Storyboarding the Apocalypse
Darkseid goes all out. A lot of villains tell everyone about their plan, but Darkseid filmed an elaborate dramatization of it. Look at those special effects. He didn't just have a computer rendered picture of what his battle station will look like, he got actors to run around on an airfield while planes were getting vaporized.
Sometimes, it's enough to just say "The World Is In Danger
!" and hope the hero (and the audience) may understand the urgency and risk and answer The Call
. Sometimes, though, a little more is in order. Storyboarding the Apocalypse is a disturbingly detailed narrated account of the impending Götterdämmerung
and rise of the ultimate evil, accompanied by a montage to give plenty of Nightmare Fuel
inducing visions of the end to all parties involved.
Storyboarding the Apocalypse is used on a few different occasions:
Occasionally this is given as a warning by less direct conventional methods; Cassandra Truth
can deliver it, or via Psychic Dreams for Everyone
, or Time Travel
in the hope of driving the point home to the hero and the audience.
Especially detail-oriented villains will have prepared dioramas, movies, a Spreading Disaster Map Graphic
, and even commission an Earth-Shattering Poster
or two to help hammer it in. Or they might just beam it into the hero's skull with a laser.
Compare Just Between You and Me
, Villain World
and Bad Future
, which can be the Storyboarded Apocalypse given form. See also Unspoken Plan Guarantee
. Contrast Apocalypse Wow
, which is also a narrative depiction of the apocalypse, only used for very different dramatic goals.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Just before making his wish, Emperor Pilaf of Dragon Ball takes a moment to visualize himself as emperor of the world, and we get a sequence showing him as emperor. (He spends the entire fantasy standing on a podium doing nothing but laugh while a crowd hails him.) Oolong uses this time to ruin the whole thing by wishing for panties.
- X1999 (also known as "The Shoujo Armageddon") not only features a lengthy vision by dreamseer Hinoto-hime on how the apocalypse will proceed, it also flashes forward and flashes back to that dream sequence many times throughout the series.
- The Anti-Spiral in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann explains exactly how and why the Earth will be destroyed, complete with a helpful 3-D simulation. Simon realizes through instinct that it's the truth, going briefly into a Heroic BSOD.
- Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie. When it becomes clear that Metal Sonic intends to destroy the world, Knuckles explains to the skeptical president how exactly a single robot could accomplish this: by puncturing the lava veins that flow through the giant mountain/glaciar that holds the various Floating Continents that make up the Land of the Sky together, the planet's own rotation will hurl them off into outer space (though this won't affect the Land of Darkness, which is the actual planet's surface). Unfortunately, Sonic overhears this conversation, and due to the Psychic Link, Metal knows everything that Sonic knows...
- The major driving force of the Zettai Karen Children's plot is a prophecy of the devastating war between espers and normal humans, completed with realistic visions that several characters has experienced.
- Done twice in Naruto by the two masterminds of Akatsuki regarding their individual plans for creating a lasting peace.
- Pain had developed the design for a massively powerful weapon using the bijuu. His intent was to use it in order to wipe out the current order, reducing humanity to a subsistence level. The weapon would be left intact, used by their descendants whenever hate overcame their fear, repeating the cycle and preventing a full-out war.
- Madara intended to use the chakra of the bijuu for an incredibly powerful jutsu. By reforming the bijuu into the Jubi and absorbing its chakra, he would gain enough power to cast an eternal genjutsu at the moon, which would then reflect to the earth. Every living being would be ensnared in his genjutsu and made into extensions of Madara.
- During the Sons of Empire arc of Fables, Lumi A.K.A. The Snow Queen details her plans to to wipe out life in the mundy world (our world). They consist of using warlocks and witches to spread plagues across the globe, sending dragons and fire imps to burn our cities to the ground, coming in herself and putting the whole planet into perpetual winter, then finally leaving us to wither and die without crops or any means of producing anything. When they're done the Empire will use our devastated, uninhabitable planet as a prison world.
- Subverted almost immediately afterward, however, by the Adversary's son, who's lived in Fabletown until recently Storyboards the Aversion of the Apocalypse. The big problem with Lumi's plan is that we'll catch on to the fact that we're being attacked by germ warfare fairly quickly, and while that alone wouldn't help much as we have no idea how to leave this world for the Homelands of the Fables, the residents of Fabletown will likely approach the US government and go public with their existence. Once they do, they'll give us all the info we need on the Empire's location, and since the Empire has a ban on all modern technology from our world (The Adversary fears a rebellion if his subjects did carry it) our armies would obliterate theirs, and the Empire would fall.
- At the end of the arc, the Adversary decides to hold off on the invasion until they have the Fables living among us all killed so they can't intervene.
- Done in Angel: After The Fall: Wesley gives a dying Angel a vision of how the Shanshu Prophecy plays out for him, which involves a lot of heads on pikes. Angel then promptly wishes for death so he can avoid it!
- The Ultimate Galactus trilogy has a scene where Reed Richards lays out Gah Lak Tus's M.O.: First it broadcasts a signal that drives those who receive it insane, absolutely destroying a civilization's infrastructure. Then, when the first shuttles land, they release a flesh-eating virus so that all organic life is killed. Then, it harvests the molten core of the planet and strip mines the surface before moving on to the next world. Reed ends up using a holographic projector.
- In Saga Of The Swamp Thing, the resurrected Anton Arcane rants about how he's going to bring the worst of the damned back into the world, inciting chaos and a literal Apocalypse. Scenes of havoc wrought by those he's already unleashed provide a literal "storyboard" of the kinds of hell Arcane would've spread around the world, had he not underestimated
Holland Swamp Thing.
- Hellboy did it on a number of occasions, most memorably in "The Right Hand of Doom". Hellboy wonders what might happen if he cuts off his Evil Hand, and we see a splash page of a hooded man standing in a burning ruin, holding up the severed hand and chanting, "Anung un Rama..." (Hellboy's true name at the time).
- DC: The New Frontier features a particularly creepy example, where the Big Bad's genocidal plans for Earth are communicated via the writings of a children's author — specifically, a Dr. Seuss Expy.
- This was done to the original Exiles team on their second mission, which was to ensure the death of Phoenix during an alternate Trial of the Phoenix. Once they learnt that the Phoenix actually was Jean Grey, their leader refused the mission and planned to reveal everything in hopes of a better solution only for everyone to be subjected to a graphic mental download by their Mission Control of the horrific destruction that would occur if she wasn't killed at that point in time.
Films — Animated
- In a Just Between You and Me moment, Boingo in Hoodwinked uses a literal slideshow to demonstrate to Red how he intends to monopolize the goodie market. His proposal, when placed on a diagram, looks just like a new city plan. Meaning that it may harm the goody market, but it will boost the construction industry significantly.
- In Wreck-It Ralph, King Candy describes what might happen if Vanellope plays: her glitchiness might cause the game to crash, forcing the game to be unplugged. Not only do we see the population fleeing in terror trying to get out, but worse, Vanellope, as a glitch, can't leave the game. She'll be stuck as the game goes offline, and go with it into oblivion. But that's not the worst part. It's a lie. King Candy is a lying bastard who is doing this to keep himself in power because if Vanellope did win, the game would reset and Vanellope would be restored to her rightful position.
- In the Rankin Bass production of The Return of the King, Samwise becomes the bearer of the One Ring, which tries to corrupt him with a vision of a world in which he has become all powerful. Of course, it being Samwise, this vision involves innocuous things like turning all of the orcs into cute animals and the entire world into a flower garden. Samwise realizes how silly the idea of him being an Evil Overlord would be and is able to resist the allure of the Ring.
- In The Flight of Dragons, Ommadon the Red Wizard outlines his plan to use Black Magic to win The Magic Versus Technology War, and attempts to convince his brother wizards to join him, complete with images:
rules man, and I will summon the dark forces to infest the spirit of man so he uses his science and logic to destroy himself
. What havoc I will raise! I will turn brother against brothernote
. Greed and avarice will prevail, and those who do not hear my words will pay the price. note I
will teach man to use his machines; I
will show him what twisted science can give birth to. note I
will teach man to fly like a fairy
, and will provide the ultimate answer to all his science can ask
And the world will be free for my
magic again. Man will never inherit my domain, for I will make man mine
Films — Live-Action
- In the James Bond movie Moonraker, The Diabolical Mastermind Hugo Drax had such an exposition.
- Armageddon contains two examples of this. One is at the beginning of the film, as Charlton Heston's voiceover about what happened to the dinosaurs threatens the same consequence for Earth later on. Truman later makes it explicit:
Truman: Damage? Ah, total, sir. If this asteroid hits, nothing would survive. Not even bacteria.
Truman: So when the rogue comet hit the asteroid belt it sent all these pieces spinning off. Next fourteen days, the Earth's in a shooting gallery. Now, if it's a Pacific Basin impact, which we think it will be, it'll flash-boil millions of liters and set off earthquakes when it hits the ocean bedrock. Half the Earth's population will be incinerated by the heat blast and the other half will freeze to death in nuclear winter ... this is as real as it gets. It's coming. Right now, at about eighteen thousand miles an hour. Not a soul on Earth can hide from it.
- A possible parody of this occurs near the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, referring to the interstate bypass, and eerily foreshadowing the modern stripmall.
Judge Doom: I see a place where people get on and off the freeway. On and off, off and on, all day, all night! Soon, where Toon Town once stood will be a string of gas stations; inexpensive motels; restaurants that serve rapidly prepared food; tire salons; automobile dealerships; and wonderful, wonderful billboards reaching as far as the eye can see! My God, it'll be beautiful.
- Hellboy: "I will give you a brief, brief glimpse into the future..."
- The Core has the lead character explaining the Earth's ultimate fate with a peach and a aerosol can flamethrower.
Keyes: As the electromagnetic field becomes more and more unstable, we'll start seeing isolated incidents - one plane will fall from the sky, then two. Then, in a few months, anything, everything electronic will be fried.
Zimsky: Static discharges in the atmosphere will create superstorms with hundreds of lightning strikes per square mile.
- Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring shows Frodo a vision of The Shire as an industrial work camp. In the book it turns out she was bang on; in the movie Saruman gets shanked early and that side of the conflict ends.
- In V for Vendetta, Finch describes the upcoming revolution with shots spliced in of an overeager enforcer killing a kid with a Fawkes mask and then getting lynched by the angry neighbors:
Dominic: So do you know what's gonna happen?
Finch: No. It was a feeling. But I can guess. With so much chaos, someone will do something stupid. And when they do, things will turn nasty. And then, Sutler will be forced do the only thing he knows how to do. At which point, all V needs to do is keep his word. And then...
- He finishes his guess a bit later.Fortunately, he was wrong.
Dominic: I went by Parliament. Never seen anything like it - tanks, antiaircraft, infantry - it makes you wish that no one would show up tonight. But if they do, what do you think will happen?
Finch: What usually happens when people without guns stand up to people with guns.
- In Superman Returns Lex Luthor shows Lois Lane a series of maps detailing exactly how his plan will destroy pretty much the entire Western Hemisphere.
- When WOPR in WarGames is given a Logic Bomb, it begins to run thousands of simulations of global thermonuclear war all of which are accurately labeled - US First Strike, Turkey Heavy, USSR First Strike, et cetera. Each ends with WINNER: NONE and the total destruction of all population and military centers on the planet.
- In Thirteen Days, President Kennedy uses this to give an example of how the Cuban Missile Crisis can easily turn into nuclear war. After bringing up a historical example in The Guns of August (a recently-published book about the events of August 1914 leading up to World War One), he plays out something similar if the US decides to implement a blockade of Cuba:
"If one of their ships resists the inspection, and we shoot out its rudder and board it. They shoot down one of our planes, in response. So we bomb their anti-aircraft sites - in response to that...they attack Berlin. So we invade Cuba.... and they fire their missiles... and we fire ours..."
- The 2006 remake of Nihon Chimbotsu (Japan Sinks) had a scene where the geologist trying to warn the Japanese government about the disaster uses a computer simulation showing the dramatic dissolution of the Japanese archipeligo. Dramatic, as in he starts with "Hokkaido will be the first to go" as the camera cuts to Hokkaido splitting in half.
- In the Austin Powers movies, Dr. Evil goes to elaborate lengths to explain his latest world-threatening scheme to his henchmen. It usually ends with the show going awkwardly wrong and him being embarrassed.
- In The Lord of the Rings, Galadriel memorably storyboards what would happen if she were to take the Ring for herself when Frodo offers it to her before ultimately refusing it.
- The Knights of the Word in Terry Brooks's overarching meta series have these occur to them every time they fall asleep.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation giant novel 'Metamorphosis', Data learns the fate of the galaxy should he choose to stay a human.
- Although the hero of the Pendragon books is always trying to prevent whatever world he's in from falling apart, Bobby gets a good, long, disturbing look at what will happen if he fails in the third book and the Nazis win World War II.
- Subversions abound in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, where such visions often lead to the very events they depict. Jacen Solo's are the most specifically apocalyptic; his visions of what the future will be like turn him to the Dark Side in order to prevent the galaxy from lapsing into unending war. Ironically they all involve him killing Luke Skywalker, but it never occurs to him to kill himself.
- An early Animorphs book has the Ellimist showing the heroes a supposedly inevitable Yeerk-dominated world, and then actually giving them the opportunity to Refuse The Call. However, this wasn't a message of doom, an easy out, or even a possible future, but a Batman Gambit on the Ellimist's part to show the heroes where the location of a generator that will cripple the alien invasion for a short time is.
- Later on, an entire book is devoted to this, when Jake wakes up in a future where the Yeerks have won.
- There's also a Megamorphs based on the idea that they never walked through the construction site and got their powers (a deal that Jake agreed to in a moment of weakness). Suffice to say it doesn't end well.
- Parodied in Science of Discworld II: The Globe, in which Ponder Stibbons has set up an elaborate presentation to show the danger to the Roundworld Project, only for Rincewind to sum things up in one sentence when he still has "a dozen slides and a flowchart" to go.
- A straighter example is from The Last Hero. Ponder Stibbons has said that unless an explosion at the Hub is prevented, the magical field will collapse for up to two years.
Lord Downey: Well, we can get along without magic for two years, can't we?
Ponder: No. The sun will crash and burn. The seas will dry up and vanish. The turtles and the elephant might cease to exist altogether.
Downey: All that'll happen in two years?
Ponder:, No, all of that'll happen in the first ten minutes. Magic isn't just coloured lights and balls; magic holds the world together.
- This is followed by a hypothetical illustration showing the Discworld After the End, with the turtle and elephants reduced to skeletons and the disc itself turned reddish and dead.
- The Bible's Book of Revelation is the Trope Codifier, meaning it's Older Than Feudalism. The Book of Daniel is a less well-known but older example. Both are examples of apocalyptic literature, an entire genre of turn-of-the-common-era artwork in which this trope was the whole point. Unfortunately, as no one can agree on which parts are symbolic and which parts are literal given the obtusely poetic language, there's a myriad of interpretations as to what each part of the storyboarding means (most fundamentally, are they talking about the literal end of the world, or the fall of specific empires that were powerful at the times of writing?).
- During Ragnarok, how many steps backward will Thor take after slaying Jormungand before keeling over from the poison? The Poetic Edda can tell you. It's nine.
- In The General series by David Drake and S.M. Stirling, the computer secretly advising Raj Whitehall can show him detailed audiovisual scenarios of the most likely results of various courses of action. Sometimes, just to rub in for us what a World Half Empty they're in, it'll show him situations he can't do anything about.
- The journal from The House on the Borderland recounts a vision (?) of the end of the solar system.
- Stoically averted in Good Omens: while a good bulk of the book revolves around the prophecies of Agnes Nutter, who predicted the apocalypse down to the slightest detail, and one of the protagonists knows all of them by heart, nothing is ever revealed in the text before it actually happens.
- Over the course of The Dresden Files, more and more bad shit keeps happening, and The Masquerade gets thinner and thinner. (Word of God has already revealed that he'll end the series with an apocalypse scenario.) Cold Days reveals that this is not a coincidence; various supernatural foes have had their Evil Plans crash into one another, and Nemesis, The Man Behind the Man, (er, so to speak) is specifically trying to manipulate everyone else into causing the end of the world. Retroactively speaking, the entire series has been Storyboarding the Apocalypse.
- A scene in Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness has the main character experiencing a hallucination and seeing the Dark One's rise to power. (Near the end, if the player loses the game, the Dark One does rise, mirroring the sequence exactly.)
- A convoluted example appears in Sin and Punishment. In an effort to motivate the Action Girl to shoot her transformed-by-The Virus partner, the Mysterious Waif shows her a vision of a future in which he has become evil. This vision becomes a stage, complete with the chance to get a Game Over. Yet, despite her mowing down hundreds of enemies during the dream sequence without any noticeable effect, the final shot she makes against the corrupted hero somehow causes her to shoot him in the present as well.
- Chrono Trigger has a more literal example, when the party finds a computer in a post-apocalyptic world that shows a visual record of the "Day of Lavos" from 300 years prior. The footage, combined with the fact that the event is due to happen a thousand years in their future, nearly gives the party a breakdown but galvanizes them to try and change history.
- Leder's incredibly long infodump in Mother 3, which storyboards both the previous apocalypse and the forthcoming extra bad apocalypse.
- The story of EarthBound involves alien invading the future as we see it in the title of the game. This sends Buzz-Buzz to the present day to find the 4 heroes who can stop Big Bad before that happens. The team never go to the future for an observation of the Bad Future, as Big Bad is actually in the past, controlling the world's destiny from there.
- Alexandra Roivas receives a vision of the potential apocalypse in Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem caused by the Ancient she has unleashed to defeat Pious's Ancient.
- Noticeably missing in Drakengard. Everyone loves to talk about it, but no one seems to know precisely what will happen. The hierarch Verdelet flip-flops from thinking the Seeds of Resurrection will cause untold catastrophe to thinking it involves ascending to a higher reality. And the Big Bad has more important things to worry about, like dancing.
- Done in Mass Effect, where you're treated to a detailed lecture on how the last Apocalypse occurred, and then reminded in no uncertain terms that the next one is just around the corner.
- The Big Bad in Under a Killing Moon storyboards his planned apocalypse for the Earth, which is to be cleansed of all mutant contamination and prepared for the return of his "pure" people from his space station (under his leadership, of course).
- In Starcraft II Wings Of Liberty, an embittered Jim Raynor is dead-set on killing the zerg-infested Kerrigan. Then Zeratul appears and shows him a (playable) vision of what will happen if Kerrigan dies. It isn't pretty.
- In a trailer for the World of Warcraft content patch: Rage of The Firelands, Thrall is begging the elemental spirits for guidance... when one answers. Ragnaros rises from the Maelstrom and brings Thrall on a ride to the end of the world, culminating in Ogrimmar being destroyed by a sea of fire, which is about to engulf Thrall himself. Thrall screams as loud as he can before being interrupted by Aggra, realizing that the events he witnessed were a vision of what is to come if Ragnaros is not stopped.
- The ending of Assassin's Creed: Revelations, true to its title, reveals the full scope of the plot of Those Who Came Before to save the Earth from the second coming of the same catastrophe that destroyed their First Civilization. The scene where this is communicated has a FMV sequence showing in lavish detail just exactly how that first catastrophe happened.
- The intro (and possibly ending, depending on the player's karma) sequences of Fallout games.
- Averted in Golden Sun. If Isaac Refused The Call, the screen simply fades to sepia with the caption, "And so, the world drifted toward its fated destruction..." and then offers to let you restart. The vagueness of this explanation is both arguably creepier than this trope, and neatly hiding the true reason for the world's destruction.
- Done hilariously in Penny Arcade, here.
- Done (in crayon format) by Redcloak in The Order of the Stick's prequel, Start of Darkness. Rather than destruction, however, he expects his plan to use a god-killing abomination to blackmail the deities of his world to result in a modern-style utopia for his people.
- This Chairman Nuke video.
- This thing on deviantart. With giant suicidal sea serpents. Also, the author apparently reads TV Tropes.
- When Batman archvillain Ra's Al Ghul lays out his plan to destroy humanity in Batman: The Animated Series, it is accompanied by a series of detailed stills showing the world being saturated by the Lazarus Pits, in chaos, and finally at "a blessed peace."
Batman: But that will cost countless lives!
Ra's al Ghul: Actually, Detective, we have counted: Two billion, fifty-six million, nine hundred and eighty-six thousand! A most impressive plan, would you not agree?
Batman: Yes... I can see it clearly now for the first time. You are completely out of your mind.
- At the end of the first episode of the 1994 Fantastic Four cartoon, Puppet Master takes one last stab at ultimate power and imagines ruling the world, complete with montage.
- In a fifth-season episode of The Batman, Lex Luthor uses one of these (in sepia tone) to describe his vision for the world.
- Teen Titans used this at least twice. In "Revolution", Mad Mod - who has control of the city and most the Titans on the run - gives a captured Robin a look at what he calls "coming attractions" (possibly a subtle reference to a scene in 1984, which the episode takes much of its inspiration from). On a more serious note, in "Birthmark", Slade transports Raven into a devastated world that she is destined to bring about, a vision which actually comes true in the season finale.
Slade: Skies will burn. Flesh will turn to stone. The sun will set on your world, never to rise again!
- A similar, but longer and considerably more elaborate speech is delivered to Superman by Darkseid in the final episode of Justice League Unlimited.
I hope you appreciate, Kal-El, everything that happens from this point is on your head. The skies will rain fire, the oceans will boil, the streets run red with the blood of billions. Only then, when your last pitiful hope has been vanquished, will I end your life. Let's go.
- In the second season finale, The Question has images of the end of the world projected directly into his mind as a form of interrogation.
- And in the Justice League Grand Finale, there's a brief image of what'll happen to Earth when the Thanagarians activate the hyperspace bypass - basically, the planet implodes. Worryingly, Batman's response is "Ingenious!"
- In an episode of Galactic Guardians, Darkseid - in a plot to hijack the space station of Star City and outfit it with weapons - almost literally Storyboards The Apocalypse in a scene made relatively well-known by Seanbaby's website:
Seanbaby: Darkseid goes all out. A lot of villains tell everyone about their plan, but Darkseid filmed an elaborate dramatization of it. Look at those special effects. He didn't just have a computer rendered picture of what his battle station will look like, he got actors to run around on an airfield while planes were getting vaporized.
- A tongue-in-cheek Storyboarding appears in the first episode of Sam & Max: Freelance Police, "The Thing That Wouldn't Stop It", showing the fate of the world's frozen-food industry at stake due to a monstrous mutated TV dinner.
Sam: It's simple, Max. If this so-called "Thing" could somehow find its way into our world, devouring unsuspecting citizens who have no natural fear of frozen entrees, they would surely cause a nationwide mistrust of pre-manufactured foods of all kinds, forcing producers of salty, overcooked, man-sized portions to go bankrupt! To safeguard American businesses, Max! That's why the heck we're doing this!
- When the kids on Ben 10: Alien Force first meet Paradox (from their P.O.V. anyway), he shows them what the future will be like if a time-distorting entity isn't stopped. He does this by taking them to the Moon of the future and letting them look at the long-dead Earth from there ... and then warning them that it's their best possible future. Brief, but an effective demo.
- After the Time Police capture the Warden, the Judge of Time Court shows him the consequences of his plans to make Superjail! a franchise. The phrase "property of me" is used by Overlord!Warden. Present!Warden thinks the nightmare scenario he's presented with is a movie.
- The American Dad! episode "Rapture's Delight" includes Stan and Francine being shown a videotape intended to explain the Rapture to children, which includes graphic, Warhammer 40,000-esque depictions of demons and angels doing battle on earth. Later, the episode shows those very things actually happening.
- During the series finale of Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends, the Shadoen fleet plans to blow up earth's moon. Before actually carrying through with their plan they play footage of large chunks of said moon raining down all across the planet and estimating what the death toll with be.
- In Invader ZIM, ZIM slapped alien video goggles onto everyone to show them the horrors that would befall the earth if they didn't buy candy bars from him. The scene was only aired in full once, shortly before 9/11, and was subsequently edited to no longer show New York City in ruins.
- Any time scientists mention either the death of the Sun and Solar System and/or the universe.