, Up for Grabs
So the plot of your standard fantasy TV show or movie needs to keep referencing the story arc or continuing plot, and the heroes need to know there's some sort of threat. And it's big, and dangerous, and evil.
But you can't let the heroes, or the audience, know what that threat actually is. Hence we get visions and prophecies and bits of vagueness like "Evil is coming", "The darkness will arrive" or possibly "The End is Nigh", or some such. The audience is reminded of a coming villain or threat but is never really given a clue what it might be. Can occur only once, or in every episode of a season.
Related to Arc Words
. See also A Storm Is Coming
- "The Beast"'s arrival in season 4 of Angel
- Much of the fanfare around the First Evil in Buffy the Vampire Slayer - "From beneath you, it devours"
- The Abaddon gets a few of these in the first series of Torchwood.
- Renfield in Bram Stokers Dracula (is this in the novel as well?): "The Maaaster is coming!" (of course the audience know who the Master is, but the unwitting inhabitants of London don't, yet).
- In 'The Beast Below', an episode of Doctor Who, there is a creature that almost everyone refers to only as...The Beast Below.
- Commander Shepard from Mass Effect repeats "The Reapers are coming" every mission or so, whenever s/he needs to convince someone to cooperate.
- Ditto the Gray Warden from Dragon Age: Origins, but about Darkspawn.
- The Living Wake centers around the protagonist's "vague and grave disease".
- More Doctor Who: Planet Of The Dead had a woman with "low-level psychic abilities" or some such nonsense, who told the Doctor that "He will knock four times." in an ominous tone.
- The omnipresent thread of the looming Nothing in the first half of the Neverending Story.