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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
Dresden Files Apocalyptic Trilogy
Wild Mass Guesses for the concluding Apocalyptic Trilogy of The Dresden Files:

The Outer Gates will fall, and Harry will initiate a prison break.
Consider, Demonreach is a prison where Skinwalkers are in minimum security and Harry has the key. Meanwhile we've got Outsiders slipping in, particularly but not limited to Nemesis. Things are only going to get worse from here, so eventually the options will be total annihilation or calling in some very very unpleasant backup. So as a last ditch effort Wizard Dresden is going to officially declare that things have crossed the Godzilla Threshold and let everything out from under Demonreach

Empty Night in the Apocalyptic Trilogy will focus on the Swords of the Cross and the origins of humanity.

Re-reading Blood Rites and something Thomas says struck me:

"When every star in the heavens grows cold, and when silence lies once more on the face of the deep, three things will endure: faith, hope, and love."

Faith, Hope, and Love referring of course to a biblical passage but also being the English names of the Swords of the Cross. He also notes "once more" so it is either about origins or some serious whammy that has happened in the past.
  • "Once more" is probably a reference to the Biblical creation narrative. The Earth starts out "formless and empty," covered by a dim lifeless ocean. When the universe dies, it will resemble what it was in the very beginning.

During the Apocalyptic Trilogy, one of the villains will attempt to erase the Archive's memory.
  • Given how big of a deal has been made about messing with people's minds (It's the only Law of Magic that's ever really had any focus.), and how important the Archive is, it's plausible that one of the various villainous factions would attempt to destroy all human knowledge.
    • Smart money's on the Denarians. Nicodemus has destroyed previous knowledge of his actions.
      • Of course, that begs the question of why he's never tried to take out the Archive in his possibly 2000 year lifespan?
      • Presumably because while Nick is incredibly powerful in his own right, the real reason he's lasted those 2000 years is because he's clever and cautious. He'd not move openly against a heavyweight like the Archive unless he had a particular set of circumstances and a really good plan- as seen in Small Favor.
      • Or he HAS, but there's no record of it, and the Archive can't actually say anything about it. But it's more likely that you're correct.
      • As the Archive is only a child in the series due to an unlikely series of tragedies, this may well have been the first time an Archive has been as physically or emotionally vulnerable as Ivy in the last 2000 years. It was probably Nicodemus's first chance in all that time to try to take her on without getting himself creamed by a full-grown, mentally-prepared adult.

The event that causes the Apocalypse in the final trilogy is the Stone Table breaking
The Stone Table is the one item that regulates the seasons. We will see the stone table breaking and Harry become free from Mab's control as the Winter Knight.

Harry's going to unite all the good/neutral races we've seen so far himself
At the end of the series, Harry will wield Winter Ice, Soulfire, Hellfire, Summer Fire, stand with three Knights of the Cross (Murph weilding Fidellachius, Daniel wielding Esperrachius, and Thomas/ someone else wielding Amorrachius), have the White Court (Led by Thomas), White Council, both of the Faerie courts, the Venators, and an army of ghosts on his side. Against him will be the Formor and an army of Outsiders. And it will be epic.
  • Epic probably. Impossible certainly. The Winter/Summer thing is on the edge of possibility, but Hellfire is EVIL. You literally cannot wield the two at the same time.
  • In regard to Winter/Summer, when asked if someone could hold both mantles at once, Butcher's answer was, "Very. Briefly. Matter and anti-matter reactions come to mind."
  • And he will STILL start the book by getting his ass kicked!

The series will end with a Big Damn Heroes moment for humanity
No, not an individual mortal, like Murphy or something.

So, here's the setup: partway through the apocalyptic trilogy WOJ says will cap off the series, the Black Council will take over and the Masquerade will fall, revealing the supernatural to the world. The world governments reel as people start panicking. Stuff happens, and in the last book, Harry's gathered some sort of army (FOR THE PIZZA LORD!), but they're on the verge of defeat against the Black Council's horde of outsiders (or something equally dangerous). The enemy stretches out to the horizon. All of a sudden, a shadow falls across the field. Harry looks up to see a volley of artillery shells so thick that they BLOCK OUT THE SUN.

The conventional mortal muggles will ultimately be the deciding force that will defeat the series's big bads.

For added support, see comments made by Harry In-Universe and the scene with the Mules in First Lord's Fury. Clearly, Jim is fond of the concept that regular people can be just as dangerous as anyone else.
  • Look at how often the supernatural use human/mortal weapons even when there is no reason for a to hide magic Magic has its advantages, but one has to wonder why so many non-wizards of the supernatural community prefer automatic weapons and military grade explosives.
    • Revelations in Cold Days suggest that the forces of Winter took over the job of guarding the Outer Gates from some other long-ago power. Possibly the whole series is happening because vanilla humans have finally grown powerful enough to take our turn at Gate-guarding, and the Outsiders are determined to break out before that transition can happen! Likewise, Mab introduced the Unseelie Accords as a first step in her (very!) long-term scheme to arrange the handover, laying the diplomatic groundwork to negotiate with humanity once the Masquerade is broken.
    • I can see the Outsiders panicking at the entrance of a force equipped with human technology. The description of the eternal Winter struggle seemed to be purely before the advent of gunpowder weapons, all swords and arrows and magic, so the introduction of human technology might tip whatever balance there is.

The title "Empty Night" for one part of the apocalypse trilogy means that the stars will go out.
"Quietly, without making any fuss, the stars were going out." It worked for Arthur C. Clarke, you know Dresden will make it a thousand times better. Which is saying quite a lot.

The antagonists of Backup will try to destroy Ferrovax, and kick off the apocalyptic trilogy.
It's part of their stated agenda, but you can't really kill and destroy one of the last couple of dragons, a Freeholding Lord, without someone (a lot of someones) noticing. My guess? Dragon's lifeblood desanctifies the cursÚd athame. Two birds, one stone. Maybe three, if they can wrangle the energy of his death and the destruction of the athame's bindings into breaking something big, say, the Stone Tablet?
  • And how do they aim to do this?
  • Also, Ferrovax is not one of 'the last couple Dragons.'

Queen Mab will be one of the final enemies Harry must face in the apocalyptic trilogy
  • Just a hunch, but it seemed to fit the style of the books. In Changes, Mab says that "The stars will rain from the sky before she fulfills not her word." Now, what do we KNOW is the title of one of the books in the trilogy? Empty Night.
    • Ooo, that's a good point. I wonder how it ties in with the White Court, though, as it's their curse? Also, Butcher commented that there's a reason those three phrases ("stars and stones", "hell's bells", and "empty night") are used as curse words.
      • Stars and stones= meteors. Shooting stars that turn to stone where they land. Empty Night is the dust cloud causing the stars to go out. Hell's bells call the stars. It's happened before, and Sue narrowly stopped it happening a few million years before it actually did. (I highly doubt everything but the possible meaning of "stars and stones" and possibly the stars going out, but it would be epic, and this series Runs On Epicflonium.
      • "Empty Night" seems like there's a much more obvious origin for it. For a race who lives off of the emotional lifeforce they steal during sex, a night without a partner, without a source of that lifeforce, would certainly be something to fear and swear about.
      • Actually, as of Backup, Jim Butcher as revealed that Lara and Thomas are both members of the real Venatori, which are fighting the Oblivion War against beings that are presumably on the same power level as the Outsiders. If they are both also informed on the matter of Outsider activity as part of that, it would make sense for them to use "Empty Night." The author stated already that Empty Night is what happens when if the Outsider win or get loose or some such. This troper can't remember any other White Court vamp besides Lara and Thomas saying "Empty Night." It could be a Venatori thing instead of a White Court thing.
    • Seems likely that she'll be one of the first enemies Harry will face in the Apocalyptic Trilogy. But, remember, Mab isn't served by the world ending. He'll almost certianly have to fight her, but I'd guess she'll end up on his side by the second book.
    • Strong Disagree. Read the line again. "The Stars will rain from the sky before she fullfills not her word." That means she keeps her word to the end of the world. She'll be an Ally. Which is why it'll be a twist because Harry's spent most of the series viewing her as an enemy.
    • Cold Days confirms that Mab is a definite fan of reality still existing, and in fact Winter exists at least in part to protect reality from the Outsiders (Summer, in turn, exists at least in part to protect everyone else from Winter). Harry and Mab are probably going to continue clashing over methods, but as things stand right now, it definitely looks like they're on the same general side of this one.

The Black Council wants to summon Outsiders to destroy the universe, and that's what the "Apocalyptic trilogy" will be all about.
Seriously. One member uses the phrase "the end is nigh" as a passcode? Sounds like an apocalyptic cult to me! Harry has power over/against Outsiders, hence the Black Council's interest in him. The reason so many folks, both evil and not-so-evil, want to give him power is both to make sure he's strong enough to prevent The End and to have control over him before/while/after doing so. Oh, and Demonreach is a place where the walls between the world and the Outside are thin, and will be the site for at least some of the major final battles.
  • Seems unlikely in my book. The Black Council seem more like they'd end up being pawns for someone else trying to release the Outsiders.
    • Possible, there's definitely an Outsider or some sort of high power being behind the Circle, you get the feeling the Skinwalker wouldn't work with just any group of evil wizards, regardless of how powerful they are.
  • "The End Is Nigh" might not mean they're a nihilistic cult. The White Council is well known for its dithering and politicking. Putting the White Council under the direct (mind) control of a dictator would be an excellent way to militarize a powerful but slow-to-rouse force. If the Black Council is fighting against Nemesis, the Black Council would only ever need to take control of the White Council at the final battle at the end of the world...when "The End Is Nigh."

Regarding Harry's death; he will be brought back to life as... The Pizza Lord!
My reasoning? He has the respect and admiration of 600 pixies (stated in Changes- 100 regulars, 500 part timers), who have a massive amount of devotion, belief and faith in him. We are told repeatedly throughout the series that belief and faith are a type of power, and that they can give things power, so if that many magical creatures are devoted to you it's got to do something. The effect on Harry? The combined force of their belief will break the universe, and resurrect Harry as the God of Pizza!
  • So basically, the opposite of what happened with Tinkerbell.
  • As kickass as this would be, creatures from the Nevernever don't have souls, so they probably can't empower Harry through faith.
    • Jossed by Ghost Story.
    • Also by "Backup", when Thomas tells Bob that only mortals' belief counts toward Gods Need Prayer Badly.

The Big Bad of the entire series is (or will be, by the time we reach the apocalyptic trilogy) Gentleman Johnny Marcone
  • In the first two books of the series, Marcone has an amazing amount of control over the world of the mundanes. Supposedly he's got other crooks, cops and politicians and all levels in his pockets. Then he starts making inroads into the supernatural world. He's part of that community now. And at the rate he's made inroads into the supernatural world, it could very well be that by the time we get to the apocalyptic trilogy, he's a big enough player to be... you know... apocalyptic.
  • Something that recurs is the fact that the reason why Dresden is so effective is because he's an investigator, who thinks and reasons and puts the facts together, as well as a wizard. It would compliment this idea if the ultimate Big Bad, the one who out-evils every necromancer and monster and threatens every crusty old wizard and sword-wielding paladin, is the ordinary man who is extremely smart and logical about the way he conducts his business of world domination.
  • It would harken back to the roots of the series. Who's the nemesis of the hardboiled detective? The crime boss with his fingers in all kinds of pies.
  • He's awesome. So, Rule of Cool applies.
    • Assuming this is true, the apocalypse of the trilogy will be Ragnarok. That's the only thing I can think of that would let him be a Big Bad and retain the support of Odin, and therefore Gard, and therefore Hendrick's Love Interest.
    • You forget, Ragnorak is where Odin dies.

The Big Bad of the entire series will end up being someone no one expects:
  • Mac. Consider: He's perfectly positioned as someone on Accorded Neutral Territory to get information on both sides to play one against the other. He's notoriously silent so as not to give himself away. He makes one of the best beers on the planet, which everyone, on both sides, wants to get.
  • Murphy. Dresden had soul-gazed her one, but that was a long time ago. This means he can't check her for Nemesis. And she's been gaining influence over time, and her personality has been changing... Also it would be the betrayal that would hurt Harry the most, and Harry is The Woobie...

The Apocalyptic Trilogy will be, or include as part, Ragnarok
We've already got Odin, a valkyrie, and we've seen Einherjar. As Odin is alive, Ragnarok can't have happened yet, and it certainly fits the description of an apocalyptic battle.
  • The Black Council will summon at least two Outsiders to deal with Monoc Securities: a giant wolf and a serpent that encircles the world.
    • I say that Fenrir and the Jormundgandr are Sealed Evil in a Can in the basement of Demonreach. That's why Odin's so intent on keeping the island intact. They escape when the Outsiders make their big push and free the inmates and Ragnarok ensues.

John Marcone will give a Heroic Sacrifice towards the end of the Apocalyptic Trilogy
Jim Butcher has spent a heck of a lot of time building up the antiheroic rivalry between Dresden and Marcone. "Marcone is scum, but he doesn't hurt kids", he's a civilizing influence on crime, etcetera, etcetera, Bueller, Bueller... Anyway. He spends a lot of time outlining the fact that, despite being a criminal overlord, he's basically a positive influence in the world. So after the Black Council is defeated, the Outer Gates sealed for all time, the Formor crushed underheel...Gentleman Johnny dies, sacrificing himself to save the world. Which, of course, causes Harry to think better of him, a la Morgan. Hendricks and Gard aren't the same force-of-personality to keep the organization together.

One can just see Dresden describing this: "I never thought I'd say it, but I'm going to miss Marcone. Much as he was a criminal scumbag, he kept things at a simmer, not letting them boil over. Sure, I've got power to burn. Hell's be-... for crying out loud, I just stopped an Apocalypse. But I can't be everywhere at once. Without Marcone watching the other side of the fence, the world's going to get a little bit darker. Magic doesn't solve problems; that's what the person using it is for. Time to get to work."

  • Marcone will sacrifice himself to save Maggie.
    • Or Amanda Beckitt.

The Apocalyptic trilogy will be the three main villains
Hells Bells: the Denarians, possibly joined by the Big Man himself.

Stars and Stones: the Fairies, probably Mab going to war with everybody and breaking some oath(as she swore to Harry that the stars would fall from the sky before she broke her word).

Empty Night: the Oblivion War, probably vampires, necromancers and everybody who was anybody will be back here.
  • Revelations in Cold Days indicate Empty Night means the obliteration of reality by the Outsiders. Building on that, possible revised chain of events: Nemesis Denarians make a big move in Hell's Bells, Winter is overwhelmed in Stars and Stones, and the final battle with the Outsiders occurs in Empty Night.

The apocalyptic trilogy will remake the world.
Not (just) destroy it. Individuals from the series may even exist in some better form (for them) in the new world. "Empty Night" means (possibly in addition to "The Stars Are Going Out") "that which was before there was anything" (i.e., "Let There Be Light").
  • In cold days we find out what Empty Night is and it is so not good that it will likely be the Name of the last book.

During the Apocalyptic Trilogy, Harry will suffer a HRROD and possibly performs a Heroic Sacrifice
During the second or third book of the Trilogy, Harry is forced into a battle that, despite his power creep, causes him to burn out (possibly against Ferrovax or another Dragon), leaving him unable to use magic. However, Harry being Harry, he doesn't quit, but struggles to save the world, using only his wits, and all contacts that he's gathered during the years. It will serve as to showcase the huge development he's gone through, and he manages to save the world, but at the cost of his life. The chapter after that will be from Molly's POV, saying something along the lines of while the world is saved, Harry's dead and the world is still far from safe, and that she will follow in his footsteps. The series will then end with a nice callback.

"Harry taught me a lot of things about magic. About the value of life. And while his death saved us all, there are still threats out there. I don't want to see any of those try and destroy what he gave his life to save. I'm not going to let any nasties, ghoulies and creepies run around spreading terror and fear. I'm going to do what he would have done. My name is Margareth Katherine Amanda Carpenter. Conjure it at your own risk. When things get strange, when what goes bump in the night flicks on the lights, when no one else can help you, give me a call. I'm in the book."

The death of Ebenezer McCoy will be one of the pivotal events, if not starting point, for the Big Apocalyptic Trilogy.
My vision for the end of the series' "case files" will involve Ebenezer falling in combat to a member of the Black Council, most likely Cowl himself. This will create a political meltdown within the White Council during the BAT, forcing the Merlin to make three declarations:

1. The Black Council does exist. They've been working in secret for years to sabotage the White Council's protection of non-magical humans. The Vampire War was most likely a ploy to leave both factions too weak to oppose them in preparation for declaring themselves openly.

2. In times of emergency, a member of the White Council has been given the power to break the Laws of Magic without fear of consequence. The Blackstaff is the next best thing to an assassin: when a situation arises that might force the Council into violating the Laws of Magic, the Blackstaff is dispatched to resolve it. Ebenezer McCoy was the most recent holder of that post.

3. The current crisis demands that this office be immediately filled, so Harry Dresden is hereby appointed as the new Blackstaff. He has experience fighting the Black Council, along with determination and strength that dwarf any other potential candidates. Plus, as Ebenezer's pupil, it's likely he was being unknowingly trained to fill this post someday.

Naturally, the strain of hearing that Harry is now above the Laws of Magic pushes the Council to its breaking point. A faction lead by Cristos breaks from the White Council, many of those defecting to the Black. On the other hand, the wizards who remain with the White Council are encouraged now that the Senior Council is being open about the threats they face.

One of the adversaries Harry will face in the Apocalyptic Trilogy will be the Devil himself.
As in the actual, literal Satan from the Bible. This seems a strong possibility given the involvement of the Denarians. He might even be the chief nemesis Harry faces.

During the apocalyptic trilogy, Harry (or maybe Murphy) will forgive and redeem Nicodemus
It was Michael's dream, it's the essence of what being a Knight of the Cross IS, and it would be a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.

In Hell's Bells Harry will try to use Soulfire and Pyrofuego to literally burn down Hell.
It probably won't happen, but I thought of this after reading a particularly good line in Girl Genius.

In the Apocalyptic Trilogy, we will learn that Ivy is not just a hedge against Doomsday.
We will learn that in addition to being insurance against a doomsday scenario, that she is also herself a walking doomsday weapon. She will turn out to be humanity's last resort, to be used in the event the human race faces an extinction-level event and nothing else will work to prevent it.
  • Word of Jim says that the "hedge against doomsday" and all the other supposed purposes of the Archive is just smoke and mirrors. The Archive's actual and sole purpose is leading the oblivion war.

The Dresden Files will end the same way the Time War ended.
The Masquerade will not be broken. There will be an epic battle sequence in the Apocalyptic Trilogy with all the good guys versus all the bad guys, and various people will switch sides in a confusing manner. But Harry, having realized that the White Council is hopelessly corrupt, will choose to bring both it AND the chief enemy race, vampires, down. He will then assume Doctor status, wandering the world with truly awesome wizarding powers and an especially long life span, protecting muggles from the things that go bump in the night. His first companion? Murphy, of course!
  • Lea will end up the Winter Queen, setting the Faerie Court to neutral. At least, the Winter Court.
  • There will no longer be the Accords, but most spooky beings will be too terrified of Harry to kick up much fuss.
  • As all vampires will die, Thomas will make a Heroic Sacrifice. Hopefully just after passionately kissing Justine because he knows that soon the burns won't matter.
  • The eliminated villain won't be the Denarians because The Temptation/Redemption Tango of Denarian vs. Knights of the Cross is eternal.

The final apocalyptic trilogy will begin with Outsiders killing (or at least wounding) God.
  • God created the universe and is all-powerful. But the Outsiders are something from beyond the universe. And what better way to start Armageddon than by taking out the invincible Big Good?

Empty Night will feature the return of Lord Raith
The curse keeping the White King from feeding is powered by Harry and Thomas' souls. Harry has died once, presumably breaking his connection, which means if (when) Thomas dies the curse on Raith will be broken, he'll rather swiftly take control back from Lara, and we'll see just how he earned his reputation.
  • Technically speaking, Harry didn't die. He died just enough to allow his soul to wander with Uriel's interference while Demonreach and Mab kept his body ticking using the Parasite, but not enough to die and go to the other side. Had there been no intervention by these parties, yeah, he'd be dead dead and not just have been mostly.

Hell's Bells will have at least one AC/DC Shout-Out.
Naturally, as they wrote a song about it.
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