Earthy Tortoise - TV Tropes (2024)

"Okay, well, some mud turtles are made of mud, but those are generally golems or decorative planters and not really what I was talking about before."

"Unlike most reptiles, which evolved from birds, turtles evolved from rocks."

Monster Manuel regarding the mud turtleEarthy Tortoise - TV Tropes (2), Kingdom of Loathing

Narrative often draws inspiration from nature, most frequently in the form of Animal Motifs and Elemental Powers. There even are recurring animal-element pairings in fiction: for example, we have the Fiery Salamander or the Thunder Beetle. This trope is about one of such pairings, it's the link between tortoises and the ground.

This trope might exist as both the earth and tortoises are slow but extremely durable. Or, more simply, a tortoise's shell just looks awfully a lot like rocks.

Tropes Are Flexible, and there are many ways this trope can manifest:

  • A "Tortoise" can be: not just a literal tortoise, it can be applied to any chelonian. "Tortoise" was chosen for the trope name since it refers to strictly terrestrial animals (either any turtle that lives mostly on dry land, or more specifically the family Testudinidae), but it can also apply to turtles or terrapins, which are used mostly to refer to aquatic or semiaquatic speciesnote, as well as any chelonian on the Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism, tortoise-like Mechanical Animals, hybrids, aliens or undefined creatures, and to when tortoise symbols or allegories are used to represent the element of the earth.
  • "Earthy" can be: either an actual control of the lithosphere or simply being compared or otherwise connected to the earth. Or, at the other extreme, being made out of rock. Some other Elemental Powers that are often included within "Earth" can also substitute it, such as Gemstone Assault, Green Thumb, Extra-ore-dinary, and occasionally Playing with Fire, when it's focused more on volcanism.

Sub-Trope of Elemental Variation. Compare Turtle Island, which describes turtles or other large beings that carry around pieces of landscape on their backs. Overlap can occur in instances where an earth-elemental tortoise is sufficiently large to resemble a mobile hill or mountain or to have vegetation growing on its shell. For another trope of animals with elemental powers, see Fiery Lion.


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Anime & Manga

  • YuYu Hakusho: Genbu is one of the demons based on the Four Gods. He's the weakest and the most monstrous-looking of the four, having the appearance of a bipedal turtle monster with a body made of rocks. He can also manipulate stones and use them as projectiles. He can also reassemble his body parts if he's cut to pieces, but if his brain is damaged, he's done for.

Fan Works

  • Pokemon Eventide (a Pokémon fan-game concept created by the YouTube artist Pragmagik set in the Cornera region, a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the American Four Corners states): The Tortouse/Tortress line, a Ground-type (later Ground/Water-type) 'mon. Tortouse is based on the ornate box turtle, but instead of a shell on its back, it has a mud-made adobe house, which it uses to shelter small Pokemon who need a rest from travelling. Once it evolves into Tortress, the clay house turns into a full-on clay castle, big enough to carry human passengers who have lost their way in the desert.


  • Cradle Series: The Wandering Titan is a Dreadgod in the form of a humanoid with the shell of a tortoise. Its arrival is heralded by a series of progressively stronger earthquakes, caused by its control of Earth Madra.
  • The Rise of Kyoshi: Invoked. Desperate to find the new Avatar among the Earth Kingdom, Kuruk's former companions attempt to use the Air Nomad method of presenting a series of toys to children in the kingdom and seeing if their past lives tell them which toys belonged to previous Avatars; the sole toy that Kyoshi takes is a clay turtle that fit this criteria
  • The Rising of the Shield Hero: The Spirit Tortoise, which goes on a rampage in volume 6 (season 2 of the anime), is an ancient tortoise Kaiju whose shell is literally a mountain, which became the site of the city of Reiki while it slept through the eons. It's described as a natural defense of the world against the Waves of Catastrophe in the event the Four Cardinal Heroes have difficulty, and harvests souls to generate the power needed for this. While the Spirit Tortoise's rampage turns out to have been provoked by the actual Arc Villain Kyo Ethnina, the fact that it is based on the tortoise god Genbu of The Four Gods clues the Genre Savvy Naofumi into the fact that it's only going to be the first such kaiju to emerge.

Live-Action TV

  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Blade: The Rock Tortoise Rouze Card allows its user to temporarily turn to stone and negate all damage.
    • Kamen Rider Saber: Using the Genbu Shinwa (representing the Black Tortoise from Chinese Mythology) Wonder Ride Book with the Raging Earth Sword Gekidou turns the user into Kamen Rider Buster. The two known Kamen Rider Buster users (Ryo Ogami in the main series, and his mentor in the prequel manga) are even Older and Wiser compared to their teammates, combining the Wise Old Turtle trope with the "Closer to Earth" expression.

Myths & Religion

  • The "World Turtle" theme, present in some Native American and Indian mythologies among others, is where the whole Earth is carried on a giant turtle's shell, making it an Exaggerated form of this trope.

Tabletop Games

  • : The Zaratan is a type of large and powerful Earth elemental resembling a tortoise, with the rough size, shape, and composition of a hill.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • "Calcite SnapperEarthy Tortoise - TV Tropes (3)" is a turtle with spiky growths of calcareous rock growing on its shell.
    • "Hexbane TortoiseEarthy Tortoise - TV Tropes (4)" is a Green colour turtle with large crystal- or rock-like stalagmites protruding from its shell.
    • The name of "Bedrock TortoiseEarthy Tortoise - TV Tropes (5)" comes particularly close to this trope. It is a giant underground-dwelling tortoise with a temple built on top of its shell.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • "Gem-Turtle" is a Rock-type monster from the EARTH-attribute. It looks like a land turtle with a gem-like shell.
    • "Pyramid Turtle", is a Zombie-type turtle, also belonging to the EARTH-attribute, and it carries a large pyramid on its back as its shell.
    • "Naturia Landoise" is a Rock/Synchro/Effect monster from the EARTH-attribute. It looks like a large turtle with rock-like body, carrying garden-like structures on its back and head.

Video Games

  • Altered Beast (1988): A type of enemy is the Rock Turtle, which looks like a cross between a turtle and a snail on its bottom part. Its shell is made of rock, and it is found in Stage 3, a large tunnel/cave.
  • Bravely Default 2: The Lava Tortoise is a volcanic tortoise made of magmatic rock and with visible volcanic lava veins all over its body.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy:
    • The Turtle type of enemy all have the Earth-type "Ground Pound" move in Epic Battle Fantasy 3, 4, and when they reappear as a reference to older versions in 5, and Rock Turtles are fully focused on the Earth element.
    • The Lava Turtle is a turtle-like creature with orange/reddish skin and volcano craters on its back.
  • Final Fantasy VII Rebirth: In the Temple of the Ancients, one of the last bosses is the Moss-Grown Adamatoise, a large tortoise-like creature with a forest of moss growing on its back.
  • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest: A type of enemy is the Adamant Turtle, which lives in the Lava Dome area (located atop a volcanic crater) and attacks with fire.
  • Horizon Forbidden West: The Shellsnapper is a massive robot shaped like a snapping turtle. It's able to quickly dig through the ground thanks to a series of rotors on the bottom of its shell, allowing it to travel underground. It will often hide by submerging itself into the soil, so that it looks like a vegetation-covered mound until an unsuspecting human gets close.
  • The Legendary Starfy: The Hot-Spring Snapper is a flying sea turtle with a rock crust as its shell and an active volcano on its back.
  • Palworld: The Digtoise is a tortoise-shaped Pal that belongs to the Ground-element.
  • Paper Mario: The Origami King: The Earth Vellumental is a turtle-like monster, with yellow limbs, tail and head and a green shell, that attacks by sending forth seismic waves and raising pillars of rock.
  • Pokémon:
    • Golem is a Rock/Ground turtle-like monster with a shell made out of stones. Its Alolan regional variant is made out of magnetic rocks, and uses the large magnets on its back as a sort of built-in railgun.
    • The Turtwig line already skirted the trope by having Grass as the primary Type and being particularly themed around trees. Its final stage, Torterra, gains the Ground secondary Type, and carries around a full-grown tree and set of rocky spikes on its back that make it resemble a living hillock.
    • Tirtouga, Carracosta and Drednaw are all Water/Rock aquatic turtles, with shells made of stone.
  • Riders Of Icarus: One of the creatures that can be tamed in-game is the Lavashell Tortoise, a turtle-like creature with a hard rock shell that lives in the Broken Caldera, a volcanic area.
  • Tales of Link: One of the creatures is the Earth Tortoise, a chelonian with brown coloration and a rock-like carapace.
  • Temtem: The Crystle line are Crystal-type tortoises made of gemstones. They live in underground caves and, according to the Tempedia, get nutrients from volcanic ash and metamorphic rocks.
  • World of Warcraft: The terrorpene is a "lavatortoise" that is found in Mt. Hyjal, with a fiery hard shell.

Web Videos

  • Tayruns Adventures And Beast Chronicling: The Sniffer is depicted as the Sniffing Terrierrapin, an Endangered Species of Mix-and-Match Critters which primarily are based on chelonians (giant tortoises in their wrinkled, long-necked appearance, and alligator snapping turtles in the rough, serrated edges of their moss-coated shells). Like the video-game character, the Terrierrapins are known to dig up seeds and bury them in different parts of the earth where they think the plants might grow better, basically making them the Isles' gardeners — which is why it fills Tayrun with relief to find that there might be some of them still alive today.

Western Animation

  • The Legend of Korra: During the Age of Raava, the earth lion turtles would grant the humans who lived on their backs the ability to manipulate earth for protection while out in the Spirit Wilds, which would later be refined into Earthbending via observations of badgermoles.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The Batman Cold Open in "Between Dark and Dawn" pits the Mane Six against one of these, a giant but sluggish tortoise with a chunk of forest growing on its back. The creature is a Non-Malicious Monster, but still needs to be stopped for its voracious habits, chomping up Applejack's orchards (and very nearly Spike) with little care in the world until Fluttershy pacifies it.

Real Life

  • Both "turtle" and "tortoise" may come from a Greek word meaning "belonging to Tartarus", the underworld of Greek mythology.
  • The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is an endangered burrowing tortoise from the Southern United States. The tunnel it digs are also used as dwellings by many other species of animals, or as refuges during droughts or wildfires, and as such it is considered a keystone species and is under protection.
Earthy Tortoise - TV Tropes (2024)


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