An area (could be an abandoned harbor, a Lagrange point or the bottom of an ocean) which contains a number of craft (space, sea or otherwise) in varying states of disrepair. It might be just a few sunken ships lying near each other on the ocean floor, it might be a giant conglomeration of space derelicts rammed together in horrible ways over thousands of years. The crews of all these vessels long ago died or abandoned their ships... probably.
Of course, all sorts of important plot-related things could be hidden in such a place - Pirate gold, the lost plans to a Forgotten Superweapon, spare parts for the heroes' own badly damaged ship, an unexplainable Distress Call—and there is no end to the possibilities of having mutant enemies or ancient security systems that get between the heroes and their goal.
Between the idea of exploring tumbling derelicts crammed with ancient technology, apparently dead hulks suddenly coming to life, a hidden base made of ancient battleships linked together, the explorers running into weird indigenous creatures or the mutant cannibal descendants of the original crews, the kind of dread powers that can gather all these vessels together in the first place, and simply the whole idea of abandoned, empty derelicts, the Derelict Graveyard is insanely cool.
Anime and Manga
- Ape's Concert in the Rainbow Mist Filler Arc of One Piece, which was contained within that world's version of the Bermuda Triangle.
- The Autobots encounter one in the Transformers Headmasters episode "Mystery of the Space Pirate Ship".
- The "shoal zones" in Mobile Suit Gundam and its sequels are debris fields of wrecked space colonies, spaceships, mobile suits, etc.
- The episode "Magnetic Rose" of Memories takes place in one.
- The debris belt from Gundam Seed qualifies. Arguably, the L4 colony cluster does too.
- The Dark Witch, the villain of the first Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart movie, makes her home in one of these.
- Alien contains a classic example of this trope. The ship is aptly referred to as a "derelict alien spacecraft" and the creatures they find on board are pretty much a perfect example of the sort of horror this trope anticipates.
- The crew of the Serenity fly through one of these on their way to and from the planet Miranda, except that many of the ships are functional and inhabited by Reavers, who don't pay much attention to their ship after they disguised it to resemble one of theirs.
- In the Firefly comic adaptation "Those Left Behind," the crew searches one of these for a hidden stash of money, which turns out to be a trap by Dobson and the Hands of Blue to get their hands on River.
- The trip through it is turned into Nightmare Fuel, as the Serenity is picking up communications from the Reaver ships. The communications are just screaming from all of the people trapped on board. Or the Reavers. They're not exactly the sanest bunch.
- WALL-E features a line of abandoned cargo ships docked on a dried-up river.
- In another Pixar film, Finding Nemo, the sharks all live in a sunken submarine surrounded by thousands of naval mines (whom according to Dory, are "balloons"). When Dory and Marlin escape, they trick one of the sharks into ramming into the ship's torpedo bay, sending a torpedo flying into one of the naval mines, causing them all to explode and therefore scaring away the sharks.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: In the first film they have to pass over a ship graveyard to get to the island, and in the third the meeting of the Pirate Lords takes place at Shipwreck cove.
- Specifically, the meeting was in the town of Shipwreck, which was within Shipwreck Cove, on Shipwreck Isle.
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen featured an airplane graveyard during Jetfire's introductory scene.
- It's actually the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
- The film Real Steel features one. Charlie and Max break into a robot junkyard to find parts to build a new robot boxer. After a near-death experience, Max discovers the film's robot protagonist, Atom, buried in the mud.
- In the opening scene of Deep Rising, before we switch to the main plot the creatures are seen travelling through a deep sea ship graveyard, some of them hundreds of years old, all of which they presumably attacked, ate all the people on it, and sank the ships afterwards. There are even the remains of whale skeletons besides the derelict ships.
- The planet Jakku in The Force Awakens was originally a desert planet until it an offscreen battle between the New Republic and what remained of the Galactic Empire littered a section of the planet with the wreckage of several Imperial Star Destroyers. And by the film's events, it also attracted a colony of scavengers.
- In the Backstory of David Brin's Startide Rising, a Terran starship discovers a fleet of derelict Progenitor ships and unleashes a galaxies-wide holy war.
- Old World War I transports that were left abandoned form the production headquarters for one group of drug dealers, in Tom Clancy's Without Remorse, a Prequel in the Jack Ryan series.
- "Bronco", in Clear and Present Danger, speculates that the Boneyard in Arizona is where the a captured druggie DC-7B will eventually be dumped, given that one more old aircraft in storage there won't be particularly noteworthy.
- The Redwall book The Bellmaker has a Derelict Graveyard of old wooden ships, which the heroes cannibalize for parts.
- The Nartec city in Animorphs #36 is built from wrecks recovered from the seabed.
- Andre Norton's novels contain several:
- Forerunner: the desert north of Kuxortal holds a field of Forerunner spacecraft contaminated with radiation.
- Sargasso of Space: a Forerunner installation on the planet Limbo had dragged many ships to their destruction over the eons.
- Web of the Witch World: The harbor in Sippar.
- Uncharted Stars: the Thieves' Guild base at Waystar, mentioned in a number of other books, turns out to be a space station now surrounded by closely-packed derelicts apparently towed into place as a kind of camouflage.
- Sabriel, in the first Old Kingdom book, lands her Paperwing coincidentally in a ship's graveyard. But not any ship's graveyard: this one is not underwater, but underground, and enchanted heavily to protect it, because it is full of the burial ships of kings. As such, there's nothing harmful lurking in the ship grounds itself, but she does find a Human Popsicle that needs rescuing while she's there.
- The Katana fleet in Timothy Zahn's novel Dark Force Rising is a lost fleet of warships that had blindly jumped into hyperspace years ago, after a hive virus drove the entire crew of each vessel insane. One of the main characters knew where it was and had been selling them off one at a time, and after the heroes saved him from Thrawn he decided to show them where the others were. But as it turned out, Thrawn already knew, and he stole a march on them by first taking all the remaining functional ships, then setting a trap.
- In the Dream Park South Seas Treasure Game, some important items are found amid a collection of abandoned ships and planes, which the villainous Fore sorcerors had summoned to New Guinea with their Cargo Cult magic.
- Star Trek's Dominion War series placed one of these in the Badlands.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series novel The Final Nexus, dimension-traveling aliens created quarantine areas for any ships infected by a mysterious insanity, long long ago. No cure was ever found, and by Kirk's time the quarantine zones are filled with massive graveyards. (One ship vaguely resembles a Borg cube! Probably a coincidence.)
- The previous novel, Chain of Attack, actually outclasses it, though—the derelicts there include lifeless planets throughout a huge sector of space.
- In the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series, we've got the Sargasso Sector, named for the Sargasso Sea on Earth. It's a junkyard of abandoned ships floating around a collection of black holes and quasars. The protagonists are assigned to clear a path through it to allow a convoy access - one of the series' more notable cases of Space Is an Ocean.
- The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester has Gulliver Foyle encounter the Sargasso Asteroid, a body in the main asteroid belt built entirely from the hulks of abandonned spaceships.
- The Diving Universe novel Boneyards has the Boneyard, a massive derelict graveyard full of ancient spaceships.
Live Action TV
- in one episode of Space Cases, the Christa comes across a graveyard of ships that had all their energy sapped by an entity that inhabits the region. The ship picks up echoing transmissions that confirm the entity has been at work for more than 100 years. the Christa narrowly avoids joining them.
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Wolf-359 (after the battle with the Borg) only looks like a derelict graveyard: it's really a bunch of very recently smashed ships, though Star Trek's Expanded Universe went on to have the site of the battle declared a memorial and maintained as a derelict graveyard. Ironically, the ship models from this scene were reused in the "Reunification" two-parter for another derelict graveyard which was being used as a source of Vulcan ship parts for the Romulan invasion.
- Andromeda had a graveyard full of abandoned High Guard ships, captured by the Nietzscheans after the war and left to sit there for 3 centuries until they could figure out how to deal with the A Is defending them. There were also a couple of episodes where they came across single abandoned ships from the same time, generally presumed to be haunted wrecks (including the Andromeda itself in the pilot).
- The Red Dwarf episode "Psirens" featured an asteroid belt full of wrecked spaceships; it was there because the titular creatures were causing the ships to crash.
- The Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade has an episode that features an UNDERGROUND derelict graveyard of spaceships. The Alien race on that planet had been luring other alien ships there for centuries, so they could kidnap the crews and perform medical experiments on them in hopes of finding a cure for a bio-engineered disease.
- The old, derelict graveyard where ghosts went to recharge in The Ghost Busters.
- Moonbase Alpha passes through one of these in an episode of Space: 1999; it is infested with an Eldritch Abomination.
- Several examples in Life After People.
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Doctor's Wife" the asteroid on which the Doctor lands contains a massive graveyard of once-alive time machines known as TARDISes each of which has been devoured by the episode's Monster of the Week.
- Happens quite a lot in Warhammer 40,000:
- Examples of merely a lot of spread-out wrecks happen occasionally, including in the graphic novel Bloodquest.
- Space Hulks - giant asteroids with the ancient wreckage of hundreds of ships embedded in them - are a recurring plot device and the basis for an entire series of Space Hulk games, whether full of handfuls of Genestealers, millions of Orks, or an STC device the Imperium has to snatch from the claws/choppas of aforementioned nasties.
- Games Workshop sells a downed Aquilla Lander as a miniature (landscape element).
- Rogue Trader grabs it and flies off with it. There are many. A bunch of derelicts left after an ancient battle on the outskirts of a system is a generic feature for randomly generated discovered systems. There's one location of which seems to change and it's rumoured to actually be a nest of a Space Kraken that captures ships and devours their crew. There's a whole system full of derelicts in different stages of damage and disassembly, lots of which by all rights should not be anywhere near that area at all, with strange creatures scavenging them and generally sanity-impairing atmosphere. There are also places like Breaking Yards, full of derelicts and squalid scavenger habitats - you may try to find something useful there, but this "cheap" approach isn't exactly respected in the spacefaring community, the most obvious good stuff is probably taken many centuries ago, and it's not necessarily safe to rummage.
- The Lintha Family stronghold of Bluehaven in Exalted.
- Several locations in the Ravenloft setting qualify, including the ring of battered wrecks that encircle Monette's isle, and the kelp-mired vessels enmeshed in the domain of Saragoss.
- A graveyard of derelict ships trapped in a "dead zone" in space shows up in a couple of scenarios in Star Fleet Battles.
- There are a number of these along the Spinward Marches in Traveller left over from all the Space Battle s that took place their.
- An entire level of Gradius Gaiden is made entirely of huge wrecked ships... all of which were once bosses in previous games!
- The Final Fantasy games have a few:
- The Ship Graveyard in Final Fantasy V.
- A train graveyard in Final Fantasy VII.
- Arrapago Reef in Final Fantasy XI.
- Final Fantasy XII has the Ozmone Plain, which may appear to be a nice, pleasant grassland, but all around, you find the wrecks of crashed airships...
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, the final battle map is a "Graveyard of Airships".
- In Star Trek: Voyager: Elite Force, a space station made of the spaceships of various alien races makes an appearance.
- Actually, pretty much the entire game takes place in one.
- The Homeworld games had at least two boneyards-in-space, the Karos graveyard (light years wide and has many functional ships inside too) and the ancient ships in the garden of Kadesh.
- One of the first levels of BloodRayne takes place in a ship graveyard in the middle of a Louisiana bayou.
- Several levels in Super Mario Galaxy.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, the planet Rakata becomes a ship graveyard due to an ancient jamming field installed there to keep wandering ships away from the Star Forge.
- It also has Malachor Five in the second game, which is surrounded by the wrecks of Republic and Mandalorian warships after the Exile activated Revan's ace in the hole.
- The Ord Mantell Junkyard from Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire. You jump from rail platform to rail platform, through what looks like a warehouse, a junkyard filled with derelict structures, thousands of ships smashed together, some sort of brown toxic stuff in the ground that kills you as soon as you fall from the wagons, and end up in a smelter. If you pay attention, you'll see an X-Wing, a TIE Fighter,
thea Sandcrawler, an AT-AT, an AT-ST, and the Millenium Falcona Corellian YT-1300 freighter.
- Also a mostly intact Star Destroyer. Star Wars loves this type of planet.
- Total Annihilation has "Dump", a moon around the Core homeworld which has accumulated four thousand years of garbage. Said garbage is the remains of Core war units and is the only source of metal in that mission. Any battlefield will resemble this given enough time. Those wrecks really do pile up.
- Supreme Commander is similar, though most wrecks don't last all that long due to ever-busy engineers reclaiming them for mass. Most missions in the game, starting near the end and in just about always in Forged Alliance, also start the player in the midst of a ruined base or city to provide ample resources to jump-start your economy/military.
- Haunted Ship in Sonic Rush Series Adventure.
- Lost Fleet in Spyro 3 is filled with sunken ships, but mostly landlocked...
- The Derelict Frigate of Metroid Prime.
- And the Valhalla in Metroid Prime 3.
- Not to mention the Wrecked Ship section of Super Metroid.
- Arguably the first three worlds of Donkey Kong Country 2. First there's a ship that's in mint condition except for a hole torn into the hull, then there's a ship that's been torn in half and is sitting in the middle of a swamp. And then there's the half-submerged ship in lava...
- Gloomy Galleon from Donkey Kong 64 also had a large number of wrecked ships.
- You can discover one of these in Skies of Arcadia for profit.
- There is also an entire region you can explore named the Dark Rift, (Sargasso in the original Japanese release) which is probably a Shout-Out to the Bermuda Triangle and Sargasso Sea. The area is littered with scores of ruined ships, many you can loot, and one with a survivor you can recruit.
- Endless Ocean features one of these for its final bonus area. You can pet baby great white sharks there!
- An area aptly called "Ship Graveyard" in Notrium.
- One could easily make the claim that Fallout 3 has derelict graveyards of nuclear cars. Make for a lovely boom, if you've got the ordnance.
- Forget ordinance, just empty a magazine into one of the cars until it starts burning, and then run like your life depends on it. And at this point, it does.
- Also, the town of Megaton is built from empty hulls of buses and planes, not to mention metal taken from more old vehicles.
- Freelancer plays a variation of this, where some asteroid fields are actually junk fields. This one is played totally straight, however, with a debris field littered with the remains of a battle between Rheinland and the Kusari-backed Gas Miners Guild.
- It also features a literal derelict graveyard in a nebula in the Omicron Alpha system, where Outcast ace pilots are buried along with their ships and their most prized possessions, those being some of the strongest weapons in the game, which the player can loot if they don't mind doing a bit of the old graverobbing.
- And the Nomads crawling about.
- Level 5 of R-Type Delta is an interdimensional derelict graveyard, containing random scrap and enemies from the first R-Type. While most of the derelict ships can't manouver anymore, they do have operational weapon systems.
- There was a 'starship graveyard' in Lylat Wars on the N64.
- The Black Hole in the original Star Fox definitely qualifies.
- The 'main' quest of Age of Pirates 2: City of Abandoned Ships involves traveling to the eponymous conglomeration of derelict ships fastened together, forming a floating town. Well not really.
- Sir Raleigh's level "Gunboat Graveyard" in the first Sly Cooper game, with the graveyard being deliberately created by Raleigh himself.
- The Spaceship Graveyard in Secret Agent Clank.
- The Ship Graveyard level in Hydro Thunder.
- The Keyblade Graveyard in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep.
- Far Cry 2 has the Train variety in multiple areas, and a multiplayer map. Also Saharan Shipwrecks of a sort if you follow the tracks into the desert.
- The far side of the Omega-4 Relay in Mass Effect 2 is littered with broken and derelict ships lacking the IFF transponder that tells the relay to send a ship through safely instead of shooting it. If you can get past the black hole flanking its exit point.
- Which you can if your pilot is Joker.
- There's also Korlus, the shipbreaking planet where Grunt is recruited.
- The Sirius star system in Sol-Feace has several ship components—including a large sheet of fuselage—that come careening towards the player's starship, all of which can be shot back and redirected with opposing fire.
- Prehistoric Isle in 1930 features this in the second part of the underwater level, showing all the ships that have gone missing in the Bermuda Triangle.
- Seventh story mission in Jaws Unleashed has you chasing some divers into a lagoon filled with partially and completely sunken ships.
- Starfleet Adventures, a TOS-based fan conversion for EV Nova, has one of these in the system Surplus Depot Z15.
- In the X Universe, the sector President's End has about a dozen burned out capital ships and space stations floating around, leftovers from a Kha'ak attack.
- The Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Time Trap" featured one of these.
- In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, the expedition finding one of these is the first sign of trouble: They were sunk by the Leviathan.
- At the end of The Little Mermaid, The now gigantic Ursula creates a whirlpool that exposes several damaged ships. Prince Eric finds one of them, and uses it to dispatch Ursula.
- Earlier in the film, Ariel and Flounder can be seen collecting artifacts from a sunken ship inhabited by Glut the shark.
- The "Other Railway" from Thomas the Tank Engine, which is for some reason full of rusted and decaying steam locomotive parts.
- An episode of the original Jonny Quest featured one.
- The classic Popeye cartoon Goonland has the shore of Goon Island littered with derelict ships - Popeye has to ram his way through to dock.
- As well as numerous fictional depictions as a Derelict Graveyard, the Bermuda Triangle and in particular the Sargasso Sea have real-world reputations for being perilous areas littered with the wrecks of ages.
- Although apparently the only reason the Bermuda Triangle accumulates shipwrecks is because so many shipping lanes pass through it. Statistically, it's actually safer than the rest of the ocean.
- Subverted with quiet, methodical, bludgeoning research by Larry Kusche in The Bermuda Triangle Mystery: Solved where he discovers that while there are genuine mysteries most disappearances either happened well outside the Bermuda Triangle, occurred during a time of bad weather, the start of the search was delayed, had a number of plausible explanations, wreckage was found, the vessel never existed and/or it was reported missing but eventually got home safely!
- Large concentrations of sunken ships can occur in Real Life. Naval battles are one reason (such as "Ironbottom Sound" off Guadalcanal, rumored to be lined with the hulks of so many sunken ships a magnetic compass is useless), mass scuttlings another, such as when the German High Seas Fleet was scuttled at Scapa Flow at the end of World War I.
- This is actually true of the aptly-named Ironbottom Sound. Fifty or so ships went down in fierce battles. It is said that a compass will deflect off true north at least twice on any trip across the sound, sometimes as many as five times.
- The area off Cape Hatteras in North Carolina is referred to as "The Graveyard of the Atlantic" with good reason, having a remarkably high shipwreck density; partially because of the ever-shifting sandbank known as Diamond Shoals, and partially because of German U-boats during two World Wars.
- Also the hurricanes and other storms which regularly sweep through the area.
- Bikini Atoll was the site of several atomic bomb tests involving a "fleet" of derelict ships, many of which now lie in shallow waters on the bottom.
- Collections of semi-functional machines are maintained for all sorts of reasons, such as the US Military's "Boneyard".
- Or the Mothball Fleet at Suisun Bay, California.
- Some Russian naval ports are a bit like this, with rusting subs and ships waiting for disposal. Word of advice- some of the subs may be radioactive.
- The Deadpool on Staten Island in New York.
- The river near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is littered with the half-sunken remains of ships contaminated by the 1986 disaster. One of these wrecks, the Skadovsk, is featured as a stalker base in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat.
- The Zone of Alienation also has several land-based graveyards of highly contaminated vehicles.
- Many areas in the former Soviet Union contain plenty of abandoned vessels. This is not because of any kind of contamination - the previous owners just found it easier/cheaper to get rid of old and/or damaged ships by simply going away, rather than paying for a proper decommissioning. Considering that law enforcement can be very lax in certain areas, and that nobody ever complains (the former Soviet Union is a big place - a few dumped ships are unlikely to mess anyone's backyard), it's hardly a wonder that many wreckages are still there today.
- Paracas, a bay in Ica, Peru has sunken ships in what's now a national reserve, they are wooden and much joy for children...
- Pearl Harbor has a small graveyard of two sunken ships, the USS Arizona and Utah, that have remained there since the Japanese attack on the harbor during World War II. There used to be more sunken ships, but the majority were salvaged, with the Arizona and Utah deemed too damaged to raise. The Arizona itself was eventually turned into a war memorial.
- The Arizona is an actual graveyard, considering 1,100 dead sailors still remain in the submerged wreck!