They are coming...
"You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: 'Shut the book now, dad; we don't want to read any more.'"
During the course of a Story Arc
, your characters can go places, have adventures, fight bad guys, and right wrongs. They've loved and lost and learned...and then something happens. Something that they never expected. The bad guys win
. The people turn against them
. The Hero Dies
And they don't have time to mourn or plan or get over their losses, because more bad things are happening. This is the point in a narrative when there's no hope, when the characters are at the edge of the Despair Event Horizon
. It is frequently invoked for the strongest testing of The Hero
's character: What You Are in the Dark
Older Than Dirt
, going back to The Epic of Gilgamesh
. As an ancient and ubiquitous plot device, this scenario has received quite a bit of attention in literary circles; it's cognate to the "death" stage (preceding the "descent into the underworld", but not always clearly distinguished from it) in certain formulations of The Hero's Journey
monomyth, and shows up elsewhere as well. At least one creative writing course views such bleak moments as essential to effective plotting.
This usually precedes a Day of Reckoning
climax where only a few things can happen:
Compare Belly of the Whale
, the first of the dark hours. Near Villain Victory
is a subtrope. The Cornered Rattle Snake
is someone who begins to fight back despite appearing to have no chance of survival. Hope Springs Eternal
is the natural conclusion of such a moment... unless, of course, the story features a Downer Ending
The Trope Namer
is a proverb that claims
that "The darkest hour is just before the dawn,
" but its exact origins are uncertain. Most likely, English theologian and historian Thomas Fuller was the first one to say something like it in his 1650 religious travelogue A Pisgah-Sight Of Palestine And The Confines Thereof
, where it is quoted, "It is always darkest just before the Day dawneth."
It should go without saying, but "Here there be spoilers!
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Anime and Manga
- Dragon Ball: Piccolo Daimaou had killed Goku's best friend Krillin, with him failing to avenge him, now his Old Master Muten Roshi is also dead along with Chiaotzu, Piccolo got his wish for eternal youth, and worst of all, he killed Shenron himself so that he is no longer challenged.
- Dragon Ball Z
- Just prior to the climax of the Namek saga: Frieza has survived everything Goku has thrown at him, including the 20x Kaio Ken and the Spirit Bomb, Vegeta, Dende and the Namekians are dead, and Piccolo is mortally wounded, and were he to die, the entire purpose of the journey to Namek would be moot. On top of that, Frieza decides to kill Krillin next...
- There's an episode devoted to this in the Cell Saga where Cell powers up a massive Kamehameha wave to destroy the Earth as a badly injured Gohan and the rest of Z warriors look on helplessly.
- In the Saiyan saga, almost all of the Z warriors have been killed fighting Vegeta and Nappa, Gohan and Krillin are the only ones still standing, and Goku still hasn't made it back to Earth yet.
- Occurs on a galactic scale in the Majin saga, when Kid Buu destroys the earth, then proceeds to zip from one planet to the next, destroying them as he goes. When Kid Buu arrives in the Other World, Goku and Vegeta try to fight him, but find themselves horribly outmatched.
- YuYu Hakusho:
- During the Chapter Black where the whole objective is to prevent a portal to the Demon Word from opening potentially letting in A and S Class Demons that can potentially wipe out the Earth. Also the Black and White Morality the heroes are so used to gets thrown out the window. Made even worse that even the protagonist of the series could not catch up.
- Sensui's power far exceeded Yusuke's, being an S class while Yusuke was a B+ at best. Knowing he had no chance of ever beating Sensui, Yusuke opted for a Heroic Sacrifice, letting Sensui kill him, thus boosting the the power levels of Kuwabara, Kurama, and Hiei up to A class. 3 A Class fighters against an S Class was still a very one sided Curb-Stomp Battle in favor of Sensui. It took two Deus ex Machina just to beat him.
- Sakura Wars: the Movie: Commander Yoneda is missing, Orihime Soletta has been ambushed and brainwashed by Patrick Hamilton, Maria is missing after attempting to investigate Douglas-Stewart, and the Imperial Flower Combat division has been placed on indefinite standby and isn't allowed back at the Imperial Theater.
- Mazinger Z: Its Darkest Hour happened in episode 92, but the Mazinger vs Great General of Darkness expanded upon it and turned it even more tragic: The army of Mykene Empire struck, easily razing several big cities (Londo, New York, Moscow...) to ruins. When they raided Tokyo, Kouji flew to fight them... and got the crap beaten out of him. When he returned to the Institute, he found out several Mykene Beasts had smashed the place, destroying Sayaka and Boss's Humongous Mecha. And Shiro, his little brother, had been hurt when a ceiling collapsed, and he urgently needed a blood transfusion. In spite of he was weak -and he was underage- Kouji DID demand they used his blood. Later, at the night, he was sitting in what was left of his bedroom, observing a picture of his father and his grandfather and crying Manly Tears as he muttered the Mykene Beasts would return, and he could not win, but he would fight even though he knew he was going to die (unbeknownst to him, sayaka was observing him, shedding tears as she heard him talking).
- Great Mazinger: In the anime it happened in the last episode: the Mykene bombarded the Fortress of Science, Kouji and Tetsuya were forced to fight separately, Tetsuya was defeated and nearly got killed and Prof. Kenzo Kabuto died. And in the Gosaku Ota episodes it was worse.
- Nevertheless, in that same manga the Darkest Hour happened in one of the last arcs: Great Marshall of Hell blackmailed the Government into destroying the Fortress of Science, Great Mazinger and Venus A. The Fortress was blown up to bits and crumbled into the ocean, the heroes were forced to flee and hiding, and while they were seeking a shelter and lying low, the Mykene army conquered Japan.
- UFO Robo Grendizer: In the finale of the first season, The Hero was defeated and forced into hiding with his Humongous Mecha, his lancer was shot down, his Love Interest was dying, the base was taken by one of the Co-Dragons of Big Bad, and the Professor was tortured.
- Most of the Rossiu arc of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, where the heroes are discredited, stripped of power, and seemingly impotent in the face of the apocalypse. The Darkest Hour for the first two arcs is Simon's Heroic BSOD. Due to Kamina's death.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, the episode "That Day, Riot Force Six". It ends with most of their forces injured, both the Ground Forces HQ and Riot Force Six HQ destroyed, and Ginga and Vivio captured.
- By the last episode of Scrapped Princess, Pacifica has sustained a mortal wound, Prince Forsythe has given himself a mortal wound, Shannon and Zefiris have been dragged off by the surviving Peacemakers, and for good measure, the Royal Forces start blasting the place. It ends well.
- Macross Frontier's Darkest Hour begins around episode 20, with the president being assassinated, a Vajra infestation on the main ship causing wholesale civilian slaughter, the death of Michel as he defended his love, and the departure of Ranka Lee. Things go From Bad to Worse ... but eventually end well.
- The Darkest Hour in Digimon Tamers is when the children realize they can't beat the D-Reaper even with All Your Powers Combined, Juri is in a suicidal, catatonic state, they learn that the D-Reaper obliterated the Digital World, making it a Barren Wasteland, and they realize it's plan to cause a Class 6 Apocalypse.
- In Code Geass, the Darkest Hour comes in R2 episode 19. Suzaku uses a nuke-equivalent in Tokyo because Lelouch's geass command from season 1 compelled him to. This leads to terrific and terrifying destruction, much civilian death, and Nunally's demise. Lelouch, Suzuka and Nina all go into shock, thinking My God, What Have I Done? while a new weapon that fires these on command is in development. This leads to The Zero Requiem.
- This takes place in Chrono Crusade after a disastrous battle with Aion leaves the True Companions broken.
- In the manga, Rosette is nearly killed when Chrono goes into an Unstoppable Rage. Chrono realizes what he's doing in time to save her life, but Aion uses it as his chance to incapacitate him. Azmaria is then kidnapped, Aion leaves the rest badly injured, and Chrono is so distraught that he forces himself into an Angst Coma so he won't take any more of Rosette's lifespan. It ends once Rosette and Chrono decide to follow Aion to his base of operations.
- In the anime, Rosette is kidnapped by Aion and brainwashed to take part in his plans. Chrono manages to free Joshua from the horns, but they've damaged his mind so much he barely remembers anyone, and in the process Chrono is frozen in time. Thing spiral out of control from there, and don't get better until Chrono's final fight with Aion, and the rest of the series is grim up until the ending.
- In Princess Tutu, the Darkest Hour is when the Raven turns the townspeople into crows and captures Mytho when Princess Tutu can't remove her pendant from her neck (which is Mytho's last heart shard). Ahiru becomes so depressed that she believes the only way she can help everyone is by killing herself. Fakir stops her by convincing her that he will always be with her and they can save Mytho together. The Darkest Hour comes to an end when Ahiru finds the courage to give Mytho the pendant and return to being a duck.
- During the Pain Invasion. The village has been leveled, with several important characters and hundreds of nameless villagers killed. Naruto's new sage power has failed and he is pinned to the ground helpless. Worse still, he can find no response to Pain's nihilistic Breaking Speech. Then Hinata tries to come to his aid, makes an Anguished Declaration of Love and attacks Pain, only to get stabbed. Naruto's shock and anger overcome his protective seals and the power of the Nine-Tailed Fox bursts free like it has never done before. As a berserk Naruto is fighting Pain, the scene switches to Yamato (the only person who can rein in the Nine-Tailed Fox when Naruto loses control), who's miles away. He looks down to his tattoo that shows how many tails Naruto has unleashed (if all of them are released, the Nine-Tailed Fox can break free completely), and sees the number changing from 8 to 9...
- The battle against Madara Uchiha manages to top this. Madara effortlessly absorbs all nine tailed beasts at once, killing Bee and knocking out Naruto, and then he stabs Sasuke in the heart. Naruto's condition rapidly deteriorates into cardiac arrest and is utterly unresponsive to any of Sakura's medical jutsu, forcing her to resort to CPR. The alliance has already been devastated by several attacks from the Ten Tails and the Zetsus. Sasuke is bleeding out with no one able to help him, and he may already be dead.
- Then it got worse. Minato tries to transplant his half of Kurama into Naruto, but Black Zetsu interferes and Madara shows up. Sakura is still performing CPR, but who knows how much longer she can hold out. Gai wants to help, but he can barely stand. An unknown figure is approaching Sasuke.
- Then it gets even worse. Madara became Ten Tails' jinchuriki and finally activated Infinite Tsukiyomi, after this, the Sage of Six Path's mother is revived and has Black Zetsu take out Madara, becoming the true final villain.
- There's one at the end of each Slayers season.
- Ouran High School Host Club: The result of a plan orchestrated by the main villain, Tamaki's Evil Matriarch grandmother, in an attempt to separate him and Haruhi: disolve the host club and force Tamaki away to France.
- In Cardcaptor Sakura, the main one comes when Sakura believes she's lost to Yue; she has a lucid dream in which the catastrophe takes place, and friendships no longer exist for the people Sakura was close to.
- In Pluto, when all of the seven great robots of the world have been destroyed. Except for Atom, who may be insane at that point.
- 20th Century Boys's darkest hour is at the end of the second arc, which sees an even crueller person donning the Friend mask, killing several million people, and molding the world in his own image, making all the protagonists work up till then all for nothing.]] After that, things start to eventually look up, starting with the return of the supposedly dead hero from the first third of the story.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Father's just activated his transmutation circle and absorbed the entirety of Amestris. Then he absorbed the Truth.
- The Elric brothers' first meeting with Father and the aftermath. They've found out the horrible secret of their country and they're led to believe there's nothing they can do to stop it. One of the chapters in this arc is even called "Inside the Belly."
- The climax of Sailor Moon Stars. Sailor Moon and the Starlights are the only Sailor Soldiers left. This is on top of the dark shadow of Tuxedo Mask's disappearance that's been hanging around for half the season. The Hope Spot is a dream as well, and really not that close to the end.
- The manga has one that's worse: Galaxia destroys all the Sailor Crystals, leaving herself, Sailor Moon, and Sailor Chibi Chibi the only ones left.
- Negima!'s Darkest Hour is everything that happens after the Governor's ball, most of it to Negi. The Governor tries to kill him after Negi uncovers his real objective, all while his Superpowered Evil Side is threatening to consume him. His mentor is
killed erased in front of him. The secret organisation headed by his nemesis is activating the plan to destroy the Magical World, which erased a lot of his students' new friends in the crossfire as they watched. Oh yeah, Mahora Academy might not survive either. His childhood friend Anya and Asuna are being held hostage, and he's just found out that the Asuna he's been with for all this time is a sleeper agent that he has to unmask. On top of this, he has to beat the evil side into submission, otherwise he'll turn into a feral, homicidal demon the next time he uses Magia Erebea. He feels personally responsible for most of these... and he's just ten. Most overwhelmed little boy since Ender Wiggin.
- As if that wasn't enough, the final showdown between Ala Alba and Kosmo Entelechia has gone wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. Negi is incapacitated (bad), so the rest of the team pull off a daring rescue (good). Half the attacking group is turned to stone in the clusterfuck (bad), but at least they've stopped the world-ending ritual and stolen the artifact, rescued the princess and saved the world, right? Uh, no.
- One for every JoJo's Bizarre Adventure part:
- Part 1 - The seemingly dead Dio attacks Johnathan on his honeymoon.
- Part 2 - Cars achieves his goal of becoming an ultimate being and is now immune to Hamon, and Joseph's out of ideas.
- Part 3 - Kakyoin, Iggy, Avdol, and Joseph are dead and just Jotaro remains to take on Dio and his almost invincible time stopping power.
- Part 4 - Kira has gained a new Stand ability that allows him to easily pick off the only people who can stop him, and the only person who knows Kira's real identity has no way of telling them directly.
- Part 5 - Polnareff's Requiem Stand has gone berserk, and thanks to some body-switching, Big Bad Diavolo is in Buccarati's body, Narancia is dead, and the Requiem Arrow is almost in Diavolo's hands.
- Part 6 - Pucci upgrades his Stand to one that can reset the universe, and he plans to make a world where the Joestars never existed. The only one stopping him is a kid with no offensive abilities whatsoever.
- Part 7 - Valentine has all the corpse parts and merges them with Lucy, giving him complete immunity to Johnny's attacks, Gyro's strongest attack doesn't work and gets him killed, and then Diego shows up...
- Wolf's Rain. The last couple episodes are a never-ending barrage of this. As in, all the main characters die. And not just die, but die horribly. One by one. Finally, it's just Kiba left standing against the Big Bad. He wins, but he's dying. But wait! Cheza exploding into a pile of seeds! Yes, there is hope and joy at- wait, never mind. The universe really does die. All the characters you had some attachment to did face horrible, gruesome deaths. And the last thing you see is Kiba dying. Except not. Only not really. See a whole other existence is apparently made because of this. An existence where only four of the main characters are shown being in, or at least convincing doppelgangers of them. You never really get to find out if the ResetButton was real, or just Kiba's dying dream. If it is real, it's never hinted at in any way that any of the characters shown alive still know each other at all, or where the rest of the gang is. If the rest of the gang is there to begin with.
- One possible explanation is that it really is a reset, but only the wolves are reincarnated in it (Darcia did say that it was "a paradise only for wolves").
- Out of 50 episodes in Eureka 7, episode 44 arguably takes the spot for this trope. The entire episode is a depression.
- The last part of the manga Hellsing develops with the city of London destroyed by vampires and crusaders, with Alucard far away in a ship, and the Hellsing manor almost destroyed and under the attack of vampires. The situation doesn't get better until Alucard arrives (which actually makes things worse).
- It gets much, much worse. The Vatican authorizes purging of London. Anderson becomes a thorn-monster-thing. Walter pulls a Face-Heel Turn. Alucard DIES and does not come back before the end of the war.
- Episode 12 of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. Stocking's ascended to Heaven, Panty's lost her powers, and the Big Bad abducted Brief to unlock the Ghost sealed away. It Gets Better. Then it gets...weird.
- The Water Seven and Sabaody arcs in One Piece, both storylines in which the Straw Hat Pirates have come close to annihilation.
- Those are tame compared to The Marineford arc. The marines succeed in executing Ace, Blackbeard kills Whitebeard and steals his powers, Luffy has sustained a massive amount of damage and sacrificed part of his lifespan in vain, and several villains from previous arcs have now been freed from prison (by Luffy himself, no less), and as the cherry on top, Luffy lost his brother despite all the sacrifices he made.
- The end of Hong Gildong arc in Shin Angyo Onshi. The main character willingly traps himself in a Lotus-Eater Machine which he considered a Fate Worse Than Death betting on One In A Million Chance of breaking free versus certain death otherwise. His main companion is deceived into working for the Big Bad. Anti-Villain antagonists of the arc are mostly dead. The main character's former old friend remains undead in the thrall to the Big Bad, and is revealed to be unable to die or to break free unless his body is completely obliterated. The city that the protagonists protected in the arc is taken over by the Big Bad. The Big Bad decides to stop fooling around and get to the businness of taking over the world, revealing his vast true power and his array of superhuman henchmen. Few good guys still standing are being manipulated by him.
- It gets So.Much.Worse in the final battle. After a gruesome battle where Munsu loses his right arm just to redeem Sando, Aji Tae appears, and decides to make a little show of power... obliterating his stronghold and most of the battlefield in one go, killing most of the characters in there, including his henchmen. Then, almost dead from blood loss and the cost of using the mandrake getting to him, Munsu still doesn't have any other idea against Aji Tae rather than claiming that he is Aji Tae's origin (And thus, his death could affect Aji Tae). Aji Tae thus decides to make a point blowing up Munsu's eye and other arm, and showing he considered that option, and that's why he used another Eldritch Abomination as insurance to avoid the worst case scenario. Desperation Attack only mean getting instakilled, and it looks like Munsu just succumbed...
- And then Munsu decides to have the very best death ever and show the bastard who's boss.
- By episode 11 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Homura is the only magical girl left alive and is fighting a losing battle against Walpurgisnacht even after unloading a small army's worth of firepower on it. After repeating the same six weeks who knows how many times, she finally gives up hope... cue Wishplosion courtesy of her beloved Madoka.
- The End Of Evangelion carries this trope to its logical extreme. It's pretty dark.
- SD Gundam Force: Most of Neotopia's population is turned to stone, Commander Sazabi has stolen Captain's soul drive, and is preparing to rule over the world with it.
- Kyo Kara Maoh near the end of season two; the Sealed Evil in a Can turns out to be the demon kingdom's Crystal Dragon Jesus and possesses the protagonist, The Smart Guy performed a Face-Heel Turn prior to that and has been planning it for centuries, and the practically invincible army is not only invading the rest of the world but also starting to come over to Earth.
- Ichigo's lowest personal moment occurs during the Lost Agent arc. Thanks to More Than Mind Control, Ichigo's friends and family have united with the Big Bad against him or are critically injured. The guy he thought was a friend turns out to be a villain instead and the powers he worked so hard to regain are stolen from him. He's abandoned on his knees, a sword through his chest, crying in the rain. He gets better.
- Soul Society suffers a crushing defeat at the beginning of the Thousand-Year Blood War Arc. The city is laid waste by the Vandenreich and Urahara, Sado and Orihime are defeated at a second front in Hueco Mundo. Within fifteen minutes, fully half the Gotei 13 is dead or critically injured, five bankais have been stolen and Ichigo himself is imprisoned between worlds, forced to listen helplessly to the screams of the dying. Significant characters that are brutually defeated include Byakuya, Kenpachi, Renji, Rukia and Kira. Yamamoto and Choujirou die.
- In Chapter 611, it just gets bleaker especially in the Royal Realm. Yhwach defeats Ichibei while his Elite Sternritter defeated the rest of the Royal Guard; leaving the Soul King unguarded for Yhwach. Ichigo and the others arrived too late since in the end, the Soul King gets impaled by Yhwach which endanger not just Sereitei but also the real world, Hueco Mondo and pretty much everything!
- Sango and Miroku waiting for the Wind Tunnel to absorb them while their despair consumes the light within the Shikon no Tama leaving it in darkness.
- When Sesshoumaru finally learns the truth about Tenseiga's origins and Meidou Zangetsuha's purpose, he concludes his father has groomed Inuyasha to kill him. He's so shaken that he abandons his group and, from far away, watches Inuyasha's group save them from Naraku. Nothing - not even Kagura's death or Rin's second death - has ever made him despair the way thinking his father hated him did.
- Inuyasha is tricked into thinking he murdered Kagome in his blood rage. This breaks him down so completely that he gives into his despair and demon blood.
- High School D×D's Darkest Hour occurs in the 11th volume when Opfus had 75% of her powers drained from her. Then they're trapped in an alternate dimension surrounded by grim reapers. They were able to destroy the statues and were already about to get out of that place when Opfus gets kidnapped by a newly-rebuilt Shalba Beelzebub, and Ise has to rescue her. The volume ends with Ise getting hit with a dragon-eater Samael blood coated on an arrow, leaving him to die in that place. That's not all however; Hades starts a war on the Underworld, Azazel's been accused of cooperating with terrorists even though he's the one who wanted peace in the first place, and every single member of the Occult Research Club suffering a Heroic BSOD.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, the Darkest Hour is when the nuclear armed Blue Cosmos is ready to nuke the PLANTs with over a hundred nukes, and ZAFT is ready to use their Wave Motion Gun on Blue Cosmos and Earth, and the Three Ship Alliance in between trying to prevent both sides from wiping out each other.
- While Popotan isn't exactly a dark series to begin with, it does reach a very bleak point in episode 11. The main characters have been told that they can either continue time travelling with all the impediments that would put on their social lives, or live away from each other in three separate time periods; after Mai leaves, Ai and Mii find going on to be pointless and eventually abandon their journey too. The next episode reveals that none of them are very happy about the situation.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing happens three times, the pilot's homes are targeted for retaliation, then the colonies decide to join their oppressors, and finally Quatre goes on a colony destroying spree nearly killing his best friend.
- Damn, Kirby of his own self-titled anime must be getting unlucky a lot since he gets so many of these. For example:
- Power Stomach/Belly Buster in the episode "A Half-Baked Battle" has just caught Kirby, Dedede, and Escargo(o)n in its grasp and swallowed all three and is proceeding to digest their limo, with all three being next. Cue Dedede whipping out a bomb for Kirby to suck up and blow the monster up from within with.
- Kirby getting pulverized by Masher in the second Knuckle Joe episode, "Monster Management," to the point of not being able to even stand anymore. It goes From Bad to Worse when Knuckle Joe joins in the fight and tag-teams his attacks with Masher until they have him cornered. Tiff, with tears swelling up in her eyes, pleads for Joe to stop but he keeps going. Finally, deciding to finish off the pink spud, Joe uses Smash Punch and... tells Kirby to suck it up?! Which he does, and becomes Fighter Kirby, and then they start mashing Masher?! Wow.
- In the first New Year's episode, "Cappy New Year," after Fire Kirby barely succeeds in destroying Sasuke's Dedede float, he gets knocked out, losing his Fire ability in the process, which is just great as Sasuke uses a large firecracker to pin Kirby on top of it in a last-ditch effort to get rid of him. When Kirby starts moving along the firecracker's surface, Dedede launches several more firecrackers at them. Kirby sucks up Sasuke right before the firecracker explodes and seemingly takes him out with it... thank goodness it's revealed that he got off just in time and became Parasol Kirby to float down to everyone and celebrate the new year.
- The Mumbies Kirby fought against in its own episode, "Mumbies Madness," gives him another one. After dodging several bombs from Bomb Kirby and being taken by surprise by more of them and barely dodging them, the Mumbies clamps onto Kirby with its teeth and is gnawing away on him, and all hope seems lost for the little spud... cue the sun rising and Kirby keeping it on him long enough for the sun to burn it to a crisp.
- In episode "Dedede's Raw Deal," Kirby's getting pummeled and fried by the electricity-firing Squishy, and to make matters worse, he can't fight back because the sweet potato he ate before Squishy started attacking him is giving him hiccups which prevent him from sucking up attacks. Luckily, Tiff comes up with a way to scare him out of them just in time by telling him that he won't be able to eat again if he keeps up his constant hiccups.
- In "Frog Wild," Dedede allows the Demon Frog that possessed Kirby to possess and buff him with the immense strength that he uses to beat Kirby to a pulp to the point of rendering him unable to even stand anymore, and then he's about to bring down his hammer... then Heavy Anaconda shows up, eats the Demon Frog, and then eats Dedede (he gets better later).
- Part One of the two-part "Air-Ride-in-Style." Kirby and the Warp Star are getting bombarded by plasma bolts from a Destrayer that was sent to nuke King Dedede's castle. When Kirby gets distracted trying to save Tiff as the two get bombed by plasma bolts, one of them chips off a piece of the Warp Star sending them falling to their deaths. And just when the Warp Star barely saves them and takes them to Kabu, it gets worse as four Air Riders go after Kirby while the Warp Star is still regaining some of its strength... (which turned out to be All Just a Dream.)
- In the second-to-last part of the five-part series finale, "Combat Kirby," Heavy Lobster is rampaging around the Halberd, and is so far proving to be unstoppable. Not even Cook Kirby can stand up to the metal menace and when it reaches the engine room, it looks like nothing can stop it from destroying the main engine and bringing down the Halberd itself... until Kawasaki gives Kirby some ice cubes to eat so he can turn into Ice Kirby and freeze it enough for it to be blown to smithereens by Sword Knight's bazooka.
- In the Grand Finale, "Fright to the Finish," Fire Kirby has used up all of his energy and reverted back to normal after tiring himself out trying to attack Nightmare physically. Nightmare then decides to enter his sleep and give him a nightmare by torturing him before moving on to crush him, and when he starts messing with Kirby's food, Tiff tries calling for the Warp Star, but it's nowhere to be found in Kirby's dream. Just when all hope seems lost for the pink puff, cue Tiff pulling out the star and giving it to him to eat up to become Star Rod Kirby, Nightmare's one Weaksauce Weakness.
- In Berserk the Band of the Hawk's darkest hour comes after the completion of their Griffith rescue operation, which was the first victory for the Hawks since their downfall upon Griffith's imprisonment, but a Pyrrhic Victory at that, since Griffith now disfigured and crippled beyond repair after a year of torture can never wield a sword again and the Hawks can never return to their status without his leadership. Most of the Hawks are confused and emotionally distraught, especially Guts, Casca, and most of all Griffith himself. He goes through a Despair Event Horizon as a result, but during it, he finds a glimmer of hope for himself; unfortunately, it's a VERY BAD ONE for everyone else involved. It's made that much worse for watchers of the anime, where all of the above happens... and then the series ends.
- In HeartCatch Pretty Cure!, the girls end up confronting Big Bad Dune for the first time... and he easily hands them all their asses, kidnaps Tsubomi's grandmother, regains his full power, then proceeds to turn the Earth into a desert and it seems that, for a little while, those four are the only people alive...
- In Shakugan no Shana, the final series has a freaking god invade the mortal realm. This from a series where The World Is Always Doomed, it happens in the anime a full ten episodes before the show ends.
- Kill la Kill: By the end of episode 13, Satsuki sets off to raid the last few schools not under her control, and Mako is forced to take part in it. The Elite Four return and are on the verge of getting even stronger. Nui completely defeats Ryuko, destroying Senketsu, and its shredded pieces are scattered across Satsuki's forces and used for combat data. All of this presumably makes Ryuko's depression go from bad to worse.
- And then things get even worse during the course of episodes 18-20. Satsuki is defeated by her monster of a mother Ragyo, who steals Junketsu for herself. Ryuko fares little better, getting her heart ripped out by Ragyo and revealing that she is a Life Fiber hybrid. Ragyo's COVERS have taken over Japan, imprisoning many people, including Mako and her family. Satsuki is rescued by the Elite Four and Ryuko ultimately awakens, but doesn't want anything to do with Senketsu anymore because she is still bugged out over being a Life Fiber hybrid. Then Ragyo and Nui lure Ryuko to Honnouji Academy, where they capture her and force her to wear Junketsu, turning her Brainwashed and Crazy — and worse, they've stitched the thing to her Life Fibers, meaning that if it's forcibly removed, it will kill her.
- Umi Monogatari has the end of episode 11. Marin and Urin try to fight Sedna, but have their powers drained from them. The episode closes with them sprawled on the ocean floor, near death, as Sedna's darkness flows into their bodies.
Collectible Card Game
- Magic: The Gathering graces us with Darkest Hour.
- As far as the storyline is concerned, this point is reached when Yawgmoth personally manifests himself on Dominaria.
- New Phyrexia. If you haven't gleaned how that's a Darkest Hour from the title, the Phyrexians have invaded another plane. This time, they've won. From what's been spoiled so far, it seems as if they've been able to infect mana itself. The multiverse is screwed.
- The current page image takes place on the plane of Innistrad. The only thing keeping the humans of Innistrad from becoming lunch for the resident zombies, werewolves, vampires, ghosts and demons is faith in the archangel Avacyn. Avacyn has gone MIA and the wards and holy weapons are starting to fail, leaving them all but defenseless.
- Among other incidents, unprecedented amounts of crap hit the fan at the end of chapter 100 of Ultimate Spider-Man - right in the middle of the Ultimate Clone Saga. To whit: Peter has already found at least one violently insane clone of himself and has tangled with a mysterious Spider Woman; Mary Jane has been kidnapped by another warped and insane clone of Peter who intends to transform her to make her "just like him" (and as of the last page of the chapter has apparently succeeded); Nick Fury has shown up outside Peter's house to arrest him with an army of "Spider Slayers"; Gwen Stacy has mysteriously returned from the dead, but panics and transforms into Carnage (the monster that killed her in the first place) when Fury shows up; Peter was forced to tell Aunt May his secret when she discovered him with Gwen, driving her lash out at him for lying to her all along and telling him she doesn't want to have anything more to do with him, before the repeated shocks (Gwen transforming into Carnage being the straw that broke the camel's back) cause her to have a heart attack; and Peter's supposedly long-dead father Richard Parker has apparently shown up, with Peter shocked to realize that May had known about him for a while and had kept Richard's return a secret. That's a LOT of crap to be going down at once and it still has to get worse before it gets any better.
- Final Crisis for entire DCU.
- Dark Reign for the Marvel Universe.
- Jesse falling out of an airplane and being left for dead in Preacher.
- The nuke exploding, severely weakening Superman, and Gotham rioting in The Dark Knight Returns.
- Captain Marvel destroying the Gulag and freeing the prisoners in Kingdom Come.
- The heroes pondering how to handle a Beyonder-powered Doctor Doom in Secret Wars.
- Nite-Owl and Rorschach discovering Ozymandias' scheme as the world stands on the brink of war in Watchmen.
- Ragnarok happening in The Mighty Thor, led by Loki with Thor's hammer being destroyed.
- In the "Kings of the Broken Wheel" arc, Cutter watches helplessly as Rayek abducts Leetah, Skywise, Suntop and Ember 10,000 years into the future.
- When Leetah and the rest arrive in the future and Ekuar tells them how long it's been, there's every reason to believe the Wolfriders of their time are dead. Then Leetah is captured by humans.
- The Sonic the Hedgehog comics have had a few points over the years that qualify:
- The climax of the Endgame arc — Princess Sally is seemingly dead, Sonic's been framed for it and is a fugitive, and Robotnik is posed to destroy Knothole Village and the Freedom Fighters for good.
- The destruction of Knothole in issue 175, which includes the first time Eggman's ever managed to outright defeat Sonic in a fight.
- About midway through the Iron Dominion Saga, the Iron Queen hacks NICOLE, allowing the Dominion forces to seize control of New Mobotropolis and send the Freedom Fighters running.
- The series seems to be heading into a new one, in the aftermath of the Genesis arc — not only has Eggman succeeded in roboticizing Sally and nearly killing Antoine, but rival villain Ixis Naugus has successfully manipulated the fear of the citizens of New Mobotropolis following the Iron Dominion occupation and subsequent events, allowing him to install himself as King.
- The second issue of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) ends with the Mane Six parting ways and continuing their journey separately.
- Issue #15 ends with all the ponies being consumed by a white void. #16 opens with the ponies questioning whether they've died.
- Halfway through Knightfall Bane heads for Gotham City with the broken Batman and launches him into the ground below, crowds of people in total shock (except for one sleezehead who just sneers at him).
Film - Animated
- During the animated Transformers movie. They even call it by name.
Ultra Magnus: "But Prime, I'm just a soldier... I'm not worthy."
Optimus Prime [mortally wounded]: "Nor was I. But one day... an Autobot shall rise from our ranks... and use the power of the Matrix... to light... our darkest hour."
- My Little Pony: The Movie: Dream Valley is already buried, and the Smooze is advancing on Paradise Estate, the little ponies' last refuge. The adults don't know for sure if Megan and the others made it to Flutter Valley, and that this could be the end. They tell the children to close their eyes, so that if it is indeed the end they at least won't have to see it.
- How to Train Your Dragon has its time when Hiccup, disowned by his father after his forbidden friendship with Toothless the Dragon is discovered, watches the horizon helplessly after seeing his father's fleet proceed to the Dragon island with Toothless -and to certain doom when they are bound to arouse the Red Death Dragon.
- How to Train Your Dragon 2 one-ups the previous film. Not only is Valka's Bewilderbeast, the current Alpha, killed by Drago's own Bewilderbeast, Stoick is killed after taking a blast meant for Hiccup from a Brain Washed And Crazy Toothless! Afterwards, all of the dragons are taken by Drago, who is on his way to destroy Berk in his bid to rule the world, with the heroes at a complete loss at what to do.
- Disney has a lot of these. Commonly they happen soon after the Award Bait Song or the runner up.
- In Aladdin, Jafar gets the genie, becomes the most powerful sorcerer in the world, takes over Agrabah, turns Aladdin back into a street rat and blasts him to a far away snowy place.
- In The Lion King, after Mufasa dies, Pride Rock falls under Scar's rule and Simba becomes too troubled over the guilt of his father's death.
- In its sequel, Kovu gets banished from both Pride Rock and the outlanders.
- Hercules has what is probably the best example on this page when Hades takes away Herc's power, unleashes the Titans and takes over Olympus.
- Toy Story 3 has Woody and his friends about to be incinerated after Lotso refuses to stop the conveyor belt.
- Wreck-It Ralph has two:
- The first has Ralph returning to his game after breaking Vanellope's cart and heart to save her, and he finds out his game is about to be unplugged due to Felix not returning.
- The second one happens toward the end, when the Cy-bug horde has destroyed the entirety of Sugar Rush and are heading toward the tunnel to Game Central Station, Vanellope can't pass the gate due to her being a glitch, Calhoun runs out of ammo to fight the Cy-bugs, and Cy-bug!Turbo has captured Ralph when Ralph tries to activate Diet Cola Mountain.
- Frozen: Elsa has accidentally frozen Anna's heart and only an act of true love can save her. Kristoff takes her back to the castle to be kissed by Prince Hans, who turns out to have been playing Anna for a sucker so he can kill Elsa, who had been captured and imprisoned, and take over Arendelle, leaving Anna to freeze to death.
- Tangled: After being convinced that Flynn/Eugene has betrayed her for the crown, Rapunzel willingly goes back to the tower to be with Gothel. It gets worse when Rapunzel realises the truth about Gothel, and herself, and Flynn/Eugene is stabbed by Gothel when he arrives to save her. Rapunzel then promises to stay with Gothel forever if she allows her to heal him. The earlier establishment that Rapunzel never ever breaks her promises makes the whole thing incredibly intense.
- In Kung Fu Panda, all the heroes have a soul crushingly heartrending night where Master Oogway, the only one who stopped Tai Lung before and the only one who has faith in Po as the Dragon Warrior, dies, leaving Master Shifu with a seemingly impossible promise to train the fat panda, while Po now fully realizes how hopeless he truly is, on top of his profound self-loathing that even Shifu cannot alleviate. Meanwhile, Tigress feels she has no other choice but to defy her master and set out to stop Tai Lung herself, despite his prohibition.
- Also Kung Fu Panda 2, when Po is seemingly dead (with his doubts about his real parents keeping him from fighting as well as he should be), Master Croc and Master Storming Ox have both given up, and the Furious Five are captured by Lord Shen, who plans to use his cannon to kill them for the whole world to see and bring an end to Kung Fu.
- Both the first two Shrek films with both examples involving misunderstandings and Fiona hooking up with someone else.
- My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks: The Rainbooms and Sunset Shimmer are Locked in a Room, Twilight is huddled in a Troubled Fetal Position, having failed to come up with a musical counterspell, and the other five are arguing amongst each other, further fueling the Dazzlings' already great power.
- In The Boxtrolls, Eggs and the last of the boxtrolls have all been rounded up, and it looks like all the boxtrolls have been killed, and Snatcher is about to kill off Eggs and get what he wants: a spot on the council and a Nice Hat. Then Winnie convinces Trout and Pickles to make a Heel-Face Turn, and the boxtrolls return for a Big Damn Heroes moment.
Film - Live Action
- Independence Day: by the night of July 3rd, half of the world's cities have been destroyed, the first lady has died, and Nuclear Missiles have been proven ineffective against the alien ships.
- In The Dark Knight, the Darkest Hour is when Rachel lies dead, Harvey's been disfigured and is out for revenge, and the Joker is holding two boats hostage, trying to prove that Humans Are Bastards and everyone is in despair.
- Ironically, just before, Harvey had stated that "The night is darkest just before the dawn". If he only knew...
- In The Dark Knight Rises, the Darkest Hour for both the movie and arguably the whole trilogy is when Batman lies broken and defeated and is imprisoned halfway around the world from Gotham City...which has been taken over by Bane. To make matters worse, Bane has made the city devolve into crime and chaos and is planning to nuke the entire city.
- Serenity: The title ship is grounded on Mr. Universe's moon. Book is dead. Wash was killed by the Reavers. They've got one seriously ticked off Operative on their tail and the Reavers are descending upon the ship. Zoe even states outright that they're not getting out alive.
- George Lucas admitted that he is fond of this trope, and it shows on the Star Wars films:
- The Phantom Menace: Anakin's fighter gets stranded with no power in the heart of an enemy battleship, meanwhile Amidala's strike team is ambushed and captured, the Gungan army has been defeated and rounded up, and for the record: Qui Gon Jinn is killed by Darth Maul.
- Attack of the Clones: The Jedi strike team sent to rescue Anakin and Obi Wan from Count Dooku is being overwhelmed by thousands of battle droids, Dooku then offers them a chance to surrender, which Mace Windu declines, so Dooku orders the attack to continue.
- Revenge of the Sith: The Empire is born, Padme dies, Anakin becomes Darth Vader and the Jedi are exterminated (which sets up the conflict for the next 3 films).
- A New Hope: When the Death Star gets a clear shot of the moon of Yavin, meanwhile R2 gets shot by Darth Vader, and next Vader calmly locks his targeting device on Luke's fighter. 'This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you are my only hope.'
- The Empire Strikes Back: Han's frozen in carbonite, Luke's lost a hand (and gained some knowledge), and the Empire wins (at least until the next movie).
- Return of the Jedi: The Rebel fleet is being annihilated by the Death Star while their Ewok allies are being stomped by the Empire, R2 gets shot (again) and Luke has a brief lapse to the Dark Side and attempts to strike down both his father and the Emperor in anger.
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Indiana Jones is possessed by Mola Ram after being forced to drink the Blood of Kali, Willie Scott is about be sacrificed to Kali, and Short Round is enslaved by the Thugee Cult and is toiling in the mines being forced with the other children to find the Sankra Stones.
- The Movie version of The Odyssey has one where all of Odysseus' men drown in a shipwreck and he washes ashore to Calypso's island where she makes him her sex slave for seven years. Homer's original is told Anachronic Order, so it's harder to pinpoint there.
- In Pans Labyrinth, when the Faun has forsaken Ofelia and her mother has died, leaving her all alone with her supremely evil stepfather.
- Shows up in both Ghostbusters movies:
- First round in the first is when the Busters are eating Chinese takeout and Ray mentions that the business has just run out of money with that meal. That is exactly when the Sedgewick Hotel calls, desperate for their services; Janine at the front desk calls, "We got one!" as the enterprise is saved.
- Second round in the first movie kicks off when Obstructive Bureaucrat Walter Peck ignores his expert's advice and has the containment unit shut down, causing the firehouse to explode and releasing all the ghosts that the title characters had caught to wreak havoc upon the city. Meanwhile Peck arrests the Ghostbusters for the explosion, taking them out of circulation and preventing them from rounding up the ghosts again.
- The second film has the part when the river of slime comes up to the surface, covering the museum and generally causing havoc. Also counts as a literal Darkest Hour, as the influence of the slime causes an eclipse which plunges the city into darkness.
- This occurs during the original Godzilla when Dr. Serizawa is torn between using the Oxygen Destroyer or keeping it a secret. It's not until he's shown the tragedy caused by Godzilla's rampage that he finally decides to use it...but only once.
- The gay romance Latter Days, where we're led to believe closetted Mormon Aaron commits suicide after breaking up with Christian and getting excommunicated from his church for being gay.
- In The Matrix Revolutions, Agent Smith escapes the Matrix and enters the real world in disguise and attacks the last of the human rebellion. He blinds a defenseless Neo who is really powerless outside of the Matrix, and becomes the biggest threat.
- The Darkest Hour looks pretty bleak, what with cities crumbling and weird energy tentacles turning humans into ash. The perfect Christmas film!
- The Avengers has two: one for the film as a whole, and one for the Final Battle (which was so big, Joss Whedon had to plot it out like a film in its own right).
- The first time comes when the Helicarrier is barely functioning after the Brainwashed and Crazy Hawkeye's attack and the Hulk's rampage; Thor is gone, Banner is gone, Iron Man's armour is a hair's breath from completely crapping out, Black Widow is inches from a Heroic BSOD, Agent Coulson is dead, Loki has escaped, and S.H.I.E.L.D. still has no idea where the Tesseract is.
- The Darkest Hour of the Final Battle is when the Avengers, despite having assembled, have been ridiculously outnumbered and outgunned by the Chitauri. Iron Man and Hawkeye are running low on ammo, Thor and Cap are surrounded, the Hulk is being pummelled by laser-fire, and to top it all off, the WSC declare "Screw it" and fire a nuke at Manhattan.
- Frostbite: The police are surrounded by the growing horde of vampires and Annika has been turned into a vampire; the night is indeed darkest just before the dawn. The problem is that Frostbite takes place in the northern part of Sweden where the sun is absent for an entire month. Dawn is still several weeks away.
- In Oz: The Great and Powerful, Oz, instead of leading the attack, tries to make a getaway, with gold — and Theodora shoots him down, leaving his balloon in flames.
- In Pacific Rim, the Kaiju have been increasing in strength and regularity. The Jaeger program, which was really the only effective way of dealing with the Kaiju, has been shut down in light of diminishing success. The Pacific Wall—the "viable alternative"—is quickly shown to be totally ineffective against the stronger Kaiju. There are only four operational Jaegers left in existence.
- In Tremors, the Gummers are the best armed and equipped people in Perfection, but a graboid has headed for their house, attracted to the vibrations of a brass cleaner and the couple moving around in their basement. Val tries to warn them over the radio, but Burt doesn't understand the threat until the graboid is almost upon them. The last thing Val hears on the radio is Burt's scream of surprise as the graboid breaks through the wall. A few seconds later, the sound of gunfire makes it to town. Cue the Gummers unleashing More Dakka on the graboid.
- The Crossing starts at the The American Revolution's darkest hour, namely winter 1776. The Continental Army has been completely thrashed, forced to retreat from every encounter, out of money, and if Washington can't come up with a winning battle plan before enlistments expire on December 31, the army will dissolve and the Revolution will be over. The end titles state that while the Revolution had many other low points, it never got this bad again.
- In The Shawshank Redemption, it's hinted that Andy commits suicide, until...
- In Aliens, Ripley and Newt briefly embrace this, believing Bishop has abandoned them. Both are on the brink of a Despair Event Horizon while the atmosphere processor around them is on the verge of total destruction. The raging alien queen is also upon them. They're out of ammo and out of time. All hope is lost, until Bishop arrives in the second drop-ship.
- Space Jam, the TuneSquad's pummeling near the end of the second half and their final back up player, Stan, is taken out by the Monstars and without a fifth, the TuneSquad is on the verge of being forced to forfeit.
- In Shaun of the Dead, Ed's been bitten, the zombies have overrun the Winchester, Shaun and Liz are the only survivors and are pinned down in the basement, and the rifle only has two shells left.
- Britain's darkest hour against Nazi Germany is prominently displayed in the first third of Into The Storm.
- The Inbetweeners 2 has the lads Stranded in the Outback with no apparent chance of survival. After a touching moment involving them accepting death, they're rescued
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ends on a cliffhanger at one of the story's most dramatic moments; Smaug is about to descend on Laketown and raze it to the ground out of petty vengeance, the Company is split up and unable to stand against him, the Master has had Bard locked up in prison, Kili has been severely poisoned, Gandalf has been captured by the Necromancer, Azog's army is preparing to march on the Lonely Mountain, and Legolas, one of few people with the skill to possibly stop Smaug, has been lured away from Laketown by Bolg.
- In The Princess Bride (both the book and the movie), the boy gets a little upset at the part where Westley is dead and Buttercup supposedly marries Humperdinck. What's the point of reading this story? That's not how it's supposed to end! It takes him years to realize just how deeply that moment affected him.
- Most of J. R. R. Tolkien's work has at least one of these.
- Given the press of events (many of them bad news), these crop up fairly frequently in the Deryni works. A partial list:
- Soon after King Brion's death, as he's troubled by vile rumours and worried about the Shadowed One, and having just been acquitted of treason and heresy, Alaric Morgan stands contemplating Brion's new tomb in Deryni Rsiing:
...That the good and gentle Brion should end this way was not fitting. Life had been too short; the good done well, but not enough done, for lack of tiem. Why? Why had it been necessary for him to end this way?
You were father and brother to me, Morgan thought dully. If only I had been at your side that day, I might have spared you this indignity, this useless gasping out of your life's breath! Now, with you gone...
- Morgan again, late in Deryni Checkmate. He's barely escaped from men who wanted to burn him at the stake, his people are in revolt against him, the Church Militant has excommunicated him and his cousin (who's radiating his own misery over his threatened priestly vocation), his king and country are facing immenent invasion, his beloved sister Bronwyn and her fiance have died from a badly set love charm. He withdraws to the grotto on his castle grounds and overhears his bard weeping and composing a lament in honour of Bronwyn.
- Duncan has one that begins in Dhassa, once he learns his father's army is missing; he stares out the window wracked by guilt over his duty to his father (Duncan is now the elder Duke Jared's only heir) and troubled by conflict between his priestly vocation ("at once held and not held") and his Deryni powers. Then one of his father's pages arrives on a foundering horse and collapses, and Morgan Reads the boy's memories to learn of Jared's betrayal at the hands of Bran Coris. Duncan doesn't entirely snap out of his funk until Richenda asks him to hear her confession two or three days later.
- When Derry realizes the extent of Wencit's control over his mind in High Deryni, he tries to kill himself to avoid betraying Morgan and Kelson. His failure (caused by Wencit's implanted psychic compulsion) reduces him to weeping bitterly and stabbing the dirt floor of his cell with the dagger he cannot bring himself to use on himself.
- Morgan has another one in The Quest for Saint Camber. Kelson and Dhugal are thought to be dead, Nigel is wasting away before his eyes, and Royal Brat Conall looks set to be the next king. As Morgan meditiates in preparation for a ritual, he has a vision of himself in the Haldanes' royal crypt looking down on Nigel's body on his funeral bier.
- Harry Potter'
- In Philosopher's Stone, Harry throws away for his House any realistic competition in the House Cup and resolves to give up saving the Stone.
- In Chamber of Secrets, the school is under intense lockdown, devoid of hope, and Cornelius Fudge and Lucius Malfoy have banished the people who would be of most help.
- In Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry has failed in his rescue, a vile man has escaped into the ether, and everyone believes he has been magically confused into believing utter lies.
- Goblet of Fire's Darkest Hour, oddly enough, is fairly early in, when Harry, in becoming a champion, is shunned by most of the school, including one of his best friends.
- In Order of the Phoenix, Umbridge is swiftly taking over and souring everything great and good about Hogwarts. This ends when the trio find a way to fight back.
- There's a secondary one during the climactic fight at the Ministry. Voldemort's inner circle is there in force, at least half the party is wounded, and there's no sign of escape or support. Then the Order of the Phoenix shows up.
- In Half-Blood Prince, The Cave.
- In Deathly Hallows, beginning with Ron walking out and ending with the Silver Doe.
- From Scrimgeor's death onwards, the entire wizarding community faces its darkest hour.
- To say nothing of the final battle against Voldemort and the revelation of Harry's destiny.
- Older Than Dirt: The death of The Hero's best friend, Enkidu, in The Epic of Gilgamesh triggers the first Heroic BSOD.
- "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream": the ending to the short story functions as this. On the other hand, most of the videogame functions as a Darkest Hour until the endgame.
- Katie MacAlister's Aisling Gray series ends book three, "Light My Fire", at an incredibly low point.
- In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Blood Angels novel Deus Sanguinius, Rafen first, under psychic attacks, nearly commits suicide. Fighting against the attacks, and a vision, free him from the compulsion but make his duty clear to him: he tries to blow up the city where his fellow Blood Angels are breaking with their Chapter. It fails, they pursue him. It ends only when they catch him in a factory, and it explodes.
- The Star Trek: Destiny trilogy by David Mack has its Darkest Hour (and arguably, the Darkest Hour of the entire Star Trek franchise) at the end of the second novel, when enough Borg ships to lay waste to every planet in known space come screaming into the alpha quadrant and tear through the combined forces of Starfleet, the Klingons, the Cardassians, Romulans, Ferengi and Talarians as if they were made of tissue paper.
- The ending of Soul of the Fire sees Kahlan hanging to life by a fragile thread and having lost the child she was carrying, Richard believing that the Imperial Order is impossible to defeat, and a general lack of anything good having come from the events of the book, with Richard, Kahlan, and Cara quietly leaving in utter defeat.
- In Andre Norton's Jargoon Pard, Kethan is Switched at Birth for a woman's daughter, because only a son can inherit. At the climax, this is revealed to the woman and his parents; they reveal that actually, they knew it for a long time, practically from infancy, and still consider her their daughter. Kethan nearly despairs, because his purported mother no longer wants him, because she can no longer use him. After the fight, however, his parents eagerly lay claim both to their biological son and the daughter they raised.
- In Chapter 21 of The Pilo Family Circus, Shalice the fortune teller has gotten her crystal ball back, ending the Freedom Movement's attempt to destroy the circus and curtailing any future bids for freedom. For good measure, Kurt Pilo has had Winston tortured as negative reenforcement.
- The Alienist: Dr. Kreitzler leaves the team after the shooting at his home. This almost derails the investigation.
- In Warrior Cats, the darkest hour comes when Scourge kills Tigerstar, who had been the Big Bad up until then and declares that he and his clan are taking over the forest. Points for the book actually being called The Darkest Hour.
- In Septimus Heap:
- Queste: When Septimus is taken away from Jenna and Beetle in the House of Foryx.
- Darke: After Jenna has told Septimus about Sarah being trapped in the Darke Domaine, he is completely broken.
- Someone Else's War: Matteo and his friends have come up with a clever plan to arrest the ranking officials of the LRA without any violence. And then half his friends are wiped out in a single move when the LRA decides they've got too many mouths to feed.
- Trapped on Draconica: After Yusef betrays the Eastern Alliance this trope occurs. The only remaining military threat to Baalaria is gone, Daniar is lethaly poisoned, Ben and Kalak captured, and all their possible allies refused or tapped. Then Rana shows up.
- In The Riftwar Cycle by Raymond E. Feist, the most prominent one of these is the ending to A Crown Imperiled, with Pug, Magnus, Miranda and Nakor supposedly being dead, Drakin-Korin has returned, an angel has been killed by a strange creature and the Kingdom of the Isles is seconds away from civil war.
- The Dresden Files:
- In Changes, Harry gets beaten so badly that his spine is broken. He finally decides to give in and accept Mab's offer to become the Unseelie Court's Winter Knight.
- In Ghost Story, when his apprentice is having her darkest hour, we learn that what Harry actually did in the previous book was ten times worse. She realizes that Harry's choice was a mistake, and decides to scrap her original plan and do the right thing.
- In The Dagger and the Coin, the fall of Porte Oliva to the Antean army is this. Porte Oliva was supposed to be the place of safety where the refugees who had escaped Antea's earlier conquests would be safe. And the heroes even get a Hope Spot with the arrival of Barriath Kalliam's fleet to break the Antean blockade, and the dragon Inys to help defend them from the Antean land forces. Then Inys is defeated and nearly killed, the city falls quickly, the heroes have to flee for their lives, again, and Cithrin falls into despair. It is after this that the tide begins to turn.
- The Age of Fire series has its Darkest Hour start near the end of the penultimate book, Dragon Rule, and run through nearly the entire final book, Dragon Fate. RuGaard is ousted as Tyr by NiVom and Imfamnia and sent into exile with his siblings, while their loved ones are held hostage to enforce their compliance. And while NiVom plots to Take Over the World, he's manipulated by Imfamnia, who it turns out is actually possessed by the Red Queen, who is working with Rayg in order to decimate and enslave the dragon race, which nearly succeeds.
- A Mage's Power: Eric and Kasile have been arrested on charges of sedition and locked in the castle dungeon. The Dragon's Lair is about to be raided so its members can join them. Power Nullifiers make Dengel's magical knowledge worthless. At this point Eric gives up and shouts for Tasio to send him back to Threa. Tasio doesn't arrive, and Eric realizes the Awful Truth-Tasio planned this outcome. Not only will he not helped Eric, he's laughing his ass off at his expense. Then Siron arrives with a proposition.
Live Action TV
- On Doctor Who...
- In The Daleks Master Plan the Daleks have got back the last component of the weapon with hwich they hope to conquer the star system and the Doctor doesn't even know if he can get back to their base to stop them.
- In The War Games, the Doctor pragmatically summons his people, the Time Lords, knowing that he will then have to face their judgement and even the ever-optimistic Second Doctor knows he cannot run from them any more. By the end of the story, the Time Lords have separated the Doctor from his companions and he faces trial by his own people. This ended up the Second Doctor's tenure and finished off the black and white era of the program.
- Logopolis, the final story of the Fourth Doctor (the longest running Doctor on television to date).
Most of the universe One tenth of the universe, to be specific (which is still a hell of a lot), has already gotten destroyed, the situation has gotten so dire that the Doctor's future self had to bail him out, and the Master finally decides to take the remaining universe hostage.
- The Trial of a Time Lord has the Doctor's trial suddenly have introduced a charge of genocide.
- "The Sound of Drums" (which again features the Master) counts as a Darkest Hour, for the Doctor and for the Earth.
- Possibly the darkest hour in not just the show's history, but in the whole of fiction occurs in The Pandorica Opens when it is revealed that the apparently Back from the Dead Rory is actually an Auton duplicate with the original's memories created as part of a huge trap for the Doctor by an alliance of all his enemies, who kills Amy just as she remembers him. The Doctor is shut in the Pandorica, an inescapable prison, despite his pleas for them to listen to his warnings of the impending destruction of space and time. It's in vain, because the TARDIS explodes with River inside of it, creating the cracks that set the season in motion in the first place and causing every star in every universe to explode at every moment in history, making it as if reality never existed in the first place. It all gets better in the finale though.
- Before that, we had Stolen Earth. Rose's presence in Donna's alternate reality in the previous episode means the walls of reality are breaking down. And then, the Earth (and 27 planets) is snatched from it's current location right in the middle of the medusa cascade, and we have a dalek fleet closing in. Every military outpost fall, humans are being taken away and UNIT hands Martha the Osterhagen key. The end of the episode has the Doctor shot by a Dalek and regenerating, Sarah Jane Smith driving into a group of Daleks (vehicle are forbidden) and a Dalek entering Torchwood. In Journey's End we find out that Davros (back from the dead) is going to detonate a reality bomb powered by the stolen planets, the Dalek's Zed Nutrino energy and and every ounce of ham he produces. Also, we find that the Osterhagen key is a Godzilla Treshold for if humanity lost so much hope that death is better. Sarah also has a crystalized nova explosion that could be used to blow up the crucible. Before they can use their respective plot devices, they get transported Vault. Then the TARDIS appears and a meta-crisis Doctor and Donna run in, guns blazing. They get zapped back and imprisoned.
- "A Good Man Goes To War", where the Doctor rose so high, and saw everything taken away, when Melody is taken away from under his nose, so she can be raised to kill him. Doubles as a You Can't Fight Fate.
- The Day of the Doctor, while actually being what is possibly the Doctor's finest hour, contrasts this by showing what is undoubtedly the darkest moment in the Doctor's history: the Time War, when the War Doctor is forced to use The Moment to destroy Gallifrey and the Daleks all at once. This is subverted when the Eleventh Doctor proposes the idea to simply seal Gallifrey away rather than destroy it, using all of the previous (and future) Doctors to aid with the calculations and the logistics of it.
- Breaking Bad: By the end of the episode "Ozymandias" Hank's investigation has gone up in smoke with him and Gomez dead in the desert, Jack and his crew have taken almost all of Walt's money and kidnapped Jesse to force him to cook for them, Skyler and Walt Jr. have turned on Walt and exposed him, forcing Walt to go on the run.
- The end of the Chuck episode "Chuck Versus Sarah" is arguably the most depressing moment of the series. Not only has Sarah lost her memory, but after seeing her video logs, she starts to realize just how crucial the last five years of her life were and how different she became after falling in love. She sets out for Quinn with the knowledge that killing him won't actually make that any better, and Chuck watches the love of his life walk away from him knowing that she remembers almost nothing of their time together.
Sarah: I just wanted to tell you that I believe you. I believe everything that you told me about us. But the truth is, Chuck, I don't feel it. Everything that you told me about us and our story, I just ... I don't feel it.
- For some viewers, depending on how you interpret the last few moments of the series, that doesn't actually get better.
- The end of the first half of the third season finale, "Chuck Vs. the Subway," isn't much better: Chuck's father has just been murdered by Shaw, Chuck suffers a Heroic BSOD because of his father's death which leaves him unable to access the Intersect 2.0, and Chuck's mind is slowly dying because of faults in the Intersect, while the only thing that can prevent its effects on him has been stolen by Shaw. Chuck, Sarah, Casey, and Beckman are falsely arrested as traitors in the CIA, and Chuck, Sarah, and Casey are all taken away by Shaw to be executed.
- The end of the episode "Spiral" in season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hellgod Glory has kidnapped Buffy's little sister/cosmic MacGuffin Dawn/The Key, and is going to use her to end the world. Plus, Giles is badly injured and the gang are stranded in the middle of nowhere.
- In Angel, argubly one of the darkest moments is the end of season three where Wesley has betrayed the team and been abandoned, Cordelia has Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence, and Angel's been trapped at the bottom of the sea by his own son.
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation, the episode "Best of Both Worlds" marks a "darkest hour" for the crew and for the series which was facing cancellation. At the end of Season Three, Enterprise is damaged, the Borg have decimated the forces massed at Wolf 359, and they have captured Captain Picard assimilating his knowledge and their one trick shot with the main deflector dish fails and damages the ship. Riker is forced to take command of the ship and appoint his rival Lt Commander Shelby to be his first officer, as the Borg move to assimilate Earth. That's about as bad as it gets on TNG.
- The cliffhanger at the "Best of Both Worlds, Part 1" (the season finale) has Riker order their hastily-assembled Wave Motion Gun fired at the Borg ship, with the assimilated Picard onboard. Part 2, the 4th season premier, has it get even darker in the opening scene, as said Wave Motion Gun, the most powerful weapon the Federation has ever created, hits the Borg ship and does absolutely no damage.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has quite a few involving the Dominion. The two most likely candidates occur when the station is abandoned at the end of season 5, and is not recaptured until 6 episodes into the next season, and "In The Pale Moonlight", when it appears that Senator Vreenak has discovered the falsified evidence Sisko and Garak had made to get the Romulans to join the war.
- Stargate SG-1:
- Season 4 ended with such. Teal'c last seen being taken by The Dragon to Apophis. Then, because of the effects of the sun blowing up on hyperspace windows, the ship belonging to SG-1 is flung galaxies away, with zillions of years at maximum hyperspace between them and home. Just after that sank in Apophis comes through the same window and is right on top of them, his command ship docking with theirs the way theirs would dock with a pyramid.
- Season 5 leads up to this: despite defeating Apophis once and for all at the start of the season, one by one, Earth and its allies are targeted for destruction by Anubis; the Tollan are destroyed, the rebel Jaffa and Tok'ra are scattered, and Earth escapes a Colony Drop unscathed (barely). Anubis turns out to have Ancient technology that can rival the Asgard, and Thor gets his brain sucked out. Oh, and Daniel Jackson is dead. They're screwed, and the next season doesn't give them much more hope.
- It starts with Anubis attacking the Earth by using a device that will pump the Earth Stargate with so much energy it will explode, destroying all life on Earth. They manage to defeat his plan by strapping the active gate onto a recently-invented starfighter and blasting it into space, but that still doesn't stop the gate from exploding. Luckily, they have a spare. But Anubis is still out to get them, creating a weapon that blows up planets, and trashes other Goa'uld warships by the dozen without breaking a sweat, and uses it to blow up Abydos. The whole of Seasons 5 and 6 play out like a huge Darkest Hour. Things don't get better until the Season 7 premiere.
- Happens frequently in Power Rangers, especially in the post-Zordon era where each season is self-contained. However, the Zordon era had several memorable ones;
- First is part 4 of the Green With Evil saga. The Power Rangers suffer their worst defeat at the hands of Goldar, Scorpina and the Green Ranger, the Megazord is catastrophically damaged and Zordon is still missing with barely any chance of returning.
- Second is the finale of Power Rangers Turbo. The Megazords, the Rangers' weapons and soon the Turbo powers are completely destroyed. Zordon has been captured by evil forces and the Power Chamber is leveled by a full-scale invasion from Divatox's army with no chance of Dimitria returning. It ends with the now-powerless Rangers blasting off into space with barely any direction of what to do.
- Third is the final episode of Power Rangers in Space, Countdown to Destruction. The evil forces have a grip on the whole universe and the Rangers are outnumbered with most of their Megazords destroyed.
- Things rarely go well in Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined). That said, two points in the series count as Darkest Hours:
- In the first episodes of season 3, the New Caprica arc. Most of the insurgency's leaders are held prisoner on the planet. The free ones, Saul, Anders and Galen are increasingly desperate, with Galen getting careless after Cally is arrested and Saul unhinged after being tortured. Starbuck is missing, held prisoner by Leoben and subjected to Mind Rape with no way to reach her husband or allies. On the Fleet, the two Battlestars are undermanned and have no viable means of penetrating the planetary defence. William and Lee are in increasing disagreement on what to do, feeling hopeless and unable to help the people they love.
- Starting at the middle of season 4… The Fleet finds Earth after years of searching, but the whole planet is a radioactive wasteland. The friendly cylons have been all but decimated, with only one sheep surviving. Galactica herself is wounded and falls apart with old age. People fall prey to suicidal and auto-destructive behaviors, a situation that culminates in a bloody mutiny. The one child that symbolizes humanity's future is kidnapped by the bad cylons… and it keeps getting worse until the beginning of the Series Finale.
- Let us not forget that the ENTIRE SERIES takes place immediately following the deaths of all but 50,000 humans, and the decimation of 12 worlds, each comparable in population to modern Earth.
- LOST, season 6, episode 14. The ep is called "The Candidate", but could very well have been called "Darkest Hour" instead. The Man in Black is in full-on Kill 'em All mode, 4 main characters are dead—including the only person capable of piloting the Ajira plane—and the submarine has been destroyed, meaning there's no way of getting off the Island.
- Babylon 5 has the episode Hour of the Wolf, where The Hero is dead after his Heroic Sacrifice, but didn't even manage to kill Morden. Garibaldi has been captured by someone, the Vorlons are done with what little diplomacy they did before, Londo sees his premonition of Shadow ships over Centauri Prime become true and Emperor Cartagia is planning on turning the Centauri homeworld into a giant funeral pyre to light his way to godhood. The Vorlons and the Shadows haven't started shooting yet, but they've thrown out the rules of engagement so it's only a matter of time.
- Prior to the main series, the Battle of the Line (the final battle in the Earth-Minbari war) was most definitely one of these. The all-but-defeated remnants of the Human fleet have been pushed back to Earth by the numerically and technologically superior Minbari. The Humans know that there is no hope of victory, and the president of Earth tells the defenders to fight hard because every minute they hold out means a few hundred more humans might be able to escape to neutral planets to carry on the species. The Minbari unexpectedly surrender to the Humans when they discover that Minbari souls are being reincarnated in human bodies, and that the captured Captain Sinclair carries the soul of their greatest leader Valen.
- The two-part opener of Merlin series four is called "The Darkest Hour." Furthermore, the tagline for the season as displayed on the posters is: "The darkest hour is just before the dawn." It's also a line of dialogue in the first episode, as said by Prince Arthur.
- Camlann in the Series 5 finale. If you know the myths, you can guess. Only this time, Merlin breaks out of the cave and performs a Big Damn Heroes, although not in time to save Arthur.
- All of the Supernatural season finales feature Darkest Hours, but the fifth season takes the cake. Sam is possessed by Lucifer, their last chance at stopping the Apocalypse failed, and it seems inevitable that Lucifer and Michael will have their showdown and tear the world apart. Even Castiel, a freaking angel, says its hopeless.
- The penultimate episode of season eight comes close. Crowley has a list of everyone the Winchesters have saved, and he's going to kill one every twelve hours unless they agree to his terms. He even gives them a head start on the third victim just so they can watch her die. Faced with every scrap of good they've managed to do in eight years being erased, Sam seriously considers giving up.
- The Darkest Hour for the Super Sentai franchise was shown in the crossover movie with Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger and Tensou Sentai Goseiger as Earth is invaded by the Zangyack for the first time. They're beaten back, but the Sentai are left powerless. Near the end of the series, the Gokaigers are dealt their own moment when the Zangyack invade again and their Greater Powers are useless against them.
- Arrow: "Streets of Fire," the penultimate episode of season 2 reaches the darkest hour when Oliver decides that he cannot beat Slade and that the only way to prevent more suffering is for him to surrender himself to Slade to be killed. Felicity manages to talk him out of it with a You Are Not Alone speech.
Felicity: You are not done fighting!
- Season 3's darkest hour comes in the mid-season episode "Left Behind". In the aftermath of Ra's al Ghul killing Oliver at the end of the previous episode, Team Arrow is falling apart, and criminals are taking back the streets of Starling City. Things do start look up at the end of the episode, however, as Oliver is revived by Tatsu, and Laurel takes up the Black Canary mantle.
- Warhammer 40,000: The Horus Hersey. Horus has besieged Terra, and the traitor legions have ravaged the entire planet, and the Emperor and only 3 of his Space Marine legions are all that stand against Horus and his 8 traitor legions.
- The Dark Age Era in Battletech, the Exarch of the Republic of the Sphere Devlin Stone disappears, and the HPG network collapses from an unknown attacker, this riles every faction to turn on each other.
- Arguably, Rock and Roll circa 1960. Elvis had turned to Frank Sinatra-style pop after his Army hitch, Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly were dead, Carl Perkins had never really recovered from his car accident (and was playing mostly country), Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis were reeling from sex scandals, and Little Richard had quit to become a minister. It got better.
- Our Solemn Hour by Within Temptation.
- "In My Darkest Hour" by Megadeth
- "End of All Hope" by Nightwish
- Explicitly invoked in The Devil Came Back to Georgia.
Johnny did you ever know that time keeps marching on
The coldest hour is the one comes just before the dawn
The Devil's Back in Georgia will you stand up to the test
Oh will you let the Devil be the best.
- In choral settings of the Christian Mass, the music often lands in a minor key and slows down in the section of the Credo when Christ is crucified. When, in the next sentence, he is resurrected, the music perks right up into a major key and the tempo moves briskly along.
- Without question the absolute darkest hour in Ludo's rock opera The Broken Bride is when the Time Traveller is at the apocalypse and decides to destroy his Time Machine, marooning himself there and severing himself from his beloved wife forever, to release the only things that may have a chance at destroying the zombie-making, soul-devouring Dragon: Pterodactyls.
- Shinedown references this in their song, "The Sound of Madness." Potentially subverted, though, as the following line gives a potential Hope Spot:
The darkest hour never comes in the night; When ya gonna wake up and fight?!
- The album Rain of a Thousand Flames from Rhapsody of Fire.
- The Manual (the Timelords' guide to creating a #1 hit single, no money or talent necessary) tells its user to schedule a week in the recording studio actually creating the single, and warns that Tuesday will be wrecked by depression and self-doubt. The only solution is to press on: by Wednesday, everything should start to make sense again.
- The point of Wednesday 13's song, "We All Die:"
No matter what, you always put a smile upon my face
Just know that I love more than anything, just in case
We all die...
- The movie version of the Transformers theme describes this trope quite well and name drops it:
Something evil's watching over you
Comin' from the sky above
And there's nothing you can do
Prepare to strike
There'll be no place to run
When your caught within the grip
Of the evil Unicron
Strong enough to break the bravest heart
So we have to pull together
We can't stay worlds apart
To stand divided we will surely fall
Until our darkest hour
When the light will save us all
- Imagine Dragons has quite a few songs with this kind of vibe, such as "Demons," "Lost Cause," and "Nothing Left to Say."
- The phone call in The Wall: Pink finally gets through to his wife, only to learn that another man is answering the phone. What's more, he has to learn this through the dispatcher. At that point, he well and truly disconnects from the world around him.
- Joseph being thrown into prison in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: "Poor, poor Joseph, whatcha gonna do?/ Things look bad for you!/ Hey, whatcha gonna do?"
- Wicked: "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished! All helpful urges should be circumvented - no good deed goes unpunished! Sure, I meant well, well look at what well-meant did!" Dead little sister, Villain with Good Publicity as powerful as ever, Beloved teacher reduced to bleating, love interest in chains and torment, and best friend is accomplice to all this.
- Two in Man of La Mancha: One is for Aldonza, after being gang-raped by the muleteers. Then Don Quixote himself suffers this after the Knight of the Mirrors breaks his spirit.
- Spring Awakening: Melchior comes home to find his love interest and their unborn child have been killed by a failed abortion, making it all his fault, and he's reminded that best friend committed suicide, and it's also his fault, indirectly. And this is not helped in the original German play, when the ghosts of his friends actually appear to try to make him commit suicide and join them. Some friends.
- Les Misérables has a Darkest Hour for each of its main characters, it seems. For instance, Fantine's beg: "I never did no wrong / My daughter's close to dying / If there's a God above / He'd let me die instead." The first act concludes with the Dark Reprise medley "One Day More", which is the story's overall darkest hour.
- "Gentlemen, we are about to brave the storm in a skiff made of paper." While history teachers forevermore would trumpet the signing of the Declaration as the birth of the United States of America, at the time the Founding Fathers knew that that "skiff made of paper" would have been a far safer bet - they faced another decade of war with a third of the Colonies on their side in a ragtag militia facing the might of the British Imperial Navy and knew they faced years of hardship and a charge of treason should they fail. John Adams might have been able to "see the rays of ravishing light and glory... through the gloom," but he also knew what they faced. There was very little joy in Independence Hall that day.
- The Darkest Hour was yet to come: the Continental Army was soundly thrashed in the initial engagements at New York, and the broken remnants fled across New Jersey desperately attempting to escape the British. It was this that prompted Tom Paine to write "These are the times that try men's souls...."
- The third act of Vanities, where the characters' friendship is strained to the breaking point. Worse, this was the original non-musical play's finale.
- In The Magic Flute, when the Queen of the Night asks Tamino to rescue Pamina, she asks him to help in "a mother's darkest hour."
- Sluggy Freelance, as might be expected from such a plot-heavy series of its length, has at least three examples.
- The first is at the end of Chapter 12, when Gwynn is in an apparently irreversible coma, and Torg and Zoë are trapped in pre-Norman Britain in an Army of Darkness parody.
- The second, a pastiche of such moments in horror films, in chapter 32, after a group consisting of the majority of the storyline's surviving cast, including Torg and Bert, are ambushed and apparently killed in the space of a single strip. It would be just a one-strip fake out like the one two chapters later, except that only Torg and Flaky - and not Bert - actually did survive.
- The third, and certainly most grim, is at the end of chapter 59: Oasis having crossed the Moral Event Horizon by apparently incinerating Riff and Zoë, Torg's optimistic certainty that they'd escaped to another dimension is defeated by his revelation that his memory of events was wrong, and that what seemed to be pessimistic babble by Gwynn was actually her presenting proof that Zoë, at least, was dead; cut to the alternate dimension Riff and Zoë had in fact escaped to to see Riff apparently be gunned down over Zoë's charred corpse, followed by a Filler arc of Kiki explaining to ZHOAS why you should accept when a likable character's been killed off. And just as Sasha was reintroduced.
- The Order of the Stick: Azure City, a major bastion of Good, is overrun by an army of hobgoblins. The goblin cleric and evil lich that command them thus get access to a gate holding a universe-devouring monstrosity. Most of the paladins are wiped out, and the strongest is taken prisoner. The survivors from the city are leaving on boats while trying to find a new place to settle. The leader of the heroes has been killed during the battle. The surviving team is separated and unable to contact each other and the wizard of the party is manipulated into accepting a Deal with the Devil and is now teetering on the brink between heroism and villainhood. Oh, and that Gate? It gets destroyed during the battle. And while that may mean that the villains can't harness its powers, it now means that there's a gaping hole in reality and the seal containing the Snarl has been significantly weakened. Oh, and while Vaarsuvius may have come to his/her senses, he/she still owes his/her soul to the IFCC, who still seem interested in using him/her as a pawn. On the bright side, O-Chul's capture allowed him to befriend the Monster in the Darkness, and seems to have started it down the path to a Heel-Face Turn, so some good came of this mess.
- Homestuck Act Five Act Two: Vriska kills Tavros. Eridan has a Face-Heel Turn, blinds Sollux, murders Feferi and Kanaya (she gets better), and dooms the troll species to extinction by destroying the Matriorb. Then Gamzee runs out of sopor pie, sobers up and goes Ax-Crazy, killing Equius and Nepeta. There is also that little matter of Jack Noir, who has so far killed Bro, John (also gets better), Rose (also gets better), the actual Dave (also gets better), an alternate Dave (does not get better), the dreamselves of every troll, Mom and Dad, wiped out the populations of three entire planets, and destroyed all fourteen planets of the trolls' Medium.
- The trolls are first introduced right in the middle of their Darkest Hour. They finally beat the game, and are going to claim their reward...when Jack shows up and starts killing everything, forcing the trolls to hide out on an asteroid and wait for death.
- Another one happens towards the end of Act Six Act Three. Three of the characters are on Derse, which initially seems fine... untile Draconian Dignitary activates the Red Miles, which end up killing Jane (who was doomed to be stuck on the moon anyway) and Roxy (who was seconds away from starting a new session). Lil' Sebastian manages to get Jake back to his island and sinks to the bottom of the ocean, leaving the boy unconscious. Dirk's dreamself loses consciousness in the process of saving Jake, and was scant seconds away from corpsesmooching Jane. Luckily, Dirk manages to activate Jane and Roxy's dreamselves while permanently becoming his own dreamself, and he and his robots ender the Medium. Seems fine, right? Too bad Caliborn wakes up, frees himself, and starts up his session while Lord English destroys an entire dreambubble full of dead Trolls and Humans.
- Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 4 tops all the previous examples. Nearly all the protagonists are dead, the entire incipisphere is wrecked, the few people who are alive have either crossed or are very close to crossing the Despair Event Horizon, the universe itself is suffering from glitch corruption due to Caliborn messing with the Act 6 cartridge.
- El Goonish Shive: In the ninth part of the Sister II arc Nanase futilely tries to talk to Abraham to convince him to spare Ellen's life but he cuts her fairy doll avatar down. This hurts her unimaginably as she can feel everything but she creates another avatar and tries again. Abraham thinks he is fighting puppets controlled by the elf he defeated earlier and refuses to even acknowledge what she is trying to tell him believing it to be trickery. Instead, he cuts the avatars down as fast as Nanase can create them each time causing her physical pain but she keeps trying over and over again. All this while every mortal being in the area who could possibly help her has either been put into a deep sleep by Abraham or is unaware of her plight.
- Bittersweet Candy Bowl has December, when Mike tells Lucy just how he feels about her. Or does he? At the same time, Paulo is worried he is going to hurt his girlfriend due to his longtime crush on the now-free Lucy and Abbey finds out that his mother died years ago, after a brutal beating she received from his father. And then hid that she had died from her children, making Abbey feel like she had abandoned them instead.
- Romantically Apocalyptic: There’s a pretty long period of time that functions as this, with many events making it worse. The biomass integrates Snippy, so now he’s mentally trapped in his past, and physically trapped in this monstrosity http://romanticallyapocalyptic.com/57. The biomass then finds Pilot, who Captain tells to rescue Snippy. He tries, and fails, and is integrated into the biomass too. So he’s also trapped in his mind. Then, a Hope Spot as the being known as the lifealope forms… but nope, it looks like the biomass is going to integrate or destroy it. And ANNET found Engineer and is going to kill him. For a comic that was previously just wacky humor, it takes a pretty dark turn.
- At the end of season one of Tower of God, this happens for both Baam and his team in different ways. Baam is betrayed by Rachel, debasing everything he worked for until now, because all he wanted was to be with her, which also destroyed a large part of his trusting nature, and for the team… well, the one that held it together died. Rak and Androssi didn't even bother to show up for the announcement of death, but they all decided to help Rachel achieving her goals to cherish Baam's memory.
- There Will Be Brawl - the butchers are still on the loose, Princess Peach is still missing, and to make matters worse, Kirby has escaped from jail.
- Whateley Universe example: the story "Christmas Elves". One chapter ends with Fey trapped and powerless in a magical circle so she can be mindslaved, Shroud gone, and Generator locked to a table and stabbed through the heart so hard that the athame goes through her and is stuck in the table.
- The 9/11 attacks in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe. While rescuing people from the World Trade Center, four Guardians members were seriously injured (one to the point of being permanently paralyzed) and another killed when the towers collapsed.
- In Chrono Hustle #10, the main characters start out in the custody of the TRD, before being transferred to the TDD for mind-wipes. They manage to escape to 1942, but in the process, one of the characters is killed, one is gravely injured and, before he is able to receive proper medical attention, they are immediately arrested by Nazis, thus ending the first volume.
- The Powerpuff Girls - The Movie: The city's being destroyed by mutated monkeys, the entire city of Townsville hates them, and Mojo Jojo is holding their father hostage.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Being Star Wars, several Episodes have Darkest Hour moments, some resulting in a Downer Ending in the middle of an arc.
- Weapons Factory: Outside the factory, Ray-Shielded Separatist super tanks are tearing through Anakin and Luminara's troops and blowing them to kingdom come, and inside the factory, Ahsoka is knocked out (again), and the Geonosians steal the explosives that were going to be used to blow the reactor, throwing a monkey wrench into Ahsoka and Barriss's operation.
- Wookie Attack: During the final fight on the Trandoshans' floating fortress, they shoot down the hijacked speeder drivven by O-Mer, and our heroes our downed on the floor with the Trandos pointing their weapons at Ahsoka, the teenaged younglings, and Chewbacca, and Garnac gloats that Ahsoka will make a prize trophy (her skin at least) to his "hunting collection". Thankfully, the bounty hunter, Sugi arrives to save the day with a squad of Wookies who got the transmission from the at first not working transmitter built by Chewbacca!
- At the end of Gungan Attack, Riff Tamson and his Sepratist forces have defeated and captured the Republic/Mon Calamari/Gungan Army and stands victorious on Mon Calamari, with only Ahsoka and Prince Lee-Char uncaptured.
- At the end of the first half of Season Four, Slaves of the Republic, our heroes are all captured and enslaved by the Zygerrians and have no hope of escape, with Anakin as the Zygerrian queen's personal servant, Ahsoka caged above the queen's palace and being tortured without pity or mercy by the prime minister of Zygerria, and Obi-Wan and Rex broken by the keeper of the Zygerrian slave hub on Kadavo. It carries over to the next episode, Escape from Kadavo.
- In Escape From Kadavo, during the rescue mission, Keeper Arguss activates the floor trap to the Togruta slaves' cell and breaks the controls to prevent Obi-Wan and Rex from turning it off, and Plo Koon can't move his ship for the rescue mission until the ray-shielded enemy cannons are destroyed, which are shooting at Plo Koon's fighter and gunship squadron.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender has two potential candidates.
- One is the "Crossroads of Destiny" where Zuko does not complete his Heel-Face Turn, Azula backshoots Aang with lightning, nearly killing him, and the previously impenetrable Earth Kingdom Capital Ba Sing Se falls to the Fire Nation.
- Another is the "Day of the Black Sun" where Sokka tries to lead an invasion of the Fire Nation during a solar eclipse. Instead, we learn that Azula knew about the invasion all along and the Fire Nation was ready. The end result was that the invasion failed, virtually all the troops were sent to prison, and the few remaining children had to hide out in the Western Air Temple. But it wasn't all bad—the thing keeping it from being a total downer (as opposed to the fall of Ba Sing Se) was Zuko's long-awaited real Heel-Face Turn, heralded by an epic Calling the Old Man Out scene and badass lightning redirection.
- Sequel Series The Legend of Korra has one in Book 1 when Amon and his Equalists have taken over Republic City, and benders are having their bending taken away. Korra and her friends have to hide from the invasion, and the help they receive from General Iroh II goes haywire.
- Book 2 is even more heartwrenching. Unalaq has managed to fuse with the ultimate dark spirit Vaatu, becoming a Dark Avatar, and he and Korra duke it out. But then...Vaatu pulls Raava out of Korra and brutally kills her, shattering Korra's connection with her past lives. As if that wasn't enough, Unalaq then grows to enormous size and starts wreaking havoc on Republic City.
- Every season of Teen Titans has one of these occur during the season finale.
- Season 1: The Teen Titans are infected with nanobots that will kill them upon Slade's command. To save their lives, Robin swears to serve Slade as his apprentice.
- Season 2: Terra casts aside all compassion she once felt for the Teen Titans, ruthlessly attacks and attempts to kill them, and helps Slade conquer the city.
- Season 3: Cyborg quits the Teen Titans so he can be leader of Titans East. Titans East, however, are under Brother Blood's psychic control.
- Season 4: Trigon arises and kills everyone on the face of the Earth except for Slade and the Teen Titans.
- Season 5: Though not technically the season finale, the culmination of the story arc involved the Brotherhood of Evil kidnapping every teenage superhero on the planet (with only five or six exceptions). The actual season finale also fulfilled this trope, at least if you were a Beast Boy/Terra shipper.
- The last episode(s) of Danny Phantom where an asteroid is about to come hurtling towards Earth. Several attempts to create a Hope Spot occurs when the world sends missiles towards it, but they ultimately fail and the planet is left to bide their time till their doom. The protagonist and titular character has gotten rid of his ghost powers and the villain offers everyone another hope spot...in return for being named ruler of the world.
- The concept of the "Darkest Hour" is a major part of Transformers philosophy, signifying a threat that seems to blot out all hope in the universe. The way to avert it is to bring all Transformers together against whatever threatens them - thus the phrase "Till All Are One". The animated movie is the example of this, but it recurs throughout different continuities.
- ReBoot: The city is completely ruined, only the principal office has any power, and it's impossible to repair the city. The remaining population is holed up in the principal office and doesn't have the supplies to last very long. And to make matters worse a game has landed which will crash the entire system when the User wins. The only way out of this mess is to invoke a Deus ex Machina and pray for the User to intervene as the system crashes and everything fades to black. A couple of key strokes from the User and everything is fixed, including bringing back the dead.
- Kim Possible has had two of these moments, both in the original and second Grand Finales.
- In the first, Kim is devastated from being played by Drakken, who is about to unleash an army of powerful robots all across the world.
- In the second, Kim has been captured by Alien Invaders while the planet is overwhelmed by alien walkers. The second is probably the closest the world has ever been to being taken over.
- At the end of the first episode of season two of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Discord has won, most of the heroes have been broken and brainwashed, the Elements of Harmony, the only thing that can possibly stop him, are in his grasp, and he's ready to unleash a storm of chaos upon Equestria.
- The Doomsday Project from Sonic Sat Am.
- ''Justice League Unlimited season finales:
- The season 3 series finale: Darkseid has been resurrected and leads his armies in an all out attack on Earth, forcing all the superheroes and supervillains to join forces to save Earth.
- The Season 2 finale is even more bleak: Braniac and Luthor are merged together, and the reserve League is occupied, dealing with the aftermath of Cadmus' attack on the Watchtower, leaving just the original seven* to fight him. Near the end, Braniac!Luthor is about to destroy Earth and has knocked out everyone but the Flash, who gets scared and runs away -or so the evil duo thought.
- Happens a lot in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes:
- The first season premier has the massive breakout of the 4 super villain prisons, forcing all of the superheroes to unite against them.
- Then Kang's massive invasion forces has swarmed all over the Earth, which forces Ant-Man to use his Ultron army.
- After that Ultron nearly succeeds in a global nuclear apocalypse. Whew!
- Happens to the titular Motorcity in the first part of the finale "Vega": Mike Chilton has been arrested and is to be executed, KaneCo bots are running amok and the Genesis Pod has been planted, the latter of which is set to wipe out the entire city and its people.
- In the Futurama movie "Bender's Big Score", the Darkest Hour comes when the scammer aliens manage to buy out the Earth and exile its inhabitants to the moons of Neptune. The Earthicans end up teaming up with Robot Santa to take back their home.
- The season one finale of Gravity Falls, "Gideon Rises". Gideon Gleeful takes over the Mystery Shack and plots to turn it into an amusement park dedicated to himself, Dipper and Mabel not only fail to get it back but lose Journal 3 in the process, and Grunkle Stan is prepared to send the twins home because he won't be able to take care of them over the summer.
- The Black Death, so far the most horrific plague Eurasia ever had to face. In a span of three to four years, the population of the Eurasian landmass was reduced of one third. The general perception was that the Apocalypse was coming.
- The Other Wiki attributes Winston Churchill as the Trope Namer for this phrase, having used it in speeches for the period of World War II where France had just surrendered to the Nazis, the Germans seemed to be making great progress against the Soviet Union to the east, and the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine were executing The Blitz against Britain.
- In Asia Imperial Japan has already conquered most of Southeast Asia, a major sign of this was the Fall of Singapore, which was the British stronghold on Asia. Then was the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the Japanese fleet was on its way to Australia.
- The second week of the Eastern Theatre of World War II was this for the Allies. In the first fortnight of Operation Barbarossa, the Germans (mistakenly) boasted that half of the entire Red Army had been destroyed and the Soviet state was on the verge of collapse. This view was shared by the USA and Britain, though China and Japan had quiet confidence in the Soviets and reserved their judgement. This was understandable; in the first care-free fortnight of the Soviet-German war the Germans had seemed to breeze through the Red Army almost effortlessly, taking millions of unarmed Soviet troops on a peace-time footing prisoner. But in the third week, at Smolensk, this illusion was shattered by the two-month More Dakka trench-warfare battle of attrition there that had the Germans clawing for every inch and even being forced to retreat from the salient made by Guderian's insubordinate and overconfident capture of Yel'nya.
- After that was another Darkest Hour. The two-month battle of Kiev and the first two weeks of Operation Typhoon, which were a colossal defeats for the Red Army with many hundreds of thousand being taken prisoner, renewed people's fears (and hopes) that perhaps the Soviet Union would fall after all... only for the failure of the rest of Typhoon, the mixed success of the Soviet Winter Counter-Offensive of 1941-2, and the entry of the USA into the war to give them totally justified and utterly unshakable faith that the Allies would prevail after all - however long that took.
- The Cold War, for humanity as a whole. In a reversal of all indications from history, two powerful nations in an arms race, itching to defeat the other, did not go to war in a period of 40 years. With enough nuclear weapons to render the Earth uninhabitable many times over, and events like the Cuban Missile Crisis bringing tensions to alarming levels, where the public kept track of something called The Doomsday Clock, the Cold War ended peacefully.
- The Cuban Missile Crisis deserves further special mention, here. It's one of the closest instances of nuclear war to date. Kennedy himself estimated the odds of nuclear war at somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2. The solution that prevented nuclear war was not even possible at first, and was a longshot from the beginning, relying on military and political leaders, as well as the personnel up and down the line on both sides, to put their faith in the hope that the other side (and their own) would avoid nuclear war at all costs. Leaders on both sides, especially at the worst parts of the crisis, were well aware that The End of the World as We Know It was likely if they didn't pull through.
- Further, two out of the three Russian leaders whose approval was needed to launch their nuclear weapons had already given the OK. The only one who did not approve of opening fire was the captain of the submarine from where the missile was to be be fired. Thankfully, that was enough.
- Within the Cold War, the second half of the Seventies were this for the United States and the Free World. The policy of containment had collapsed in Vietnam, which had fallen to the Communists in 1975. Communism seemed on the march everywhere. Communist terrorist groups were carrying out bombings and assassinating non-Communist political leaders in Italy and West Germany. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the United States seemed to be on its back: economically, there was a combination of recession and inflation that Keynesianism, the then-dominant school of economics, held to be impossible; on foreign policy, after the defeat in Vietnam, opinion polls showed that a majority of Americans opposed any intervention abroad except in the event of an invasion of Canada; and America seemed helpless to respond to the seizure of the American embassy and the taking of American hostages by the Iranians.
- If life can be considered a story, the Permian-Triassic extinction needs to be mentioned here. 70% of land creatures died, and in the water, it may have been as high as 95%. The freaking trilobytes, survivors that they were, all went extinct. It took something that severe for the ancestors of dinosaurs to step up.
- During the Libyan Civil War, Gaddafi's assault on Benghazi was this for the rebels. He had the superior forces, the rebel capital was certain to fall, and the promised Western support was nowhere to be seen. Cue the French air force, followed by 120+ Tomahawk missiles.
- In late 2012, this began for The BBC — one of the world's most respected broadcasters — when an ITV documentary claimed that their legendary youth/children's show presenter Jimmy Savile, who had died the previous year to nationwide mourning, was actually a serial sexual offender who used his showbusiness clout and charity work to sexually assault children and young women while avoiding scrutiny from everyone from fellow BBC employees to authorities to the National Health Service. Worse, the initial testimonials from victims had been made for a BBC documentary that was quashed by higher-ups. After the documentary aired, hundreds of additional claims of wrongdoing by Savile were made, resulting in a Scotland Yard investigation and criticism from Parliament. (Between this and a separate report that falsely accused a British politician of pedophilia, the just-elected Director-General of the BBC resigned after less than three months at his post.) How The BBC can live this disaster down remains to be seen, especially when Savile himself can never be brought to justice.
- For Norway, the Napoleonic Wars was regarded as the darkest hour because of the sheer amount of need and starvation the country was exposed to (Naval Blockade being a case in point). Even worse when crops failed and the weather got bad, leading to even worse starvation - no grain import, and the homegrown crops just didn`t deliver. 1812 is the only year after the The Black Death when demographics dropped in Norway, and the number of deaths were higher than the number of births. But then, cue the Norwegian Constituent Assembly. Commented on in the National Anthem:
"We endured harsh times, and in the end we were outcasts. But in direst need, freedom was born to us...
- Also, the Napoleonic Wars was this for the Coalition. Napoleon had torn through the whole continent -quite literally almost all of Europe had seen action at some point- and was now pushing into Russia. The only other people left after Prussia and Austria fell was Britain, and even then they were kind of tied up fighting the Americans overseas.
- The Roman Empire had one that it never recovered from. Arguably the time the Hunnic Invasion began heralded its coming, and it was all a downhill spiral from there. Germans invaded to escape the marauders from the East. The Legions, already in a state of disrepair and mostly staffed by German levies and mercenaries, failed to stop them. All this after the Roman Empire had endured numerous civil wars and was split into two after the reign of Theodosius I. Having been weakened by internal strife, the Empire eventually crumbled and Europe disintegrated into many small kingdoms.
- To add to this, the following Early Middle Ages could be seen as this. While not as bad as the popular Dark Age Europe portrayal would have us believe, there is no denying progress, commerce, and science all slowed down a lot in this time. Thus, one could consider it a Darkest Hour for all of Europe.
- Jewish history, it has been joked, is just one of these after another. The first would be the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians and the end of the first Jewish commonwealth. The northern kingdom of Israel had fallen to the Assyrians a little over a century earlier, and the inhabitants had been sent into exile, where they had disappeared, assimilated among the other peoples of The Empire. Now the people of the southern kingdom were also being scattered and exiled, and it was not at all clear that Judaism or the Jewish people would survive in any recognizable form. It then happened again when the Romans destroyed the second commonwealth and again exiled and scattered the Jews throughout The Empire, an exile that would last much longer than the first. In modern times, the Holocaust was this, although unlike the previous two, this one was followed shortly by the dawn with the establishment of the third commonwealth.
- Defied and subverted with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. What was then the largest, best-educated, most influential, and wealthiest Jewish community in the world, resident in Spain since Roman times if not earlier, was given a few months to pack up and leave the country forever. Many Spanish Jews were inclined to despair. The leaders of Spanish Jewry, however, insisted that the people sing in joy on their way out of Spain, because this was not exile; they were already in exile. Rather, this was just one more step on their long journey home.
- The Battle of Brooklyn Heights and its aftermath was this for the American Revolution. After driving the British out of Boston in March, the United States had declared independence in July, and the Continental Army had the bulk of its strength to New York to await the British attack on the City. Then the British attack came and the Continental Army was badly beaten and forced to retreat across New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. So many men deserted during the retreat that by the time Washington was across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania, his army was at about ten percent of its strength prior to the Battle of Brooklyn Heights. It seemed a sure thing that, once the Delaware froze over, the British, who had occupied New York and New Jersey, would march across and finish off the Continental Army. Even if they didn't, since Washington's men's enlistments were due to expire at the end of the year, it began to look in December that the Continental Army was about to dissolve on its own, ending the Revolution. It was at this time that Thomas Paine wrote "The Crisis," with its famous line "These are the times that try men's souls." Then Washington decided to do what political scientists call "gambling for resurrection"; on the night of December 26, he recrossed the Delaware back into New Jersey to attack the Hessiansnote occupying Trenton and crushed them completely before escaping back into Pennsylvania. That one victory restored hope in American prospects; the War would go on until 1783, and there were some pretty dark moments, but things would never again look quite so bad for the American cause.
- The reelection of Barack Obama in 2012 certainly looked like this for the conservative movement in the United States. For decades, after every election in which Democrats did reasonably well, the press would be filled with talk about how the conservative movement was dead and the Republican party would have to move to the Left or follow conservatism into extinction; most of the time, conservatives just laughed this off. After the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the failure of the stimulus bill, most conservatives felt confident that the Democrats had seriously overreached and that the Republicans would win the 2012 elections. Then, when not only was Obama reelected, but Democrats actually gained seats in the Senate, despite the fact that twice as many Democrats than Republicans had been up for reelection that year, many conservatives began to talk openly about the possibility that this really was the end, that the country had changed in fundamental ways and that, this time, there really would be a permanent Left-wing majority. Suffice it to say that after the 2014 elections, this mood of despair came to seem somewhat premature.
- During World War One, the Ludendorff offensives were this for the Allies: Russia had fallen out of the War, the Americans had not yet arrived in significant numbers, the French Army had barely recovered from the mutinies of 1917, the British Expeditionary Force was scarcely in better shape, the Italians had been crushed at Caporetto and needed to be bailed out by British, French, and American reinforcements, and it looked as though Germany was about to win the War with one last big push. In the end, however, the German offensives failed, and the American Expeditionary Force arrived in sufficient numbers to enable the Allies to counterattack, winning the War.
- It's worth noting that the costliest year of the war for both the Allies and the Central Powers wasn't 1916, the year of the Somme, or 1917, the year of Passchendaele, but 1918, which didn't even see a full year of conflict. And then the Spanish Flu hit...
Remember, dear tropers; the darkest hour is always before the dawn.