->''"When beggars die there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes."''
-->-- '''Calpurnia''', ''Theatre/JuliusCaesar'' by Creator/WilliamShakespeare

%% One quote is sufficient. Please place additional entries on the quotes tab.

Before people had telescopes, comets were frightening objects of awe and wonder that seemed to appear out of nowhere, blazed brightly in the sky, then vanished as quickly as they came. OlderThanDirt, the "[[TheStarsAreGoingOut falling stars]]" mentioned in ''Literature/TheEpicOfGilgamesh'' were possibly a reference to comets or meteor showers. For thousands (and perhaps tens of thousands) of years, they were seen by civilizations around the world as omens of good and ill, pronouncing the deaths of kings, horrible disasters, and military victories. Western civilizations have generally categorized them as harbingers of evil, but the universal consensus is that when a comet appears, something momentous is happening, enough so that the heavens themselves have taken notice.

In 1705, astronomer Edmund Halley noticed that the comets of 1531, 1607, and 1682 all had the same orbit and period. Suspecting that the three were actually the same comet, Halley predicted not only that it would appear again in 1758, but in what part of the sky, and in what orbit. It appeared exactly when and where he said it would, and Halley's Comet not only acquired a name, but put an end to the thought that a comet was some supernatural envoy of doom.

Be that as it may, comets remain [[RuleOfCool cool]], and they are still used in media as the first, last and only suitable omen for truly world-shaking events. Such as said comet [[ColonyDrop coming straight at you]]...

Subtrope of PortentOfDoom and BadMoonRising.

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!!Examples:

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[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''SpaceCarrierBlueNoah'', the aliens rain down surveillance cameras disguised as meteors onto planet Earth, to scope out whether the planet is worth invading.
* In ''YuGiOhGX'', such a comet indicates the imminent [[spoiler: fulfilment of Jim Cook's prophecy]]. For bonus points, it appears to ''turn'' and fly straight towards [[spoiler: him]] several times, causing alarm, though [[spoiler: this is only an illusion, albeit part of the prophecy, and the comet is never the real threat.]]
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[[folder:Comic]]
* ''ComicBook/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicIDW'': The Secretariat Comet will be passing the Horsehead Nebula in [[RuleOfThree three]] [[RaceAgainstTheClock days]], an astronomical event said to effect every magical being in Equestria.
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[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/{{Lifeforce}}''. The arrival of Halley's Comet foretells doom for London, as it contains an alien spaceship that carried space vampires. [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]], as the characters mention that the appearance of Halley's Comet has been considered a warning of disaster for centuries, possibly because seeing it meant the alien ship within was near enough to allow the vampires to reach Earth and feed.
* ''Film/NightOfTheComet''. A comet's trail sweeps across the Earth, reducing [[ApocalypseHow almost the entire human race to reddish dust]].
* The romantic comedy ''Wimbledon'' actually has this: Paul Bettany's character seems to take on l33t tennis skills only while a comet is in the sky. And yes, he wins Wimbledon, because everyone knows it will take the intervention of God for an Englishman to ever win that tournament again.
* In ''The Brainiac'', a comet carries a magician who escaped execution by transporting himself there and who then returns to earth 300 years later as a monster with forked tongue which he uses to suck peoples brains out.
* ''Film/{{Dragonheart}}: A New Beginning'' features a prophecy where an ancient evil will take hold of the land using a dragon's heart when a two-tailed comet blazes across the sky.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* In Creator/LarryNiven's novel ''Literature/LucifersHammer'', pieces of a comet slam into the Earth and destroy civilization.
* Ditto the book ''Comet Dis'aster'', a book that incidentally has a lot of terror spread about it.
* As the page quote reveals, a comet appears in the sky after the assassination of Theatre/JuliusCaesar, in [[Creator/WilliamShakespeare Shakespeare's]] play of the same name.
* In ''Literature/AClashOfKings'', a comet appears in the sky over Westeros, and is taken as any number of omens, both good and ill.
* In Creator/TadWilliams' ''Literature/MemorySorrowAndThorn'' trilogy, the Conqueror Star is a highly visible comet whose coming is said to portend the fall of empires. Given the limited amount of information presented in the story itself, it's hard to say whether it actually has supernatural powers, but its periodicity is certainly very odd.
* The Red Star in ''Literature/DragonridersOfPern'' is a captured planet in an elongated (comet-like) orbit. When you can see it in the sky, it means that it's nearby... and has dragged a bunch of frozen organisms from the Oort Cloud to the inner solar system with it. These organisms, upon entering Pern's atmosphere, become the Threads. They eat any organic material they can. Crops, wood, grass, fungi... people...
* In one ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' book the characters have traveled to the time of the dinosaurs and see a comet in the sky. Cassie mentions that humans used to believe that comets were a bad omen, and Ax says that Andalites had a similar superstition. Of course, said comet turns out to be the comet that killed the dinosaurs.
* A comet pops up during the siege of a town in ''Literature/ColasBreugnon'', and is taken to be a bad omen, though no one can agree on what it is an omen of or to whom it is bad.
* In the BlackCompany books, a Comet shows up twice in the story and once in the backstory, each time to portend the [[TheChosenOne White]] [[AntiMagic Rose]] coming to battle the [[EvilSorceror forces of]] [[ImplacableMan the]] [[BigBad Dominator]].
* The very old story, ''Hector Servadac'', has the titular hero and several others accidentally travelling into space on pieces of the Earth ripped away by collision with a comet and having to survive while forming a plan to get back to Earth when the comet returns near it again. Somehow, nobody else on Earth notices anything. Crosses over with ScienceMarchesOn.
* A red comet appears in the sky early in Creator/GeorgeRRMartin's ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' series - unusually, the characters aren't universally filled with dread; several of them decide the comet shows divine favour for their side (Daenerys thinks it's a sign that will lead her khalasar to safety; the Lannisters believe it is a sign of good fortune for their family and especially Joffrey; etc.) At the end of ''A Feast for Crows'' it seems to be confirmed that [[spoiler:it's a part of the prophecy of the Prince Who Was Promised]].
** Also used by Martin in "The Plague Star," one of his "[[Literature/TufVoyaging Haviland Tuf]]" stories (chronologically the first); the recurring "star" is actually a (''huge'') derelict starship automated to bombard a planet with bioweapons.
-->If this is found after the plague star has waned, as the night-hunters say it will, do not be deceived. This is no fair world, no world for life. Here is death, and plagues beyond numbering. The plague star will shine again.
* In ''Literature/TheLegendsongSaga'', the comet appears to be the Earth equivalent of the Unraveller, the sign that the balance between [[OrderVersusChaos Chaos and Harmony/Song]] is about to change.
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[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In ''Series/BabylonFive'', the Brakiri solar system contains only one comet with a period of 200 years. The comet is considered a death omen (and the focus of the season five episode "Day of the Dead"). As a result, the Brakiri don't even like comets to be ''mentioned''.
* In the television series ''Series/BeautyAndTheBeast'', a comet was blazing in the sky the night billionaire Elliot Burch is murdered by operatives of his rival, Gabriel. Father marks the occasion by speaking the page quote.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'': In ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS25E3SilverNemesis Silver Nemesis]]'' there is a comet with a period of 25 years that, according to the Doctor, really does bring misfortune: it's actually an alien superweapon that somehow (ahem) wound up in a solar orbit. He cites the the two World Wars and the assassination of JFK as the results of the last three times it came near Earth.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'': red comet during Season 2 coincides with birth of dragons and return of Magic.
* In the third episode of ''Series/CosmosASpacetimeOdyssey'', "When Knowledge Conquered Fear", NeilDegrasseTyson explains the origins of this trope and how it was based in superstition and ignorance of how the solar system worked. He goes on to tell an absolutely ''epic'' version of how Edmund Halley went about utterly crushing this superstition. It ended with Halley's "prophecy" that not only would one particular comet return in 50 years, but accurately and correctly predicting where in the sky it would appear, and how long it would be visible, and how "Halley's Comet" became the best known comet in the history of the world.
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[[folder: Mythology & Religion]]
* In a rare example of a comet being a ''good'' omen, some scholars believe that the [[Literature/TheBible Star of Bethlehem]] was one. Others discount this because of said stigma of comets being doom omens, instead assuming that the event was an alignment of several stars.
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[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]
* In the ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' adventure module ''X2 Castle Amber'', the appearance of a blazing red comet over Averoigne causes an NPC to become a deadly monster.
** "King-Killer Star" of TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms. It ''did'' cause damage, and turned out to be [[spoiler:just a random comet with right period chosen as the trigger condition for a magical device -- until the latter was "hacked"]].
* In the ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'' supplements ''The Year of the Comet'' and ''Wake of the Comet'', the passing of Halley's Comet in 2061 greatly increased the magic level on Earth, which caused SURGE (Sudden Recessive Gene Expression) mutations in (meta)humans, animals and plants, the re-appearance of the dragon Ghostwalker and natural disasters in the Asia that brought down the Japanese Empire.
* The presence of a twin-tailed comet is often seen as an omen to the people of [[TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}} The Empire]], due to the legend that their founder Sigmar's birth was heralded by it's appearance. This is not always seen as a ''good'' omen, however, especially to the city of Mordhiem, which was ''hit'' by one.
* In the Alliances expansion for MagicTheGathering, General Varchild saw a comet which she believed meant that she was to conquer the barbarian tribes as a part of a manifest destiny for her people. So she took her army and began the slaughter.
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[[folder: Video Games ]]
* In ''UltimaV'', each of the Shadowlords has their own comet; if you have a telescope you can determine which city they're in by looking for where the comets are.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII''. Though it's technically a meteor, and not so much an omen of TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt as the cause of it.
** VideoGame/FinalFantasyV also has prophetic falling heavenly bodies, but they are used to help save the world instead of destroy it.
* ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy'' has the Prankster comets.
* A random event in ''EuropaUniversalis'' involves a comet or meteor appearing and the superstitious peasants being concerned enough that your country loses stability. Players complained that the event only had one option, so in each major update the devs added a new option...which also reduced stability. ''[[VideoGame/VictoriaAnEmpireUnderTheSun Victoria 2]]'' also has a Comet Sighted event, but because it's set in [[OutgrownSuchSillySuperstitions more enlightened times]] the comet gives you research points instead.
* ''IllusionOfGaia's'' entire plot is influenced by a comet that returns every few hundred years. Each visit affects all life on Earth in unexpected ways, although the end results thus far (that tend to linger even until the next visitation) are usually the same (mutations, destroyed civilizations, famine, etc.).
* In the ''TabletopGame/CallOfCthulhu'' PC adventure game VideoGame/ShadowOfTheComet , the passing of Halley's Comet coincides with [[EldritchAbomination some truly creepy stuff going down]].
* A comet herald for the arrival of [[BigBad Balor]] in ''VideoGame/{{Myth}}''.
* ''GadgetPastAsFuture''. The player has to gather gizmos to build a spaceship before a comet hits some {{steampunk}}-ish, ''Literature/NineteenEightyFour''-esque eastern European nation.
* In ''ShadowTheHedgehog'', there is the Black Comet. Not an actual comet, however, but a meteoroid that serves as the vessel of [[BigBad Black Doom]] and his army. Black Doom uses the Chaos Emeralds to teleport it into the atmosphere and start sucking energy out of the planet. Fortunately, it turns out that the space colony A.R.K.'s [[KillSat Eclipse Cannon]] was created to [[Awesome/SonicTheHedgehog blow the Black Comet to smithereens. After Shadow teleports it back out into space.]]
* In ''BatenKaitos Origins'', Guillo's strongest special attack, Aphelion Dustwake, showers enemies with the ice trail of a comet. It's quite overpowered.
* In ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'', the "Red Star" that heralds the end of the dominance of the Reptites and beginning of the ascension of mankind as the dominant species is actually [[BigBad Lavos]], and he not only ''heralds'' [[ColonyDrop the change]], [[PhlebotinumKilledTheDinosaurs he causes it]].
* In {{VideoGame/Strife}}, the plot is triggered (some time before the events of the game) by a comet striking the Earth. [[spoiler:The last levels reveal that the "comet" was almost certainly [[BigBad The Entity]]'s spaceship crash-landing -- probably deliberately.]]
* ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime'' is all about this. The first two games are about saving the planet after the comet lands and starts mutating everything / creating an interdimensional rift. The third game has 5: One in the intro sequence that you need to activate an Anti-air cannon in time, three more that already landed and you're trying to fix, and the final one is inside the GeniusLoci planet that makes these to spread its influence.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Happens at least one time in ''WesternAnimation/TheFairlyOddparents''. Of course, Timmy has wished for there to be no noise, and he cannot wish away the comet. Until he figures out that he can use charades ([[ChekhovsGun conveniently played in the early part of the episode]]) to wish for sound.
* This happened at least once in ''WesternAnimation/XiaolinShowdown''. A comet accompanies a mysterious event that could quite easily cause TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt.
* Sozin's Comet from ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'': Its arrival meant a major power boost for the already powerful Firebenders and near certain doom for the Earth Kingdom, which [[OmnicidalManiac Fire Lord Ozai]] planned to literally burn to the ground using the comet boost). In the backstory, the first arrival of the comet a hundred years ago and the power boost it provided for Fire Lord Sozin and his Firebenders heralded the near-extinction of the Airbenders.
* ''Comet in Moominland''s main plot.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSmurfs'' episode "The Comet Is Coming" is a story where the Smurfs think from a message that was torn in transit written by Papa Smurf that the night of a comet's appearance is their last night of living, and so they make preparations insofar as even [[Franchise/{{Superman}} creating a rocket that would send Baby Smurf off to another planet]].
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[[folder:Real Life]]
* A comet was seen in the sky shortly after the death of Creator/GaiusJuliusCaesar. Rather than being seen as a bad omen, the comet was believed to be proof that Julius Caesar had ascended to godhood after his murder.
** Of course, his great-nephew and adopted son Emperor UsefulNotes/{{Augustus}} was gaining power and certainly encouraged this story, meaning he could call himself son of a god.
--> "On the very days of my Games a comet was visible for seven days in the northern part of the sky. It was rising about an hour before sunset, and was a bright star visible from all lands." -- Caesar Augustus
* Tacitus mentions two comet sightings during the reign of the Emperor UsefulNotes/{{Nero}}. Nero was apparently so concerned about each of these two comet sightings (in the years 60 and 66 AD, respectively), thinking that they were omens foretelling the sudden end of his reign, that he had most of the Roman nobility massacred as a means to forstall assassination.
** Just as an interesting aside, the comet in 66 AD was Halley's Comet.
* Months prior to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, Halley's Comet appeared in the sky. The Bayeax Tapestry records not only the appearance of the comet over the battle, but King Harold II of England being informed of the appearance of this ill-omen.
* In 1996, amateur astronomer Chuck Shramek announced that he had found a "Saturn-like object" following the Hale-Bopp comet (closer examination, however, proved that no such object existed). Unfortunately, UFO enthusiasts everywhere latched on to the supposed "fact" that there was an alien spacecraft following the comet. Among the people who got sucked into this fantasy were the members of the Heaven's Gate cult, who chose the appearance of the comet as a signal for their mass suicide. They claimed they were "leaving their earthly bodies behind to travel to the spaceship" that was supposedly following the comet.
* Creator/MarkTwain was born on November 30th, 1835, 20 days after the passing of Halley's Comet on November 10th. In 1909, he had stated, "I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it." Twain passed away on April 21st, 1910, the day after Halley's Comet passed again.
** Incidentally, the 1910 appearance of Halley's Comet was met with some panic. Earth was set to pass through Halley's tail and it had recently been discovered that comet tails contain poisonous gas. While scientists of the time knew it was too diffuse to affect anyone, irresponsible journalists decided to run with the "all life on Earth is about to be wiped out by comet poison" angle. Even more sensationalistic reports suggested the comet was about to hit the Earth. [[SnakeOilSalesman Some enterprising individuals]] took advantage of the situation by selling "anti-comet pills" and " comet-protecting umbrellas". An episode of ''Series/TheTimeTunnel'', titled "End of the World", depicts a [[VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory highly inaccurate]] version of the panic.
* OlderThanDirt: Mentioned on ancient Chinese oracle bones from the late Shang dynasty. A comet was also among the omens thought to have foreboded the fall of the Shang dynasty by the victory of King Wu of Zhou over King Zhou of Shang, c. 1050 BCE.
* [[TheOldestOnesInTheBook Even Older Than Dirt]]: There is a painting of a comet on a cliff wall in central Australia that is estimated to have been created some 9000 to 10,000 years ago. It is surrounded by painted figures of animals, and some paleoanthropologists believe that the comet was taken as an omen for lucky hunting.
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