Created By: HamburgerTime on August 11, 2012 Last Edited By: HamburgerTime on August 29, 2012

Flaw In Creation

A fundamental error in reality that causes problems for our characters

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Trope
Somehow, somewhere, something went horribly wrong on a cosmic scale.

Maybe it's a Negative Space Wedgie. Maybe the Butterfly of Doom flapped its wings once too often. The point is, the universe isn't behaving as it should, and this is not a good thing for our protagonists. Whatever the "flaw" is will almost always be very vaguely-defined, but whatever it is, it's almost always causing the world to become more crapsack. If the "error" is personified, it will usually be an Eldritch Abomination. Correcting it may be a goal of the protagonists, but sometimes whatever it is is so far outside their ken that it's untouchable by them.

Examples
Anime and Manga:
  • The Idea of Evil from Berserk works something like this, with the twist that it was actually created by humanity. Essentially, human belief that there must be something wrong with the universe for the concept of suffering to exist caused this Eldritch Abomination to be Clap Your Hands If You Believe'd into existence for the express purpose of being that wrong thing.

Comic Books:
  • Grant Morrison seems to enjoy these.
    • The Big Bad of his Batman run, Doctor Hurt, claims to be "the hole in things" and "the piece that never fit." It's eventually revealed that he's not quite that bad, though he is a Humanoid Abomination.
    • Darkseid becomes one of these in Final Crisis; after his body was killed by Orion, he fell back in time and became a "black hole at the base of creation" that threatens to consume the entire multiverse. The series' other villain, Mandrakk, can be thought of as a metatextual version of this, as Word of God says he is essentially the personification of negative trends in the comic book industry itself.
    • In the Grand Finale of his New X-Men, set in a Bad Future, the Stepford Cuckoos make frequent reference to the fact that reality wasn't "supposed" to have gone down that path, and that there are "holes" in existence. In the final issue, the "hole" is revealed to be Cyclops quitting the X-Men; the Phoenix, which "burns away what doesn't work," sets things back on track.

Video Games:
  • According to Word of God from the makers of Shin Megami Tensei, one of these turned God evil. No more detail has been given, and indeed the "flaw" has never been mentioned in the games themselves, which has led some fans to speculate that the statement was an I Meant to Do That designed to make the games more appealing to Western audiences.
Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • August 11, 2012
    Astaroth
    Would the Snarl from Order Of The Stick qualify? It's an Eldritch Abomination, accidently created because the gods argued amongst themselves too much when they were trying to create the universe. When it completely slaughtered an entire pantheon of gods and unmade the world in 27 minutes, the surviving gods built world 2.0, the planet the story takes place on, to act as a multidimensional prison within which the Snarl is currently contained. But the prison isn't perfect, and rifts have opened up leading to the dimension where the Snarl is imprisoned, which serve as Macguffins in the story.
  • August 11, 2012
    dalek955
    I think the Snarl would indeed count.

    • In Schlock Mercenary, at one point there was a minor distortion of teraport mechanics...which turned out to be a symptom of the Milky Way being pinched off into its own little universe, and then slowly destroyed from the inside out. It came very close to destroying the whole galaxy, and would have if if it weren't for a bizarre loophole in the physics of the anomaly.
    • In Elantris the catastrophe known as the Reod basically inflicted The Magic Goes Away in the mage-city of Elantris, turned the demigod-like inhabitants into zombies and created a huge chasm just for good measure. It turned out that the new chasm caused everything, since the Elantrians' Hermetic Magic is based on the country's geography, which the chasm's appearance altered.
    • The universe of Quest for the Fallen Star has the Abyss, a crack in creation that spawned the Dark One and his Ill-creatures. Also, the Fallen Star, which is arguably worse, came from beyond the Abyss.
      • The Abyss's creation also broke the atmosphere of perfection, letting in such things as pain and heartbreak and hostile intent.
    • Some contributors to the SCP Foundation argue that SCP-682 is a flaw in reality, rather like a computer floating-point error, and that's why they can never permanently get rid of it.
  • August 11, 2012
    JonnyB
    The deja vu event from The Matrix? It's manufactured, but it is referred to as a "glitch" in the system (the virtual creation) that does pose problems for our heroes.
  • August 11, 2012
    Goldfritha
    • In Time Bandits, the dwarves are using holes in creation to leap through time and space as robbers. It leads ultimately to bad things for them.
  • August 11, 2012
    Tiiba
    The Creator from Diskworld once made a world and totally forgot about fingles. "No-one noticed, because they evolved there and didn't know there should be fingles, but they could tell there was something missing somewhere, and it caused them deep psychological problems."

    So there's a flaw because the Creator literally screwed up.
  • August 11, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    In the SF theater production Warp! and adaptations of it, it turns out that He Who Dreams can only keep the multiverse in existence by what's essentially a cheat; unless he remains hidden and imprisoned except briefly at the renewal of the cosmic cycle, the universes will collapse back into the formlessness of Infinity.
  • August 11, 2012
    PapercutChainsaw
    • The titular misfile in Misfile- an error in reality that changes the lives of several people. Subverted however, in that most of the affected people's lives have improved because of it, and the only person who really considers it a problem is Ash.
  • August 11, 2012
    moocow1452
    Doctor Who had the Time Cracks, which were cracks, in time, that obliterated people and things from the timeline when exposed. We never got a straight answer on what caused them outside of the fact that they existed made them exist, and if there was a greater force behind them, they are still at large.
  • August 11, 2012
    Generality
    • The Belgariad. Basically, a star died in the wrong place. This caused a chain reaction that destroyed an entire galactic cluster outside of schedule. The result was that the purpose of the universe, the force of destiny, was divided into two opposing awarenesses. The contention between them causes everything that happens in the series.
  • August 11, 2012
    Earnest
    The flaw is sometimes an unstable separation from the Dark World, leading to all sorts of evil/eldritch creatures crossing over. If enough get through and/or tear a big enough hole, the worlds will collide and it'll be The End Of The World As We Know It.

    Contrast Cosmic Keystone.

    • The backstory of Demon The Fallen describes the original universe as a perfect machine, with every natural law, concept, being, and atom humming together in harmony and beauty without parallel. The one flaw was that mankind seemed... unable to gain sapience on their own. Long story short, God got angry that Lucifer forced the issue by giving mankind sapience, and so God "brushed" the world with his presence, which was the equivalent of hitting a car with a wrecking ball. Sure, the universe survived, but in a broken, imperfect and continually decaying state that can't ever self-repair to it's former state.
  • August 11, 2012
    Kellor
    In the Myst series, different worlds, or "Ages", are basically written into existence by describing them in books, and they can be flawed, even fatally so. Riven had a "star fissure", a big crack in the ground that opens to space, and when ruptured, it sucked the whole Age into it.
  • August 11, 2012
    billybobfred
    • In Homestuck, it's revealed that the creation of our universe was rushed (as its creator didn't understand the significance of what he was doing), and as a result, it has cancer, which apparently comes in the form of Physical God Big Bad Jack Noir.
  • August 12, 2012
    captainsandwich
    IIRC Order Of The Stick has the snarl, which was created due to the gods disagreement of how the world should be.
  • August 18, 2012
    HamburgerTime
  • August 18, 2012
    KevinKlawitter
    This is the basic premise of The Dark Tower: the titual Tower is the center of all existence, and it is starting to malfunction, which causes the different realities to drift, blend, and intersect at random intervals. Thus, the main characters are on a quest to find the Tower and repair whatever is wrong with it.
  • August 19, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^^^ That's not the whole story. After the Snarl destroyed their world, they created another world to contain it, but this new world was not perfect either, and over time cracks ("rifts") started to appear in the fabric of reality. Sealing it away for good would require demolishing and rebuilding all of reality on a fundamental level.
  • August 19, 2012
    KevinKlawitter
    ^^^ I'm only five books in right now, so I just wrote based on what I know. I'm not sure if your post contains spoilers or not, but be mindful if it does.
  • August 28, 2012
    HamburgerTime
    We've already got the Snarl.
  • August 29, 2012
    KarjamP
    We probably need a better title, as I didn't see that this is a trope about a flaw in the universe until I read the laconic.
  • August 29, 2012
    CobraPrime
    Prolly related to Cosmic Keystone

    In Dogma, reality as we know it hinges on god being infallible. In short, you can't prove god wrong because doing so would end the world. Which becomes a driving force in the plot when fallen angels plan to use a loophole in catholic dogma to overturn their banishment.
    Metatron: If they get in, they will have reversed God's decree. Now, listen closely, because this bit's very important. Existence, in all its form and splendor, functions solely on one principle: God is infallible. To prove Him wrong would undo reality and everything that is. Up would become down, black would become white, existence would become nothingness. In essence, if they're allowed to enter that church, they'll unmake the world.
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