Disintegrator Ray

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The cleanest variety of Death Ray. Whatever it strikes, be it commoner or king, is reduced to little more than sand and ozone (or simply vanishes in a flash of light). A great way to save money on special effects and not have to litter the place with corpses or blood. Only a few stories will bother to elaborate on where all that matter actually goes, or how the ray gun "knows" to stop disintegrating things once the original target is vaporized (rather than disintegrating everything in the area up to and including the very planet everyone is standing on).

Be warned, however. If you should fall foul of a Disintegrator Ray, it may take much more than a stay at the Trauma Inn to cure that Status Effect. Even people whose Healing Factor can reconstitute their bodies From a Single Cell would have trouble doing so from a single atom.

A Sub-Trope of Ray Gun.

Examples of Disintegrator Ray include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Naruto, Dust Release works like this.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The second major invention of Baron Zemo (Captain America (comics)'s once-archenemy from WWII), eventually revealed as being—tada!!--a laser beam.
  • It requires physical contact, and so isn't technically a ray or laser beam or whatever, but the "vibrate through molecules" ability each Flash-type speedster possesses can be used offensively as a disintegrator.
  • Darkseid's most oft-seen use of his Omega Beams is to disintegrate anyone he chooses.

Film[edit | hide]

  • The War of the Worlds:
    • In the 1953 Hollywood movie adaptation, the "heat ray" truly could burn tanks to ashes, but for extra appeal, the war machines gained a second weapon, the green "skeleton beam" which "neutralized mesons," truly causing its victims to vanish in a glow of green light.
    • The 2005 Spielberg adaptation included not only a scene with many fleeing civilians getting disintegrated, but also a scene afterwards where the protagonist realizes that he's covered in people dust.
  • The plot of The Pink Panther Strikes Again has the crazed Chief Inspector Dreyfus threatening the world with a ray that leaves next to nothing behind unless Inspector Clouseau is killed. The villain is Hoist by His Own Petard at the end. Perhaps due to Sequelitis, he got better.
  • Queen of Outer Space (1958). Yllana, the dictatorial matriarch of Venus, has the Beta Disintegrator which can destroy Earth in minutes. Though given her rampant hatred of men, she should have dubbed it the Alpha-Male Disintegrator instead.
  • Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow homages all of Mad Science, including a hand held disintegrator pistol that fires a little blue ring that disintegrates a neat hole through a foot of metal.
  • Mars Attacks! has the Martians armed with disintegrators that leave a brightly colored skeleton behind.
  • The dirtship in The Core has an ultrasonic beam at the front that disintegrates everything in front of it so it can travel through to the center of the Earth.
  • Gort's eye beam in The Day the Earth Stood Still. Used to disintegrate tanks, artillery pieces and individual weapons.
  • Earth Versus The Flying Saucers. The beams emitted from the hands of the invader's armor suits and (sometimes) the devices in the bottom of the invaders' ships.
  • The American Astronaut: Professor Hess has a handgun that can turn people to ash if they forget his birthday.
  • The electro-fragmentizer room in Our Man Flint.
  • Though it never occurs in the trilogy, Darth Vader feels it prudent enough in The Empire Strikes Back to warn Boba Fett "No disintegrations" when sending the bounty hunters after the Millennium Falcon.
    • In one of the video game adaptations, there is a disintegrator grenade In Name Only.
  • Heavy Metal. In the "Harry Canyon" segment, the title cabbie is betrayed by a woman he helped: he destroys her with a device installed in his cab to prevent robberies.
  • District 9: One of the weapon causes people to 'pop' leaving only a few splashes of blood.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Martian "Heat Ray" in H. G. Wells' 1898 novella The War of the Worlds is one of the earliest examples of this trope, although it did tend to leave messy burnt bits around the edges of the blast zone.
    • Inside the blast zone, the messy burnt bits are smaller and harder to notice.
    • The "Heat Ray" was a death ray. The first true disintegrator appears in the 1898 Edison's Conquest of Mars.
  • The quark-level dissociator spell from the Young Wizards series.
  • In Ringworld and Larry Niven's other Known Space stories, the Thrintun Slavers left a lot of their Lost Technology lying around in stasis, including a disintegrator digging tool that suppresses atomic valence—atoms simply fly apart. It is weaponized to slice a miles-deep canyon into a planet during the Man-Kzin wars.
    • The planet is know known as "Canyon", for it's defining feature.
    • ...And the weapon was called the "Wunderland Treatymaker" for it's defining feature.
      • The details are amusing enough to relate: one version of the Slaver Disintegrator suppressed the charge on electrons. Another suppressed the charge on protons. Neither version acted quickly enough to be useful as a weapon, but if two beams were fired in parallel, current would flow between them. Lots of current.
  • The "Little Doctor" (from "Doctor Device", from "M.D. device", from molecular disruption device) in Ender's Game is an especially potent version. While later books in its original form it fires a pair of beams which generate a field that breaks atomic bonds at the point where they meet—and uses the energy released to expand the field, with the end result that a single shot could take out a target of any size, anything nearby, and so on in a chain reaction limited only by the vast void of space. Needless to say, the weapon was only used in space combat. At least until Ender had it used on the buggers' homeworld.
  • In the Animorphs series, the Yeerks' Dracon beams were deliberately engineered to disintegrate living targets slowly and painfully. Other weapons did so more cleanly.
  • The disruption-balls fired by "The Gun That Shot Too Straight", in Ralph Roberts' short story.
  • The balefire weave of The Wheel of Time. Manifests as a beam of light that instantly banishes whatever it touches from existence, not even leaving dust behind. The destruction visited upon the target is so extreme, being killed with balefire prevents a person from being brought back to life, even by gods. If that isn't enough, contact with balefire also burns the very actions that the person recently took out of existence, undoing them.
  • A disintegrator ray is the weapon ultimately (and accidentally) created in the Arthur C. Clarke short story "Armaments Race" in Tales From The White Hart.
  • The Man Who Rocked the Earth by Arthur Train and Robert Wood.
  • Disintegrators are one of the earliest stock energy weapons introduced in Perry Rhodan. They work on the "disrupt molecular bonds" principle and so turn whatever they touch into expanding gasses and/or very fine dust; since the beam only affects what it touches directly (and doesn't, say, expand from that spot to magically consume the whole person or object), the technology has practical applications away from the battlefield as well.
  • The Ultravibe weapons in Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon book Broken Angels effectively did this... they were presumably some sort of intense directed broad-spectrum ultrasound device which vibrated targets apart. Used as battlefield weapons and mining devices. One character is hit by a big, warship-mounted version of these and is reduced to a thin, smooth red paste coating the surfaces of the docking bay he was in.
  • Isaac Asimov's robot story "Robot Al-76 Goes Astray". A robot creates a Disinto device powerful enough to destroy the top 3/4 of a mountain.
  • Colin O'Boyle's serialized novel, The Chronicles of Professor Jack Baling, has one of these. After the main character accidentally shoots his kitchen island, it shivers, takes on an ashy appearance—as though a newspaper image of the island had been lit on fire—and then collapses into a pile of dust.
  • M.K. Wren's The Phoenix Legacy had a variant, the "syntegrator," used not as a weapon but as a garbage disposal -- toss a piece of trash into the syntegrator's opening and a cluster of Frickin' Laser Beams will reduce it to a fine ash. We Will Have Unlimited Energy Supplies in the Future.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Used to the point of annoyance on Star Trek for years. No one seemed to ever use the settings on phasers that were between stun and unmake utterly without burning the carpet...intentionally, at least. In the TOS episode The Conscience of the King Lenore accidentally kills Karidian without disintegrating him, but a master of phaser use and safety, Lenore was not.
    • Also, Karidian needed to give a Final Speech. This was the sole exception to the rule in TOS (if we don't count super-strong aliens who could shrug off phaser fire altogether.)
    • A couple of original-series episodes used a hand-phaser heat-ray setting to warm up a rock on a cold world, and coffee during a power outage, respectively, serving Roddenberry's vision of phasers as tools that are incidentally weapons.
    • There was one Deep Space Nine episode where a Disintegrator Ray used by a couple of snarky murderers did burn the carpet after unmaking their unfortunate target. "Oh? Now look what you did to the rug." They covered the stains with a chair, which was not enough to fool Odo.
    • In The Undiscovered Country Star Fleet subversives were disposed of via a point-blank phaser on stun. Rumor has it there's an episode in The Original Series where this phenomenon was mentioned. Then the topic was tabled until Next Generation era and beyond, during which phasers had ten settings and up.
      • But it was established in TNG that the phaser's highest setting didn't actually burn or vaporize, it broke down matter into Technobabblium particles which harmlessly dissipated. It's a plot point in one of the season-end three parters, when the crew scan the floor near a phaser shot for said particles to find if Picard was really killed, or just beamed away.
      • In one episode both Riker and Picard fire phasers at a human possessed by alien bugs, causing his head to explode and left behind a bloody corpse. Evidently this effect and the whole episode/storyline didn't go down too well.
    • In the original series episode "The Apple", a lightning bolt acted as a Disintegrator Ray. Though it was a super-computer-controlled active defensive system only pretending to be natural lightning.
    • And in the original series episode "The Changeling", Nomad's beam weapon vaporized many a red-shirt without trace.
    • In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, V'Ger disintegrated entire Klingon battle cruisers. (Although strictly speaking that was less of a disintegration and more of a destructive scan.)
  • Three shots of a Zat gun on Stargate SG-1 used to do this, but after the writers realized it was stupid, they quietly stopped using that function.
  • Subverted in the Doctor Who episode "Bad Wolf", where the ray used in several deadly gameshows turns to be a transmat device, but those affected generally end up as Dalek meat (as in their cells are used to grow Daleks).
  • Hilariously spoofed in the British comedy series Hyperdrive. The ruler of Queppu has a fearsome-looking Doom Ray that can disintegrate his enemies... provided they stand perfectly still for three days.
  • The Outer Limits TOS. In the episode "Soldier", the title character's weapon made the target glow and disappear.
  • Dr. Who has numerous instances of this technology, the Daleks having one of the more frequently used. However, The DeMat Gun used by the Fourth Doctor in The Invasion of Time is a special weapon. Powered by the Great Key of Time, is doesn't just disintegrate the target, it removed their entire existence from time itself.
    • The episode "Robot" had the title character using a disintegrator gun and making a battle tank glow and disappear. When asked what the "range and power of that device is" the Doctor's answer was "the power is limitless and as to range, it could cut a hole in the surface of the moon". See also BFG

Mythology[edit | hide]

  • According to the Greeks and at least one psychic from the early 20th century, Edgar Cayce, Atlantis was destroyed when they discovered machines that were essentially ancient ideas of the Disintegrator Ray.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Dungeons & Dragons had the "Disintegrate" spell, which did Exactly What It Says on the Tin, but only if it managed to kill the target, and is mutually canceling with force effects. This made it slightly less useful than most Save or Be Screwed spells, but the spell was still a fan favorite, purely because of the Rule of Cool.
      • Bad news from 3.x: Disintegrate hurts even on successful save. Good news: it requires a ranged touch attack, and wizards rarely make good snipers. Good non-news: many Force effects are destroyed, but absorb the hit - most common being Wall of Force, Otiluke's Resilient Sphere and [Bigby's] Interposing Hand, all lower in level. First-level Shield is a Force effect too - in old editions it worked, in new it's ambiguous. Death spells are "Fortitude save or die" as well, but there's just too much effects and items made against them.
      • However, 5d6 at that level isn't much. And in 3.5 even on a failed save instead of one-hit-overkill it's 2d6/level - which is a lot, but not guaranteed to kill creatures worth this level of attention.
    • Destroyed remnants also require more serious magic to bring one Back from the Dead, so it makes sort of Deader Than Dead.
    • Also appeared as one of beholders' Eye Beams (making an occasional smooth shaft or breach in the wall a hint, e.g. in Song Of The Saurials or The Summoning).
    • In the earlier editions of the game, this was one of the special purpose powers that could be chosen for an intelligent sword with a special purpose. This effect was delivered on any hit with the weapon (in addition to its normal damage) against those that the weapon was dedicated to slaying.
    • As pointed out in the undead-specific source book Libris Mortis, under 3.5E rules the "Disintegrate" spell is useful to fight The Undead because it requires a constitution-based saving throw. Undead, having no constitution score, typically have low constitution saves. Also, unlike most effects that target that particular defense (which Undead typically ignore), Disintegrate works on inanimate objects (so it also works on Undead).
  • GURPS: Ultratech has the "Reality Disintegrator" and the more traditional "Nucleonic Disintegrator".
  • Mutants and Masterminds includes the Disintegration power where a sufficiently damaging attack can entirely remove the target from existence, preventing regeneration. A single power feat allows the user to reverse the effect at will.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has Necron Gauss weaponry, which disintegrates its target one molecular layer at a time.
  • The first set of Magic: The Gathering has the Disintegrate spell as one of the staples for red magic. Its damage is limited only by how much mana you have, allowing you to either nuke a big creature or simply obliterate your opponent.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Commander in Total Annihilation has one of these. It fires a spiky ball that wipes out whatever it touches. Nasty weapon, but there are 3 downsides to it: It consumes a metric assload of energy. It does not leave scrap metal. It has a very short range, which means that proper artillery pounds the Commander first, and while a Krogoth won't survive, blowing up a Krogoth is likely to also blow up the Commander in the resulting nuclear blast.
  • Combine dark energy weaponry in Half-Life 2 and its Episodes instantly disintegrates any enemies (with the exception of Gordon Freeman), including the Strider's mounted cannon, a mortar-like "suppression device" and the secondary fire of the Pulse Rifle. Seems to be an innate quality of all dark energy-based technology, as even the dark energy reactors in the Citadel disintegrate anyone who touches them.
    • The pulse machine guns equipped on the Striders and Gunships don't disintegrate their targets but their impact does release a small amount of the particles that come off disintegrating targets, implying that they still work by disintegration, but on a much smaller level.
  • Lavos, the Big Bad of Chrono Trigger, can fire off a Disintegrator Ray from its eye/maw, strong enough to reduce the main protagonist to dust... but only in cutscenes.
  • The final boss of Iji has this as one of his attacks. If you're unfortunate enough to get hit, you're dead no matter how much life you have, and are vaporized so quickly that Iji's usual dying scream is abruptly cut off.
    • And the entire bottom menu clears. All your weapons and stats disappear.
  • The aptly named Disintegrator Ray in Destroy All Humans!. It's one of the most useful weapons in the series since it deals good damage, has an excellent rate of fire, and has lots of ammo, but it has the slight drawback of leaving behind no bodies for you to harvest brains from.
  • Prey has a Leech weapon which, when loaded from a special terminal fires a big beam of? energy at your foes, leaving a brittle, burnt, rapidly-disintegrating corpse behind.
  • Let's not forget the Particle Cannon from the new Wolfenstein, which vibrates matter at such incredibly high frequencies that it instantly reduces enemies to green ash.
  • Averted in Fallout 3/ Fallout: New Vegas. Laser and plasma weapons leave corpses, but occasionally turn your fallen enemies into piles of goo or ash.
    • This is a callback to the first two games, where plasma weapons would melt foes into puddles of green goo on a Critical Hit.
      • The Fallout 1/2 lasers would merely chop the target into a pile of steak on criticals, but plasma weapons would indeed reduce victims to a puddle of (usually red) goo. The Fallout 2 Pulse Rifle had the hilarious effect of making the target's hair all stand on end, burning them to a crisp, and finally the charred corpse collapses into a pile of dust. Might also have caused X-Ray Sparks, to boot.
  • The disruptor rifle in Star Wars Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy can completely disintegrate most enemies with one fully charged shot. But they'll still conveniently drop their weapons for you.
  • Command and Conquer Red Alert Series 2 had at least three ways to disintegrate infantry; radiation (gloop), electricity (ash) and light (ash/dust).
    • Yuri's Revenge had the Floating Disk with its Disintegrator Ray which reduced infantry to gloop with its radiation laser, while Yuri's Psychic Blast let enemy soldier's brains explode. In-game, they were reduced to nothingness by this.
    • Tiberian Sun had the Laser Tower, the small anti-infantry brother of the Obelisk, which toasted enemy infantry and reduced them to dust as well.
  • In Space Quest, the slot machine fires one of these if you get triple skull & crossbones symbols, turning Roger to ashes. The Sariens' pulserays also do this, although they leave no ashes.
  • In King's Quest III, this is one of the favorite spells your master Manannan will cast on you if you misbehave too often. ZAP, indeed!
  • Various weapons in Crusader have this effect on the protagonist or enemies, causing them to fade away into nothingness with an echoing scream.
  • In Metroid Prime 1, the Plasma beam would disintegrate a target completely if charged, while the uncharged shot set things on fire. The Light beam did the same in Prime 2. Prime 3 the plasma beam returned, and when combined with the nova beam would turn a target to dust, even when uncharged if they were on fire long enough.
  • In Strife, you get the Mauler, which functions as a disintegrater shotgun with a combination energy bomb launcher.
  • Amorphous+ has the dreaded Void Eater. If it's not using its Instant Death Radius attack, it will charge energy, then fire out a black beam which disintegrates anything it touches (including mooks, like Sharps, Horrors, Grays, and even the Queen and Razor Queen; only excluding Grinders, who just crack instead). No amount of Reactive armour will save you either.
  • In Nethack black dragons breathe disintegration beams which, strangely, bounce off of walls instead of destroying them. There are five ways to survive a disintegration blast: 1) have equipped an item with "reflection" attribute, 2) wear black dragon scale mail, 3) have a shield or body armor equipped (in which case the item gets disintegrated instead of you), 4) get disintegration immunity by eating the corpse of a black dragon, 5) be wearing an amulet of life saving (which gets used up in the process).
  • The Cow Mangler and Righteous Bison for the Soldier in Team Fortress 2, complete with agonizing pose before being vaporized. The Engineer has his own with the Pomson 6000, and the Pyro gets his odd versions with the Phlogistinator and the Manmelter.
  • F.E.A.R.'s Particle Beam vaporizes the flesh of its victims, leaving only charred skeletons.
  • Laser guns in Another World do this to victims.
  • Ascendancy has Disintegrator as a ship weapon that can One-Hit Kill any ship and is stopped only by Invulnerablizer's temporary protection. However, it's expensive, short-ranged (like most "special" weapons), and the most voracious of all attack systems (one shot takes 25 "sugar cubes" of energy, while the most powerful non-Special weapon consumes 6x3 and the most advanced power source gives only 10 to spend each turn).

Web Comics[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • One of several uses Kim Possible villain Shego makes of her powers.
  • Duck Dodgers in The Twenty Fourth And A Half Century parodies this trope more than once: First Daffy/Dodgers dares Marvin the Martian to shoot him with his disintegrating ray because Dodgers is "wearing his disintegration-proof vest." Marvin fires, and the vest is the only thing not reduced to dust. Fortunately for Daffy, the cartoon also features a much rarer integration pistol. Then, when Dodgers tries to retaliate:

Duck Dodgers: Ah-ha! Now I've got the drop on you with my disintegrating pistol! And brother, when it disintegrates, it disintegrates!
(Dodgers pulls trigger, pistol crumbles into dust.)
Duck Dodgers: Heh, well what do you know, it... disintegrated.

  • Transformers Generation 1, Shockwave has an Arm Cannon laser that works this way, vaporizing anything it hits.
  • The Ghost Dematerializer, preferred weapon of Filmations Ghostbusters, functions as one of these, but it only works on ghosts, temporarily sending them to another dimension.
  • Many The Herculoids Villains had these, including the Electrode Men.
  • In Futurama Professor Farnsworth sells cheap disintegrator rays that actually just teleport people a few feet away, making it appear as though they've disintegrated until anyone bothers to look.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Jimmy finds a strange egg from outer space that shoots rays like this, not that he ever noticed.