Above the Ruins

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Abovetheruins 5488.png
Bill Corbett: Look at what we've won, it's glorious!

It's been a long, rough road and you're finally there, the Birthplace of Infinite Devils, and you've managed to make your way to the bottom to take out The Devourer of All Souls. It was a long, drawn out, slam down battle and you finally succeed, only to find out that he's a Load-Bearing Boss and he's going to take you with him. "Not so," you say, and you escape the Collapsing Lair just in time to see it fall in upon itself.

Or perhaps you're an Ace Operative, tasked with infiltrating and then destroying the base of operations of the Nefarious Nine Eye Army. You get in, you get out, and you set enough explosives to make the Great Tokyo Fireball look like a firecracker. You're tempted to just walk away, the flash will blind you and people a mile away, but ... you've got shades, and who doesn't want to look at their handy work?

Effectively, this trope is when a character brings destruction to a rather large structure and escapes, typically by the skin of their teeth, in time to manage to get a good view from above of the destruction taking place. Scenery Gorn tends to ensue.

Expect a sillhouetted shot of the hero and/or Damsel in Distress as they engage in an After-Action Villain Analysis. For the inverse situation, see Watching Troy Burn.

While both tend to involve looking down from a height at scenery, this is not to be confused with The World Is Just Awesome.

Examples of Above the Ruins include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Trigun uses this in the second episode, after the water supply under a mansion explodes from a stray bullet in the preceding fight
  • This is a common ending to episodes of Slayers in which Lina uses Dragon Slave.
  • Near the end of the flashback to the Ishbal War in Fullmetal Alchemist, Scar looks down on the ruins of the Kanda District and swears revenge on the state alchemists for destroying his land and killing his family.
  • The manga version of Chrono Crusade has a flashback where Aion and the other sinners are standing on a cliff, overlooking the debris of their crashed ship and the results of the battle that gave Chrono the title "Slayer of a Hundred".

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Pretty much anytime Hellboy or the BPRD defeat one of the Ogdru Hem, they have a scene like this afterwards to show just how hard a fight it was.

Film[edit | hide]

  • During the Firebird Suite of Fantasia 2000, the nymph looks horrified from atop a cliff to see her forest destroyed by the firebird's volcanic explosion
  • In Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan, the crew of the Enterprise gather on the bridge to watch the Mutara Nebula slowly transform into the planet Genesis right before their eyes.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull features an especially impressive scene of this kind at the end.
  • Patlabor The Movie's ending is on the ruins of a megastructure the protagonists tore down on a clear morning after the storm. A very pure use of this trope.
  • Remake of The Time Machine, wherein at the end the time traveller, his new girlfriend in the future, and all the other Eloi are standing on a high hill looking down over the jungle as the entire local Morlock cave system is obliterated by temporal energy from the self-destructing time machine in the depths of the caves.
  • This more or less describes the ending to Fight Club.
  • From Dusk till Dawn closes with a shot of the survivors driving away from the vampire-infested roadhouse. As they depart, the view pulls back to show that the roadhouse sits at the tip of an old Meso-American pyramid, half buried in the side of a cliff, and surrounded by hundreds of wrecked cars from the vampires' previous victims.
  • Alien Resurrection ends with two characters overlooking the crumbling remains of Paris.
  • The page quote refers to a scene at the end of Battlefield Earth where we are treated to a scene of essentially shell-shocked cavemen staring at the ruins of the (not dome shaped) dome that had been the base of the bad guys.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar universe, upon returning to their homeland after the Cataclysm, the Kaled'a'in find a glass-floored crater where it had been, and look down from the cliff walls into it.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer ends with the heroes standing on the edge of the giant pit which used to be Sunnydale.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor, Donna, and the Roman family on a hill, watching as Mt. Vesuvius explodes in "Fires of Pompeii".
    • In "Cold Blood", the Doctor, Amy, and company run out of the TARDIS just in time to see the giant drill in the bottom of the valley explode.
  • Star Trek the Next Generation: At the beginning of the episode "Best of Both Worlds", the Away Team is beamed down next to the edge of a crater that used to be a city.
    • In part II of that ep, the famous "Graveyard of Ships at Wolf 359" scene.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Mega Man X through X3 all used this in one way or another.
    • As well as most Mega Man games in general. How many times has Skull Castle gone kablooey, again?
  • In the credits of Live a Live, you can see the heroes overlooking Lucretia.
  • In Romancing SaGa, the party you have chosen overlooks the ruins of Isthmus Keep as the last event in the ending.
  • The endings of many, many Castlevania games. Except more often than not, the castle is still crumbling as the Belmont-of-the-Day looks on from a distant cliff.
  • Zelda and Link watch Ganon's castle collapse into a heap at the end of The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, relieved that it's finally over.
  • The end of Fallout 1 shows the Big Bad's Supervillain Lair getting nuked into oblivion from a (hopefully) safe distance.
  • Halo ends with Cortana and the Master Chief hustling to the back of their longsword to watch an entire artificial world being blown to pieces.
    • Again in Halo 3 with the Arc.
    • Inverted in Halo: Reach: While everyone gets into the last ship, you stay behind to provide cover fire and watch is disappear in the Sky, presumedly the last human on a planet pretty much completely annhilated by the Covenant.
  • At the end of Final Fantasy VII, Red XIII looks out over the ruins of Midgar covered with trees and plants 500 years after the events of the game. It seems to say: screw you technology, Gaia/Nature has won.
  • Inverted in Final Fantasy X, where the game starts off with this particular trope, before the 30-40 hour long flashback that is the game up to that point.
  • Donkey Kong Country 2's ending has Diddy, Dixie and DK watching Crocodile Isle collapse into the ocean as the sun sets.
  • Half-Life 2: Episode 2 begins with Gordon and Alyx overlooking the destruction of the Citadel they caused during Episode 1 and the end of Half-Life 2.
  • Portal ends (well, nearly) with the PC staring at the remains of the Aperture Science building.
  • The Human campaign of Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness ends with an unnamed mage (who is later revealed to be Khadgar) and a human army standing in a cliff above the pit which is home to the nefarious Dark Portal. His eyes go glowy, and a massive pillar of energy breaks through the surface of the ground and envelops the portal. Cue the "standing above the destruction, arms raised in triumph, while cool music plays" scene. The portal got better... then made babies.
    • Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos had the Profit/Prophet observing the ruins after the destruction of Archimonde and the World Tree.
  • Present in spirit in Super Smash Bros. Brawl's "Subspace Emissary", which ends with everyone standing on a cliff overlooking the sea, staring at a big "X" in the sky where the Island of the Ancients used to be before it was completely destroyed by dozens of subspace bombs going off simultaneously.
    • It's probably both a reference to a) the Japanese name of Brawl, Super Smash Bros. X, and b) the ending of the Kirby Super Star game Revenge of Meta Knight, which also counts as an example with the ruins of Battleship Halberd. According to Squeak Squad, it got better.
  • Cave Story places you on top of the entire island, which is Ruins-esque, right before the final boss, and you have to escape by jumping off the edge right after.
    • If you get the best ending, one of the cutscenes that plays during the end credits shows Misery standing at this same spot, looking at the clouds below.
  • Sonic Adventure ends with everyone overlooking the flooded ruins of Station Square.
  • Gears of War one and two both end with The Squad in a king raven, flying over the lightmasss bomb collateral damage and Jacinto, respectively.
  • The ending of Iji plays with this. Iji is reunited with her brother on a cliff overlooking the blasted earth unless the player fails to save him, which leaves Iji kneeling on the cliff by herself, but then the camera angle reverses to show the Komato invasion fleet leaving orbit.
  • Samus does one of these at the end of Metroid Prime, watching the destruction of the Artifact Temple from atop the hull of her gunship.
  • In Arc the Lad II, the party end up above the ruin of The Empire capital, the tragic part is that not only are Arc and Kukuru, the two first playable characters, dead, but you just discovered that the whole quest of the heroes was a giant Batman Gambit from the Big Bad: to be released, he needed a human to willingly break his seal, and made sure that the King of Romania was certain that Arc & Co, who spent 120 hours of game time destroying his empire bit by bit, wanted to kill him, so when they finally reached him, he opened the Can of the sealed evil, destroying the world the heroes were trying to protect.
  • The ending sequences for several characters in Street Fighter IV, feature Guile, Chun Li and Abel overlooking the still smouldering ruins of S.I.N. labs from a nearby cliff, after narrowly escaping alive.
  • A rare example at the beginning of a game. In Mass Effect, there's a cutscene that can be triggered on Eden Prime, showing the three-member squad party standing at the balcony and looking over the ruins left in Sovereign's wake.
  • The ending of 6 Days A Sacrifice.
  • The NES Ninja Gaiden games were fond of this trope. In Ninja Gaiden II, the Evil Overlord's lair collapses bit by enormous bit.
  • Inverted in The Lost Vikings. If you get a game over, the scene shows the surviving viking(s) on a random shore, taking a glace on a burning boat drifting away. Push the continue button, and the dead vikings will be revived then you can continue the game.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In an episode of the web fiction serial Legion of Nothing, the Grand Lake Heroes League visits the old lair located under the mansion of Red Lightning where the original Heroes League (the parents and grandparents of the current team) had to fight Red Lightning (a former good guy turned super-villain) in an all-out battle that burned down everything inside the cave. The characters comment that all these years later the burn and scorch marks look brand new.
  • In a slight twist to the trope, the first part of the season finale of the web fiction serial Dimension Heroes shows the Big Bad and his henchmen watching the destruction of the city they helped bring about with smug satisfaction.
  • One of the pieces of artwork commissioned for the Global Guardians PBEM Universe was of Achilles (leader of the titular team) overlooking the ruins of a Paris neighborhood after a supervillain battle knocked over the Eiffel Tower onto it.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In Disney's Mulan, Mulan and her troops gaze, stunned, over the side of a cliff at the sight of the Chinese army before them, completely wiped out.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang gets a moment of this atop a stack rock formation after defeating Ozai. He uses it to pull the ocean inland to put out the fire in the forest below.