Fantastic Nuke

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

"That was the secret of secrets," said the Queen Jadis. "It had long been known to the great kings of our race that there was a word which, if spoken with the proper ceremonies, would destroy all living things except the one who spoke it."

In a fantasy setting featuring Fantasy Gun Control, Medieval Stasis, and assorted other reasons why the culture would never develop anything even close to nuclear weaponry, there may be some form of magic attack so powerful and destructive that it is obviously a stand-in for nuclear weapons. Compare to how Automatic Crossbows stand in for guns. Kamehame Hadoken, Wave Motion Gun and Person of Mass Destruction are common ways of invoking it.

Elsewhere, this trope is about the deliberate insertion of something nuke-like into a civilization that hasn't even invented the steam engine yet. Like Fantastic Racism and Fantastic Drug, in that the situation is obviously designed to parallel a real world situation, either in order to make some point about the issue or simply to allow all the connotations and associations of the real world situation to easily be applied to the fantastic. In Japanese works, may be related to Nuclear Weapons Taboo.

Examples of Fantastic Nuke include:

Anime and Manga

  • The “Dragon Slave” from Slayers.
    • Also “Blast Bomb” (Fire element spell capable doing purely physical damage) and “Ra Tilt” (Spirit Shamanism doing damage only on the astral plane) are considered to be equivalent in power.
    • Not to mention the “Giga Slave” (think localized black hole, not nuke) backstory even mentioned that a prototype version of it permanently turned a lake and surrounding environs into a magically contaminated “Sea of Death.” With the exception of that last one, all of these spells have acquired a bit of No Endor Holocaust due to use in Contractual Gags from Character Exaggeration. This makes it all the more noticeable when the drama kicks in and ground-level imagery recalling atomic bomb test footage is suddenly turned way, way up.
  • The "Vegatron bombs" from UFO Robo Grendizer (one of the Mazinger Z sequels). Each one of them could obliterate one whole city, and left the land polluted with radioactivity in the wake of the explosion.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima has Nagi reference this concept during the war when he mentioned his own world (earth) developing 'a very powerful bomb' that would end all wars. He said there were spells that were even more powerful available to mages.
    • Three examples are the 'High Ancient' (Greek) incantations: Khilipl Astrape (Thousand Thunderbolts), Kosmike Katasrophe (End of the World) and Ourania Phlogosis (Burning Sky). Their power seems to depend on the mage casting it, though.
    • Of course, Natsumi repeatedly refers to Jack Rakan as "the Human Atomic Bomb". Given his ridiculous amount of power, this is not entirely inaccurate.
  • "They're N2 mines, not nukes."
  • Scrapped Princess has the Ginnungagap, a "Long Ranged Strategic Class Spell", one of a whole class of nuke spells.
  • In Naruto, the Bijuu and Jinchuuriki, giant monsters made out of chakra and humans with the things sealed within their bodies, are treated like nuclear weapons by the ninja villages that don't simply shun and fear them. The First Hokage, the guy that at one point had control of them all, even gave most of the bijuu away to other villages to prevent them from shifting the tide of war too heavily and help grant stability. Pain and his organization have been kidnapping all the Jinchuuriki, intending to extract their bijuu and use them to rapidly start and stop wars to convince the other nations of their power as part of their plan to Take Over the World. However, his real plan turns out to be to create a superweapon capable of wiping out an entire countries instantly, available to any country who's will to pay, and likely to be used if one side doesn't have ninja. After being used once he thinks people will stop war altogether out of fear, until someone uses it again, repeating the cycle.
    • In Chapter 572, a Bijuu-Dama clash between the Kyuubi and 5 other tailed beasts creates a fireball that surpasses even the Tsar-Bomba. The resulting crater is about 50 times the diameter of a normal Bijuu-Dama explosion. Suddenly that "wiping out an entire country" idea sounds plausible.
    • Following Pain's death, Madara Uchiha instead wants to use their chakra to fuel Mass Hypnosis.
    • A special material in the second movie has the capabilities of producing infinite free energy, and served as the foundation of an ancient civilization, that was gone since then. In the climax, the mines where this material is found begin to collapse, threatening to wipe out the entire continent in one giant explosion. Hmm.
  • Vision of Escaflowne: Toward the end of the series one country drops a Magitek nuke.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: The Time-Space Administrative Bureau possesses a shipboard weapon, the Arc-En-Ciel, that is described as a "magical distortion cannon" and is far worse than a nuke. Fired at a planetary surface it will consume everything for hundreds of kilometers. Fitting a ship with an Arc-En-Ciel requires extensive background checks and briefing for all crew who have access to the bridge, and firing it requires both two seperate verbal commands and a key-based interlock. The Arc might even adhere to the Two-Man Rule; the ship's technical specialist down in the sensor room appears to be the one who powers and arms the weapon, but only someone on the bridge can fire it.
  • In the Bount arc of Bleach it is revealed that the Soul Society previously used Jokai Crests to produce Reishi. They stopped using them and sealed the rest away under giant concrete blocks after one exploded and destroyed a 1/10 of the Seiretei, but now the Big Bad has absorbed one and plans to release its energy and detonate the others in a chain reaction. It's clear what the inspiration was.
    • Ulquiorra's Lanza del Relámpago he missed and it landed far away and still the Chunky Updraft still reach Las Noches.
    • Not to mention Soi Fon's bankai, which is pretty much a nuclear missile. She makes an anchor of sorts with a metallic sash to stop herself from being blown away by the blast.
  • One Piece has some major Does This Remind You of Anything? whenever it refers to the Buster Call or the ancient weapon Pluton.
  • In Trigun, the Angel Arms and (manga only) photon-ion cannon are often seen by fans as analogous to nuclear weapons in their effects and their power. As an exception, references to actual atomic bombs are made in the final chapters of the manga. The special reload of this weapon in Doom the Roguelike is a nuclear blast.
  • The god warriors and their main weapon in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, as well as the method of warfare of provoking an Ohmu stampede against enemy cities.
    • Almost subverted in the manga, which makes clear that the god warriors do emit plenty of harmful radiation.
  • In Hayao Miyazaki's film Laputa: Laputa: Castle in the Sky, the floating island of Laputa has the power to launch some sort of energy weapon that results in an explosion of nuclear scale.
  • The titular aircraft of Simoun possess extremely destructive capabilities, which are triggered by executing "Ri Maajons" - elaborate patterns in the sky usually performed in complex flight formations. Some Ri Maajons have the power to destroy several thousands of enemy aircraft and tanks in one go. That the Simoun are intended for use in religious services and are thus piloted by priestesses is rather ironic.
  • The titular Otome of Mai-Otome are weapons who can singlehandedly win wars and determine a country's military strength. In the one major conflict since their creation, an entire country was wiped out, the survivors and their children suffering from debilitating illnesses. The underlying technology, if used peacefully, would improve the lives of millions. In the OVA, the various nations get together for Strategic Otome Limitation Talks (S.O.L.T.). And they're all entirely non-nuclear, nanomachine-powered, magical-girl maids.
  • The Black Cores from Dai no Daibouken, which are basically magic-powered nukes. (created from a rare ore analogous to the plutonium / uranium, nonetheless) On the back-story, one of them was powerful enough to destroy an entire continent.
  • Fairy Tail has a Magitek Kill Sat called the Aetherion, which supposedly delivers nuclear-level blasts.
    • There's also Fairy Law, a spell that can annihilate everything in a radius of miles that the caster considers an enemy. If it's in the middle of a battlefield where you need to be selective about what you're hitting (like you don't want to hit your friends), it's simply an extremely precise Wave Motion Gun that destroys enemies without hurting allies. However, if the caster were, say, in enemy territory, surrounded by enemy units, then it would probably rival Aetherion in it's capability for taking huge numbers of lives in an instant. Thankfully, only master class magicians are capable of casting spells like this.
    • Then there's Acnologia Roar apperantly capable of wiping out an entire island and leaves no traces.
  • When Louise uses Void Magic for the first time in The Familiar of Zero the result is a flash of blinding light and then everything belonging to the enemy (that's what we see at least) spontaneously catches fire.

Fan Works

  • In Fallout Equestria and its derived works, "balefire bombs" were instrumental in causing the postapocalyptic world described in the stories. They are clear analogues to nuclear weapons.
    • Referenced in Under The Northern Lights, an otherwise unrelated Friendship Is Magic fanfic. Twilight Sparkle stops a bomb-throwing assassin who seems to be destroyed by his own bomb when Twilight traps him and the bomb within a forcefield. Media and gossip make this into a "balefire bomb" to the ire of Twilight because balefire bombs are just theoretical weapons, no assassin is stupid enough to use a nuke-equivalent to kill someone, and nopony could contain a balefire blast like that.


  • In the Czech film Císařův pekař - Pekařův císař the golem is an obvious analogy for nuclear power. (The villains attempt to use the golem to rule the world and get killed in the process, while the hero goes to use it for the good of all.)


  • Discworld:
    • The civil war that breaks out between the wizards in Sourcery (as well as the earlier Mage Wars) has clear allusions to a nuclear war, though we don't get to see the truly powerful spells close up.
    • There are areas mentioned repeatedly throughout the series but never shown where fallout from spells like this in ancient wizard conflicts make them uninhabitable.
    • Furthermore, in Monstrous Regiment, Sam Vimes makes explicit reference to the "first use of magic" in a war... a clear parallel with nuclear weapons.
    • Pratchett is quite fond of using the adjective "thaumaturgical" in relation to the Mage Wars, almost certainly due to its similariry to "thermonuclear".
    • Reaper Man we get to finally see one up close. It was powerful enough to destroy an entire living city.
    • Pratchett was in fact formerly a scientific journalist specialising in nuclear physics, so his books are full of in-jokes about the subject.
    • There's a reference to the Mage Wars in Going Postal which makes this more explicit:

Any ignorant fool can fail to turn someone else into a frog. You have to be clever to refrain from doing it when you knew how easy it was. There were places in the world commemorating those times when wizards hadn't been quite as clever as that, and on many of them the grass would never grow again.

    • The Science of Discworld involves the magical equivalent of a nuclear reactor, designed largely from information contained in scrolls found in a cave in a dangerously magical area (everyone who went there died of rare, magically induced diseases) in the form of a bowl-shaped valley surrounded by rings of mountains. When the thing begins to overload, Ponder Stibons says he thinks that the reactor at that site probably was shut down in this state, so they need to come up with a way to bleed off the magic fast.
  • Tolkien got tired of people viewing the One Ring as an allegory for nuclear weapons. He was fond of noting that if the Ring was an allegory for the Bomb, Saruman wouldn't have tried to steal but, instead would have tried to develop his own, and the Alliance would have used the Ring against Sauron.
    • Although, strictly speaking, Saruman did create his own Ring, although it was never used as more than an indication of how mad he had become.
  • China Mieville's Perdido Street Station makes mention of Suroch, an area of the world that's been... twisted after New Crobuzon dropped a "torque-bomb" on it. Torque... twists things. That's what it means in physics, and that's definitely what one would call the results. The descriptions of Suroch try to avoid saying anything explicit. Apparently it was part nuke, part key to the gates of Hell. It can even be considered to be worse than Hell because demons are scared of the things that have crawled out of there.
    • "Colourbombs" in the same setting are implied to be less wrong but even more destructive; Mieville's influences being what they are, this latter might bear some relation to "The Colour out of Space". Colourbombs were used to cover up whatever the Torque did to Suroch. Basically, it was better to blanket nuke the area than try to explain the effects of torque to the populace of New Crobuzon.
    • The city-killer (aka Hecatomb) in Iron Council is beyond even colourbombs (another kind of fantastic nuke) for sheer alien annihilation. It erases cities. And casts ripples of destruction backwards in time.
  • The Deplorable Word in The Chronicles of Narnia is a magic spell that destroys all life in the world save that of the person who speaks it. We see a world where it was used in The Magician's Nephew, complete with not-so-subtle allusions to nuclear weaponry.
  • The seventh book of The Sword of Truth series has a wizard activating an ancient spell in the middle of the enemy camp. The results are quite nuclear, and cost the enemy about a million soldiers.
    • The Legend of the Seeker TV Series that is loosely based on the books features Whisperers, which are cylinder-shaped containers that hold the screams of the shadow people. When released manually or via the timer, the Whisperer emits an ear-piercing scream that kills very living thing within a league. Only creatures that can hear are affected, so a wizard may be able to place a temporary deafness spell to protect everyone in the affected area. Not surprisingly, used as weapons of terror by both the D'Harans and the rebels.
      • Which is a mix of two different concepts from the books. The first is Shadow People, incorporeal wraiths killing anyone touched (used by Darken Rahl's father), which were actually fought with sonic weapons. The second is the Dominie Dirtch, stationary stone bells serving as a border defense of a country. These shredded anyone in front of them when struck from behind. Plugging one's ears as a countermeasure was implied to have been used a couple thousand years ago; it was recommended again during the books, but the weapons were destroyed before it was needed.
  • The Wheel of Time has Balefire, which obliterates the target in the past, leading to a whole load of complications when linked circles with sa'angreal started using it to blow up cities during the War of the Power.
    • The Choedan Kal, a pair of Amplifier Artifacts exponentially more powerful than any others in existence, also tend to invoke this trope. While one eventually melts during the Cleansing of the Source, Rand ultimately destroys the other precisely because the destruction even one alone can cause is too great.
  • In Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch novels, the Others (humans with the natural ability to absorb and use magic) had certain extremely-powerful spells that have been used in the days before the Grand Treaty banned war between the Light and the Dark Others. Both sides have their own terrifying spells which are even more terrible than nuclear weapons.
    • To clarify, the spells banned include ones which turn people into still-conscious statues or which traps the victim and the killer together in a magical sarcophagus unitl the end of time.
    • In a subversion of the trope, since the novels take place during modern times, nukes are also available (an Other can just walk into a nuclear silo and grab one). Nukes are mentioned as the only human weapon that can destroy everything in all Twilight (parallel magical dimension) layers. This likely means that all nukes are protected by spells to prevent rogue Others from stealing them.
      • And yet Edgar manages to get one.
  • In John Moore's Bad Prince Charlie, two neighboring kingdoms are both trying to find a "Weapon of Mass Magical Destruction" left behind by a previous king.
  • In the Age of Unreason series, France uses alchemical magitech, building on the theory of creating resonance between two objects to make them attract, originally used to make target-seeking cannonballs, to attract an asteroid to London, creating the equivalent of a nuclear winter. This "Newton's Cannon" gives name to one of the books in the series.
  • Making a volcano erupt in the Codex Alera series amounts to this. The series has several Persons of Mass Destruction, including one Complete Monster and one who's always ready to Shoot the Dog, so volcanoes get used as weapons in the series.
    • There's also Garados, the Great Fury in the Calderon Valley. Basically a giant Titan sleeping in the valley that doesn't like trespassers. And Tavi wakes it up in order to damage the Vord Queen.
  • The war between wizards that was part of the Heralds of Valdemar backstory ended when the combatants blew up their castles, in two huge craters now known as Lake Evendim and the Dhorisha Plains. I don't recall seeing a scale or any specification of distances, but based on how it compares on the map to the surrounding countries, I'd be astonished if the Dhorisha Plains is less than 200 kilometers across.
    • The secondary effects were definitively global (some of the destruction was caused by waves of the effect coming back from the opposite cardinal direction) and produced so many dangerous mutants and invisible, sickening or lethal emanations that some of the worst-hit areas are still uninhabitable the better part of a millenium later. The detonations also "shattered the crystal lattices of magic" according to a prologue in one of the earliest Valdemar books, apparently fundamentally changing how magic itself operated.
      • It also broke time and started to happen again, in reverse, in the modern age—rolling back from the most distant affected areas to the twin epicenters and building from the weakest aftershocks up to the cataclysm itself. It is less obvious how this might parallel nuclear devestation... It still speaks pretty strongly to the apocalyptic treatment of the whole affair, though!
  • Xhum Y'Zir's Seven Cacophonic Deaths, in Lamentation by Ken Scholes.
  • The Andadt from The Long Price Quartet make nukes seem like pop-guns. The Andat "Sightless" blinds the entire world, right down to the insects.
  • In Lawrence Watt-Evans' Ethshar novels, there is a simple spell that can permanently negate magic within a huge volume. This is a bad thing in a world that heavily depends on magic and is one of the reasons that no one makes flying castles anymore. Naturally, the wizards of the world have gone to great lengths to expunge knowledge of it from the world.
  • In the Silver Tide By Michael Tod the real reason given for why Grey Squirrels so rapidly displaced Reds in Britain in the 1960s is that as they can count in binary—they can use numerology to tap into "stone power", creating squares that give off waves of energy, making anyone inside nauseous with small squares (sixteen stones) or killing everything inside with larger squares (4096 stones), disrupting ley-lines with its power, and sending waves of nausea and evil across the landscape. When one of the Reds learns to count (base eight, non-binary), they retaliate with numerology powered Beam Spam.
  • David Weber's Wind Rider series had a group of spells used to "strafe" the continent of Kontovar, killing everything not under the most powerful black wizards' shields.
  • Possibly the "Doom of Valyria" in A Song of Ice and Fire which wiped out the series' Rome analogue and left a "demon-haunted" wasteland. As a result of the cataclysm, a lot of Valyrian inventions were lost or exist in the present as Lost Technology.
  • Inverted in The Dresden Files, where involving vanilla mortals into a supernatural conflict is likened to using nukes; in part because humans have regular old nukes, in fact. (The other reasons are, in order, that the sheer force of numbers means that whoever gets the humans on their side basically wins, and pretty much the entirety of human folklore consists of a long how-to guide on dealing with—that is to say, killing—the supernatural.)
    • The closest thing TDF has to a straight example is the Darkhallow ritual, the most potent necromantic spell to date, which sucks the area dry of all living and undead energy for many miles around the caster.
  • Eragon Literally. Any sufficiently skilled magic-user can create a nuclear blast by uttering "Be Not" in the ancient language, converting their mass to energy. This is how the Rider Glaeron killed several Forsworn and turned Vroengard into Mordor so Galbatorix wouldn't find the hidden cache of Eldunari and dragon eggs. It's also how Galbatorix tries to pull a Taking You with Me after Eragon and the Varden have beaten him in the climax. Angela can seemingly also do it, but vows not to unless there is absolutely no other option to win a battle.
  • Harry Turtledove's Darkness cycle of books has a magic nuke in form of the unnamed product of the Naantali Project, a Kuusaman mega-spell that utilises a link between the laws of similarity and contagion. It makes use of animals (or, theoretically, people...) that are grandparents and grandchildren of each other, pushing the elder one forward in time and the younger one back in order to create a massively destructive discharge of sorcerous energy that can be directed anywhere on a map.
  • In The Malazan Book of the Fallen, this is the origin story of the Crippled God. A cabal of wizards decided that High King Kallor needed to die, and so used their magic to ensnare a god, which they then launched at Kallor's head. The God's impact destroyed an entire continent, devastated the God's very being, and failed to kill Kallor.
  • In Vincalis the Agitator by Holly Lisle a magical weapon capable of destroying entire cities is created. In The Secret Texts trilogy the after-effects of the prequel are visible on the world map as "wizard circles": very large, very haunted, perfectly spherical craters where the cities of old used to be.

Live-Action TV

  • Doctor Who: The war that led to the creation of the Daleks was not fought with nuclear missiles, but in fact "Neutronic missile". Presumably this was done because it gave them more creative freedom over what they could say the weapons do/did, for example real nuclear missiles would just burn or vaporise a jungle rather then petrifying it.
  • Series/Warehouse13: The brick from the House of Commons is said to have contain the entire force of the London Blitz. Artie calls it out as an "Artifact Nuclear Device"

Tabletop Games

  • Exalted has the Soulbreaker Orb, a magical device that, when triggered, simply kills anything in a five-mile radius. No actual damage is done, there is no giant fireball, everything just falls down dead. Of course, this being Exalted, it probably means that your character will survive with a minor scratch.
    • Also, the Imperial Defense Grid and some of the Solar Circle spells, such as Rain Of Doom and Total Annihilation.
    • The Thousand-Forged Dragons also count, being weapons of mass destruction that can utterly destroy local geomancy. Since Ley Lines and demesnes are the source of...pretty much every natural phenomenon and quite a few non-natural ones, this makes nuclear fallout look like a fairly minor side-effect in comparison.
    • Exalted has a LOT of Fantastic Nukes. Other canonical ones include the Gunzota Device, which turns every living thing in a several-mile radius into amethyst statues, and the Godspear, a Wave Motion Gun that does infinite damage to anything in its line of fire.
      • Then there's the Eye of Judgment, a larger, less resource-efficient Godspear that kills everything within five miles or so of the target ground, mounted on a flying castle.
    • Some of the Malfeas Charms for the Infernals are obviously building up to this, at least in the hands of homebrew. The "Green Sun Nimbus Flare" charm tree allows you to turn opponents into mushroom clouds and inflict magical radiation sickness on hell steroids on your enemies. Who knows how this could end up by Essence 10? There's even a Malfeas shintai charm that basically turns a significant area around you into Ground Zero except to allies and people who grovel at your feet.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a fair number of mass-damage and mass-destruction cards, usually rare. World-killing spells are often much cheaper than one would expect. For example, calling down God to destroy the world costs the same amount of mana as summoning an antelope. The Golgothian Sylex is probably the most famous example: Urza used it to destroy Argoth, which led to nuclear winter and an ice age. However, the card only destroys Antiquities cards, which makes it nearly useless. Other classic examples are Armageddon (destroys all lands), Nevinyrral's Disk (destroys everything except lands...okay, and nowadays planeswalkers), and Wrath of God and its alternate-universe counterpart Damnation (destroy all creatures, no regeneration to weasel out of it). Obliterate destroys all artifacts, creatures and lands, which can't be regenerated—and unlike the others, this spell can't be countered. Possibly the most devastating example printed to date, though, is Apocalypse which simply removes everything currently in play from the game, thus killing it Deader Than Dead...
    • There are also Soul Bombs, which are powered by a sentient being's ethereal spirit, which were used by Urza and his strike team to destroy most of Phyrexia.
    • And Yawgmoth's own stone chargers, which turned the Meghiddon Defile from a narrow crevice into a massive bowl carved out of a rock...and unleashed a choking white-mana fog that destroyed the nearby city of Halcyon. (Yawgy wasn't actually planning that part.)
  • F.A.T.A.L. had the titular spell F.A.T.A.L. which took a week to cast and killed all life on earth. Then again, as Sartin said, with this game, humanity wasn't going to amount to much anyway.
    • Note that a F.A.T.A.L. effect can be randomly activated by simply fumbling any spell. Any. It's just a matter of time before something tragic happens in a F.A.T.A.L. campaign (as always).
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • "Apocalypse from the Sky" spell is a legal, non-epic, destructive spell in 3rd Edition with a ten-mile per level radius centered on you (and due to fact that you have at least to be level 18 to cast the spell you can imagine the blast), and, unlike any other spell, you can't exclude yourself from it, and even if you do survive that, the corruption damage would probably put you in a coma.
    • Any half-competent Munchkin can make up pretty good overkill using effects like dimensional ripple.
    • In 3.5, a wizard can use a number of feats to make almost any spell dangerously explosive. Combine this with the spell "Locate City", which has a range of hundreds of miles, and the results speak for themselves. The "locate city bomb" works like this: take Locate City (range: 10 miles/level), apply Snowcasting (making it [cold]), apply Flash Frost (adding 2 cold damage to everything in the area), apply Energy Substitution to make it electric, apply Born of the Three Thunders to change damage type and add a reflex save to avoid half the damage, then apply Explosive Spell, forcing a Reflex save vs being blasted to the edge of the area, taking 1d6 of damage per 10 feet traveled (so, at the center, it's 5280d6/level of falling damage). It's actually much trickier for a Wizard to pull this off than for a Sorcerer to do the same, owing to the interaction of feats which can't be applied until the spell is actually cast and a Wizard's need to prepare spells in advance.
      • A variant (and less rules questionable) is to apply fell drain (negative level to anyone hurt) which turns anyone in the radius with 1 hit dice (most small animals, including vermin, count and, depending on the DM, most NPCs, qualify) into wights which promptly kill anything left and make more wights, instead of everything after Flash Frost.
    • Things like Meteor Storm might count, at least given Obsidian's interpretation of what they look like.
    • Mystara, according to The Principalities of Glantri (Dungeons & Dragons Gazetteer), has a force known as the Radiance meant to amplify magical powers. One of the spells related to the Radiance is a fireball variation that creates a mushroom cloud, and causes some form of sickness for those who remain in the area.
    • Forgotten Realms had a few. The most destructive single spell about which there's some lore and not just mentions is "Killing Storm" from Elven High Magic. During ancient elven wars, these blasted one kingdom so thoroughly that after 11,000 years the place remained a moor.
    • In the Eberron campaign setting, the entire nation of Cyre was destroyed during the Last War by an event known as the Mourning. A thick mist covered the country and killed anyone caught in it. While the particulars of the event itself seem rather un-nukelike, the devastated Mournlands are described in a way reminiscent of an area destroyed by nukes and heavily contaminated by fallout, including a "Glass Plateau" and a rift in the ground that glows with eerie light and mutates anything that stays too close too long.
  • The Skaven of Warhammer Fantasy Battle made a literal nuke out of Wyrdstone. It's currently armed but undetonated, sitting under the human city of Middenheim.
    • There's a spell as well that drops an asteroid on the battlefield. It can wipe out castles, and half the opposing army when timed right.
  • The tabletop RPG Hackmaster has a spell named "Fireball: Nuclear Winter".
    • Its range is several hundred feet, while its area is several miles. Needless to say, casting it is a bad idea unless you're immune to fire.
  • Mage: The Ascension had a set of items called selective mines. Each of them looked like a large landmine and when properly activated, would totally devastate everything in a large radius—except for a small group of people selected by the user. Handy.
    • The Order of Hermes Splat book included the rote "Ball of Abyssal Flame", basically a really powerful Fireball that also converts matter in the target area (essentially disintegrating it) into Quintessence to directly fuel the spell. Associated with the destructive House Tytalus mages.
    • Mage: The Ascension also included "spirit nukes" in the metaplot, although exactly what they were was a little inconsistent. Their story use was apparently to imply hubris on the part of the Technocracy, despite the fact that they were used on a nearly unkillable vampire; different sourcebooks said different things about what would've happened had they not been used. In any case, they ripped people's souls apart in addition to the physical damage, and wrecked the spirit world globally.
  • A similar effect: SenZar's Astromancy and its Magikarp Power. Quoth Jason Sartin:

The 10th level Black Hole spell is fun if you've ever wanted to cause a three mile swath of obliteration and piss off the entire planet doing it.

  • The apocalypse in Deadlands: Hell On Earth came about with ghost rock bombs, nukes made with irradiated Green Rocks. The physical destruction from a "city buster" is fairly limited, but it then releases a storm of damned souls that kill everyone within a 100-mile radius.
  • Divine level spells of certain paths (and even certain Ki attacks) in Anima: Beyond Fantasy qualify as this. At the most extreme cases of the former, the spells affect everything within a radius of 1 AU (150,000,000 kilometers).

Video Games

  • The Final Flame ability of the Valkyria in Valkyria Chronicles. Valkyria are bad enough. If they decide they're Taking You with Me they'll take out a city in a mushroom cloud.
  • The old computer game Wizardry had the Tiltowait spell.

"The effect of this spell is somewhat like the detonation of a small tactical nuclear weapon."

    • From the same era, the original Bard's Tale games had a spell named Gotterdamurung. The four-letter codeword used to cast it? "NUKE."
    • Wizardry VI through 8 went one better with the Nuclear Blast spell. Description: "A miniature fusion bomb".
  • Might and Magic has the Armageddon spell (whose icon is a mushroom cloud...). It doesn't do that much damage, but it deals damage to everything living on the map; since most NPCs have very few HP it is known as the "Town killer" spell.
    • Similarly, Heroes of Might and Magic features a spell called Armageddon. It actually can do severe amounts of damage, though not as much as a single-target spell—but, again, the damage is done to every unit on the map, with a few exceptions: the Heroes themselves aren't affected, and any unit immune to fire magic or 4th- or higher-level spells is immune. In addition, units with magic resistance retain their ability to resit it. Finally, in the Armageddon's Blade expansion pack, the titular weapon is an artifact that, aside from boosting the wielding character's statistics significantly, also places Expert Armageddon in the hero's spellbook (regardless of whether they even have the ability to cast such a high-level spell) and makes their units immune to Armageddon. Ouch.
    • The intro to Heroes of Might and Magic IV shows the result of two extremely-powerful swords (Armageddon's Blade and Sword of Frost) coming into contact with one another. The result is a gigantic explosion with the mushroom cloud seen from space. The world of Enroth is destroyed, forcing the survivors to flee to another world called Axeoth.
      • Given the two facts that the narrator turns out to be an in-universe character, and that basic facts about several of the campaigns directly contradicts the explosion being that large (we see it immediately cover areas we know had many survivors that weren't immortal), it is probable that the actual explosion wasn't quite so large, even if the clash of the swords caused the end of the world.
  • The Ultima series has its own Armageddon spell. It empties the planet, save for two or three people, and they are very upset.
  • Lots of Final Fantasy examples.
    • Many summons in Final Fantasy arguably qualify. That is, if their damage actually lived up to the animation.
      • In Final Fantasy IX, the summon Odin (in a cutscene) completely annihilated the settlement of Cleyra in a giant explosion.
    • Same with some final boss animations. *cough* Super Nova *cough*
    • The well-known "Flare" spell, one of the most powerful ones (excluding summons) in the series, was translated as "NUKE" in Final Fantasy I for good reason; Flare spells are pretty much a magical nuclear blast; whether this is accomplished by magically fissioning atoms around the opponent or teleporting a piece of the sun or whatever is never really specified.
      • Also; Bahamut. His "Mega Flare" attack is much like any other dragon's Breath Weapon, except he breathes nuclear explosions.
    • Final Fantasy XII features Nethicite weapons that qualify for this trope. Furthering the metaphor, Nethicite is also a potent power source for everyday life, but the characters forget this due to it's destructive power.
    • Final Fantasy VI had Merton/Meltdown, which kinda looked like a big shockwave. Fire 3, Meteor, and Ultima make really big explosions, too, but Merton takes the nuclear-weapon-firestorm-and-shockwave similarity cake (if not the damage cake).
    • Final Fantasy X-2 had Vegnagun, which would supposedly level the same amount of damage as a nuclear weapon.
    • Final Fantasy VII had the Enemy Skill BETA, which did massive fire damage to all enemies (4000+, and possible to obtain about a quarter of the way through the first disc). The animation was a mushroom cloud.
      • In-story, the spell Meteor is treated much like a nuclear weapon that had got into the hands of a madman. The phrase Aeris uses for it is even 'Ultimate Destruction Magic', sounding similar to the phrase Weapons of Mass Destruction.
    • The animation for the Ultima spell in Final Fantasy VIII is a (green) fireball burning the center out of a pure white cloud.
  • Quest for Glory 5 had the aptly named "Thermonuclear Blast", which does Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Usually, it's just a Nonstandard Game Over, but supposedly, casting it while fighting the final boss results in a Nonstandard victory, where the game mentions that you saved the rest of the world at the expense of Crete. However, the last boss fight can be very glitchy, so using the spell usually just crashes the game.
  • In Lunar 2: Eternal Blue, Physical Goddess Althena's magic was used to take out another god...devastating the whole planet in the process, such that it would take thousands of years to recover.
  • World of Warcraft has the mana-bombs developped by Kael'Thas, which he used to nuke a town and planned to use on another. The Forsaken Blight is an even better example, a biological weapon first deployed in a Cavalry Betrayal that wiped out a combined force of Alliance and Horde (and even managed to give The Lich King a nasty cough). Since then, the Horde have banned using it...a ban the Forsaken don't seem to take that seriously at all, since in the latest expansion you can visit an Alliance town the Blight has reduced to a ruin full of angry, semi-sentient goo.
  • Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Phantasia feature the Mana Cannon. It causes mass destruction (its destroyed all civilization twice, and came damn close to doing so two more times), and leaves vast swaths of areas barren after use, although for different reasons than actual atomic weaponry.
  • The Carronade or Hex Cannon from Breath of Fire IV is one of the more blatant examples seen of the trope. It is powered from the pain and sorrow and despair of human sacrifices who are tortured to the point of insanity first and are explicitly selected based on their connection to the target (yes, you're reading this right; it's a Fantastic Nuke that literally runs on Nightmare Fuel).
    • One town depicted as being "Hex Cannoned" requires people to go in with decontamination suits for years after its Fantastic Nuking, (although the harmful to all living things magic that fills the town isn't the only problem, as the town is haunted by ghosts created when the Hex Cannon blast kills people and filled with twisted monsters changed by the hex as well) and is depicted explicitly as being uninhabitable for at least a year past that point.
    • And unsurprisingly, the very thing that causes the God-Emperor of the game to decide that Humans Are Bastards is when the very empire he founded uses it on him...WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND AS THE FANTASTIC WARHEAD. He goes Laughing Mad and proceeds to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against humanity as a result.
  • Wild ARMs 2 has a "Nuclear Weapon" being transported that the heros have to stop. It gets released, and it turns out to be a Nuclear Fire Breathing Dragon; which; if not stopped before it takes off in flight; will nuke the country.
  • The Destroy All spell available to Liches in Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony. The icon is, of course, a mushroom cloud.
  • Bring It On Home from Brutal Legend. It summons a flaming Zepplin to crash-land and explode at your location. It's kind of a Wave Motion Gun, you're vulnerable while jammin' out the long and complex spell and it has a five minute recharge.
  • Master of Magic (a fantasy spin-off of Civilization) features the "Call the Void"-spell which sucks an enemy city into the void, with the game effect being much the same as that of a nuke in Civilization.
  • After defeating the final boss in Phantasy Star III', your character makes use of the otherwise inaccessible "Megido" technique in a cutscene to destroy the final Dungeon Town.
  • One Expansion Pack for Civilization II features a scenario taking place in the world of Norse Mythology. The equivalent to the Cruise missile is a lightning bolt, and to the Nuclear bomb is a fireball.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Rainbow Dash is capable of a Sonic Rainboom, typically a combination of rainbow and sonic boom. However, as shown in the episode "Lesson Zero", it seems that if she directs the force at the ground, rather than at generating fancy flightwork, it creates a rainbow explosion, complete with mushroom cloud.
  1. here used by another character without the usual "safety mode" that turns it into a stun weapon