Top 10 City Destruction Scenes in Movies

Credits: Rebecca Brayton Max Lett
Script written by Max Lett. While we hope never to witness the actual destruction of any of the world’s cities, we can’t say there haven’t been some impressive visual imaginings of the sort put to the big screen. For this list, we’ve chosen the most epic, most explosive, and most destructive scenes in film that have reduced our favorite cities – both real and fictional – to rubble. Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 city destruction scenes in movies. Special thanks to our user Emily Carlstrom, Gregg Johnson, Afonso Cardoso Brasil and Afonso Cardoso Brasil for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Max Lett.

Stock up on the canned goods and find yourself a bomb shelter. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 city destruction scenes in movies.

For this list, we’ve chosen the most epic, most explosive, and most destructive scenes in film that have reduced our favorite cities – both real and fictional – to rubble. Also: SPOILER ALERT.

#10: Metropolis
“Man of Steel” (2013)

The latest stream of Hollywood blockbusters are basically just vehicles for third-act destruction frenzies, and this is no exception: the big blue Boy Scout faces a faction of evildoers from his native Krypton who’re out to conquer Earth. The best way to do this seems to be by leveling every inch of habitable city and restarting from scratch, with help from some fancy alien machine. Sure, that machine would’ve destroyed everything in its path, but Supe’s skyscraper-destroying duel against Zod beat it to the punch.

#9: Las Vegas Strip
“Mars Attacks!” (1996)

Aliens are at it again in this B-movie-style flick. What do they want? To exterminate all humans, of course. They attempt this by systematically destroying every famous landmark in spectacular fashion. One such casualty is the Las Vegas Strip. The destruction here is both impressive and purposely schlocky, in an effort to emulate alien invasion movies from the ‘50s and ‘60s.

#8: Hong Kong
“Pacific Rim” (2013)

In a shocking twist, aliens are now coming from underneath our oceans as opposed to from the blackness beyond. The baddies aren’t the brainy type and instead content themselves with destroying all of civilization by basically stepping on it. The Hong Kong battle concludes exactly how you’d expect a fight between giant monsters and giant robots to end: not too well for Hong Kong.

#7: New York
“Cloverfield” (2008)

The found footage format is considered by a lot of filmmakers to be an easy work-around, but it is nonetheless effective in this film about a giant monster coming from the ocean depths to wreak havoc on New York. The scenes are that much more intense and dramatic because the footage is shaky and real. New York takes quite a beating and, not for the first time, the Statue of Liberty becomes collateral damage.

#6: San Francisco
“Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013)

Even in a Utopian future, Earth’s major cities still aren’t safe from outer-space incursions. This time, the crew of the Enterprise and a familiar foe they picked up on their travels accidentally crash an enormous warship into the heart of San Francisco. Collateral damage ensues, but the crew only has eyes for Khan, which leads to even more destruction.

#5: Tokyo
“Godzilla” (1954)

This big green baddy is an early adopter in the area of citywide carnage. Almost exclusively attacking Tokyo, the King of Monsters has a penchant for spewing jets of radiation and knocking down skyscrapers with a single swipe. The effects are low budget, but remain nonetheless charming and iconic to this day.

#4: All Cities
“Deep Impact” (1998)

Never to be outdone by ocean-dwelling monsters or colonizing alien overlords, the universe’s own drifting mountains of space-garbage also take their toll on planet Earth. The worldwide chaos in “Deep Impact” is effective and frightening because there isn’t any alien consciousness behind it: it’s just complete happenstance that a comet enters our orbit and leads to the destruction of our cities. Also, expect another guest appearance by Lady Liberty.

#3: New York
“The Day After Tomorrow” (2004)

When it was popular to blame climate change for our eventual destruction, this movie was right there at the forefront. Shifting weather patterns are responsible for a whole bucketful of city-leveling cataclysms. New York is impressively flooded by a monumental tsunami, which washes away everything in its path. And no city destruction scene is complete without… Well, you guessed it.

#2: Los Angeles
“2012” (2009)

What is it with nature trying to one-up itself? In this scene, all of Los Angeles is cracked and shaken by a monstrous earthquake that is literally swallowing most of the city. Fortunately, with a little skill and a ridiculous amount of luck, John Cusack and his limo are able to avoid most of the destruction.

Honorable Mentions

- New York “The Avengers” (2012)
- New York “Watchmen” (2009)
- Los Angeles “This Is the End” (2013)
- Chicago “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (2011)

#1: Washington, D.C.
“Independence Day” (1996)

Aliens again, who’d have thought? But this time they’re out to send a little message. The White House, along with most of Washington D.C., is taken out with the liberal use of Dr. Evil-style lasers. Fire floods impressively through the streets as people scramble away in terror. Luckily, the American spirit is just too strong to beat.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite city destruction scene? For more epic Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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