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Film / Super Comet: After the Impact

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Super Comet: After the Impact is a Speculative Documentary produced by the ZDF and the Discovery Channel about what would happen if a comet hit the Earth in the same place the asteroid that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs did.

The German version is called Armageddon - Die längste Nacht (German for "Armageddon - The Longest Night"). It is available (on an on-and-off basis) on the ZDF Mediathek and can be downloaded with "MediathekView".

This film includes examples of the following tropes:

  • After the End: Most of the documentary takes place after the comet's strike, with all of the disasters that occur because of it.
  • Action Survivor: Among the lead survivors, Fernando qualifies, but essentially everyone who survives the impact strike becomes this as they try to battle the many consequences.
  • All for Nothing:
    • In the months leading up to the impact, governments stockpile food and medical supplies, evacuate the impact zone and coastal areas on the Atlantic, and designate shelters, all with the goal of keeping as many people alive through the impact and its aftermath as possible. While these preparations greatly reduce the number of deaths caused by the initial impact, they don't do much to help with the longer-term consequences. The EMP generated by the impact and the global firestorms caused by ejecta re-entering the atmosphere destroy all government infrastructure almost immediately, leaving the survivors to fend for themselves.
    • Poor Fernando. His entire quest is dedicated to finding his family...who are already dead. And he dies at the impact crater, alone.
  • Anyone Can Die: Countless people die, among them Fernando.
  • Apocalypse How: A Class 1 — societal disruption on a global scale — occurs before the comet even hits as people scramble to evacuate the impact zone and prepare for what will come after. The impact itself completely wipes out everything within 1000 miles (1500 km) and causes a Class 2 — planetary scale societal collapse — for the rest of the world as civilization is ravaged by massive firestorms in the following hours. This quickly threatens to become a Class 4 as the impact winter descends and the cold and lack of sunlight wipe out countless species. The ending implies that the worst has passed and humanity will pull through, making the ultimate outcome a Class 2.
  • Babies Ever After: Noah and Shiang are shown with a baby at the end of the film. The narration at the end also tells of how children born after the impact will only know this world, and the world before is just a distant story, like a fairy tale.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Mixed with a dose of "Ray of Hope" Ending. Many die in the impact and its aftermath, including Fernando. However, many people survive and humanity is implied to be on the path to recovery from the disaster. Noah and Shiang are alive and had a baby together, and the Vuitton family is reunited.
  • Black Dude Dies First:
    • Completely subverted for a tribe in Cameroon, who are set up as having no knowledge of the comet and thus being unable to prepare. However, though they do lose members, almost all of them survive.
    • Zig-zagged with Chad, a scientist at the observatory. He is first shown saying goodbye to Noah a few hours before the impact and driving off to an Uncertain Doom. He later reappears as the leader of a small band of survivors and takes Noah and Shiang along when they leave the island on a yacht. His ultimate fate is left unclear, though he presumably drowns along with the rest of the group in the storm that destroys the yacht.
  • Colony Drop: The comet's impact.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Fernando steps out of his van to get gas just in time to miss the radio announcement that the comet will strike near the Yucatan Peninsula and everyone in Mexico needs to evacuate. Then, when the comet does hit, he just so happens to be at an abandoned army bunker, which allows him to survive by hiding underground.
  • Comet of Doom: The titular comet. During the months of its approach, people are shown frequently glancing up at the sky, well aware that if the mission to deflect it fails, it will collide with the Earth, with disastrous consequences for humanity. When it finally hits, it does indeed spell doom for most of mankind.
  • Darkest Africa: Averted. A tribe in Cameroon is shown as a group of focal survivors, and none are presented as barbaric, only primitive. They even survive all the way to the end!
  • Darkest Hour: Practically the whole film is spent showing how FUBAR society and the world is after the impact strike. One after another, people die and places are destroyed in ensuing disasters.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Many people cross this when the mission to deflect the comet fails. Specifically, Fernando passes it upon realizing that he only climbed the hill leading up to the crater.
  • Disney Death: Noah Boyle and Shiang Yatan are implied to have died along with everyone else on their boat. They're shown alive, clinging to each other and some driftwood. They arrive somewhere in Asia.
  • Downer Ending: For Fernando. The poor guy only wanted to find his family but fails because they're probably dead from the comet. After being abandoned by three dogs he took care of, he breaks down in despair at the impact crater and dies alone.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The comet itself is almost treated like this: an unstoppable force of nature that humans can only pray to survive when it arrives.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: While the members of the Baka tribe who have found refuge from the global firestorm in a cave discuss the possibility of sending someone out to look for the people who didn't make it there with them, one of the men braves the heat long enough to peer outside. What he sees is enough to convince him there's no point in looking for other survivors.
    Lomama: What do you hope to find out there? There's no one left. Everyone is dead.
  • Foreboding Fleeing Flock: Noah and Shiang see a massive flock of birds fly away from the observatory moments before harmful acidic rain starts to fall.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: The documentary follows four groups of survivors: Fernando, who is searching for his family in the area close to the impact site; Noah and Shiang, scientists who helped study the comet and are stranded on the Hawaiian islands; the Vuittons, an ordinary family who lived in Paris; and the Baka Pygmy tribe in Cameroon, who were Locked Out of the Loop and had no time to prepare for the comet's arrival.
  • From Bad to Worse: Repeatedly. The comet's impact completely obliterates everything within 1500 km (1000 miles) of the impact site within seconds, but that's only the beginning of Earth's problems. First every coastal city on the Atlantic Ocean is hit by a massive tsunami. Then debris re-entering the atmosphere turns the entire planet into an oven. Then all the ash and ejected matter in the atmosphere triggers a global winter that devastates the ecosystem...
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: New York City (and it's safe to say plenty of other Atlantic cities) falls victim to one.
  • Heat Wave: The comet's impact hurls debris all the way into space; when it falls back to Earth, the heat of reentry triggers the most extreme form of this, raising the entire planet to 400 degrees Celsius (750 F). These temperatures are enough to set just about everything that can burn on fire and cook anyone who doesn't find adequate shelter alive.
  • Hollywood Acid: Averted.
    • In the immediate aftermath of the impact, Hawaii is hit by a rain that is acidic enough to burn skin. It's not lethal, however, and Noah is able to stand under it for several seconds before taking cover and emerge relatively unharmed.
    • Thanks to sulfur compounds ejected into the atmosphere by the impact, most sources of water on the planet become mildly acidic. However, the acidity itself isn't enough to be harmful. What is harmful are the heavy metal compounds the acid draws out of the soil, contaminating water sources with concentrations of heavy metals that will eventually grow high enough to become toxic.
  • Hope Spot: Fernando is out of food, and has been abandoned by his dogs, but he has hope as he scales a large hill. Once he reaches the top, he breaks down in despair once he realizes he has only found the smoldering, colossal impact crater, and the narrator describes it as the "end of the road for Fernando".
  • History Repeats: The premise of the film is that a comet of the same scale of the one that killed the dinosaurs impacts Earth in the same location in modern times.
  • I Choose to Stay: Noah and Shiang both choose to stay at the observatory during the impact rather than go home to their families. Noah's parents are deceased, and he implies that being able to watch the stars brings back fond memories of them. Shiang stays in part due to the futility of trying to get a seat on a plane as everyone else on the island also clamors to leave and in part because she wants to collect as much data about the impact as possible.
  • I Have Your Wife: Henry and Michelle's group of survivors is ambushed by another group who grab Michelle and hold everyone else at spearpoint. Subverted, however, when Henry manages to break the tension by offering their captors a case of cigarettes he was carrying. The attackers back down and immediately release Michelle, explaining that they've run into other groups who weren't so benign.
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: For most people, the first sign that the comet has hit is every electronic device on the planet suddenly going dead, courtesy of the EMP generated by the impact.
  • Just Before the End: The beginning of the film occurs only days before the end, with people across the world preparing for the comet's impacting and hoping that the probe launched at the comet will work to deflect it. It's not even a spoiler to say it doesn't, given the title of the documentary.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: The Baka tribe in Cameroon, Africa, are so isolated from the rest of the world that news of the comet's impending arrival never reaches them. For them, the first sign that their lives are about to change forever is a massive fireball passing overhead seconds before the comet hits. Despite this, they fare very well through the ensuing string of disasters, and many of their members survive to the end.
  • Lost Common Knowledge: It's made abundantly clear that in the wake of the societal collapse caused by the impact, much of humanity's technological progress and scientific knowledge will be lost. Shiang stays at the observatory in an effort to defy this trope by collecting and preserving as much scientific data as she can, and she is shown carrying printouts of geologic data with her when she and Noah leave in search of other survivors.
  • MacGyvering: Fernando uses a table and the harnesses and leashes belonging to the dogs he found to rig up a sled for the supplies he takes from the army bunker. He then hitches it to the dogs so they can pull it for him.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": The entire world, naturally, when the mission to stop the comet fails.
  • Never Say "Die":
    • The narration avoids using the words "died" or "killed" in favor of saying that life has "been extinguished".
    • Averted by Henry Vuitton. After a drunk man carelessly throws a bottle over his balcony and it smashes on the sidewalk near the Vuittons as they pass by, Henry yells at him, pointing out that he could have killed someone.
  • Pet the Dog: Three dogs are brought into a bunker by Fernando, and are allowed to live (as far as we know) throughout the entire documentary.
  • Post-Apocalyptic Dog: Fernando gains three dogs who travel with him for a time. They abandon him when his food runs out, and he dies not long after.
  • Rays from Heaven: After two months in near-total darkness thanks to the ash cloud blanketing the earth, Michelle wakes up to one of these streaming through the window of the house her group of survivors has taken shelter in. The revelation that the sun is shining again rekindles hope in the group, who were on the verge of succumbing to despair.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: When ejecta from the impact begins to reenter the atmosphere, triggering a global firestorm, everything takes on a red-orange tinge. Justified, since it is quite literally raining fire.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Fernando's entire quest to reach his family only results in his demise at the crater.
  • Threatening Shark: Justified. Shiang is dragged into the water and nearly eaten after she accidentally hooks a shark while fishing. The narration points out that the shark wouldn't normally attack a human; however, the ocean's ecosystem has been devastated along with everything else, and it's starving and desperate.
  • Uncertain Doom: The dogs abandon Fernando right before he dies. Whatever happens to them is unclear.
  • Wham Shot: Fernando climbs a tall hill made from gravel in the faint hope that food, water, or some sign of his family might be on the other side. We see his face appear over the top, his expression crumple into one of despair ...and then the camera pulls back to reveal the 200 km- (125 mile) wide impact crater, which even months after the comet is still a pool of seething lava. Then the view widens even further to reveal the hundreds of miles of scorched, lifeless landscape around it, underscoring that Fernando has no chance of survival.