Created By: Random888December 15, 2012 Last Edited By: Random888December 22, 2012
Troped

Mayan Doomsday

Hollywood says the world ends on December 21, 2012

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Once upon a time, people thought December 21, 2012 was The End Of The World As We Know It. Silly, right? Well, a surprising number of people took this seriously. Where did this date come from, you ask? Well, let's sort out fact and fiction:

  • Myth: The Mayans predicted December 21, 2012 would be the end of the world.
    • Fact: Conspiracy theorists pulled a significant date from the Mayan calendar and reappropriated it as the end of the world. The actual Mayans had nothing to do with it. Also, whenever the "Mayan" calendar is shown, expect it to actually be the more visually appealing Aztec calendar.
  • Myth: Nostradamus also predicted something would happen in 2012.
    • Fact: The only years Nostradamus mentions by name in his quatrains are 1999 and 3797. Of course, he could be talking about 2012 in some of his other quatrains. Or he could not. That's the magic of Nostradamus -- he was so vague that you can interpret him however you like, which is where his "correct" predictions come from.
  • Myth: Lots of other ancient civilizations also cited the year 2012.
    • Fact: Yeah, no. Conspiracy theorists just took every doomsday prediction under the sun and attached it to December 21, 2012 because why not.

So, what was supposed to happen on December 21, 2012? Well, there were some fun predictions:

  • Nibiru, a.k.a. Planet X: A planet about as real as Tatooine which was supposed to hit the Earth in May of 2003. For some reason, the theory was later dusted off and applied to -- you guessed it -- December 21, 2012.
  • Polar shift: Supposedly, the magnetic poles were going to reverse in 2012. Didn't happen and wouldn't have caused disaster if it had.
  • Solar flares: Solar flares happen all the time, but obviously solar flares happening on December 21, 2012 would be evil, world-ending, magic solar flares.
  • Planetary alignments: When the planets line up, you know it's bad! Except there were no planetary alignments in 2012 and planetary alignments have happened many times before without any effect on the Earth.
  • The Rapture: Naturally.
  • New World Order: Presumably, the Illuminati thought it would be fun to start their New World Order on December 21, 2012 since people were expecting something to happen anyway.
  • Three days of darkness: A theory which got lots of traction in China, leading to huge sales of candles there.
  • Pic de Bugarach: A mountain in France associated with UFO's. New Agers flocked to the mountain in December of 2012, believing they would be spared from the apocalypse and also get to reenact Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

As you may have noticed, none of this stuff happened. However, popular culture had a lot of fun with the supposed doomsday and that's what we're here to record.

See also: Millennium Bug

Film

Literature

Live Action TV
  • The Go On episode "The World Ain't Over 'Till It's Over" (aired December 4, 2012) takes place on December 21, 2012. Mr. K believes the world will end, but nothing happens.
  • Two Broke Girls: "And The High Holidays" makes commets referencing this.
  • Penn And Teller Bullshit tackles this in the episode "The Apocalypse".
  • According to The X Files, December 21, 2012 is the date of a future Alien Invasion.
  • A Saturday Night Live skit featured two Mayans showing their newly completed calender to their countrymen. They say the calender ends in 2012 because the world will end, but eventually admit they just ran out of space.

Music
  • "A Certain Shade of Green" by Incubus
  • "2012 (It Ain't the End)" by Jay Sean
  • "Till the World Ends" by Britney Spears (the song doesn't mention 2012, but the official music video does)

Newspaper Comics

Tabletop RPG
  • The Shadowrun universe backstory has the fifth (our) world end on December 24th, 2011 according to the Maya calendar, and the sixth world begins, bringing with it magic, dragons, new types of humans that resemble the legendary dwarves, orks, elves and trolls, among others.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • Spoofed on the 2012 "Treehouse of Terror" episode of The Simpsons.
  • On Futurama, a Martian calendar predicts a sunflare that will destroy the planet in 3012. Later it is revealed that the planet in question is Mars, and the calendar was sent to Earth as a warning to not visit Mars, but by then the Earth's people had already relocated to there.

Video Games
  • Some major event has to take place on this date in The Secret World but I am not playing it myself, so I cannot tell you more.
  • A bulk of the Assassins Creed series takes place in 2012, with the Myth Arc concerning the giant solar flare that is supposed to reach Earth and eradicate all life on December 21, 2012.
  • Dikembe Mutombos Four And A Half Weeks To Save The World centered around Dikembe helping Science the Bear stop possible threats that could end the world and construct a new Mayan Calendar before the old one finishes and the world ends. It was completed on December 20, 2012.
  • Oracle Of Tao uses this as a checklist. All of the possible occurrences happen in rapid succession as a possible cause for the end of the world.
Textbook:Ancient legends speak of Belial as the cause of the first Earth being destroyed. But I know the real truth.
Ambrosia: Yes, what is it?
Textbook:On Dec 21, 2012, ancient Mayan sorcerers caused a the planets to line up, sending a giant planet to crash into Earth. This powerful ritual combined with the massive collision knocked Earth off its orbit, and caused the poles to shift, causing deadly solar flare radiation. Naturally, this in turn caused The Rapture, as well as three days of darkness, before UFO s came and simply wiped the Earth out of existence.
Ambrosia: Suddenly, I think a demon coming from another dimension and destroying everything before getting sealed away sounds more plausible.
Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • December 15, 2012
    StarSword
    Subtrope of Artistic License History and Artistic License Religion: the reason the Mayan calendar ends on 12/21/12 is because the Mayans didn't think they'd need a calendar of infinite length. They were probably right, considering their civilization largely collapsed around 800 A.D.
  • December 15, 2012
    ArkadyDarell
    ^ Actually, the Mayan calendar doesn't end at all, any more than our calendar can be said to end on December 31st because we don't have a count beyond "year". It just goes round to the beginning again.
  • December 15, 2012
    Random888
    Can we please stick to listing examples of this trope? This is the same conversation about the Mayan calendar which has occurred over and over again on the Internet. If you want to know how the Mayan calendar works, click the first "here" on the Sci Show example.
  • December 15, 2012
    ArkadyDarell
    ^ They were listing an example. It just wasn't an accurate example. Honestly, I feel like this sort of article would work better as a Useful Notes than a trope to begin with.
  • December 15, 2012
    TonyG
    • Spoofed on the 2012 "Treehouse of Terror" episode of The Simpsons.
    • On Futurama, a Martian calendar predicts a sunflare that will destroy the planet in 3012. Later it is revealed that the planet in question is Mars, and the calendar was sent to Earth as a warning to not visit Mars, but by then the Earth's people had already relocated to there.
  • December 15, 2012
    McKathlin
    ^^ I agree that lengthy discussion about what the Mayan calendar actually says doesn't belong on a trope page. However, the idea that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world in 2012 is a trope, since it's referred to in media as a plot element, or for laughs, or both.
  • December 15, 2012
    spacemarine50
    Now's not the time for this. Very easy to get Natter and is a big Flame Bait. Wait until 2013 to do this trope. For later, but expand this to any 2012 Apocolypse thing. A lot than the Mayans predicted this (like Nostradamus)
  • December 15, 2012
    Xtifr
    Ancient Predictions Of Doom might be a trope--this is simply The Same But More Specific. Of course, we're all hearing about this one now for some reason I can't quite figure out, but that doesn't make it a different trope from the broader one.

    One group predicted that the world would end in 1998. When it didn't, they said they'd gotten the date upside-down, and the real date was 8661! (This is true, but the whole thing was a joke from the start, and no ancients were involved.) :)
  • December 16, 2012
    Koveras
    • Some major event has to take place on this date in The Secret World but I am not playing it myself, so I cannot tell you more.
    • A bulk of the Assassins Creed series takes place in 2012, with the Myth Arc concerning the giant solar flare that is supposed to reach Earth and eradicate all life on December 21, 2012.
  • December 16, 2012
    MorganWick
    ^^^Oh come on, wouldn't it be cool if we launched this exactly on December 21?
  • December 16, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ The actual launch date will be lost in the next page history wipe.
  • December 16, 2012
    Koveras
    To avoid a Flame War regarding whether or not the Mayans predicted a doomsday and when, lets concentrate on the trope aspect of this entry. And the trope is "2012 is a popular year to stage apocalyptic events in fiction". So the title should be Apocalypse Of 2012 or something along the lines.
  • December 16, 2012
    Chernoskill
    The [[Shadowrun'' universe backstory has the fifth (our) world end on December 24th, 2011 according to the Maya calendar, and the sixth world begins, bringing with it magic, dragons, new types of humans that resemble the legendary dwarves, orks, elves and trolls, among others.
  • December 16, 2012
    Generality
    ^^ However, mention needs to be made of the fact that the likes of the Mayans and Nostradamus are alleged, but definitely not proven, to have prophesied the event.
  • December 16, 2012
    MorningStar1337
    This will be a Discredited Trope. Because the world will not end on the 21st. Please place examples on The End Of The World As We Know It or Conspiracy Theory
  • December 16, 2012
    Koveras
    ^^ Yes, the origin of the trope should be mentioned, just not posted as a requirement. The X Files, for instance, never mentions the Mayans or Nostradamus, yet still uses this trope.

    ^ We have a page on Millennium Bug, which is also a Discredited Trope for at least over a decade. Would you kindly nominate it for deletion and lump its contents with whatever you deem a better location for those examples?
  • December 17, 2012
    LOAD
    I feel this is valid.
  • December 17, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^ How is it different from a more general Long Predicted Apocalypse trope?
  • December 17, 2012
    AP
    Seems a bit too specific. The year 2000 also had many theories about the end of the world but there isn't a seperate trope for that. Let's just leave this at The End Of The World As We Know It.
  • December 17, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ Y 2 K has the Millenium Bug page.
  • December 17, 2012
    Stratadrake
    There is also a page called Apocalypse Day Planner or something that lists as many end-of-the-worlds as we can think of.

    As mentioned, Dec 21 2012 just happens to be where the Mayan Long Count calendar starts over for another lap. It's already happened twelve times relative to the start of said calendar (the last time was in September, 1618) - see the comparison chart on the wikipedia page.
  • December 17, 2012
    bwburke94
    Launch it on the 22nd with the page stating that the apocalypse, thankfully, did not happen.
  • December 21, 2012
    lakingsif
    This isn't just about the Mayan Long Count Calendar, but any theory that the world is meant to end today so I don't know why you've chosen that title. It's really just sub-The End Of The World As We Know It, but shouldn't even be a subtrope. Perhaps '21-12-2012' should get its own folder on that page; there already is one on Apocalypse Day Planner. For different views as to why the world-as-we-know-it is supposed to end today, and why it won't, see here. It's also already on the Mayincatec page.
  • December 21, 2012
    Hodor
    I can't remember details (I think it was the starting point of the Big Bad's plan), but Rah Xephon has some allusions to Mayan culture and belief, and 2012 was mentioned as being an important date (can someone remind/correct me here?)
  • December 21, 2012
    lakingsif
    ^ Unless they come out, say they're Mayans and that the world will end 21-12-2012, it does not count in any way, shape, or form. It's just some people who sort-of look a little Mayincatec-y and might mention 2012. It just happened. If we are keeping this, though, will someone please fix the spelling etc?
  • December 21, 2012
    lakingsif
    Based on the Apocalypse Of 2012 idea, you could say that Disney's Club Penguin's Operation Blackout happening in 2012 meant the End Of The World As We Know It for the residents well, until the EPF come and save the day.
  • December 21, 2012
    MorningStar1337
    Well. it late at night and the "prediction" didn't come true. If this trope isn't discredited by then, it's discredited now.
  • December 21, 2012
    MrRuano
    Dikembe Mutombos Four And A Half Weeks To Save The World centered around Dikembe helping Science the Bear stop possible threats that could end the world and construct a new Mayan Calendar before the old one finishes and the world ends. It was completed on December 20, 2012.
  • December 22, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    Okay, cut it out guys. Rather than discarding, he's gaining more examples. So, yea, maybe it has similarity to many other doomsday tropes. Because it's a Doomsday Trope. *shock*

    Motion to keep. In fact, apparently five of them. One criticism. If it has neither similarity to Mayans or the date... yea, remove that one section.
  • December 22, 2012
    lakingsif
    The way it looks now is better, this is going to be Trivia though, right?
  • December 22, 2012
    XFllo
    I think even The X Files example was connected with Mayans, so I suggest the example is moved. Here is a quote from the finale:
    Cancer Man:Ten centuries ago, the Mayans were so afraid that their calendar stopped on the exact date that my story begins. December 22, the year 2012. The date of the final alien invasion.
  • December 22, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    • Oracle Of Tao uses this as a checklist. All of the possible occurrences happen in rapid succession as a possible cause for the end of the world.
    Textbook:Ancient legends speak of Belial as the cause of the first Earth being destroyed. But I know the real truth.
    Ambrosia: Yes, what is it?
    Textbook:On Dec 21, 2012, ancient Mayan sorcerers caused a the planets to line up, sending a giant planet to crash into Earth. This powerful ritual combined with the massive collision knocked Earth off its orbit, and caused the poles to shift, causing deadly solar flare radiation. Naturally, this in turn caused The Rapture, as well as three days of darkness, before UFO s came and simply wiped the Earth out of existence.
    Ambrosia: Suddenly, I think a demon coming from another dimension and destroying everything before getting sealed away sounds more plausible.

  • December 22, 2012
    Xtifr
    The fact that it's gaining more examples does not mean it's a valid trope. To be a valid trope, you also have to show how it's meaningfully different from other types of Ancient Predicted Doomsday. This just happens to have been a popular form of the actual trope recently because...well, the date was yesterday. But that doesn't make it a separate trope!

    eta: trivia or Useful Notes might work, but not a trope.
  • December 22, 2012
    ArkadyDarell
    ^ Reiterating my vote for Useful Notes.
  • December 22, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
  • December 22, 2012
    MarqFJA
    So who's going to make this Long Predicted Apocalypse / Ancient Predicted Doomsday not-yet-a-trope?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable