Cosmic Horror Story
aka: Lovecraftian
Image courtesy of yohkai. Used with permission.

"Now all my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large."

Imagine a universe where even the tiniest spot of hope for the future is blindness in itself, the insane Straw Nihilist yelling about The End of the World as We Know It in the asylum is actually the only one with a clue, and too much curiosity about the true nature of the world is a precursor to a Fate Worse Than Death. A universe where humanity is preyed upon as a mere plaything for all kinds of inconceivable horrors, and all our ideals are naught but cruel illusions; a universe which was once ruled by such eldritch abominations from the depths of space long ago. Nor are they dead; they merely wait, and soon they shall wake. They shall return to rule this world, and all our grandest achievements shall have been in vain. For all our blind hubris we are but mice in the wainscoting, making merry while the cat's away—but even today, the world is more dangerous than we may know.

Take one step away from the comforts of home, and you will find terror and madness on every nook and corner — dark cults, hideous monstrosities, truths so terrible that none may comprehend them and remain sane. Demons gibber in the tunnels beneath your feet. Parasites and worms slither unseen in whatever food or drink you dare put into your mouth. Ghosts hover unseen and unheard around you, discerning and mocking your every thought and secret. The vile essence of an alien disease lurks in the recesses of your own family tree, a genetic time bomb just waiting to go off...

Such was the vision of H.P. Lovecraft, pioneer, Trope Maker, and Trope Codifier of the Cosmic Horror Story. This type of fiction doesn't just scare you with big, ugly monsters—though it can certainly have them—it depresses you with the fatalistic implication of being insignificantly powerless before such vast, unknowable and fundamentally alien entities. On the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, it sometimes lies near the cynical Despair Event Horizon.

If you aren't sure if a work is a Cosmic Horror Story or not, ask yourself these questions:
  • Is the antagonist evil or uncaring on a cosmic scale? We're talking a Big Bad who is capable of destroying humanity, planet Earth, the universe, or all three and doing so with very little, if any, preparation and/or intent, and with about as much effort as it takes you to swat a mosquito that's landed on your arm.
  • Is the attitude of the antagonist towards humanity disregard, simple pragmatism, or incidental hatred? (A godlike antagonist that actively hates humanity and its works is more in line with Rage Against the Heavens or God Is Evil.) Does the antagonist have a worldview and motivations that doesn't really seem to take humanity into account? Are the motivations of the antagonist difficult to explain using human terms?
  • Are the antagonist or its minions so alien in appearance or mentality that simply being near them or even seeing them is enough to drive a human to madness?
  • Are the antagonist or its minions indescribable -- literally? Lines like "I cannot find the words to describe the vile thing I saw..." are a hallmark of Cosmic Horror Stories.
  • Is the tone of the work deeply pessimistic about the possibility of the antagonist being defeated completely? If it isn't, the work is more likely to be Lovecraft Lite.

Answering "No" to more than two of these means that the work is probably not a Cosmic Horror Story, although it may share tropes with the genre.

Common tropes in Cosmic Horror Stories include:

The genre is sometimes called "Cosmic Horror", Lovecraftian Fiction, or Weird Fiction. Very likely to use Paranoia Fuel and invoke an atmosphere similar to Room 101; both tropes play with the fear of that unknown thing that happens to traumatize all those who encounter it. A Despair Event Horizon or a Downer Ending can be used to add to the depressing atmosphere. Compare/contrast with Gothic Horror (on which prose the first Cosmic Horror Stories, like those from Lovecraft himself, borrowed), Dark Fantasy, Crapsack World, Mind Screw and Through the Eyes of Madness.

Note that while the Cthulhu Mythos Shared Universe originated in the Cosmic Horror fiction of H.P. Lovecraft, a Cosmic Horror Story need not refer to the Mythos or borrow from its imagery. Lovecraft Lite goes a step further than that by either giving the setting some genuine hope or playing it for laughs.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The notorious works of indie comics artists Al Columbia and Hans Rickheit and, at times, Edward Gorey.
  • A Donald Duck comic, The Call of C'Rruso, of all things, features this as its story. Donald tries out for a singing competition organized by a renowned musician, and gets successfully recruited by having his voice altered by an apparent twin of this musician. It's later revealed that the entire world is actually the dream of Ar-Finn, a primordial cephalophoid monster which slumbers in an ancient city at the bottom of the sea. The two twins are manifestations of the monster's conflicting subconscious desires to either continue sleeping or wake up (which Donald's voice will make it do). When the creature does exactly that, the rest of the world vanishes as it no longer creates the world-dream, and everything in its vicinity shapes itself into its image, resulting in Donald and his nephews growing tentacles and stick eyes. It's eventually put back to sleep, but the story ends on a rather dark note as Donald contemplates everybody's existence as mere parts of the creature's imagination.
  • El Eternauta. The aliens called "Hands", who are smarter and more evolved than human beings, are actually unwilling puppets of higher entities that they only dare to call "Them", and they even define "Them" as the "cosmic hate". "Them" are never shown.
  • Fall of Cthulhu by BOOM Comics. Their other lovecraftian series Cthulhu Tales however, being an Anthology Comic, had a lot of individual stories fall into Lovecraft Lite instead.
  • The Filth, from Creator/Grant Morrison, arguably. But Secret Original is living in this: A Captain Ersatz of Golden Age Superman, he discovered his world had no free will and went to change this, by coming into reality. And the reality is: He is just a comic book character...
  • There was an Anthology Comic series from Vertigo called Flinch. In one story, a massive fan of Lovecraft eventually grows up with the realization "We don't deserve monsters" and loses all wonder of creatures out there.
  • It's still uncertain whether Hellboy and B.P.R.D. are this or Lovecraft Lite. It appeared at first to be the latter, but the monsters are getting nastier, and Hellboy is getting increasingly desperate.
  • Leviathan shown in Hellbound: Hellraiser II was described in supplementary graphic novels to be the true Eldritch Abomination.
  • Jonathan Hickman's Avengers is this applied to an entire superhero multiverse; as its main Arc Words put it: "Everything Dies". A number of foundational Marvel heroes, including Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, and Black Panther, are forced to judge whether to kill other Earths to temporarily save their own as The Multiverse is suddenly locked into an inescapable death spiral. One of them does. On the other side, the optimism of the likes of Captain America and the Great Society (a Captain Ersatz Justice League of America from a parallel universe) is ultimately exposed as meaningless and ineffective against the end of everything. Oh, and also the beings in charge of running the Multiverse want to kill the Earth and any worlds in their way of doing that, and even they're on their last legs because they've been attacked by an unimaginable force far bigger and more powerful than themselves. By the end of the run it's revealed all of this is the result of Eldritch Abomination cosmic beings known as the Beyonders living outside reality, who consider themselves Above Good and Evil. Everything has just been them conducting a callous experiment on the results of the destruction of all creation, and they've already slaughtered every high-tier cosmic being that might have been tasked with stopping them, with the few heroes that manage to confront them such as Thor and Hyperion being destroyed effortlessly. The run concludes with Captain America and Iron Man, the leaders of Earth's Greatest Heroes, dying fighting each other out of spite over mutual betrayals as the universe explodes around them, and there was nothing anyone ever could have done to stop it.
  • Both Marvel and DC are this to some extent, especially with Galactus or the Beyonder for the former, and Starro or the Anti-Monitor for the latter. Crisis Crossover events usually involve cosmic threats great enough to leave the world, if not the entire universe, fundamentally changed afterwards.
  • James Tynion IV's Memetic. The long and short of it is a meme of a sloth induces madness in people within twelve hours of seeing it, culminating in the human race fusing together into skyscraper-tall towers just in time to greet an incoming Eldritch Abomination.
  • The Sandman stories focus on abstract beings of incomprehensible power and age that govern the whole of reality, and where supernovae exploding and wiping out solar systems of intelligent life are so common that they only mention them in passing.
    • An example of a more Mind Screwingly surreal Cosmic Horror Story is A Tale of Two Cities, which is told in the manner of a Lovecraftian ghost story and has a man become lost in a city's dream (i.e. cities have a sort of collective personality shaped by their inhabitants, and if they have a personality, why can't they dream? In Sandman, this sort of logic applies to many of the anthropomorphic personifications and their realms) and meets a man who has been lost there for countless years, but still prefers the possibility of wandering through the city's dream to the alternative: "That the city should wake. That it should wake and-" but he gets distracted before he can tell us what might happen if a dreaming city woke up.
    • In A Dream of a Thousand Cats it is shown that if enough people dream the same thing at once (and it's not a large number, only a thousand or so) they can not only directly change the physical world, they can change history so that the world has always been in its "new" form, and the "old" world not only ceases to exist, but is Ret Goned from the entirety of history so that it never existed at all.
    • That the Dreaming is a place inhabited by sentient creatures makes the end of A Game of You where Dream uncreates the skerry (a land that is apparently as vast and heavily populated as a country) a true Biblical apocalypse for its inhabitants. He quite casually confirms that he could recreate the land and resurrect the inhabitants exactly as they were before if he chose to, adding an almost Religious Horror to it, as it shows just how powerful he is, and how insignificant sentient beings are in comparison.
    • A story where Haroun-al Rashid makes a bargain with Dream to preserve his perfect, magical city from the inevitable ravages of time by giving the entire city to Dream to take into his realm and preserve it forever in his stories. The story is relatively Lighter and Softer compared to some of the others (which tells you quite a lot about them!), but it still involves a real city being effortlessly transformed into a fantasy by the protagonist of the series.
    • At the same time, one of these abstract beings (Morpheus himself) claims that he and his siblings are merely the servants, the dolls, of mortals. For better or for worse, mortals are the dominant power in creation.
  • A possible interpretation of the final story in Warren Ellis's Beware the Superman triptych, Supergod, with the twist that humanity is ultimately responsible for the very creation of the incomprehensible god-things whose very existence renders it insignificant and extinct.
  • The Thanos Imperative was a storyline where the main Marvel Universe was invaded by the Cancerverse, a version of the Marvel universe where every living thing in the universe was made immortal by Eldritch Abominations (and turned into hideous tentacle-beard monsters in the process) and got too full of its own version of life and started to invade other universes to spread.
  • Grant Morrison's Zenith mainly fought the Lloigor, shapeless body-stealing beings from beyond time and space who can consume reality. Turns out they're actually the first-generation superheroes who "self-evolved" into Reality Warper Gods and subsequently went mad with power, but were forced to live outside normal space-time since their own universe was too fragile to hold them. And they want back in. Badly.

  • Aftermath: Population Zero: After humanity disappears, most signs of its civilization disappear within a few centuries' time, the remainder after the next ice age. Other lifeforms move on and adapt. Planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old, the universe three times that length of time; humanity's whole existence was just the blink of an eye.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live Action 
  • John Carpenter's "apocalypse trilogy" (The Thing, Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness) is an escalation of the trope over the 3 movies: first, a protean, invasive lifeform threatening to subsume in itself every living thing on the planet in a desolate antarctic setting reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft's At The Mountains Of Madness; then a liquid corruption that turns out to be Satan, and whose goal is to bring to our world its true father, the Anti-God, in an old church being investigated by academics from an establishment similar to Miskatonic University; and finally, ineffable, unreal horrors attempting to find purchase in our reality through the writings of a Mad Artist and his previously-fictitious Town with a Dark Secret in the middle of Lovecraft Country, all the while screwing over the protagonist in such a way that it was formerly the Trope Namer for Through the Eyes of Madness.
    • Arguably also the original short story Who Goes There?? which inspired The Thing, although not quite as bleak.
    • The Thing from Another World has elements of this as well, with the monster being an alien unlike anything on Earth (apart from its humanoid appearance) and a being who is nearly impossible to destroy. The main narrative comes off more as Lovecraft Lite, but it's implied at the end that there's more of those things out there, and they may come attack again at any time.
  • The original ending to Army of Darkness had more than a touch of this as in it, Ash drinks too much of the sleeping potion and wakes up After the End, which given how freaky the scenery is was likely a result of the supernatural forces mentioned in the Necronomicon running rampant.
  • Right from the start, The Cabin in the Woods shows that it's not your typical "dumb kids go in the middle of nowhere to get killed off one by one", given that everything is planned and monitored by a nebulous but obviously very well-funded organisation... It's because that organisation's goal turns out to be to provide sadistic entertainment to beings known as the Ancient Ones, who'll otherwise destroy the world. They have bases throughout the world, each enacting scenarios in accordance to the prevalent Horror Tropes of their country/culture, so that at least one succeeds; in the end, they all fail, and the film closes on an Ancient One's titanic arm bursting from the ground.
  • Event Horizon, in which "Hell" is the easiest way for the characters to describe hyperspace, but some elements suggest it to be far, far worse. Warhammer 40,000 fans like to joke that the film is a prequel.
  • The Final Destination series has its protagonists cheating Death and trying to survive the consequences. Death is never presented as a defeatable force, and is unimaginably cruel about how it goes about balancing the books. And no matter what the characters do, Death will always claim them, even if it has to break the laws of possibility and probability to do so.
  • The Forgotten turns out to be one. Telly and Ash's children were kidnapped by Eldritch Abominations and put through all that hell because they were experimenting. The Abominations have the ability to snatch people right out of the air and instantly make any person close to you forget who you are. They have human agents that go along with them because they can't stop them. There's a happy ending, but only because the Abominations said the experiment failed.
  • While Italian director Lucio Fulci's horror movies are usually more remembered for their bizarre dream-logic and outrageously gory kills, at least two (The Beyond and City of the Living Dead) can be considered to be Cosmic Horror Stories, as both are deeply nihilistic, concern themselves with incomprehensibly malevolent supernatural forces, and end very badly for pretty much everybody. The links to the Cthulhu Mythos (The Beyond features the Book of Eibon as a MacGuffin, and most of City of the Living Dead takes place in a town named Dunwich) help a bit.
  • The Ju On series and its American remake series, The Grudge are actually quite young in regards to the time scale of the horror since the curse only started in the past 10 years or so before the events of the films, but for all respects they have the characteristics of a Cosmic Horror Story. The curse itself was technically a jealousy-turned-murder-turned-revenge story gone wrong, but it seems that the fulfillers of the curse have strayed from this path to include everyone, even (and especially) the innocent ones, as their targets. Once you do as little as taking a little a step inside the vicinity of the house or being associated with someone already cursed, it doesn't matter if you're in the cursed house, in your own residence, in your school, in the hospital, in the countryside, or even in another part of the world (the second and third American films take place in Chicago) or if you think that you're safe for a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a year, or even 10 years (the third Japanese film's third act is set a decade after the others), it will always claim you. It's best exemplified in the third Japanese film. The whole of Tokyo is deserted, apparently having each and every one of its inhabitants claimed by the curse.
  • Possession, a film by Andrzej Zulawski which maps Cosmic Horror Story onto a disintegrating marriage.
  • The Toho Universe, i.e. the fictional universe the Toho Studios films take place in. Invading aliens, Kaiju, ancient civilizations that worship unearthly beings, and humanity just barely able to survive any of the ongoing mayhem. Even films that have happier endings still heavily imply that the danger is far from over and that humanity are essentially insects to the giant monsters that rampage across the world.
    • Gojira is this as well as an allegory for the atomic bomb. A giant ancient monster is awoken/mutated by nuclear testing and ends up wreaking havoc upon humanity. Godzilla ends up destroying Tokyo, swats down airplanes and crushes tanks like they're little more than flies, and is impervious to conventional weaponry. At the end, it takes something worse than the monster to kill it (i.e. The Oxygen Destroyer). And, even then it's heavily implied that Godzilla wasn't the only one of his kind. Cue the sequels.
    • Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster. A princess becomes possessed by the spirit of a long-extinct being from Mars (or Venus depending on which version you are watching) who proceeds to try and warn humanity about their impending doom. Meanwhile, a giant meteor has landed on earth and seems to be growing. Said meteor then bursts open revealing Ghidorah, a giant three-headed space dragon that goes from planet to planet wiping out all life. Why? Just for the hell of it. It takes the combined efforts of Mothra, Godzilla, and Rodan (three already powerful monsters that made humans seem like insignificant ants in comparison) just to drive him away.
    • While Matango lacks the space aliens and kaiju of other Toho films, it certainly has its share of inhuman horrors. A group of sailors end up washed up on an island that's strangely inhabited by a lot of unusual mushrooms. They find another boat washed up that belonged to a research crew, but said crew seems to have disappeared. And then we find out what happens when someone eats the mushrooms.
    • Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack!. Not only do you have the Godzilla returning from the first film as a vengeful zombie-thing possesed by the spirits of those who died in World War II, but you also have three kaiju that were so feared by people that they were actually worshipped as gods. Said three gods (Mothra, Baragon, and Ghidorah) are awoken to help protect Japan against Godzilla's wrath due to the JSDF once again being useless against him. And, even then, the most powerful of the three god-monsters (Ghidorah, who also happens to be the Yamato No Orochi) is no match against Godzilla.
    • Godzilla VS Space Godzilla centers around Godzilla going up against his alien clone. To give an idea as to how dire the situation is, when asked what would happen if Space Godzilla were to defeat his earthly counterpart, the Shobijin refuse to answer. As if that wasn't bad enough, the ending of the film also implies that Godzilla's battle with Space Godzilla was the catalyst that causes Godzilla to become Burning Godzilla.
    • The Legendary Pictures reboot film centers around the premise that hundreds of millions of years ago Earth was dominated by radiation-feeding giants, but some have survived. A mere three of them in the modern day threaten to wipe out human civilisation entirely, with the M.U.T.O (Massive Unknown Terrestrial Organism) pair destroying any electronics and are a breeding pair with possibly thousands of eggs, while Godzilla himself creates tidal waves just by rising from the ocean and in the past shrugged off multiple nukes to the face. The most powerful military on the planet can only serve as a distraction, and the only thing that can be done is hope Godzilla kills the MUTOs, as he doesn't like them anymore than humans do.
  • Vanishing on 7th Street gives us a phenomenon that can consume entire cities. Darkness becomes a sentient, malevolent force that hunts down and absorbs everyone it can, leaving only Empty Piles of Clothing and turning those it snatches up into shadows in its thrall. Light can keep the shadows at bay, but becomes harder and harder to sustain the longer the phenomenon is active, and the daylight hours grow shorter and shorter. There is no reason or explanation for this phenomenon, only the growing, desperate sense of inevitable doom. It's heavily implied that the will to live is the key to surviving this, but even then the darkness does everything it can to break the resolve of the few remaining survivors, and succeeds in almost every case.
  • The V/H/S films. Essentially, a large collection of tapes appear throughout various places portraying strange and disturbing supernatural events. The tapes are a Brown Note and watching them drives people into murderous insanity and resurrects the dead as violent zombies. The wraparound of the third film has an unseen force or cult uploading footage from the tapes to phones and computers in a city. In the end, the force behind the tapes manipulate the protagonist into activating a mass upload that presumably causes mass destruction as people all over the world go insane and begin attacking everyone around them.


  • Algernon Blackwood's "The Willows" takes place in an Eldritch Location where the boundaries between our reality and another reality have worn thin. It's very eerie and otherworldly and places a lot of emphasis on incomprehensible reality and human insignificance.
  • Robert W. Chambers's book The King in Yellow, which was an influence on Lovecraft himself, and he made references to it that are now better known than the original source. Filled with Mind Screw and Take Our Word for It.
  • William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land and The House on the Borderland are also notable forerunners.
  • H. P. "Grandpa Cthulhu" Lovecraft and his Weird Tales colleagues - Clark Ashton "Klarkash-ton" Smith, Robert E. "Two-Gun Bob" Howard, etc. - who started the whole Cthulhu Mythos thing (although it wasn't actually named, nor any kind of cohesive whole, until August Derleth laid hands on it) as a collective attempt to lend their works an air of authenticity, by sharing common elements and references as if the stories were actually based on Real Life sources. And it worked - there are now people who genuinely believe the Necronomicon is a real existing book and that Cthulhu was worshiped by ancient Sumerians.
  • The works of Arthur Machen were a huge influence on Lovecraft, particularly his 1894 novella The Great God Pan, which gives us the eponymous Eldritch Abomination and was the basis for Lovecraft's own story "The Dunwich Horror". Machen wrote other works of this kind, though The Great God Pan stands out as the most significant.
  • Guy de Maupassant's short story "The Horla" is another influence on Lovecraft, with its motifs of a cosmos harbouring unknown terrors and, closer to home, a malevolent, intangible organism capable not only of possessing humans but of one day replacing them as a species. Unless, that is, it's just the narrator gradually going mad.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, of which Lovecraft's own seminal At the Mountains of Madness is a Spiritual Successor if not outright sequel.
  • H. G. Wells:
    • The War of the Worlds, in which a race of Martians arrives on Earth in cylinders containing hundreds of them each. They build gigantic fighting machines capable of leveling cities and killing enormous groups of people very quickly. The military uses just about everything that would have been available at the time, ranging from canons to the ironclad Thunder Child (the ironclad is even replaced by an atomic bomb in the 1953 film), and the best they can do is occasionally stall the Martians before being incinerated. By the second half of the book England is a deserted wasteland with barely anyone left alive. The narrator himself refers to the invasion as "the beginning of the rout of civilization". The only thing that saves humanity is the Martians' bodies being vulnerable to unfamiliar bacteria.
    • The Time Machine has some shades of cosmic horror as well, so far as it emphasizes mankind's insignificance—the protagonist travels thousands of years into the future only to discover that rather than advance, mankind has devolved into two primitive species, the Eloi and the Morlocks (though the 1960 film version was slightly more optimistic, and suggested that it may be possible to rebuild civillization). After that whole adventure he travels further into the future to a point where Earth is implied to be dying and humanity is heavily implied to be gone completely.
  • The Abyss Laughs by A.R. La Baere revolves around the unraveling of the cosmos by the resurrection of the Old Ones, Outer Gods, and various alien races. An homage to House of Leaves, The King in Yellow, and Lovecraft, the novel will expand to a million words.
  • Many stories by Clive Barker, Skins Of The Fathers particularly. They have all the themes: Artifacts of Doom, Eldritch Abominations, Eldritch Locations, and a general sense of dread and fear caused by contact with higher beings that just might not have humanity's best intentions in mind.
  • Jorge Luis Borges wrote the short story There Are More Things in Lovecraft's memory. The story tells the encounter the narrator has with a monstrous extraterrestrial inhabiting an equally monstrous house.
  • Ramsey Campbell, like fellow brits Brian Lumley and Graham Masterton, is one of the most influential latter-day contributors to the Cthulhu Mythos, especially in his earlier works; there's a reason he's Trope Namer for Campbell Country, after all.
  • Fiona van Dahl's Eden Green has the title character explore an abandoned alien world, including the mountain fortress of an extinct but advanced race, in search of the origin of an alien needle parasite currently threatening her home city. Her nightmares before and after hint that she (like Earth) is a tiny speck in the larger picture.
  • Mark Z. Danielewski's debut novel House of Leaves. As a book about a book about a film about a House that is a maze (or, in short, a book that is a maze), it layers its Mind Screw into several overlapping narratives, all commenting on each other note  , accompanied by some seriously screwed-up typography, all to give the reader the sense of disorientation one would feel inside the ever-shifting, enigmatic house. It's made particularly explicit when the protagonist of the A-story says that the eponymous house actually is God.
  • Neil Gaiman:
  • John Hodgman's That Is All has a day by day summary of Ragnarok in 2012. 700 Ancient and Unspeakable Ones destroy the world over the course of the year, killing humanity and any chance of civilization rebuilding in horrific and sometimes darkly humorous ways.
  • Stephen King likes tropes associated with this genre, particularly Eldritch Abominations, although most often they're limited in how much they can affect the world. He also uses Lovecraft Country a lot (many of his works are set in New England, most often rural Maine).
    • In IT, the eponymous monster is perceived as a Giant Spider by the protagonists, because this was the closest analogue that their rational minds could find for Its appearance. Attempting to fight It can result one's mind being flung beyond the edge of the universe, then being driven mad by the Deadlights (which It is merely an appendage of). After the protagonists succeed in killing It, they magically forget about the entire incident; apparently this was the only way they could have lived a normal life afterward.
    • "The Mist" describes what happens when ordinary folk are confronted with an encroaching alternate reality that gradually enshrouds everything in an unnatural fog filled with predatory Eldritch Abominations. (Although as the novella explicitly states, they aren't truly "Lovecraftian" horrors, in that they can bleed and die, particularly if they are set on fire.)
    • In The Dark Tower several hints are dropped regarding entities and realities of this magnitude, especially in regards to "Todash Darkness and the unspeakable things that dwell there in the black never between realities". The scenes in Book Seven regarding Roland, Susannah, and Oy fleeing through Castle Discordia from one of these things that somehow got OUT of Todash are laced with suggestive themes about what would happen when the Tower falls and Todash sets these critters loose on all the many universes.
    • Revival is revealed to be this in its closing chapters, when we're shown a glimpse of the afterlife: it consists of everyone who dies being herded naked across a barren landscape by cruel, ant-like monsters to "serve the Great Ones in Null", where there will be "No death, no light, no rest." Ruling over this hellscape is "Mother", an enormous creature made of human faces that will, if anyone voices the slightest bit of resistance, tear the sky open and drive everyone it can touch to murder, suicide, insanity, or all three.
    • Under the Dome: The titular dome is the creation of alien children at play. It's only lifted when the protagonists momentarily induce a sense of pity in one of the children.
  • In C. S. Lewis's Perelandra, after Weston returns to his body which had heretofore been possessed by a bent eldil, the picture he paints of the afterlife suggests a Cosmic Horror universe: Reality as we know it is just a thin shell surrounding an endless abyss of nothingness, and ultimately nothing humanity does matters. However, this being a novel by C.S. Lewis, he's wrong about the universe; and it's suggested that this wasn't even Weston talking, but an eldil impersonating Weston in hopes of discouraging Ransom.
    "This is the terrible fix we are in. If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless. But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again....God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from."
  • Thomas Ligotti is a practitioner of cosmic horror, in works such as "Nethescurial":
    "See, there is no shape in the fireplace. The smoke is gone, gone up the chimney and out into the sky. And there is nothing in the sky, nothing I can see through the window. There is the moon, of course, high and round. But no shadow falls across the moon, no churning chaos of smoke that chokes the frail order of the earth, no shifting cloud of nightmares enveloping moons and suns and stars. It is not a squirming, creeping, smearing shape I see upon the moon, not the shape of a great deformed crab scuttling out of the black oceans of infinity and invading the island of the moon, crawling with its innumerable bodies upon all the spinning islands of inky space. That shape is not the cancerous totality of all creatures, not the oozing ichor that flows within all things. Nethescurial is not the secret name of the creation. It is not in the rooms of houses and beyond their walls... beneath dark waters and across moonlit skies... below earth mound and above mountain peak... in northern leaf and southern flower... inside each star and the voids between them... within blood and bone, through all souls and spirits... among the watchful winds of this and the several worlds... behind the faces of the living and the dead."
  • Sarah Monette's The Necromantic Mysteries of Kyle Murchison Booth stories take place in a Cosmic Horror Story universe — unsurprisingly, as she openly acknowledges Lovecraft as a major influence.
  • Michael Moorcock:
    • The Elric Saga's world has many, many ancient evils that used to rule the world and now lie around decaying and waiting to destroy any traveler they meet. Elric himself rules over the remnants of one of these evil empires, and his patron god is an Eldritch Abomination (as are virtually all the other gods; Warhammer's Order Versus Chaos theme was clearly inspired by Moorcock's work, at least until they decided to get rid of the Order part). The final book involves the world being completely remade by the Eldritch Abominations, and the "good" ending to the story accepts this as inevitable.
    • In the Corum series the title character fights against Elric's Lords of Chaos in the first series, and in the second series against a group of Eldritch Abominations who are based on the elemental forces of cold and death.
    • An interesting variation is The Dancers at the End of Time: Humanity itself is the source of the horror. Having reached omnipotence through enormously energetically costly technology, they dramatically sped up the heat death of the universe, and the few surviving races still coexisting with humanity are witnessing the stars dying at a frightening rate. Also, since this is a Moorcock story, there is also the implication that some of the Abominations who are wreaking havoc in Elric's universe - including Elric's own Patron God - are in fact Dancers who decided to take part in wars between gods to stave off their boredom.
  • Sean O'Hara's My Dark And Fearsome Queen: Plato was right — except we're the shadows on the wall. And sometimes people from outside enter the cave and alter our existence by their mere presence. Even the nominal good guys don't much care how this affects us. And too much alteration of our "reality" causes distortions, which manifest through Eldritch Abominations.
  • WH Pugmire writes this genre from an unusual angle. Some of his stories are from inhuman perspectives, while many of his human protagonists actively seek fates like dissolution in the cosmic ether.
  • Cthulhu's Reign, edited by Darrell Schweitzer, is an anthology of short stories on what life - well, existence anyway - on Earth would be like when the Old Ones return.
  • Charles Stross's The Atrocity Archives and its sequels take place in a world where bureaucratic top secret government agencies even more covert and shadowy than MI-5 and the CIA battle Eldritch Abominations attracted to reality after Alan Turing discovered a theory that allowed the user to warp reality with computers and the Nazis attempted to summon the Great Old Ones using the souls of those slaughtered in the Holocaust to win the Second World War. CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, where the Elder Gods devour the world, is definitely going to happen; the only question is how long we've got, and the best estimates have it as a matter of a few years ... if we're lucky.
  • Peter Watts's Blindsight is essentially Cosmic Horror Story made realistic and scientifically hard. The novel deals with characters that display psychopathic or sociopathic traits, and is set in a future in which the basic human sense of worth is undermined by the social implications of new technologies. However the true cosmic horror is revealed near the end; the aliens are actually all impossible-to-understand beings that are non-sapient. Sentience itself is an aberration and perceived by the aliens as a blight on the galaxy. In fact things like art cause them pain, making them want to kill anything that displays emotion or empathy. The sequel goes even further, examining the theory of a holographic universe; namely that the universe could just be one big simulation, with the laws of physics being the programming and God being the virus that breaks them.
  • In Jack Williamson's short story "Born of the Sun", the planets of the Solar system are actually eggs of space-dwelling dragon-like monsters that start hatching. Pluto first.
  • The Adversary Cycle by F. Paul Wilson depicts a struggle between two forces over Earth — the Otherness and the Ally. Neither of them care about humanity — it's just a counter in a galaxy-spanning conflict for an unknown goal, and implied to be a relatively worthless one at that. The Ally protects Earth simply because the Otherness wants it, and the protagonists serve the Ally only because the consequences of the Otherness taking over Earth are far, far worse.
  • David Wong's John Dies at the End and its sequel This Book is Full of Spiders are Cosmic Horror masquerading as Lovecraft Lite. The antagonists are Eldritch Abominations from parallel realities or stranger places intent on entering our reality and shaping it to suit them. It's strongly implied by the end of the second book that the only reason they haven't been successful so far is that there are so many of these things trying to invade our reality that their various plans and agents keep interfering with each other.
  • Chris Wooding's The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray has the standard deluded-fools-summoning-eldritch-abominations plot.
  • ''Cthulhu Armageddon zig-zags between this and Lovecraft Lite. Humankind has survived the Great Old Ones rising and become a New Old West and Weird West combination. However, humankind is gradually dying out and their greatest champion is a Humanoid Abomination. Then it goes From Bad to Worse.

    Live Action TV 
  • Angel is closer to Lovecraft Lite for most of its run but lurches into Cosmic Horror in its final season, what with the protagonists wrestling with the futility of their battles and the certain knowledge that everything they've done has either been a minor inconvenience to The Senior Partners, or helped their schemes. The final scene of the series is the surviving characters preparing to fight a massive army of demons, with the implication that they will either die having achieved nothing, or fight for all eternity.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The series heavily implies that the Last Great Time War became this by the end. Entire civilizations were rendered extinct or simply wiped from existence, armies of Eldritch Abominations were created and used as weapons, the Daleks became deranged and maniacal even by their standards, the Time Lords were perfectly willing to destory time in an attempt to save their own skins, and the Doctor - usually a Badass Pacifist who tries to find a solution that won't kill anyone - was so horrified that he (tried to) kill off everyone involved just to contain it.
    • There's also the backstory of the Toclafane, who turn out to be the last remnants of humanity, having discovered that there was no escape from the entropy consuming all existence, and became some kind of terrifying Hive Mind race of sociopaths in order to hang on just a little longer. It's shown that merely seeing where the universe ends up is enough to turn the Master's human wife into a Straw Nihilist.
  • Farscape borders on this at times. While the universe as a whole isn't overtly threatened by any Eldritch Abomination, it does show mankind's insignificance in a vast cosmos that is almost entirely unaware of its existence; when it is discovered, the only safe option is to deliberately cut Earth off from the rest of the galaxy. In the event that it hadn't, arguably the most optimistic possible future for human race was to be colonized by the Scarran Imperium and used for casual sex by Scarran officers on shore leave- the next generation of humans being almost entirely comprised of Scarran hybrids. For good measure, the Uncharted Territories alone are populated by countless varieties of nightmarish creatures and impossible beings, most of them extremely hostile or at the very least antagonistic towards other races. Worse still, the nearest things to gods in this setting (be they Sufficiently Advanced Aliens or truly godlike Energy Beings) are amoral and uninterested in anything outside their sphere of influence- at best; at worst, they're murderous kill-crazy bastards who are actually empowered by mass-slaughter. And tellingly enough, Crichton's final victory was only possible thanks to the sponsorship of one of the least' selfish group of entities from beyond reality.
  • Sapphire and Steel took place in a universe threatened by formless evils. The (presumably) non-human "Elements" Steel and occasionally even the more sympathetic Sapphire, could, on occasion seem alien themselves.
  • Twin Peaks, especially in the second season with the gradual reveal that under a quiet and reasonably cheerful town it turns out there are mysterious otherworldly beings, including one who delights in possessing people's bodies and committing brutal murders, though he is found and apparently defeated until he possesses Cooper's body in the season finale. Then of course there's The Black Lodge.

  • According to David Bowie, this is a possible interpretation of his album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars:
    The time is five years to go before the end of the earth. It has been announced that the world will end because of lack of natural resources. Ziggy is in a position where all the kids have access to things that they thought they wanted. The older people have lost all touch with reality and the kids are left on their own to plunder anything. Ziggy was in a rock-and-roll band and the kids no longer want rock-and-roll. There's no electricity to play it. Ziggy's adviser tells him to collect news and sing it, 'cause there is no news. So Ziggy does this and there is terrible news. 'All The Young Dudes' is a song about this news. It's no hymn to the youth as people thought. It is completely the opposite...The end comes when the infinites arrive. They really are a black hole, but I've made them people because it would be very hard to explain a black hole on stage...Ziggy is advised in a dream by the infinites to write the coming of a Starman, so he writes 'Starman', which is the first news of hope that the people have heard. So they latch onto it immediately...The starmen that he is talking about are called the infinites, and they are black-hole jumpers. Ziggy has been talking about this amazing spaceman who will be coming down to save the earth. They arrive somewhere in Greenwich Village. They don't have a care in the world and are of no possible use to us. They just happened to stumble into our universe by black hole jumping. Their whole life is travelling from universe to universe. In the stage show, one of them resembles Brando, another one is a Black New Yorker. I even have one called Queenie, the Infinite Fox...Now Ziggy starts to believe in all this himself and thinks himself a prophet of the future starmen. He takes himself up to the incredible spiritual heights and is kept alive by his disciples. When the infinites arrive, they take bits of Ziggy to make them real because in their original state they are anti-matter and cannot exist in our world. And they tear him to pieces on stage during the song 'Rock 'N' Roll Suicide'. As soon as Ziggy dies on stage the infinites take his elements and make themselves visible.
  • In a massive case of Soundtrack Dissonance, musician DyE's music video for the song "Fantasy" mutates (almost literally) into this trope. Enjoy. (WARNING: Not Safe for Work, or for most other places either)
  • The Nine Inch Nails album Year Zero and its accompanying Alternate Reality Game plays with this genre, when the involvement of the ghostly alien race "The Presence" comes into play that will wipe out humanity if they don't change their ways - apparently, they succeed.
  • The Prayer by German psychedelic trance duo Electric Universe. It invokes the feeling of cosmic horror by mixing an actual Hindi prayer with exceptionally dark trance samples.
  • Regal Pinion's album, Lunatic Crossing, tells the story of a small town that is tormented by Eldritch Abominations after being released from a box by a young man. And it goes downhill from there...

  • Played with in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Each version of the story literally begins with Earth being obliterated by indifferent aliens to make way for a hyperspace bypass, and would have completely driven mankind to extinction if Arthur Dent and Trillian hadn't conveniently befriended aliens who took them offworld before the disaster happened. (However, in a twist, it is revealed that the Earth was actually a gigantic super-computer designed to figure out the ultimate question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, and it was destroyed five minutes before the program was to be completed, essentially making Arthur Dent the most important person in the entire universe.) A major plot thread, at least in the radio series, involves the "Total Perspective Vortex", a torture device which consists of forcing prisoners to glimpse the entirety of the universe with a tiny, microscopic marker reading "You are here", the idea being that the victim's brain snaps as a result of being unable to comprehend their insignificance. Ironically this helped Zaphod, who survived because it made him realize that his ego was literally as big as the universe. Well that and he was in an artificial universe but that's another matter altogether.


  • Aztec Mythology. If humans ever stop sacrificing each other, the Gods will become too weak to keep the universe running. Entropy will take over, the sky will tear itself apart, skeletal snake-woman monsters will descend from on high and everything will perish. Again. Except, presumably, the Gods, who have already survived five or six apocalypses in the past, pretty-much all of which were entirely their fault.
  • Classical Mythology would merely be a Darker and Edgier Low Fantasy if the Greeks weren't obsessed with personifying everythingnote  but the fact that every abstract concept is personified as a deity means that Fate, which is completely unstoppable, is in fact a sentient being (which was actually worshipped by some mystery religions) and is thus making the word crapsack entirely for her own amusement, and there is nothing that mortals or even gods can do to get her to stop being a Troll.
  • Norse Mythology. Wolves large enough to eat heavenly bodies? A snake so large it encircles the earth? A dragon large enough to eat away at the foundations of the universe? Beings refered to as "giants" (or "jötun" which means "devourer") that are (mostly) sinister primordial personifications of nature that existed even before the universe? The god who runs the show is a scary death-deity that really is not in control of the universe as much as trying to keep it balanced but knows that in the end it will all come tumbling down? A even older race of giants that embody fire and heat and live in a place literary called "Home of the Worlddestroyers" that only wishes to burn the entire universe?
  • Gnosticism. The entire physical universe was created by a tyrannical, infantile creator called the demiurge, who mistakenly believes himself to be the one and true God. In fact, he was actually birthed by a higher divinity called Sophia. The goal of Gnosticism is to divorce oneself from the physical realm, which is inherently malevolent, and instead embrace the spiritual realm, which is divine.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Little Shop of Horrors isn't straight-up Cosmic Horror, but it does incorporate some elements of the genre. "Audrey II," the main antagonist, is a Starfish Alien that came from outer space to drive Seymour mad and destroy humanity (although it displays surprisingly human psychology, speech, and behavior, and it breaks Seymour's sanity through subtle mind games and not by being mind-shatteringly eldritch). At the end of the play (and especially at the end of the Director's Cut of the 1986 movie), it's pretty clear that we don't stand a chance against this extraterrestrial threat. A case could also be made that Seymour was meddling in things man was not meant to know.

    Video Games 
  • Alan Wake's premise seems to be for the titular author to prevent his world from falling into this trope.
  • Anchorhead is an award-winningly well-regarded example of an Interactive Fiction text adventure set in the "slowly unraveling horror" Lovecraftian milieu. Look here for download and information on the game.
  • It is revealed in Asura's Wrath that Chakravartin created The Gohma to test humanity after giving them his type of power, and resets the world when he doesn't find an heir, as well as the universe with it. He's done this countless times, implying this has been going on for eons before any of the named characters have even existed.
  • The universe of Battleborn is set when Solus is the sole remaining star after the rest of the starts has been darkened by the Varelsi. By the time of the game, the Jennerit Imperium, the most powerful civilization in war against the Varelsi, has been knocked out of the war when Lothar Rendain overthrew Empress Lenore and sided with Varelsi with beliefs that joining them would be a better option than engaging in a Hopeless War. The titular Battleborn were formed by the five united-but-squabbling factions (the United Peacekeeping Republics, the Last Light Consortium, the Rogues, Eldrid, and resistance forces from the Jennerit Imperium) with goals to make a difference by uniting against the Varelsi rather than waiting to die alone.
  • In Bayonetta, Heaven is a white-and-gold version of Hell. That doesn't mean Heaven is at all good, nor that Hell isn't all evil. No, they're both equally evil. Which means humans are screwed the moment they take their last breath.
  • From a gameplay perspective, The Breach is closer to Lovecraft Lite, but in narrative terms, it's more like this. At no point is there any hope of permanently defeating the Yellow, just pushing it back where it came from, and Sergei firmly believes (correctly) that if hyperspace experiments continue, humanity is doomed.
  • Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is an alternate viewpoint retelling of Lovecraft's The Shadow over Innsmouth with the main character going irrevocably insane in the end, thanks in part to the knowledge that he has, at best, only slightly postponed the inevitable downfall of humanity.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 has not one, not two, but three distinct examples of this:
    • In the main story, humanity in the 2060s is at war with Corvus, a rogue, malevolent AI which desires to control the human race through their DNIs. The threat he poses to humanity is very much an existential one, and he is also responsible for the creation of the Frozen Forest, a virtual Eldritch Location that could have ended up being humanity's realm for the rest of eternity. Or the protagonist could have been dead the entire time, bringing the very ontology of the campaign's universe into doubt.
    • The Nightmares campaign takes place in an Alternate Universe where the experiments, instead of giving rise to Corvus, end up opening up the realm of Malus, inhabited by Deimos, the demigod of dread, and Dolos, the demigoddess of trickery. Deimos unleashes a Zombie Apocalypse on humanity so he can have an army to kill Dolos and usurp Malum. The protagonist thwarts Deimos' plan with Dolos' help, but not because Dolos cares about humanity; she doesn't care about us at all, she's just bored with her brother's antics and wants to go home.
    • The new Zombies mode, The Shadows of Evil, takes place in a Lovecraftian Film Noir setting where a cynical magician, a Dirty Cop, a Femme Fatale, and a washed-up boxer are tormented by a mysterious figure called the Shadow Man. He orders the four around promising them redemption, but naturally this is all a crock of shit and he's really trying to trick them into unleashing his "masters" onto our realm. The protagonists eventually realise the deception and defeat him and prevent the takeover.
  • Whether or not Lavos qualifies is up to the player's imagination, but as of Chrono Cross...
  • In the Chzo Mythos, it just so happens that there's another world next door, a world ruled by the VERY EMBODIMENT of PAIN, and he can't wait to get his hands on our world. Don't worry that he has an intricate web of followers that are helping him to succeed, but thanks to his non linear view of time, he already has. Though, luckily for humanity, it's all a Kansas City Shuffle on his part.
  • Darkest Dungeon comes very close to this trope, with the bleak, gothic visuals, Final Death system that can result in the player feeding numerous party members into the dungeon meat grinder and the Sanity Meter wherein all the horrors the party encounters can wear away their sanity until they finally break and lose their minds. Ultimately, though, the trope is subverted by the occasional shred of optimism, with near-broken characters occasionally catching their Heroic Second Wind instead and coming back stronger than before, and narrator sometimes reminding the player that, despite how utterly daunting the final goal may seem, victory is still possible.
    • Double Subverted. In the end, all you did was delay the inevitable, and the knowledge of the creator of humanity and heart of the world drives you to suicide, leaving you nothing but a ghost trying to delay it even further, fully knowing that in the end, it will always get out, all you can do being delaying it again and again so that humanity can live a short while longer, plunging the game fully into cosmic horror and Downer Ending territory.
  • Dead Space. All life in the galaxy seems to exist for no other purpose than to be eaten by the Brethren Moons. Humanity is alone in the stars because every race before it fell into the same rut of expanding beyond their resources and falling prey to the temptation of the Moons' Markers. The Moons can be fought, but only at a high cost. The image at the top of the page? That's pretty close to what Brethren Moons do to planets during Convergence events. The third game also hints that the Moons are waking up, which is exactly what happens in the Dead Space 3: Awakened DLC pack. Though protagonists Issac Clarke and John Carver survive their Heroic Sacrifice moment, they are now faced with the impossible threat of an entire race of hungry planetoid abominations descending upon Earth and the colonies...
  • Surprisingly, Deadly Premonition ends up with elements of this genre. The Big Bad is an immortal Humanoid Abomination from another plane of existence that has warped the hero's life since childhood and thrives on torturing humans For the Evulz. The story is just vague enough to make every detail questionable, making for a Psychological Horror experience.
  • Demon's Souls. The Old One is an unstoppable, unspeakably ancient demon. Whenever it awakens, a colorless fog begins to swallow the world, and anyone (even ancient spirits) caught in that fog will eventually become a demon themselves. The only hope for the world is to assist the Maiden in Black in lulling the Old One asleep by defeating the most powerful demons and offering their souls as bait. The player can choose to prove what a magnificent demon they are by instead slaying the Maiden and becoming the Old One's new Archdemon, thereby dooming the world to being devoured Don't count on the setting's God to save anyone either since "God" is the Old One.
  • Dark Souls:
    • The presence of the Dark makes the setting into this. In humans, it manifests as the Dark Sign, a curse which leaves the victim in a state of undeath, slowly losing their memories and becoming Hollows. For gods or those without the Dark Sign, they become monstrous entities. Anyone who could have done anything to stop the tide is either dead, mad, or both.
    • In the Artorius of the Abyss DLC, the Chosen Undead is thrown back in time to Oolacile, a citystate of magic users which Dug Too Deep, pouring out a plague of dark from the primeval man that the magister excavated.
    • Dark Souls III makes it even worse. After an unspecified (but MASSIVE) number of cycles Linking The Fire, the system keeping the world kinda-sorta functional has failed. Not "it will fail soon (no really!)" or even "right about to fail". It FAILED. You, an Unkindled have been tasked to find several Lords of Cinder in a drastic attempt to make yourself strong enough to Link The Fire, and one of those former Lords broke time to buy the world one last chance. It's just not enough. As you near the end of your journey, the sun bleeds out and the Abyss covers the land. There's no last-minute fix or Big Damn Heroes from any Powers That Be. This is The End of the World as We Know It and while there are Multiple Endings, they all come down to whether or not you try (and fail) to Link The Fire, give the world a Mercy Kill, or Usurp the Fire to claim whatever power it still holds for yourself.
  • Bloodborne: The city of Yharnam and its environs are one big Great One playground, where most humans go insane with horror or bloodlust and the few that remain sane are picked off one-by-one. There's also other eldritch factions that nobody has ANY intel on. That's not even getting into the possibility that the entire game is a mass hallucination brought on by the dreams of the Great Ones. In a bit of a twist, the Great Ones themselves are generally pretty docile and non-interfering, and some even appear to be trying to help humanity with this situation. Most of the danger and madness comes from human factions that have obtained a sliver of the Great Ones' power and are misusing it.
  • Dishonored sets humanity in a Constructed World that is entirely hostile to its existence. The seas are filled with all manner of terrifying monstrosities, packs of rats from a nearby continent regularly kill men and eat them alive, the state religion has Devil, but No God, an immortal Eldritch Abomination fights off boredom by granting people incredible power for the sake of seeing what they choose to do with it, and the only thing holding off the end of the world is implied to be the whales — whales whose oil fuels an industrial revolution, and who are being harvested to the point of extinction.
  • In Drakengard, The World Is Always Doomed because the gods are not just evil, but also composed entirely of Eldritch Abominations. They are not slithering masses of tentacles that cause insanity by their very sight, but something very morbid.
  • EarthBound morphs into one of these for the final boss fight.
  • The Survival Horror game Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem is often seen as this, but strictly speaking, while the tone is unmistakably Cosmic Horror, the plot itself is not, and all three of the standard endings involve the Player Characters triumphing over the Ancients and saving humanity, which lands this one squarely in Lovecraft Lite territory. The bonus ending reveals that there's a bit more to it than that, and that Mantorok, the most powerful and sole surviving Ancient, engineered the deaths of the other Ancients as part of a larger plot. But while on paper that probably sounds like a Bolivian Army Ending, it's not made clear in-story what, if anything, that means for humanity.
  • Eversion gradually reveals itself to be a game of this kind. It starts out as a cute Sugar Bowl of a world, but as you progress further and use your Reality Warper powers in order to get the gems you need, the game gradually gets darker and darker. The Let's Play by DeceasedCrab in particular reads like a Lovecraft story towards the end of it, right down to the rejection of the Sugar Bowl world's "cheery lies."
  • Freespace is basically what happens when Wing Commander meets this trope. The Shivans aren't really massive unfathomable monsters (well, they are massive, at least, next to humans and vasudans) but they come right out of nowhere to utterly decimate both sides of an interplanetary war until they're forced to team up just to survive, next to nothing is known about their ultimate goal in killing everything in sight, and any major victories against them come at a great cost (the destruction of the Lucifer in the first game resulted in Earth getting completely cut off from the rest of the Alliance) and are short-lived regardless, because whatever superweapon gets taken down, they have about a thousand more anyway, and many more that are even stronger.
  • Frictional Games specializes in this, with their games Penumbra, and the more popular Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
  • The Half-Life franchise displays many hallmarks of a cosmic horror story, coupled with orwellian scifi elements. Ironically enough the player is working for the unexplainable eldritch abomination in this case (the G-Man), while the main antagonists (the Combine) can be explained more or less rationally as an invase extraterrestrial space-faring species which has a nasty habit of conquering/assimilating one dimension after another into their empire, complete with all the inhabited (and uninhabited) worlds and civilizations they contain - Though the sheer speculated size of the combine's empire compared against the player could itself be defined as a cosmic eldritch abomination in this case.
  • Halo, of all things, became this with revelations gleaned from The Forerunner Saga. All life was created, or at least had their creation influenced, by a race of incomprehensibly old, powerful, alien and incomprehensible superbeings known as the Precursors. The only thing known for certain is that, thanks to their near genocide by one of their creations scorned in favor of humanity, their only desire is to see all their creations suffer horrible pain and death at the hands of their newest, most recognizable form: the Hive Mind Virus known as the Flood.
  • In 1987, Infocom made an Interactive Fiction text adventure called The Lurking Horror loosely drawing on the themes of the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • The King Of Shreds And Patches is another IF example, originating as a Call of Cthulhu campaign set in Elizabethan England concerned with a reconstructed manuscript of The King in Yellow.
  • Kingdom Hearts has been rapidly heading in this direction, especially with the recent reveals about what Xehanort has been planning to do his entire life. Let's just say that the first two games - which involve beings of pure darkness kidnapping specific people to unlock power and your character entirely losing his memory so it can be manipulated by an outside force respectively- are some of the most cheerful in the series.
  • The MUD Lusternia features a lot of different genres, but this is one of the most prevalent. There was even a war between the Precursors of mortalkind, the Elder Gods, and the resident Eldritch Abominations, the Soulless Ones. (Also known as the Heralds of Magnora, Magnora being the personification of destruction.) Nowadays they're largely sealed away, but there's a world-spanning event every real life year or so where one breaks free...
  • Marathon Infinity features the Security Officer thrown through time and space when the battle between Durandal and the Pfhor is interrupted by a monstrous, alien creature known as W'rkncacnter being freed from a black hole by their skirmish, and proceeds to devour reality. The Security Officer must find a timeline where W'rkncacnter never was released, existed, or something.
  • Mass Effect is initially presented as a Cosmic Horror Space Opera, where galactic civilisations are carefully cultivated and then ruthlessly culled by the Reapers in an endless cycle, as they have done for tens of millions of years. The franchise ultimately proved to be Lovecraft Lite, however; with enough War Assets, you can kill the Reapers, control them, or turn them into willing allies. On a smaller scale, the Leviathan DLC of Mass Effect 3 revolves around Shepard tracking down a mysterious, incomprehensible Eldritch Abomination (the titular Leviathan), which was powerful enough to single-handedly take down a Reaper. It has mind control abilities, which it uses to sway countless lifeforms throughout time in order to keep its existence a secret. Fittingly, the climax of the DLC takes place deep beneath the waters of an oceanic planet, where its revealed that the Leviathan are a race of ancient Starfish Aliens that indirectly created the Reapers. In the end the Leviathan help Shepard out, swinging the DLC back towards Lovecraft Lite. At least until the Leviathans come back again.
  • The indie Survival Horror/Adventure Game Pathologic achieves this in a very minimalistic, Psychological Horror fashion (no darkness or monsters, just a surreal tale set in a town hit by a mysterious plague).
  • Pathways into Darkness, an early Bungie game, features aliens warning the US government that a slumbering Eldritch Abomination is due to wake up in a week in the Yutacan. A team of US Special Forces are dropped in to bury the creature with a nuke. Naturally, all but one dies, and now the soul survivor must reach the bottom of the Pyramid alone, all the while being beset by creatures from the Dreaming God's nightmares and investigating the remnants of previous teams. It's implied, by way of shared continuity, that the creature is W'rkncacnter from Marathon (see above)
  • In Phantasy Star IV, it's revealed that the planets of Algo are the seal on the Sealed Evil in a Can, the Profound Darkness, and that the sentient races of Algo exist for no other reason than to produce heroes who can defeat Dark Force and prevent it from destroying the seal and releasing the Profound Darkness back into the universe. Chaz doesn't take well to this news.
  • In Radiant Silvergun, possibly inspired by the aforementioned Neon Genesis Evangelion, an octahedral Artifact of Doom known as the Stone-Like is excavated and wipes out life on Earth in a flash, the only survivors being those who escaped into satellite orbit. The Silverguns attempt to stop the artifact and for a moment appear to succeed at the end, but then it transports them back in time and vaporizes them as well. The sole survivor is the Creator robot, who has cloned the protagonists, but unfortunately he breaks down before he can warn them of the Stone-Like's purpose, which is that it will keep wiping out humans unless they can learn the error of their ways.
  • Shadow of the Comet, Prisoner of Ice and the better-known Alone in the Dark, by Infogrames, are all in the same Cthulhu Mythos-haunted world, with several direct Lovecraftian references, including the Necronomicon and De Vermis Mysteriis. AITD 1992 and The New Nightmare veer towards Lovecraft Lite, since Carnby is ultimately able to punch out Cthulhu at the end of both. AITD 2008 plays this trope straight, with Carnby and Sarah fighting a desperate battle against the forces of Lucifer, and a Sadistic Choice ending where The Bad Guy Wins in both options.
  • The Shin Megami Tensei franchise, with the added horror that human passions are to blame for the strength, if not outright creation, of the evil forces that constantly plague the various realities.
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne destroys the world in the first ten minutes. The only survivors of the Conception are a handful of high school students and doomsday cultists who are inside a hospital at the center of the phenomenon. And in typical Shin Megami Tensei fashion, the remaining humans turn on each other as they fight to create the Reason of Existence of the new world that is being born, transforming themselves into demonoids in the process.
    • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey follows a crew of UN investigators traveling to a expanding hole in reality in Antarctica. Things go south quickly.
    • The Persona 2 duology features good ol' Nyarlathotep himself as the Big Bad, and Innocent Sin ends with the bad guy winning and the party having to push the Reset Button to get another shot at saving the world.
    • The events of Persona 3 ultimately leads to the The End of the World as We Know It, complete with a doomsday cult and brain-dead people uttering prophetic warnings. This is all due to the subtle influence of the reawakened Nyx, a vast and ancient being being called down to the earth. Her presence causes people to explode into puddles of black ooze and random organs. In all likelihood, she doesn't care in the slightest. Oh and she's mainly summoned by the Anthropomorphic Personification of the malice and despair in the hearts of humanity. Despite your best efforts, the best action taken was a reverse seal; the protagonist makes a Heroic Sacrifice to keep said personification of malice and despair away from Nyx.
  • Many Shoot 'em Up series, such as Gradius and R-Type, involve fighting a seemingly invincible cosmic menace (notably the Bacterians in the former, and the Bydo in the latter) that keeps regenerating, or worse, multiplying into more copies of itself.
  • The entire S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. The Zone is an unfathomable and horrific Eldritch Location worshiped by a crazed brainwashed cult (the Monolith), and it has the power to manipulate time and space in very weird ways. In the ending of Shadow of Chernobyl, you end up destroying the last thing holding the Zone's power in check; the Zone is rapidly expanding and there's no way to stop it.
  • The Stanley Parable. Ultimately, your choice is all an illusion, as every potential path Stanley can take has been predetermined for him. Even the Narrator, for all his semblance of control, is just as doomed to this meaningless existence.
  • Star Control 2 has elements of this. Your beef is with the Ur-Quan, an entirely mundane alien race, but as you follow the story, it becomes clear there's something much more sinister out there than the Ur-Quan themselves.
    Arilou: No. In a way, ignorance is your armor, your best protection. If I tell you more, you will look where you could never look before and while you are looking you can and will be seen. You do not want to be seen.
    Orz: Orz is not *many bubbles*, Orz is one with many *fingers*. I push my *fingers* through into *heavy space* and you *see* *Orz bubbles* but it is really *fingers*."
    Ur-Quan: We will protect you from the hazards of this hostile universe, from dangers so hideous your simple minds cannot imagine their dark scope.
  • Star Control 3 introduce the Eternal Ones as the main antagonists, a threat of this nature who are said to be completely invincible and unbeatable. The player must find a way to appease them rather than defeat them.
  • Transistor involves a group of Well Intentioned Extremists who Dug Too Deep and unleashed the mysterious creatures that run their world, losing control of them, and everyone and everything is consumed in their path. In the end they are technically beaten, but too late to save anyone. The protagonist is Driven to Suicide rather than be alone in an empty void.
  • The Turok series stepped into this genre's waters with the introduction of the Cthulhu-esque Eldritch Abomination Oblivion in the second installment, and was fully immersed in it by the third.
  • World of Warcraft is ultimately a somewhat idealistic Cosmic Horror Story. Azeroth is home to five known Old Gods (though more have been implied), ancient, evil and extremely powerful beings that ruled Azeroth until they were imprisoned by the Titans. Of the four known so far, only one, Y'shaarj, has been confirmed to be destroyed, though its influence can still be seen on the continent of Pandaria, where it was imprisoned. Prophecies foretell an Hour of Twilight, a day when the Old Gods will escape their bonds and be unleashed upon the world once more (Deathwing tried this).
  • RuneScape became this when the truth about the The Elder Gods was revealed. The elder gods create planets until they manage to create a perfect world and then go to sleep on the perfect world for millions of years before waking up, whereupon they destroy all of the planets they created except for the perfect world, which turns into a Death World, as they feed of the life energy of worlds, and then start the cycle all over again. Zaros's plan is to ascend to the level of an elder god so he can confront them and convince them to stop because they barely acknowledge that sapient lifeform exist at all other than as tools for them to use. Even before this revelation, Runescape had many elements of this. The young gods, who mostly are former mortal before they were exposed to artifacts left behind by the elder gods and many of whom are Jerkasses, have been fighting each other in multiple Forever Wars that caused the destruction of many worlds and the extinction of many species. The Stone of Jas, one of the artifacts of the elder gods that can grant godhood, is an Artifact of Doom that causes the Dragonkin, a race enslaved by Jas, to grow more and more powerful and enraged whenever it is used, which resulted in the destruction of at least one planet. But despite this terrible danger, both gods and mortals crave its power, causing it to act as an Apple of Discord that has driven many conflicts. Tuska, an extremely powerful but unintelligent Animalistic Abomination god has been rampaging from planet to planet, causing much destruction. It also been implied that the Pirate quest storyline is building towards this with the reveal of Xau-Tak, an evil god of oceans and death, who may also be working with Sliske, the Big Bad of the current main storyline. The game also has a very large number of the tropes associated with cosmic horror stories listed at the top of this page even in the non-cosmic horror parts of the game.

    Visual Novels 
  • Muv-Luv Unlimited (though that's really more of a harem story in a warfare setting) and Muv-Luv Alternative, where we actually seethe alien invaders who are mindlessly destroying humanity, which turns out to be completely incidental to their goal of mining resources, and at the end of the game it's revealed that there are 10^37 BETA in the universe who regard humanity as completely insignificant.
  • Saya no Uta. The main heroine is a clearly lovecraftian entity that drives people (bar the protagonist who goes off the deep end himself anyway) to madness, it is never shown to the reader and it's ultimate goal is to convert all of humanity into lovecraftian entities. On the other hand, it's hardly invulnerable.

    Web Comics 
  • Captain SNES: The Game Masta has a Humans Are Cthulhu variant, where a major driving force of the plot is a conventional Eldritch Abomination (nevertheless hinted to come from our world, not video games) can cause video game characters to start Noticing The Fourth Wall, at which point, overcome by the knowledge that reality-warping inscrutable beings created them and everything they know, all of their turmoils and suffering, for the sake of children's entertainment, they invariably go mad and then either homicidal or catatonic.
  • Homestuck. Entire universes are created for the sole purpose of recruiting players for a game, one which violently destroys the players' home planets. Victory at the game results in (at best) one's home planet being recolonized, and the creation of a new universe—which will eventually be host to new instances of the game, and that's when things go right. It's stated that the vast majority of sburb sessions are doomed to fail from the start, never producing new universes, but rather bomb-like tumors to destroy those who try and fail. The protagonists have accidentally rendered the game Unwinnable, by enabling the Big Bad to obtain the powers of a Physical God. Now, the only way to defeat him is to reset the universe—which will pave the way for the arrival (albeit, in a different universe) of a time-travelling demon who feeds on dead universes. In any case, given the way that Stable Time Loops work in this story, the protagonists may already be doomed to fail. And in case all that's too subtle, the comic takes an acrobatic fucking pirouette off the handle and into the deep end with "Jade: Wake up", where the Lovecraft-inspired Noble Circle of Horrorterrors make their on-screen debut. And then we find out that the Horrorterrors need the protagonists' help, because something is killing them. Andrew Hussie cites Earthbound as an inspiration.
  • The premise of Lovecraft Is Missing is that Lovecraft wrote truth disguised as fiction. And now he's missing...
  • morphE is at its core a cosmic horror story. It takes place in the Mage: The Awakening canon so it's not too difficult to see why.
  • Necessary Monsters could be considered such, since while the comic itself takes a more Spy Fiction approach, the fact remains that the world is actually controlled by an Ancient Conspiracy of every type of monster possible, from Slasher Movie and Urban Legend-style serial killers to outright eldritch abominations, with a vested interest in preserving humanity — because when you've got a self-perpetuating all-you-can-eat buffet with everything you and your pals like to eat in it, you don't want anybody to go around thrashing it.
  • Ow, my sanity is a Cosmic Horror Magical Girlfriend/Unwanted Harem story. Word of God is that the comic will have a "Lovecraft ending".
  • Thanks in part to Real Life Writes the Plot, Thunderstruck has gained elements of a Cosmic Horror Story world. The city in which most of the action takes place is doomed, period. The primary action focuses on a race of gods for whom all of human history is a single generation - and the action is centered on the scions of the preceding generation's champion.
  • The Watcher Of Yaathagggu is Post Apocalyptic Cosmic Horror.

    Web Original 
  • The Arkn Mythos has an overarching story that's one of these.
  • The "Lord Vyce" and "Entity" story arcs of Atop the Fourth Wall became this, with a Dimension Lord Lord Vyce conquering universes because, as it turns, he is trying to protect the multiverse from something even worse than he is simply refers to as "the entity", an Eldritch Abomination that devours worlds and universes, and he is "forcing the issue" because nobody listened to his warnings. The Entity, revealing itself after Vyce's defeat, shows the intent of absorbing all existence, viewing itself as the pinnacle of all creation. The plot however turns into a Deconstruction of the trope, showing in the end that the existence of an Eldritch Abomination is every bit as insignificant as that of Puny Humans.
  • The BIONICLE serial, Sahmad's Tale, features a plague that robs its victims of their ability to dream, gradually causing them to go completely insane and eventually die. It is eventually revealed that the plague is caused by an Eldritch Abomination that resembles a miniature sun with tentacles, who feeds on dreams for sustenance.
  • The Castle Series, told with stickmen, but not Played for Laughs. The cosmic horror in this series comes from the titular Castles that may or may not be sentient.
  • This comes up now and again in various creepypasta, most notably The Holders series.
  • Dimensional Prophecy of Zohar Redux is a cosmic horror story about scientists using an algorithm to calculate the behavior of eldritch abominations and trying to protect civilians.
  • Dino Attack RPG went in this direction toward the end. True, the main plot was about mutant dinosaurs rampaging all over the planet, but let's see... humanity's general insignificance in a vastly uncaring cosmos? Check. Eldritch Abomination capable of destroying the planet with little effort? The Maelstrom makes that a solid check. Eldritch Abomination evil or uncaring on a cosmic scale? Definitely check. The alternate ending December 21, 2010 would be a full-on example, where the Maelstrom has more or less overrun the entire planet with less than ten people still alive by sheer luck and destroys everything in a matter of seconds with no survivors, and the bleak implication that it would spread to the rest of the universe.
  • Hitler Rants can sometimes go into this territory. Some of the more extreme Untergangers have written characters as having incomprehensible powers related to time and space. this video sees Captain Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (through footage his actor Jürgen Prochnow taken from In the Mouth of Madness- notice a pattern here?) literally tear apart reality for no other reason than to piss off Hitler.
  • The Knight Shift has traces of this at times.
  • ''The Last Stage'', a story-line from Nat One Productions, deals mainly with large-scale paranormal threats, one of which may actually be the government agency employing the main characters. The supernatural entities pulling the strings more or less view Earth as lunch.
  • Marble Hornets, which is loosely based on the original below-mentioned Slender Man Mythos. A young man looks through some old tapes belonging to an old friend of his who's gone missing in an attempt to learn what happened to him. He learns of his friend being pursued by a certain Eldritch Abomination and discovers that he's beginning to experience strange events due to watching the tapes. This one is notable in that a semi-normal human proves to be more of a direct threat to the protagonists than the Abomination itself, which is more akin to a force of nature that has been awakened. Also more unusually, the series actually has a surprisingly positive ending. It's bittersweet (and two good guys die) but the protagonists do more or less "win", albeit in a rather ambiguous sense.
  • The famous imageboard-based RPG Ruby Quest is a cosmic horror story about a group of uplifted animals trying to escape an underwater facility plagued by unnatural abominations and horrors, while at the same time trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Rather unbelievably, it actually manages to have a happy ending thanks to the players going Off the Rails.
  • In the world of the SCP Foundation, the only thing standing between humanity and a legion of sanity-shattering artifacts or implacably destructive monsters is a shadowy organization of Men in Black... whose ruthlessness makes them only slightly less terrifying than the things they're protecting humanity from.
  • H-M Brown's Shell is the prologue to the Geolyth Lore series.
  • The Sick Land is a cosmic horror story in the form of an Apocalyptic Log set in an Eldritch Location that transmits The Virus. Humanity can survive on the fringes of the area...for a while.
  • The Slender Man Mythos is entirely based around its protagonists trying and invariably failing to understand the titular man, who is completely invincible and has been manipulating and horrifying humanity since presumably the very beginning. It's speculated several times that he runs on belief and the only way to stop him is for everyone who knows about him to die, but he inexplicably causes his victims to want to make records of his existence. And then some series introduce more creatures of great power, including an entire new mythos known as The Fear Mythos.
  • Stickman Exodus traps hapless stickmen in a Cosmic Horror Notebook (Played for LaughsBlack Comedy laughs). Their goal, the Promised Page, the one place the "Great Doodler" can't touch, might not even exist for all they know. We won't either since the series had a No Ending.
  • The Whateley Universe has a Cosmic Horror Story backstory, and the Sara Waite stories are all centered around one or more Eldritch Abominations... including Sara Waite herself. Plus, there's an in-universe example, since Sara Waite's previous form Michael Waite wrote a best-seller called "Incongruity" which turns out to be The First Book Of The Kellith, which is now in print all over the world. Oops.
  • Worm has quite a few elements of cosmic horror, particularly in the Endbringers, horrifically powerful monsters that regularly obliterate major population centers. Despite the efforts of all the heroes and villains working together, the Endbringers are whittling away the human population. The only being able to really stop them is Scion, the first and most powerful parahuman, but he apparently lacks the mental capacity to decisively defeat them. And then it's revealed that Scion is actually the avatar of a cosmic Eldritch Abomination, and it pulls a Face–Heel Turn and decides to wipe out humanity.

    Western Animation 
  • Gravity Falls becomes this at the climax of Season 2. However, it has a tendency to swing back toward Lovecraft Lite, even if through incredible amounts of effort on the part of the protagonists.
  • Futurama seems to set this up in The Beast With a Billion Backs, in which a horrifying, tentacled, borderline incomprehensible Genius Loci attacks our universe from its own after successfully making a way through it, but then subverts it in a sympathetic, if not incredibly disgusting way.
  • The short-lived 80's Cartoon Show Inhumanoids was heavily influenced by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. It pushed towards this trope as hard as was possible for a Merchandise-Driven cartoon from The '80s; even the comedy episodes had more than their share of horrors. One can only imagine how they would have upped the ante had it been successful enough to get more than one season (and toy wave)...
  • Mighty Max. Although over the course of the series we find Max beating his fair share of enemies, ultimately the great Big Bad is shown to be unstoppably powerful, and our hero's only hope to even tie with him is to let all his friends die and restart the timeline with his own death in the hopes it goes better the second time. Unfortunately, given the prophecies frequently referenced, this cycle has happened at least several dozen times.
  • Played for Laughs with Rick and Morty, to the point Cthulhu himself appears in the theme song.
  • The premise of Samurai Jack is that an unstoppable, endlessly malevolent force of literal evil (the Start of Darkness episodes reveal that Aku is simply a tiny fragment of a creature that formed in the first moments of the universe) has conquered the world and is spreading its influence throughout the stars, and that a lone warrior wielding the only thing in existence that can even harm it embarks on a hopeless quest to defeat the evil and Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated ends up as one of these, complete with a Kill 'em All ending, though it gets undone.
  • The premise of Shadow Raiders is that the 4 elemental worlds must band together using ancient technology to fight a great giant planet that wants to eat their homes. It is unstoppable, unrelenting, and unbeatable. The only hope is to run away, or face certain destruction. And they can't run forever. For a child's show this is somewhat jarring.
  • Steven Universe presents Earth at the mercy of malevolent cosmic entities. Peridot initially can't see the downside to Homeworld's plan to terraform Earth into a Gem colony, which would have eradicated all organic life on the planet, while Yellow Diamond, the highest ranking and cruelest Gem seen so far, is prepared to destroy the Earth out of spite.

They're coming, they're-- We're here.

Alternative Title(s): Lovecraftian Fiction, Lovecraftian, Cosmic Horror Stories, Cosmic Horror Genre