troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
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 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 Versus 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 or no preparation and/or intent, and with about as much effort as it takes 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 seeing them is sufficient 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 and does not expect us to take Lovecraft's vision seriously in the first place.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comicbooks 
  • 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.
  • A Donald Duck comic, The Call of C'Russo, 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.
  • The Filth, also from 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...
  • El Eternauta, anyone? 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.
  • The notorious work of indie comics artists Al Columbia and Hans Rickheit and, at times, Edward Gorey.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fall of Cthulhu by BOOM Comics. Cthulhu Tales however, being an Anthology Comic, a lot of individual stories fell into Lovecraft Lite instead.
  • Both Marvel and DC have elements of this. For Marvel, anytime Galactus shows up, and for DC, anytime Starro shows up. Many Crisis Crossover events are this too.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • 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.
  • Possession, a film by Andrzej Zulawski which maps Cosmic Horror Story onto a disintegrating marriage.
  • The 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • The V/H/S films are starting to give off this vibe, with the ending of the second film implying in the that the tapes themselves are directly tied to it.
  • In Pacific Rim, were it not for the Jaegers, man would be less significant than mere bugs before the apocalyptic tsunami of mountainous bone and muscle that are the Kaiju.
  • 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.

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land and The House on the Borderland are also notable forerunners.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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 route 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray has the standard deluded-fools-summoning-eldritch-abominations plot.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In 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.
  • Neil Gaiman:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Live Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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 coutless 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 yet, one crazy human came closer to destroying the entire universe than any of these.
  • Doctor Who heavily implies that the Last Great Time War became this by the end. Entire civilisations 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.
  • 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.
  • Angel is closer to Lovecraft Lite for most of it's run but lurches into Cosmic Horror in it's 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.

     Radio 
  • 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.

    Religion 

  • 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?

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted. It looks bleak. The ghosts of dead titans are trying to drag all of Creation into Oblivion, the demonic creators of the universe want to reclaim rule of it, and the infinite armies of shapeless chaos want to dissolve all existence back into chaos. After a series of catastrophes, about 98% of the world has already been irreparably destroyed by the start of the series, civilization has been steadily crumbling for hundreds of years, and everybody is lining up to be the one to finally finish the job. Of course, you're Exalted. You can solve all these problems by punching them in the face.
  • Warhammer takes place in a world infiltrated by Chaos, a corruptive force given strength by the ickier parts of the human psyche. The only way to combat Chaos is to be frighteningly dogmatic and wipe it out whenever it looks at you funny, no matter who gets caught in the crossfire.
  • Warhammer 40,000 is even worse. Not only is Chaos even more of a threat (powerful daemons in Warhammer can devastate armies; powerful daemons in 40K can devastate star systems), there are also the implacable legions of the Necrons and their former C'tan masters, and the limitless Tyranid hordes controlled by its immortal Hive Mind. Indeed, it's often noted that humanity still survives despite the galaxy always being doomed not because of anything they do, but because the various unstoppable, incomprehensible menaces keep getting in each others' ways.
  • Unknown Armies subverts the trope; the setting's big secret is that the universe is humanocentric, existing only for our benefit. Any horrific monsters beyond time that make us insignificant, then, are actually the product, not the cause, of our sense of insignificance; it's a vicious cycle.
  • The Old World of Darkness has elements of this in each of its gamelines, with each one having an apocalyptic ending. Vampire has the Antediluvians, their ancient, cannibalistic and godlike forefathers and Werewolf has the Wyrm and the titular apocalypse. Of the bigger lines, only Mage gives the potential for a happy ending, and doesn't involve one flavour or another of the Old Ones eating everything (unless the PC's screw up BADLY).
  • The Swedish RPG KULT mixed Gnosticism, Kabbalah, Aleister Crowley occult traditions and the Hellraiser movies, and took its aesthetics from Splatter Punk, Clive Barker and H. R. Giger art. It's actually a subversion. Humans are hopeless against supernatural forces, but will triumph once awoken. In fact, most supernatural beings are hopelessly trying to prevent that. In other words, they broke their arms punching us.
  • The same Swedish company also released Mutant Chronicles, whose basic premise is somewhat similar to that of Warhammer 40,000, if on a much smaller scale (humanity still hasn't expanded beyond the solar system); although depending on the Game Master's choices for his own campaign, it could be entirely possible for the players to rip the Dark Soul a new one if they try hard enough. Or not.
  • JAGS Wonderland is a massive subversion. The world is being menaced by the Caretakers, a group of entities who live based on story rather than physical laws, as we humans do. They have collectively decided to drive humanity to self-destruction, and have done so via a viral insanity that causes reality to lose its grip on you... The Caretakers hate humans because they're actually terrified of us, since we act in ways they find utterly incomprehensible. That, and The Reveal of the fact that vice versa is not true...
  • Call of Cthulhu is an RPG based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, embracing and expanding upon what he developed (though at times in the direction of Lovecraft Lite, depending on the Guardian or scenario). Curiously enough, in Delta Green it's mentionned in the main book that by the turn of the millenium, most Mythos entities and their minions are far less present and/or active than they were even in the 20s and 30s... They don't need to be. They already won. They just need to wait a comparatively short while for the Stars will soon be Right.
  • Cthulhu Tech. Mix the above with Robotech, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Guyver and AKIRA. The good news: You have all sorts of wonderful toys (Magitek Humongous Mecha, Psychic Powers, Functional Magic, Lovecraftian Superpowers...) to fight against the Migou invaders and the Eldritch Abomination-worshipping cults. The bad news: the fact that the Migou and the cults also fight each other only barely slows down their systematic conquest of more areas, both have thoroughly infiltrated human society despite The Government's increasingly (and justifiably) draconian security policies, a handful of godlike abominations and countless lesser ones are already here, and the first storyline-progressing book can be summed up in three words: It Got Worse. It's even mentioned in the core book that should Great Cthulhu be woken up by the Esoteric Order of Dagon, it's game over for anything not in thrall to the Old Ones.
  • Long-defunct late-80's/early-90's RPG Dark Conspiracy had this sort of vibe — even though the Big Bad Ensemble of the Dark Lords took several cues from mythological gods and demons, they were still overwhelmingly powerful and unknowable extradimensional entities, who managed from behind the scenes to turn near-future Earth into a horribly depressing dystopia with the worst aspects of Cyber Punk cranked Up to Eleven and almost none of the cool stuff that comes with it (they stalled technological progress because too much of it could give humanity hope for the future, y'see, and since they thrive on our despair... Their minions had access to plenty of creepy, evil tech). Oh, and almost everyone even the slightest bit in the know was either an Unwitting Pawn, collaborating, or worse, one of countless monstrous minions who infiltrated and preyed on an apathetically oblivious humanity in secret.
  • Pelgrane Press really seem to like this trope, since the first three published settings for their Gumshoe system — Trail of Cthulhu, Fear Itself and The Esoterrorists — all contain varying degrees of it. The first one is classic Cthulhu Mythos pulp horror investigation; the second is about playing more or less normal people suddenly confronted to the fact that their world actually is like every Clive Barker-esque splatterpunk story lumped together; and the third is about a secret organisation, the Ordo Veritatis, trying to stop an Ancient Conspiracy (the eponymous esoterrorists) from turning their world into a copy of the second one for fun and profit. Things are not going so well for the Ordo.
  • Savage Worlds has published a supplement called Worlds Of Cthulhu. No points for guessing the premise.
  • Some years ago, a short-lived CCG called Hecatomb had this as its premise - each player was an "Endbringer", someone who, whether Mad Scientist, Evil Sorcerer or what-have-you, competed with other Endbringers to be the first to gather enough souls to bring about The End of the World as We Know It to fuel their powers, then move on to the next alternate reality to start over. You fought each other by summoning/creating monstrous minions (many of them eldritch abominations in their own right) and fusing them together to form Abominations, calling down evil gods (including Great Old Ones), and similar dirty tricks, all to get the requisite 20 soul tokens at your ennemies' expense. And since every player gained a soul token at the beginning of his/her turn...
  • Noctum has such a premise (mixed, like others on the list, with splatterpunk), but with the caveat that The reason the Big Bad Ensemble abominations were attracted to our world is because Humans Are the Real Monsters.
  • Eclipse Phase can fall into this. The apocalypse has already happened. 9/10ths of humanity have been wiped out (read: had their brains pulled out and read like floppy disks) by enigmatic superbeings called the TITANs, with the remaining ten percent only surviving because apparently the TITANs lost interest for no explainable reason (and apparently human extinction was only a side effect of their goals anyway). Before leaving, they released mindless killing machines charged with harvesting heads, superweapons never dreamt of by human minds, plagues and nanobots capable of turning someone into Body Horror. Space folds differently around some TITAN artifacts, and psychic powers exist... as a side effect of one of their mutagenic plagues which may or may not turn you into a time bomb of some sort. Looking at TITAN artifacts can be damaging to your mind, or even infect you with a mutagenic horror, rewrite your mind, or simply destroy you... from across vaccuum and through the best protection humanity has ever devised. Monstrosities prowl the dark parts of space, just left behind when the TITANs vanished. Of course, the TITANs only started this menagerie of horrors because a cosmic superbeing (superbeings?) of enigmatic origins and goals did something similar to them for similarly ineffable reasons. Transhumanity's only hope lies in the fact that apparently nobody who matters cares enough to take the few months required to finish the job, but they might do it anyway out of carelessness.
  • Dungeons & Dragons very gladly hands the Game Master the tools necessary with the Far Realm. Though D&D already had weird, Lovecraftian monsters like the squid-headed illithids, mid-2nd Edition game designer Bruce Cordell started adding even deeper cosmic horror elements. One of his more influential contributions was the idea of a "far realm" of everything outside the borders of time, making the multiverse into a bubble in the infinite cosmic horror stew. Eberron's plane of Xoriat is strongly inspired by it, and a lot of weirder monsters that weren't from "the planes" or "A Wizard Did It" became the result of Far Realm intrusions into reality. The denizens of the Far Realm don't even care enough to want in, but constant accidents and random events cause little openings in the very thin wall of reality. Add in your standard insane cultists, mad wizards seeking alien power, world-ending monstrosities from later books like Elder Evils, and a bevy of alternate rules including a Sanity Meter rule cribbed from Call of Cthulhu, and D&D is very inviting to someone who wants to inflict this trope on a high fantasy world.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • In Bayonetta, Heaven is a white-and-gold version of Hell. That doesn't mean Heaven is 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.
  • Frictional Games specializes in this, with their games Penumbra, and the more popular Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
  • In 1987, Infocom made an Interactive Fiction text adventure called The Lurking Horror loosely drawing on the themes of the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • Another IF example: Anchorhead is an award-winningly well-regarded example of a text adventure set in the "slowly unraveling horror" Lovecraftian milieu. Look here for download and information on the game.
  • In Drakengard, The World Is Always Doomed because the gods are not just evil, but also composed entirely of Eldritch Abominations. There are not slithering masses of tentacles that cause insanity by their very sight, but something very morbid.
  • The Shin Megami Tensei, 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • EarthBound morphs into one of these for the final boss fight.
  • System Shock 2 fulfills almost all above tropes (minus Tome of Eldritch Lore and The Unpronounceable) but on a fortunately contained scale (less fortunate for those who lived there.) However, Shodan is still out there...
  • Whether or not Lavos qualifies is up to the player's imagination, but as of Chrono Cross...
  • Mass Effect is a Cosmic Horror Space Opera. Every fifty thousand years organic species advance, invent space travel, develop mass effect technology, and spread across the galaxy with the Mass Relays and the Citadel as the cornerstones of their civilisations. Then, as they have done for tens of millions of years, the Reapers return and wipe them to extinction, spending centuries to ensure that every last trace of advanced civilisation is gone so that the cycle can begin anew, before leaving again to await the next harvest. The entire galaxy is their tilled farmland, deliberately cultivated so that they can reproduce, creating new Reapers from the liquified corpses of entire species ("each a nation"). That Shepard is merely able to stall them is an unprecedented event, and serves as nothing more than an annoyance to them, though one that they actually come to have respect and fear towards. The franchise ultimately proved to be Lovecraft Lite, however; with enough War Assets, assuming you don't deliberately kick off the Refusal ending, you can destroy the Reapers, take control of them as a hypertech god-emperor, or kick off The Singularity and actually make them allies and helpers, rather than mass extinction events.
  • 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 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Star Control 3. True to the genre, you are told outright near the very beginning that you cannot defeat the main antagonists of the game, the Eternal Ones, and instead must find a way to appease them.
  • Alan Wake's premise seems to be for the titular author to prevent his world from falling into this trope.
  • Silent Hill is a smaller scale version, involving a hefty dose of Psychological Horror. No matter how many individual humans and manifestations are defeated, the true power behind the town (whatever it is) will never die and there will always be more people to invoke it, either intentionally or unintentionally.
  • World of Warcraft is ultimately a somewhat idealistic Cosmic Horror Story. Azeroth is home to four 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Demons 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

    Visual Novels 
  • 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 other hand it's hardly invulnerable.
  • 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.

    Web Comics 
  • 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.
  • 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—both of 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 tumors just to make a big F-U to those who try. 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...
  • The Watcher Of Yaathagggu is Post Apocalyptic Cosmic Horror.
  • Ow, my sanity is a Cosmic Horror Magical Girlfriend/Unwanted Harem story. Word of God is that the comic will have a "Lovecraft ending".
  • 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.
  • Captain SNES 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.
  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • 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 dangerous than the things they're protecting humanity from.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Most of the stories in The Slender Man Mythos are this in some form or another, as well as those part of The Fear Mythos, of which Slender Man is also a part. Taken to it's logical conclusion in Slender: The Arrival. The ending implies that Slender Man can indeed be fought and possibly defeated... but only if every single person who knows about him dies. Slender Man uses knowledge of himself to spread and in the end, one character commits suicide just to try and stop Slender Man from spreading his influence any further. It's left ambiguous if said character succeeds or not...
  • H-M Brown's Shell is the prologue to the Geolyth Lore series.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Sufficiently Advanced Alien, and it pulls a Face-Heel Turn and decides to wipe out humanity.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Eighties; 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)...
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated ends up as one of these. No, really, it does, complete with a Kill 'em All ending, though it gets undone.


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


Campbell CountryLovecraftian TropesCthulhu Mythos
Eldritch AbominationSliding Scale of Villain EffectivenessGod Is Evil
Bloody TropesHorror TropesLovecraftian Tropes
Coco ChanelThe Roaring TwentiesDance Sensation
Corrupt the CutieCynicism TropesCrapsack World
The Chosen OneRomanticism Versus EnlightenmentCrapsack World
Contemporary CavemanImageSource/InternetCrapsack Only by Comparison

alternative title(s): Lovecraftian Fiction; Lovecraftian; Cosmic Horror Stories
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
234723
2