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Crisis on Infinite Earths is an ambitious 12-issue mini-series by DC Comics, lasting from April 1985 to March 1986. Bringing together virtually all the heroes of the DCU to fight an enemy who threatens to destroy the entire multiverse, it's one of the first ever comic "events", essentially codifying the Crisis Crossover (Contest of Champions (1982) actually came first, as well as Secret Wars (1984), which was more of a merchandising promotion like DC's Super Powers).

As a child, little Marvin Wolfman wanted to do a big series where every hero in DC Comics, ever, would team up to fight a cosmic villain called "The Librarian". Then Marvin grew up and became Marv Wolfman, the man who managed to make the Teen Titans successful.

By this time, thanks to years of Alternate Universe stories, The DCU was teeming with different worlds. There was the main universe (Earth-1), the universe of the Golden Age heroes (Earth-2), the morality-switched Mirror Universe (Earth-3)... The Powers That Be thought it was getting confusing, and turning off new readers. So, in 1985, Marv got the go-ahead to clean it all up.

So, there's a Multiverse, which is just the unified set of all the different universes. The Multiverse is guarded by a Cosmic Entity called the Monitor, whose powers are related to positive matter. But his Evil Twin, the Anti-Monitor, who guards (naturally) the Anti-Matter Universe, has discovered that his powers can increase if he destroys positive-matter universes, and sets out to destroy the entire Multiverse. The Monitor also sets out to stop him, and in the process both of them are knocked into a coma. Many years later, a scientist named Pariah accidentally wakes up the Anti-Monitor, who then creates a massive wave of anti-matter to wipe out the universes. Fortunately, the Monitor soon wakes up as well, but sees that the multiverse has been cut down to just the universes we've seen before. Panicking, he gathers a group of heroes from the Earths of the remaining universes, and sends them to hold back the Anti-Monitor's minions.

The series climaxes with (almost) all of the characters who ever got their own series, plus their team-mates, their Sidekicks, and their kitchen sink, ganging up to kick the crap out of the Anti-Monitor. There is (as you'd expect) an Earth-Shattering Kaboom...

And the heroes wake up the next morning on Earth. It's apparently Earth-1, and some of the heroes from other universes landed here. And the Multiverse no longer exists. And everyone remembers the heroes, even the ones that were from other Earths, being here all along. And the heroes remember the Multiverse, but no one else does, except for Psycho Pirate. It appears that it was All Just a Dream - but then the Anti-Monitor tries to destroy reality one last time. So the Superman from Earth-2 takes a level in Badass, screams "I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!" and punches the Anti-Monitor so hard that the Anti-Monitor ceases to exist. Cue another Earth-Shattering Kaboom. Now nobody remembers the Multiverse, except for poor Psycho Pirate, who ended up locked in Arkham Asylum, raving about "how worlds lived, worlds died... nothing will ever be the same"... The End.

Crisis is also notable for promising "Everything you know will change! The DC Universe will never be the same!" and actually delivering. Unfortunately, for every continuity problem it fixed, three more sprang up in its place, leading The DCU to become even more convoluted and cluttered than it was before as writers scrambled to fill in the gaps left by characters and universes that no longer ever existed. Indeed, the changes wrought throughout the DC Universe by Crisis were so profound that, according to some, its publication marked the end of The Bronze Age of Comic Books.

Crisis on Infinite Earths was followed by a companion volume, The History of the DC Universe, which attempted to lay out a new, concise narrative for The DCU; it's still worth a read as a snapshot of a bygone time in comics with beautiful art by George Perez.

Because of the holes in continuity it left behind, Crisis on Infinite Earths has spawned several Crisis Crossover sequels that have attempted, with varying success, to make sense of the mess. These include 1994's Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!, 2006's Infinite Crisis, 2007's 52, 2008's Final Crisis, 2009's Blackest Night, 2015's Convergence, 2017's Dark Nights: Metal, 2020's Dark Nights: Death Metal and 2022's Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths. Legends can be seen as an epilogue, as it allowed the new DCU to introduce themselves to each other; for example, it was the introduction of a young adult Wonder Woman to the other DC heroes. Much of the Geoff Johns era as head creative mind for Green Lantern also ties in directly with Crisis (specifically the Anti-Monitor). The in-universe ramifications of the Crisis were also a recurring theme of the late-'80s Mind Screw series Animal Man. Much of its imagery and backstory was referenced in JLA/Avengers.

The DC Universe would later pull another Continuity Reboot in 2011 with Flashpoint, followed by (the aforementioned 2015’s Crisis) Convergence effectively undoing the original Crisis.

An adaptation of the story, set within The CW's Arrowverse, was revealed to be in development at the end of the 2018 crossover Elseworlds. It aired in December 2019 and January 2020 as a five-episode series. An animated film adaptation is set to release in 2024 as part of the Tomorrowverse.

Compare Secret Wars (2015)note , another high stakes multiverse-spanning crossover that has dramatic consequences for a superhero universe.

Tropes codified or invented by this crossover include:

  • C-List Fodder: Dozens of minor characters, from the Crime Syndicate to the Ten-Eyed Man, died. Also, averted by a lot of A-List Fodder: Supergirl, Barry Allen (Flash), the original Dick Grayson (Robin), and the original Green Arrow are all among the fallen.
  • Cosmic Retcon: If not the first official use, then the one that everyone remembers out-of-universe, but nobody does in-universe. (Everyone but one man, locked in Arkham Asylum hint hint...)
  • Crisis Crossover: While Marvel's Secret Wars (1984) was the first comic book story to involve numerous heroes in a high-stakes event, Crisis on Infinite Earths is the Trope Codifier.
  • Red Skies Crossover: Also the one that indicated that a red sky means a crossover.

Tropes used include:

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    A - H 
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Killer Frost in the eyes of Firestorm, as when she becomes friendly under the manipulations of Psycho-Pirate she ends up being so flirtatious it makes Firestorm feel sick. Firestorm eventually gets used to Killer Frost's attraction towards him, but it soon wears off.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: A big white wall of anti-matter advances through the entire Multiverse, destroying everything it touches.
  • All of Time at Once: During the chaos made in The Multiverse there are multiple different Earths fighting to not disappear at the hands of Anti-Monitor. In Earth-1, time is also collapsing, prompting different time periods to happen at the same time but also, it seems, different continuities of different times as there are multiple unthinkable alliances. This is how there are heroes from the present fighting alongside the post-apocalyptic Wild Man Kamandi, the Wild West Anti-Hero Jonah Hex and the WWII Sgt. Rock against the Anti-Monitor's Shadow Demons.
    Narration from a Swamp Thing crossover issue: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and it was all of them at once.
  • And I Must Scream: For the crime of (apparently) awakening the Anti-Monitor, Pariah has spent uncounted millennia dragged from universe to universe, forced to watch their destruction and unable to die himself. As he puts it on his first appearance, when blamed for the incoming doom:
    "No... mine is not the hand which slays worlds. I can do nothing more than cry."
  • Anti-Villain: The Crime Syndicate in issue #1, spending their last moments trying to save their world before it is devoured by anti-matter.
  • Apocalypse How: The complete destruction of multiple universes, followed by a merging of five remaining positive-matter universes into one.
  • Assimilation Backfire: After taking a serious beating from the heroes, the Anti-Monitor tries to regain some of his strength by absorbing his army of shadow demons. The mystics knew he would try this, however, and magically altered the demons to destroy him from within. As a result, the Anti-Monitor becomes greatly weakened after the initial power boost.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Anti-Monitor grows to giant-size in the latter half of the story by absorbing all the anti-matter in his universe. During the final battle, the heroes and Darkseid whittle him down to nothing more than a flaming head coming out of a star.
  • The Atoner: Pariah aids the heroes because he blames himself for the destrution of his parallel universe while conducting an experiment to discover the origin of the universe. He also believes himself to be responsible for the destruction of countless other parallel universes, before the Anti-Monitor reveals he himself is responsible for it.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Subverted. During the climactic final battle, the Anti-Monitor appears to be finally killed when the Evil God Darkseid blasts him with the Omega beams, reducing him to a decaying, exploding ball of energy. However, this turns out to not be enough, and the Anti-Monitor makes one final stand against the heroes. It's ultimately Superman of Earth-Two that fittingly delivers the killing blow, punching the ball into a star.
  • Bat Deduction: The Batman catches the Joker having killed a man named Standish. He figured it out via the Joker's clue of a "Mr. John Alden of Plymouth Hills" making a movie called "Captain's Hill" which is where Miles Standish is buried which led him to his last living descendant in Gotham City. The Joker's reaction is marveling Batman figured it out.
    The Joker: You figured out my Plymouth clue? Even I was stumped...and I wrote it!
  • Batman Grabs a Gun:
    • The situation is so dire that even the Supermen of Earths 1 and 2 are willing to kill the Anti-Monitor in the name of saving all existence. Indeed, Earth-2 Superman is ultimately the one to slay the Anti-Monitor and bring the Crisis to an end.
    • Supergirl is so enraged by the Anti-Monitor's deeds she declares she's seriously considering waving her "do not kill" rule.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Psycho-Pirate wanted a world he could control with his powers. The Anti-Monitor gave him three whole universes to control, and it was too much for him, as he feels excrutiating pain after being overwhelmed by his own emotional powers and is driven insane.
  • Between My Legs: The cover of issue #8 shows Barry Allen and a beaten-up Psycho-Pirate between the Anti-Monitor's legs.
  • Big Bad: The Anti-Monitor is one of the biggest and baddest of all Big Bads. He eats universes, kills Kryptonians, wrestles the embodied Wrath of God, and battles scores of the most powerful heroes of eight universes, at once. Just so you'll know how bad it is, even Darkseid won't dare mess with him. He spends the event laying low, biding his time for whatever may happen.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Our heroes have saved reality! ...Or at least, a tiny fragment of it. Almost everything and everyone that ever existed is not just dead but erased from all memory. note  And the coming months will show that even the survivors have been drastically altered by the experience, mostly becoming more violent and depressed, and have no memory of ever having been otherwise, let alone of what caused it.
  • The Blank: The Anti-Monitor briefly causes the Psycho-Pirate to lose his face in order to bring him to submission.
  • Blank White Void: The Dawn of Time, which eventually got populated by the Anti-Monitor and the superheroes who have travelled all the way there in their attempt to stop the Anti-Monitor from erasing the entire Multiverse and replacing it with his own universe.
  • Brainwashed: The Psycho-Pirate was initially called by Harbinger under the orders of the Monitor for the sake of manipulating Killer Frost's emotions so that she could act as an ally alongside her mutual enemy Firestorm. However, desiring a taste of power over his Enemy Mine comrades, he also manipulates the emotions of Pariah and the other heroes sent to protect one of the Monitor's giant vibrational tuning forks until he is captured by a mysterious entity that reveals himself to be the Anti-Monitor. With the Psycho-Pirate desiring a world he can control, the Anti-Monitor magnifies the villain's abilities so that he could not only cause the residents of Earths-4, S, and X to kill themselves, but also to fight against the heroes from the other universes that are sent to protect those remaining universes from destruction. Before his death, Barry Allen as the Flash uses the Psycho-Pirate to manipulate the emotions of the Thunderers to get them to attack the Anti-Monitor while he goes inside the anti-matter cannon to shut it down.
  • Break the Haughty: Pariah was once a brilliant but arrogant scientist who thought he could do no wrong. That was a long time ago. Any trace of his former arrogance has been burned out of him from accidentally causing the death of his universe and being forced to watch the rest of the multiverse pay for his mistakes.
  • Burn the Witch!: Amethyst gets hassled by a bunch of people who are acting like this towards her in the latter part of the story, until Dr. Occult shows up and calms everybody down with his magic talisman.
  • Captain Obvious: There are a lot of points where characters state things that are patently obvious, either to themselves or the audience, such as Northwind screaming out when Doctor Phosphorous starts burning Hawkman that "he's killing Hawkman!"
  • Color-Coded Speech: The comic voiced the Anti-Monitor with black dialogue balloons and white lettering. Ink bleed often made it nearly impossible to make out the words. Reprints just give him bog standard balloons.
  • Continuity Reboot: The Crisis' ending was essentially a reboot with an in-universe explanation. The most obvious are The Man of Steel, Batman: Year One, Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals, The Legend of Aquaman, Captain Atom, and Shazam!: The New Beginning/The Power of Shazam!!. Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn came a few years later.
  • Continuity Snarl: Occurs to Power Girl, The Legion of Super-Heroes, and Donna Troy, after the Crisis was over. Hawkman's Continuity Snarl came later and was only indirectly due to the Crisis - it came out of the ill-advised decision to set the Hawkworld mini-series in the present, after both the Golden and Silver Age Hawkmen were already established in Post-Crisis continuity.
  • Cosmic Retcon: Too many to list here. See Post-Crisis.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Lex Luthor's time-traveling supervillains are quickly defeated by the godlike ancient Oans.
  • Defiant to the End: No one surrenders in the face of the multiverse's annihilation, but a few deserve special mention.
    • Barry Allen, the Flash, discovers a superweapon made by the Anti-Monitor. He lacks the strength to pull it apart, so he does what he does best: he runs, wearing the machine down just a little with each footstep. Though the machine saps his strength and lifeforce, he remains determined to save the world. And he succeeds, at the cost of his own life.
    • Supergirl faces down the Anti-Monitor itself and just starts wailing on him, hitting him with everything she's got. She almost wins, destroying the Anti-Monitor's body completely and forcing him to retreat, though he gets in a lucky shot on her, killing her.
    • Even some of the villains get in on the action. When Earth-3 is consumed by the anti-matter wave, the Crime Syndicate, an Evil Counterpart to the Justice League, desperately try to fight it off. Ultraman, Superman's counterpart, even flashes a very Superman-like smile, before flying into the wave, declaring that he intends to fight to the very end.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen:
    • Kimiyo Hoshi, the new Doctor Light, is initially a haughty and disdainful person who opposes the Anti-Monitor mainly out of self-preservation. Then she witnesses Supergirl selflessly taking on the Anti-Monitor to protect Superman. The sight of this makes Doctor Light realize how selfish she has been, and she resolves to change for the better.
    • A literal and temporary example is Killer Frost, Firestorm's archenemy, who was emotionally altered by Psycho Pirate to fall in love with Firestorm so that they could actually work together.
  • Demoted to Extra: Given this was a giant cosmic apocalypse, if you were a Badass Normal (Nightwing, Green Arrow, even Batman), you had little to nothing to do the entire time.
  • Devour the Dragon: Exaggerated. The Anti-Monitor responds to the destruction of his antimatter cannon by draining the life force out of every living thing in the antimatter universe to empower himself.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Supergirl nearly kills the Anti-Monitor all on her own halfway through the Crisis. He even admits an issue later that she nearly got him.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: In issue #7, Supergirl dies in Superman's arms after being mortally wounded by the Anti-Monitor.
  • Doomsday Device: The Anti-Monitor has a machine which slows down the vibrational frequency between the various Earths, which will eventually make them merge with and destroy one another. After the heroes destroy that, he starts building an antimatter cannon powerful enough to obliterate the five remaining Earths with a single shot, only for the Flash to destroy that too.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Ultraman, realizing how powerless he was and how hopeless it was for him and his Crime Syndicate partners to try saving Earth-3 from annihilation by the anti-matter energy wave, flies straight headlong into the energy wave and dies, with Power Ring watching before he too dies.
    • The Anti-Monitor amplifies Psycho-Pirate's powers so he can affect everyone on Earths 4, S and X. The victims are overwhelmed by despair and frantically rush towards the wall of anti-matter to commit suicide.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Not everyone gets to go out in a blaze of glory.
    • When the supervillains attack every Earth, Aquagirl falls ill after coming into contact with water that had been poisoned by Chemo. She dies off-screen a few issues later.
    • Huntress is slain instantly by a shadow-demon. So is Don Hall/Dove.
    • Golden Age Alexei Luthor is vaporized by Brainiac for being surplus to requirements.
    • Wonder Woman is killed by a glancing blow from the Anti-Monitor.
  • Dull Surprise: "They've got Prince Ra-Man."Shade, the Changing Man on witnessing Ra-Man's horrible death.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Supergirl's fight with Anti-Monitor. She manages to do him some serious injuries, bad enough to make him retreat, at the cost of her life. In fact, had she not been distracted by telling Dr. Light to get to safety, she would have destroyed him.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: John Constantine makes a cameo appearance in the main series, but if he wasn't addressed as such you might be hard pressed to know it. He's clean-shaven, well-dressed, and doesn't even have his typical accent.
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: Barry Allen's form disintegrates as he pushes himself further and further into the Speed Force to destroy the anti-matter cannon, leaving just his superhero costume and his Flash ring behind.
  • The End Is Nigh: In issue #12, a random stranger carries a sign that says Repent! The end is near! when the Shadow Demons start their attack on the general populace.
  • Enemy Mine: The villains of the DC universes team together with the heroes with the intent of preventing the destruction of all existence of the positive-matter universe by the Anti-Monitor. Most notable is Darkseid getting his licks on the Anti-Monitor by using Alexander Luthor, Jr. as a conduit for striking him with his omega beams.
  • Epic Movie: Well, an Epic Comic actually, but contains many of the same elements of the genre of film. It features the entire DC Comics Superhero library and even those from Charlton and Fawcett Comics (whom were bought out by DC and now are part of their lineup) battling a foe that threatens existence itself on a cosmic level in a story that spans all of space and all of time. Every hero is pushed to their limits; Some will live while others will die, most notably Supergirl and Barry Allen. And indeed, "Nothing will ever be the same". One Hell of a way to celebrate 50 Years, DC.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: By the end of the story, all save one of the eponymous Infinite Earths are destroyed, and it just happens to (more or less) be the "real" one where most of DC's stories are set. And, therefore, the good guys are considered to have won. In some cases the Earth-Two version was retconned out of existence, in some cases they merged into a composite with some of the traits of the Earth-Two version and some of the traits of the Earth-One version. For cases where the Earth-Two and Earth-One versions of the heroes were different people (such as Green Lantern and Flash), since the Earth-Two heroes were significantly older (many of them fought in World War Two), the ones that made it through mostly became advisors/mentors to their modern counterparts (who should "only" be old enough to have fought in Vietnam or Korea, but Comic-Book Time).
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The real names of the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor weren't given for decades. It wouldn't be until the 2010s that their names were established respectively as Mar Novu and Mobius.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: Alexander Luthor Jr. is the sole survivor of Earth-3. His parents used a modified rocket to breach the boundaries between dimensions and transport him to the Earth-1 universe, but were unable to survive their world's destruction themselves.
  • Forced to Watch: For freeing the Anti-Monitor (or so he thinks), Pariah is forced to endure the sight of countless universes being wiped out and helpless to stop it.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Chemo is one of the powerhouses of the supervillain team-up being a Walking Wasteland with little in regard to brains.
    "Chemo moves, he acts, he kills... but he is without a mind."
  • Godzilla Threshold: The Anti-Monitor is such a dangerous threat that not only do various heroes and villains team up to fight him off (including Darkseid), but The Paragon Earth-Two Superman is completely willing to break his Thou Shall Not Kill rule on him without even an acknowledgment of angst.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: When Yolanda Montez was introduced as the second Wildcat during the series, she had a habit of letting Spanish phrases slip into her internal monologue followed immediately by the English translation as though she were trying to teach Spanish to any listening telepaths.
  • Guyliner: Pariah looks like he has used too much guyliner on his eyes, which in his origin story appears after he accidentally destroyed his parallel universe. Probably meant to represent bags under his eyes from weariness.
  • Harbinger of Impending Doom:
    • Harbinger is sent by the Monitor across the Multiverse to gather heroes and to warn them of the coming destruction of their universes.
    • Pariah appears when the universe is already in the process of being destroyed, serving as a doomed witness.
  • Harmless Freezing: During the big battle between the villains and the heroes, Aquaman and Mera are frozen solid by the many ice-themed villains. They recover and join the subsequent fights without any issue.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Supergirl uses all her strength to beat up the Anti-Monitor, hoping to buy Dr. Light and a wounded Superman some time to escape. She ultimately forces the villain to retreat, but not before being lethally wounded herself.
    • The Flash (Barry Allen) destroys the Anti-Monitor's anti-matter cannon by running circles around it at supersonic speed. Though he succeeds, the process is too much for his body to handle and he disintegrates.
    • Played with in the very beginning with Ultraman of Earth-Three. Despite being a super-villain, he smiles at Power Ring, tells him he'll fight until the very end, and charges into the anti-matter wall to his death. Goes to show, heroic and brave aren't the same thing.

    I - N 
  • Innocently Insensitive: In issue 7, Lady Quark says that the people she's talking to couldn't possibly understand the pain of being the Sole Survivor of their world. She's talking to both Supermen, and while Earth-1 Superman doesn't have quite the same baggage (what with Supergirl and the survivors of Argo and Kandor), Earth-2 Superman does, and is plainly not amused.
  • It's All My Fault:
    • Pariah blames himself for the ongoing destruction of the multiverse, having unwittingly set it into motion with one of his experiments.
    • Doctor Light blames herself for Supergirl's death because she distracted Supergirl while she was fighting the Anti-Monitor.
  • Killed Off for Real: Dove dies saving a child from shadow demons and he never returns.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Ultraman, when he realizes that all his efforts and that of the Crime Syndicate to save Earth-3 have and would ultimately fail, leading to his exit via suicide.
  • Lack of Empathy: Lex Luthor is astoundingly chill after having just seen his alternate self get vaporized by Brainiac.
  • Language Barrier: Doctor Light only speaks Japanese, forcing her to rely on bilingual characters like Katana for translation. This ceases to be an issue once Alexander Luthor and/or Pariah grant her the ability to speak and understand English.
  • Last Kiss: Alexander Luthor and Lois Lane of Earth-3 share one final kiss as they are being swallowed by the anti-matter wave.
  • Last Villain Stand: The Anti-Monitor, multiple times. After his fortress and army get destroyed, he decides it's time to take on all the heroes by himself at the dawn of time. When this partially fails, he gets so angry that he essentially forgets his goal of multiversal conquest and concentrates solely on destroying Earth, slowly and painfully. And when that fails, and the heroes think him defeated, he clings to life through sheer force of will, multiple times, finally fighting a one-on-one duel in a weakened state with the original Superman.
    "SUPERMAN... I... WILL... NOT... DIE... UNTIL... YOU... DIE... WITH... ME..."
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Subverted with Dr. Light, when she thinks Pariah's been crushed (he's unkillable), and she rushes on ahead to find the Anti-Monitor and kill him. Superman goes haring after her, but quickly finds her having stopped. She's bad-tempered, not stupid.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: The team in issue 7 splits up on arrival at the Anti-Monitor's fortress. Bad move, especially once the castle comes to life, and it nearly gets Earth-1 Superman killed.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The title to issue 7, "Beyond the Silent Night", was a reference to Robert G. Ingersoll's 1889 poem, "Declaration of the Free"; the ending features an excerpt from the poem.
  • Living Statue: The statues in the Anti-Monitor's fortress come to life and attack the invading heroes. They prove extremely difficult to put down, and powerful enough to make even Superman bleed.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: With the exception of Hal Jordannote , the New Godsnote  and Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, EVERY character who had their own series shows up here. This includes the Justice League of America, Legion of Super-Heroes, Justice Society of America, Teen Titans of course, DC's World War II army heroes, the magic heroes, the legacy heroes, the Knights of the Round Table, and Ambush Bug. Most epitomized by one scene where the Gotham heroes go to meet in Wayne Manor... and a glitch in time drops Anthro the Caveman and his supporting cast in the parlor. Long awkward silence, then the Gotham heroes decide to decamp to the kitchen for the duration.
  • Meanwhile, in the Future…: Harbinger is a time traveler. One of her duplicates travels back in time 45,000 years to retrieve Arion, someone the Monitor needs. Her thoughts when she arrives? "Where is Arion? The Monitor will be furious if I cannot find him in time."
  • Merged Reality: The rebooted single Earth universe that emerges in issue #11, combining elements of Earths-1, 2, 4, S, and X together. The only concession is that the Golden Age versions of Superman, Batman, Dick Grayson/Robin, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, and Speedy were never part of that rebooted universe's history, with their modern-age counterparts replacing them. In issue #5, Alexander Luthor Jr. does point out that the only way the Multiverse could survive is that it must be merged back into one universe.
  • Multiversal Conqueror: The Anti-Monitor wants to destroy the multiverse by expanding his anti-matter universe, which he then intends to rule unopposed.
  • The Multiverse: This event affects the entirety of the DC Comics Multiverse. In issue #7, the origin of the Multiverse was revealed: Krona of Oa had committed the crime of using science to peer into the beginnning of time and space, and because of that, he not only created multiple positive-matter universes that expanded into infinity, but he also created the anti-matter universe, from which the Monitor's equally powerful opposite, the Anti-Monitor, emerged. Of the positive-matter universes that appear in this event:
    • Earth-1, home of the Justice League of America, the Teen Titans, the Doom Patrol, The Outsiders, and most Silver Age/Bronze Age heroes.
    • Earth-2, home of the Justice Society of America, the All-Star Squadron, Infinity, Inc., and most Golden Age heroes.
    • Earth-3, home of the Crime Syndicate, which was destroyed in the first issue.
    • Earth-4, home of the Charlton Comics heroes such as Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, and The Question.
    • Earth-6, home of Lady Quark, who was the only survivor of that world.
    • Earth-D, home of the racially diverse Justice Alliance of America, which was destroyed in the later-produced Legends Of The DC Universe tie-in story.
    • Earth-S, home of Captain Marvel and heroes owned by Fawcett Comics.
    • Earth-X, home of the Freedom Fighters and heroes owned by Quality Comics.
    • Earth-Prime, DC Comics' analog of "the real world", from which Superboy-Prime came, seen mostly in the Superman title tie-in stories.
    • Pariah's universe, which was destroyed in a flashback.
    • An unnamed parallel universe which was destroyed right before Earth-3 in the first issue.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: Or in this case, Never the Earths Shall Meet, as when the universes of Earths-1 and 2 are shunted into the Netherverse, they start slowly merging with each other, with the Monitor explaining that if they should occupy the same space together, they will annihilate each other. The result of this merging is that all time becomes one, creating a "warp zone" between the Earths where all of Earth's history is mixed together in a strange hodgepodge. Also, people of both Earths could see ghostly counterparts of each other in their own worlds. The universes of Earths-4, S, and X also share the same problem, although the heroes realize that it is the Anti-Monitor that is causing the universes to merge together toward the end of mutual annihilation. It isn't until after the battle with the Anti-Monitor at the dawn of time that the multiple universes are safely merged together and rebooted as a single universe.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Anti-Monitor declares that he will travel to the dawn of time to change history from the beginning. The heroes pool their resources to follow him there. After completing that nearly-impossible journey, they find the Anti-Monitor waiting for them. He then effortlessly drains them all of their powers, explaining that he actually used up all of his own power just getting there, and he was counting on them following him so he could use their power to change the universe instead. So if the heroes never traveled back in time, the Anti-Monitor would have been stranded powerless in the void before creation forever.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The Anti-Monitor survives virtually everything the heroes throw at him. Even a combined spell from every magician on Earth and a direct hit from Darkseid's Omega Beam only manage to weaken him.
  • Nightmare Face: The Anti-Monitor's face looks like melted wax molded into a bloated, bone white human face.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The Anti-Monitor never rebuilds any of his destroyed doomsday weapons.
  • No-Sell:
    • Plasmus's touch can decay any organic matter. Doesn't do squat to Commander Steel.
    • Phobia of the Brotherhood of Evil tries using her power to make people see what they fear on Platinum of the Metal Men. Her allies try warning her a little too late that this isn't going to work, since... y'know, Platinum's a robot.
  • Novelization: First released in 2005, with Wolfman on writing duties, and Pérez and Alex Ross doing cover art. The story is the Crisis as seen from Barry Allen's point-of-view.

    O - Z 
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Anti-Monitor's goal for the entire Multiverse is erasure, so only his universe can exist. His ultimate goal is to still rule the Anti-Matter universe after all other universes have been destroyed.
  • One-Steve Limit: The villainous Anti-Monitor is referred to simply as "Monitor" when he's introduced in issue #5. He isn't called the Anti-Monitor until issue #7, and he's still referred to as the Monitor as late as issue #12. While the two characters are cosmic counterparts to one another, having the Big Bad and Big Good of your story share the same name can make dialogue a mite confusing.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: After the Anti-Monitor seemingly flees the universe following Flash destroying his cannon, Luthor and Brainiac decide it's a great time to gather every single villain in the Multiverse that's still alive and conquer the remaining planets. Once the Spectre informs everyone that the Anti-Monitor is going to undo existence at the dawn of time, they agree that allying with the heroes must be done to ensure their own survival.
  • Original Generation: The Monitor and Anti-Monitor, Harbinger, Pariah, Alex Luthor, Superboy-Prime, Lady Quark, and the second Doctor Light were all created to be major players in this event.
  • Other Me Annoys Me: Alexei Luthor takes umbrage at the thought of having to take orders from his Earth-One counterpart, and starts angrily ranting about it. Unfortunately for him, Brainiac agrees that they don't need two Luthors and vaporizes him on the spot.
  • Outliving One's Offspring:
    • Lady Quark is introduced watching her daughter get erased by something she can't fight off.
    • Among the civilians experiencing the Crisis are an elderly couple who see a phantom of an alternate universe counterpart to their deceased daughter.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: The cover for issue 7 shows Superman carrying a dead Supergirl in his arms.
  • Planetary Relocation: Around the end of the story, the Anti-Monitor drags the Earth into the Antimatter Universe in order to finish it off. Thanks to Alexander Luthor Jr acting as a portal, the heroes are able to pull Earth back to its normal orbit and universe.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Alexander Luthor grows from infancy to adulthood in a very short amount of time, allowing him to replace the Monitor as the Big Good after the latter is killed.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: On the one end, the Penguin has an umbrella that lets him stalemate Firestorm. On the other, Maaldor the Darklord, a villain who could beat up Superman, was killed by the same blast that killed human villains Icicle and Mirror Master (and left their bodies recognizable).
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: The Anti-Monitor uses the Psycho-Pirate's emotion-manipulating powers in an attempt to induce this among the residents of Earths-4, S, and X while the anti-matter energy waves are attacking their universes. The heroes from Earths-1 and 2 try to keep this from happening long enough for the Harbinger to use her powers to draw those remaining universes into the Netherverse, where Earths-1 and 2 were located for the time being.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Though the heroes have apparently won by defeating the Anti-Monitor, uncountable googol plexes worth of people die in meaningless terror and agony, and the sole remaining universe gets Retconned into what would become a Darker and Edgier, Bloodier and Gorier universe for many years afterward.
  • Rasputinian Death: Exaggerated. After the Anti-Monitor is weakened by his failed attempt to rewrite the Big Bang, he's attacked by the heroes in his home dimension. His powers are weakened further when a large portion of his anti-matter is drained out by Alexander Luthor, and the energy of the star he's feeding on is absorbed by Dr. Light. After Negative Woman binds the Anti-Monitor with her burning radioactive body, everybody aside from those three heroes blast him. Upon reaching full charge, Dr. Light unleashes all of the energy she has collected into a beam. The attack sends the Anti-Monitor flying into a nearby planet, breaking his armor and burning all of his internal organs. Though he recovers by absorbing his Shadow Demons, they had been modified by Earth's magicians and start corroding him from the inside. Taking advantage of the villain's debilitated state, Kal-L chucks a moon at him, followed by three continent-sized asteroids. This attack buries the Anti-Monitor on another planet and actually stops the monster's heart, but only manages to take him down for a few seconds. He bursts through the rocks in his energy form, and starts crushing both Kal-L and Superboy-Prime with his hands. Darkseid saves the two by channeling a beam through Alexander Luthor, knocking the Anti-Monitor into the star that Dr. Light had drained power from. This still doesn't do the job, as the Anti-Monitor rushes out of the star in the form of a screaming fireball, still determined to kill Kal-L. Superman counters with one final punch, which sends the pieces of his essence into the star, whose explosion finally obliterates the Anti-Monitor.
  • The Real Heroes: Supergirl uses this to comfort Batgirl.
    Supergirl: Barbara, there are thousands of people out there — without powers like mine... the police, the firemen, the soldiers — they're all ordinary people trying to keep this world from falling apart before its time.
  • Ret-Gone: By the end of the story, most characters who weren't born on Earth-1 have ceased to exist, and the few surviving ones have their lives drastically changed as the timeline begins to realign.
  • Reset Button: This series resets the continuity of the entire DCU, causing most ongoing storylines at the time to fall under Canon Discontinuity.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: More like "Ripple Effect Resistant Memory", after all the various Earths merged into one coherent history, all the superheroes who survived the transformation wake up the next day with their memories of their various Earths intact and have to read newspapers and history books to learn about the changes that occurred. Their previous memories faded in a few months, replaced with ones where they lived in the shared universe all their lives and the Crisis was replaced with memories of fighting in a battle against the Anti-Monitor in 1985.
  • Sacrificial Planet: Earth-3 is destroyed in the opening pages to establish the threat, and that's just the beginning; by the end, all but one of the infinite parallel universes has been wiped out.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Lex Luthor's supervillains travel back in time to stop Krona from creating the multiverse and bringing the Anti-Monitor into existence. They fail.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: The Flash Barry Allen runs so fast that he loses himself to the Speed Force, leaving just his uniform behind. Same thing with Wally West in Zero Hour.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The title is a reference to DC's early multiverse stories in Justice League of America, which had titles like "Crisis On Earth-1!" or "Crisis On Earth-2!" etc.
    • Elongated Man in issue 5 says of the Monitor's spaceship that it looks like he's on board "the Death Star squared."
    • Blue Beetle comments that the events of the Crisis remind him of something out of Stephen King.
    • Animal Man says that Braniac makes Frankenstein's bride look normal.
    • Beast Boy in issue 11 comments that the storm outside Titans Tower looks like something out of Ghostbusters, only worse.
  • Snowclone Title: The series' title was an Homage to the Earth-crossover titles between the JLA and JSA (Crisis on Earth-1, Crisis on Earth-2, and so on.)
  • Sole Survivor: Of the universes devoured by anti-matter: Alexander Luthor, Jr. of Earth-3, Pariah of an unnamed parallel Earth, Lady Quark of Earth-6, and Superboy Prime of Earth-Prime.
  • Sticky Situation:
    • The Joker in his confrontation with Batman in issue #2 sprays the Dark Knight with a sticky substance to trap him long enough to try delivering the killing blow when he ends up being distracted by a future appearance of Barry Allen as the Flash.
    • The Earth-1 Flash was held prisoner by the Anti-Monitor spread-eagled in a gooey substance that he couldn't break out of... at first.
  • The Starscream:
    • The Psycho-Pirate thinks of betraying the Anti-Monitor after Supergirl's Heroic Sacrifice, if only because he's afraid of what might happen to him, as he discusses to the Flash. He's only spared because the Anti-Monitor believes in Pragmatic Villainy.
    • Psimon attempts to kill Luthor and Brainiac and take over as the leader of their army of villains. Fortunately for Luthor, Psimon underestimates Brainiac, who completely obliterates Psimon's brain.
  • A Storm Is Coming: The approaching wall of anti-matter causes the Earth's skies to turn red.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: While carrying an insane Psycho-Pirate who is under the delusion that the Flash will return to help him to safety, Kid Flash remarks that he can't bring himself to hate the villain after what he had done because he pities his state of mental illness.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Krona and Pariah are scientists who, at two separate moments in time, conducted experiments to look at the beginning of time, despite their colleagues warning that such scientific procedures would certainly break the fabric of reality. Krona's disobedience led to the accidental births of the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor, as well as universe being broken into a multiverse. Pariah, in turn, freed the Anti-Monitor, setting the story in motion.
  • Time Travel: In issue #10, both the heroes and the villains travel through time in their attempt to prevent the Anti-Monitor from destroying all creation and replacing it with only his own universe. The heroes go back all the way to the Dawn of Time while the villains go to the point where Krona is about to make his discovery of the origin of the universe that set the whole Multiverse into motion.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: The creation of a new timeline generates many continuity problems, which receive a lampshade. After all the Earths merge, it's noted that people know Supergirl died but can't remember how.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Krona's actions accidentally created the Anti-Monitor, but it's Pariah who kick-started the whole plot when, high on his own ego, he created a machine to look at the beginning of the universe. His experiment managed to destroy his entire universe by accident... and as a result, caused the anti-matter universe to expand ever-so-slightly, but just enough to wake the Anti-Monitor up from his epoch long slumber. And he was hungry.
  • Villain Team-Up: Lex Luthor and Brainiac gather together every single super-villain from the five Earths into a massive army. They actually manage to conquer THREE entire worlds before the heroes even know what's going on, showing just how strong these guys are when they stop bickering long enough to work together.
  • Void Between the Worlds: After the surviving positive-matter universes are merged into one, the two Supermen of Earths-1 and 2 as well as Jay Garrick and Wally West use Barry Allen's Cosmic Treadmill to find out what has happened to Earth-2 after they awakened to find themselves on a merged Earth. They soon discover their answer when the Cosmic Treadmill leads them into a dark black void of nothingness. Earth-2 Superman feels himself being pulled into this void as if that's where he truly belongs, but Earth-1 Superman pulls him back and the four of them use the Cosmic Treadmill to return to the merged Earth, where the Cosmic Treadmill was destroyed.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: During his final run, Barry insists there is always hope to save the world.
  • The Worf Effect: According to Marv Wolfman, this was why he decided to have the book open by having the Crime Syndicate get wiped out: these were characters every bit as strong and skilled and experienced as the Justice League, and whatever threat they were facing had obliterated them with absolutely no effort. He also decided to not have the "real" Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman appear for a few issues, to further reinforce those deaths and suggest that the DCU would need more than just them to handle this new threat.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: After the five surviving Earth universes merge into one, the heroes of Earths-2, S, and X find out that they can't go back to their own home universes since they no longer exist, with Earth-2 Superman taking it the hardest because that meant his world's Lois Lane no longer exists — or so he thought, until Alexander Luthor Jr. reveals that he has kept her safe in another dimension prior to the merging. Superboy-Prime, having no home universe to return to, joins Earth-2 Superman, his wife Lois, and Alexander Luthor in this other dimension, while Pariah and Lady Quark join with Harbinger to explore the new Post-Crisis Earth together.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Brainiac vaporizes Alexei Luthor, saying there's no need for two Luthors in their supervillain superteam.

And the universe was never the same.