This may come as a shock to you, but sometimes Hollywood screenwriters like to take shortcuts. So when it comes time to quickly show that something has gone really wrong in a movie — usually sci-fi or action — one really easy way to do that is to lay waste to a famous monument.
Here are ten such iconic monuments that get wrecked more often than a college freshman pledging a frat.
#1. Statue of Liberty
For Americans and non-Americans alike, the Statue of Liberty is the go-to visual cue for freedom. So when it comes time to show that the U.S. — and usually the rest of the human race by extension — is either about to be conquered or has already been vanquished, Lady Liberty is damaged, drowned, or decapitated.
#2. Eiffel Tower
Sure, France doesn’t really have a ton of strategic value as a target for aliens or other invading powers, but the Eiffel Tower is still a powerful symbol of the West. So get your pictures in while you can, because soon all you’ll have to remember it by are postcards. Mon Dieu!
(Usually when the tower goes, so does the Arc de Triomphe.)
#3. Washington Monument
When the Washington Monument gets wasted in a movie, take comfort in the fact that it’s just the continuation of a rather old film tradition. This most famous of obelisks has been getting smashed since at least the 1950s, when it had the honor of being the victim of some nifty Ray Harryhausen special effects.
#4. Mount Rushmore
At least with Mount Rushmore, there is some opportunity for levity. So while some filmmakers opt to just destroy it outright, others take the opportunity to due so large-scale face swapping.
As seen in: Superman II, Mars Attacks!, 10.5: Apocalypse, Category 7: The End of the World, Team America: World Police
#5. Golden Gate Bridge
As if one of the most famous bridges in the world doesn’t have enough to contend with in real life (i.e. earthquakes), it is one of the more popular targets for movie destruction from the west coast.
As seen in: The Core, It Came from Beneath the Sea, Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus, Pacific Rim, X-Men: The Last Stand
#6. White House
You didn’t think I’d forget this one, did you? How could I, when it was the subject of the most famous movie explosion of the last 20 years or so?
As seen in: 2012, White House Down, Olympus Has Fallen, Independence Day (of course)
#7. Big Ben
Sorry Brits, you don’t get out of your share of the destruction. That’s what you get for putting an enormous clock in the middle of your mo
st important city I suppose.
As seen in: Independence Day, The Avengers (1998), V for Vendetta, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, The Day After Tomorrow, Reign of Fire
#8. Capitol Records Building
There are two reasons I can think of why this admittedly cool-looking 13-story building in Hollywood has been damaged or destroyed so many times — either because it’s one of the relatively few immediately recognizable structures associated with Los Angeles/Hollywood, or because there are a lot of frustrated musicians making movies.
As seen in: The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, Earthquake, Hancock
#9. Brooklyn Bridge
A lot of people complain about an East Coast bias in news and sports reporting, but remember that there’s a dark side to that as well. But hey, I’m all in favor of whatever it takes to keep the hipsters quarantined from the general population.
As seen in: Aftershock, Godzilla (1998), Deep Impact, Cloverfield, I Am Legend, The Dark Knight Rises
#10. Tokyo Tower
The problem with having a landmark as recognizable as the Tokyo Tower on an island nation the size of Montana is that there are only so many other places for pissed off kaiju to vent their anger. Since the tower’s completion in 1958, it’s been a perennial punching bag for Godzilla and a host of other super-sized monsters. Oh and robots. Don’t forget about the giant robots.
As seen in: Too many to list.