main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Kickstarter Message
TV Tropes Needs Your Help
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.
View Kickstarter Project
Primordial Chaos
In Plato's Timaeus, God does not create the universe, as does the Christian God; He simply finds it one day. It is in a state of total chaos. God sets to work to transform the chaos into order.
Philip K. Dick, describing a classic example of this.

In almost all mythologies, there exists a time before time, where the world had not yet been made. All that existed was simply Chaos (usually), and from here the gods/primordial entities would form, and shape the world as they saw fit. In other cases, there was nothing at all, and in others still, it was someplace indescribable by mortal words. It may still exist in some form, either as a (strange) part of the reality in question, or as a connected but separate reality.

Eldritch Abominations like to call this place home. It occasionally has an Anthropomorphic Personification, or may be sentient itself. It's also nearly always part of a Creation Myth.

The Cosmic Egg may have resided in it.


Anime and Manga
  • Slayers has the Sea of Chaos, from which the four worlds arose at the beginning of time.
  • The true Big Bad of Pretty Cure Splash*Star Gooyan lived in the Primordial Chaos long before the Big Bang that created the universe. The entire reason he wants to destroy the universe is because he thinks life is too noisy and he wants to return to peaceful nothingness.

  • Marvel Comics villain the Chaos King is the Primordial Chaos as an Anthropomorphic Personification. He's very loosely based on the Japanese mythological figure Amatsu-Mikaboshi.
    • A later story links Mikaboshi to the abstract entity Oblivion an aspect of said entity. Oblivion IS the nothingness/chaos/whatever that preceded creation.
  • In Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, during a tie-in to Crisis on Infinite Earths, a cult called the Brujeria summons up something far, far worse than the Anti-Monitor: this very chaos, called the "Original Darkness". It's likely the most powerful supervillain DC has ever thought up: its fingernail couldn't be dented by The Spectre, and, again, this is during Crisis, meaning this is the same Spectre who fought evenly with the Anti-Monitor after the latter had absorbed the Infinite Earths. Despite its power, however, the Darkness is a rather innocent being, very ignorant of the ways of the universe. It absorbs Etrigan, Doctor Fate, and the Spectre, trying to get information from them, but they just end up making it worse when they tell the Darkness that it is "evil". Swamp Thing then convinces it that it is what it makes of itself, and finally the Presence Himself descends from Heaven and merges with the Darkness, equalizing it.
  • Over twenty years later, during Blackest Night, the origin of the Green Lantern villain Nekron is given: it turns out he is a "defense mechanism" created by the Primordial Chaos to fight back against light and life. You see, the universe rightfully belonged to the Darkness; the Presence invaded when He created the Entity, which in turn created life. Whether this Darkness is the same being as the Swamp Thing character is anyone's guess, but given Geoff Johns' apparent fondness for Alan Moore stories about Eldritch Abominations, it wouldn't be surprising.

  • The Silmarillion starts this way. God (Eru) creates classes of angels (Ainur), then shows them His grand design (through having them sing), and sends them out into the void to create it for Him.
  • In the Discworld series, the Anthropomorphic Personification of kaos (none of this new mathematically-defined chaos, thank you very much) used to be the fifth horseman of the Apocalypse. The other four threw him out for being overly destructive, and now he runs a dairy as Ronnie Soak, Milkman.
  • In Steven Brust's To Reign in Hell, Yaweh and the Angels are fighting to save Heaven from incursions of the formless, chaotic, destructive Cacoastrum from which they all originally sprang.
  • The substance called "nothing" in Garth Nix's The Keys To The Kingdom books.
  • In the Cthulhu Mythos, Azathoth is described as this. As Lovecraft wrote: "the ancient legends of Ultimate Chaos, at whose center sprawls the blind idiot god Azathoth, Lord of All Things, encircled by his flopping horde of mindless and amorphous dancers, and lulled by the thin monotonous piping of a demonic flute held in nameless paws." Ramsey Campbell makes Azathoth an inversion: as it wasn't always ultimate chaos. It became that way when it lost it's intellect.
    They danced insanely to the high, thin whining
    Of a cracked flute clutched in a monstrous paw,
    Whence flow the aimless waves whose chance combining
    Gives each frail cosmos its eternal law.
  • In the Young Wizards series there is Eternity, the place outside of time where the Powers That Be dwelled before they created the universes. The most powerful of the Powers still exist mainly in Eternity, projecting mere fragments of themselves into the universes to interact with things that exists inside of time.
  • The Other Place in "The Bartimaeus Trilogy".
  • The Warren of Chaos in The Malazan Book of the Fallen.
  • The Dark Tower has the Prim, which will return if the Tower falls.
  • The later books in Orson Scott Card's Enderverse introduce "Outside," an infinite number of philotes (fundamental building blocks of matter, similar to the classical atom) with no sense of time, space, direction, or any other governing principle. It is theorized that the known universe and, potentially, other universes spontaneously sprang (spring? will have sprung?) from it.

Mythology and Religion
  • Greek Mythology has... well, chaos.
  • The sea of nothingness known as Apsu in Mesopotamian Mythology is the Ur Example.
  • The Bible says that in the beginning, the Earth was formless, empty, and covered in darkness. Interestingly, a sea still seemed to exist, as it mentions how the spirit of God moved over waters before any creation had taken place. Anthropologists have suggested that nothing spoke "chaos" as well to a tribe of desert nomads as a raging sea.
  • Ginnungagap in Norse Mythology was the void between the unbearably hot Muspellheim and the bitterly cold Niflheim in which the world emerged.
  • Japanese Mythology describes the "primordial chaos" from which the Gods came from (and created the Heavenly Plains and later Earth) as dark, cold and jelly-like. The Star God Amatsu-Migaboshi Is usually associated to the pre-Earth chaos.
  • Hindu Mythology. In fact, gods even intentionally fished there once, just to see what they will pull out of it. And collected an impressive pile of weird stuff, some more useful than other. No boots, though.
  • In Egyptian Mythology, several of the Creation Myths have the ordered cosmos created or born from the chaos-sea Nun. Nun (as both a god and as the Primordial Chaos) continues to exist alongside the cosmos, which must be continually maintained to prevent it collapsing back into chaos.
  • One explanation for the creation of the world in Chinese Mythology is that the universe was once a formless chaotic thing called Hundun. Two Emperors came across Hundun (somehow) and decided that Hundun should have seven holes in its body, since people have seven holes (nostril, nostril, mouth, ear, ear, anus, the other one). They drilled the seven holes, and Hundun died, creating the universe.

  • Pro Pinball: Timeshock! has the Dawn of Time, where the player must travel to in order to stop a wave of anti-time from destroying creation..

Tabletop Games
  • Exalted has the Wyld, the infinite realm of possibility, change, chaos, and unreality in which the Primordials built Creation, a.k.a. the real world. The Wyld still exists around Creation and periodically tries to eat it, so as in Egyptian Mythology the world must be actively maintained and protected from this chaos. It's also home to The Fair Folk.
  • In Legend of the Five Rings, one of the villains, responsible for "real" ninjas is this - leftovers of the primal darkness, which hate being forced into shape and so would like to undo all creation. The ninja powers of its servants comes form them being "unnamed" - they don't have true names and as such aren't set in reality - their shape is a matter of whim.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has the Warp.
  • Hundan, the Titan of Chaos in Scion. It is Chaos, unthinking and unknowable. It couldn't be imprisoned along with the other Titans, for to imprison something requires that you be able to define it. Hundan cannot be defined. Entering it causes you to face a swirling, shifting hell of unreality, which you must fix into place with your thoughts if you want any hope of survival.
  • The Primordial Waters from Leviathan The Tempest. No one is sure if it actually existed or not.
  • The land of the Excrucians (simply known as the Lands Beyond Creation) sometimes plays this role in Nobilis, and the Strategists seem to believe existence was in some way stolen from or is a blasphemy against this void, hence their ability to obliterate all kinds of things.

Video Games

Real Life
  • Under some hypothesis, the Big Bang arose from a pre-universe described as a "Quantum Foam."
  • Another hypothesis says nothing existed, because before the Big Bang time didn't exist. This idea has lost credibility in the eyes of most physicists, both because of the logical conundrum it presents (if there is no time, nothing can "start" in the first place) and because it relies on the rather narrow definition of "time" to begin with, as the entropic constant rather than the fourth dimension.
  • There are hypotheses that the Chaos permanently exists and is the underlying fabric from which the current universe and all possible universes (past and future included) spring from as temporary nodes of stability.

Place Beyond TimeMetaphysical PlacePsychological Torment Zone
Power TrioOlder Than DirtPsychic Dreams for Everyone

alternative title(s): Time Before Time; Reality Before Reality; Life Before Life; Before The Dawn Of Time
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy