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[[quoteright:350:[[VideoGame/MSSagaANewDawn http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/GreatFall_2298.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Pretty sure the insurance company won't cover that, [[BlackComedy they were in the blast radius]].]]

->''Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world.''
-->-- '''Music/BobDylan''', "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"

Natural disasters are scary enough, but what about ''super''natural disasters? One way to kick-start a story or motivate characters to pick up TheCall is to threaten the setting with a World-Wrecking Wave. The Wave can have any of a number of triggers; it may happen when the SealedEvilInACan is released, some [[GodOfEvil overwhelming evil force]] unleashes a powerful {{Curse}}, the CosmicKeystone is stolen or corrupted, or a scientific/technological device meant to better things [[GoneHorriblyWrong Goes Horribly Wrong]]. The wave can have any or all of the following effects: natural disasters will be triggered, [[{{Mutants}} mutations]] will affect animal, plant, and even human life, areas will enter the DarkWorld or become haunted and toxic, and millions of {{Mooks}} (monsters, undead or other things) will roam the land and [[EverythingTryingToKillYou attack all humans]].

Once the wave stops rippling, the heroes will be faced with a world gone topsy-turvy. The effects can range from a CosyCatastrophe to AfterTheEnd, and affect anywhere from a town to a universe. It's worth noting that the World-Wrecking Wave '''won't''' [[EndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt destroy the whole world]] nor kill all humans, though it probably represents a big step towards [[ApocalypseHow some form of apocalypse]] or VillainWorld. The Wave is merely an event that whacks the entire setting closer to CrapsackWorld (or ''further down'' the same). Narratively, it isn't supposed to destroy the world either, it's an amped up [[StoryboardingTheApocalypse way to show]] heroes that things can get much, '''much''' worse if [[EvilOnlyHasToWinOnce the bad guys get their way]].

On the plus side, heroes can often SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong, by a piecemeal process involving healing the land one acre at a time, or all at once by healing the FisherKing, going back in time to prevent the event, or using an opposing WorldHealingWave. Also, a World-Wrecking Wave may end up helping the heroes by serving as a MassSuperEmpoweringEvent... though some of those may be {{Lovecraftian Superpower}}s.

Expect a SpreadingDisasterMapGraphic to hammer home the scope of the threat. Compare FantasticNuke, which may set off a World-Wrecking Wave.

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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* One of these gets unleashed upon the ''Manga/{{Berserk}}'' universe when [[spoiler:Griffith uses the Skull Knight's dimension-warping attack to fuse the planes of existence together]].
* Third Impact in ''[[Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion End of Evangelion]]'' manifests using this trope. Wherever the wave passes, the oceans turn red, all people explode into LCL while their souls fly off into low orbit and the ground spontaneously sprouts billions of CreepyCoolCrosses with the entire scene overlaid by '''humanity's collective DeathCryEcho'''. It's utterly [[ApocalypseWow awesome]] and horrifying at the same time.
* ''Manga/SoulEater'''s World-Wrecking Wave is [[EldritchAbomination The Kishin]] and his madness spreading through the world. His release divides the story between a previous and an after, and set up a world slowly being corrupted with the heroes desperate to find him and stop him before it's too late.
* The ''Manga/SilentMobius'' TV series has one in the first episode as a result of the failure of Project Gaia. It passes over a series of major landmarks and we later see some burning ruins.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In Franchise/TheDCU, the God-Wave created the gods out of a lifeless universe, and [[MetaOrigin its echoes]] created {{superhero}}es and {{supervillain}}s.
* ''North Forty'' has a localized World-Wrecking Wave on the town. However, this was only because one of the two (accidental) instigators of the event focused on containing the negative effects with a barrier so they wouldn't be able to leave.
* The Ultimatum Wave, in the UltimateMarvel CrisisCrossover, ''{{Ultimatum}}.'' (Guess what their favorite word is?) It was [[GiantWallOfWateryDoom an actual wave]] and it ended with half the UltimateMarvel cast dead.
* Both the Ultimate Annhilator and the Genesis Waves of [[ArchieComicsSonicTheHedgehog Sonic the Hedgehog]] were this. Subverted in that the results of all three incidences, which were always meant to be destructive, didn't quite turn out how their architects had intended due to sabotage of some kind either before or after implementation. As a result, most of the intended changes didn't take or weren't permanent. [[spoiler: Then its ''doubly'' subverted with the reversion of the last Genesis Wave. Only this time, its ''Eggman'' who sabotages ''Sonic''.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* The Firebird from ''Disney/{{Fantasia 2000}}''.
* Disney's ''Mickey and the Beanstalk''. After the golden harp is stolen, Happy Valley quickly turns into Grimy Gulch. Problems include drought and starvation.
* ''TheCroods'' has [[NoAntagonist no direct antagonist]], so the only danger is the end of the world quakes that are catching up to them.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/SgtPeppersLonelyHeartsClubBand''. The wave of corruption that spreads over Heartland after Mr. Mustard steals the title characters' musical instruments.
* Technically, the Genesis Device from ''Film/{{Star Trek II|The Wrath of Khan}}'' is this. Sure, it can create a completely new biosphere from a dead or lifeless planet... but when used on a world bustling with life, it utterly ''destroys'' the existing ecosystem to replace it with the new one.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* The world of the ''HeraldsOfValdemar'' series by Creator/MercedesLackey is defined in large part by an ancient event known as the Cataclysm, which was a [[FantasticNuke humongous magical detonation]] that devastated vast portions of the landscape and left magical ruin behind. It took the form of a sequence of waves radiating around the planet, and was so powerful that it bent time itself, returning three thousand years later.
* In the {{backstory}} of the first ''ChroniclesOfThomasCovenant'', High Lord Kevin Landwaster enacts the "Ritual of Desecration", releasing one of these in a [[DespairEventHorizon desperate attempt]] to defeat [[BigBad Lord Foul.]] His success is only temporary while seriously [[{{Nerf}} nerfing]] the powers of his successors and ruining the land to boot. [[NiceJobBreakingItHero Well done.]]
* The Darke Domaine in ''Literature/SeptimusHeap'' is a slow version of this.
* In ''Franchise/TheDarkTower'' novel ''Literature/WolvesOfTheCalla'', Roland and the crew experience a "Beamquake" as one of the Beams holding up the Tower gives way. Roland says the land was destroyed for thousands of miles near where the beam snapped.
* Project Starscream in ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear''. Oh, it only affected the one planet, but nothing on that planet survived. Instead the people there became furious [[OurGhostsAreDifferent wraiths]], roaming the dead landscape and attacking some of the people who landed there.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The 6-part documentary ''Miracle Planet'' showed what would happen to the Earth if it got hit by a 300-mile-wide asteroid. A video clip is [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zc4HL_-VT2Y here]]. Watch what happens as the wave of vaporized rock propagates around the world.
* The medical device hacked by the Master in "The End of Time" (Doctor Who).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''Dark Conspiracy''. The release of extradimensional evil on of Jupiter's moons leads to an invasion of modern day Earth, resulting in the creation of areas called Demongrounds.
* ''TabletopGame/WraithTheOblivion'' had six such events, called Maelstroms, ruin the Shadowlands. The first five were triggered by huge disasters or wars in the world of the living that caused huge numbers of ghosts to be thrust into the world of the dead at once. The sixth, final, and most destructive of them was quite different: a series of events triggered a [[NukeEm relic nuclear bomb]] near the mouth of Oblivion. The Sixth Great Maelstrom was so catastrophic it not only took out most of the Shadowlands, but set into motion the events that destroyed the rest of the OldWorldOfDarkness.
** How great was that blast? [[TabletopGame/DemonTheFallen It blew a hole in the gates of Hell.]]
* ''TabletopGame/MonteCooksWorldOfDarkness'' kicks off with such an event after an EldritchAbomination tries to penetrate our dimension. The effects can be scaled to make things better... or ''worse.''
* Several of these happened in the backstory of ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}''. Two notable events include the imprisonment of She Who Lives In Her Name, who decided to erase two-thirds of the things in Creation from existence [[IfICantHaveYou out of jealousy]], and the Balorian Crusade, when TheFairFolk harrowed the borders of Creation and drew vast chunks of the border back into [[RealityIsOutToLunch the Wyld]].
* ''TabletopGame/{{Rifts}}'': The Great Cataclysm. A nuclear war, during [[WhenThePlanetsAlign a planetary alignment]], on the Winter Solstice, equaled a massive burst of magical energy akin to millions of human sacrifices. Every LeyLine activated at once, creating a catastrophic surge of natural disasters... which meant more people died, which meant ''more'' power flooded into the ley lines, which meant ''more'' disasters. In the end, humanity was left standing in the ruins of civilization, with aliens, other-dimensional beings, and demons all dragged onto Earth by the newly-opened portals, wondering what the hell just happened.
* 4th Edition ''[[TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons D&D]]'' was heralded in the TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms by Cyric's murder of Mystra, the goddess of magic. All over the universe, magic burst its bonds. Entire planes of existence were shattered, and part of the planet Toril exchanged itself with a piece of its parallel world Abeir. Many regions of Toril were also infected with a reality-warping, mortal-mutating magical disease, a disease whose name came to describe the entire event: Spellplague.
* ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' has the card [[http://magiccards.info/query?q=Worldfire&v=card&s=cname Worldfire]], which exiles every permanent and every card in every player's hand and graveyard, and sets their life totals to 1. The picture on the card depicts a wave of fire blazing outward from the spell's center.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The ink spill in ''VideoGame/EpicMickey''.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX:'' When the Iifa tree is destroyed, the mist covering the continents is removed, then when the party returns from Terra, it has returned. Though this is an example of the World-Wrecking Wave having been active before the start of the story.
* ''VideoGame/GuildWars'' Nightfall's actual nightfall events work like this, with demons being released in the world, and some areas becoming like the realm of torment.
* The different armageddon events if ''VideoGame/FallFromHeaven'''s Armageddon counter rises, though spread out more over time.
* This is what happens in ''Franchise/MortalKombat'' when Shao Kahn takes control of a realm. In ''VideoGame/MortalKombat3'', he takes control of Earth, resulting in the series going into post-apocalyptic mode.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Okami}}'', removing the sword sealing Orochi causes all of Nippon ("Nippon" is "Japan" in Japanese) to sink into darkness. Large swatches are filled with toxic smog that petrifies humans, plants and animals all over die, buildings are destroyed, and demons roam freely. Thankfully, Amaterasu's first celestial brush techniques, Bloom and Mend, allow you to repair a lot of this damage.
* Guess what the ''VideoGame/{{World of Warcraft}}'' expansion ''[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin Cataclysm]]'' is named after.
** That was the ''second'' WorldWreckingWave to hit Azeroth, with the first being the Great Sundering which ''broke'' the continent into the 4 we know today. There's also whatever happened to Outland, which turned a planet into a series of floating asteroids. A '''''Third''''' WorldWreckingWave hits Azeroth if you don't stop [[BigBad Deathwing]] from using it when you fight him.
*** No, [[IThoughtItMeant not a wave that wrecked the third world]].
* The plasma wall that surrounds the otherdimensional Schwarzwelt in ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiStrangeJourney'', capable of "disassembling any matter that it touches down to a molecular level." It started as a [[PillarOfLight 1m-wide cylinder that stretched upwards in the middle of Antartica]], but it has been expanding steadily ever since. Should the mission to investigate and destroy the Schwarzwelt fail (or should the Main Character die in combat), the wall will suddenly expand so rapidly as to engulf the entire world in ''seconds'', annihilating everything in its path and leaving behind a world of demons. (This is a World Wrecking Wave rather than an ApocalypseHow (though it counts as that too) because if the Schwarzwelt actually did what it was said to be capable of, the result would be more along the lines of "Earth ''vanishing from existence''".)
* The [[ScienceIsBad Scientist's]] special ability in ''VideoGame/{{Spore}}'' is the Gravitation Wave, which instantly wipes out all structures on a planet. Like the more dramatic [[EarthShatteringKaboom Planet Buster]], using it will instantly be a mark against you in the eyes of any nearby space empires.
* [[EldritchAbomination The Destroyer]] from ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfSpyro: Dawn of the Dragon'' will let loose one of these in the event it finishes its trek around the world, destroying it in a wave of fire and ash. [[spoiler:Spyro reverses this by emitting a WorldHealingWave.]]
* The heroes of ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsAlpha'' [[NiceJobBreakingItHero accidentally unleash one of these after killing the final boss of the first game]] and the plot of ''Alpha Gaiden'' revolves around them trying to stop it from hitting Earth and getting trapped in a post-apocalyptic future where they apparently failed.
* In ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', [[spoiler: if your War Assets are low and you choose to destroy the Reapers, the resulting wave tears up what's left of Earth's remaining infrastructure. If they're REALLY low, the wave also wipes out most of the remaining population, as well as most life in the galaxy.]]
* In ''Multiwinia'' (the online version of ''{{VideoGame/Darwinia}}''), the gamemode ''Assault'' ends when the DoomsdayDevice is disabled or goes off; sending a [[DoomyDoomsOfDoom wave of Doom]] and tremor upon the entire map; committing genocide upon the enemy team.
* The page image is the Great Fall from ''VideoGame/MSSagaANewDawn'', an event that wiped out 90% of humanity and destroyed almost all artificial structures. Sixty years later, the game world is mostly open wasteland or forest.
* In ''VideoGame/TheJourneymanProject'', The Temporal Security Agency describes how time is changed due to an alteration in the past as a "Temporal Distortion Wave", which could vary at any speed to reach the present. Depending on what was changed and how, it varies as to how severe the changes turn out to be. In the first game, Gage Blackwood would never be born in the altered timeline, had he not jumped to 200,000,000 BC before the wave hit.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* One of these was an important backstory event in ''Webcomic/WapsiSquare''. The rampaging chimera effectively destroyed civilization 10,000 years before the start of the comic.
* In ''Webcomic/BobAndGeorge'', [[http://www.bobandgeorge.com/archives/000910c Dr. Wily sets out to destroy the comic world.]] [[http://www.bobandgeorge.com/archives/000913c It wrecks the world.]]
* [[spoiler:[[RealityWarper Becquerel]]]] of ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' sets one off when [[spoiler:diverting the massive meteor barreling at Jade as she undertook her entry into the game]]. The result is the blasted wastelands of Earth we see AfterTheEnd when the Exiles come around.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender:'' Phoenix King Ozai attempts this manually with the arrival of Sozen's comet. Through amplified [[PlayingWithFire firebending]], he wanted to burn the Earth Kingdom to the ground from a fleet of airships.
* ''Franchise/{{Bionicle}}'': the Great Catacylsm.
* ''WesternAnimation/DuckTales'' has the Golden Goose, an ArtifactOfDoom that can turn things to gold. If left outside its protective fountain too long, it comes to life and starts randomly turning things to gold. It then sheds its golden coating, which spreads through the ground and threatens to turn the entire world to gold. Only returning the goose to the fountain [[WorldHealingWave reverses the effect]].
* The arrival of [[GodOfEvil Trigon]] in ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' had this effect, turning the entire world into a volcanic wasteland and turning all life on Earth to stone. Raven destroying him (or rebanishing him, it's not exactly clear) triggers a WorldHealingWave.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{The Fairly OddParents}}'' does this in the ''Abra-Catastrophe'' TV movie. When Mr. Crocker becomes the ruler of the world, a montage is shown of one of these turning the world into an {{Egopolis}} where several major monuments are replaced with Crocker statues. In the same special, the characters at one point end up in an AlternateHistory where apes are the dominant lifeform on Earth, which causes a similar wave montage turning the monuments into monkey-related versions.
* Invoked by Jackal/Anubis in the ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'' episode "Grief", as beams of dark energy that age objects and living things into dust, rust, and bones.
* Mainframe Entertainment was fond of the concept, using it in both ''WesternAnimation/ReBoot'' [[spoiler:to spread Daemon's infection]] and ''WesternAnimation/BeastWars'' [[spoiler:creating the Transmetals and Fuzors]].
* In the second-to-last episode of ''WesternAnimation/Ben10UltimateAlien'', Diagon emits a World Wrecking Wave [[spoiler:that turns ''every human being on Earth'' into an Esoterica (except Julie who escapes thanks to Ship encasing her in its power armor form).]]
* Taken to its logical extreme in the Mortis-trilogy of ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars'', where the healing and wrecking wave are following eachother in a constant circle, as part of the planet's [[BalanceOfGoodAndEvil Light and Dark in-balance]] symbolism: when night falls all plants die, and are reduced into ghastly glowing forms, and massive thunder storms start. When dawn approaches all plant life is renewed.
* When Wuya is [[spoiler: returned to physical form]] at the end of ''XiaolinShowdown'''s first season, the region she's in...suffers. Plants die. Rivers dry up. Entire mountains become barren. When she's [[spoiler: sealed away again]], the damage is undone with a WorldHealingWave.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Most reconstructions of the K-T extinction involve a blast of fire and heat moving outwards from the impact site.
** The Tunguska Event probably involved something like this.
* Pyroclastic flows are a small-scale version.
* An ''interstellar'' world-wrecking wave: when a star goes supernova, the explosion may destroy or irradiate nearby planets.
[[/folder]]

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