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People of Mass Destruction in literature.


  • Elites in Gavin Smith's Age of Scorpio have received so much ultratech enhancement that they closely resemble mini-apocalypses. They are introduced with one Elite shredding an entire battleship.
  • In the Babylon 5 Expanded Universe trilogy The Passing Of The Technomages, young technomage Galen becomes this after learning the spell that creates an unstoppable Sphere of Destruction. While there are limits on the spell, such as range and size, there is no limit on how fast or how many times Galen can cast it, the spell being one of the most primitive. In a fit of rage, Galen casts the spell dozens of times to level an entire city block in a matter of seconds (by destroying building supports) and eliminates 4 powerful warships (by literally taking out their power cores). And after that, he demands to be taken straight to the enemy homeworld to destroy everything there. It is no wonder both sides fear the technomages (Kosh isn't even sure during their encounter who would win in a fight). He becomes even more powerful by the end of the trilogy. By the time of the Crusade, he is the strongest technomage in existence, simply because only one other technomage has managed to work in harmony with the tech instead of controlling it, but he died shortly after.
    • Technically, two others were taught by the Shadows these same spells, but Galen killed them.
  • Jaenelle as Witch in the Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop. Even as a child she had immense power; upon reaching her mature strength, she is estimated to be six to six thousand times more powerful than the most powerful male in the history of the Blood (who once erased an entire culture from existence when his Berserk Button was pushed) and she states that she is so powerful that if she unleashed herself, she would destroy ALL of the Blood; human, nonhuman, and dead.
  • The Camp Half-Blood Series:
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    • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Percy Jackson. Not only is he capable of destroying entire armies by himself, he also once caused a volcanic eruption that resulted in one million people being evacuated and the literal father of all monsters being released from his prison beneath the volcano. He's so powerful that the Big Bad singles him out in the sequel series, The Heroes of Olympus, as the key for a blood sacrifice to bring on the gods' downfall.
    • Children of the "Big Three", Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades, are immensely powerful, and the three of them swore not to have any more several decades before the first book. This is to prevent a prophecy that one of them will possibly destroy Olympus and the gods when they reach sixteen, that and the fact that one of them MIGHT have caused world war II though this is only hinted at and never confirmed.
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    • Any child of Hephaestus born with the ability to control fire. Every fire user to have ever appeared has ended up causing a catastrophe, and are seen as a bad omen. The one before Leo caused the great fire of London.
  • Carrie. As an adolescent who's only very recently gained any reliable powers, which get stronger as the book goes on, she totals a town. Had she survived, there's no reason to think her powers would not have kept increasing, and she certainly isn't the most emotionally stable person around.
  • In Children of the Black Sun, the protagonist tends this way, even towards the beginning. She may be a fugitive, but she's in no danger of ever losing any fights with ordinary opponents, or even an army with mages of its own — she can annihilate them with no real effort. The danger to her comes from two things: firstly, she still has to eat and sleep, and can't be perpetually on her guard; and secondly, she's being pursued by people who have had much more training than her, even if they lack the raw power.
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  • In Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber, Merle Corey (a.k.a. Merlin, son of Corwin, a.k.a. Merlin, Lord of Chaos) is a low-key and intelligent twenty-something computer engineer. But if you push him hard enough, you'll discover that under that exterior is a superhuman sorcerer who's good at improvisation, can call on the two greatest sources of power in the known universe, can kick the ass of most beings even without magic, and as a last ditch option, can summon elemental chaos to utterly obliterate everyone and everything within the target area.
  • Jame from Chronicles of the Kencyrath is already this to a degree, although she tends to be more of the spark that lights the powder-keg. It looks, though, like she's destined to be Nemesis, the avatar of the Destruction aspect of her God, and that's quite some mass destruction indeed.
  • In Stephen R. Donaldson's The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series Covenant is one of these through his partial control of wild magic. In the Second Chronicles the Big Bad's aim is to force Covenant to surrender not by making him weaker but by making him so powerful he can't use his power without risking all of reality.
  • Any of the High Lords from Codex Alera will absolutely destroy you, since they're incredibly powerful crafters with control over all six elements. But especially the First Lord; Gaius Sextus wiped out two cohorts worth of brainwashed Super Soldiers by himself without slowing down and cast a fear spell so powerful that it destroyed an entire legion, leaving only one soldier not curled into a ball on the ground, who he promptly cuts down.
    • Not to mention his Taking You with Me moment, where he creates a volcano underneath the capital city of Alera. It is awesome.
    • Also not to mention our dear Guile Hero Gaius Octavian, who combines all that power with a devious little mind that looks at everything sideways and upside-down. He once had to get through the gates of Riva, a product of centuries of the strongest furycrafting which added up into something that could take dozens of fireballs without the slightest scorch mark. He pries it apart by using plants to make cracks and pits in the surface, then pushing water in and freezing it. When it finally shatters, the pent-up furies are released and... well, it takes four minutes for the buildings to finish collapsing.
  • The Cosmere:
    • From The Stormlight Archive, Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar. Not only does he kill quite a few people, Szeth tends to destroy the environment he kills them in nicely. Dalinar also kills hundreds of enemies every battle scene in which he appears. Really, anybody with a Shardblade and/or Shardplate has the potential to do this. Szeth is particularly dangerous because in addition to having a Shardblade he's also a Magic Knight with Gravity Master powers that no one else understands.
    • Vin and other Mistborn from Mistborn: The Original Trilogy (which shares an author and universe with Stormlight) also count. Allomancers can consume metal for various effects such as manipulating other pieces of metal, super senses, or super strength/durability. Most people have access to only one of these powers, but Mistborn can use all of them. The combination of powers allows two Vin and another mistborn to kill roughly 300 men within a few minutes. The rare metal Atium can enhance this even further, allowing the user to see and react to what others will do a few seconds into the future, making them nearly unstoppable killing machines.
  • In Charles Sheffield's novel Dark As Day, one character has a bloodstream full of nanodevices that, if dropped into a gas giant, would cause the planet to collapse and release a burst of energy sufficient to wipe out civilization... and an obsessive fascination with the kind of turbulent weather patterns gas giants are full of.
  • In Simon R. Green's Deathstalker series the protagonist at one point seeks out an artifact used by his ancestor, the Darkvoid Device. To Owen's surprise, the Device is not some alien artifact but rather an infant. Placed in suspended animation at the center of the Madness Maze, it had absorbed so much power that the one time it awoke it had created the Darkvoid, a region of space where hundreds of stars had simply been extinguished.
  • Discworld: Coin, the title character of Sourcery. The ancient plural of "Wizard" was "war". Coin's mere presence is enough to trigger the return of those days. Any powerful Wizard has the potential, but social conditions and limited magic normally prevent them from getting out of hand. But a Sourcerer takes away the limitations on magic...
  • In the backstory of Dante's The Divine Comedy, Jesus entered Hell only once, but that one visit caused that entire dimension to nearly collapse in a massive earthquake. Even a thousand years later, parts of Hell are still destroyed from the visit and travel between circles is significantly harder because of all the bridges that were destroyed even eight circles away from where Jesus actually entered.
  • A lot of characters in Dragaera would fall into this, but Sethra Lavode goes above and beyond, falling somewhere between this trope and Humanoid Abomination. She's an undead sorceress a few hundred thousand years old, wields the Great Weapon Iceflame, negotiates with gods on equal footing, and her power is considered one of the keystones keeping the Jenoine out of reality. On the less powerful but also much less responsible front, Adron e'Kieron vaporized the entire capitol city, turning the area into a small ocean of elemental chaos.
  • The Dresden Files
    • The Archive. Even putting aside that she knows the nuclear launch codes for every country on the planet, Ivy's ten years old and capable of holding off 8 fallen angels at once, with almost no resources, without breaking a sweat. But what else do you expect from the repository of all human knowledge?
    • Ebenezar McCoy once pulled a disused Soviet satellite out of orbit and dropped it on someone, more or less entirely because he was pissed off and that person needed to die anyway. He is also responsible for The Tunguska Event, Krakatoa, and the New Madrid earthquake. And those are just the things we know about. And then it turns out he's actually Blackstaff, meant to be a hitman, and can casually ignore the laws of magic. Guess that's where Harry got his tendency to burn down buildings... It must be genetic.
    • Harry Dresden himself gets pretty close to this. He's capable of throwing a giant demonic werewolf across a city block with no preparation. When faced with the start of a Zombie Apocalypse, he responds by making his own zombie out of something much bigger than people, which stomps on National Guard trucks as an afterthought. When he goes to rescue someone from faerieland and encounters more resistance than he expected, he sets the whole place on fire.
      • Harry's got a tendency to pull off highly destructive and risky magic that can leave even those who are used to dealing with near-godlike beings staring in shock. With access to soulfire and the power of the Winter Knight, there's a good chance he's now closer to being a PMD than even he realizes. If he's not a PMD now, it seems almost certain that he will be before it's all said and done.
    • The Wardens of the White Council are an entire military force composed of PMDs. In Turn Coat, Harry sees a handful of Wardens go all-out to fight a bunch of nasties, and he's left completely dumbstruck.
    • Anyone wielding the knife at the climax of the sacrificial rite in Changes could immediately become this, depending on how big a family the person they use it on belongs to.
  • Firestarter by Stephen King. The titular pyrokinetic is a prepubescent girl who can incinerate armored vehicles just by looking at them. It's implied that she has almost infinite potential power.
  • In From the New World, every human being in the world is one, thanks to the advent of Psychic Powers 1000 years ago. An elaborate system of control is in place to keep people from destroying society and killing hundreds by accident or on a whim. Renegades who fail to follow the social norms are treated with the same degree of seriousness as armed nuclear weapons, and for a good reason.
  • All over the place in The Gods Are Bastards: archmages, dragons, particularly powerful demons or fae... The Empire even has an official designation for "person so powerful they should be treated as a walking natural disaster". The story spends a good deal of time focused on other characters as well, analyzing the kind of behavior a smart person would have to adopt in a world where so many others could crush them like a bug.
  • Marshal-General Atkins, humanity's last soldier, in The Golden Oecumene. In addition to all the weapons he carries (which are powerful enough to, in his words, "crack the planet in half and fry it like an egg"), his body itself is a weapon: his surface skin cells each individually contain an Energy Weapon and his blood is Grey Goo that consumes all biological matter that isn't him.
  • Melantha Green from Timothy Zahn's The Green and the Gray. It's implied that her earthquake-causing powers could level New York City if the Green/Grey rivalry ever escalated to full-on war.
  • Some Adept-level mages in the Heralds of Valdemar books have power of this magnitude - Vanyel is said to be capable of destroying a fair-sized city, and indeed does go kaboom in a fairly spectacular manner in his final Heroic Sacrifice. Occasionally, even "ordinary" Heralds can get fairly destructive, especially Lavan Firestorm who rivals Vanyel's feat with mind-magic alone.
    • In the Mage Wars prequels, the combined detonation of the accumulated magical power of two opposing Great Mages set off the Cataclysm whose effects are still felt thousands of years later. The large, almost perfectly circular inland sea on Valdemar's border? The equally circular, considerably larger grassland some kingdoms to the south? Those were merely the physical effects.
  • In Perry Moore's Hero, Justice is a Superman Expy, so he easily counts. Good thing he's a good guy. Except not really. He's the superhero-murdering Big Bad.
  • Flinx, of Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series, is something of a walking psychic time bomb, as he has a tendency to erupt in massive, uncontrolled telekinetic detonations when severely provoked. These are invariably highly destructive to his immediate surroundings, albeit not quite at the city/planet level. He later learns to control the power to some extent by deliberately walking into fatal situations in order to force it to trigger. That he is not treated as a superweapon by Commonwealth authorities who know of him is something of an incongruity.
  • The Infected has surprisingly many, considering how low-powered this superhero series starts. Basically any member of Team Three or Alpha Team. Actually, any Class Five can theoretically wipe out entire companies of infantry. Anyone whose invulnerable could get there eventually.
    • Kevin Moore, Less, can vanish anything he can see. It has been theorized he could destroy the entire world, effortlessly.
    • Earthling is a terrakinetic who can casually destroy whole villages and cities.
    • Foggy is basically Golden Age Superman, and has one of the highest body-counts of any of the Cold War era supersoldiers.
    • Tesseract has time/space-warping powers that let him kill hundreds of Infected in the blink of an eye, and make him an unstoppable assassin, as he can stride casually into any locked room and ignore any weapon. He is the only Infected officially capable of defeating an entire First World nation.
    • Stillness is a mind-controller with no apparent limits in range, how many people he can control or how subtle or direct his control is.
    • Trivia knows everything another human being does. Secrets, blackmail, skills, nuclear launch codes..
    • Cellophane is invisible. Very invisible, so much so people can't notice sounds she makes or touch or her moving things. If she slit your throat it could take everyone several minutes to notice. The government plan if she goes rogue is devastate the whole area with weaponry, possibly up to nukes, and pray they got her.
    • Gabriel starts out just able to induce certain emotions and sensations in people within his line of sight. Once he starts practicing and meditating, he gets very good at the mind control bit, so much it scares him.
    • Mark Steinberg, Stasis, freezes time. There is no limit to how long he can do so, the first time it took him a subjective decade to learn how to turn the effect off, and if he becomes startled or unconscious, he automatically freezes time until he can recover. If he weren't a committed pacifist...
  • Retired Drop Commando Alicia DeVries in David Weber's Path of the Fury (revised/expanded in In Fury Born) is practically a PMD with her standard commando loadout of cyborgish enhancements. Then she gets inhabited by the last surviving Greek Fury, Tisiphone. Said Greek Goddess soon learns to interface with computers and other technology through Alicia's built in radio interface and no security system can stop her, especially since she can also dip into other humans' brains for information. Next Alicia/Tisiphone steal one of the elite AI fighter ships, which are their own special kind of POMD when combined with a "normal" enhanced human specially selected and trained to interface with those ships. The tripartite human/goddess/computer fusion becomes the unstoppable force to smash the people who murdered Alicia's family and the entire populations of several colony worlds.
  • Dragon riders from the Inheritance Cycle. There are limits (those being your own ingenuity with magic and whether or not a particular spell exerts more energy than your body possesses), but otherwise there is literally nothing that they cannot do. The dragons they are partnered with are unable to mold magic beyond freak happenstance, but wield far greater power than their riders. Also: Riders can more or less meld their mind with their dragon's and use their resources for magic, which is the difference between moving a Sedan and moving an aircraft carrier. In the third book, it is revealed that utilizing the magical core of a dead dragon, an Eldunari (or multiple dead dragons, a la Galbatorix), the aircraft carrier can be bumped up to Texas, depending on how many Eldunari one has and how saturated with magic they are.
  • The enslaved gods in the first book of the Inheritance Trilogy, who are used as Attack Animals by their mortal masters, the Arameri family. Although these gods are "hobbled" and less powerful than before their enslavement, they're still collectively responsible for deadly epidemics, "disappearing" the inhabitants of cities, and turning a few mountains into craters. They are especially deadly because they're pissed about their enslavement; they will follow any instructions strictly to the letter, and will use any loophole to try and kill their masters. Their most powerful member, Nahadoth, uses a badly-worded command to sink a continent in a fit of pique. He was trying for the whole planet. The gods' mortal owners, who have used these gods to set themselves up as rulers of the world, tend to avoid using him for this reason.
  • Jesus Himself in the Left Behind book series, as His Word alone can kill people en masse.
  • Icarium Lifestealer from the Malazan Book of the Fallen may be one of the nicest and most caring people one can come upon in the books. Piss him off, though, and you may say goodbye to your city/country/civilization. And it's not even intentional, as afterwards he will not remember how he just levelled the city in the ruins of which he's now standing and will even be shocked at how someone could possibly bring so much destruction and death. In trying to use him as a weapon the Nameless Ones might have bitten off more than they could chew and characters who encounter Icarium have a hard time reconciling the person they've met with the stories trailing in his wake.
  • Mia of The Nevernight Chronicles during Truedark when her powers are at their greatest. When she was 14, watching her mother be killed during a botched prison rescue results in her destroying the entire prison killing everyone inside.... and nearly following it up on the Grand Cathedral minutes later on the other side of the city.
  • John Taylor of the Nightside series inspires a certain amount of terror in most people because of this: he's seen as extremely dangerous and practically unstoppable. He himself seems to think he has limits, but considering what he's survived going up against so far, it's possible that he just doesn't want to be a PMD, and so the only reason he isn't one is because he's subconsciously limiting himself.
  • In Night Watch an exceptionally strong curse can turn the victim into one of these. Usually cursed ones die from a fallen brick or mugger's knife, but when the curse runs out of control, it can result in things like a random gas explosion, sudden outbreak of mutated flu or an unprovoked nuclear attack.
  • The unnamed protagonist of Spider Robinson's short story "Not Fade Away" is humankind's last and greatest soldier, made obsolete by humanity (and all other life forms) having established Universal peace. When it turns out not everybody wants Universal peace we see that his personal arsenal is quite impressive.
  • The canonical example from the early Perry Rhodan universe would be Ivan Ivanovich Gorachin — a Russian-born mutant best remembered for having two heads (with separate personalities) and the ability to cause nuclear explosions at will so long as he had targets containing carbon or calcium to work on. (Like, say, humans. Fortunately for the good guys his Heel–Face Turn followed shortly after his introduction.)
  • The Power of Five: Scarlett definitely gives off this vibe at the end of Necropolis, when she all but destroys Hong Kong. Matt can become this - when Richard sees his older, more experienced past incarnation in Oblivion, he sees no reason to assume that the kid is incapable of parting the seas or rending apart the sky.
  • Aside from the obligatory demons, vampires and such, the German horror/fantasy/SF pulp series Professor Zamorra features a recurring species of near-human aliens, the so-called 'Eternals'. (Who did, of course, try to invade Earth at least once before.) Aside from having the obligatory advanced technology, much of their personal power comes from magical crystals known as Dhyarras, which come in distinct numbered power levels; social rank is determined largely by the ability to control the more powerful ones (with failure to do so generally resulting in insanity or death). Crystals of the highest (13th) order, only one of which is technically supposed to exist at a time because it doubles as the symbol of authority of the Dynasty's absolute leader, are explicitly stated to be powerful enough to destroy entire planets.
  • In Psy Changeling, we have Kaleb Krychek, the only known Dual Cardinal ever, stated to be able to make the whole planet explode.
  • Declan Hale, in Joe Ducie's The Reminiscent Exile series, singlehandedly ended a millenia old war that spanned the multiverse, and destroyed a city of eight million people.
  • DCI Thomas Nightingale of Rivers of London blew up two Tiger tanks with magical fireballs. For reference, the books' protagonist, Peter, can just about blow open a domestic lock, and magic is supposedly much harder to do under physical pressure. He also unzipped a wall and took the roof of a barn in a later book.
  • Any sufficiently powerful magic user in L.E. Modesitt's The Saga Of Recluce will have the capability to become one of these, and will usually end up killing large numbers of people no matter how much they wish they didn't have to.
  • Second Apocalypse: Sorcery gives the wielder incredible power, at the expense of the damnation of their soul.
    • The mild-mannered Achamian is a Mandate sorcerer who wields the Gnosis, a particularly powerful type of sorcery. When he is captured by another school of sorcerers, he manages to escape and single-handedly slaughter all of the guards and enemy sorcerers in the compound, literally pulling down buildings onto the heads of his enemies and leaving nothing but smoking rubble behind.
    • Kellhus is a Dunyain monk, bred and trained since birth for physical and mental perfection. Once he learns the Gnosis, he puts his superhuman intellect to the task and begins inventing whole new areas of sorcery, giving him more power than any human before him.
  • In Shadow Ops, anyone capable of using one of the rare prohibited forms of magic (Black magic, necromancy, gate magic, or sentient elemental creation) is automatically one of these - which is why they're illegal to begin with. Necromancy and sentient elemental creation allows for their user to essentially create an entire army instantly. Someone who can use gate magic can pretty much move anywhere they want instantly and has access to a weapon that can effortlessly slice through any material. Black Magic is control of entropy, and the person who can use it can near-instantly decay anything - living, dead, organic, mechanical, it doesn't matter. Scylla, the only user of this power, demonstrates it quite spectacularly when she uses it to literally destroy the entire defensive perimeter of a military base, killing hundreds of people, with about as much effort as crushing insects.
  • In Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash, one antisocial character, Raven, connected himself through a Dead Man's Switch to a literal nuclear bomb and claimed individual sovereignty. The Aesop appears to be about the elasticity of sovereignty rather than the perils of nukes. Mind you, Raven is a very obvious parody of the type of badass characters often found in Cyber Punk fiction. The main character, Hiro Protagonist, hangs a big lampshade on him.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The Sith Emperor is supposedly more powerful than Palpatine ever was. The only thing matching his power is his madness and obsession with immortality. To show off, his guards are never present during audiences, even with other powerful Sith lords (who are allowed to keep their weapons). Furthermore, he always sits facing away from the door. He has Black Eyes of Evil and Voice of the Legion. He attained immortality by absorbing the life-force of everything alive on his homeworld, including insects and plants. It was he who corrupted Revan and Malak, turning them to the Dark Side to use them as vanguard for his invasion of the Republic. As powerful as he is, even Revan can't match the Emperor.
    • Luke Skywalker, always, but especially in the The Thrawn Trilogy. At one point he takes out an entire base of bad guys almost by himself. On a planet where he cannot use the Force. And while grievously injured and ill.
  • Kurt Vonnegut:
    • 1950 short story "Report on the Barnhouse Effect" is about Professor Arthur Barnhouse who develops the ability to affect physical objects and events through the force of his mind. He becomes the first Weapon of Mass Destruction with a conscience.
    • One of his short stories is about a type of ice called "Ice-9" that will turn anything with water into it into Ice-9. So if a person touches it, they will turn into Ice-9 because the human body is 70% water. Causes a bit of a problem when a person who did that to commit suicide then falls into the Pacific Ocean...
  • The Freehold Black Ops in Mike Z. Williamson's The Weapon fit this trope because of their Spartan Way training. Instead of special powers, it's a matter of being ruthless, creative, and cross-trained to the point of being Crazy-Prepared.
  • The most powerful Channelers in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time. Three thousand years before the books start the male channelers going insane resulted in continents being reshaped and set humanity back thousands of years. Lews Therin's suicide alone reared up a large volcano. The less powerful damane and Aes Sedai of the current age can be compared to bringing tanks into a medieval conflict when on the battlefield. The Asha'man are worse. And then there's the pair of devices that are powerful enough to let a single man and woman working together break the world all on their own, or challenge God.
  • All of the Endbringers in Worm easily qualify. Several characters worry that Noelle does as well.
    • Shatterbird can telekinetically control glass with an absolutely massive range, allowing her to create shrapnel out of every single window in an entire city. She does this to Brockton Bay.
    • Phir Sē also definitely counts. By exploiting the mechanics of his power, he could create an attack potentially powerful enough to shatter the Indian subcontinent.
    • The African warlord Moord Nag commands a giant living shadow called Aasdier, who's powered by the lives of the people it consumes. Using it, she's been able to carve a sizable empire for herself out of Southern Africa. When asked to help fight Scion, she requests five thousand lives in exchange.
    • And especially Scion, as he demonstrates when he obliterates Great Britain pretty much effortlessly. Not just the people on it- the actual island.


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