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A Tunnel King is a character who is an expert in, well, tunneling. His solution to almost any problem is likely to be "We'll dig our way out." Carrying the trope to its extreme, the Tunnel King may dwell Beneath the Earth in an underground civilization that he constructed himself.

In animated series, this character will often be a burrowing animal with their digging abilities carried to ludicrous extremes.

Human versions of this character are almost always nicknamed The Mole, but that title was already taken for a different trope. Mole Miners and Mole Men are often this.

Examples of Tunnel King include:

Anime and Manga

  • Simon the Digger from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Yes, "The Digger" is his Badass Nickname.
  • The mole guy from Vision of Escaflowne.
  • Oddly, one of Team Rocket's specialties on Pokémon, and often noted by them. Their holes are good enough to impress the very Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann-esque Byron.
  • Ryoga from Ranma ½, once he learns the Bakusai Tenketsu, a pseudo Pressure Points attack that lets him demolish rock with a touch of a finger. Once he learns the Shishi Hokodan, he gets even better at it. Why someone with his directional issues is burrowing under the ground in the first place is a mystery.
  • A character from The Law of Ueki has, as he calls it, "A power to turn my beautiful hair into a drill!" which allows him to dig extremely fast. Ueki states that this power is actually awesome, as he is pretty much unbeatable underground (that's the reason why he has to catch him in the air).
  • One of the characters in Dokonjo Gaeru (Frog with Guts), named Mogura (Japanese for Mole), is this.
  • One Piece
    • Miss Merry Christmas is a Tunnel Queen, as she has the power of the Mole Mole Fruit. The sheer tunneling power is awesome, considering that she can dig as fast as a running man, with only one arm, and while carring, with the other one, a person that is out on the surface (meaning that that arm is cutting the terrain like a blade).
    • Level 5.5 of Impel Down is said to have been created by someone with a similar power.
  • Free from Soul Eater wanted to escape prison using this method but they only gave him chopsticks.
  • In Fairy Tail Virgo and Everlue with the former being Tunnel Queen.
  • Gash Bell features the Majestic Twelve, a team of Western superheroes, as minor characters. Among them is Tremor Mole, who can burrow through the ground as easily as you can walk down the street.
  • Andy W. Hol from Aquarion Evol is pretty much obsessed with his holes.

Comic Books

  • An early Mad Magazine (back when it was a comic book) story featured a character named Melvin Mole, who could dig through anything given an implement, be it a spade, a lunch spoon, a toothpick, or even his nose hair. This leads to his downfall when he tried to tunnel out of prison and ended up tunneling into his own execution chamber.
  • Mevlin Mole inspired a one-shot Batman villain, also called The Mole.
  • On the other hand, the Fantastic Four's Mole Man is a bit of a subversion. Even though he looks like a mole and lives underground, he lets his giant monsters do all the manual labor, including digging tunnels.
  • The Dalton Brothers from Lucky Luke are experts in escaping through tunnels. They often dig one tunnel each to get out of their single cell, but still.
  • Cave Carson, an obscure DC Comics character from the '60s who still makes the occasional cameo. He's a spelunker with a tunneling machine that he and his team use to explore underground caverns.
  • The Mole was also an antagonist of Mandrake the Magician, a genius inventor with a headmounted broad-beam heat ray capable of vaporising rock. It was so effective, his regular outfit included a jetpack so he could keep up. Naturally, he used it to steal from banks.


  • The Trope Namer is The Great Escape, which featured Danny and Willie, nicknamed 'The Tunnel Kings', as well as Archibald 'The Mole' Ives. Subverted in that Danny has claustrophobia, but it really just makes Danny more of a Badass; he's scared as hell about the tight corners and cave-ins, but hey, stuck in a German POW camp, what choice does he have? Being portrayed by Charles Bronson also doesn't hurt.
  • The hacker mole in G-Force.
  • Baragon from the Godzilla franchise.
  • Gnorm in A Gnome Named Gnorm is a tunneler gnome who helps investigate a botched sting by tunneling to a crime scene.


  • The Mole from the Burke novels by Andrew Vachss: He's an anti-Nazi Jew who specializes in bombs, weaponry, breaking and entering, biology and computer hacking and who lives in a series of tunnels he constructed under a junkyard.
  • Mr Fox and his allies from The Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • Relg, the zealot from The Belgariad. Though all his people are underground dwelling, Relg takes it to extremes, going as far as considering caves holey. Plus, he has a special magic that makes it possible for him (and people he carries along) to walk through solid rock.
  • The moles in Redwall, with rare exceptions like Egbert in "The Bellmaker".
  • Often, dwarves.
  • The two ancient sappers in The Wind on the Moon.
  • The Horta from Star Trek are a race that chew through solid rock like it was air.
  • The Nome King from the Oz books.
  • Similar to the Belgariad case listed above, earthcrafters in the Codex Alera can phase through earth and rock, allowing them to travel underground without leaving any sign of their passing.
  • Mulch Diggums in Artemis Fowl is a dwarf who can unhinge his jaw and inhale the earth to dig tunnels. He's often subjected to Toilet Humor in the books.

Live Action TV

  • Oz. Agamemnon 'The Mole' Busmalis, who likes tunneling into banks and out of prisons, which is why they gave him a cell on an upper floor. Eventually, he finds a storeroom on the ground floor and starts tunneling out during the day.

Newspaper Comics

Tabletop Games

  • The Skaven from Warhammer have a tunneling unit. Whether it appears where it should (directly underneath the enemy's artillery units, usually) or the tunnelers screw up horribly and either collapse their tunnel, arrive somewhere on another continent or at least at a different spot on the battlefield than they should (whereupon they spend the rest of the turn bickering who held the map the wrong side up) is dependent on the roll of a die...
    • Dwarven miners are a somewhat more reliable version.
  • The Tyranids from Warhammer 40000 have tunneling creatures with the size and power of tanks.
  • Kobolds in Dungeons and Dragons. They're almost completely helpless in the open (arguably the weakest common monster in the game, to the point that a housecat can rip one to shreds), which they make up for by squeezing through narrow tunnels, leading attackers into traps, and using hit-and-run tactics. A tribe of kobolds in their home warren can be downright deadly.
  • The Mole, a villain from the Golden Age of Champions.


Video Games

  • Diggers from Battle Realms.
  • Tunnelers from Stronghold.
  • Both Baragon and Megalon in Godzilla: Unleashed can burrow as their special ability.
  • Dig Dug's Taizo Hori and his sons, Susumu and Ataru Hori of Mr. Driller fame.
  • Dwarves being Tunnel Kings is a central game mechanic in Dwarf Fortress
  • Drill Man from Mega Man 4, who could burrow into the ground and pop up under Mega Man.
    • Ground Man from Mega Man and Bass could do the same, except he could also drill into the ceiling too AND spike you with a giant drill from there.
    • Drill Man gets even more skill in Rock Man 4 Minus Infinity. He can now cause the ceiling to collapse on Mega Man and pop out of it to confuse him as well.
  • The player in Minecraft can certainly become this; many players begin this way to avoid monsters at night.
  • Pokémon
    • Excadrill the Ground/Steel mole from . Might be a reference to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, being a mole based off a drill and all.
    • Also, the Underground Man in Diamond/Pearl/Platinum, along with his son and grandson, Byron and Roark.
    • Diglett, who is forever half-submerged in the ground, and who's species is responsible for the digging of Diglett's cave.
  • The Undergrunts from Super Mario Galaxy.
  • Terraria calls for the player character to be one if any progress is to be made.
  • One of the movement powers in Champions Online is tunnelling... which moves you underground as fast as flight moves you through air!
  • Most Worms games will scold you if you do this. Players who make good use of the game's digging and tunneling tools are known as "Darksiders".
  • Mogmas in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, though they aren't always quick to think of digging under a barrier even though they can barely move aboveground.
  • Muddy of Mole Mania, natch.


  • Digger from, well, Digger.
  • Sizemore from Erfworld epitomizes this trope. He can make braced, lighted, and reinforced tunnels as fast as he can walk.
  • "Digger" Odel in The Mansion of E.

Western Animation

  • The Diggers from Recess
  • Tunnel Rat from G.I. Joe and related media. As with many Joes, often shown battling in situations having nothing to do with his or her specialty.
  • Bugs Bunny is shown doing it in almost every medium, though he often ends up taking a Wrong Turn At Albuquerque. In fact, two games require Bugs to use tunneling to solve puzzles or bypass enemies, and another relies solely on him for transport between game worlds.
  • The Mole from South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut.
  • Molier in Atlantis: The Lost Empire: He's not only the team excavations expert, but also absolutely obsessed with dirt. He keeps piles of it from different parts of the world! There's apparently an explanation for his... er, profession, and equally apparently, we don't want to know. Near the end of the movie, he even head towards a potted plant to dig up the dirt once a formal photo-shoot of the team was over.
  • All the Meerkats in The Lion King. Except Timon.

  Dig, dig! Dig, dig a tunnel! Never ever gonna get done-eh! Dig, dig! Dig, dig a tunnel! Quick before the hyena come! Dig!


Real Life

  • Wally Floody, one of the men responsible for planning the Great Escape from Stalag Luft 3 during World War 2.
  • The North Vietnamese Army had build up a huge network of tunnels through Vietnam during the Vietnam War.