Plate tectonics shaped the Earth, whereas the Moon is a dry and inactive desert, Mars probably came to rest within the first billion years of its history, and Venus, although internally very active, has a dry inferno for its surface. Here we review the parameters that determined the fates of each of these planets and their geochemical expressions. The strong gravity field of a large planet allows for an enormous amount of gravitational energy to be released, causing the outer part of the planetary body to melt (magma ocean), helps retain water on the planet, and increases the pressure gradient. The weak gravity field and anhydrous conditions prevailing on the Moon stabilized, on top of its magma ocean, a thick buoyant plagioclase lithosphere, which insulated the molten interior. On Earth, the buoyant hydrous phases (serpentines) produced by reactions between the terrestrial magma ocean and the wet impactors received from the outer solar system isolated the magma and kept it molten for some few tens of million years. The planets from the inner solar system accreted dry: foundering of wet surface material softened the terrestrial mantle and set the scene for the onset of plate tectonics. This very same process also may have removed all the water from the surface of Venus and added enough water to its mantle to make its internal dynamics very strong and keep the surface very young. Because of a radius smaller than that of the Earth, not enough water could be drawn into the Martian mantle before it was lost to space and Martian plate tectonics never began. The radius of a planet is therefore the key parameter controlling most of its evolutional features.