Cities most often destroyed in movies – both real and imagined

We’ve all seen them. Disaster flicks or superhero films that wreak havoc on a major city. It could be the result of a natural disaster, a war, a terrorist attack, nuclear attack or meltdown, an alien invasion, a plague, zombies, or destruction by some mythical monstrous creature. Sometimes, the movie only shows the aftermath of such an event, possibly with flashbacks throughout.

Godzilla attacking Tokyo in 1954 – Source:

Sadly, we have also seen the heartbreaking and traumatic results of real life warfare shown though the camera lens. It seemed only fair to those who were impacted by the horrors of war to include films on this list that depict previously destroyed cities in a movie. This is particularly the case following World War II, but may also include other conflicts. Berlin, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Leningrad, and Stalingrad are clear examples. Hopefully, the often desperate and grisly scenes from such films helps give pause to most leaders who might consider initiating warfare.

Starkly grim image from film “Year Zero” set in postwar Berlin – Source:

The list below identifies those cities that have most often been shown as destroyed by fictional or true events in film. In some cases, such as the movie Independence Day, multiple cities fall victim to the alien attack. While researching this post, some numerical differences were found in the count from various resources. In those situations, this blogpost decided to use the highest number found for each city, as some sources are more recent than others.

Not included are those films where the whole planet has been destroyed, as took place in Don’t Look Up, nor when just specific buildings or landmarks are demolished – e.g. The Eiffel Tower in the final scene of The Great Race.

As always, any additions, corrections, or suggestions are most welcome. In particular, more instances from foreign films would be useful to include. Peace!

Los Angeles in the aftermath of the movie “Earthquake” from 1974 – Source:


  1. New York City, NY, USA = 69

2. Los Angeles, CA, USA = 36

3. Tokyo, Japan = 25 – given the number of Godzilla films, you’d think this number would be higher

4. San Francisco, CA, USA = 17

5. Paris, France = 14

6. London, UK = 13

7-8. Berlin, Germany and Hiroshima, Japan = 12 each

9. Washington, DC, USA = 10

10. Chicago, IL , USA = 6

11-13. St. Petersburg (Leningrad), Russia; Volgograd (Stalingrad), Russia; and Pompeii, Italy = 5 each

14. Las Vegas, NV, USA = 4

15-16. Rome, Italy and Nagasaki, Japan = 3 each


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