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DC Comics

  • Teen Titans (the comic) does this in the "Titans Tomorrow" arc, in which the Titans themselves are the villains who took over.
    • There's also a storyline in the 90s involving a group of Titans going into the past to kill Donna Troy and prevent the birth of Lord Chaos. Lord Chaos created this dystopic world where he controls everything with drugs.
  • The comic book series Batman: The Dark Knight Returns was pretty much a view of what would happen if there was a world without Batman for twenty years. The villains pretty much mind control all of the heroes, and of course, Batman is the only one who can set everything right again.
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  • The New 52 run on Animal Man and Swamp Thing deals with this in their Rotworld Arc. Where Swampy and Animal Man are baited into travelling into the rot and come out years later to a world taken over by Rotlings with gruesome and grim showings of how the heroes of the world unaffiliated with the powers of the Red and Green (and a few exceptions) were unable to prevent the spread of the Rot around the world and were turned into monsters themselves.
  • Detective Comics (Rebirth) deals with one that's a sort-of version of aforementioned "Titans Tomorrow", where Tim Drake has become Batman twenty years into the future, and also murderous. It started when Batwoman killed Bruce on orders from President Waller, and a few other disasters happened (such as Jon Kent's powers going into meltdown). The conclusion of the run reveals Tim's fall was set up by Brother Eye, who ignored Batman's final command so it could institute its OMAC project.
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  • In the Grant Morrison's JLA story "Rock of Ages", destroying the eponymous rock results in a Bad Future where "Darkseid is". (In complete control of Earth and slowly rooting out the survivors, having laid waste to New Genesis, that is.)
  • I, Joker depicts a future where Gotham is ruled by a cultish religion centered around Batman.
  • Waverider of the DC Comics crossover series Armageddon 2001 traveled from the future of 2030 to find the superhero that will become the Monarch. The Monarch rules the Earth with an iron fist and controls everything. This one subverts the premise by having a character from the bad future go back to the present, instead of sending present day characters to the future. Due to Executive Meddling, the story was changed, originally Monarch was supposed to be Captain Atom but in the finished version, he's Hawk from Hawk and Dove.
  • The Justice Society of America had one where a group of Nazi supervillains used a device called "The Great Darkness Engine" to rob all metahumans except their own of their powers and set up a planetary barrier to prevent any alien allies from coming to the rescue. They swiftly take over the world, put most of their enemies in concentration camps and institute a Fourth Reich. Its only thanks to a long-term resistance plan from inside the camps by the surviving Justice Society and Justice League that the future is undone. Only Mr Terrific, who was sent back in time to prevent the ambush that let the Nazis win, remembers the Bad Future.
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    • In All-Star Comics #35 Per Degaton changes history so humanity's technology regresses back. Green Lantern is sent 10 years into the future by Degaton (who was trying to send him 10,000) and finds an America ruled by Degaton where the Justice Society are freedom fighters.
    • All-Star Squadron has Mechanique come from one which looks suspiciously like the film Metropolis. In a twist, Mechanique hasn't travelled back to prevent this future. She's a villain looking to cause it.
  • In the Superman Adventures comic "Yesterday's Man of Tomorrow", Mxy convinces Superboy that this will result if he tries to become a superhero (alleging that he will become a Knight Templar). Unsurprisingly, this is the result when the young Kryptonian is convinced and exiles himself from Earth.
  • DC's Future's End event deals with not one but two bad futures, the second following on from the first. The first is set five years into "our" future, where a lot of bad things have already happened, including a Great Offscreen War between two universes, several major superheroes being killed off, and Mr Terrific has become a jerk, and the second is set decades later, with Brother Eye having taken over the world with its OMAC drones.
  • In the 75th issue of The Marvel Family, the Sivana family invokes this by time-travelling to the then-future year 1960 and teaming up with the Plutonians to conquer all the other worlds - the only remaining free planet is Earth, and even then it's under siege from the Sivana armada. Luckily, the Marvels and their friend Dexter travel to 1960 to help the future inhabitants of Earth set up a space academy and fight back against the armada.

Marvel Comics

  • X-Men:
    • The "Days of Future Past" storyline ("This issue: Everyone Dies!", which, in the future, they did) acted as Trope Codifier and germinated a thousand similar plots in other superhero comics both related to and independent of the X-Men books.
    • The "Here Comes Tomorrow" storyline from the end of Grant Morrison's run on X-Men.
    • The spin-off title New Mutants did this several times, as one of the characters was a time-traveler with less than perfect control.
    • It is telling that one of the nicest futures seen in X-Books was in the miniseries X-Men: The End, where the school is reduced to a crater with most of the students still inside and half the X-Men die in battle with old enemies and alien invaders. The latter part is revealed to be an interview with U.S. President Katherine Pryde. That's not even going into the aforementioned "Days of Future Past", or, in the first animated series, "Time Fugitives", where the initial efforts to prevent a disaster in the past lead to an even worse future.
    • The world of Earth X falls under this trope (sort of), and notably has Angel discuss the "Days of Future Past" storyline which is nearly its opposite. He suspects their attempts to avert that future actually made things worse. "Living our days in fears of futures now past is no way to live."
    • The Age of Apocalypse is not a bad future, since it's contemporaneous with the timeline of the story it spun off from, but it shares a large number of features, including a villain ruling the world, different loyalties than in the main timeline, cooler outfits, and generally being a Crapsack World. Apocalypse's Arch-Enemy Cable does originate from a timeline 2,000 years in the future, one that is also ruled with an iron fist by Apocalypse.
    • From the O5 X-Men’s perspective, the current era is this in All-New X-Men. Mutants are even more feared and hated than they were in their time, their beloved mentor is dead (and turns out to have been secretly kind of a bastard), superheroes as a whole have degenerated into warring gangs of petty jerks, and the X-Men have been taken over by a sociopathic asshole. Additionally, all their lives turned out to have really sucked: Cyclops is a globally-reviled terrorist and all his friends hate him, Marvel Girl and her entire family are all dead, Angel has gone crazy, Beast turned into a monster and Iceman is still in the closet.
  • Old Man Logan: the Red Skull rules the world, all the heroes are either dead, in hiding, given up or just plain corrupt (the Hulk has become the vile patriarch of a sizeable clan of inbred cannibalistic deformed hick offspring), and the world is pretty much a Post Apocalyptic wasteland.
  • In a 2018 (note that year) Captain America storyline, Cap finds himself awakening from a block of ice into a ruined America. He's told by a resistance fighter that a mysterious figure set off nukes that wiped out heroes and then took control of the country, preying on the fear of the populace to take control. The elites rule while the rest wallow in filth. Walking around the ruins of the Lincoln Monument, Cap begins a speech on how he doesn't know "how many generations it took to tear down the American dream" but he's going to fix it. He starts to tell Liang about an "ancient document" called the Bill of Rights that can inspire them and he'll read it to them.
    Liang: Cap, we've heard of the Bill of Rights. How long do you think we were frozen? This is 2025.
  • In Marvel 2099, a Great Cataclysm killed off most of the Marvel superheroes nearly a century ago. The remaining world is a Cyberpunk Hell where sickeningly corrupt MegaCorps have replaced the government, allowing them to charge people subscriptions to police protection, overturn court decisions, or secretly feed their own employees addictive drugs to boost sales. Doctor Doom is the one who sets things aright.
  • At one point in an Avengers and Power Pack crossover, the Pack gets thrown into one of these by Kang, where they meet badass-looking future versions of themselves.
  • The Incredible Hulk was once pulled into a bad future where, after a global nuclear war killed most of the world's superheroes, the Hulk himself, having renamed himself the Maestro, had taken over, having gone insane due to the massive amounts of radiation he absorbed during the war.
    • Immortal Hulk features a particularly dark one: Billions of years into the future, the Hulk (utterly controlled by the One Below All after fully eating away Bruce and Devil Hulk) kills off Franklin Richards and Mr. Immortal to take the role of Galactus's successor. Becoming a true Breaker of Worlds, in issue #25 it succeeds in destroying all life in the next universe, leaving a dark, dead, utterly broken abyss where it resides entirely alone. The last living being in that universe tries to Set Right What Once Went Wrong and avert this timeline... except they may only have created a Stable Time Loop.
  • Uncanny Avengers: The Apocalypse Twins were raised in a potential future where the Red Skull succeeded in turning the world against mutants, leading to them being rounded up into concentration camps. And if it's anything like the Skull's Storyboarding the Apocalypse moment in Issue 4, this is just part of a plan to get the world to start sliding down the slippery slope into a fascistic Police State.
  • The Avengers: The mini-event Ultron Forever introduced a world where environmental damage means Manhattan is flooded. Not so bad, but when the Captain America of that universe re-appears in volume 4 of New Avengers, she reveals that there was some event named "Zero Day", where the previous Captain America died and his shield was atomized. And because things weren't bad enough, when Billy Kaplan gets possessed by an Eldritch Abomination in the modern day, it manages to ruin that future even further, killing several members of the Avengers. Though mercifully, this rampage is erased from history shortly afterward.
    • The opening arc of U.S.Avengers elaborates on it: "Zero Day" was Thanos returning from the dead after Secret Wars, stealing the Iso-8 fragment at Project PEGASUS, and using it to kill almost every hero around as a sign he was back, until he was eventually taken down. Some time after that came something called the "Eternity Wars", which Captain America only states was "worse".
    • And speaking of Ultron Forever, the miniseries depicts a future where the titular robot has taken over Earth. And pretty much the rest of the universe, including Asgard. At some point during his rise he violently killed the Avengers, or in the case of the Vision forcibly turned them into his servants. The focus of the miniseries is removing Ultron. Which nearly causes the last Doombot to just take over where Ultron left off, until the modern day Vision talks him out of it, and it instead becomes a utopia instead.
  • The Rhythms of Darkness story in the Marvel The Transformers comic. Cybertron has been devoured by Unicron, the Decepticons have turned the Americas into a hellish wasteland, and there are only a few Autobots still alive.
  • The final issue of the Worst X-Man Ever miniseries takes place several years into the future after Riches kills Xavier and leads mutantkind into enslaving humanity and ruling the world. The mutant supervillains manage to flourish (with the exception of Magneto, who is reduced to a Crazy Homeless Person) while the surviving X-Men who tried to fight are either enslaved or have simply given up. When Miranda reveals that she's been using her power to ensure Comic-Book Time and Death Is Cheap in the mainline universe, Bailey chews her out for allowing her homeworld to be reduced to a such a terrible place. After Bailey uses his power to kill Riches, Miranda undoes the universe, having been waiting for her friend to have a "proper" conclusion to his story so that he can be immortalized in the form of a comic miniseries.
  • In Zombies Christmas Carol the vision the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come shows Scrooge is this. The majority of the population are undead with all their reasoning gone, the few remaining humans hold out futilely in Scrooge's empty house, Fred's whereabouts are unknown, Bob Cratchit is murdered by his zombified family, and an undead Scrooge rises to lead the zombies.
  • 2016-2018's Thanos series has a possible future where he succeeded in wiping out nearly all life in the universe, became known as King Thanos. The last survivors are Frank Castle who had been turned into Ghost Rider and later a Herald of Galactus that went Gone Mad From The Isolation, the Hulk reduced to a pitiful wreck begging to be mercy killed and Silver Surfer, now known as the Fallen One. King Thanos enlists his younger self to kill him so he can be with Death, though not without a fight. Present-day Thanos beats his older self and seeing him beg to be killed disgusts him so much that he grants him Cruel Mercy, goes back in time and vows to never become like him effectively erasing this timeline from existence.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 deals with several of these, usually involving the 31st century coming to a sudden and spectacular end. During War of Kings, half the team gets bounced through several, eventually ending up in one ruled by the Universal Church of Truth. They get rescued by Kang the Conqueror, who informs them that because of events in the 21st century, every future is being overruled by one where the Magus has conquered the universe.

Other

  • The Trigan Empire had a Story Arc in which a humble herdsman found himself in a Bad Future in which yet another treacherous military officer (where did they keep coming from?) had killed off the imperial family and become dictator. He later got home and had to prevent the Bad Future coming to pass (symbolic first gesture, uprooting a sapling that he had seen grown to a tree in the future).
  • Alan Moore's Spawn/Wild CA Ts miniseries is entirely based on this trope. Spawn and the WildCATS get thrown into the future where the world is ruled by a tyrannical super-sorcerer and most of our heroes are secretly fighting against him. The twist is that Spawn himself turns out to be the tyrant, having been given the idea by visiting this future in the first place. Our heroes manage to undo the bad future when Spawn finds out one of the resistance members is actually his ex-wife's daughter, and then she dies a moment later. Spawn promises to never let that happen, which undoes the timeline. But of course, it just means even MORE angst for ol' Spawny.
  • The comic adaptation of Sanjay and Craig kicked off with a plot where one was/would have been caused if Vijay let the titular characters eat other food than hot wings
  • The UK Sonic the Comic seemed to love playing with this.
    • There's a strange example of this trope: early in the run the heroes find themselves transported 20 Minutes into the Future, into a world where Robotnik now rules... and stay there, struggling for the majority of the rest of the comic's run to defeat and overthrow Robotnik.
    • There's also a plot where Robotnik tried to make an evil Sonic clone, which ages way, way too fast. He still finds a use for it, though, by deliberately semi-invoking Bad Future, making it believe it's from a future where Sonic's overconfidence gets the resistance killed, and somehow came back to try and warn Sonic of what's coming.
    • Other instances included a played straight Bad Future involving a race of Metal Sonics taking over, and a Bad Future-esque Present that came about by Robotnik managing to become a god, and deleting Sonic from history.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), we get glimpses of the time period Silver comes from (200 years after the time the main series is set in) - an unexplained disaster has destroyed almost the entire world, except a few scattered pockets of civilization, and Silver is constantly going back in time to try and find the cause of this disaster so that he can undo it. At one point, he stumbled onto an Alternate Universe that was an even worse Bad Future than his, one where Knuckles became the evil Enerjak and killed almost everyone on the planet - main cast included - leaving only a handful of rebels fighting him.
    • As Silver's story progressed, we do find out what happened: a traitor against the Freedom Fighters finally killed the heroes and helped bring about the end of the world. However, because of how things went, no one knows who did so. Harvey Who ultimately helps Silver piece everything together: It was Princess Sally, in her roboticized form of Mecha Sally, who killed the Freedom Fighters. There was no traitor - just that he had no idea what roboticization was.
    • There's also the alternate future that Eggman — originally Robo-Robotnik — came from. Among other things, his last act before coming to Mobius Prime was to nuke the world.
    • The X Years Later timeline, after being altered so that King Shadow was in charge, became one of these.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) also features Silver, so of course one of these is involved. In Sonic Forces, he came back in time to prevent a future where the Eggman Empire rules the world. In Issue #8 he returns and reveals that now the future is even worse, as it's now utterly lifeless. Sonic eventually comes to the conclusion that this is a result of the Metal Virus reaching its logical conclusion and breaking down everything it's infected.
  • In the Blake and Mortimer book "The Time Trap", our hero gets sent to the far future after a great war where everything is in ruins and huge war machines litter the landscape.
  • The death of The Raider creates one in Paperinik New Adventures: his son is convinced it was all Paperinik's fault and swear to destroy him: fifteen years later Paperinik's Secret Identity is revealed to the world and he is a wanted terrorist, his hideout was bombed down,Lyla was deactivated, the Time Police was shut down and its job given to a society at the order of The Organization... and Angus is running for President.
    • This is also the plot of issue 12. Thanks to the villain (Geena), Donald becomes Eidolon's successor and supervises the development of droids; additionally, he influences the moral debate over droids' personhood, partially thanks to the influence of the aforementioned villain. Thing is, the villain wanted to create a Good Future 23rd century where droids and "biologicals" have equal rights; instead, the end result is a 23rd century where Droids widely display supremacist tendencies and a civil war is about to happen.
  • In the Doctor Who/Star Trek: The Next Generation crossover comic Assimilation the 11th Doctor shows Picard that if the Cybermen take over the Borg they will end up assimilating all humanity.
  • In The Books of Magic, Mister E takes Timothy Hunter to see a possible future in which Tim has become the world's most powerful magician, and is thoroughly evil. Pre-teen Tim is horrified to watch his adult self ruthlessly slaughtering the world's good magicians in an apocalyptic battle.
  • Played with in Transformers: More than Meets the Eye; Brainstorm traveling back in time creates an alternate timeline where the Functionist Council took over Cybertron, turning the planet into a dystopic police state where any class of Transformer that doesn't serve an overt purpose is either killed or exiled. However it's discovered that while Cybertron sucks in this reality, the rest of the universe is seemingly better than the main timeline, as the Great War never occurred. However this gets double-subverted; The Functionist Council plan to make an army, and take their horror show to the rest of the universe.
  • Warlord of Mars has a distant future where Mars was colonized by Earth forces that had terraformed the planet and enslaved the local natives with the resistance lead by John Carter's distant descendant. This possible timeline is visited by Carter's wife Dejah, whose actions are implied to have solved the conflict and possibly prevented the timeline from existing in the first place.
  • Issue 12 of the Invader Zim (Oni) comics sees Zim and Dib accidentally slingshotting themselves into the future, where Zim has finally taken over the world, declaring himself Emperor, enslaving everyone, and is preparing to turn the planet into a ship so he can present it to the Tallest as a gift. And not only is Dib suitably horrified, an initially gleeful Zim comes to hate this future too, as he and Emperor Zim can't stand each other. So, he and Dib team up to defeat Emperor Zim and return to the present.
  • The "present day" of Judge Dredd is ALREADY pretty goddamn bad, being a post-apocalyptic police state, but there was a future that was even worse. The "Judge Child" storyline revolved around a prophecy that Mega City 1 would be destroyed in an unknown cataclysm in 2120 unless a boy named Owen Chrysler was made ruler of the city. Dredd discovered that Chrysler was a sadist sociopath and ended up abandoning him on an alien planet, and when he returned years later as a teenager for revenge, killing him. The "City of the Damned" storyline revealed through time travel that the future disaster was Chrysler himself, having been cloned back to life and turned into a monstrously powerful being called The Mutant who destroyed the world and ruled over the ruins. Dredd and Judge Anderson averted this future by returning to the present and killing the Chrysler clone and everyone involved in his creation as soon as he emerged from the pod.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (Boom! Studios) features one, although the big "hinge" moment happened before the series even began. In another timeline, Tommy kept working for Rita even once her spell over him was broken. The two of them now basically run the world, having defeated the Rangers, destroyed the Thunderzords and stolen the White Ranger powers from Jason - who is almost certainly dead. Evil! Tommy is actively interfering in the regular timeline for his own purposes.
  • Hack/Slash has a bad future that Cassie is warned of by a time-travelling witch, in which the USA has been completely overrun by slashers led by Big Bad Akakios. The eponymous "Final" arc sees the events that would have caused this averted.
  • Revival uses the rare inversion. Em uses her telepathy to give Patricia a vision of how their future would be if they both survive. Patricia gets to experience the good future even though it will never happen.
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