The plot seemed to be going has been abruptly overshadowed by the revelation that the setting you thought you were reading about is merely an infinitesimal fraction of an universe that actually teems with overwhelming otherworldly menace
The threat this reveals is likely to virtually overshadow all the more mundane players you already knew about; at the very least, it substantially alters both the reader's and the characters' understanding of their world. The rebellious factions in The Federation
are actually being controlled by an unusual artifact, just shipped back from recent excavations in a fringe system. The Corrupt Corporate Executive
and Professional Killer
are its cultists. The Evil Overlord
you just defeated was the Cosmic Keystone
keeping it out.
The plot probably didn't completely Genre Shift
into Cosmic Horror Story
, but at the very least it just received a very noticeable transfusion
- it could almost be seen as the Cosmic Horror Story
genre itself invading the more traditional settings we know, parasitising them, and altering their realities to one that suits it better
This can be either a very cheap or very shocking
way for things to Get Worse
Subtrope of Outside-Context Villain
, and sometimes The Man Behind the Man
. Compare Genre Shift
and Genre Blending
. Contrast Giant Space Flea from Nowhere
and Diabolus Ex Nihilo
, wherein the unexpected threat is not necessarily a thing from beyond, and whatever it is is completely unrelated to the extended plot.
Anime and Manga
- Final Fantasy seems to be very fond of this:
- Final Fantasy I: The Four Fiends are upstaged by by Garland who becomes Chaos
- Final Fantasy III: Xande's doings bring Cloud Of Darkness around
- Final Fantasy IX: The final boss is Necron despite Kuja being the main antagonist throughout the game.
- In Persona 2 Hitler turns out to be Nyarlathotep in disguise.
- In Mass Effect, you're initially in pursuit of Saren, a secret agent bent on using synthetic organisms to wipe out humanity. Surprise, he's really working for the Reapers, an ancient race of machines who have wiped out all galactic civilizations several times over.
- In Discworld Noir, the first part of the game seems like a normal mystery story, with a detective, a murder, suspects... The final part, however, involves a plan to release an Eldritch Abomination, and once it's released, finding a way to kill it.
- The Chzo Mythos does this at the midway point: The first two games were straight slasher horror stories with the single central antagonist, but starting with Trilby's Notes the series' focus shifts to the Cosmic Horror possessing the previous games' antagonist, the titular elemental god of pain. (This is because Yahtzee was making up more story elements as he went along.)
- Earthbound tells you vaguely about Giygas throughout, but it takes almost the entire game to find out he's an Eldritch Abomination.
- Not the main plot, but Oracle Of Tao has a bounty hunting sidequest that is relatively calm and relaxing, until you get to about the last monster, who turns out to be an Eldritch Abomination. Losing the battle against this last bounty results in a Mind Rape ending. For a sidequest, this is still pretty heavy... and there are actually a number of these practically immortal destructive beings roaming about.
- Halo 2 revealed that the answer to many of the driving questions of the setting - why the Haloes were made and where the Neglectful Precursors went - was the Gravemind, aka when a Body Horror Zombie Apocalypse acquires sentience, becomes a Hive Mind, and overruns its local galaxy and begins spreading to others nearby.
- Towards the end of Romeo X Juliet, it becomes clear that the true enemy isn't the murderous Lord Montague, who is slowly descending into cackling, city-burning madness, but rather the death of Escalus, which is what's holding Neo Verona in the sky: the earthquakes that become much more frequent and ruinous towards the series' climax are the result of Escalus slowly perishing.