This week’s top ten is about impact. Deep Impact! Wait, no… the planet survived that one in the end… let me start again. This week’s top ten goes BOOM, the kind of boom the crumbles whole planets!
In the hallowed halls of Nerdom, be it in movies, print, television and even radio, are the remains of many a planet that for whatever reason had to be destroyed. Turning a planet into dust is the dream of super villains and asteroids everywhere and the nightmare of the life forms stuck to these cosmic dirtballs due the laws of gravity. Hell, even former vice-president Al Gore blew the earth up in his movie “An Inconvenient Truth” (at least I think he did… I sorta nodded off halfway through that one.)
So, without further palaver. THE TOP TEN PLANETARY DESTRUCTIONS IN NERDOM:
10: The Earth in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Starting the whole list off is a doosey. The earth is destroyed by a Vogon Destructor Fleet to make way for a hyperspatial express route. While most writers would keep earths destruction till the end (or more commonly its near destruction but eventual saving by Bruce Willis or Will Smith), Douglas Adams gets our home planets demise out of the way in the first few pages/ minutes/screens of this book/radio play/tv show/comicbook/ movie/infuriating and classic text adventure game. Of course it turns out the earth was just a super computer trying to figure out the ultimate question of the universe (the answer being 42) and it ends up getting rebuilt anyways and… well, for more see/hear/read/play it already.
9. Jupiter, in 2010: in Odyssey Two/The Year We Make Contact
This one might be up for debate now that I think of it. In Arthur C. Clarkes classic novel and/ or Peter Hymans kind of disappointing movie, Jupiter isn’t truly destroyed so much as it is transformed. IN TO A NEW FREAKIN SUN! If that’s not metal enough for you, it changes its name to Lucifer and one can only assume gets an earring and a bitching Camaro that inexplicably has a blonde writhing around on the hood.
8. Praxis, in Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country
Yes. Praxis. Now before you get your plastic Vulcan ears in a knot, I know it was referred to as a moon in the movie. After some extensive internet research (I looked up ‘moon’ on dictionary.com) I have this to share. A moon is a satellite; specifically : a natural satellite of a planet. It clearly isn’t in orbit around a planet (or anything at all really.) It counts, don’t dwell on this. The final Star Trek movie to feature the whole original crew and their chins opens up with a Klingon place going kablooey and (now Captain of his own ship) Sulu shows us the proper way to act in such a disaster. Be awesome and drink tea.
7. Earth, in Titan A.E.
Looks like this little third rock from the sun is getting it again. This time however its by strange and ugly aliens for reasons that don’t really seem to make sense. Yeap, so just like the last one. For the purpose of this article and to help work off a hangover, I watched this movie again, 2nd time I’ve seen it since its original theatrical run. While in its time it was considered a flop, honestly? It’s not half bad. Sure it’s Matt Damon as the lead role in a very basic story (plucky young blond hero with daddy issues must save mankind)… It’s still pretty, and that’s by the ancient animation standards of the year 2000! The soundtrack had the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Powerman 5000! Tone Loc and John Leguizamo both had major roles! Wait… I think I know why the aliens wanted to blow up the earth now.
6. Ape World, The Observers’ Planet, and that nice camping spot in Mystery Science Theater
Look into those cold, emotionless eyes. That grin that hides the soulless heart of a killer, a killer on par with the Hindu god Kali the destroyer. (I’m talking about the doughy midwestern bejumpsuited human in the middle, btw, the two robots are cool and to the best of my
knowledge have never committed mass genocide.) Mike Nelson was a likable, sometimes dim, temp worker from Wisconsin who was forced to watch bad movies in space with his robot pals. He also had a bad habit of accidentally blowing up planets. Three felt his wrath in season 8 of the show. He was a basic cable Galactus.
5. The Earth (again), in The Legion of Superheroes
Welcome to the last time our planet makes this list, guess who wrecks our home this time? If you said aliens with a vague and poorly defined reason to turn our home turf into dust, well my friend you can pick a prize off the top shelf! The true beauty of this story isn’t what goes on in the pages, but what went on behind the scenes. As the comic book urban legend goes, writer Keith Giffen toasted our little blue marble in issue 38 of volume 4 of the Legion of Superheroes because there was no one there to stop him. The book was having a change over in editors so he slid in this rather ballsy move in when he could. Let that be a lesson to editors everywhere, oh sure when you’re watching over us, whip in hand, we play nice… but the moment your back is turned. Boom baby, boom.
4. Vulcan, Star Trek
Just breaking the top 5 is a planetary destruction that still a bit of a fresh wound to many. The beloved planet of Vulcan, home of Mr. Spock et al. When J.J. Abrams split the timeline and incited trekkie rage with his reboot of the franchise, he set his phasers to stun and blew up a
planet that was core to the continuity and beloved by fans. A great move to show the viewer that anything can happen in this new universe and one that… wait, did I actually just say ‘set his phasers to stun’? Man, I am sorry, that was a really bad pun. Let’s move on.
3. Krypton, in every imaginable way to tell Supermans origin. Ever.
Here is a planet that has been blown up many, many, MANY times. In the last 75 or so years that Superman has been in comics, on TV and radio, in books and movies, we’ve been told this story. Yes, it is a classic however we get it already. He was rocketed from his doomed
home planet as a baby and yadda yadda ya. Right now in some remote rain forest there is a baby being born and that little girl knows 3 things. It’s really humid, she eats from a boob, and Superman was tossed into a hastily made interstellar missile to be Krypton’s last son. Luckily next year “Man of Steel” will be in theatres and we’ll get to see it told yet again, but this time without man panties. Way to mix it up Hollywood.
2. Alderaan, in Star Wars: A New Hope
Arguably the classic planetary destruction by which all planetary destructions should be judged. We spend the first chunk of the movie watching our hero (a plucky young blond with daddy issues) as he gets tossed into a rag tag group on a last ditch mission to get to Alderaan and save the rebellion. When they get there, it’s just rocks floating in space, baby. See, Grand Moff Tarkin is a dick and he blew it up just to show off the full power of the Death Star even after Princess Leia told him the rebel base was on Dantooine! Wait, why am I telling you this. You know this, like I said before this is a classic. In closing let me say my ewoks don’t blink and Han Shot first, Mr. Lucas. Leave it alone already. (and yes, I will give you more money for the blurays)
1. Pluto, in our hearts and our minds.
It was the summer of 2006. The underdog St. Louis Cardinals beat out the Detroit Tigers in aWorld Series stunner. A young Andy Samberg was teaching us all to laugh on Saturday Night Live. The world was recovering from a huge flu outbreak that had a few people miss work, and the International Astronomical Union defined ‘planet’ at its 26th General Assembly. A move that demoted Pluto to the status of ‘dwarf planet’ after a 70 year run. Dick move IAU, dick move indeed. Pluto is now a Dwarf planet? Really? Couldn’t they come up with something
more demeaning to call our distant little pal in the solar system? Mega-Pebble? Titano-rock? Humongo-stone? You realize that some egg head telescope jockies made all those solar systemdioramas we made in elementary school inaccurate, right? What has science wrought!
The biggest planetary destruction of all time was not done by aliens, or asteroids, or simplemacguffin ment to put asses in theatre seats. It was a planet destroyed by words. Sticks and stones, my friends, sticks and stones indeed.
Pluto, you may not be a planet to them. But you will always be a planet to me.
*Editors Note: The above list was written by nerd extraordinaire and frequent NB contributor Jeremy Hudson (@CaptainHudson)