Sphere of Destruction

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Who the hell gave Fold weapons to Gundam fans?

Evek: How big was the explosion?

pipes!: It was really big but it was shaped like a sphere but there was no shockwave, but that's OK...

Explosions sometimes have a negligible effect outside of anything in the direct blast radius - buildings and sidewalks have relatively precise chunks taken out of them, but there's precious little singeing or shockwave damage. In the most blatantly overdone cases, the blast radius looks like a huge sphere of negative space 1500 feet across, with neat slices taken out of surrounding buildings, pavement, cars, hillsides, et cetera; there appears to have been no actual heat, let alone shockwaves, emanating from the explosion at all - the only result is that a massive spherical section of the city appears to be missing.

This is often done with Phlebotinum-enabled explosives, allowing creators to Hand Wave this effect under the Rule of Cool. If the target of the attack happens to have a Beehive Barrier, expect anything surrounding him to be in similar pristine conditions.

Related to Convection, Schmonvection, Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud, Pillar of Light and Kung Fu Sonic Boom. Stylistically similar to Sphere of Power.

Examples of Sphere of Destruction include:

Anime and Manga

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion was frequently guilty of this; the designers often ignored actual physics in order to create memorable visual images, at least when the explosions weren't implausibly cross shaped.
  • Slayers: Lina Inverse's ultimate spell worked much like this; everything inside the Dragon Slave's blast radius is devastated, while nothing outside of it is even touched. So did pretty much every other destructive spell in her repertoire for that matter.
    • Lina's best spell, the Giga Slave, is actually all about the sphere. It is capable of destroying anything, including gods, because it draws upon the power of The Lord of Nightmares, creator deity of all things. However, without being limited to a specific area "Destroy Anything" becomes "Destroy EVERYTHING". The spell is front and center for 3 of the 4 big bad fights of the first 3 seasons, and is mentioned as a last ditch resort against the last big bad. More importantly, it is the driving force of the entire second season.
  • Akira: shows up every time someone uses psychic powers, although sometimes only through implication (stress fractures in the walls/floor around the user). The first one of these, generated by the title character, was responsible for the destruction of Tokyo and the start of World War III.
  • Sho, the protagonist of the Guyver anime is encased in a gravity-based Sphere of Destruction as protection during his Transformation Sequence. The villains use this to their advantage in one episode, handcuffing Sho to his girlfriend in the knowledge that if he transformed, the sphere would annihilate her.
  • Subverted in Orguss 02, when a missile The Man Behind the Man fires at a city creates one of these - and the citizens find themselves still intact once it passes over them. Until they collapse, coughing up blood - neutron bombs, go figure.
  • The dome around Mugen/Infinity Academy during the climax of Sailor Moon S. The Sailor Senshi are even able to hold its expansion by using their powers at its exact border.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, these make up most of the attacks of wide-area spell users like Reinforce and Hayate. Even Starlight Breaker was turned into a city-wide Sphere of Destruction in the hands of Reinforce.
  • Used in Code Geass R2; the nuclear-sakuradite weapon FLEIJA causes everything within 8000 meters to cease to exist, surrounding objects are affected by the rapid expansion of air due to the initial explosion and also by the rapid vacuum effect caused by the collapse of the sphere. Picture here.
  • Used a lot in Dragonball Z, especially in the video game adaptations. Sometimes you can apply a few cubic feet of air for the people who shoot these blasts.
    • Probably the most obvious offender is Tien's Kikoho/Tri-Beam attack, which leaves absolutely massive holes in the earth that would look to be far beyond repair, yet somehow doesn't damage anything the blast doesn't hit, and doesn't even show any shockwaves like some energy blasts of the show do.
    • And then there's Frieza's gigantic Death Balls, which he primarily uses to destroy planets, but when he uses it on Namek is forms a neat hole that went all the way to the core before the planet was destroyed.
    • The most infamous of these is the Planet Burst from Kid Buu, who shot one with intent of blowing Earth to smithereens, was stopped, and then decided he would charge up one powerful enough to destroy Earth ten times in a row.
      • It essentially turned into a Hoist by His Own Petard moment when Goku and Vegeta were able to get the now-revived people of Earth and many others to channel their energy for a Spirit Bomb, the deadliest attack Goku can pull off. With this much energy and extreme difficulty (not to mention his strength had to be wished back into him), he annihilated Kid Buu.
        • Goku's Spirit Bomb has also been used more than once: He used it against an Oozaru-transformed Vegeta, only to fail miserably and resort to extreme measures to do him in. Same with Frieza, who nearly got killed by the thing, but managed to survive. The Majin Buu saga is basically the only instance in Dragonball Z where the Spirit Bomb actually worked as intended.
  • Dragon Ball GT: The very last attack every unleashed in the entire series, and the single-most powerful, was a galactic-scale Spirit Bomb against True Final Boss Omega Shenron. Goku's energy had been all but wasted, and Omega Shenron had all seven Dragonballs in his chest, ready to kill literally everything he ran into. The only hope left for Goku was to call on the spiritual energy of every single living being in the galaxy, charging a gargantuan Spirit Bomb that he used to vaporize Omega Shenron, somehow managing not to waste Earth with him. Fitting for such an epic series to go Out with a Bang.
  • In Robotech/Super Dimension Fortress Macross the hyperdrive transports everything within a spherical radius of the ship, which on its first activation includes Macross/South Ataria Island.
    • And again when the Point Barrier system, which had been modified as an omnidirectional sphere barrier, overloads and explodes. The sphere becomes a wave of destruction that vaporizes a good chunk of Ontario in seconds, with the Macross itself, unharmed, in the very center.
    • Macross Frontier features the "Dimension Eater"/"fold bomb", which generates an expanding swirly purple sphere of doom that shunts anything consumed by it into a Fold vortex (where it will be torn apart and disintegrated) as it grows to planetary scale before collapsing in on itself. Weaponized space wedgies for the win.
      • It gains points in that the original Dimension Eater used on Galia IV (see image above) is treated with all due horror and provides a Shocking Swerve for the series, as well as a Moral Event Horizon for a previously behind-the-scenes Big Bad. But by the end of the series, the NUNS fleet uses these as standard warheads for their iconic missile salvos. Brr.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura's Void card was guilty of this during the series-finale movie.
  • Dark Schneider's Black Sabbath spell in the manga Bastard!! works like this, although it is somewhat justified as being a nuclear explosion contained in a force field, in order to focus all of the energy on one target
  • Several jutsu in Naruto have a similar effect:
    • 3rd Tsuchikage's attack (Genkai Hakuri no Jutsu) is a cube of destruction, which creates a cube with a sphere inside that explodes but is contained by the cube, leaving an imprint of its shape in anything only caught half-way in.
    • Juugo's Cursed Seal 2 Chakra blast has a radius and beam which leave a near-perfect imprint of a sphere.
    • The destruction left by Danzo's Taking You with Me sealing technique is also perfectly spherical.
    • Deidara's "suicide bomber clone" to escape from Team Kakashi and Team Gai is also a sphere. As is C0, which left a town just outside of its radius unharmed even though the explosion was larger than the city itself.
    • Of course, the Rasengan, and its many, many variants.
    • The tailed beasts and their Bijuu Bomb, powerful enough to destroy an entire city (or even a country, if enough chakra is used).
  • The Festum in Fafner in the Azure: Dead Agressor seem to shoot small black holes at their targets; the visible effect is a purple sphere for a couple of seconds which then disappears leaving a perfect spherical void. They appear to have a pull effect as one unfortunate Red Shirt found out in the first episode.
    • They explode into black holes when destroyed as well. The same technology is somehow incorporated into the Fafner's Fenrir System.
  • Masamori's Zekkai is a tiny Sphere of Destruction in Kekkaishi.
  • One of Kuma's powers, especially Ursus Shock in One Piece. In his case it doesn't seem to vaporize anything, just knock out all of the people and leave most of the architecture still standing, despite being an explosion of compressed air.
  • A strategic-class attack spell, banned by international treaty, in Scrapped Princess causes this. When used on a seaborne target, the spell leaves a bowl-shaped hole in the ocean, which quickly becomes a devastating tsunami.
  • The firing of the Angel Arm in Trigun has this effect. However, it can also become a full beam.
  • It is implied that this is how the Tokyo Jupiter from RahXephon came to be. Detonating a Trans-Dimensional Drive can also create one artificially although no one has the idea of weaponizing it until the final battle.
  • Zeorymer and Great Zeorymer's Mei-Oh Kougeki.
  • Spoofed in the first five minutes of Nichijou, when Nano runs into a random schoolboy. While it certainly looks impressive, the end result is just Nano and the boy getting stuck on different roofs (although Nano could easily get down if she weren't so timid), and a bunch of small items being thrown around the town (most of which end up falling on Yuko's head).


  • Time Travel in the Terminator movies functions like this. They even go out of their way to show the audience the perfectly spherical damage to nearby fences, buildings, and sidewalks.
    • The purpose of the sphere-of-melt is to prevent the time traveler from merging themselves with an unanticipated brick wall. A discarded scene idea from the first Terminator film was to have another human sent back from the future die in exactly this manner.
  • Neo and Agent Smith's final battle in The Matrix Revolutions produced several perfectly spherical shockwaves (made especially visible by the torrential rain).
  • According to the technical manuals, thermal detonators (of Star Wars fame) behave like this.
    • According to the games they appear in, however, they don't. The one in the movie was never detonated.
  • The Dr.Manhattan-based WMDs in Watchmen work like this, at least upon initial detonation.
  • The Man Who Knew Too Little: Sergai described his bomb as working this way, claiming it would destroy everything in a thirty-meter radius and nothing outside. Which was important because Sergai himself was going to be present at the function where he was planning to set off the bomb. (However, when the bomb does eventually detonate, high in the sky, it looks like normal Impressive Pyrotechnics.)


  • The Eternal Prison by Jeff Somers has rockets and artillery shells that do this by detonating convenitonal explosives inside a very short lived forcefield.
  • In The Wheel of Time the cleansing of saidin made a black sphere (described as being Blacker Than Black) which chopped a spherical section - and the cursed city Shadar Logoth - out of the ground.
  • One of the superweapons in Arthur C. Clarke's story "Superiority" is the "Sphere of Annihilation", which is just what it sounds like. It's devastating when it works... but the bugs and delays and logistical limitations proved to be the first step in the defeat of the narrator's side by "the inferior science of our enemies".
    • Similarly, in the Star Trek novel Federation, a crazed cyborg pursues Zefram Cochrane for centuries in hopes of learning to create a "warp bomb" based on an accident during the warp drive's testing. The effect works, creating a perfectly spherical radius of destruction - but the sphere can never be more than 18 meters across. (Any larger, and the drive works fine.) Conventional weapons are thus much more effective.
  • Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space trilogy gets some weapons that do this in the later books. There's one weapon that just nips everything in a chunk of space out of existence (its a real bitch to calibrate, since the only way to test the settings is to use it on your own ship, if you can't stop off at a convenient planet and use the atmosphere), and the "bubble bombs" which seem to work in a similar fashion.
    • Hypometric weapons, they're called. Roughly meaning, in this context, "absence of space-time". Nasty, because they can attack arbitrary points in space... lines of sight not required at all. The little bombs are called "bladder mines", and are used more like conventional warheads.
  • Bobbles in Vernor Vinge's The Peace War and its associated stories have this effect. It wasn't until some time after their first use (as weapons) that it was discovered the silver spheres were actually stasis fields, freezing their contents in time instead of simply destroying them. Then people started using them for one-way Time Travel.
  • Warp grenades in David Weber's Heirs of Empire trilogy move anything within a certain radius into hyperspace when they detonate.
  • Warp grenades in Simon Hawke's Time Wars series combine a time machine with a good old-fashioned nuclear device to provide ultimate destructive power within a pre-set (and adjustable) spherical radius, making seemingly neat and clean little nuclear bombs that just happen to have horrific unintended consequences (the extra destructive force is being shunted into another universe -- an inhabited other universe, which gets fed up with being nuked and declares war).
  • The Babylon 5 Expanded Universe trilogy The Passing of the Techno-Mages has Galen accidentally discover a new spell that creates a Sphere of Destruction that, after several seconds, collapses and takes everything in it into another universe. The spheres themselves cannot exceed two meters in diameter. However, there is no limit as to how many or how fast Galen can cast the spell. In a fit of rage, he uses the spell to destroy a skyscraper and level an entire city block by casting it dozens, if not hundreds, of times.
  • Yog-Sothoth of the Cthulhu Mythos is literally Spheres of Destruction: should anyone come into physical contact with "the Key and the Gate", bad stuff happens.

Tabletop Games

  • The Dungeons & Dragons major artifact, the Sphere of Annihilation, a globe of absolute blackness which actually is a hole in the continuity of the multiverse, irrevocably sending anything that touches it out of reality. It can, however, be moved around via mental effort. Can be used to drive soft-hearted Dungeon Masters mad by driving one under an ocean too.
    • There's also an even WORSE version, that's like the former except it's sentient: The Umbral Blot, which is a Sphere of Destruction that's smarter than you, knows where you live, and wants personally to remove you from existence.
  • Eldar distort weapons in Warhammer 40,000 remove perfect spheres from their targets, sending everything in the sphere straight to hell. Literally.
    • And then there's the Vortex Grenade, which is a Sphere of Annihilation by another name, and uses a template which follows this trope to a T. Anything that even touches the Vortex Grenade template is sucked straight into the Warp and killed instantly with no saves, regardless of special rules that grant immunity to instant death. The only exception are superheavy vehicles and gargantuan creatures, which take D3 structure points and D6 wounds worth of damage respectively (and are presumably left with a perfectly spherical hole in the side). The Vortex also randomly teleports around the battlefield at the start of each turn, making it very risky to use.
  • Then you have White Wolf's Exalted RPG, in which there are at least one spell which fits the trope - the Solar Circle Sorcery spell "Total Annihilation". Invoking the lost name of Ligier, the Green Sun (the sun in Hell, AKA Malfeas), begins with a fifty yard wide, five mile high pillar of green light. Everything caught in it takes major damage as it is destroyed. The pillar grows outward at a rate of 10 yards per second, from twenty five to fifty seconds depending on the caster (a sorcerer with the right hearthstone and good friends can boost this all the way up to 100 seconds).

Video Games

  • The new Mythic Map Pack for Halo 3 features the new forge item called the Kill Ball. It is essentially this trope to a T.
    • Halo 2 and more directly Halo 3: ODST also shows the effect of the Assault Carriers jump basically being this as more or less everything enveloped by the massive "slipspace rupture" is torn away and carried off into slipspace with the ship. Not a perfect example though as their were some effects outside the radius including a shockwave and radiation release although the damage was still quite well contained all things considered and most of the city remained intact and functional.
    • In Reach, they use a "slipspace bomb" on an oversized Assault Carrier orbiting the planet. The bomb doesn't explode: it creates an oversized, circular slipspace rupture which, since it is in space and the released antimatter does not explode as it does in the above example, cleanly removes about a third of the ship around its center.
  • The MIDAS bomb in Front Mission 3. Of course, since it was a bomb made out of Applied Phlebotinum, we are told that this is how it was supposed to work. In one cutscene, a MIDAS bomb is dropped on a seaside city; skyscrapers are neatly cleft in twain and left standing, and the sea begins rushing back in to fill the space left by the water that was instantly vaporized by the blast.
    • Of course, the story starts proper when one malfunctions, but still creates a lovely and very big sphere-shaped hole in what must be several floors of the bunker it was being kept in.
  • Giga-Graviton, Sin's ultimate weapon in Final Fantasy X, does this - with the added side effect that the vacuum created by the blast does even more damage when it resolves.
    • Well, it's not so much the vacuum, but the fact that it cut a perfectly cylindrical section out of the land and sea and the laws of physics took a few seconds to realise what was happening.
    • The Ultima spell in Final Fantasy VI, VIII, and X.
    • The Void summoned by Exdeath in Final Fantasy V. Justified in that it's a self-expanding, spherical portal into nothingness, so no shockwave is produced.
  • Chun-Li's Kikousho attack from Street Fighter.
    • From the Marvel crossovers, actually. The original version, in Alpha, was a small ball with energy trails; this became a curved barrier in Third Strike.
  • Particularly bad in Scorched Earth, where even nuclear weapons exhibit this behavior.
  • In Lemmings, Bombers do this, via a self-destruct on a five-second timer, to any non-indestructible scenery within a fairly small radius of their position.
  • Most of the weapons of the 2D Worms games leave perfectly circular holes behind, although worms can still be damaged and moved outside the circular blast radius. Explosives in Worms 3D leave behind spherical craters - sort of. The "poxel" deformable landscape engine is pretty innovative, but the resolution of an individual poxel is quite low - so the craters are essentially "blocky spheres".
  • One might well say that nearly all computer game explosions work like this, as few have variable damage, and nearly none have shrapnel or spalling.
  • The Force Unleashed demonstrates this effect with the Force Repulse ability, which has the main character leap up and emit a shockwave of Force energy in a sphere around him, bowling over any unfortunate souls in his vicinity.
  • The Subspace Bombs of Super Smash Bros. Brawl do precisely this.
    • Technicaly they actualy send everything within the blast radius into Subspace completely damage free as we see from the ending of Subspace Emissary when the final boss is defeated and all the locations affected by the bombs are returned.
  • Cybuster's "Cyflash" attack in Super Robot Wars takes it a step further: It only hurts what the pilot wants to hit (i.e. Enemy units).
  • The Lightning spell Luminaire in Chrono Trigger.
  • Same as the Almighty (aka neutral) spell Megidolaon from Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga. It has the added bonus that is a transparent dome of energy, and then it detonates like glass, dealing huge damage (of course, strong characters can shrug off several straight Megidolaons, but eh.)
  • The nukes in Total Annihilation and the crawling bombs have this effect; using them effectively allows the player to cut circles out of an enemy base.
  • Some weapons in Tyrian- the banana bomb, in particular- work like this. They create a huge cyan sphere that does damage to everything in its radius, but which pops instantaneously into and out of existence and only persists for a moment.
  • The Quantum Deconstructor of Crypto's Flying Saucer in Destroy All Humans!.
  • The Psionic Decimator in Red Alert 3 does this, as an obvious Shout-Out to Akira.
  • So does the Ray Sphere in In Famous.
  • Machines has a gravity collapse weapon that seems to be a perfect sphere.
  • One of Bao's Super Moves involves him going all Akira on the enemy and encasing himself in a giant sphere of deadly psychic energy.
  • The MPBM of Ace Combat Zero—the blast itself is a sphere, but the hitbox is a strangely shaped area of death... that's larger than the screen engulfing blast when it's fired by the ADFX-01... and thankfully smaller when it's fired by the ADFX-02.
  • The Golden Undead Warrior's berserker move in Guardian Heroes. It causes him to charge up for a few seconds and then unleash a gigantic explosion which will kill or severely maim anything it hits, in addition to knocking them clean offscreen. Just... pray you don't get hit by anyone while he uses it, or it'll hit (and kill) you too.
  • In Dragon Quest VIII focusing on "Unarmed" with Jessica rewards you with the "Magic Burst" super powerful attack.
  • Armored Core for Answer has Assault Armor which basically detonates your NEXT'S nuclear reactor for a high damaging blast around your NEXT.
  • The Quirium Cascade Mine (or "Q-bomb") in Oolite generates a literal Sphere of Destruction which, when it touches most objects, vaporizes them and causes them to generate one.
  • Asura's Wrath: Berserker Asura uses these in episode 12 along with Kamehame Hadouken's after comepletely loosing his shit when an innocent girl that's a lot like his daughter in looks is killed by Olga to destroy her and her space fleet. When pressing the burst button, he creates much bigger ones of these with each press of a burst, and effectively makes Olga retreat with her tail between her legs.
  • Cliff's aptly named "Sphere of Might" in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

Western Animation

  • The plot catalyst of the early Justice League episode "Legends" is a dimensional rift that carves a perfect sphere out of the surrounding area and dumps more than half the team in a Retro Universe.
    • Also, one episode appears to have neat explosions such as these, but it turns out that that's the first sign that whatever was caught in them (Superman falling into that category) wasn't destroyed, but sent forward in time. Supes eventually made it back with the help of a reformed Vandal Savage, who'd managed to wipe out all life on Earth in Superman's absence.
  • The Invader Zim episode "Walk For Your Lives" featured a slooooowly expanding Sphere Of Destruction (literally just an explosion moving in slow motion), simply vaporizing anything it came into contact with. Once it's accelerated however, it becomes a standard explosion.