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The right tool for the right job.


"I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the Only Way to Be Sure."

Ellen Ripley, Aliens

a.k.a Deus Ex Pyrobolō Atomicō by those who don't know their Canis Latinicus.

This is a situation where nukes and only nukes will do. Something Very Bad has happened, and only an uncontrolled release of nuclear energy can fix it. Occasionally, you get the curious situation where nukes are being used to fix a problem created by another nuke. Deus Ex Nukina is distinct from Nuke'Em, because the application of a nuclear bomb solves a problem. Such applications are sometimes contrived and occasionally approach the arbitrariness of Green Rocks.

The most interesting dramatic element of Deus Ex Nukina is the requirement that the nuclear device must be delivered by hand. Robots and missiles can't be trusted; nukes are delivered by men. The delivery method is half the fun and often involves physical contact with the device. The bomb should often have a sleek, eroticized design. Frequently, the courier must also make the ultimate sacrifice and stay with the bomb to trigger it manually.

Not to be confused with I Love Nuclear Power.

Antimatter sometimes substitutes for "futuristic" settings.

For when the nuke does something that actually makes sense, you want the Nuclear Option.

Examples of Deus Ex Nukina include:

Anime and Manga

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion's N2 weapons both use and subvert this. In the first episode, Sachiel is only disabled by one, and not for long at that. Israfel is actually damaged enough by one that it takes a week to completely recover. One plan to destroy Leliel involved dropping all 992 of the UN's remaining N2 weapons into it and containing the blast with an AT field; fortunately, this wasn't used. Sahaquiel is unfazed by the N2 weapons used against it. In episode 18, as a suicide tactic against Zeruel, Rei charges the Angel in Unit 00 and pushes an N2 weapon through its AT field, but it covers its core with a shield which protects it from the blast. The only time that N2 weapons actually work to their true potential is in End of Evangelion, when one completely annihilates what's left of Tokyo-3 and blows open the Geo Front in preparation for the JSSDF assault.
    • N2 stands for Non Nuclear. Nukes are almost never actually used in anime, since Japan is so anti-nuclear - understandably. So actually, the N2 devices are just excessively powerful conventional explosives. Probably based on something new and/or impossible only developed in the Evangelion universe. N2 devices are deployed in urban residential areas, if they were actually nuclear weapons we would need to move everybody to from Tokyo-3 to Tokyo-4 to Tokyo-5 to Tokyo-6...
  • Reaction weaponry in Macross universe, which they always break out for every Monster Of The Season, and which works approximately half of the times. The Word of God states that it's actually the Antimatter, and that they originally wanted to use straight-up nukes, but decided against it because of Japanese Nuclear Weapons Taboo and had to invent something of similarly devastating power. Only later they explained it by being antimatter.

Comic Books

  • In the issue of Fantastic Four where Namor first reappears, he attacks New York with a gigantic, whale-like creature. The Thing carries a nuke into the creature's stomach in an attempt to kill it. He escapes with seconds to spare.
  • Played straight in Kingdom Come.[context?]
  • In a Rogue Trooper story, Col Kovert tricks Rogue into personally delivering a mini-nuke to a Nort base on one of Nu-Earth's moons. It blew up the moon.

Fan Works


"Oh no!" said Obama, "The feces are spreading outside the wall of the city! We must use nuke!"



  • Earth's molten core has to be restarted in The Core, and someone has to Stay Behind. The problem started with earlier Bad Science involving an ersatz Project HAARP.
  • In Armageddon, an asteroid plummets toward Earth, and a spaceship is sent to deliver the nuke. One of the characters must stay behind to trigger the nuke manually.
  • Same goes for Deep Impact. This time, however, the nuke is delivered by a spaceship that flies into the larger of the two comet fragments.
  • In Fail-Safe, the only politically feasible solution to the accidental nuclear destruction of Moscow is for the President to order a US bomber to nuke New York City. The pilot, whose wife and children are in New York (the pilot resides there too) drops the bomb and immediately commits suicide and one could hardly blame him.
    • The president's wife and kids were also in Manhattan.
  • Humanity constructs a really big nuke in Sunshine, in a desperate bid to, ahem, re-ignite the sun. Never mind that the sun creates the amount of energy generated by the bomb many times over every single second. Best to suspend your disbelief on this point. The flaws of this idea are pointed out in this comic.
  • In the 1979 epic Meteor, a gigantic piece of a main-belt asteroid breaks off and is headed straight for Earth. US and Soviet orbital nuclear weapons that point Earthward are turned toward the incoming meteor. Special Effect Failure ensues.
  • In Dr. Strangelove, the Soviet doomsday machine is unintentionally triggered by Major Kong's famous ride on The Bomb.
  • Subverted in Return of the Living Dead, when a nuclear artillery round is deployed to sterilize the zombie outbreak, but instead only serves to spread The Virus widely.
  • Subverted in The Andromeda Strain, where the Wildfire team figures out, almost too late, that the tactical nuke meant to sterilize their lab in case of organism escape will actually cause Andromeda to mutate wildly and spread on the prevailing winds across the entire West Coast.
  • In Independence Day, a nuclear missile fired by a B-2 bomber fails to Nuke'Em all, so Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith are sent to deliver a nuke (and an alien-compatible computer virus) into the alien mothership.
  • Hilariously parodied in Mars Attacks!! where the nuke fired at the Martians is turned into helium and used to make fun of the president.
  • In Silent Running, Bruce Dern sends the last forest into deep space and remains behind to nuke his own spaceship.
  • In A Crack In The World, Bad Science causes a giant crack to start propagating through Earth's crust, with dire effects. Scientists use a nuke to blow a hole in the crust that's big enough to stop it.
  • Featured in Aliens, with Ripley and the surviving Space Marines voting to nuke the facility from orbit. (It's the only way to be sure.) They don't, but thanks to accidentally shooting up the thermal regulators, the reactors go critical and it becomes a conveniently self-nuking facility.
  • Back in 1961, Admiral Harriman Nelson used a nuke to defeat Global Warming in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
    • In the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea TV series based on the feature film (1964–68), nuclear weapons were initially viewed realistically, i.e. "if things go that far, it's all over for the world." By the last season, nuclear weapons were going off at least every other episode - usually fired by Nelson at the Monster / Alien Invader / Other Miscellaneous Problem of the Week.
  • The Syfy absolutely loves to use this as the solution to their natural-disaster-of-the-week films, even if it makes absolutely no sense. The sun spewing deadly flares that will ignite the Earth's atmosphere's supply of methane and burn up all the oxygen on the planet? Stop the burn with a nuke in the atmosphere. Planet-wide tempest surging out of control because some doofus unleashed an ancient Sumerian storm god? Nuke the skies and cut off its power supply. The moon breaking up like a bad jawbreaker in a cataclysmic shower of meteors that will destroy the Earth? Take an A-bomb to its core and seal the cracks.
    • It's official: nuclear weapons are the new duct tape.
  • In the Starship Troopers film, the mobile infantry use rocket-propelled mini-nukes to kill giant orbital defense bugs, and to clear out extensive subterranean bug colonies. Near the end, Lt. Rico uses one in a Mexican Standoff between his fireteam and a group of bugs holding his love interest hostage. After the Blast Out, one trooper is mortally wounded and stays behind to keep the bugs at bay until the nuke detonates in his hand. Yet the idea of using those mini-nukes to, say, wipe out those charging swarms of bugs attacking them never crosses their minds. No, they prefer using automatic rifles against a sea of kamikaze Bugs.
  • The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1966). The largest atomic test yet conducted by the United States at one pole is matched within a few days by the Soviets detonating their own Tsar Bomba at the other. This sets up a wobble in the Earth's rotation which eventually throws it out of orbit towards the Sun. The movie ends with the protagonists waiting the results of another large nuclear detonation in Siberia which scientists hope will reverse, or at least halt, their course. The last scene shows a newspaper print room with two possible next editions—one headlined WORLD SAVED, the other WORLD DOOMED.
  • Babylon A.D. The High Priestess of the Neolite sect is on the phone with Russian mob boss Gorsky.

High Priestess: "Mr Gorsky, when I kill, I kill for good."
Gorsky: "Are you threatening me?"
High Priestess: "Bless your soul."
Gorsky: "You'll need a nuke to kill me!"
(Gorsky's security system detects an incoming missile)
Gorsky: "Bitch..."

  • Perhaps should be filed under Real Life: A planet-destroying nuke was detonated at the end of Beneath the Planet of the Apes in an attempt to prevent any more sequels. It didn't work.
  • The heroes construct a VERY atomic device to ruin the opening performance of Dr. Terwilliker's magnum opus in The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T.
  • The Soldier (1982). Terrorists threaten to detonate a nuclear bomb in the Saudi oilfields unless the US throws the Israelis off the West Bank. Convinced it's actually a Renegade KGB operation the Heroes-R-Us group take control of an ICBM silo and threaten to fire on Moscow unless they back off. Although they could be bluffing, the KGB Big Bad believes the threat and cancels the operation.
  • In the film of HG Wells' Time Machine, a nuclear weapon was the device which catapulted the time traveler out of the 20th century and forward into the future. Given the film depicts a war during the 1960s, when it was made, it was evidently meant to be horror, and for this 12-year-old (at the time I saw it in the early 1990s), it worked.
  • Used in the 1991 film Godzilla VS King Ghidorah. The main heroes decide to nuke a Godzillasaurus and turn it into Godzilla (Who was somehow wiped from history, don't ask) in order to save Japan from King Ghidorah. Turns out Godzilla had already been mutated by the radiation from the nuclear subs in the Bering Sea. The heroes nuking him just made him bigger...a LOT bigger.


  • Stephen King's The Stand has Deus Ex Nukina delivered by hand by the Woobie and set off by a loose spell that turns into the Hand of God.
  • In Cthulhu Mythos, Azathoth is called the "nuclear chaos" to indicate that he is at the center.
  • The Star Child's first act as a Sufficiently Advanced Alien is to detonate an orbiting nuclear warhead in the 2001 novel.
    • Some people were unsure if the Star Child was nuking Earth, so Word of God clarified it was just because he preferred a sky without weapons. Although Clarke does point out in the Odyssey that Odysseus's act after coming home was to kill those who betrayed him.
    • The same concept was used in The New Universe comic Star Brand when the newly born... Star Child... eliminates all weapons of any kind from Earth. Presumably he left pointed sticks.
  • The Prince Roger novel We Few by John Ringo and David Weber is famous in fandom for the first words being Imprimis, they nuked the spaceport.
    • The "stay behind" concept cropped up in another of Ringo's books. Notable because the person who did it is the Badass star who survives the process.
      • He was in a truly hardcore Super Prototype suit of Power Armor. Nevertheless, it was pretty over the top. Notably, the incident spawns the "Starburst," a sort of Purple Heart exclusively for soldiers who've been nuked.
      • Many of the crewmen of the nearby armor units got them too. NBC Protection for the win
  • In Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's novel Footfall, an alien invader is fought off using an Orion Drive spaceship launched from near Tacoma, Washington.
  • The Tango Briefing (1973) by Adam Hall. British spy Quiller must use a small nuclear weapon (what we'd now call a backpack nuke, though it's a US commercial design for blasting wells) to destroy a shipment of lethal psychotropic nerve gas on a crashed aircraft (the cylinders have cracked and the gas has filled the plane, so they can't just be removed). Unfortunately the timing device is smashed when Quiller parachutes in so he's ordered to detonate the device by hand (local military helicopters are in the area doing a sweep search, so there's no time to parachute in another device). Fortunately Quiller is able to field-improvise a means of pushing down The Button.
  • In Lester del Rey's short story For I Am a Jealous People! aliens invade Earth. The news is all bad and human nuclear weapons don't seem to detonate. Later, it is discovered that replacing the electronic detonators with human suicide volunteers does work. Only the protagonist knows the reason why is that God himself has told the aliens to Kill All Humans and he is causing the detonators to fail (along with "natural" disasters).
  • The Golden Rendezvous by Alistair MacLean. The villains have hijacked a ship full of gold bullion, and plan to blow it up using a stolen nuke. When asked why a nuke would be necessary (they already have amatol explosive as a backup) the protagonist points out that entire magazines of explosives blew up on vessels during the war, yet still left survivors. This still doesn't explain why the villains don't just sell the nuke.
  • Played straight, more or less, in The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross. A warhead is carried through a portal by a special ops team into a parallel universe to take out an Eldritch Abomination. Turns out that this was the endgame of a big Gambit Roulette by said abomination to provide it with enough energy to open a big portal to Earth and come through to eat our universe. One man has to stay behind to cause a faulty detonation to stop an actual nuclear reaction, but gets severely irradiated in the process by the subcritical plutonium assembly.
  • The MD in Ender's Game, being delivered in a suicidal attack against the buggers' homeworld to end it all.
  • Subverted in Forge of God by Greg Bear wherein the earth is attacked by aliens wielding neutronium bombs and the alien ships that have landed on earth are destroyed by nukes. But it does absolutely nothing to hinder the aliens' overall plan. One character even comments something on the lines of 'we have nuclear weapons! Shouldn't the aliens be just a little bit concerned?'. No, they're not.
  • Subverted in The City of Gold and Lead. The hero's master tells him that long ago a nuclear submarine had hid during the Alien Invasion. Somehow word got to it of where the Tripod's city was, whereupon the submarine launched an ICBM at it. Unfortunately the missile is intercepted and the sub destroyed, but the Masters seem to have gotten the fright of their lives.
  • Used in The Wave (ISBN 9780771042744), by Christopher Hyde, which depicts a series of disasters in the Columbia River starting with terrorist activity in Canada and the USA, that leads the wave of water to take out several dams, and a nuclear reactor. To prevent the irradiated water from reaching the Pacific, a Nuclear weapon is used to stop the wave by collapsing the mountains. This book was released in 1979, the same year as TMI accident and "The China Syndrome" film.

Live-Action TV

  • Useful even in the 23rd century, appearing at least three times in Star Trek: The Original Series.
    • In the episode "The Doomsday Machine," Commodore Decker takes a shuttle and steers it down the throat of the planet killer—without an onboard nuke. But this gives Captain Kirk the idea to try Decker's plan with the USS Constellation rigged to self-destruct in a big explosion. Kirk manually pilots the Constellation into the maw.
    • In "Obsession," the vampire cloud, which has been freely munching on the crew, finally heads home to reproduce. Kirk beams down to the planet Where It All Began to deliver a chunk of antimatter. When it blows, it rips half the planet's atmosphere away.
    • In "The Immunity Syndrome," the Enterprise must deliver an anti-matter bomb to the nucleus of the giant space amoeba. In a twist, Mr. Spock volunteers for a separate suicide mission, to deliver the probe that enables Kirk to target the nucleus.
  • Apparently a favorite trope of Capt. Sheridan (Fan Nickname "Nuke'em Johnny") on Babylon 5, who solved his problems with nukes on multiple occasions;
    • In the prequel movie In The Beginning, Sheridan employs a nuclear minefield to destroy the Minbari flagship, the Black Star. (This is the source of his In-Universe epithet, "Starkiller").
    • In the episode Z'ha'dum, Sheridan loads a White Star with two 500 megaton nukes and steers it into the Shadows' capitol city.
      • In fact, he had the ship wait in orbit and had it programmed to arm the nukes and home in to the signal of his communicator. Which was in his hand at that moment. He gets better, But not without consequences.
    • In the episode "Into the Fire", Sheridan lures both major races into an area mined with hundreds of 500 megaton nukes to cause a decisive battle.
    • In the Non-Serial Movie Babylon 5: Thirdspace, Sheridan delivers a nuke into an Artifact of Doom that has opened a portal to a universe of the Cosmic Horror variety.
  • In a rare female example, Boomer delivers a nuke to a Cylon base star in Battlestar Galactica.
    • Another female example occurs in "Razor" by Kendra Shaw who has to stay behind and arm the warhead manually.
    • And then there is Daybreak Part II where Racetrack's dead body nukes the Cylon Colony which is essentially the Cylon Homeworld
  • In the two-part miniseries 10.5, there is a scientific effort, led by our Hollywood Scientist lead, to use six nukes to stop the Big Earthquake. Five nukes get detonated by remote, but the sixth requires a Heroic Sacrifice. Subverted because the sixth wasn't actually detonated at the scientific place and time; it is uncertain, but this attempt might have worsened the problem.
  • Subverted in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Beachhead" in which nuking the Ori's energy field actually makes it grow, the opposite of what our heroes were intending for it to do. It later turns out the whole thing was a Xanatos Gambit set up by the Ori.
    • In an earlier episode, when an asteroid was approaching Earth, they did plan to use a nuke to deflect it... before they realised that, because it was a naquadah asteroid, that was a Very Bad Idea and had to clip the wires to disarm it. Given all the cables were yellow, the conclusion was "This is a very poorly constructed nuke."
    • Another episode features some replicators making it to Earth and taking over a submarine. O'Neill's Plan B for dealing with the menace: "...then tow it out into the middle of the ocean and nuke it!" Fortunately, they don't have to.
  • Stargate Atlantis really likes nukes.
    • In "The Siege," Sheppard flies a nuclear bomb into the bay of a Wraith Hive in order to destroy it. He gets beamed out right before detonation.
    • In "Hot Zone," Sheppard has to detonate a nuclear bomb over the city in order to create an EM field strong enough to kill the nanovirus infecting the entire city. In the season three premier, they nuke an encampment of Wraiths. Michael escapes. They also nuke some Genii at one point. Honestly? They just like nukes a LOT.
    • They detonate a nuke over the city to make the Wraith think they blew themselves up. Or the time they nuked the Replicators.
    • Also beaming nukes directly into Wraith hive ships (and the one time they just fired all their nukes at once since beaming wouldn't work)!
    • Ignoring a strict nuclear arsenal, Stargate Atlantis seems to love causing huge explosions and shrugging off the fallout, morally and statistically. Rodney McKay's 5/6 of a star system is a good example. He would like to remind you that "It was uninhabited!"
    • The Movie ended with the Nuke blowing up Big Bad Ra's mothership showing it to work. Later uses included the first season attempting to use enhanced nukes to blow up two invading ships fail. Still later they'd mix Asgard beaming technology to deliver nukes on board ships. Finally they'd set up nuclear mines as protection from deep space.
    • The Atlantis episode First Strike
    • A mega-nuke called Horizon and was described as a 1.2 giga-ton Phlebotinum enhanced nuke used to blow up a whole continent of Replicator cities.
  • Played straight in the Season 1 finale of SeaQuest DSV, in which the sub's nuclear payload - still contained within the sub - was used to weld closed a massive magma-spewing crack in the Pacific Ocean off the Australian coast. Very nearly requires a Heroic Sacrifice on the part of Bridger, but he manages to escape at the last second.
  • An episode of The Six Million Dollar Man featured the threat of an imminent catastrophic earthquake in the San Andreas Fault, and the good guys planned to use a nuclear explosion to move the epicentre in order to reduce the damage. But The Hero was trapped in the shooting range...
  • Hyperdrive. After their disastrous First Contact with the Queppu, the crew seek to avoid future problems by covertly nuking the planet behind the captain's back while he's giving a Patrick Stewart Speech.
  • At the end of Lost season 5, several characters decide to prevent Oceanic 815 from ever crashing by nuking the electromagnetic anomaly that caused the crash (doing so 27 years before the crash thanks to Time Travel.) The plan is simply to drop the bomb down a shaft. It doesn't detonate. Juliet, after being pulled down the shaft and critically injured, must detonate it manually.
  • Professor Quatermass uses this solution twice, once in Quatermass II and again in Quatermass.

Tabletop Games

  • Used in spirit, and with abandon, in Warhammer 40,000, where application of planet-destroying cyclonic torpedoes is a regular and accepted solution to Tyranid invasions, major outbreaks of heresy, and other such problems.
    • Not just in spirit, according to some versions of the fluff. Cyclonic torpedoes are crust-penetrating cluster nukes which liquefy the planet. According to other versions they're something else...
    • Cyclonic torpedoes are either this or crust penetration giant melta bombs. And Melta bombs are some fusion bombs...
  • In Shadowrun, a tactical nuclear weapon was deployed by Ares Macrotechnology to contain the mass breakout of bug spirits in Chicago. Even more of a Deus Ex Nukina than usual, as the blast not only put most of the bugs into hibernation (huh?), but the bugs' own attempt to shield themselves averted the spread of radioactivity from the blast site.
  • In GURPS Technomancy the first nuclear detonation caused (combined with the "I am become death, destroyer of worlds" incantation) some kind of reality distortion which affected the entire world and made it possible to work magic. The mushroom cloud itself remains present, as if frozen in time, and the closer you get to the blast site the more bizarre phenomena occur. The Soviets detonated another nuke on the Antarctic which resulted in an even bigger reality distortion around it, and among other things made the penguins develop a sentient Hive Mind. Scientists in the gameworld theorize that each blast weakens the fabric of reality more and more, so that a third nuclear detonation would twist the entire world into practically uninhabitable state.
  • In the Old World of Darkness, in order to suppress an awakened Antediluvian, the Technocracy detonated a number of nuclear bombs in the spirit planes. The blasts destroyed the ghostly civilizations of the Underworld, caused a spiritual firestorm in the Gauntlet and signaled the end of the universe. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
    • In Promethean: The Created, there are the Zeka—corpses reanimated through nuclear power. The first Zeka were created from ritually prepared corpses exposed to a nuclear explosion. The most monstrous example is named after its kindling fire—Tsar Bomba.

Video Games

  • In Mass Effect a nuke has to be improvised from a ship's engines. Easy enough, However, the pick up ship only has time to pick up one of your two human squadmates.
    • "But before Saren can deliver his endless troops, in rides Shepard, securing victory through nuclear fire. I like that part, it has weight."
  • In Pathways into Darkness, Hard Light projections of Precursors tell Bill Clinton and his cabinet there's an immortal Sealed Evil in a Can deep under the Yucatán crater in Mexico that's about to awaken in eight days, but that they won't reach Earth for two years. The solution? Send a commando team with an atomic bomb down to the bottom of the cavernous Genius Loci generated by the slumbering Cosmic Horror's dreams, and blast it back to somnolence.
  • In Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, the main character is eventually sent to capture the Big Bad Corrupt Corporate Executive from his hidden bunker. However, after discovering that the bunker buster airstrike has little to no effect on the massive door, he has to go and convince either the Americans or the Chinese to give him a nuclear bomb (!) in order to bust down the door.
  • The solution to contain the zombie outbreak in Raccoon City eventually becomes "nuke it from orbit."
  • Fallout. In the first game, the Big Bad can be nuked, or can be talked into nuking himself. Trying to kill him with guns results in the former. Fallout 3 adds a hand-held nuclear catapult, and giant monsters.
    • In an example of Truth in Television there is/was a "luggable" nuclear weapon called the Davy Crockett, which dumped rads in about a quarter-mile radius. Unfortunately, it's just big enough to not be hand-held, unless you're Colonel Volgin or The Boss...
    • Fallout 3 also featured a quest where the residents of an early town (aptly named Megaton) built around an unexploded nuclear bomb (there's even a religion dedicated to it). You're given the choice of either disarming the bomb or rigging it to go off. The rewards are roughly the same so it's entirely a question of your moral standing.
    • The GNR radio quest is the straight-played example, where both the problem (giant monster) and the solution (nuke) are introduced at the same time. It's possible to kill the Behemoth without the Fat Man, but it's undeniably convenient.
    • In Fallout Tactics, the only way to break into Vault 0 is by escorting a nuclear warhead to point-blank range of the Vault's door. Heroic sacrifice not necessary.
  • StarCraft has a sort of example, where the decommissioned science vessel Amerigo is demolished with a nuke. It counts, because the previous mission is about Zergified Kerrigan infesting the whole ship.
    • And what do the marines pack with their big bomb? Beers.

"Thank God for cold fusion!"

  • Ace Combat 5 and its prequel Ace Combat Zero have the "Seven Pillars," Belkans nuking seven of their own cities, in the face of an allied invasion on June 6, 1995 leading to a formal ceasefire later that year and a wave of anti-war sentiment that would last all the way through the Circum-Pacific War of 2010.
    • After the 'Seven Pillars' incident mentioned above, your buddy disappears for a while. Near the end of the game, you find out he's the leader of a terrorist group who believes that the only way to rid the world of all the misery caused by war is to start from scratch via nuclear weapons. This leads to a rather dramatic final confrontation.
  • Tales of Vesperia makes use of this trope when a crazed monsters start attacking a developing village. The main character has to drop the nuke in the middle of the crowd of rampaging monsters, but it's not that dramatic since he's able to escape well before it goes off.
  • The Halo: Reach live-action trailer Deliver Hope shows Kat and the previous Noble Six hand-delivering a tactical nuke to the inside of a Covenant cruiser.
  • The Nova nukes in the Halo Expanded Universe were powerful enough to cause an Earthshattering Kaboom. The one-armed by Admiral Whitcomb and accidentally detonated by a Huragok obliterated an armada, blew up a moon, and cut out a big chunk of a planet.
    • In fact, a large amount of the UNSC's (very small) amount of naval victories relied heavily on the use of Novas.
  • In UFO Aftershock, the only way to kill the Big Bad was by nuking it. Point-blank with a suitcase nuke. Most likely because it was that Big. Thankfully, timed detonation wasn't forgotten, and nobody had to stay behind. Showing these alien bastards the power of Earth technology was very satisfying.
  • Modern Warfare 2 features one of these where Captain Price and TF141 attack a Russian Submarine Base to use their nukes to EMP the East Coast of the US. Though, only Price knows exactly what he is going to do. Surprisingly, no one officially punishes them for it right after, but there is kind of a reason for that.
  • Happens to the Black Mesa Research Facility from the Half Life series. After the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit fails to fight back the invasion from Xen, A Black Ops. team is send in to plant a nuke meant to destroy the facility. In the expansion pack, Opposing Force, Player Character Adrian Shephard comes across and disarms the nuke, but it is shortly after rearmed by the mysterious G-Man. Finally, in the outro of Opposing Force, a white flash indicates the detonation of the nuke and the destruction of Black Mesa.
  • Speaking of Valve games, the goal of Alien Swarm is to "introduce our new friends to the wonders of the nuclear age". Bonus points for big yellow smiley face painted on the bomb.
  • Subverted in Crysis where a nuclear strike only makes things worse. In the second installment of the game you race against time to avert a nuclear strike on Manhattan. You succeed, which may come as a surprise given the game's propensity for Monumental Damage.

Western Animation

  • In the Futurama episode "War Is the H-Word", Bender is rigged with a planet-busting bomb and sent to "negotiate" with the Brain Balls of Spheron I.
    • It says a lot about both Zapp Brannigan and Bender that the whole plan hinged on Bender saying "ass" at a diplomatic meeting.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes Season 1 finale ended with the legion trying to deliver a nuke to a suneater that was guarded by kill bots and a nearly-impenetrable shield. One team went off to beat up the mastermind, another team went off to temporarily disable the shield and everyone else had to buy the bomb squad time and a path to deliver it. Ferro Lad had to set off the detonator manually.
  • Similar to the Fantastic Four example above, the Thing had to carry a nuke to the center of Ego, the living planet, in the 90's Fantastic Four cartoon.
  • Guardians in ReBoot seem to think this is the only option for dealing with web creatures in isolated systems. Sure it's not an actual "nuke", being inside a computer, but it makes a huge explosion that leaves a hole in Mainframes sky/ceiling which quickly turns into a massive tear.

Real Life

  • In The Fifties, when atomic power was still new and the U.S. Interstate Highway system was being built by the Defense Department, researchers proposed low-yield nuclear weapons for practical purposes, such as paving the entire system with atomic weapons, turning the asphalt into atomic glass.
  • Project Orion proposed flying to another star by building a space ship with a thick metal plate on enormous shock absorbers, and detonating nuclear weapons underneath it.
    • Project Longshot was a later proposal based on the same basic principal; however, Longshot would use thermonuclear fusion in externally-detonated deuterium/tritium pellets, similar to those used in experimental inertial confinement fusion reactors today, instead of thermonuclear bombs.
    • According to scientists, it's actually one of the more reasonable ideas for near-light travel.
    • Even better the most efficient craft weighed 10,000 tons! and could launch from the earth's surface and pootle around the solar system, contrast with the most powerful modern launch vehicles that can only lift around 100 tons (Aries was supposed to do 160-188) to low earth orbit.
  • One of several ideas to deflect an asteroid or comet, should one be discovered on a collision course with Earth, would be to send a spacecraft with thermonuclear shaped charges which would detonate near the object's surface and alter its trajectory enough to miss Earth. It would be quicker than a gravity tractor - a spacecraft which hovers near the asteroid to let its gravity slowly alter the rock's trajectory. However, even if shaped charges - which focus the blast energy in the rock's direction - are used, the method is less predictable against a tumbling body than the rotation-invariant gravity or electromagnetic tractor design.
  • Operation Downfall, the planned-but-thankfully-never-executed invasion of Japan in WWII. On X-Day, seven nukes would be used, along with several million troops and possibly chemical weapons. Casualty estimates were so high that a half-million Purple Hearts were manufactured, and no more have been made since. Shockingly enough, the estimates of 250,000-4,000,000 American casualties (and about double to triple that for the Japanese) are now considered to be underestimates, since the plans would have troops occupy ground 48 hours after it was nuked.
    • And it also ignored the casualties of the other Western Allied forces that would have had to take part in it.
  • The Russians suggested this to plug the BP oil spill in the Gulf. Seriously. They say they've done it before, with an 80% success rate.
    • Although not Nukes, there are also proposals to use large conventional bombs such as the MOAB (Massive Ordnance Air Blast) to do it, which does have more scientific support. Same theory just a lot safer.
    • Still not advised, given the geologic environment of the Gulf of Mexico. There's a lot of loosely consolidated sediment in there. You do not want to move that around. Tsunamis are bad.
      • The problem wasn't the risk of a tsunami, it was that because of the brittleness of ocean floor in that area the shock wave from a large detonation risked shattering it and making the leak worse.
      • Actually even the most massive of nuclear blasts available today don't compare to even a medium (say 7 on the Richter scale) earthquake in terms of energy output, so any Tsunami of real power is laughable. That is, unless the nuke only serves as a trigger for existing fault lines or underwater landslides, in which case all bets are off seeing that triggering an earthquake with a nuke has never been tested (at least officially), only suggested.
    • It's also a certain degree of Ax Crazy for the Russians to admit that they've detonated nuclear blasts to fix underwater oil spills at least 5 times...