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Eternal Recurrence
"All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again".
Multiple characters, Battlestar Galactica (and the narrator of the 1953 film Peter Pan)

A major and catastrophic event (normally, The End of the World as We Know It) happens not once but on regular basis. It is not the "end" in linear sense, but rather several cycles of endless Reincarnation—or a Reset Button for the entire universe pressed over and over again.

The idea goes back to Hindu and Buddhist traditions. In Hinduism, there is the Maha Yuga concept where the universe is destroyed and recreated by Brahma every 4.32 million years. Buddhism has a similar notion of Kalachakra ("wheel of time"). This is also known as "eternal return". Many such systems divide these periods of existence into 'Ages'. The Yuga system, for example, shows the world evolve and devolve within each cycle (see Götterdämmerung). Of course, a more Theme Park Version-esque view on these traditions boils down to "History Repeats."

The term Eternal Recurrence was itself coined by Friedrich Nietzsche, who (while never suggesting this theory was true) adopted it as a thought experiment to test one's willpower. For example, a truly virtuous, life-loving person would be able to endure reliving his entire life's experience (both triumphs and and mistakes) over and over, with neither bitterness nor regret. A person capable of this degree of engagement with the world demonstrates mastery of amor Fati and the 'self-affirming Yes'. It's also to prevent Nietzschean philosophical concepts, such as the Übermensch, from becoming overly-idealistic.

This may cause a Medieval Stasis for some worlds.

Also compare "Groundhog Day" Loop, History Repeats and the Vicious Cycle. Has to happen at least twice (and the more, the better) — if The End of the World as We Know It only happens just once then it doesn't form a loop.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens in Gall Force, multiple times, often in silly ways.
  • Given the story structure for Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, one would think this is happening. Actually, that's absolutely right. Though it equally falls into "Groundhog Day" Loop zone.
  • When the creators of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann needed to explain the opening scenes which depict events similar, but for the most part completely different from what ends up happening, it was implied that this may have been a previous, unsuccessful iteration, which failed for one reason or another.
    • Most due to something similar to Lexx below, the spiral nemesis is spiral power being so over used that universe collapses into a big crunch due to the extra energy created
  • This is an important part of Enrico Pucci's plans in part 6 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. The trick is to make the universe reach the parallel point in the next cycle so quickly that spirits don't have time to die.
  • In Naruto, one of the Uchiha's ultimate doujutsu, the Izanami, is based on this trope, by making its victim relive the fight with the doujutsu's user over and over. Completing the trope in the Nietzsche's way, the only way to break free from that technique is to develop the "Amor Fati": accepting the fate and yourself truly and fully.
  • In Uzumaki, it is made clear that what happens to the town has already happened, and it will happen again.
  • A Bleach Omake has then-Lieutenant Aizen taking a stroll with the then-much younger Gin. The stroll takes place in winter and Gin remarks that to him, winter and the cyclical seasons is like Hell, which to him is the same stuff repeating over and over again.
  • Kannazuki no Miko (manga version) has a cycle of the world being destroyed by Orochi, one miko sacrificing her life to seal away Orochi, the other miko choosing one of eight possible worlds to revive, and the reincarnation of both mikos in the new world. At the ending, it's suggested that the cycle is now broken… for now, at least.
  • Happens as an result of Canon Welding between Devilman, Violence Jack and Devilman Lady - world constantly resets itself and in every new version of it Akira Fudou and Satan reincarnate to fight each other.
    • In AMON the world is on an extendeed version of "Groundhog Day" Loop, spanning millions of years from Satan's betrayal to Akira's death, so everything that happened once will happen all over again and again.
  • One of possible explanations of what happened at the end of Getter Robo Armageddon where main characters are dragged into another dimension in which endless war between an army of horrenderous monsters and an army of Getters takes place is this - it may be possible that they are Getter Teams from previous versions of the world. It doesn't help that Getter Robo has crossed over with viarous Go Nagai works, including abovementioned Devilman.
  • A crucial plot point in ∀ Gundam in the form of the Dark History aka all the previous Gundam series, which highlights the seemingly endless cycle of bloodshed and conflict between Earth and Spacenoids. And the protagonists are fighting to prevent that cycle from repeating itself.
  • In Berserk, every 216 years an Eclipse results in the creation of a new member of the God Hand. This has happened at least four times previous to the one in the story. It's also mentioned that the Incarnation Ceremony, in which one of the God Hand is given a corporeal body and reborn into the physical plane, can be performed once every thousand years. If it's happened before, there hasn't been much hinting at what the consequences were the last time it happened, but a little arithmetic (216 X 5 = 1080) suggests that it somehow results in there being no God Hand, so that the cycle can start fresh.

    Comicbooks 
  • In the mainstream Marvel Universe, Galactus is the sole survivor of the universe that existed before the Big Bang and also the seed for the universe that will come into being when the current one is destroyed.
    • Ragnarok used to do this to Asgard in the Marvel Universe, until Thor broke the cycle.
  • In Lucifer, the Silk Man and at least three of the Jin En Mok are the only survivors of Yahweh's previous creations (although the Jin En Mok may have existed before even those). It isn't entirely clear how many creations there have been already, but we're given the impression He's been doing this for quite a while.
    • It might not have even been Yahweh's creation, considering that the comic gives us two new fully fledged Creators. Some interpret this as the Creation where Yahweh originally came from.
  • In Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers meta-project, the Sheeda (the species that inherit the Earth in the far-fetched future when the sun has become a red giant) travel through time in their Castle Revolving to plunder humanity's technology whenever we reach a sufficiently advanced point of development - first they raided a Kirby-esque society of Neanderthal super-scientists, then a utopian, world-wide Kingdom of Camelot as ruled by the original progenitor of the Arthur myth, and then finally our world shortly after the turn of the millennium - that's where the eponymous heroes come in.

    Fan Fiction 
  • The Decemberists The Hazards of Love fanfiction "The Certainties'' treats the events of the album as an Eternal Recurrence, a chain of events that Margarets and Williams are forever doomed to repeat, until finally one set breaks the cycle.
  • Inner Demons: Lezard discusses the possibility of this when comparing Queen Midnight's fall from grace and defeat by Bayonet with the similar events centering around their reincarnations Twilight Sparkle and Apple Bloom.
  • Royal Heights: The main antagonist Embry reveals that the only reasons Utopias need to be recreated every four years is that a witch, like herself, comes to destroy Utopia at the same time, obliterating the city and all its citizens along the way. Then the new Utopia comes in and all is well again until the loop repeats itself later.

    Film 
  • The Reveal at the end of The Matrix Reloaded is that Neo isn't the second "One", he's the sixth. Not only that, but the program in charge of the Matrix allows him and the other rebels to exist, since giving the Matrix's inhabitants an unconscious choice of realities is what keeps the system going. Each "One" is meant to find the Architect shortly before the Machines invade Zion, at which point he will be allowed to select survivors to repopulate the rebels and begin the process all over again. Neo's love for Trinity, a connection his predecessors didn't have, makes him say Screw Destiny.
  • Guy Maddin's Brand Upon The Brain features the odd quote, "Everything that happens will happen again. Twice."
  • In The Fifth Element, the evil planet reappears every 5,000 years.
  • Cloud Atlas shows slavery as a recurring theme across different times:
    • Colonial slavery in America of 1859.
    • Backstreet sweatshops in 1973.
    • Engineered fabricants in 2144.

    Literature 
  • Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus:
    • How many times do you think the Titans and giants will keep going after the Olympians?
    • Invoked with Monsters, which regenerate to be fought again, and with immortals, as they don't change (much). Addressed further in The Kane Chronicles, which share a universe.
  • In Michael Ende's The Neverending Story, it is implied that Fantasia is destroyed on regular basis whenever the balance between worlds gets bad enough, so someone has to be sent a book and travel there to create everything anew.
  • The world of The Wheel of Time series has a cyclic system of time. The seven spokes of the Wheel represent the seven eras, and the turning of the Wheel is the course of history repeating over and over again. The Dark One's foremost human minion, Ishamael, was a philospher who thought too deep into how meaningless human life is in the grand scheme of things, and wants to help his master undo creation because of it.
  • The Golems in Discworld believe that the universe is circular, and one (Anghammarad, in Going Postal) has been carrying a message to a long since deceased king with him for over nine thousand years, reasoning he'll get it right the next time.
    • I Remember When All This Will Be Again - the last words of Reaper Man, delivered by the Death of Universes.
  • One of the many computer generated worlds in Otherland is based on Through the Looking Glass. Every time one king or the other dies, the world is reset to how it was at the beginning of the game.
  • In David Eddings' Belgariad and the sequels and prequels, this is used to explain why the same situation tends to reoccur over and over again. This was used partially as a wry acknowledgement of, and excuse for, David Eddings' lack of creativity, as he himself admits that he basically wrote it as an attempt to make the most generic fantasy plot of all good. The cycle is supposed to be broken by the end of the sequel series (the explanation they get for the recurrence is that history can't properly progress so long as there are two Prophecies, so in the meantime patterns recur while the two Prophecies fight it out about which vision of the future should happen. The events of the end of the sequel results in there being only one Prophecy, so now things can start progressing as they should again), but since the only thing that takes place after that is the framing for the prequels this doesn't really matter to the story.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, one of Haruhi's first truly chilling manipulations of reality has to do with this phenomenon. Not wanting to go back to school before experiencing a truly full summer, she forces the cast to repeat the last two weeks of summer vacation. More than 15,000 times. Kyon eventually pieces together his sense of deja vu, and asks Yuki what is going on. Yuki, who retains full memory of the situation, tells him that they have repeated the summer over and over again. And how many times have they realized they're stuck in a time loop? Over 8000.
    • This was portrayed in the anime by animating the same episode 8 times, but showing different parts of the same day and from different camera angles.
  • In Isaac Asimov's short story Nightfall, a well-known cult claims that all civilization is destroyed every 2049 years when the Stars come out and cover the planet (which never experiences true darkness) in fire. At the beginning of the story, an archaeologist discovers this has indeed happened several times already. Turns out, every 2049 years all 6 of its suns experience solar eclipse, and the planet is covered in fires from all the people going crazy and looking for a new source of light.
  • A major theme of A Canticle for Leibowitz. The novel chronicles humanity's recovery from a nuclear apocalypse and ends with a second nuclear apocalypse which, it's pretty strongly implied, will kill everyone on Earth. The church has sent out colonists to other worlds, though, so it's possible that humanity may survive.
  • Percy Shelley's poem Hellas imagines the recurrence of classical Greece. (The choice of subject is quite appropriate, since cyclical time was a popular hypothesis with ancient Greek philosophers.)
  • In Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, there is the concept of Ka. Ka is often stated to be like a wheel, eternally rolling, with events constantly recurring. Same places, different faces. The biggest of which is the "Coming of the White" and the "Rising of the Red". While mostly limited to The Dark Tower series, the basic concept tends to occur throughout several of King's works.
  • The Moties in The Mote in God's Eye die if they don't reproduce regularly, so their population grows uncontrollably. Throughout their history they've repeatedly built up advanced civilisations only to collapse due to the inevitable wars due to overpopulation and competition for resources. Unlike Nightfall, they know this happens and have built many museums to store examples of technology so that civilisation can be rebuilt faster the next time, in the hope that eventually they will have some breakthrough and break the cycle. Unfortunately for them, by the time humanity discovers them they've used up most of the natural resources in their system, and one of the Moties notes that each fall takes them further back because of this.
    • Part of their problem is that although they've developed FTL travel many times, in this universe it's only possible between pairs of wormholes and the only one they have access to ends inside a star. One of the big fears by the humans, which leads to a permanent blockade to the end of their wormhole to ensure they never get out in sequels, is that if they ever did manage to escape their solar system, they would still be unable to control their population and eventually cause their growth/collapse cycle to take place on a galactic level.
  • While the nature of time in Michael Moorcock's Multiverse proves a bit more complex, Erekosë muses on this concept, and the possibility that in a previous (and future) iteration he led the very force he was then fighting against.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica is an example. The Colonial scriptures talk about the cycle of time as a story told again and again throughout eternity, though with different players. Similar "death, exodus, and rebirth" events have occurred on Kobol, the Thirteenth Colony, and the Twelve Colonies, and could still happen in the future.
  • In Lexx, the Time Prophet tells the future by looking into the previous "cycle of time." Events in each cycle are absolutely identical.
  • Discussed and defied on LOST. Jacob's enemy says that a series of events repeats itself because of the actions of humans, and it always ends the same. Jacob replies "It only ends once. Anything before that is just progress." Not that we have any idea what they're talking about yet.
  • The classic series and expanded universe of Doctor Who imply that the Guardians and/ or the Eternals are the last survivors of the Universe before the Whoniverse. The new series also has the Beast from "The Impossible Planet", who is said to come from before time and matter itself.
    • The Expanded Universe confirms that there was a universe before the present one, from which some things still survive, and there will be another one after it ends.
    • Spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures includes one story in which the Big Bad is the Ancient Lights, a force surviving from the previous universe which is responsible for the belief in astrology in the current universe.
  • It's pretty much stated in Eureka that the Artifact is older than the universe itself, having been created in the universe before this one, and managed to survive the Big Crunch and another Big Bang.

    Music 

    Religion 
  • The Bible. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-14 NIV)
    What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. {10} Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. {11} There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow. {12} I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. {13} I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! {14} I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The dream plane of Dal Quor in the Eberron cosmology is said to work like this; aside from mortals' dreams, there's also the Quor Tarai, the big dream of the plane itself. When that changes, so does the nature of every single native of the plane!
  • In Shadowrun and Earth Dawn, magic flows and ebbs. At its peak, the nature of reality becomes thin enough for the Horrors to come through, and they do. The indigenous population of Earth must then hide, if they do not want to be eaten. Several supplementary sources suggest that if metahumanity can develop its technology level to be as powerful as its magic at its peak, then the Horrors could be defeated once and for all.

    Videogames 
  • While Dwarf Fortress generates a new world each time you play, the overarching framing device of the game is that Armok, God of Blood, destroys and recreates the world anew every time it grows too peaceful, so that conflict should always exist. On a meta level, this refers to the probable behavior of the player, who is likely to create a new world once all the enemies are dead.
  • In Sonic Unleashed, Chip is in fact Light Gaia, and his job is to recreate the world after Dark Gaia has finished destroying it.
  • The whole point of Xenosaga games.
  • In Mass Effect, a hyper-advanced race of machines called the Reapers exterminate all sentient life in the Milky Way once they have reached the Citadel and established themselves throughout the galaxy. The last time this happened was 50,000 years ago, but is implied to have gone on for far longer - millions, or even billions of years.
    • In Mass Effect 2, evidence of resistance from a previous cycle is found. 37-million-year-old evidence. More overlooked is the "Leviathan of Dis" which is a ship estimated to be a billion years old. It's an inactive Reaper that the accidental activation of which causes the batarians to be the first victims in the war that follows.
    • Furthermore, in Mass Effect 3, direct parallels are drawn between the events of the current cycle and the previous, Prothean one: namely, the extremely late discovery of the Crucible blueprints, the hasty construction, the frantic search for the Catalyst, and, finally, an indoctrinated splinter faction believing they can control the Reapers and sabotaging the Crucible. It is further implied that the Crucible was built in each cycle but much too late to stop the Reapers; the species of the current cycle are the first ones who actually manage to complete the Crucible (sans Catalyst) while preserving most of their forces for the Final Battle.
      • The climax of the trilogy states that the actions of the Reapers are in response to another Eternal Recurrence that they have observed throughout history: the inevitable Robot War that results when civilizations create AI and it rebels against them. To prevent artifical intelligence from wiping out organic life the Catalyst created the Reapers to "preserve" organic races by converting into Reapers as soon as they had the capacity to create AI.
      • During the climax, the Catalyst acknowledges that Shepard actually reaching it is a sign that the Reaper Cycle is breaking down. An organic actually meeting the Catalyst in the heart of the Citadel is the one event that never occurred in any previous Cycle.
  • Final Fantasy X is an example that's less The End of the World as We Know It and more 'a bunch of people die and there's some colorful explosions' thing. SIN arrives, spreads terror, Summoner gets Final Summon and spectacularly fights it, defeats it, dies in the process, several years of Calm follows, then SIN resurfaces and it all repeats again. So it goes until Tidus comes along and along with Auron convinces Yuna and the rest of the group to break the cycle.
  • In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, it turns out that there have been numerous repetitions (or cycles) of the war between the Gods Cosmos and Chaos. This shows up in the title of the sequel, where the 012 specifically refers to the 12th cycle.
  • In Mega Man Legends, it turns out that the catastrophe that is occasionally alluded to is actually the work of Mega Man Juno who periodically activates a machine called EDEN to wipe out life on the island.
  • In Treasure of the Rudra, all life is annihilated every four thousand years so the Gods can reseed the world with a new dominant race. The current race is Humanity, and there are only sixteen days left before their time runs out. It turns out that all along, the Gods were hoping to create a race strong enough to break the cycle by killing them.
  • Anachronox builds on the "Big Crunch" theory (see below) with a notable exception: a previous universe, i.e. one from before the most recent Big Bang, is trying to prevent their Big Crunch by teleporting a lot of matter through some kind of time hole into our universe, in order to prevent the next universe (which they are at war with) from ever existing. So our Big Crunch gets accelerated, while their is prolonged indefintely. Of course, they didn't count on the teleported matter granting magic powers, and the ending leaves the whole thing on a Cliffhanger, due to Executive Meddling.
  • In Nexus War, the current iteration of the universe is ending. The eponymous war was to see which of the Elder Powers will shape the next one. This served as a convenient Sequel Hook for Nexus Clash, which takes it to the next step and actually shows the world rebooting from time to time.
  • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne implies billions of parallel worlds have been created and destroyed over and over by the power of the Conception. If you get the True Demon ending though you break the cycle, which pisses off YHVH something fierce.
    • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, states outright that the Schwarzwelt has consumed sinful civilizations innumerable times, and humanity is simply experiencing its latest iteration. This is demonstrated when the crew of the Red Sprite finds evidence of those previous civilizations, different from our own but with the same failings. However, it subverts its predecessor's example by having the Chaos faction instigate and perpetuate the Schwarzwelt and the "punishment" of failed civilizations, while Lawful and Neutral paths seek to break the cycle (with vastly different motivations and results.)
  • This is EXACTLY what happens in the popular online RPG series, Dragon Fable and MechQuest, where an event called 'the Reset' causes the Lorian people to revert back to magic in order to compensate for their Lost Technology and reincarnate... TWICE. Ironically only the NPCs just don't realize this situation, so it'll happen again in the future.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles, the Daedric Prince Sheogorath is cursed to have his Oblivion realm destroyed by himself at the end of every age. The Champion of Cyrodill's victory over Jygalagg breaks the cycle and actually works out in the Daedric Prince's favor. He is free to wander Oblivion once more, while the Champion is left with the mantle of Mad God.
  • Skyrim states that the imperials misunderstood Alduin, who is not Akatosh. Rather Alduin is the equivalent of Lucifer to Akatosh, the best and brightest who fell to evil, and is to come again at the end to eat the world. Mythic echoes of the moment of creation between the primal entities Anu, Padomay, and Nir occur over and over again throughout history; this phenomenon is referred to as the Enantiomorph. Such instances of echoes include but are not limited to the sundering of Lorkhan from his divine spark, the betrayal of Nerevar by the Tribunal, the triad of Tiber Septim, Zurin Arctus, and Ysmir Wulfharth, and possibly even the Dragonborn, General Tullius, and Ulfric Stormcloak. The roles and players are interchangeable, even in the midst of an enantiomorphic event. On the other hand, the cycle was already subverted by Alduin himself, who would rather rule the world as God Emperor rather than devour it.
  • The creation and destruction of Dark and Light Gaia in Terranigma. The two worlds exist in a cyclic existence where one world exists, the other is resurrected, the older one is destroyed, the new one lives on for an unknown period of time, the other one is resurrected again and the older one destroyed. Each world has its own The Chosen One, who is responsible for resurrecting the other world and destroying their own (and will therefore die along with their own world), and the protagonist Ark is the Dark Gaia version.
  • In Bomberman 64: The Second Attack, in one of the endings Bomberman has to face off against the "Angel of Light and Shadow," the being that is responsible for the creation and destruction of the universe in its lifecycle.
  • The events in the Kingdom of Loathing. You beat The Naughty Sorceress, free the king and Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, and peace returns to the Kingdom. Then you check the news: The NS is back, she has recaptured King Ralph, The Cyrpt has been redefiled, ect. It's an in-world excuse for a New Game+.
  • Radiant Silvergun. The entire plot of the game is one of these, thanks to the "big bad" (if it can be considered that) warping you back to 100,000 BC at the end of the game. The clones of the player characters - the originals of both having died in the Stone-Like's penultimate onslaught - are the genesis of humanity.
  • Captain Forever opens up with you being a survivor of a sector-wide explosion, and every time you die you cause ANOTHER sector-wide explosion, and the game starts all over again. The readme confirms the eternal nature of this predicament.
  • In The Legend of Spyro trilogy, it turns out that purple dragons are supposed to destroy and rebuild the world periodically. The problem is, the last one appointed to the position, Malefor, didn't exactly do his job properly...
  • The basic premise of The Legend of Zelda canon. Every so many generations a great evil (usually Ganondorf/Ganon) will consume Hyrule, and reincarnations of Link and Zelda will defeat it. Skyward Sword reveals that this is due to the curse Demise placed on Link and Zelda. An incarnation of his hatred — Ganon — will hound Link and Zelda's reincarnated selves until the end of time. In the Wind Waker timeline, the cycle is broken when everything related to the cycle — Ganondorf, the Master Sword, and even Hyrule itself — is returned to the bottom of the ocean forever.
  • The Castlevania canon is similar, with Big Bad Dracula destined to be reborn (at least) once every hundred years and defeated by some iteration of the Belmont clan and their allies. Worth noting is the fact that Dracula himself is canonically Deader than Dead as of 1999, but the cycle seems to be going on even without him. That is explained in Dawn of Sorrow by Genya Arikado (none other than Alucard, the Dark Lord's prodigal son), who states his belief that even if Soma (Dracula's reincarnation) refuses to become the next Dark Lord, if nature wills for a being to counterbalance God, then someone out there will eventually take up the mantle. This ideology is shared by Celia Fortner (the Big Bad of Dawn) and her cult, With Light. Additionally, Aria of Sorrow reveals that there's a de-facto main antagonist of the series known as Chaos, who is the source of all of Dracula's powers. In short, it's a mix of As Long as There Is Evil and Balance Between Good and Evil. Genya however also believes that free will means that no specific person has to be the Dark Lord.
  • The Circle of 60 Years in Gensokyo is closer to Vicious Cycle. But if things in the PC-98 games are considered as have happened, then Touhou is an example of this trope in a strangely meta way: PC-98 are no longer used nor manufactured today and software written to run on it are Deader than Dead (bar emulator). But Gensokyo itself has new iteration...
  • The Fae in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning do not truly die like mortals. They are fated to repeat their lives endlessly in the "Great Cycle". The appearance of the Tuatha Deohn, Winter Fae who have managed to break their own Cycle thanks to the power of their new god Tirnoch, is taken as a sign by other Fae that the Cycle is ending.
  • Despite having almost nothing to do with this trope, Richter in Tales of Symphonia:Dawn of the New World has a Mystic Arte counter (to Ain Soph Aur) called Eternal Recurrence. We, however, aren't exactly told the what Ain Soph Aur is, and can only speculate what it has to do with this.
  • In Super Robot Wars W, one of the driving forces of the plot is that the peoples of the universe preceding the last Big Crunch sent various machines and technologies ahead to the present universe to keep a record of their existence.
  • In the game Soul Sacrifice Delta, Eternal Recurrence or as it's known in the game Eternal Recursion, It is the central ideology in the Order of Grim in which the world has died and remade time and time again through the use of a magical chalice and one man's sacrifice to the chalice. Only one man and some words have lived through the death and rebirth cycle of Eternal Recursion. The nameless Sorcerer, who soon spreads the ideology of Eternal Recursion and the words "This is where your story beings." Ironically, It is the nameless sorcerer years later who breaks the cycle.

    Webcomics 
  • This is likely the single best illustration of this concept you'll ever find.
  • Unicorn Jelly: both a select few of the human race fleeing the destructive "Stormfall" to colonize a new world and guide it towards being able to construct more arks when the stormfall catches up to them and the discovery of a weapon that creates such a "stormfall", which destroys everything in the universe only for life to eventually return when the "hyperspace raindrops" phenomenon transports species from another cosmos once again—though the latter isn't apparent until the final arc of the strip.
  • This strip from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal combines it with Lensman Arms Race.
  • Universes in Homestuck are eventually destroyed due to Lord English, but universes are also created constantly due to Skaia. This process of Sburb has no known beginning or end, though the sessions shown in the comic are instrumental to certain conditions perpetuating it. It is implied all universes and reality itself is merely the shape of another, higher being / force known only as Paradox Space, implicitly responsible for the settings immutable fate.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Futurama, when Bender, Fry, and Farnsworth travel to the end of the universe in a forwards-only time machine, they witness a new Big Bang, allowing them to return to the year 3010.
    • Then they go too far and have to "bring her around again" and witness another Big Bang. But this time the new universe is about ten feet lower than their old one.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has the Arc Words, "This has all happened before," and these words do come to pass when the secret of the Planospheric Disc is revealed to be that it keeps the Ultimate Evil sealed away in an alternate dimension, and every so often a team of four detectives and their Team Pet seeks the pieces out, with the animal always being the first to be corrupted by the promise of power and riches beyond their wildest dreams.
    • The end of the series reveals that the cycle is part of an even bigger cycle the Ultimate Evil doesn't control, consisting of reality itself being re-written over and over again. In other words, the entire franchise is part of the same cycle.

    Real Life 
  • Many versions of the Real Life "Big Crunch" hypothesis of how the universe will end postulate that our own universe started with a Big Bang an indeterminate amount of time after a previous universe's Big Crunch. Other cosmological theories include:
    • That our cosmos is one of an unknown number of universes which emerge from an eternal quantum vacuum independently of each other.
    • That, since the Universe is accelerating its expansion, space will eventually expand so quickly that it will repeat the conditions of the Big Bang and start the whole thing all over again.
    • That what we call a void really isn't, but is filled with quantum energy, and particles that come and go in picoseconds. In untold trillions of years it will form conditions somewhere, which will produce another universe. When there's an infinity of time, even the utterly improbable will become a certainty.
    • One variant of the original theory above is a subversion, however, in that while there may be an unknown number of universes, it's a finite number. Meaning that even if one puts into account quantum theory, it all ends eventually.
    • According to the Poincaré recurrence theorem, any finite system will eventually return to its original state. This includes the universe, if it is finite; however, this will take 10^10^10^10^10^1.1 years, so an exceedingly long time.
  • One of the schisms from the Last Thursdayist religion believes that this happens every week.
  • Hegel famously said that everything in history happens twice. Karl Marx in "The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte" said that Hegel forgot to add: "the first time as a tragedy, the second time as a farce".


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Eternal ProhibitionSpeculative Fiction TropesE.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi

alternative title(s): Eternal Recurrance
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