits the moon and the moon rock hits the earth, we are treated to the sight of a wave of fire eating up everything, including Cha-Cha and several other characters. Fortunately, the Hargreeves escape to try to prevent it.
  • Likewise, in WandaVision, the latent reality-warping ability of Wanda Maximoff converts the entire town of Westview, New Jersey into a 1950s-era sitcom.


  • Daniel Amos: In the short story from the Vox Humana liner notes, the narrator gets caught in a freezing storm cloud that spreads like a massive wave. The full extent of the wave is never shown.
    There, rolling down upon me, over what appeared to be a snowy plain, I saw a gigantic black wave. It was miles away, but visibly devouring the earth in its approach, its crest lost in murky clouds.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • One of the possible interpretations of 2nd Peter 3:10 from The Bible, which states: "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat. The earth also and the works that are in it will be burned up." (The last part is also rendered as "the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.")

  • Robert Frost's "Once by the Pacific" infers just such an eventual wave, an apocalyptic tsunami doubling as "God's last Put out the Light."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dark Conspiracy. The release of extradimensional evil on one of Jupiter's moons leads to an invasion of modern day Earth, resulting in the creation of areas called Demongrounds.
  • Wraith: The Oblivion had six such events, called Maelstroms, ruin the Shadowlands. The first five were triggered by huge disasters or wars in the world of the living that caused huge numbers of ghosts to be thrust into the world of the dead at once. The sixth, final, and most destructive of them was quite different: a series of events triggered a relic nuclear bomb near the mouth of Oblivion. The Sixth Great Maelstrom was so catastrophic it not only took out most of the Shadowlands, but set into motion the events that destroyed the rest of the Old World of Darkness.
    • How great was that blast? It blew a hole in the gates of Hell.
    • Localized Maelstroms can also occur if, say, Mexico City gets hit by an earthquake; while they won’t wreck the world, they will likely mess up the local Necropolis. The 20th Anniversary version of Wraith rolls things back so the Sixth Great Maelstrom hasn’t happened, but mentions that Stygia is not looking forward to the possible side effects of climate change.
  • Monte Cook's World of Darkness kicks off with such an event after an Eldritch Abomination tries to penetrate our dimension. The effects can be scaled to make things better... or worse.
  • Several of these happened in the backstory of Exalted. Two notable events include the imprisonment of She Who Lives In Her Name, who decided to erase two-thirds of the things in Creation from existence out of jealousy, and the Balorian Crusade, when The Fair Folk harrowed the borders of Creation and drew vast chunks of the border back into the Wyld.
  • Rifts: The Great Cataclysm which kick started the whole setting. A nuclear war, during a planetary alignment, on the Winter Solstice, equaled a massive burst of magical energy akin to millions of human sacrifices. Every Ley Line on Earth surged with more power than they'd had in tens of thousands of years, creating a catastrophic surge of natural disasters... which meant more people died, which meant more power flooded into the ley lines, which meant more disasters. In the end, humanity was left standing in the ruins of civilization, with aliens, other-dimensional beings, and demons all dragged onto Earth by the newly-opened Rifts, wondering what the hell just happened.
  • 4th Edition D&D was heralded in the Forgotten Realms by Cyric's murder of Mystra, the goddess of magic. All over the universe, magic burst its bonds. Entire planes of existence were shattered, and part of the planet Toril exchanged itself with a piece of its parallel world Abeir. Many regions of Toril were also infected with a reality-warping, mortal-mutating magical disease, a disease whose name came to describe the entire event: Spellplague.
  • Magic: The Gathering has the card Worldfire, which exiles every permanent and every card in every player's hand and graveyard, and sets their life totals to 1. The picture on the card depicts a wave of fire blazing outward from the spell's center.
  • This can happen to worlds in Warhammer 40,000 for different reasons, most notably at the hands of humans. When an imperial world is too far gone to alien invasion, Chaos infestation, or mere rebellion to be reclaimed by conventional forces, the Imperium's Inquisitors order Exterminatus. This is a planetary bombardment that sometimes involves lethal, biosphere-melting virus bombs, but more often cyclone torpedoes and other munitions that cause instant, vast firestorms to scour the planet's surface down to the bedrock.
    • That said, Exterminatus can be just as much a mercy-killing as an horrific genocidal atrocity, compared to some of the reasons for it. Other world wrecking waves like the space-locust Tyranids will strip the planet to the bedrock anyway, and a warp-rift or warp storm caused by rogue psykers or agents of Chaos can be a worse fate.
    • A world wrecking wave happened to the Eldar, ten thousand years into the past of the setting. The sheer decadence and corruption of this highly psychic race conceived and fed a new god of pleasure and excess in the Warp. When it was finally born, the resulting rip in space-time obliterated the heart of their old empire and sent a psychic wave of destruction through the galaxy, killing most of them and their worlds. They haven't recovered since, despite the remnants becoming space-shaolins or scuttling into a pocket universe, and the rip is still there.
  • The Omega Blast changed the world of Damnation Decade. It caused severe ecological changes, made wild animals more aggressive toward humans, awakened long-dormant pockets of precursor civilizations, drew the attention of hostile aliens, and caused some people to express supernatural powers. National governments are doing their best to cover up the changes and keep the people uninformed.

    Video Games 
  • Baba is You: "ALL IS DONE". Everything in a level is normally done instantly, thus the destruction wave is done by cutscene.
  • The effect of the world-altering missile in the ending of Nod campaign of Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun is this. We are treated to a scene of a massive greenish wave engulfing the entire planet and turning it into a Tiberium-ridded waste-hole.
  • The ink spill in Epic Mickey.
  • Final Fantasy IX: When the Iifa tree is destroyed, the mist covering the continents is removed, then when the party returns from Terra, it has returned. Though this is an example of the World-Wrecking Wave having been active before the start of the story.
  • Guild Wars Nightfall's actual nightfall events work like this, with demons being released in the world, and some areas becoming like the realm of torment.
  • The different Armageddon events if Fall from Heaven's Armageddon counter rises, though spread out more over time.
  • This is what happens in Mortal Kombat when Shao Kahn takes control of a realm. In Mortal Kombat 3, he takes control of Earth, resulting in the series going into post-apocalyptic mode.
  • In Ōkami, removing the sword sealing Orochi causes all of Nippon ("Nippon" is "Japan" in Japanese) to sink into darkness. Large swatches are filled with toxic smog that petrifies humans, plants and animals all over die, buildings are destroyed, and demons roam freely. Thankfully, Amaterasu's first celestial brush techniques, Bloom and Mend, allow you to repair a lot of this damage.
  • Guess what the World of Warcraft expansion Cataclysm is named after.
    • That was the second World Wrecking Wave to hit Azeroth, with the first being the Great Sundering which broke the continent into the 4 we know today. There was also Ner'zhul's mass portal-opening on Draenor, which turned the planet into a series of floating asteroids. A third World Wrecking Wave hits Azeroth if you don't stop Deathwing from using it when you fight him.
  • The plasma wall that surrounds the otherdimensional Schwarzwelt in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, capable of "disassembling any matter that it touches down to a molecular level." It started as a 1m-wide cylinder that stretched upwards in the middle of Antartica, but it has been expanding steadily ever since. Should the mission to investigate and destroy the Schwarzwelt fail (or should the Main Character die in combat), the wall will suddenly expand so rapidly as to engulf the entire world in seconds, annihilating everything in its path and leaving behind a world of demons. (This is a World Wrecking Wave rather than an Apocalypse How (though it counts as that too) because if the Schwarzwelt actually did what it was said to be capable of, the result would be more along the lines of "Earth vanishing from existence".)
  • The Scientist's special ability in Spore is the Gravitation Wave, which instantly wipes out all structures on a planet. Like the more dramatic Planet Buster, using it will instantly be a mark against you in the eyes of any nearby space empires.
  • The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon: The Destroyer from will let loose one of these in the event it finishes its trek around the world, destroying it in a wave of fire and ash. Spyro reverses this by emitting a World-Healing Wave.
  • The heroes of Super Robot Wars Alpha accidentally unleash one of these after killing the final boss of the first game and the plot of Alpha Gaiden revolves around them trying to stop it from hitting Earth and getting trapped in a post-apocalyptic future where they apparently failed.
  • In Mass Effect 3, if your War Assets are low and you choose to destroy the Reapers, the resulting wave tears up what's left of Earth's remaining infrastructure. If they're REALLY low, the wave also wipes out most of the remaining population, as well as most life in the galaxy.
  • In Multiwinia (the online version of Darwinia), the gamemode Assault ends when the Doomsday Device is disabled or goes off; sending a wave of Doom and tremor upon the entire map; committing genocide upon the enemy team.
  • The page image is the Great Fall from MS Saga: A New Dawn, an event that wiped out 90% of humanity and destroyed almost all artificial structures. Sixty years later, the game world is mostly open wasteland or forest.
  • In The Journeyman Project, The Temporal Security Agency describes how time is changed due to an alteration in the past as a "Temporal Distortion Wave", which could vary at any speed to reach the present. Depending on what was changed and how, it varies as to how severe the changes turn out to be. In the first game, Gage Blackwood would never be born in the altered timeline, had he not jumped to 200,000,000 BC before the wave hit.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the final arc of the Shadow of Revan story takes place on the Imperial homeworld of Ziost. The (former) Sith Emperor is — "manifesting on" might be the term — the planet, causing a Hate Plague that is gradually driving the population to kill one another. Naturally, the player characters are called in to stop it. But just when they think they've succeeded and returned to space, the Emperor unleashes a World-Wrecking Wave that literally turns everyone on the planet to ash, kills off all life, and bleaches the ground and sky. The implication is that he could have done this at any time, but waited until you'd left for his own sick amusement.
  • The plot of Heroes of Might and Magic IV kicks off when the two Swords of Plot Advancement from the previous game clash, destroying all of Enroth with an explosion like this. The survivors flee through portals into another world.
  • In Ultima IX, the Armageddon spell is depicted as one of these. This can more clearly be seen in one of the trailers, which uses a piece of footage that did not make it into the final game.
  • In the backstory of Tales of Maj'Eyal the Spellblaze was an attempt to tap into the power of a Sher'Tul relic to power a fire spell that would destroy a horde of orcs. It did destroy the orcs, along with the allied army fighting them and most of the surrounding area. Then it propagated through the Sher'Tul Portal Network to devastate the rest of the continent. In addition to rearranging geography (raising up mountains, gouging out lakes, and causing the eastern coastlands to crumble into the ocean) it also rearranged Eyal's mana flows, leading to the creation of Chronomancy and Corruption magic.
  • The moon crashing into the planet in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask creates one of these that obliterates all of Termina at least. After the moon hits you're treated to a scene of a horrified Link being obliterated by a wave of fire followed by a familiar chuckle:
  • Every successful deployment of a Colossus planet-cracker ship in Stellaris results in such a wave, starting from the target planet's spatial north pole and racing around the world in a matter of days. What remains depends on the type of weapon installed on the Colossus. Three of the five options leave the planet visually unchanged since they only affect the population, leaving the target capable of supporting life and viable for (re)colonization. The fourth exiles the planet from the galactic stage by encasing it in an eternal, impenetrable energy shield. The fifth however, the aptly named Planet Cracker, burns away the atmosphere and turns the planet into a Shattered World that's lost to the galaxy forever with absolutely no means to restore it (aside from mods, of course).
    • Oh, and you can take this one or two steps further thanks to some updates. If you take the "become the Crisis" ascension perk, you can do this to entire star systems with special "star-eater" units (which do exactly what it says on the tin and send one of these out into the system, wiping out everything, planets included), and your end goal ends up becoming the enactment of this on the galaxy, with you surfing the shockwave to safety in the Shroud.
  • Eggman unleashes one of these powered by the Chaos Emeralds in the beginning of Sonic Unleashed to get at the resident Eldritch Abomination locked up in the Earth's core. Thankfully, the resulting explosion just separates the world into seven floating pieces of crust floating around the core, and aside from some worldwide earthquakes everyone's fine, the monsters formed from Dark Gaia's power wrecking havoc at night notwithstanding. Regardless, it's up to Sonic to put the planet back together.
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: In the World of Light, Killing either Galeem or Dharkon in the final map allows the other one to unleash one of these to obliterate the fighters (and their rival) and conquer everything.
  • Happens in the finale of BulletStorm. The protagonists get launched into space into an escape pod, just in time to watch the jungle Death World behind them get wiped clean by a DNA Bomb.
  • In the second Dungeon Siege game, it's said that one of these was triggered when the Sword of Zaramoth shattered the Shield of Azunai 1,000 years before the game's "present", with the entire southern half of the continent Aranna being burnt to a vast desert known afterwards as "The Plane of Tears" and the First Age being ended.
  • Halo: The titular ring-shaped superweapons, when all 7 of them are used together, ramp this up to a Galaxy-Wrecking Wave, though that's just their highest setting; they can be turned down to only target a single planet. They target nervous systems, killing any sufficiently complex life-form in the blast radius (which includes anything sapient). They were only used at their full power once, as a last desperate move to destroy the Flood before it consumed the galaxy, after all conventional means of fighting it had failed. The Forerunners felt so guilty about using it that they embraced their own extinction after taking measures to ensure the galaxy would be re-seeded with life that they had preserved at the Ark, which was located well outside the galaxy and beyond the Halo Array's blast radius.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Phoenix King Ozai attempts this manually with the arrival of Sozen's comet. Through amplified firebending, he wanted to burn the Earth Kingdom to the ground from a fleet of airships.
  • Ben 10:
    • Ben 10: Secret of the Omnitrix: Tetrax states that if the Omnitrix's self-destruct isn't stopped (which is the heroes' goal throughout the movie), it'll "cause an energy ripple that will thoroughly rip apart the universe".
    • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien: In the second-to-last episode, Diagon emits a World Wrecking Wave that turns every human being on Earth into an Esoterica (except Julie who escapes thanks to Ship encasing her in its power armor form).
  • Big Hero 6: The Series: The Great Disaster in the backstory was caused by Lenore Shimamoto creating an artificial star that imploded and created a shockwave that destroyed San Francisco. Obake wants to replicate the disaster For Science! So how does Big Hero 6 stop it? By creating another shockwave to counter the first one. Because of Globby's assistance, it works.
  • BIONICLE: the Great Catacylsm.
  • The DuckTales (1987) episode "The Golden Goose" has the Golden Goose, an Artifact of Doom that can turn things to gold. If left outside its protective fountain too long, it comes to life and starts randomly turning things to gold. It then sheds its golden coating, which spreads through the ground and threatens to turn the entire world to gold. Only returning the goose to the fountain reverses the effect.
  • The Fairly OddParents does this in the Abra-Catastrophe! TV movie. When Mr. Crocker becomes the ruler of the world, a montage is shown of one of these turning the world into an Egopolis where several major monuments are replaced with Crocker statues. In the same special, the characters at one point end up in an Alternate History where apes are the dominant lifeform on Earth, which causes a similar wave montage turning the monuments into monkey-related versions.
  • Invoked by Jackal/Anubis in the Gargoyles episode "Grief", as beams of dark energy that age objects and living things into dust, rust, and bones.
  • Gravity Falls: Bill Cipher uses a giant pink "weirdness wave" to flood Gravity Falls with the chaos of Weirdmageddon.
  • Mainframe Entertainment was fond of the concept, using it in both ReBoot to spread Daemon's infection and Beast Wars creating the Transmetals and Fuzors.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "SpongeBob's Last Stand", when the Shelly Superhighway is constructed through Jellyfish Fields, it sucks all the life right out of it as it advances. It also causes the sky to be polluted as well.
  • Taken to its logical extreme in the Mortis-trilogy of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where the healing and wrecking wave are following eachother in a constant circle, as part of the planet's Light and Dark in-balance symbolism: when night falls all plants die, and are reduced into ghastly glowing forms, and massive thunder storms start. When dawn approaches all plant life is renewed.
  • The arrival of Trigon in Teen Titans had this effect, turning the entire world into a volcanic wasteland and turning all life on Earth to stone. Raven destroying him (or rebanishing him, it's not exactly clear) triggers a World-Healing Wave.
  • When Wuya is returned to physical form at the end of Xiaolin Showdown's first season, the region she's in... Suffers. Plants die. Rivers dry up. Entire mountains become barren. When she's sealed away again, the damage is undone with a World-Healing Wave.

    Real Life 
  • Most reconstructions of the K-T extinction involve a blast of fire and heat moving outwards from the impact site.
  • It is theorized that an impact with a sufficiently big asteroid (with a diameter of 500 kilometers, or 300 miles) would create several phenomena worthy of this trope. The first is the "crust tsunami", a titanic wave flinging the Earth's crust into outer space in the regions close to the impact. The second is a cloud of rock vapor expanding from the crater as the result of the disintegration of the impactor, which would proceed to engulf the Earth over the course of approximately a day, and hot enough to cause nature to spontaneously combust even while it is still below the horizon.
    • The Moon shows the effects of a World Wrecking Wave caused by the huge impact that formed the Imbrium basin in the form of both radial grooves and secondary craters plus faults extending thousands of kilometers, caused respectively by projectiles, including the remains of the impactor, launched at different angles and the Moon's crust shattering under the impact's forcenote .
  • Pyroclastic flows are a small-scale version.
  • An interstellar world-wrecking wave: when a star goes supernova, the explosion may destroy or irradiate nearby planets.
  • On a cosmic level, there is a theory that the universe may be in a "false vacuum". To put it simply, the universe is like a ball that naturally rolls downhill in terms of energy state, but may be stopped by some kind of barrier. If that barrier is breached via quantum tunnelling, the universe would collapse rapidly into a lower energy state, manifesting as a World Wrecking Wave that shoots out from a point at nearly the speed of light, destroying all of existence as we know it. This is known as a false vacuum decay scenario, and can best be described as a cataclysm that would completely destroy chemistry, life and possibly even astrophysics as we know it, blowing apart atoms into their base elemental particles and hurling them away into the void.


Video Example(s):


Zettaikanzen Finishend

The last version of the original Animal Kaiser features the past Animal Kaisers descending from Heaven to face the BigBad Armageddon Vertus. Their best attacks are called Zettaikanzen Finishend that creates an explosion that spreads to the entire Earth.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / WorldWreckingWave

Media sources: