Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
"A devil from the Outer Dark," he grunted. "Oh, they're nothing uncommon. They lurk as thick as fleas outside the belt of light which surrounds this world. I've heard the wise men of Zamora talk of them. Some find their way to Earth, but when they do they have to take on some earthly form and flesh of some sort. A man like myself, with a sword, is a match for any amount of fangs and talons, infernal or terrestrial..."
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's. So there's this Tome of Eldritch Lore which, every once in a while, unleashes an Eldritch Abomination that crunches planets like walnuts. This thing has never been stopped. It's bound to an Ill Girl and slowly killing her, while her guardians descend further and further into villainy due to their inability to save her. The only method the largest mage army in the universe can come up with to save Earth is freezing the girl in magic ice until the end of time. Feeling hopeless yet? Fear not, for the White Devil and her loyal cohorts have already been dispatched to the scene! Just lean back and watch them befriend some eldritch ass! It still isn't quite enough: the befriending manages to destroy the abomination for now, but the book will still kill the girl and respawn elsewhere. The threat is only permanently dealt with when the Book's intelligence decides to commit a Heroic Sacrifice, out of love for the girl it was bound to.
There is also the implication that civilizations inevitably annihilate themselves after reaching a certain level of advancement (which is why there are so many Lost Logia around). It is perhaps telling that the ur-Precursor civilization in in this series shares a name with the author of the Necronomicon (Al-Hazred).
In Soul Eater, one of the major villains is a Humanoid Abomination who's existence brings the world into chaos, but so are two of the protagonists who want to protect it. Said abomination also has emotions, most prominently extreme paranoia.
Insanity is also a major theme of the series, with most major characters (heroes included) losing their shit in a nightmarish way at least once, and the Big Bad's very existence spreading madness throughout the world.
The series gets slightly more Lovecraft cred in the end much the same way Persona 3 did. Big Bad Asura turns out to be far too powerful for anyone to truely defeat (he's the personification of madness and fear, after all; two things that can't truly be eliminated so long as there are living things that can experience them,) so a bunch of the main characters have to sacrifice themselves to seal him on the moon. Sure, most of them survive anyway, but Crona now has to stay on the moon for eternity to hold Asura back.
The second season of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is like this, with the Anti-Spiral. It is a hive mind of another spiral race that gained Instrumentality to stop its evolution, and is trying to control or slaughter all other spirals in the universe, to prevent them from accidentally breaking it with too much spiral power. They come from beyond the stars, form a pocket universe they created themselves, and when more than a million humans walk the earth, they come forth to destroy them. Their weapons are immensely powerful and unlike anything else our heroes have ever seen, their numbers seem to be endless, and their victory is all but certain. Of course, since this is TTGL all it needs is some hot blood and a few drills to deal with the problem.
Dororon Enma-kun Meramera at the very end went into this - Heaven and Hell agree to destroy the Earth to harvest energy produced by human souls, which their supplies has run low, and because Youkai Patrol members are demons and cannot die, therefore they doesn't understand what dying means for humans, they don't see a reason to stop it. They later change their minds and solve the problem.
The Nasuverse has elements of this: if you piece together the background materials it turns out that the Earth itself is trying desperately to kill off humanity, and has enlisted the help other cosmic entities (such as the spirit and personification of the Moon) to do so. Still, humanity is holding its own, as evidenced by the fact that we're still here, and it is implied that the Earth is eventually going to lose... at which point humanity will be advanced enough to survive without it. Of course, if Angel Notes is to be trusted, the Earth's parting shot is getting the rest of the planets to try to kill humanity in its stead.
Dragon Ball Z delves into this a bit during the Buu Saga, featuring a destructive, evil creature made of Pure Magic that is thousands of times more powerful than the universe's God-equivalents. Then again, so are the main heroes.
Naruto is world where there are nine Eldritch Abominations called the Tailed Beasts whose power is compared to forces of nature. And as the series goes on, it turns out that while harnessing their strength is highly dangerous, it's still entirely possible and has been in the past. Recent arcs have revealed that's why the Tailed Beasts don't like humans, they spent decades being used as nothing more than tools of war, much like the ninjas, only they are even more dehumanized then they're hosts as humans almost never even bother to learn they're names. In this series, the greatest monsters are humans.
Wicked City features a setting in which monstrous, extra-dimensional beings exist in a world parallel to our own, except they can be fought with the proper training and equipment, are interested in negotiating with humanity, and only a handful of them are evil.
Noein keeps a hopeful tone, but it also has a number of Eldritch Abominations running around, and the bad guy is threatening on a cosmic scale (since he wants to destroy the universe and start it from scratch), albeit without the level of unconcern that a true Cosmic Horror villain would have.
Final Crisis: Darkseid and Mandrakk the Dark Monitor cause almost all of existence to be sucked down a black hole. Superman kills Darkseid with a song and restarts everything with the Miracle Machine, wishing only for a "happy ending." A mountain of hope in a sea of hopelessness. Even the words engraved on his tombstone inspire hope: To Be Continued.
The presence of the heroic Hellboy and his team as well as the Fantasy Kitchen Sink aspect of the world makes this Lovecraft Lite. Still, it's all depends on whether You Can't Fight Fate or Screw Destiny wins out in the end. If the latter, then it's Lovecraft Lite. If the former, it's Cosmic Horror Story with a long string of Hope Spots. And then there's the fact that both the B.P.R.D.'s battles are getting more and more desperate and Hellboy's grip on hope (and by extension his humanity) is getting frayed by his increasingly strong doubts about his ability to keep screwing destiny, which hang an ominous, lengthening shadow of malaise on the setting. We'll just have to wait and see where Mignola takes the story.
Death Vigil is about a group of undead knights battling eldritch horrors from beyond reality, but that doesn't mean that the characters can't have some fun while doing it.
Things From The Dungeon dimensions pop up in the Discworld fics of AA Pessimal. There's one where the Infernal Star-Toad And Mother Of A Million Young turns out to be a grumpy and misunderstood single mother, "left at home to mind the kids while HE is out there having a good time, the bastard." And in another, psychic Mrs Cake and her spirit guide One-Man-bucket are faced with things of loathsome imaginings - wendigos - trying to break through into Ankh-Morpork. These turn out to be susceptible to Dwarven flamethrowers, though, and all ends well, more or less. in a third, Yob-Soddoth is called into the Discworld as foot-the-ball becomes more popular in its new form. Pedestriana vanquishes him this time.
There is a movie genre called "action horror," which takes the regular Horror Films and turns them into action movies. Make them epic action movies and you've got yourself some Lovecraft Lite.
Ghostbusters: What is Gozer but an Eldritch Abomination that's trying to reenter the world now that the stars are right? Only instead of taking the form of a giant octopus-headed monster, appears as a giant marshmallow man.
Lovecraft himself wrote some Lovecraft Lite, so don't think it's a departure from the tone of the original stories, including some of his most famous. Notable are The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, in which the Terror From Beyond that the protagonist accidentally summons turns out to be helpful, and the Evil Sorcerer is easy to defeat by saying the right words, and "The Shunned House", which features flamethrowers. Of course the flamethrowers don't do much good, but some sulfuric acid deals with the situation perfectly.
Also "The Dunwich Horror", where humanity actually wins, as the protagonists successfully banish the spawn of Yog-Sothoth that was going to bring about the end of the world. They do end up severely traumatised by the events but nobody goes insane. The Dunwich Horror is considered by many Lovecraftian scholars to be so uncharacteristic of Lovecraft that it must have been a parody. Lovecraft's letters don't support the theory, though. Perhaps he just decided to cut humanity some slack for once. It may be edifying to note that the many books, games, and TV series which have drawn upon the works of Lovecraft for almost a century have far more in common with The Dunwich Horror than any of his other works.
At the Mountains of Madness also has some shades of this. While still a pretty dark story compared to some of the more extreme examples on this page, it does contain one of the only monsters Lovecraft wanted us to somewhat sympathize with (the Elder-Things). Also while Danforth is psychologically messed up by... whatever it was he sees at the end he has it pretty easy compared to some of Lovecraft's other characters (some versions add mention of him being committed to an asylum, but in the original novella it's mentioned that he still acts his normal self most of the time outside of the occasional strange muttering)
Clark Ashton Smith's stories often fall into this, not because of actual content, but because of attitude. Yes, there are horrors beyond imagination lurking just beyond humanity's sight, and the universe does not give a crap about whether a primitive race of two-legged apes lives or dies, but this is usually no reason to Go Mad from the Revelation. And "strange and inhuman" means "malevolent" considerably less often. Also, humanity as a whole manages to outlive all the Eldritch Abominations plaguing its past and present, and survive until the Sun starts dimming (by the way, note, that Clark Ashton Smith's and Lovecraft's work were supposed to happen in a shared verse).
And another contributor to the original Cthulhu mythos, Robert E. Howard often wrote in the same way as well. The universe is ultimately hostile in his works, and mind-melting horrors that contaminate everything they touch are plentiful in his works. The difference is, characters often are Bad Ass enough to look them straight into the eyes and, rather than Go Mad from the Revelation, stab them in the face.
And the Conan stories generally follow the example Robert E. Howard set as Conan's creator - they are on the line between Lovecraft Lite and Cosmic Horror Story. Conan regularly battles eldritch things and always comes out of it okay, although they are still treated as freakishly terrifying.
Discworld has plenty of examples of abominations - the things from the Dungeon Dimensions, the Hiver, etc. But ultimately, none of them succeeds in causing permanent damage, and the heroes always win in the end. It helps that they're defined, somewhat; they're explicitly less "real" than everything else, which makes them simultaneously more magically and psychically potent, and much more vulnerable physically. Rincewind once took one out with camera flash, and held several off with a sock containing half a brick.
Yob-Soddoth deserves special mention for the name alone.
Note, too, that occasionally the Discworld version of an Eldritch Abomination will turn out to be deserving of some pity.
The Auditors of Reality give a bit of a Lovecraft vibe whenever they show up. Not least because their stories tend to center around Death.
Several of the Doctor Who Expanded Universe novels use Lovecraftian elements, and they're all inevitably Lovecraft Lite. One of the more self-aware is the Doctor Who New Adventures novel All-Consuming Fire by Andy Lane, which alternates the narration between a Public Domain Character19th-century guest, who finds the experience full of incomprehensible strangeness and mind-scarring horror in classic Lovecraft fashion, and the Doctor's companion, who's much more blasé about the whole thing. ("Rugose alien monstrosities? What, again?")
All-Consuming Fire is so self-aware about being Lovecraft Lite that the monster turns out to be a moderately powerful Starfish Alienpretending to be an Eldritch Abomination.
In some aspects, the Laundryverse is even more horrible as the standard Lovecraft universe, because the repercussions are discussed, and presented, in great detail: for example, instead of saying how a group of sufficiently determined madmen can very well unleash something capable of destroying the entire universe, The Atrocity Archives features a visit to dying remnants of a parallel universe where Nazis succeeded at doing exactly this.
And yet, while some people do go gibbering mad from witnessing the sheer frailty of humanity compared to these forces, the only reason the world has held together so far is humanity's own actions. Many countries have secret agencies to counter supernatural threats, one of them being the titular Laundry. No matter the threat, it usually drives the protagonists to greater determination and ingenuity in holding the line, instead of madness and despair (and, of course, the little detail that said determination tends to win them at least temporary victories).
Emphasis on "temporary". The problem is that CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN (AKA, the stars being right) is just getting warmed up and still has another seventy years left to run. A reduction of Earth's population by 90% through nuclear war has been considered as a viable solution to reduce humanity's psychic imprint that may usher forth the local Cthulhu.
Of course, Charles Stross also wrote "A Colder War", which readers might better describe as Lovecraft Dark.
Most of Simon R. Green's novels feature some flavour of Lovecraft Lite, most evident in his Forest Kingdom series.
Every single Lumley attempt at a Cosmic Horror Story ends up like this. Great Old One Ithaqua rules supreme on an alien planet, but his Half-Human Hybrid daughter leads La Résistance. Cthulhu has a good brother named Kthanid. His most famous contribution to the mythos, the Cthonians, who cause massive earthquakes, drive people insane through prolonged psychic contact, and burrow through bedrock and magma like a hot knife through butter... can be killed by contact with water. The same story that introduces them features a secret society whose modus operandi is locating sleeping eldritch abominations and blowing them up with bombs and an enormous drill.
Scream for Jeeves, by P. H. Cannon, is a Bertie Wooster/Lovecraft crossover, retelling a number of canon stories as Bertie/Jeeves adventures. Jeeves, of course, is Up To Snuff, having been dealing in Eldritch Phenomena since a lad...
The Mall of Cthulhu by Seamus Cooper is a light comedy novel set in the Lovecraft mythos, wherein a nerdy barista and his FBI agent best friend battle a cult of skinheads attempting to raise Cthulhu. While the main characters are fairly messed up as a result of their brushes with the unspeakable, in this universe the supernatural seems more likely to make you a codependent, socially awkward, unlucky-in-love loser than a gibbering lunatic.
A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny presents opening the gate to the Great Old Ones as a game played by Jack the Ripper, Dracula, the Wolfman, witches, mad scientists, and assorted other stock characters of horror. And it's narrated by Jack the Ripper's dog. What's interesting here is that looked at carefully, the actual setting isn't really much brighter or more idealistic than straight Lovecraft. All the coziness comes from the "insider's perspective" on the happenings, as well as the main characters' resistance to the more debilitating forms of insanity.
Derleth did this quite a bit. He came up with a number of higher and benevolent powers to side against the monstrousities of Lovecraft's canon. He also associated each of the beings with an element, meaning they could also be beaten by properly summoning the opposite elemental (as in "The Dweller in Darkness"). He was pretty much the father of Lovecraft Lite.
Whether intentional or not, at least some of Derleth's stories actually feature "horrors" that come across as designated villains more than anything else. Take the human-masked aliens in "The Dark Brotherhood", who for all their weirdness converse with the human narrator easily and openly enough — really monstrous infiltrators plotting to take over human society in the long run, or more victims of human misunderstanding and xenophobia?
Dean Koontz just falls way too far on the Idealistic Side to avoid this trope. The alien invasion in The Taking has all the trappings of Cosmic Horror Story complete with a couple of Lovecraftian references. Except it turns out to have been an Apocalypse (sort of)in which humanity's wickedness is punished (cue Koontz's Anvilicious rants about the downfall of Western Civilization) and all children and sufficiently virtuous adults are spared. The subsequent new world actually seems rather utopian. The Eldritch Abomination in Winter Moon is defeated by an everyday American nuclear family.
John Dies at the End, while dipping into how meaningless, cruel, and violent the human world is, notes that the dark forces that eponymous John and protagonist David fight are just as human as they are - and incredibly immature. The Big Bad turns out to be a gigantic, reality-warming organic supercomputer with the voice of a prepubescent boy and tossing out racist, homophobic slurs by the dozen in an attempt to look tough, and the forces it works with aren't any better - one of the Big Bad's servants talks like a bratty tween trying to act black. In the end, a bomb destroys the Big Bad.
Monster Hunter International killed an elder god with reality. Literally. A mundane nuke only infuriated the creature, but a magitech reality amplifier destroyed it. They can't handle linear time any better than we handle them.
Mongoose by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette. Despite humanity populating a solar system preyed on by brain-stealing Mi-Go, zombie-raising Arkhamers and extra-dimensional monsters like the doppelkinder and bandersnatch, the protagonist survives thanks to his loyal Cheshire which is itself an Eldritch Abomination. They've written other stories in the same universe with different characters, who also survive their encounters with extra-dimensional horrors with The Power of Friendship.
"Shoggoths in Bloom" by Elizabeth Bear. In 1938 an African-American college professor investigates the shoggoth populating reefs off the coasts of Maine. Rather than suffering a horrible death, the shoggoth contact the professor telepathically asking him to be their new master; having turned against the Old Ones, they find their new freedom unbearable. This puts the professor in a quandary — the shoggoth would make the perfect weapon against the rising tide of fascism in Europe, but is he morally right to enslave them again? In the end he tells the shoggoth they must learn to be free, and leaves to France to enlist in the army.
The Litany Of Earth by Ruthanna Emyrs is a story about H.P. Lovecraft's traditional othering of the Deep Ones, only the protagonist is one.
Its title alone is enough to put the 1981 short story The Eldritch Horror of Oz in this category.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel both had elements of a Cosmic Horror Story, with ancient evils under the earth just waiting to be woken. Buffy ultimately took a more hopeful spin and showed how Buffy could actually make a difference. Angel had a more existential theme of finding meaning in the struggle to do right even knowing that evil cannot be truly defeated.
Angel also has Illyria, an ancient god-thing from the beyond, returning to find her armies long turned to dust, her powers gone, and herself stuck in a human body. That the pitilessness of the universe can brutalize Lovecraftian monstrosities themselves is somehow made to feel a little sad.
The show has occasionally had the Doctor and his friends come up against evil Godlike beings and Lovecraftian-style threats (although not quite as explicitly Lovecraftian as the Expanded Universe would make them). Given that this is Doctor Who we're talking about, you get two guesses regarding who usually comes out on top of these encounters. Note that, on occasion, the Doctor comes across legitimately Lovecraftian powers, like the Animus, the GreatIntelligence, or the Midnight creature, which can't be defeated with a bit of Techno Babble and a smile, but these are a rare variety.
A really good example is the Fendahl. A creature so horrible that to look upon it is to die, or to commit suicide. A creature that heavily influenced occultism due to heavily manipulating human culture for its own ends since before they even evolved. A weakened creature, which if it regained its full power could kill everyone on earth with no more effort than swatting a fly. A creature the Doctor kills by blasting it in the face with a shotgun.
A lot of Toku monsters are like this. They'd plunge the world into hell if not for the fact that (a) they've got a weakness to Humongous Mecha or Giant Heroes beating the crap out of them, and (b) their spells rarely outlive the caster. Imagine if you will, a creature made of flowers and vines that spreads beautiful cherry blossoms... that leaves anyone they touch completely frozen but perfectly conscious. However, he needs a heat source to make more of himself and properly cover the world in the same. As a distraction, he summons a bird-dinosaur-thing the heroes had fought once before. Said bird-dinosaur thing? If you kill it, it reassembles itself, only stronger, even if utterly blown apart. How do you kill it? Well, its giant, sentient, talking heart is a separate unit that can exist outside its body. Maybe you can kill that, if it doesn't break you in half with its Combat Tentacles. Just another day in the life of the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. We've also met a giant squid-thing from the Underworld that can possess people, devour magic, and warp time. He is one of multiple contenders for the role of "The Power Rangers version of Satan". (The Rangers made him go boom, of course.)
Supernatural. In one episode it's stated that H.P. Lovecraft himself opened a portal to Purgatory just to see what was there (which is implied to have been inspiration for his stories).
One of the creatures that come through happened to be a perfectly harmless monster that showed up on Earth and just decided she liked living there. There're a lot of Friendly Neighborhood Vampires and Retired Monsters peppered throughout the series, with Season 9 having two such episodes back to back.
In Warehouse 13, H.P. Lovecraft's Silver Key makes any person touching it temporarily look like a C'thulhu-esque creature to people around him or her. This usually results in said person being beaten to death by the freaked-out mob. This is deliberately done by a man whose wife was trampled to death at a stadium. Anybody whom he deem responsible for her fate (either by accidentally pushing her or by walking away when he asked for help) is seen as a monster, and he justifies using the Key by claiming that he's merely showing the others what these people are really like.
KAZe's Necronomicon uses the Cthulhu Mythos for atmosphere, but omits the more horrific elements.
Call of Cthulhu, depending on the campaign, can often stray into this. The lighter the story, the more proactive and successful the characters can be. The harder the campaign sticks to the source material, the more brief, futile and uneventful the campaign will be.
Dungeons & Dragons in its various editions, and Pathfinder even more so, contain plenty of Lovecraftian elements scattered throughout the lore and splatbooks. But, since the game's general theme is heroic fantasy in a world full of benevolent and malevolent gods and controllable magic, these elements lack some of their original bleak hope-destroying teeth. It's sort of indicated that the cosmic monster's time has come and gone (Aboleths), or are safely far away from conventional reality (the Far Realm), needing only the occasional band of intrepid heroes to perform intermittent "maintenance" on the fabric of reality (usually by nuking the encroaching tentacle-monsters with fireballs).
A good amount of the Eldrazi in Magic The Gathering are this, though there are a few of them that are well into full Eldritch Abomination stage. Fortunately it takes a while for them to wake up. Even the strongest Eldrazi can be killed by the right spell, although some of them will require a fair bit of setup first and you may not survive the experience. Lorewise they're a lot closer to true cosmic horrors than they are in the game, needing three of the nigh omnipotent old planeswalkers to be sealed, and not even having form before being bound.
Then there's a different breed of eldritch horror, Marit Lage...whose one card appearance so far, due to being a special token produced by a land in which she was frozen, can be obliterated instantly with an effect that appears at least once in every single block cheaply at instant speed and common - a simple bounce spell, available easily to every deck with blue in it.
Toon doesn't even try to be scary in its "Crawl of Catchooloo" setting. For starters, the monsters drive your characters sane.note Though given that the players are silly cartoon characters, being driven sane and boring is seen as a Fate Worse Than Death...
But according to the setting material and the game storyline, things keep getting worse and worse, and humanity isn't just gradually losing, it is losing HORRIBLY, and the government is just blatantly lying to everyone about it.
Anima: Beyond Fantasy has its share of Eldritch Abominations, the most notable one being the insane goddess of joy Edamiel, turned goddess of nihilism. Nothing that a high level group of adventurers couldn't handle, though...
Contrary to appearences, Edamiel is anything but insane. There is no pain nor evil in oblivion, while existence is full of it. The best option is crystal clear, if unacceptable. Beside, even the highest gods are no match for a Beryl - especially one like her.
Monsterpocalypse have the Lords of Cthul, dead ringers for the Great Old Ones. However, they're just another playable faction... Which means they can be beaten by giant robots, King Kong sized gorillas and Ultraman expies, among other things.
For entities alleged to be an inexorable threat to all humanity, the Horrors and bug spirits from Shadowrun and Earthdawn seem to get their nasty asses kicked a lot.
Of course, this is Averted with the Ultimates, who are so powerful that even the weaker, unstable replicas of them are some of the strongest monsters around, and who themselves are going to be specifically designed as That One Boss
Eclipse Phase takes the time out from talking about the Cosmic Horror Story future where Earth is a charred wreck and there's a virus seeded by Eldritch Abominations and godlike AI's that turns people into ravening monsters or worse, to emphasise that there is hope, no matter how truly fucked we may appear to be.
Tren Krom of BIONICLE is brain-breakingly ugly and has Mind Rape-y mental powers, but he's a creation of the Precursors like everything else on that world. Far from having alien motivations, his masters proclaimed You Have Outlived Your Usefulness and locked him up; you can't blame him for wanting his freedom. And just to underline the "lite", Tren Krom suckered another character into a Grand Theft Me - but when he filled his end of the bargain, Artakha (another old and powerful being, but much less of an Eldritch Abomination) forced him to give the body back.
The existence of plush Cthulhu dolls is probably a case of this.
Dark Scavenger You're able to shoot an ancient world-harvesting alien to death and beat an extra-dimensional blob wanting to devour the universe into submission. Doubles as Genre Shift.
Jenova, the Diabolus Ex Nihilo of Final Fantasy VII. Arriving on Earth in the distant past, it assumed the shape of a white-haired woman and set about injecting its cells into every living thing she could find. No backstory, no motive, no mercy. Man managed to overpower Jenova and stick her in the deep freeze for a few centuries, where "she" remains stuck in a half-woman, half-tentacled mockery of life. Her "son" Sephiroth plays the role of the game's main antagonist as he uses her power to summon a huge meteor in an attempt to wipe out and absorb the life energy of all living things on the planet; ironically, his human spirit allows him to make more use of Jenova's powers, because he can plan ahead, focus on things other than instinct, and act from within the Lifestream, reanimating Jenova cells that would normally remain dormant.
The original Grandia tells a familiar yarn about a delusional warlord who seek to unseal a great evil. We learn that "Gaia", a lifeform which grew around the magical Spirit Stone, went berserk when mortals began abusing the stone for decadent ends. Gaia resembles a giant, weird hybrid bug/plant thing, and its human puppet General Baal is gradually turning into its duplicate. He begins the story with a tentacled scythe-arm hidden beneath his cloak, but has fully degenerated by game's end.
Grandia II went one further. The heroes are led to believe that pieces of the Devil are breaking out of their orb-shaped prisons and possessing people. Actually, both 'God' and the 'Devil' are artificial lifeforms which have been squabbling for control over man for eons. A lot of collateral damage in this story, including a little blind girl who becomes a host for the Devil's Eye. Everyone gets better in the epilogue, tough.
The Trope Codifier may well be the Persona series, itself an offshoot of Shin Megami Tensei. This is especially true of Persona 2, which not only borrows the character Nyarlathotep (portrayed more or less faithfully) as a whimsical villain, but also from Jungian philosophy. However, as dark as the saga gets, it ends with a typical JRPG Aesop about friendship and love triumphing over darkness etc.
The Shin Megami Tensei series in general, on that note. While the specifics vary game-to-game, the basic premise is the same: a war between the tyrannicalYHWH, who wants to extinguish free will and enact in its place a World of Silence that eternally worships him, and Lucifer. As in The Devil. While Lucifer DOES have the best interests of humanity at heart, his methods are morally ambiguous at best, and ultimately his idea of paradise is bloody, chaotic, unrestrained anarchy. Humanity inevitably finds itself embroiled in this war between cosmic, incomprehensibly powerful beings that either actively hate them, see them as convenient tools or have very different ideas on how things should be run. Fortunately, there is an option in every game to date that involves humanity forming a faction of its own, taking control of the demons and angels running around, and making both God and Lucifer sorry they ever got us involved. Judging by the (shaky) continuity of the Megaten games, these are often considered the Canon endings.
The Suffering: eldritch embodiments of man's inhumanity to man wrecking havoc on the darkest, most horror-ridden structures and settlements of man? Check. The opportunity to lay waste to them with machine guns and grenades? Check.
It's debatable whether Mass Effect fits here or on Cosmic Horror Story. On one hand, the Eldritch AbominationSovereign is pretty handily defeated by mere mortals. On the other hand, said mortals take heavy casualties in defeating just one and there are thousands more waiting for someone to open the relay to dark space, meaning it'd be nigh impossible to win if they came in force.
Mass Effect 2 goes into a bit more detail about just what the Reapers do to the species they harvest: the first game established that they "repurposed" them to their own ends - that's how the Keepers aboard the Citadel were created - but it becomes a Player Punch when the villainous Collectors are revealed to be the Protheans after 50,000 years of indoctrination and Body Horror. On top of that, it appears Shepard's improbable feat of killing one of their own has gotten the Reapers interested in humankind: cue the mass colony abductions, with the sole purpose of liquefying humans and feeding it into an embryonic Human Reaper. They harvest entire species to procreate, and their big plan was to construct a new Reaper using a human genetic base.
In Mass Effect 3the Reapers are ultimately defeated, but the method depends on Shepard and the galaxy is scarred regardless. Either Shepard dies to impose their will on them, sending them to repair the relay infrastructure, ultimately using them to protect the galaxy, destroys them all at the cost of all other synthetic life in the galaxy, or creates a Synthesis with Reaper technology that the Codex doesn't have time to explain, due to the game ending, satisfying the Catalyst's loopy programming enough so it stops being insane and killing people. With the Extended Cut DLC patch, a fourth Downer Ending is added, where Shepard attempts to win conventionally after pouring all resources into the Crucible, but Liara gets lucky and manages to send the Crucible instructions to the next cycle, who trigger the Synthesis themselves.
With the Leviathan DLC, you can encounter the beings who accidentally created the Reapers. They're eldritch tentacle horrors with psychic powers who lurk at the bottom of an ocean. When Shepard meets them, they end up shrugging off their mind-control and browbeating them into joining the war effort. You know something is Lovecraft Lite when you can stare down Cthulhu and tell him he works for you now.
Surprisingly, Amnesia: The Dark Descent can be considered like this, in spite of its obvious direct influences. Yes, Daniel may be running and hiding from hideous monsters, all the while pursued by a horrible, all-consuming force that he has no hope of fighting. The bad endings play the whole Lovecraftian horror angle straight, but the neutral ending makes it possible for Daniel to obtain his revenge and in doing so, free himself from his cursed pursuer. The good ending meanwhile, implies that it is possible for humanity to at least partially understand the forces behind the running of the universe, and perhaps even master them.
Warcraft 3: The manual for the game asserts that in the distant past the world was ruled by a cabal of malevolent "Old Gods", which, again, fit this trope to a tee. In the subsequent MMORPGWorld of Warcraft, Old God (C'Thun) actually appears as a boss in the game. Even though you only fight some of his tentacles and do not actually defeat the god by mastering the boss.
The Old Gods are back in the "Wrath of the Lich King" expansion, with the ominous Yogg-Saron. Saronite ore turns out to be the solidified blood of Yogg-Saron and prolonged exposure to mining it will drive NPC's mad. He is the Final Boss of Ulduar, his prison (which has been breached and his warders corrupted. Hints of this are scattered thought the expansion, usually in the form of ominous whispers. ).
" The druids of old were wise to tear down Vordrassil, for its roots seep deep into the dwelling of an ancient evil. You know their kind as Old Gods. Beware Yogg-Saron, the beast with a thousand maws. His evil extends beyond Vordrassil's roots."
For that matter, the Titans, Azeroth's creator deities who defeated the Old Gods, are found to be not as benign as previously believed. While they seem to prefer Azeroth existing to it not existing, it is revealed by the Bonus Boss of Ulduar that they are rather nonchalant about the prospect of wiping out everyone on the planet to "start over" if need be.
It should be noted that their willingness to reset the planet stems from the Old Gods still being there.
And in the Cataclysm expansion, it turns out that the Titans left behind the equipment to wipe out all life and "start over" on Azeroth itself, all primed and ready to go at the push of a few buttons.
And the most powerful Pokémon are giving off more and more eldritch vibes, especially the newer ones. Doesn't stop you from capturing and training them if you're strong enough, though.
The apex of this trope is probably the fourth-gen games, especially Pokemon Platinum which goes all-out in portraying Giratina as an Eldritch Abomination which lives in the aforementioned Torn World... and which you still have the option of befriending Nanoha-style and shoving in a little ball for future use.
Pokémon X and Y gives us Malamar, a Psychic/Dark squid that's pretty much a kid-friendly Mindflayer.
EarthBound is an arguable example. Ness and company cannot defeat Giygas (AKA Azathoth with fewer tentacles). No matter what. Instead, you require the breaking of the fourth wall that gives Paula's pray ability the power of basically everyone in the world... and the person (you) that is outside of the TV. Because not even Eldritch Abominations can comprehend what lie beyond the Fourth Wall.
Not to mention the rest of the story is bright and colorful and set in a relaxing Flavor One Eagleland.
On the other hand, it has enough moments where it goes into the full-on Lovecraftian despair-horror to be a less than straight example. Witness particularly the Bad End.
The sequel continue to play with this. Turn out that it's impossible to permanently seal Nyarlathotep, as it will simply emerge in another mask from alternate universe and continue its plan to release Azathoth. Fortunely, there are omnipotent Elder Gods who will make sure its plan won't succeed.
Oracle Of Tao. You can beat up Cthulhu, Cyaegha, or Yog Sothoth. Though it is somewhat hard, since they are puzzle enemies that respawn if you don't do it properly, and if you fail, you get mind-raped, and go insane before tentacles swallow you and the world whole. Still, even the "terrifying" parts of the loss are a bit silly.
The true villains of Parasite Eve, a sequel to the novel of the same name, are our own cells; specifically, the mitochondria that have been silently guiding the evolution of Earth's creatures, just waiting for their chance to strike. Their mouthpiece is Melissa Pearce, a woman whose body has reshaped itself into Eve, a siren who can cause people to spontaneously combust with a mere thought. Her goal is to assemble the genetic material of New York's citizenry (who have collectively melted into a giant ball of goo) to use as her womb, producing the Ultimate Lifeform.
Skullgirls takes place in a bright and colorful Dieselpunk world, that just so happens to be frequently threatened and terrorized by the Skullgirl, and her servant Double.
Quake has a few monsters that take inspiration from Lovecraft's monsters, though rather than going mad, you blow them away with rocket launchers. And at the end, you get to TelefragShub-Niggurath.
The Telltale Sam & Max episodes have been dropping the occasional Lovecraft reference as far back as Episode 201. In the third season, it becomes increasingly obvious that Lovecraftian Eldritch Abominations are going to be part of the main plot. In episode 304, an Elder God lays out an extremely Lovecraftian prehistory, the summoning of an infant abomination is attempted, and Max himself becomes Maxthulhu. This is almost played straight, but since it's in the Sam & Max universe, it comes off more as Dark Comedy rather than true cosmic horror. Also Yog-Sothoth is actually rather nice and helpful for an Eldritch Abomination, saying that age has mellowed him out some. Being only a tiny fraction of his former self symbiotically attached to a human sorcerer and stuck in our universe after his summoning technically failed probably has something to do with this.
The real villain turns out to be not an interdimentional monstrocity but Max's own superego, annoyed at being ignored for so long, thanks to Max being all id.
Toyed with in Elona as the game invokes both tropes at once, both in story AND gameplay. Lulwy of the Wind might look like a naked chick with wings, but Lolth help you if you piss her off. She has so much speed she gets 8 attacks on a quickling character, damn near 30 on anybody else, hits like a falling starship, and is implied through dialogue and worship-interaction to be the cause of the Etherwind, a particularly nasty purple hailstorm at the beginning of every season which inflicts grievous Lovecraftian Body Horror mutations upon any caught within, for better or worse. Pray your world continues to entertain her, or Haruhi help you she will reshape your face until it entertains her once more. Meanwhile, Shub-Niggurath is a random monster encounter, uses its source material as flavour text, especially for sanity attacks, but is really quite harmless unless cornered and unable to teleport, and once properly beaten to a smudge can be captured with a Pokéball and made your own. The real challenge of a Shub-Niggurath comes from the fact it is a very high level, and when it doesn't teleport, it casts summon monster. Summon Monster is a level-based spell, so it could conceivably summon something that will punch BOTH your lights out. And if you've been rendered insane, you're helpless against whatever it called up by accident. Also, the Big Bad is a CHAOS worshipping warmage halfway to becoming one. He can be dispatched easily with a little Batman prep time and skill grinding. In summary: Lulwy = Cosmic Horror Story and Shubsie/Zeome = Lovecraft Lite
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is a Dyson Sphere-sized mass of writhing tentacles and machinery. It's no match for a single alien piloting a dingy UFO.
Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun has, as its final enemy a tentacled abomination called a Burrower that dwelt in a cavern deep underground and which was driving the people on the surface all mad, but in the end, you used a scroll to summon Ka the Preserver, and he killed the Burrower.
Dark Souls has a lot of very depressing Fridge Horror when it comes to the metaphysical aspects of the universe. The game is also filled with minor Eldritch Abominations. The Gaping Dragon might as well be called "The Mouth with a Thousand Teeth", and then there is Ceaseless Discharge, a 500 foot◊ tall Magma Man with some really freaky things coming out of his head. With enough patience and skill, you can kill all of these. The "Artorias of the Abyss" DLC takes it further by revealing that, for better or for worse, the most powerful force in existence is humanity itself.
The Destroyer in Borderlands is a horrifying, Lovecraftian monster sealed within the Vault everyone is trying to secure, and is said to be dangerous enough to lay waste to this universe and is invincible in the universe it comes from. naturally, the Vault Huntersblast its betentacled ass to bits. And ultimately, this was the Big Bad's whole plan. Handsome Jack was a Dirty Coward unwilling to tackle the Destroyer himself, so he manipulated the Vault Hunters into killing it and then reaping the rewards from the Eridium that erupted across Pandora as a result.
Kingdom Hearts is what happens when Eldritch Abominations invade a universe that runs on the power of friendship and Disney magic. While the Heartless and their ilk are numerous and have succeeded in destroying worlds multiple times, the worlds, and the people they may have killed along the way, are able to be restored, like nothing happened, when the heroes save the day.
In Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land, you lead a squad of Investigators in the middle of a World War One battlefield, in order to stop a German cult to create an army of undeads and Mythos creatures. The game features a Sanity system (attacking or being attacked by anything other than a German soldier or German cultist drops it) which grants interesting results when it reachs 0, but losing all your Sanity doesn't kill the unit; it can be regained fairly easily. Also, you attack and kill lovecraftian Eldritch Abominations with World War One era weaponry, including męlée weapons.
The final boss is a Star Spawn of Cthulhu, which is eventually blown with rifles designed for elephant hunting. Or, if you're lucky enough, you can have your Lightning Bruiser hit it to death with a sharpened shovel.
The Crysis series has more than a few shades of this. The Ceph as a race are billions of years old and have technology so advanced that were they to invade in full it would be less a war and more a planet-sized fumigation tent. Even the meager Ceph detachment already on Earth is a force to be reckoned with, with their area denial subzero-temperature-domes and all-consuming biomass "janitorial" plague, all sprouting from the ground causing seismic disasters as their foot-soldiers swarm from the cracks. And yet, if the multiple human factions would all just shut up and stop bickering we could finally actually with this war.
The page image above is a pretty good representation of the final "boss" of the third game, with a Ceph mega-battleship coming out of an intergalactic portal. Prophet and Alcatraz blast it to kingdom come with a Kill Sat.
In the Metro City Chronicles, Squid Kid's superpowers apparently come straight from the Lovecraftian mythos.
Cthulhu is a reoccurring character in New York Magician. Michel is a casual acquaintance with his minion.
"Your boss is a squid."
Plenty of short stories on Everything2.Usually played for humor.
The story "Ayla and the Grinch" has The Unpronounceable, a Lovecraftian demon from another dimension that isn't defeated, merely locked out of this dimension because it didn't have a big enough foothold. This time. Ayla nearly died, and suffered psychological damage that required psychological help from psychics. Everyone else who saw the tiny part of it that got into our world (except the people who locked it out of our dimension) either died horribly or suffered horrific psychological effects. That's not too 'lite'.
On the other hand, Sara manages to successfully avert her fate, and is pretty much a Lovecraftian horror who is...Chaotic Good?
Whether or not Sara ultimately has averted her fate just yet or is simply still in her Hope Spot remains to be seen. There's still that ominously foreshadowed pending visit of her 'relatives' coming to 'test' her, and there's that small issue with Shub-Niggurath wanting her for high priestess that's been brought up during her father's visit and left hanging since. And her somewhat infamous encounter with Jobe might in fact call her 'alignment' into question a bit...
Atop the Fourth Wall - The Entity plotline finally gets into this direction at the very end, but barely Entity consumes all people on Earth, Linkara has no way to defeat it...but he manages to convince it to commit a suicide, restoring the world back to normal
The general intent was actually a Deconstruction of a Cosmic Horror Story. The Entity is a being makes worlds, even universes seem insignificant, but in the end, it's just an arrogant self-absorbed Generic Doomsday Villain that has no idea what it's going to do after accomplishing its goal, and the realization shows it's just an insignificant as the rest us.
Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, with its love for all things dark and nerdy, plays with the Cthulhu Mythos at times. Of course, it's a perfume company, so its interpretations of Lovecraftian abominations are rather less soul-searing than standard. Shub-Niggurath even smells like gingerbread.
Exaggerated (in a very tongue-in-cheek fashion) with the holiday limited editions The Miskatonic Valley Yuletide Faire and Valentine's Day In the Miskatonic Valley. Both of them take Villains Out Shopping to an extreme. Who knew that Lavinia Whateley was such a good cook?
Welcome to Night Vale is set in a town where terrible eldritch horrors are attacking pretty much constantly. The citizens hold the belief that everything will probably work out in the end, and if it doesn't, you might as well go about life as usual until then.
While the video is specifically about video games, "Why Games Do Cthulhu Wrong" from Extra Credits thoroughly explains why a lot of horror media tends to fall into this genre by accident, usually by missing the futility factor of Cosmic Horror. The narrator notes that video games in particular just can't do the cosmic horror genre any justice, at least not without subverting almost everything mainstream video games are about. Video games are usually about presenting the player with a challenge to overcome, and while presenting an Eldritch Abomination as such a challenge hits the notes of Lovecraft, it completely misses the music; true Lovecraftian horror is about forces so completely beyond humanity that just seeing one leads to madness, and that are impossible to even fight, let alone defeat.
In Ghastlys Ghastly Comic, a character tries to summon Cthulhu, but finds that the horrific Elder God is just an infant, about the size of a toy poodle and less dangerous. On top of that, he gets drafted as its baby sitter for an eon or two.
The Unspeakable Vault (of Doom) is a humoristic take on the more famous Lovecraftian entities. It's subversion, humans are still abomination fodder, but the comic focuses more on the wacky hijinks Cthulhu and friends get up to between summonings and stellar alignments. And while we can't stop them, we can give them serious headache.
Imagine that the real reason the U.S. Space Program no longer sends men beyond Earth orbit is because they discovered planet-sized aliensspace monsters, and our only hope of survival is to avoid attracting their attention. In another story, this could be a very scary premise; in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, this is a punchline.
Irregular Webcomic! has Cthulhu repeatedly defeated by being wrestled by a human. Admittedly, that human is Steve Irwin, but still... The Great Old One has also been defeated by yetis, and eaten by a croc, so it's definitely a toned-down version of Lovecraft's most famous entity.
Schlock Mercenary dips its toes into this when dealing with paan'uri. One possible translation of their name is 'That which exists where nothing should' and they remain mysterious and shadowy figures in their first few appearances but after the Core War, courtesy of the Fleetmind, they've been analyzed enough that with enough resources they can be fought and defeated. They still remain a threat but that's because they are not without resources of their own.
The Horrorterrors of Homestuck are Lovecraftian monsters that are quite capable of wiping out an entire species with a single glub or driving people insane by appearing in dreams, but they aren't all that bad and even help out the heroes sometimes when their general eldritchness doesn't get in the way. Some of the characters have referred to them with joking terminology as well. Then there's the Squiddles, cute collectible squid toys that may or may not be based upon humanity's subconscious awareness of the outer-space seafood diner.
Cthulhu Slippers is an office comedy set after the end of the world at the hands of eldritch abominations who just aren't that bad. Powerful yes, inhuman yes, but far more often stupid and careless as opposed to evil.
The first issue of The Order Of The Black Dog ends with a black ooze with eyes and teeth invading the orifices of two people to control them, and the second ends with the thing sealed before it killed any named characters, and one of its hosts doesn't even remember it later. Issue three though results in the protagonist institutionalized after peering into the space between dimensions. And the past sections of issue four resolve in two of the investigators dead, but it seems like the Black Dog is gone for good, then it appears again in the present day.
One episode in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) features a many-tentacled beast called "Yog," which might destroy the whole planet if he ever awakes. It's hard to see why, because He-man beats him forever in about five seconds.
Justice League's Icthultu is defeated by Hawkgirl's mace. Beating Elder Gods to death is really just a matter of having the right Unobtanium.
Inhumanoids involved a pantheon of three giant-sized Eldritch Abominations who were imprisoned by elder races ages ago. However, the show was essentially G.I. Joe, and the monsters get defeated every episode.
In "The Collect Call of Cathulhu", an episode of The Real Ghostbusters, the Great Old One himself was defeated by an ionized roller coaster that attracted lightning that struck Cathulhu [sic].
Actually the overarching story arc of the series is Lovecraft Light cleverly disguised as a Scooby-Doo show, and the last big bad is a well... Parrothulhu. Don't laugh! It's terrifying and devours the whole supporting cast.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) example: While the Lovecraft-inspired episode "The Darkness Within"—featuring a Chtulhu expy who draws the greedy towards its sanctum so it can feed of their life-energy while making them experience their worst nightmares—is one of the series' more serious episodes, its relatively satisfactory ending (the creature is defeated with no loss of sanity) makes it more this trope than a true Cosmic Horror Story.
Ben 10: Ultimate Alien: Diagon is an ancient Eldritch AbominationDimension Lord that has already conquered countless dimensions. According to the cult that worships Diagon, it is responsible for the rise of humanity. For all its power, Diagon is ultimately defeated because it arrogantly underestimates the ingenuity of "lesser" beings. In the backstory, Sir George sealed Diagon with Azmuth's sword-like reality warping superweapon Ascalon. In the Grand Finale, Vilgax apparently slays Diagon for good by tricking him into attacking an energy draining device. Said device completely absorbs Diagon since it's an Energy Being, and it's uncertain whether or not Diagon survived the process.
Has started to be used in academic papers under the term "Post-Lovecraftian." The concept is discussed here.
Most religions have horrible, unknowable creatures who could kill us without really meaning to by standing close to us. Many of them want to destroy the world, but most beliefs are confident the eldritch abominations who like us are going to win. If they're right, then all of reality is Lovecraft Lite.