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Signs of the End Times
How do we know that the End of the World as We Know It is approaching? By the warning signs that precede it, of course. Whether The Stars Are Going Out or a beast with seven heads rises out of the ocean, or just dogs and cats lying together, everyone knows that something bad is about to happen. It's a sign of the end.

Works that want to make biblical allusions will often use things from the Book of Revelation, although not always literally.

Supertrope to The Stars Are Going Out. Subtrope to Portent of Doom. May overlap with Bad Moon Rising or Comet of Doom.

Compare Just Before the End. See also Apocalypse How, Caught Up in the Rapture and The End of the World as We Know It.

Not to be confused with Sign of the Apocalypse, a stock phrase used for humor.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime/Manga 
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, shortly before Father enacts his plan, all of the people who've opened the Gate suddenly drop through the floor, triggering a solid Oh Crap from the entire cast. Of course, his plan is ultimately foiled, but he got a nice Apocalypse Wow in anyway.

    Comic Books 
  • Doom Patrol:
    • As reality begins to merge with Orqwith -
    • In Barcelona, when the Cult of the Unwritten Book starts to summon the Decreator -
      • A bus full of teenagers was possessed by the Unquiet Face and driven through the Corridor of Hallucinations
      • The Needle Children, who cannot be seen through glass, laid pointless siege to an old folks' home in the suburbs.
      • At 11:30 there was an outbreak of spirit skywriting which continued for an hour and a half.
      • At midnight the word 'harmony' disappeared from the vocabulary of everyone in the city.
      • At 12:30 the Embryo Stains invaded the marrow of a nightclub owner and forced him to compose terrifying poetry.
      • Everything blue became temporarily invisible.
      • The rain forgot how to fall.
    • When Shadowy Mr. Evans appears (his apocalypse is local and sex-based):
      • A bunch of men lick a street lamp erotically.
      • A couple paints maps of the Soviet Union and the USA on their bodies before having sex.
      • Dozens of people park their cars in the middle of football fields and start having sex in them at the same time.
      • A group of college professors specializing in the XVIII-Century German literature go on suicide/gang-rape spree.
      • Local doctors and nurses surgically create new sexual organs on bodies of comatose patients.
      • A woman in a dog costume chases a man in drag.
  • This was a very popular trope in early Vertigo Comics. In The Sandman, Doctor Destiny's hold over Dream's gem leads to a wave of cruelty, hallucinations, and general nightmares sweeping over the global consciousness as the fate of the Dreaming lies in the balance.
  • Alan Moore uses similar nightmare scenes during the "Love and Death" arc in Swamp Thing. Anton Arcane's unholy resurrection leads to a "shockwave of nightmare", affecting people and animals around the area and spreading:
    • A man approaches a homeless drunk in an alleyway, and pulls out a book of matches...
    • A woman approaches her husband with a cast iron skillet...
    • A cat climbs into a sleeping baby's crib, claws bared...
    • A guard dog attacks its owner...
    • A cow gives birth to something that screams like a woman and then dies...
    • In Arkham Aslyum, Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man, starts screaming maniacally, and The Joker has stopped smiling...
    • This wave of supernatural evil even attracts the attention of The Monitor (this page was not included when DC printed the arc in trade paperback).
  • In Fantastic Four, fire and floating stones in the sky were actually illusions generated by the Watcher to try to conceal Earth from the oncoming apocalypse, but The Herald saw through them, and his presence ushered the coming of Galactus

    Film - Live Action 
  • Ghostbusters does this twice:
    • Part 1
    Winston Zeddmore: Do you remember something in the Bible about the last days, when the dead would rise from the grave?
    Ray Stantz: I remember Revelations 7:12. "And I looked as he opened the 6th seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake. And the sun became as black as sack cloth, and the moon became as blood."
    Winston Zeddmore: And the seas boiled and the skies fell.
    Ray Stantz: Judgment Day.
    Winston Zeddmore: Judgment Day.
    Ray Stantz: Every religion has its myth about the end of the world.
    Winston Zeddmore: Myth? Ray, has it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason we've been so busy lately is 'cause the dead have been rising from the grave?
    • Part II
    Peter Venkman: Or you could accept the fact that this city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
    Mayor: What do you mean, biblical?
    Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament biblical, Mr. Mayor. Real wrath-of-God-type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming from the sky! Rivers and seas boiling!
    Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes! Volcanoes!
    Winston Zeddmore: The dead rising from the grave!
    Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!
  • The Seventh Sign. A man is breaking the seven seals of the Apocalypse, causing the warning signs of the Apocalypse to occur.
  • The Core had:
    • People with pacemakers all dying due to localised electromagnetic pulses.
    • Birds mass suiciding because their directional sense was off, causing them to fly top speed into buildings.
    • The ozone layer developing holes that let through unfiltered sunlight hot enough to melt the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Religion 
  • In Islam, Signs of the End are categorized into Major and Minor: minor signs are quite vague and subject to interpretation regarding what they refer to. However, major signs, like the emergence of the Antichrist (in Arabic "Dajjal") are unambiguous. There are many minor signs but only ten major ones.

     Literature 
  • In Piers Anthony's Being a Green Mother, plague, earthquakes, floods, and volcanic eruptions are all the result of singing the Llano of Chaos, which ends all living things within weeks of it being sung. Although one could argue that these are less signs of the end and more the cause.
  • In the novel The Yiddish Policemens Union by Michael Chabon, reports of talking chickens are mentioned as a sign of the end times, or at least of the coming of Messiah.
  • Good Omens has a lot of these, as it's a book about the lead up to the End of Days.
  • In the "present" (23rd century) of Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, the world has already gone through an apocalypse that has reduced the population to 700,000,000 people and necessitated great efforts to replenish the earth to what it formerly was. An example of this is what spurs those on the Columbus Project to make the decision to change the past and obliterate their entire post-Columbus history and those who existed in it in favor of repairing the past and creating what turns out to be a better future. It turns out that despite their optimism and everything they've done, there are more people than the planet can support, North America is in the midst of a famine, crop production is going down, and no matter what is done, everything's going to go to shit, another Ice Age will come, and humanity will be plunged into the Stone Ages.
  • C. S. Lewis' The Last Battle where all the signs of Revelation begin to happen, albeit in Narnia.
  • A classic example is William Butler Yeats' The Second Coming, a poem that predicts the birth of the Anti Christ.
  • Arcia Chronicles and Reflections of Eterna by the same author have a lot of these but they are mostly ignored by Normal People.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Carnivŕle, Brother Justin says that the depression and all the traits of the Crapsack World in which the show takes place are surely signs of the apocalypse. He isn't wrong, but what he isn't aware of at that point is that he's the one who's bringing it.
  • Angel's "Apocalypse Nowish" does this-there are birds crashing into buildings, snakes coming out of plumbing, rats everywhere, and eventually, all the locations of the phone calls they get about these things, when laid out on a map, make an ancient symbol of destruction, with Connor's birthplace-slash-the place where the Beast rises smack in the middle.
  • In the first season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mrs. Calender knows the Hellmouth is about to open based on locally occurring portents; a family's swimming pool begins to boil (with them in it), a cat gives birth to a litter of snakes and a baby is born with his eyes facing inward.
  • Millennium eventually shifted from a straight-up "serial killer" series to the idea that the general rise in the tide of human cruelty was tied into the upcoming apocalypse, sharing equal time between investigation of hideous murders and investigation of strange phenomena.
    • They also had an episode with literal signs of the end times, revolving around a Russian who sabotaged Chernobyl (sometimes translated as "Wormwood", the name of a poison star in the Book of Revelation) and who might just be the anti-Christ. Even though the anti-Christ isn't in the Book of Revelation. The episode instead conflates the anti-Christ with the Beast, including him surviving a fatal head wound and his helicopter having the serial number 666. Curiously, for a show about the coming end of days, he never reappeared.

    Magazines 
  • The Watchtower, a magazine published by Jehovah's Witnesses, has numerous features on how current events line up with predictions in The Bible.
  • Less seriously, a weekly piece in Sports Illustrated is a "Sign Of The Apocalypse", which lists some mind-boggling or otherwise "Ugh, really?" sports-related event (not necessarily in an actual game) that happened recently (relative to the date of the issue). For example, the January 21, 2013 issue had the story of a prostitutes' advocacy group in Belo Horizonte, Brazil who was offering free English classes so that local prostitutes would be prepared for the increase in traffic for the 2014 World Cup.

    Music 
  • From "Earth Died Screaming" by Tom Waits:
    There was thunder
    There was lightning
    Then the stars went out
    And the moon fell from the sky
    It rained mackerel
    It rained trout
    And the great day of wrath has come
    And here's mud in your big red eye
    The poker's in the fire
    And the locusts take the sky

    Myth, Legend, and Oral Tradition 
  • In Finnish folk tale Velisurmaaja (Brother-killer) the fratricidal protagonist declared he will go far away. When asked by his mother or sister when he will return, he replies (according to the version recorded in Kanteletar): "when the crow turns white, when the goose turns black, when a stone rolls on water, when a feather sinks to the bottom, when sun shines in midnight, when the moon burns hot, when stars dance in the sky". Many versions include assorted Christian elements like the Last Judgement, raining fire, blaring horns of heaven, and the return of Christ.
  • In Norse Mythology the coming of Ragnarök is to be foreshadowed by a three year long winter and wolfes eating the sun and the moon.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons Sourcebook Elder Evils has this all over the place - book introduces nine Eldritch Abominations whose apperance is proceeded by the signs of upcoming apocalypse. They're even divided in generic and monster-specific signs.

    Video Games 
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines runneth over with all kinds of approaching apocalypse signs. Turns out, most of them are fake or just misinterpreted, even though the Gehenna really is approaching fast.
  • Max Payne touches upon this trope in reference to a book he finds in Lupino's nightclub, Ragna Rock.
    I was surprised to find that somebody had been passing time reading. The paperback was entitled "The Age of Murder and Storm." The blurb on the back mentioned Norse mythos and Ragnarok, the end of the Viking world with a terrible winter that covered the earth in ice, when vile crimes were rampant and all humanity lost. I could see how somebody impressionable might get it into their head that we were at the end of time. I was also beginning to see what the nightclub and its owner were all about.

    Web Original 
  • Treknologic: Mike's trivial prowess and vaults of Quatloos signified the Mike-pocalypse.
  • In Gamer Poop, Cicero's penis is so big that it's apparently a sign of the end times. Played For Laugh, of course.
  • In Aelan mythology from Ustal Naror islands, everything will be getting worse from eighth of 58 chapters on.

The Stars Are Going OutPortent of DoomTarot Troubles
Second ComingBiblical MotifsTower of Babel
Set The World On FireApocalyptic IndexSlept Through the Apocalypse
Showing Off the New BodySpeculative Fiction TropesSilicon-Based Life

alternative title(s): Sign Of The End Times
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