Nuclear Weapons Taboo

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Many creators of Japanese media either lived through the Second World War, or have parents or grandparents who lived during the war. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki left deep wounds on the Japanese psyche when it comes to the discussion of atomic weapons.

Therefore, any time a series needs a powerful Forgotten Superweapon, instead of an actual nuclear weapon (even if those are available), a bit of Applied Phlebotinum will be introduced that has the destructive effect of a nuclear weapon, but a different name. Great pains will frequently be taken to stress that these aren't actual nuclear weapons, even if they can level whole cities and/or destroy the world.

Any series that does decide to use nuclear weapons will usually portray them as A Bad Thing that must be destroyed at all costs, and only used by the most evil of villains. This taboo is even stronger in Japanese works, where the Three Non-Nuclear Principles are generally portrayed as being upheld long into the future in all but the most pessimistic of stories.

So far, this is Truth in Television. No nuclear weapons have been used in armed conflict since the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Two small direct wars (USSR vs China during the Sino-Soviet split and India vs Pakistan during the Kargil War) and several more proxy wars have been fought between nuclear powers without nuclear deployments taking place, though both NATO and Soviet combat doctrine for a hypothetical land war in Europe would have involved the deployment of battlefield [i.e. tactical] nuclear weapons.

Contrast our modern attitude about nuclear weapons to fiction of the pre-war eras in which devastating super-weapons were romanticized to the point of being able to end all war forever. For example, Alfred Nobel believed that if such a tremendously powerful weapon could be devised, the potential war casualties would become so high when compared to any possible gains that nations of the world would abandon warfare altogether. Following this, there would be no need for the weapons themselves, and everyone would just hold hands and get along. When real-life superweapons appeared at the end of World War II, military and political leaders still considered nuclear weapons to be really big bombs, but not inherently different than any other munition. The Nuclear Weapons Taboo only came as people learned about the hideous and lingering effects of these weapons and came to realize that nuclear war could push humans to extinction.

A little-addressed and more insidious side to this problem, however, is how easily superweapon taboo is rendered obsolete. Fusion (let alone antimatter) explosions, unlike nuclear, don't have an inherent lower limit on yield, and the easiest to "ignite" fusion fuels are Deuterium and Tritium, literally extracted from water. In real life, this does not change the game much: starting a self-sustaining fusion reaction requires a nuclear explosion, thus a fusion warhead inherits all limitations of its nuclear detonator. However, somewhere near the point[1] when beam weapons can become common sidearms, it would be also possible to implement "clean" ignition - ultimately, it's about pouring energy into plasma fast enough for long enough. Without the inconvenient part that is nuke, fusion warheads would leave much less (and in less dangerous forms) radioactive contamination and could have very low yield. This means they stop being exclusively strategical weapons and may appear as, for example, modestly priced shells for portable mortars and small craft autocannons. Without even a blurred line separating "shoot a grenade at that foxhole" and "level this city" yields, just like with high explosives - but with less difference in size. Non-proliferation only somewhat works with Uranium and expensive specialized infrastructure; keeping a taboo that can be boiled away with common sidearm magazine and tap water is a pipe-dream.

If there is a weapon treated in a similar manner to nuclear ones but isn't referred to as such not because of censorship, but because it doesn't make sense in that setting, it's a Fantastic Nuke. Almost any series involving a Wave Motion Gun involves this. Compare Never Say "Die".

Examples of Nuclear Weapons Taboo include:

Anime and Manga

  • N2 (Non-Nuclear) mines in Neon Genesis Evangelion. They're the largest and most destructive incendiaries ever invented, and they even create a mushroom cloud, but nope, they ain't nukes, hell no. They can somehow do this with a much smaller range than an actual nuke.
    • Truth in Television: Conventional thermobaric weapons like the MOAB have the thermal and overpressure effects of a tactical nuke, except that they are three orders of magnitude weaker.
    • Any explosion of significant power within an atmosphere will create a mushroom cloud (This can be seen on some of the bigger explosions on MythBusters). The cloud is formed by high-temperature gases and vapors produced at the site of the explosion rapidly rising as the "stalk" until they reach an altitude of equal density, whereupon it spreads out in the "cap". The idea that this effect is exclusive to nukes is a long-standing myth; the only difference between a nuclear and conventional mushroom cloud is the amount of radioactive material it contains.
    • It's outright stated that a number of cities, including "Old Tokyo", were nuked during the Post-Impact Wars that had raged in the early 21st Century. It even led to the presumed revocation of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution (renouncing war "forever" and banning the government's right to declare an offensive war), and the establishment of the "JSSDF" (Japanese Strategic Self-Defence Forces). Considering the fact that they have 40-foot technorganic mechas developed from Angels, the idea that they were able to develop bombs with power roughly equal to smaller strategic nukes is one of their Acceptable Breaks From Reality.
    • The "Non-Nukes" still produce an EMP effect, however, as can be seen in the first episode of the TV series.
  • Vegatron bombs from UFO Robo Grendizer (one of the Mazinger Z sequels): It is explicitly stated they are radioactive, they are able to easily obliterate whole cities, the explosion forms a mushroom cloud, and they leave the land polluted with radioactivity. But no, they are not nukes. They are vegatron bombs.
    • Curiously, it was averted in the original series. In the episode 36 it was clearly stated Dr. Hell was fabricating nukes, and a nuclear missile was detonated, even.
  • "Reaction weaponry" in Super Dimension Fortress Macross.
    • Word of God has it that Reaction weapons were intended to be nuclear, at least in the earlier series, but that explicitly showing the good guys using nukes was a no-no at the time. So they've made it antimatter warheads (see above) instead.
      • In Macross Zero, Shin calls the Reaction Warheads the K? Monster monster fires nuclear.
    • Macross Ultimate Frontier displays the name of the target you're locked on in English (Britai's official Romanized name is apparently Vrlitwhai). The "reaction missiles" from the last mission of the Dynamite 7 campaign are called "Nuclear Missiles" ingame.
    • In the Robotech translation, these weapons are rendered as "Reflex weaponry." It sounds like they're hitting the enemy with a giant rubber mallet right below its knee.
  • Meteor bombs from Uchuu Senkan Yamato.
  • The nuclear-like non-nukes introduced late in Vision of Escaflowne.
  • The Gundam franchise completely averts this trope in multiple universes. In the mainline Universal Century, the period before the One Year War was marked by rampant use of nukes, destroying half of both sides' forces and resulting in the Antarctic Treaty, which bans the use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. This doesn't stop M'Quve from trying to nuke Odessa when the Federation conquers it (Amuro stops the missile in mid-air). The plot of Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory is kick-started by Zeon remnants stealing a nuclear warhead (and a Gundam specifically designed to deliver it) and using it on the Federation naval review.
    • It also comes up in the fact that most mobile suits have fusion reactors: in both the original series and Gundam Unicorn, someone accidentally blows a hole in a colony when an enemy MS they destroy goes up in a nuclear fireball. In Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, amoral Federation officers attempt to take advantage of this to destroy a Zeon mobile armor. Mobile Suit Gundam F91 introduces shotlancers, pneumatic lances designed specifically to keep this from happening by destroying specific parts of enemy machines (such as coolant lines) and forcing an emergency reactor shut-down.
    • Gundam Wing plays it straight only due to a faulty translation. Lady Une tries to get rid of the Gundams by self-destructing a stockpile of missiles beneath the base they're attacking. The English translation simply refers to them as "large missiles", but the original Japanese dialog explicitly calls them ICBMs.
    • In Turn a Gundam (an After the End setting), the heroes unearth a cache of nuclear missiles and realize how dangerous they are when one gets set off by accident. The Hero Loran carries the remaining missiles around in the Turn A's chest for a good portion of the series, eventually using them to destroy a rogue asteroid headed for Von City on the moon.
    • Plays a role in Gundam SEED's backstory. When the Earth Alliance and ZAFT go to war, the Alliance's first response is a tactical strike on the colony Junius Seven. ZAFT invents devices called Neutron Jammers which prevent nuclear reactions, primarily to prevent any further nukings (which also has the side-effect of making most mecha in this setting battery-powered). Eventually a countermeasure is developed, and when the Alliance gets it they go for another bombing run. This time around, ZAFT has a counter-countermeasure called the Neutron Stampeder, which causes the nukes to go off early.
    • In Gundam 00, nuclear weapons never come up because the world's nuclear arsenals were disarmed decades before the show started. Which was all part of Aeolia's plan. However, the Gundams' GN Drives may be a form of "clean" nuclear power (the name stands for "Gundam Nucleus").
    • Also completely averted in Space Runaway Ideon, made by the same guy.
  • Akira leveled Tokyo as a trigger to World War III with "a new type of bomb," which turned out to be a psychic blast from the title character. Also subverted; in the manga, a nuclear weapon is used, and they make a big deal out of it.
  • In the Giant Robo OVAs, the shameful secret of Giant Robo wasn't that it was a massive engine of destruction commanded by the will of a twelve-year-old boy, but that it was powered by a nuclear reactor.
  • The FLEIJA weapon from Code Geass averts this by being a combination of fission and Sakuradite, the show's resident Green Rocks which has been shown to be a highly volatile explosive. The fact that it was created by Nina Einstein, who was shown to be studying nuclear cells and Uranium isotopes in the first season, is rather telling.
    • A fanon theory says that a FLEIJA actually produces a kind of destructive energy shield which splits atoms in their basic parts - protons, electrons and neutrons - and pushes these away, resulting in a vacuum sphere inside of the shield. When the shield disappears, the vacuum is filled with air again, pulling everything into it (thus explaining the otherwise impossible manner its blast radius forms in).
    • This is an aversion, considering that FLEIJA are nuclear weapons (they utilize nuclear fission to create an explosion), the sakuradite is a Phlebotinium replacement for Lithium-6 Deuteride, the explosive booster for a thermonuclear weapon-add a depleted uranium casing for even greater effect. So no, this isn't a nuclear weapons taboo; it's just a Hydrogen Bomb taboo.
    • Except that it's purple and there's no mushroom cloud. Or radiation.
    • Interestingly enough, if you make a quick visit to the F.L.E.I.J.A.'s page on the Code Geass Wiki, it will give you some stats about the F.L.E.I.J.A. presumably taken from outside sources, as well as what little is given in-show. Doing a rough estimate (and ignoring the talk of Folkvangr Fields and Sessrumnir Spheres), based on the F.L.E.I.J.A.'s given range and some information taken from wikipedia's pages on various nuclear weapons, it can be concluded that the power the F.L.E.I.J.A. displayed in the battle of Tokyo corresponds to that of the Little Boy bomb dropped on Hiroshima in the IRL World War II (one similarity is that both had a range of roughly 3 kilometres/3000 metres). When the F.L.E.I.J.A.'s limiter was removed, it had 10 times the yield (or, roughly, the yield of a conventional strategic nuke used on some American and British I.C.B.M.s). It's not a perfect analogue, but the resemblance still remains.
  • The backstory of Dai-Guard involves an "O.E. bomb" being used to destroy the original Heterodyne. There's plenty of angst in the series itself about when or whether the military should use one again.
  • The "Jignix" bomb in MD Geist: Death Force.
  • Zettai Karen Children appears to have a nuclear everything taboo, instead having "Neo-Clear" power plants. Which the Big Bad promptly steals nuclear Neo-Clear fuel from and sells it to the "Al Lugia Liberation Front" to make bombs. I wish I was making this up.
    • Despite all this it appears that lazy naming aside, Neo-Clear is actually something different as no fallout or even much damage results from one of the bombs. Though that may be to do with the Major containing the blast as he saw a local girl who bore a striking resemblance to Kaoru about to be caught in it. Needless to say, this annoyed him, resulting in the messy deaths of the terrorists.
  • In Fate's As You Know speech in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS on the dangers and eventual banning of mass-based physical weapons, we are shown scenes of the various world destroying weaponry that were used before the Time-Space Administration Bureau era. One of these looked suspiciously liked nuclear missiles that left behind mushroom clouds and much devastation.
    • Incidentally, based on the timeline, the start of the Time-Space Administration era, marked by the banning of mass-based physical weapons in favor of Magitek, takes place at around 1941, the year when Japan provoked America into joining World War 2. Coincidence?
  • Averted by the Japanese-produced Super Milk-chan where one episode is about the President of Everything launching a nuke in a fit of rage. He calls Milk-chan and tries to tell her to stop it but ends up forgetting to tell her about it. No target was specified, so the nuke chose one at random. It chooses the President of Everything.
  • Averted in Ghost in the Shell:Stand Alone Complex. In the second season, the threat of nuclear bombs inside a Japanese metropolis becomes a major plot point in the later episode. Although their actual existence always stays very ambiguous. In the finale, the people behind the government fire a nuclear ICBM at one of their own cities.
  • The violence showing the aftermath of nuclear war and message that nuclear weapons are bad is one of the reasons why Future War 198X is extremely hard to find.
  • In Heat Guy J most of the world's population has been destroyed after they appropriated the technology of the resident Superior Species. Originally, it was used for peaceful purposes (e.g. energy production), but people started wars using this Applied Phlebotinum. The survivors stopped trusting each other and closed themselves into seven city states, and the Celestials closely monitor any peaceful use of their technology. It's never stated what it is exactly, but it does sound an awful lot like nuclear power.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia manages to be about anthropomorphic countries, set partly during World War II, with the personifications of America and Japan as main characters, and still never mention nuclear weapons. Partly because the WWII part of the story never gets to that point (it's more or less abandoned by now), and partly because the series avoids showing the Darker and Edgier parts of history.
  • The ancient warriors from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind certainly count.
  • The A-bomb is central to the plot of Senkou no Night Raid but it's only ever called "new type of bomb." It makes sense: most characters don't know anything more about it, and those who know don't call it by name.
  • Hunter X Hunter has the Miniature Rose, which instead of producing a mushroom cloud, produces a rose cloud. Furthermore, it also produces radiation (called Rose Poison). But of course, it's not a nuclear bomb, no. One of the few examples where such weapon is used for kind of good reason.
  • Warships in Legend of Galactic Heroes carry nuclear weapons, which makes it appear to avert this trope. However, the usage of nuclear weapons are limited to specific conditions in space,[2] and there is a taboo placed on using them on inhabited planets after a nuclear apocalypse in the backstory almost wiped out the human race.

Film - Live Action

  • The first Godzilla movie is a parable about nuclear weapons, with Godzilla having been created by US nuclear tests (a fact left out of the version of the film that was re-edited for U.S. release). (Said parable is entirely lost in the sequels.)
  • The Soviet director Leonid Gaidai exploited this trope to save his comedy The Diamond Arm from censorship. The film included controversial (by Soviet standards) scenes, such as a striptease, the protagonist's drunken debauch and an anti-Semitic remark by a rather unpleasant Soviet bureaucrat. Before showing the film to the censors Gaidai inserted the footage of a nuclear explosion into the epilogue. The censors, in a state of shock, allowed Gaidai to leave most of the film intact, on the condition that he cuts out the nuke and the anti-Semitic remark. The Diamond Arm is still a cult film in Russia.


  • In at least the early novels of Frank Herbert's Dune series, it is implied that most or all of the noble "Great Houses" have nuclear weapons (the "house atomics") but that the Great Convention which binds the houses together expressly forbids any house from using their atomics against another. Houses that do apply those weapons directly are usually cast out, losing their fief and becoming a renegade house. Of course, late in the first book, Paul Atreides indirectly uses the recovered Atreides family atomics against the Harkonnens and Corrinos when he blasts a hole through the stone Shield Wall near their landing site to allow sandworm riding Fremen fighters through to start a battle. In the second book, Paul himself, along with many of his soldiers and associates, was a victim of a nuclear weapons attack which left him blinded.
    • The subtle parts is that "atomics" apparently are kept for being controllable: a nuke-grade explosion can be initiates simply by shooting at a small shield (pretty much ubiquitous) with a lascannon (slightly less widespread only due to this very problem). Which is not done on purpose because before even starting to argue whether a lascannon hit was accidental, one would need to prove it was not prohibited atomics - which is a dubious prospect when others are inclined to err on the side of their safety and possible evidence is evaporated in the incident.
  • Played with in Young Zaphod Plays It Safe by Douglas Adams. The most horrible weapons ever invented, including nuclear and all kinds of engineered gasses and virii, are actually perfectly safe compared to a politician willing to use them.
  • Averted in the Honor Harrington series. Nuclear weapons have fallen out of use not because they're inherently illegal, but because they're ineffective compared to bomb-pumped X-ray lasers. One book also has a Space Pirate nuke a city.

Live-Action TV

  • There's a very odd Retcon example in the Doctor Who story "Genesis of the Daleks". In the previous Dalek stories, it had been repeatedly stated that the mutations that led to the Daleks were the result of a nuclear war on the planet Skaro. In the definitive origin story "Genesis", however, the word "nuclear" was never used and all the usual effects depicted in the story that one would associate with nuclear weapons (mutation, explosives that kill the slaves forced to handle them within a few days, massive destruction) were ascribed to mysterious "chemicals". It almost looks as if there was censorious Executive Meddling. The vast majority of fans, and subsequent canon writers, keep "Genesis" as the definitive origin but tacitly replace all references to "chemicals" with "nuclear" or "radioactivity" again.
  • It's never stated outright, but it's pretty damn obvious that the Killer Robots used nukes to wipe out most of humanity before Power Rangers RPM started proper.
    • Ziggy does mention to Dillon how the radiation interferes with both his compass and radio frequencies in their first meeting ("The Road to Corinth").
  • Strongly averted in Babylon 5. So much so that Captain Sheridan's community nickname is John "Nuke 'Em" Sheridan. On no less than 3 occasions, Sheridan deploys tactical nukes during the series. Londo Mollari uses them as well, and then is blackmailed by a nuclear threat later in the series.
    • San Diego is referred to as having been destroyed by a nuke deployed by a terrorist group a century earlier in one episode. Word of God has it that producer J. Michael Straczynski wrote it as revenge for having been mugged there early in his career.
  • Justified averted in the Stargate Verse. Nuclear weapons, particularly naquadah-enhanced nukes, are one of the SGC's main weapons (the justification being that despite all the Imported Alien Phlebotinum, it's still early 21st century Earth, and nukes are perfectly effective weapons).

Video Games

  • In the Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid franchise, the ability of the Metal Gear machines to launch nuclear weapons is basically the reason they are "bad." In addition, this angle is somewhat overplayed; a Metal Gear wouldn't actually have much more strategic impact than a ballistic missile submarine.
    • Though this is justified in the case of Metal Gear REX or its derivatives, as it used a large Railgun to fire warheads as sub-orbital artillery. Because these warheads were not technically part of missile systems, they did not violate several otherwise applicable treaties. "Loophole nukes" of a sort. Also, these weapons can't be detected the way normal nukes are (Which would only be possible if the railgun has unheard of efficiency to avoid detectable waste heat), which completely destroys the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction; any country with a REX derivative can launch a nuke at another country and be guaranteed that there will be no retaliatory strike, because there's no way to determine where it came from or that it's even happening until the nuke hits.
      • Also, the Proto Metal Gears all had the advantage of being easier for Third World Countries to have Nuclear capability of their own. The greatest danger was that every Non-Superpower Country having such power would completely mess up global politics. Especially since they were willing to sell them to TERRORISTS or "Freedom Fighters" if the price was right. Imagine a world full of Osama Bin Ladens, and each having their own Walking Nuclear Death Mobiles.
      • Plus, the eponymous Peace Walker was essentially a nuclear platform programmed to launch even with false data, removing human decision making from launching, making it a truly terrifying weapon if attacked.
  • In Resident Evil 3, at the end, Raccoon City is destroyed in a huge flash of light that, to all appearances, would seem to be a nuclear explosion. However, in a later game, it's established that it was just hit by a whole bunch of conventional missiles at once. Note that in the real world, conventional explosions, no matter how large, do not give off the bright flash that is typical of nuclear detonations.
    • And then Resident Evil: Degeneration just comes right out and says that it was a nuke that was dropped on Raccoon city.
  • Inverted in Mass Effect 2, which features the M-920 Cain, a heavy weapon which produces archetypical mushroom clouds by firing high explosive slugs and nicknamed the "Nuke Launcher," despite not using any nuclear reactions.
  • Some language versions of World in Conflict call the tactical nuke that can be used in multiplayer a "BFB." Big Friggin Bomb? However, it's pretty obvious what it is a nuke, and the campaign plot doesn't attempt to hide it. However, they are only used as a last resort in the campaign, while it can be used with impunity in multiplayer given enough points. Not to mention that you get a medal for launching lots of nukes...
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin refers to Nemesis missiles (Climax in the European version) that were installed in both main countries by the IDS. They share a lot of similarity with the Cold War nukes the US and USSR were amassing, and might be in fact nukes, but the game leaves that open to interpretation, as they never launch.
    • Subverted. They're launched once, and the fact that it wipes out an entire city should be enough.
  • Naturally averted in most releases of Fallout 3 but in Japan, the implications (which are, actually, not so much implied as outright stated) of the setting resulted in some changes for localization purposes. The Japanese release of Fallout 3 had the entire questline related to detonating the nuclear weapon at Megaton removed. This also removes the Tenpenny Towers quests that open up in relation to it. The Fat Man launcher was renamed "Nuka Launcher" (Perhaps trying to connect more towards the fictional in game soft drink Nuka Cola), though this one should have been obvious considering that the name "Fat Man" comes from the bomb dropped on Nagasaki...
  • Used... differently in Singularity: There exist nuclear bombs, but the real focus is on an E-99 bomb that is a little bigger than a basketball and can turn the whole East Coast of your United States into a smoldering crater. Then there's the eponymous Singularity.
  • Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars' German translation made aurora bombs out of the nuclear bombs due to the fact that depicting weapons of mass destruction in computer games would lead to an X-rating of same game. There was a Kane edition which still had nuclear bombs (and suicide bombers) and was sold only to adults.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 removed nuclear weapons from the game through a plot device while its predecessors used them amply. This no doubt had to do with the addition of a Japanese faction and someone rightly figuring that creating a game that you won by dropping a nuclear weapon on the Japanese might make someone mad.
  • The original Ace Combat setting, Strangereal, is supposed to be an alternate universe of our Earth with approximately equal level of technological advancement. However, the only nation that apparently has ever developed its own nukes is Belka (essentially an alternate Nazi Germany) and even then their warheads counted in single units, not the thousands that world powers possess in Real Life today and seems to lack long range delivery systems. For this reason, Strangereal's two superpowers Osea and Yuktobanian (counterparts of the US and Soviet Union) could duke it out in Ace Combat 5 in what would have basically become World War III in our world, without risking a nuclear apocalypse. In fact, when Belkan remnants try to use their remaining nuclear warheads in that war, the hostilities soon cease and everyone gangs up on the Belkans instead. That Ace Combat was developed by the Japanese company Bandai-Namco probably explains things.
    • Belka is the only nation stated to have used nukes in a war. During the events of Ace Combat Zero, in an act of desperation, they resorted to dropping nukes on 7 of their own cities to try and delay the allied advance. The rest of the world was horrified at this, and may explain the world's preference for other types of weaponry.
    • Even when Namco changed over to the real world in Ace Combat Assault Horizon, they played this trope straight. The Big Bad's super weapon, Trinity, was shown to have varying levels of destruction, ranging from vaporizing a medium-sized bridge, to destroying an entire city, and still having enough power to nearly knock the Protagonist off his feet from twenty or thirty miles away. However, Trinity has shown to have zero nuclear fallout, and by all means, it is still a conventional warhead, all things considered. In short, it's not a nuke, but a really, really big bomb.
  • The Reveal in BlazBlue Continuum Shift that Kokonoe has been stockpiling nukes as a last resort against Terumi shows just how far Kokonoe is willing to go for the sake of revenge. Hakumen is horrified when he discovers this secret; claiming that the destructive potential of nuclear weapons surpasses even that of the Black Beast. He would know since he was present when nukes were used in a desperate bid to kill the Black Beast. The nukes completely destroyed Japan and, to add insult to injury, failed to stop the Black Beast.
  • Handily averted in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. One of the player's missions is to build a nuclear bomb. It only gets used to destroy a shield, though.
  • Averted in the Civilization series, where you can indeed build nukes and threaten your enemies with them. Actually using them does tend to mess up the environment, as well as make everybody hate you.
    • Ghandi loves Nukes.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri does not have nukes. Instead, they are replaced with Planet Busters, which have an even more devastating effect on the target and the environment (i.e. any city hit with one is completely wiped out, leaving behind a massive crater, unlike Civilization, where the effects are a little more tame). Using one is an unforgivable atrocity, however, and results in everybody declaring war vendetta on you.
  • Semi-averted in Rise of Nations. Players can build nukes, but as soon as a player researches Nuclear Weapons, the Doomsday Counter appears on his screen. It starts at a number based on the number of players in the game, and every time a nuke is launched, it decreases by 1. Each time a player researches the "Missile Shield" supertech it increases by 2. If it ever hits 0, the game ends, with everyone losing.
  • Averted kind of tastelessly in the Japanese version of The Simpsons Arcade Game. You can use atomic bombs to clear every enemy on screen.
  • Crysis most certainly averts this trope. When the U.S. Government finds out that the island has deadly aliens on it, it decides that the best thing to do is to drop an atomic bomb on the island. The game makes it clear that no one is relishing this, but it may be the best course of action to protect humanity. Unfortunately, the bomb does not destroy the island, but rather gives the aliens much more energy than they had before (making them stronger). Nice Job Breaking It Government.
  • The X-Universe has a very Fridge Logicky variation, where tactical nuclear weapons are allowed, but nuclear reactors apparently aren't: ships need externally supplied energy cells to use jumpdrives, which are produced by giant solar power plants. At which point you wonder where ships get the energy to power their Deflector Shields and Energy Weapons, which work just fine with an otherwise empty cargo bay.
  • Played with in EV Nova. The EMP torpedo is a nuclear weapon tuned to emit a much stronger electromagnetic pulse than usual. But there aren't any other types of nukes in the game.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Rocketpunk Manifesto blog points out this problem and has a brief analysis of implications here.

Western Animation

  • The "Bleach Protocol" in Generator Rex, used as a last resort against particularly dangerous EVOs. Lampshaded in one episode:

Rex: I don't know Doc. Sometimes you just have to say "Nuke'Em".
Six: Forced Plasma Cascade.
Rex: Try working that into a Catch Phrase.

  • Megas XLR has nukes in its arsenal, with warning labels around the Big Red Button. Coop wants to press it anyway, even when he and the enemy are in an underground military base at the time. Kiva insists that the nukes are not to be used, to Coop's disappointment.
  1. it's mostly a matter of practical pulse power and energy storage solutions
  2. Beam weaponry are the mainstay in the series