This is what will happen if the heroes don't stop the Evil Plan from doing its nasty work. It can be either supernatural or superscience, depending on the villain, but in either case the bad guy must be beaten down and his toys broken in order to save the planet, or the universe, depending on the focus of the story.
Usually it's figurative — expressed as "merely" the death of humankind, the obliteration of Civilization, or its subjugation to aliens, for example — rather than the literal rendering of the planet down to gravel.
This is a common trope in Speculative Fiction, horror and over-the-top espionage shows, as well as many anime series. It may serve as a prequel to an After the End series, or the culmination of a Just Before the End story. May also include Cosy Catastrophe and/or Scavenger World elements — if so, let's just hope the dog lives. It's also very common in video games, where it's occasionally unavoidable, sometimes occurring halfway through the game; in other cases, poor play may result in the world coming to a bad end.
If the heroes are slated to succeed in preventing the End, they (and the audience) may be treated to a detailed preview of what's coming.
Inevitably draws the suitably heroic into a Saving the World plot. See Apocalypse How for various types of End Of the World. For when Take Our Word for It simply won't do, Apocalypse Wow is this trope given dramatic form. When asked just why they want to destroy the world as we know it, villains usually say something from the "Why You Should Destroy the Planet Earth" list. That is, if they even have one. May be preceded by Signs of the End Times.
The Omnicidal Maniac is defined by this trope; destruction of the world is their goal because that would destroy all life on it.
It is a common source of Enemy Mine if another villain wants to Take Over the World, because after the End of the World as We Know It, there's nothing left to take over.
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In many political ads, this is the implied consequence of voting for anyone other than the person who paid for the commercial. The most famous example, and perhaps the trend setter, is Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 presidential election "Daisy" commercial, which essentially said that voting for Barry Goldwater would cause everyone to die in a nuclear war. See it for yourself here.
Anime & Manga
Society collapsing in bizarre ways seems to be a running theme in the works of Junji Ito. The most extreme example of this can be seen in Hellstar Remina, in which all of earth is attacked by a giant living planet.
The Digimon multiverse, which shares similarities with the Pretty Cure worlds except for the whole shounenmon series thing, has the exact same looming threat every time.
Johan Liebert of Monster tries to become last standing at the end of the world by having insane supporters cause destruction until he has them kill each other.
While Elfen Lied starts as a story about two cousins hiding an abused and escaped mutant from an evil covernment agency, it is later revealed that said mutants may very well destroy all human life on earth and it becomes a very close call near the end, though considering how monstrous humans have been portrayed, maybe it's what should have happened. It is absent in the Anime.
Neon Genesis Evangelion seems to be about preventing the End of the World as We Know It at first, but apparently this outcome had been clear from the very beginning. The attempts to stop the Angels from reaching Terminal Dogma under Tokyo-3 are only meant to buy more time to arrange that the event happens in a way most favorable to the various factions. That the 18th Angel (humanity itself) will succeed in ending the world had always been a foregone conclusion.
While the main cast of Prétear eventually succeeds in preventing the End of the World as We Know It (the standard Big Bad's goal), the manga gives a nice description of the world drained of Life Energy — not only without living beings, but without wind, sounds, temperature, light. The anime version further illustrates the possible outcome by having the Big Bad destroy the local Magical Land.
The main goal of the Ancient Conspiracy from RahXephon is to both cause and reverse this. Unusual in that the world already ended once and is slowly decaying away into nothing, and this world has to be purged and rebuilt again to stop it. The conflict is over who gets to be in charge of the rebuilding: the humans or the Mu.
In the manga, the world (along with the Big Bad) is destroyed at the end of the third story arc by Sailor Saturn... only to be immediately restored by Princess Serenity.
In Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, in addition to the destruction of the Moon Kingdom in the past, Princess Serenity does the same with the Earth at the end of the series.
The Haruhi Suzumiya franchise has a rather unusual condition for The End Of The World as We Know It to happen: if the title character becomes too bored with her life, she could inadvertently destroy the universe in a subconscious attempt to create one more to her liking. Not only that, the rest of the SOS-dan suspects that she has already done it at least once before — but obviously no-one can tell.
In Tokyo Mew Mew, the aliens want to cause this by accelerating humans' destruction of the environment, just so the Muggles can see what they've done to the Earth and actually care about it.
In the anime X/1999, both sides actually believe they are fighting to prevent the end of the world. The Dragons of Earth are attempting to destroy all humans to prevent humans from destroying the Earth, while the Dragons of Heaven are trying to save humanity from the Dragons of Earth. It was revealed near the end that Kanoe main supporter of the Dragons of the Earth knew that the Dragons of the Earth would lead to the complete ruination of the world (humans, plants everything), she just didn't tell anyone.
The second and third season of the series (dub version only), emphasized with a mantra frequently repeated by Yugi to the point of exasperation: "The fate of the world depends on it!"
Season 4 plays this completely straight. Dartz believes that killing everybody and feeding their souls to The Great Leviathan would save the world.
This is also the goal of the Big Bad in The Movie. This motive is questioned (and lampshaded) by Yami in Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Movie, where he asks the Big Bad what he hopes to gain from the destruction of the world. Receiving an unsatisfactory answer, he dismisses the Big Bad as "the most disappointing movie villain since General Grievous."
Played straight in the final season with Yami Bakura as well.
Carried over in the second season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX but with the pressure upped even more, when Jaden is told, "The fate of the universe now rests with you."
The Pokémon films typically leave preventing the End of the World as We Know It to Ash Ketchum and his friends.
Standard thing the heroes of Dragon Ball Z are trying to prevent, although the ante was upped in the Buu saga, where the Big Bad could easily have wiped out the entire universe had he not been stopped.
Bokurano takes this trope to a whole new level of cruelty by adding a twist: to save the world from ending the kids must cause the destruction of other worlds. The pilots die regardless of the outcome of the battle.
In the end of Saikano the world does come to an end. Chise loses her body in a climactic final battle and becomes a ball of light and Shuuiji is the sole survivor in the entire planet.Few things could be sadder.
Misae: For Sunohara to have such a cute sister, and for Okazaki to have such a cute girlfriend... If it were the end of the world, it'd be bad for the sister and Furukawa-san, but... I'll say it. It's the end of the world.
In Super Dimension Fortress Macross, the SDF-1, after a year of fighting, returns to Earth only to witness the nuclear bombardment of the planet by Boddolza's main Zentradi fleet of over 4,000,000 warships (killing "most" of the population and destroying 95% of the environment), however, with a little help from a wave motion cannon back on Earth, and Lynn Minmei, the Macross nukes Boddolza's remaining flagship. The remnants of humanity and the Zentradi are then shown to be co-existing on what remains of the planet, but because of some of the bored Zentradi, their alliance quickly turns to crap.
Fullmetal Alchemist, Father opens the gate sacrificing the Earth itself so he can become one with God, and rips the souls of nearly every living thing in the country of Amestris with only a select few remaining humans and homunculi remaining. A true Wham Episode. He makes a transmutation circle out of Amestris to do so, thus following the "Equivalent exchange" rule. Many people the brothers have met are seen passing out. Ed proceeds to beat Father to a pulp, and so Father enters the gates and the humanoid shape shown in earlier chapters to be 'wearing' Ed's arm and leg is hinted to be god, due to their similar colouring and grin. Father dies and they all live happily ever after.
Fitting its bleak overall tone, Texhnolyze ends with Ichise as the only sane person in the dying Lux who hasn't been turned into a cyber-tree. Oh, the people on the surface are still alive, but lacking any will or initiative they are already counted as living dead.
In Mirai Nikki, this is Deus' reason for holding the survival game. He is dying, which is bringing about the end of the world.
At the end of the Tokko manga's main storyline, Ranmaru has a monologue where he reveals that the world ends two years after the end of the story.
Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo has the majority of the plot focusing on how Cruje will erase Wonderland and recreate it when she inherits the Manager position from Ureshiko. When she finally does inherit the position and recreates the world, she recreates it almost exactly as it was before, with the only difference being that the school didn't burn down, even if the baseball victory flag still has burn marks.
In Popcorn Avatar, this is the fate of the world should the Devas lose, as the Asura's stated purpose was to literally wipe the slate clean so that creation can begin anew.
A Certain Magical Index has this as the Big Bad's goal in the New Testament series. However, Othinus isn't planning on just ending the world, Othinus will recreate it afterward. What form it will take, no one knows, but everyone agrees they don't want Othinus to be the omnipotent ruler of all creation. In New Testament 8 Othinus succeeds and ends the world with a wave of her hand. The last few pages of the book are nothing but total black. Touma is the only other survivor. After an adventure where Othinus creates world after world, she is eventually convinced to restore it to the way it was.
In Naruto Tobi's Assimilation Plot is to invoke this, creating a genjutsu to cover the entire world in order to create a new reality where everyone lives, heroes succeed and the like, at the cost of free will. Unfortunately, his method of completing the plan involves the revival of the Ten-Tails, the combined form of all nine of the tailed-beasts and the only being they fear. The Sage of the Six Paths, the greatest ninja to have ever lived and the founder of ninjutsu legitimately feared that its revival would cause this, as the Ten-Tails is the progenitor of all that exists in the world and the source of all chakra, and with its lack of comprehension of the ideals of good and evil, it is essentially the personification of God Is Evil.
This happens in the DCU every other week. It's amazing they even send journalists to cover it any more. "Oh look, it's Darkseid again. Wanna get some coffee while we wait for the superheroes to turn up?"
The Lucifer comic books, ironically, involved the Devil's efforts to prevent this. He was leaving the Creation before the world was starting to end. When the ending did start it threatened his second Creation as well as Yahweh's, so he had to help or be destroyed. Though his principles kept him from saving the world the easiest way (taking God's place) and instead he went through a Gambit Roulette to put someone else in the role.
Parodied in a Gahan Wilson comic showing a prophet of doom, his sign about the imminent end of the world under one arm, about to push down a dynamite plunger with its attached wires running off-panel. Apparently, the end of somebody's world is imminent!
Is a favorite ending to many What-If? stories from Marvel.
Korvac uses the ultimate nullifier to destroy reality in issue #32 (vol.1)
Jean Grey goes nuts as the Dark Phoenix and destroys many many galaxies in issue #27 (vol.1)
The Serpent God Set's children were successfully born in issue #25 (vol.2), they then in turn wipe out all life on Earth before moving on to conquer other planets and other dimensions.
The Ed, Edd n EddyFan FicThe Ed Of The World parodies this trope rather well. Ed's monster movie marathon is suddenly interrupted by a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. Ed, being Ed, then thinks the world's going to end. He suddenly comes up with a crazy theory of the moon getting out of orbit and striking Earth (this may be a reference to Majora's Mask though). Eddy, being the opportunistic Jerk Ass that he is (take note that this takes place before The Movie) decides to take advantage of the situation for a scam. He convinces the kids that the world IS going to end later that evening and declares Ed's basement a bomb shelter, on which they could pay 50 cents to refuge themselves. They obviously fall for it, believing it to be true and having no idea that it's a scam. When the "Hour Of Doom" passes and they see that the world hasn't ended, hilarity ensues. What really takes the cake though is that you can totally see this happening in the show!
Yognapped: Sben wants to cause this, as the ultimate goal of Project Ironskies. He comes very close to succeeding — all of the major Minecraftian cities fall, casualties number in the thousands, and the heroic Lewis would have been held responsible if Xephos hadn't been killed.
The End Of Ponies: The end of Equestria is referred to as the Cataclysm; discovering how it happened drives the plot from Chapter 5 onward. As of Chapter 30, the Cataclysm may also be called (or have something to do with) the Onyx Eclipse.
Randall: Too right, and the last thing we want to do is see Him again...Come on
(The Bandits start to walk off)
Kevin: But don't you understand?...If we don't stop Him, He'll destroy the World!
Happens at the end of Dr. Strangelove. After the US recalls all other nuclear bombers, and the Russians damage (but don't destroy) the last one, the final bomber drops a bomb, which triggers Russia's Doomsday Device to end the world. Since it is a Dark Comedy, we see a large number of nuclear explosions with "We'll Meet Again" as the background music.
In Armageddon, a large asteroid is coming with enough force to blow every last bit of life into oblivion, and two teams are sent with a very large amount of explosives to split the asteroid in half just at the right moment before it's too late, so the two halves fly over and under the earth.
The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961). Massive nuclear testing at the poles throw the Earth out of orbit towards the Sun, but a series of massive nuclear detonations in Siberia may avert the catastrophe. The last scene shows the sweating journalists waiting in the print room with two next editions ready for printing; the camera pans to one that says "WORLD SAVED", but just as it seems that everything is going to be okay the camera continues panning, and we see the alternative cover, "WORLD DOOMED."
In Kevin Smith's Dogma, the continued correct functioning of the laws that govern the universe are all dependent on/derived from one truth: that God is infallible. The heroes have to stop the "villains," angels cast out of Heaven, from exploiting a loophole in some obscure Catholic canon to get themselves re-admitted to Heaven, thereby contradicting God and unmaking the whole of Creation.
Fallen (1998), with Denzel Washington. The demons of the film are said to desire the destruction of human civilization, which they call "the fall of Babylon" and pursue this by possessing people. Though not said, this would presumably account for much of the evil in the world. Also not said but speculated is that true believer Christians will be immune to demonic possession.
The film (and book) of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy puts a comedic twist on this — the world is destroyed to make way for an interstellar bypass. The joke is that the protagonist was trying to stop his house from being demolished for much the same reason... This becomes even more of a Shoot the Shaggy Dog moment when it is revealed that the destruction of Earth took place mere moments before the unveiling of the Heart of Gold and Infinite Improbability Drive, which render hyperspace bypasses completely obsolete. And that five minutes later the job the Earth was created for would have been done and (presumably) everyone could've left.
Adams explained that the destruction of Earth was the thing SF stories were always trying to prevent, so he thought he'd get it over with right at the start and save time.
Playfully subverted in Men In Black — the universe is inches away from Armageddon due to alien interference all the time. The Men in Black casually erase the memories of anyone who catches wind of these impending disasters to prevent a general panic. Very similar to The World Is Always Doomed.
K:"There's always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet, and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they DO NOT KNOW ABOUT IT!"
The sun is dying in the sci-fi movie Sunshine and has to be reignited with a nuclear bomb the size of Manhattan Island.
The B-movie Solar Crisis features a similar premise, but the earth is directly threatened by a massive solar flare that Our Heroes must trigger prematurely.
Godzilla Final Wars not only has the titular monster saving the world from an asteroid, but also dozens of other monsters as well.
The British film Threads and its American counterpart The Day After both deal with this trope in a very grim and realistic way. In both, nuclear war breaks out between The U.S. and the Soviet Union, resulting in a dark Scavenger World inhabited by the hapless victims of the catastrophe. Both were Anvilicious in the sense that they resorted to scare tactics to show people what the world would be like if they allowed political tensions to get the better of them, but at a time when some people thought nuclear war was survivable and a handful even cried out for war, this may have been a good thing.
Cthulhu (2007). Although loosely based on "A Shadow Over Innsmouth" by H.P. Lovecraft, the movie also works in elements of "The Call of Cthulhu" in that humanity is beginning to descend into chaos as a prelude to the return of the Old Ones from the sea, with scenes of rioting, madness and murder.
Remember how in the Transformers cartoons and the first movie the Decepticons were merely after energy sources and planned to use them to power their armies? Well, Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen tops it all. In that film, they plan to use a Weaponized Landmark to blow up the sun, thus blowing up the Earth and harvesting the raw energy output created by it. Thankfully Optimus Prime blew up the machine, so it's all good.
An independent movie called Last Night deals with this. It takes place on the very last day before the end of existence and it focuses on how different people are dealing with their impending demise. What's strange is that everyone knows that the world is ending at midnight, but what it is that's causing the world to end is never explained or mentioned.
In Independence Day, the world is about to be blown up, settlement by settlement, by aliens in giant spaceships. But, as always, America saves the day. Which was predictable from the moment you found out the film was about hostile alien attack. Funnily enough, the Trope Namer song by R.E.M was playing in the background of one of the first scenes, where the UFO on the moon is detected by the radar.
The World's End: As you might have guessed from the title. It may be a bit misleading, however. The threat isn't the end of society, it's the nature of society itself - the Class II apocalypse is caused by the heroes when they reject the influence of the Network. This is a good thing, if a tad bittersweet.
Spider Robinson's novel Callahan's Key is based on the notion that if the heroes do not accomplish the save-the-day task, the entire universe not only will cease to exist, but will retroactively cease ever to have existed.
There's also a figurative one in the earlier books, where an alien race will sterilize the Earth of humanity unless a way is found to stop it.
Every couple of books, the Discworld is threatened with the End of the World as We Know It. In The Light Fantastic, it nearly collided with a red star; in Sourcery, the birth of a sourcerer nearly brings about a second Mage War and the Apocralypse [sic]; in The Last Hero, Cohen the Barbarian's scheme to get revenge on the gods threatens to destroy the magic that holds the Discworld together; and in Thief of Time, the Auditors trick a human with unusual abilities into building a clock that will leave the Discworld, and possibly the universe, frozen in time forever.
Double Subversion in Weis and Hickman's novel series The Sword of Joram, in which Joram succeeds in stopping the destruction of Thimhallan by the attackers from the Earth, only to end up destroying the magic that made it habitable
Weiss' and Hickman's Dragon Lance series has had quite a few of these. There's the main Cataclysm, in which a "mountain of fire" (Word of God says it was a meteor) which annihilated the Kingdom of Istar and killed millions outside of it with fire, earthquakes, etc. On the same day, Taladas, the continent to the northeast of Ansalon, suffered the "Great Destruction," in which an earthquake wiped out the mighty Aurim empire and filled the interior of the continent with molten lava. In Adlatum, the third continent the Cataclysm came in the form of the Great Drowning in which massive tidal waves flooded large parts of the land and never receded. And then, in more recent times Chaos showed up...
Subverted in an old Ray Bradbury short story titled The End of the Beginning. The narrator describes people all over the world staring at the sky waiting for the world to end because they know the exact date, time and place that it will begin. Eventually a searing white light appears in the sky and ends the world. The twist is... I'll give you a second to guess... The bright light is a spaceship that has visited the first intelligent life humanity discovered. Naturally this marks the "end" of the world and the "beginning" of the universe.
Victorian-set fantasy Darkness Visible is all about the protagonists' attempts to prevent the End Of The World, though this does not become clear until quite a long way through (because Lewis, the narrator, hasn't realised how serious things are). At first, we think it's only London which is at risk. Itisn't.
Many of the Dragonriders of Pern novels concern the heroes' struggle to avert the End Of The World As The Pernese Know It, by defending human civilization against Threadfall. Granted, it's not the same world as this trope normally concerns itself with, but it still ought to count...
The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, where Richard and Kahlan save the World as we Know it... again... and again... and again. One can only assume that, since the world was just fine before they met, it's them knowing each other that's the ultimate cause for all the trouble they have to go through.
Some time before the beginning of the Hyperion Cantos, the Earth is destroyed by an experiment with black holes conducted in Kiev. It's then revealed that the Earth was not destroyed, but instead whisked away to the Lesser Magellanic Cloud, implying that the Kiev Experiment was the Techno Core's first attempt at the creation of a Farcaster.
S.M. Stirling's Dies the Fire and its various sequels are set in a world where every kind of "energy-dense" technology stops working, plunging the human race back in The Dung Ages... forever. Not the end of the world, but certainly the end of the world we know. (And, for the overwhelming majority of people, the end of them: try feeding seven billion people with twelfth-century technology.)
In Fragment, scientists and the military must act fast to eradicate the hyper-lethal, hyper-invasive wildlife of Henders Island, before it can spread to other landmasses and spell The End Of The Biosphere As We Know It.
A recurrent theme in China Miéville's Kraken. London's supernatural community runs betting pools and street parties in honour of various cults' prophesied apocalypses.
The Nightside novels feature one possible end of the world in a Timeslip that the main character supposedly brings about.
Most of the Skulduggery Pleasant novels have this theme. For the first three books, Skulduggery and Valkyrie must prevent religious fanatics from releasing a race of Eldritch Abominations called the Faceless Ones who used to rule the world until they were banished into another dimension. If they return, they will inhabit human bodies, tear down man's cities, destroy the countryside, destroy half the human race, enslave the rest and work them until they die before moving onto another world. In the fourth book, a madman named Dreylan Scarab tries to provoke a war between the "mortal" and magical communities that will almost certainly result in the end of civilisation. In the fifth, a race of evil spirits are released who are looking for an evil sorceress named Darquesse who will raze the world.
This ironic and somewhat disturbing poem by Archibald MacLeish, titled — appropriately enough — "The End of the World" (which, come to think of it, might also work as an example of the Nothing Is Scarier trope):
Quite unexpectedly, as Vasserot
The armless ambidextrian was lighting
A match between his great and second toe,
And Ralph the lion was engaged in biting
The neck of Madame Sossman while the drum
Pointed, and Teeny was about to cough
In waltz-time swinging Jocko by the thumb—-
Quite unexpectedly the top blew off:
And there, there overhead, there, there hung over
Those thousands of white faces, those dazed eyes,
There in the starless dark the poise, the hover,
There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,
There in the sudden blackness the black pall
Of nothing, nothing, nothing —- nothing at all.
Orson Scott Card's novel Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus takes place in an After the End world, where humanity (now numbering less than a billion) struggles to restore the ecology and reverse the effects of global warming. By all accounts, the results are promising. Except, as it turns out, the politicians are lying. The Amazon rainforest replanting project is failing due to the top-soil erosion, as is the Sahara restoration project. The Carolina dykes fail, allowing the rising ocean to sweep through the farmland. Humans around the world are using 100% of the arable land in all the world with less and less crops each year due to the increasing cloud cover (a result of the rising ocean levels). Without public knowledge, the politicians are keeping people ignorant of this, while dipping into the grain reserves to maintain the illusion. The weather satellites will eventually malfunction, but with more people being reassigned from factories to farms, they will not be replaced. The person who tells (and shows) all this to the protagonists sounds hopeful (although ironic) that Earth will, eventually, restore itself naturally. It's just that we, as a civilization, won't be around to appreciate it. Humanity is predicted to be thrown back to the Stone Age without the hope of recovery. Which is why the project meant to alter history has received every political support it can. Changing history means that this is still the case. The previous world is indeed gone.
In Daystar, the Federacy fears that Boh-Dabar's arrival will lead to either a complete Sentinel uprising or the complete destruction of the entire galaxy via supernova stars, and thus they set out to execute him. Unfortunately for them, his deliberate death is what triggers the end of the world. However, the world is then remade in perfection, with all those who chose Life being brought into the new world, so it was not actually a bad thing.
The House of Night: Aphrodite has recieved multiple visions of this if Zoey doesn't step up to plate and prevent Kalona and Neferet from achieving Power!.
In The Last Ship, the story of an American ship after a nuclear war, the protagonists helped contribute to the end by nuking the Soviet city of Orel.
Day By Day Armageddon is this like most Zombie Apocalypse plots, but actually references this trope. When the survivors reach Hotel 23 they hear voices inside and think they have found survivors. It turns out to just be an mp3 of REM's It's The End Of The World As We Know It set to loop at the work station of a USAF Captain who committed suicide.
Live Action TV
In Tin Man, a Steampunk adaptation of the Wizard of Oz, the evil queen of the OZ Azkadellia seeks the Emerald of the Eclipse so that she can use it to power a device called the Anti-Sun Seeder that will fix the two moons of the OZ in a permanent eclipse, plunging the land into eternal darkness which removing photo-synthesis will result in as the Mystic Man aptly predicts, the complete destruction of the OZ. It's not entirely clear what Azkadellia hopes to achieve by this but she is after all insane as a result of being possessed by the Evil Witch of the Dark. It's implied that this is the Wicked Witch from the original story, coming back to take revenge on Dorothy's descendants.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer built each season around a Big Bad whose plans usually threatened the End of Everything if he wasn't stopped by late Spring. At one point, when Giles proclaimed the Big Bad was about to cause the end of the world, everyone present groaned, "Again?" One of Buffy's boyfriends once lamented that hanging around her had caused him to need to know "the plural of apocalypse." In one episode, averting the apocalypse was the B-plot.
When Angel spun-off, the world was often facing two ends at once, one L.A.-based in the form of Wolfram & Hart's ongoing plans for Armageddon, the other Sunnydale-based with a different villain threatening the world each season. It even reached the point where, in the Buffy Grand Finale, Wolfram & Hart helped stop Sunnydale's apocalypse, partly because it interfered with their own apocalyptic plans. With the alarmingly frequent amounts of Apocalypses going on, it's pretty safe to assume there are several happening all at the same time. Wolfram and Hart has an archive specifically devoted to upcoming Apocalypses for Christ's sake!
The aliens in the 1980s miniseries V intended to harvest the human race for use as snack food and drain all the water, and were turning the planet into a thinly disguised version of Nazi Germany to make it easier. In the end there would be nothing left but a dead desert planet. Diana puts a spin on this when the resistance is close to winning — if she can't have it then no one will. She tries to deploy her mothership as a bomb to turn the world into an irradiated wasteland.
The destruction of all life on Earth happened, then un-happened, at least once a season on 7Days.
The series The Dead Zone has a recurring Arc about Greg Stillson somehow being responsible for the End of the World as We Know It in the near future, and Johnny Smith has to find a way to stop him. He screws up in the series finale and ends up causing it instead. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
Star Trek, repeatedly and in many different ways. Most notably, the third season of Star Trek: Enterprise features the ship in a race against time to save not only the World, but the Universe As We Know It. If a group of genocidal aliens succeed in destroying the Earth, it will alter history and the Federation will never exist. An episode called "Twilight" showed what might happen if they succeeded.
Subverted in the Doctor Who episode 'The End of the World'. The Doctor takes Rose to see planet Earth finally bite the dust billions of years in the future, but it's a natural event that's supposed to happen. When asked if he's going to swoop in at the last moment and save the planet, he replies that there's no point because everyone has moved to greener pastures already.
Played straight several other times, though. Menaces such as the Slitheen, the Daleks, the Cybermen, or the Master are all the time trying to cause the End of the World as We Know It.
The Master actually succeeds towards the end of "The Sound of Drums," but then the Doctor reverses time, saving the day, er, year, and only a select few people remember 'the year that never was'.
And then, of course, we can't skip over a mention of Davros and the Daleks attempting to destroy the entire universe across all possible realities in the season 4
Or, in "The End of Time", the Time Lords trying to achieve the eponymous "end of time", which would allow the Time Lords to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence while the rest of the universe rips apart.
And then there's "The Big Bang", where something (possibly being revealed in the next season) causes the T.A.R.D.I.S. to blow up, causing every sun in the universe to explode at every instant. The Doctor manages to reverse it only because of a rather complex, self-fulfilling Time Paradox.
The premise of Battlestar Galactica is that this has already happened, and now the Colonials are on the run in search of a new home. When they get there it had already been obliterated in a nuclear attack 2000 years in the past. They find another one though.
In the sci-fi series Lexx, the main characters go through much of the second season unaware that an enemy they defeated earlier is still alive. The villain, Mantrid, rebuilds himself, takes an army of simple-minded floating robot drones, and destroys much of the "Light Zone," one of two parallel universes. The heroes eventually stop him, but soon afterwards, the entire universe collapses in on itself. The main characters (and their ship, the Lexx) are spit out as interstellar debris into the "Dark Zone," the second universe.
One episode of Big Wolf on Campus has hero Tommy Dawkins prevent the end of the world by winning a wrestling match against a demon.
The History Channel ran the "documentary," Life After People, which speculates on what would happen to the Earth if humans suddenly disappeared...
A series of sketches in That Mitchell and Webb Look featured "The Quiz Broadcast" (Remain Indoors!), filmed by and starring the last huddling remnants of humanity after "the Event" destroyed civilization. The Event was apparently so horrible that it seems to have imposed a near-universal amnesia about life before it, and anyone who tries to think about it is reduced to hysterics. There's also the live broadcast of the Invasion of the Earth by an unknown but vastly powerful extraterrestrial aggressor.
Odyssey 5begins with the destruction of Earth; our heroes are then sent back in time to try and stop it.
If the Goa'uld had ever attacked Earth with ships in orbit, at least before Season Five or so, they could have used orbital bombardment to conquer or destroy Earth civilization with impunity. The SGC prevented that with guerrilla tactics, alliances with other enemies of the Goa'uld, and sheer luck.
The Replicators, a Grey Goo made up of Lego-sized pieces that acted like a Horde of Alien Locusts, could have consumed and overrun Earth if they ever got a foothold on it, but they never did.
Marilyn Manson's first Concept Album, Antichrist Superstar has this happen at the hands of the titular Humanoid AbominationFallen Hero. The second one, Mechanical Animals has this in "The Last Day On Earth", but the world doesn't actually end in-album (it's a prequel to Antichrist Superstar and there's a song after it).
This happens twice in Fireaxe's Food For The Gods album. Once with the earth itself being destroyed by warring ideologies and their prophets. The second comes when Satan faces down God himself and enrages him to the point of destroying all creation. This leaves only him and the darkness in what the song describes as "cold and dark infinity"
The Insane Clown Posse song "It's All Over" posits everything ending in one massive, chaotic rush. However, it presents the end of the world as a positive thing — you have no worry of Dying Alone, for all others will die with you... and isn't it glorious, to know that you're witnessing the very end of the world itself?
Not to mention several by their sister band, Iron Savior:
Fires! In the sky
Helpless we stand, Defenseless we'll die
Shadows! Of the end
The Kingdom will fall life will descend
Or better yet, in March of Doom off of The Landing-
Arrogance in the blind belief
To be in control of it all
Made the dancer on the edge
Angel of Doom
Your name is Humanity
Playing with fire
In madness and blasphemy
Mankind take a look
Take a look what you have done
Outkast's song "Da Art of Da Storytellin' Part 2" is this in spades, although it has one of the strangest plots of an End of the World as We Know It.
Gorillaz' "Fire Coming Out of The Monkey's Head" ends like this.
There were no screams. There was no time. The mountain called Monkey had spoken. There was only fire. And then... nothing.
Hicalculator's "A Tissue of Lies". The song is about a man who witnesses a news bulletin about a catastrophe that will befall the world. In his panic, he packs all of his belongings (including his wife) into a rocket that he had created, eventually taking off into space with her. It is shown that many people of his city are evacuating as well, only to find out that the entire thing was an April Fools Joke by the mayor of his city.
"After The Flood" by Van Der Graaf Generator, due to a one-two punch of global warming and the shift of the polar axes.
A couple of Black Sabbath songs cover the subject, with causes ranging from Satan himself ("Black Sabbath"), to nuclear war ("Electric Funeral"), to terrorism and/or political corruption ("War Pigs"), to time-travelers gone insane ("Iron Man").
The Epoxies' "We're So Small" is an expression of affection in the last moments before nuclear destruction:
Please don't you worry, baby, we won't feel a thing.
They say it's over in a flash.
A hydrogen solution to our suffering,
All our problems turn to dust and ash.
So hold me in your arms and put your lips to mine
There's nowhere we can run to and we're running out of time
You're beautiful and nothing matters anymore at all
The infamous 2012 phenomenon (which inspired the film of the same name), in which according to some, the world would actually end on December 21, 2012, as that's when the Mayan calendar's supposed to end, even though the Mayans themselves actually didn't. In actuality, the Mayans, like many cultures, believe in the concept of cyclical time.
This was hilariously mocked in Penn & Teller: Bullshit! where they interview someone who claims to be Mayan royalty about the end of the world. When she denies the world will end in 2012, Penn snarks "Ah, what does she know?"
Destroy The Godmodder has a more limited example. The entire community (the server in the first game, every minecraftian ever in the second) ragequits permanently, leaving the target (server or Minecraft) completely desolate and devoid of activity.
From Bliss Stage: "The effects of the Bliss were sinister and immediate: every human above the age of 18 were struck with a sudden weariness, and when they fell asleep, they did not awaken... ...Society, particularly industrialized society, begins to collapse one month later, as food production and utilities break down."
Dominaria, the central world of Magic: The Gathering, has suffered no less than several apocalypses:
The Brothers' War (the entire face of the planet shattered, two thousand years of ice and snow).
The Phyrexian Invasion (the greater part of the world's population slaughtered by demonic invaders).
Karona's apocalypse (all magic in the world briefly extinguished).
The "Time Spiral" crisis was an attempt to keep the entire plane from folding in on itself in the wake of these and various other huge magical events- an apocalypse caused by having too many apocalypses, and this doesn't count near-apocalypses like the end of the Thran War. It's a wonder the old rock's still holding together.
The Melting of the Iceage was its own apocalypse, and the world exploded at least three times during the Invasion Cycle. And that's to say nothing of the other planes we've visited since Invasion, where each one has had at the very least one world-ending event, if not two or three, in addition to the general world-wide-war situation most of them are in.
Mirrodin features a Zombie Apocalypse in the Scars of Mirrodin block wherein all the people of Mirrodin are slowly infected with The Virus and become the aforementioned demonic invaders' descendants.
Inverted in Innistard, where the End of the World as we know it was the return of the angel Avacyn, thereby putting the world closer to the way it was before we ever saw it.
There are actually cards that let you "destroy all X". These cards tend to have names like Armageddon, Wrath of God, Global Ruin, Catastrophe, Planar Collapse...
Quite a few Dungeons & Dragons game-settings have a World-Shattering Kaboom in their backstory, such as Krynn's Cataclysm or Mystara's Great Rain of Fire. When you get to a high enough level, you can kill gods and wipe out entire planes of existence....
Warhammer 40,000's universe is entering the eleventh millennium of the ongoing end of the Galaxy. The only reason its lasted this long is because most of the bringers of the end are as happy to fight each other as humanity. The End of a World As We Know It happens all the time. But what's the loss of one planet when there are nearly a million more out there?
This what mostly likely will happen if the Titans win in Scion
And then there's the Ba'ali, who believe a different set of Eldritch Abominations will rise, the so-called 'Children' who existed before God created light and who will surely destroy all of mankind should they ever wake up. To prevent this, the Ba'ali commit as many utterly depraved acts as possible in the name of the Children, in an attempt to ensure they don't realise how relatively nice the World of Darkness is and come to remake things in their image.
Mage: The Ascension featured a somewhat optimistic end of the world in its endgame, where all of mankind Awakens at once and the constraints on reality are lifted as everyone becomes a god unto themselves. Unless the 4th apocalyptic scenario is used, where the Nephandi win and bring hell on earth.
Changeling The Dreaming has the overhanging threat of Endless Winter, a time when imagination, belief and hope are all but gone and the world of the fae slowly withers and dies.
Wraith The Oblivion ended the line with the Sixth Great Maelstrom, where a harrowing wind tore through the Shadowlands as Oblivion ran roughshod and Stygia fell. Orpheus let the players explore the aftermath... while, incidentally, dealing with Grandmother, the thing that spawned Wraith's big horrors and threatens to devour the worlds of both the living and dead.
Exalted has several factions planning their own, most notably The Fair Folk (who don't like order very much) and the Neverborn (who don't like anything very much).
The "Return Of The Scarlett Empress" book details the actual bringing about of the End of the World as We Know It at the hands of the Yozi, (who actually like lots of things, but prefer them crushed under their rule), particularly the Ebon Dragon (who deeply hates absolutely everything on a personal basis).
Unknown Armies has an interesting take on this. The world will end when the number of the Invisible Clergy hits 333; once it ends, the 333 Clergy members and the Archetypes they embody get to have their say in how the next world is shaped, the Clergy is emptied, and the whole process starts again. In other words, the current incarnation of the world shapes the next, for good or ill. It's insinuated that this has happened several times before; the Comte de Saint-Germain is always present because he embodies The First and Last Man — the first human born in the new world and the final person to ascend to the Clergy.
The Shadowrun setting may or may not be wiped out by the Horrors, depending on how soon they break through into reality and whether technology gives more of an advantage to them or us. Oh, and whether or not your game master acknowledges that Earthdawn ever happened.
In the backstory of the Towers of Hanoi puzzle a legend is told of a temple with 64 golden disks; when the priests manage to relocate the tower in accordance with the rules of the puzzle, the world will cease to exist. (Even if it took a single second to make one move, this will take 2^64-1 moves, or about 585 billion years.)
As for the authenticity of the legend, The Other Wiki cautiously states that "it is not clear whether Lucas invented this legend or was inspired by it."
The angels and demons of In Nomine face this possibility in The Final Trumpet, when it appears that the prophesied signs of Armageddon are beginning to arrive. What's not known until later is that it's actually a practical joke by the Demon Prince of Dark Humor, who's hoping to get Heaven and Hell to devastate the Earth over a FAKE Armageddon.
Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun was unique in that its last missions were essentially a race against time before everything changed. Kane has completed his World Altering Missile, which will turn all life into Tiberium based life, and there is only three hours left till it is fired. As Nod, you have to set up the ICBM launchers in Hammerfest which will destroy the Philadelphia as it passes overhead, thus assuring the WAM goes off. As GDI, you have to prevent the launch of the missile and the ICBMs.
The Super Robot Wars Alpha sub-series's finale had several endings that involved trying to stop the death of all sentient life in the universe. The worst one involved the embodiment of life and rebirth going nuts and using its Wave Motion Gun at the party... which kills everyone in the quadrant.
In Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn Ashera is the Goddess of Order. If there's to much war... you'd better be ready to explain yourself... Oh wait you and the rest of the world are all stone statues and Ashera is going to start over with a new world! Never mind!
City of Heroes... if there were a time when the world isn't imperilled by callous villains, giant robots, aliens from Another Dimension, Experiments Gone Horribly Wrong and so forth, it was probably removed in beta. Even the villains get a few cracks at saving the world in a bit of Destiny subversion a certain arc shows you what would happen if you fulfill your potential as a Destined One and take over the world — there'll be no world left to take over. You then have to thwart Big Bad Lord Recluse in the future to convince the present Recluse not to go through with the plan... which really does mess with the whole ball of Timey Wimey Stuff, and player's heads.
Treasure of the Rudras followed this pattern of extinction of races about 5 times before the game actually begins; Every 4,000 years, a being called Rudra kills off the current race and creates a new one. This turns out to be a plan established by Mitra: Creator of the world in order to create a race that can defeat invaders from destroying the world in the first place when she is defeated or unable to do her duty.
In Star Ocean: The Second Story the main antagonist plans on erasing the universe by causing the Big Crunch. His plan goes through anyway even after you defeat him.
In Novalogic's F-22 Lightning II, the last campaign has a collection of military and political extremist groups contesting the last Ukrainian election, with the intended result of re-creating the USSR. In the second to last mission US, Russian, Israeli, British and such intelligence have assured that even if they take a nuclear silo, they cannot reconfigure a new launch code. Now, not only have they taken one, but they have reconfigured the launch codes. Russian attempts to initiate self-destruct have failed. Their KGB sources no longer answer their phones. The world is only minutes from a nuclear holocaust.
The Halos in the Halo video game series are weapons designed to wipe out all sentient life in the galaxy, i.e. The End Of The Galaxy As We Know It, to prevent the Flood from spreading; naturally enough, when such an outbreak occurs in the first game, the Player Character has to stop the weapon from firing.
Commander Keen had to prevent this a couple of times in the classic platform-game series by Apogee. His first game-series was titled The Earth Explodes, and he had to prevent the mind controlled Vorticons — who were being manipulated by his Evil Counterpart — from doing just that. The sequel, 'Goodbye Galaxy', upped the ante as suggested. The next series was supposed to be about him preventing the end of the entire universe, but at that point, Apogee was running out of money, and he only got enough funding to save his babysitter.
In the second game it is in fact possible to blow up the earth by 'accident' by flipping the switch on one of the Death Rays before disabling it, leading to a Nonstandard Game Over.
This is the main goal of the Big Bad in the Chains of Promathia expansion in Final Fantasy XI. It really doesn't help that the avatar Bahamut thinks that the best way to prevent this is to wipe out all sentient life on Vana'diel.
In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, a falling moon threatens to wipe out the world of Termina. In most other games in the series, the villain's only trying to rule the world.
Stated at the very end of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds that Lorule, Hyrule's alternate dimension counterpart, was crumbling away after Princess Hilda's ancestors destroyed Lorule's Triforce. Death Mountain suffers from an everlasting winter, the swamp region is always flooded, constant earthquakes have torn the land apart, and the kingdom is overrun with monsters. Without the Triforce, Lorule would eventually be destroyed. Luckily, Link and Zelda use their own Trifroce to restore Lorule's Triforce.
A Similar event occurs in Dark Cloud 2: The being who is the true identity of the assumed Big Bad is the one who has invoked and is responsible for stopping the Star of Oblivion from falling.
In Super Paper Mario, Count Bleck and Dimentio wish to destroy ALL worlds via the Dark Prognosticus. They actually succeed in destroying the Sammer Guys' Kingdom — almost while the heroes are still in it.
In Live A Live You are actually given the option to end all of existence by your own hands just by selecting the Armageddon option!
Every Shin Megami Tensei game (including the spinoffs) deals with this in some fashion or another.
In one of those spinoffs, Persona 3, the Main Character is explicitly told from the start that "the End" is coming soon. If he chooses, he can delay it a couple of months and have it come without knowing it's coming. Or, he can go out fighting, but it's ultimately portrayed as futile. And then you win.Kind of.
In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne (or Lucifer's Call), the world ends after the first hour of gameplay and you spend the rest of the game rebuilding it while not getting ganked by the Demons who roam freely now. And the True Demon Ending involves ending everything in order to destroy Heaven.
In Digital Devil Saga, another spinoff, not only does the world of the Junkyard end at the end of the game, but the real world that you end up in was half destroyed five years ago, and starts disintegrating into the sun halfway through the game. Your goal is to stop it.
In Shin Megami Tensei IV if the protagonist decides to take the Nihilist route because of the endless war between Law and Chaos, four Pale Tribe beings (white-clothed, pale-skinned people) help him destroy the entire world. With a black hole for irony.
There's a free online flash game Pandemic in which the player assumes control over a virus by spending evolution points on symptoms like fever or making the virus transmitted by air. The goal is to kill every single human on earth.
This is at least part of the villain's plan in almost every Final Fantasy game.
Subverted in Final Fantasy VI, wherein the Big Bad, Kefka, actually succeeds in destroying the world, despite your best efforts otherwise. You watch as countless NPCs are killed as their land is ripped apart, and the world map is left permanently scarred. The rest of the game is spent trying to get revenge because you failed the first time around and trying to break his tyrannical grip on what's left of society.
In Final Fantasy Xthis is subverted towards the end, as the protagonists try to end the "eternal spiral of death" that had the entire world in it's grip for a thousand years, bringing the End of the World as We Know It. In Final Fantasy X-2, the world is recovering from the confusion left after the removal of the Corrupt Church. It's played straight with the original creation of Sin, which turned a futuristic cyber world into a society of villages outlawing the use of machines and advances technology.
Serah and Noel attempt to avert this trope in Final Fantasy XIII-2 by changing the future. They ultimately do change the future...but the results are much, muchworse.
Also, after a boss battle, the magical kingdom of Zeal does a Colony Drop where the entire floating continent falls from the sky. The resulting destruction (including a huge tidal wave) destroys everything, leaving a small handful of survivors in the world. This apocalypse is also indirectly caused by Lavos.
In Mass Effect, Shepard's mission is to prevent the End of the Galaxy As We Know it at the hands of Saren, whose ship is in reality an AI known as Sovereign, a representative of an ancient race of sentient machines (AIs) who are responsible for bringing about the destruction of all sentient organic life in the galaxy every 50,000 years or so.
In Mass Effect 3, this happens in the first ten minutes of the game.
At the end of Mass Effect 3 this happens no matter what you do as the mass relay network, which galactic civilization is built around, is destroyed. In the worst ending, the Earth is completely scorched from your poorly thought out actions. The Extended Cut gives more optimism towards the galaxy returning to normal after the warďż˝unless you choose to reject using the Crucible, resulting in galatic civilization being purged from existence by the Reapers. A new civilization does rise from the ashes, having saved themselves by spending every second of every day of every year after finding a time capsule building nothing but anti-Reaper warships, making the fleet Shepard gathered look like a small squadron.
Terranigma kinda reversed it. The world has already ended from the start of the game and it's then the job of the Hero to starts the world again. Then he takes on the task of keeping it from ending again, much to the consernation of the god he's been taking orders from the whole time.
All 4 games in the Guild Wars series involve a looming threat that will destroy the world if the player characters don't stop it. The first game (Prophecies) twists the trope by having you discover at the end (just in time to be able to do something about it) that you've been duped by the Big Bad, and all your actions have been helping to bring the end of the world, instead of averting it. The next two (Factions and Nightfall) play the trope straight. The fourth (Eye of the North) subverts it at the end, when a cutscene seen by the players (but not the characters) hints that you didn't actually kill the Big Bad, and something end-of-the-world-ish is still going to happen anyway.Word of God has confirmed this interpretation in pre-release information about Guild Wars 2.
In World of Goo — and this meets the original definition of sheer — the world becomes incompatible with its inhabitants, like software, when it's upgraded into three dimensions.
Super Mario Galaxy has one, but purely by accident and is not a part of Bowser's plan, but ignoring the programming of the game, it would have happened anyway whether he defeats Mario or not, because he unwittingly puts his plan above his own safety. After beating Bowser for the final time, one of the suns around his galaxy reactor implodes, causing a huge chain reaction that creates a massive super black hole that begins to suck up everything in the universe. This is the end of the universe as they know it! All the Lumas throw themselves into the black hole to stop the destruction in a Heroic Sacrifice.
Avalon Code has this as its premise. The world is going to get destroyed, and your job is to collect (well, scan them by hitting them with the book...) anything worth being recreated into the next world. It turns out that this particular end is happening too soon, due to Werner and Olly's meddling.
In Wing Commander III, one of the missions is to shoot down missiles carrying biowarfare warheads that would render a planet uninhabitable by humans for centuries. Also the fate of Earth in the losing scenarios of the game, though just hinted at with a Terminator-esque scene of a Kilrathi boot crushing a human skull. From the same game there's also the more literal world-enders of the Behemoth and the Temblor Bomb.
Believed to be the fate of humanity by Tolwyn in Wing Commander IV, without his plan to shape humanity into a race focused on killing, as enacted by the Black Lance.
The novel ''Fleet Action'', by William Forstchen, not only has the Earth threatened with orbital bombardment by "dirty" nukes (averted by a Big Damn Heroes moment), but actually kills off two colonies in orbit around Sirius by that manner, on the way to Earth.
Fan-made mod Standoff, based on the events of Fleet Action, lets you play as one of the said Big Damn Heroes.
In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the demonic lord Mehrunes Dagon seeks to destroy the mortal world, so the Player Character & Friends have to stop him. In the expansion pack, the player must save another world...from its own creator, who is insane and has an irresistible urge to destroy his creations every once in a while.
Calling Alduin evil is a bit of a stretch. Although he is indeed an asshole and he is trying to end the world, he is not erasing it from existence, merely restarting it. The Greybeards even say that Alduin is only doing what he was created to do.
Arngeir: Have you ever considered that Alduin was not meant to be stopped?
Skarin from Viking: Battle for Asgard brings this about. Granted it's more the extremely uncomfortable variety but it still counts since he unleashes Fenrir who kills the Gods thus bringing about the Norse version of the Apocalypse.
In Fallout, The World As We Know It Ends on October 23, 2077.
In Fahrenheit, if you give Jade to the Purple Clan, the world ends in eternal winter. Giving her to the Orange Clan or learning her secret yourself saves the world, though in the former case that may only be for a short time.
Further back, the climax of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire has Groudon/Kyogre's awakening bring about an endless drought/flood. The game outright states that the Hoenn region could be destroyed if this isn't stopped, but who's to say it would end there?
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker's climax (of Chapter 4, at least) dealt with trying to stop Peace Walker from both launching a nuke to Cuba and transmitting false trajectory data to NORAD after Coldman, in his dying breaths, activated Peace Walker.
All of the Star Fox games deal with this trope on a more galactic scale; however, Star Fox Adventures plays this straighter with the potential end of only Dinosaur Planet (renamed Sauria in later games).
Since Odin Sphere is based on the Norse legend of Ragnarök, the world ends no matter what path you take. The fate of the world, however (whether it stays destroyed or reborn), depends on whether or not the player correctly chooses who faces the final bosses.
In the fourth installment of the Heroes of Might and Magic series, the world that the previous games take place in is destroyed when two incredibly powerful magical swords that were featured in expansions of the previous game clash. Fortunately, portals start appearing all over the place that take the lucky survivors to the new world of Axoth.
The planet of Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Phantasia suffers from this like a recurring rash. It happened for sure 4000 years before Symphonia at the conclusion of a devastating war, when the planet was split in two and taken over by a malicious racial supremacist theocracy, and then again between Symphonia and Phantasia when another devastating war set the planet up to be nuked back to the dark ages by a meteor strike. Also, there were several during the 4000 years of theocratic rule due to a resource conservation schemenote Only one of the two halves would get the resources it needed at any given time, and it would periodically switch- and when that happened, societies in the previously thriving half would crumble, but we only know of one for certainnote The fall of the dynasty ruling Sylvarant. It comes close to happening again in Phantasianote The Big Bad needs humanity to use as few resources as possible, and decided the best and easiest way to do that would be to Kill 'em All, or at least nuke 'em to the stone age but the heroes stop it that time.
In inFAMOUS, Kessler and the First Sons have, in the name of human advancement, developed a device that can activate superpowers in the user... and it kills everyone else in a six-block radius in the process. It turns out that only some people with a specific genetic trait can even use it, and others who meet this criteria in the blast radius will also receive powers. It doesn't take long for most of the cast to come to the obvious conclusion: whoever can get their hands on this device will be able to make their own super-powered soldiers with plenty of collateral damage they can blame on terrorists, ushering in a new era of warfare that will irrevocably change the world for the worse. And all of that's just a Red Herring, because Kessler is actually a time traveler from a Bad Future and his real goal is to awaken his past-self's powers ahead of schedule so he'll be ready to face down a genocidal monster called the Beast before it can rise, at which point it will ravage the entire world and end all life.
In inFamous 2 we learn that Kessler was missing a vital piece of information and the Beast's actual goal is to save as many people as he can from an incurable plague that's spreading across the world, but his process kills others. The evil ending is agreeing that this is the best course of action and helping him do it.
In Arc The Lad the final boss's first sentient act after being released from imprisonment is to rip the world a new one. He seems to learn to prioritize better in the sequel, since when he is released that time he then decides to have fun after he kills those pesky heroes.
In Xenosaga humanity has unconsciously been causing a chain reaction to undo all existence over many myriad iterations of the universe, all because of the existential horror of uniting with the Collective Unconscious. The Big Bad is trying to stop this from happening. Sort of. God tries to figure out what our deal is.
This is the ultimate goal of Ruin in Duel Savior Destiny, though the details on it are only slowly unveiled. First it seems that the world will simply have humanity purged from it and replaced with monsters, then it turns out that this will happen to all worlds if it happens in Avatar and then it turns out that the universe itself will be remade should Ruin win.
In Crysis 3 this is the result if you don't fire Archangel at the True Ceph warship; it fires its Wave Motion Gun and the last thing you see before fade to black is the shockwave visibly spreading over Earth's surface.
This is the threat K'Z'K poses in Sluggy Freelance. Other dimensions shown in the series have visited have faced similar threats. On a couple occasions the main characters have helped save these other worlds; on a couple other occasions, they're actually the ones responsible (directly or indirectly) for the destruction of the human race. Oops.
Tom Siddell described City Face (a Gunnerkrigg Court interim comic) as "a story of how love can save the world." It turns out to be literal: a fairy informs City Face that if he doesn't win the heart of his dream girl, the world could be destroyed.
City Face is a pigeon, and Gunnerkrigg fairies are ... not renowned for their sanity (they're basically all manic-depressives, except that when they're "depressive," they're still manic). So how seriously one is supposed to take this is questionable at best.
Averting this trope is the main reason Order of the Stick have been struggling to foil Xykon and Redcloak. May turn out to be a subversion, as recent revelations suggest there's more to the Snarl's prison than both good and bad guys have been led to believe.
Homestuck features a benign-looking computer game that turns out to summon the end of the world. In a unique variation, this is how the story begins, and rather than being the result of a villain's meddling, it is a natural part in a multi-universal circle of life. Not that that makes it any less disconcerting to see messages from the people left behind on Earth.
The Earth Explodes is the name of a web comic where after each strip the world explodes, well, the final comic in the collection is always a picture of the planet exploding. Exactly What It Says on the Tin, can be read here.
There are several other scenarios that would end the world as "we know it." For example, the "RK-class replacement scenarios" are ones where all life on Earth will be replaced by some other form of "life."
This video. You've probably seen it, it's the one with the nuclear holocaust and the fucking kangaroos.
In the Orion's Arm universe, the Grey Goo plague of the "Nanoswarm Era" destroys the original Terran civilization (although many humans, robots, and AIs sruvive to create new civilizations from the ashes). The Amalgamation is threatening to do it again, and more completely.
In the flash game Mastermind, this is your ultimate goal; the titular Mastermind forgets to tell his henchmen this rather important fact. When it comes time to push the button and end the world, they're understandably freaked out. Then hilariously parodied when the Mastermind, having made his escape into space, looks back on the debris of Earth and muses "Now what do I do? Hm, maybe I should've thought this out more."
The Demented Cartoon Movie ends the world many times in a thirty minute stretch of time. Sometimes a series of worldwide nuclear explosions demolishes the planet itself. Sometimes the planet falls into the sun. Once, somebody just has to say a word that triggers the explosion of the planet.
Each story of a Global Guardians campaign was set up like a season of a television series. Specifically, the finale of each season was an end of the world scenario. Notable examples were the Xorn invasion, the near-miss of an asteroid, the release of a horde of elder gods on the planet, impending nuclear holocaust, drastic historical revision by way of a time-traveling bad guy, an invasion by Mirror Universe versions of the various superheroes, and quite a few other threats to the entire planet.
At the end of the Chaos Timeline, World War III between the superpowers Germany and China breaks out, and although it doesn't last long (less than one day, in fact), the world will never be again as it was before. Because the hackers Logos and their allied AIs take over the world and the military and tell the war off.
Mystic Cave Zone Boss: You may have received messages about the universe being destroyed or some nonsense. These are lies of a bored child. They are meant to amuse you.
In Worm, a precog predicts that if Jack Slash is not killed, somewhere between thirty three and ninety six percent of the human population will be wiped out. It happens when Jack induces a Face-Heel Turn in Scion, who proceeds to go on a rampage that begins with obliterating the entire island of Great Britain and gets worse from there.
In Avatar: The Last Airbender , in the first episode of the four-part series finale Aang learns that if he doesn't stop the Firelord before Sozin's Comet, that Ozai will go on an Earth Kingdom and Water Tribe genocide, obliterating every race in the world except the firebenders. And the worst part is that he's more than capable of doing that.
Sequel SeriesThe Legend of Korra has a scenario that is even worse and to the letter; it's implied that if Ultimate Evil Vaatu wins during a Harmonic Convergence, humans won't be around to see the next one, and Vaatu and the Dark Spirits will rule the world. In the Book 2 finale, we see what would happen if Vaatu succeeded, but it didn't last.
Used in Futurama, when the Professor and his crew must prevent a giant ball of 20th century New York garbage from returning to Earth and destroying the planet.
Then there was the What If episode where Fry destroyed the universe by never coming to the future, causing a Temporal Paradox.
And again when the Brainspawn plan to destroy the Universe after learning every piece of data in it.
And again when a box containing our Universe is about to be destroyed because it's in a Universe that's about to be destroyed because it's in a box that's about to be thrown into the Sun. Try to sort that out.
"The Inhuman Torch" has a blue flame alien who nearly turns Earth Supernova. Bender stops him, though.
The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy enjoyed doing this in as many ways as possible: Martian Zombies, all-powerful demons, everyone being turned into Cthulu-esque monsters, everyone being turned into demons, everyone being turned into a different TYPE of monster...
The Pilot had the formation of the League to stop an invasion by the aliens that destroyed all life on Mars.
In TwilightDarkseid gets the League to help him save his own world, Apokolips, from being destroyed by Brainiac. However, not only are the two villains in cahoots in an Evil Plan to capture Superman, Darkseid betrays Brainiac and rewrites his programming to become a servant of his will. He intends to use him to destroy the universe and remake it in his image, which obviously qualifies for this trope in its own right.
The Return has the super-android Amazo come streaking back in from wherever he's been, destroying Oa on his way back. Turns out he just moved it out of the universe because it was in his way.
Two of these occur in The Greatest Story Never Told, in which Booster Gold is relegated to traffic duty while the rest of the League- the entire League, consisting of dozens of heroes-, battle against the Dark Lord Mordru, who will bring this about if he is not stopped. Instead Booster becomes a Hero of Another Story when a Hot Scientist needs his help to stop a black hole consuming the planet.
Dark Heart had a gray goo scenario, with fairly large goo.
Parodied in the South Park episode "Make Love, not Warcraft." A player in the game has become so powerful that even the admins can't stop him from killing other players, and the fear is that everyone will become frustrated and stop playing:
Gentlemen, this could very well lead to the end of the World... of Warcraft.
This sort of thing happens a lot, to any number of planets, at various points in the assorted Transformers cartoons, comics, etc. Some planets make it, some don't.
In Turtles Forever, the 2003 Shredder plans to set out on a conquest of the Turtles Multiverse, until he learns that there will be a team of Ninja Turtles that would be waiting to stop him in each and every dimension. He decides to destroy all of them at once by going after the source, Turtle "Prime", blind to the fact that destroying the multiverse would mean the end for him, as well. And he almost won, too.
The end of the world was threatened so many times by so many different villains of Xiaolin Showdown that it was eventually Lampshaded.
Occurred about 1000 years before the events of the show in the form of what is only known as the Great Mushroom War. The circumstances are left extremely ambiguous, although the presence of both evidence of modern society in the wreckage and supernatural beings in the present has led many to conclude that the magic coming back was somehow involved.
In the Hub trailers leading up to the finale, it shows Twilight taking off from the ground against a blood red sky, indicating that the villain turns Equestria into his dominion after capturing Princess Twilight's fellow sovereigns, Princess Celestia, Princess Luna and Princess Cadence.
Well, in a few billion years, the Sun will become a Red Giant, which will mean the end of the world.
In about 450 million years, increased solar emissivity will make earth too hot for C4 photosynthesis to occur, making terrestrial life impossible. Shortly after, the oceans will partially evaporate, increasing the atmospheric pressure to Venus-like levels, and making things even hotter.
Various theories in modern physics predict that baryons have a limited lifetime. Considering that everything is made with baryons this would mean that given enough time the whole universe will simply fall apart no matter what happens.
There's always that threat that Mankind will stuff up something before any of the above "Real Life" Tropes even come close to coming true. There is even rumour of a small cult of people who believe that Mankind will push their "playing God" role too far and rather spectacularly fail, thus killing themselves. A wonderful quote from Jurassic Park which is much worth mentioning:
Dr. Ian Malcolm: God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs... Dr. Ellie Sattler: Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth...
Never fear though; it'll be years before some corporate giant realizes that it's only a simple task of some genetic mutation and they'll be making millions out of Raptor-thigh cutlets.
The Permian Extinction, which occurred on the Permian-Triassic Boundary, was very nearly the End of the World as We Know It. At least, it was very nearly the end of life as we know it. 95% of all species went extinct. The extinction that killed the dinosaurs (the KT Extinction) wiped out "only" 60% of all species. Somewhat interesting, the Permian extinction killed large numbers of individual species, but kept many groups intact. The KT Extinction killed whole groups (such as the dinosaurs, ammonites, etc.), but saved more groups of individual species.
Did we mention that it might have been caused by Siberia exploding? No, not a single volcano in Siberia...the entire region exploded, sending massive amounts of dust and volcanic ash into the air, causing acid rain to fall virtually nonstop.
According to probabilistic models, the Earth is in fact overdue for another meteor impact of the scale of the one that killed the dinosaurs. Of course, "overdue" is measured in geological time, meaning that it could happen tomorrow or in ten million years. Sleep well tonight.
As far as the "as we know it" goes, this has happened periodically throughout human history in both small scale (see: the fall of the civilization on Easter Island), and large scale (see: the fall of the Roman Empire). Society utterly collapses, economies revert to sustinence agriculture and some hunter-gatherer-ing from more complex dynastic and mercantile ones, and cultural development and arts get tossed to the wayside as survival becomes more crucial and difficult for most of the people. The world is still there afterwards, but it isn't as people knew it anymore.
The fall of the Roman Empire was far less damaging to European society than was once thought. Renaissance writers invented the decay of early medieval Europe in order to make their own accomplishments look better.
At the end of the Bronze Age (between 1206 and 1150 BCE), many highly advanced civilizations existed in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Among these were; in Egypt, the New Kingdom; in Anatolia, the Hittite empire; in the Levant, the Canaanite cities; and in the Aegean, the Mycenaean culture. Almost overnight, all of these civilizations collapsed or were destroyed, beginning a dark age that lasted for several centuries. The cause of this Bronze Age Collapse is still a mystery. Various theories have been proposed, including volcanic eruptions, drought, earthquakes, and invasion by "the Sea Peoples." But no one knows what could have wiped out so many powerful civilizations in such a short time and without leaving any conclusive evidence as to what really happened.
Somebody's world ends every second, when they die. But the rest of us don't notice. And when the world ends for you it will carry on for everybody else.
There are a number of proposals that super-advanced extraterrestrials might construct massive, astronomical-scale objects for their own purposes. If that's so, it's not so hard to imagine that future humanity might decide to do something similar (for example, building a Dyson Sphere). It would required an enormous amount of building material, which might lead to the human race deliberately deconstructing Earth itself to use as raw material. Same might so for the Sun too (by far the largest single object, and thus source of matter, in the Solar System).
The smallpox-typhus-cholera-influenza pandemics in the Americas make a great example, though it only affected 1/10 of the planet's populationnote Despite the widespread use of corn and potatoes, two crops with excellent calorie-returns on the effort required to cultivate them, the Inca confederation was on a not-very-fertile mountain range and the Empire of the Aztecs wasn't too fertile either and was smaller. The Americas lacked beasts of burden, so all the farm-work had to be done by hand (no horses or oxen available, ergo no plows). The population of the entire Americas was about 50 million - about the same as Europe or 1/4 of the Chinese Empire of the Ming. Within a few decades the recurrent pandemics reduced the population to some 10% of what it had once been, the coastal and riverine areas being hardest hit. It was in this environment that the Castilians arrived and two small bands (of 100-300) of free-lance soldiers sided with the powerful rebel factions within the highly centralised Aztec Empire and Incan Confederation, bringing down the established governments and installing themselves at the apexes of the new hierarchies. Funnily enough, though figures like Bartolomé de las Casas talk of many natives being literally worked to death under the slave-labor system established shortly thereafter, in reality most of the natives used as slaves died of disease because of their close proximity to Europeans and their diseases. In fact, the mortality-rate continued to be so high among those exposed to Europeans that slaves had to be brought from Europe, the middle east, and increasingly from Africa to make up for the massive labor-shortage. These also died in high numbers because the Caribbean's swamps were great breeding-grounds for malarial mosquitoes, which meant the slave-stocks constantly had to be topped-up by new purchases from the African slaver-kingdomsnote Which, you guessed it, were kingdoms built around organized agriculture, free trade, and periodically enslaving one's neighbours at gunpoint and selling them off to the western-Europeans, Indian Muslims, and Arabs.
There are about a thousand theories on when the world will end, prior to being destroyed by the sun. The currently (strangely enough) least popular are the Nostradamus 2012 and Mayan Long-Count Calendar prophecies. Not many have heard of the Nostradamus-prophecies, though, which might explain the lack of panic over it, and hundreds of scientists, NASA included, have debunked the Mayan Long-Count theory. It turns out that according to the Mayan calendar, the 13th Baktun ended back in the 1960's, and that the 2012-thing was an error in the calculations. The next "big" Doomsday, is scheduled for the 2030s, when a asteroid should hit us (with a 0.000001% chance of actually doing so). Luckily, by then we'll most likely have the defense-systems to wipe out giant rocks plummeting towards the Earth.
In 2011 when a religious individual named Harold Camping claimed to have figured out the exact date of the world's end according to the Bible, saying that the world would suffer massive and simultaneous earthquakes on a global scale. The date came and went, confusing people who were expecting and preparing for the world's end. Naturally, the person who made the bold doomsday claim went into hiding from the public while others who still strongly believe the prophecy brushed off the mistake by saying the world is still going to end, but not right now.
What makes the above example hilarious is that anyone who actually read the bible would know that his claim to know the end was coming was bogus. The Bible explicitly says "No man will know the day of the Lord's coming", so his claim to know the date of the end times was bogus simply because he claimed to know it.
The Other Wiki has a very nice list on predicted ends of the world. Over the last five centuries, it "should" have ended about once every 5 years. And that's just the ones popular enough to have made it into history.