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Apocalypse Wow

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The Apocalypse never looked so spectacular.note 

"Oh, it's... beautiful."
Director Orson Krennic, Rogue One

Okay, so they've spent the entire series talking about it, and it finally happens: The giant, crazy, blow-the-budget scene where they show the apocalypse.

Or, y'know, they open the movie with it. Whatever.

This can't just be a brief shot of a planet popping out of existence like bubblegum — the sound, fury and destruction should be as spectacular as it is complete and total. Disaster Porn if you will.

In an academic sense, this trope has a wide variety of uses, from Ending Tropes to the Cold Open and everywhere in between. Equally capable of introducing a setting or establishing a character, it can be used to underscore how brutal a situation has become, or render an Eldritch Abomination Deader than Dead. Often an After the End scenario will have one as part of the flashback Backstory. When it comes right down to it, the only true constant between all the uses of this trope is the spectacular nature of the event itself.

This trope is the visual, descriptive embodiment of The End of the World as We Know It.note  Said event will usually be on the Apocalypse How scale, but not always. Often invokes the Distant Reaction Shot, since that's the cleanest way to show something of this magnitude. If it's a recording in-story by a firsthand observer, it doubles as an Apocalyptic Log.

See also Apocalyptic Montage, Earth-Shattering Poster. Compare Storyboarding the Apocalypse, which uses a (generally hypothetical) description (with or without Spreading Disaster Map Graphic) of an apocalyptic event to create dramatic tension. Contrast Scenery Gorn, which has a rather specific narrative use. If the audience is Just Here for Godzilla, this is usually what they've come to see.

There are, of course, some very serious spoilers detailed below.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • This is how Neon Genesis Evangelion ended.
    • End of Evangelion ended this way; episodes 25 and 26 just implied it. Maybe.
    • Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 had a much more spectacular (read: less Squick and Mind Screw) version but it was interrupted by Kaworu doing the Villainous Rescue in the after-credits scene.
    • Rebuild 3.33 went even further than 2.22, to the point where EVA-13 becomes a Physical God and really makes the apocalypse look like it's well worth the risk.
  • This is how AKIRA started... and ended (the movie at least).
    • Same with the manga (although the ending was under very different circumstances)... except that the manga has yet another Apocalypse about halfway through. All three have the same cause though (namely Akira).
  • It wasn't permanent, but late in Fullmetal Alchemist Father succeeded in turning the souls of everyone in Amestris into a giant Philosopher's Stone (including shots of dying Winry, Gracia, and Elicia, among many others), turned himself into a giant Living Shadow covered in eyes, ripped open the door to Truth, ate it, then turned into a younger version of Hohenheim.
  • Bokurano shows an Earth being consumed by an exploding sun, followed by every star in its universe blinking out of existence.
  • In Kurohime, the end of the world is this plus Mind Screw. The Gateway to Hell opens and drowns almost the entire world under an ocean of corrosive blood. Skeletons and dead souls are running rampant eating people, trees are dying and to cap it all off, the Head God is eating the sun.
  • The final chapter of Elfen Lied has 10 or so pages dedicated to Lucy initiating The End of the World as We Know It while simultaneously repairing Kouta's gunshot wound. While singing. For comparison, 2 or so chapters are the destruction of the research facility, ending with it being annihilated from below. Why so short? Because that's how long it lasted.
  • Go Nagai's Violence Jack, after the introduction of its title character, spends the first chapter of the manga destroying Japan via massive earthquake and mass volcanic eruption before introducing us to the Crapsack World that the Kanto region has become.
  • In the final episode of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka's wish causes one of these in the process of rewriting the universe multiple times - with Homura watching the whole thing.
  • Angel Sanctuary loves this trope.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Episode of Bardock ends with Frieza destroying the planet Vegeta and marveling at the destruction he caused. The same event is depicted in Cooler's Revenge from Cooler's perspective and in Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan from Paragus's perspective, and is the opening scene to the first episode of Dragon Ball Z Kai.
    • In Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan planet New Vegeta is destroyed by the Comet Camouri with the heroes escaping in the nick of time.
    • Dragon Ball Z's Frieza Saga had Frieza blowing up Namek, only for it to have a 5 minute delay (and a much longer one episode-wise). This is the only time that the destruction of a planet is not instantaneous in the series.
    • Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F' basically repeats this sequence with Freeza destroying the earth after it's absolutely clear that Vegeta has beaten him. Unlike on Planet Namek, he doesn't drag things out, but the ensuing destruction is still quite spectacular, as we see the ground cracking beneath the heroes' feet, volcanoes starting to erupt everywhere, and a good 30-second CGI shot from outer space. Luckily, Whis and Goku were able to undo and prevent this.
    • In Dragon Ball Super, Beerus says that no matter how many times he does it, he never gets tired of destroying planets. Though this sounds callous, destroying planets is literally his job.
  • Pretty Cure:
    • HeartCatch Pretty Cure!, a usually happy-go-lucky magical girl series, has one. When the true Big Bad, Dune, arrives, he promptly curbstomps the heroines, kidnaps the lead's grandmother, regains his full power and turns Earth into a massive desert, the only survivors being the main heroines and the people whom they purified from being monsters.
    • Also happens in Smile PreCure!, where the Big Bad succeeds in rendering the world into a wasteland... and when that wasn't enough to drive the girls into a Despair Event Horizon, promptly smashes a large chunk out of the planet for good measure.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny has the infamous Break The World incident. After the previous episode was spent fighting a rogue faction of Omnicidal Maniac ZAFT soldiers, most of the cast gets a prime view of the fragments of Junius 7 carpet-bombing Earth with each impact producing a fireball visible from orbit. All the while Lacus is singing this to calm down a group of children on the verge of panic from their underground shelter being shaken up by the impacts' seismic shockwaves. It's pretty obvious where the writers got the idea for this scene...
  • Although on a smaller scale, the anime adaptation of Fate/Zero shows the destruction wrought by the Grail, overlaid by Ilya recounting her prophetic dream for extra creepiness.
  • Origin: Spirits of the Past has a gorgeous opening in which the world gets peppered with very explosive Tree Dragons leaving the moon in pieces and the Earth within a Class 1/2 state of affairs.
  • The World Is Full Of Monsters Now starts with the apocalypse. When the main character wakes up, some unknown event has flooded Earth with fantasy staple monsters, goblins, orcs, etc. Vehicles are completely trashed by said monsters. Power and running water no longer work. To top everything off, law and order has completely fallen apart and anarchy rules the land.
  • Your Name: A comet central to the story fragmenting results in en entire small town's destruction, but that same comet has a long technicolor tail and its fragments gets a smaller version of that tail, resulting in the sky becoming a beautiful sight while the whole thing is happening.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • Many continuities open with the destruction of Krypton. This serves the purpose of establishing Jor-El's character, and actually getting Superman -and later Supergirl- to Earth.
    • All-Star Superman averted this with Krypton but played it straight with a certain character.

    Fan Works 
  • Gender Confusion: The end of humanity, and possibly the rest of the world, is described in excruciating detail.
  • The Last Great Time War: Happens several times, most notably at the end when the War Doctor uses the Moment to obliterate all combatants and civilizations fighting in the Time War.
  • The Weaver Option: The finale of the raid on Commorragh is a spectacular cascading destruction. Entire sub-realms and settlements of the Webway are consumed by explosions, which in turn cause the connected gates to detonate and set off more explosions in the next realm. Chains binding suns break and they return to full size, consuming all surroundings, while daemons and the crystallized power of the Emperor clash. All of this leads up to the Will of Eternity, infused with the Emperor's power, exploding and consuming the entire Dark City in planet-sized explosions.

    Films — Animated 
  • Titan A.E.: The desperate evacuation and subsequent Earth-Shattering Kaboom at the beginning. One shuttle is disintegrated by the force of the destruction, and the moon is shattered as it bombarded with continent sized shrapnel. The rest of the movie deals with making a new one. Inverted at the end of the movie. Not particularly important if it was scientifically inaccurate; it was freakin' cool, and you know it.
  • The Mitchells vs. the Machines: This happens midway when PAL's army of robots captures all humans on Earth except the Mitchells and imprisons them in environmentally-sealed pods (with free WiFi). The ultimate plan is to pool them into a giant spaceship and shoot everyone off into outer space.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Roland Emmerich loves this trope:
    • Independence Day revels in the wholesale destruction of the populated centres of the world by alien forces. Love of this trope must be the reason that a movie which features the destruction of the White House is shown on American television every year on the Fourth of July.
    • The Day After Tomorrow spends a lot of time showing us the destruction of downtown LA by a super tornado and New York getting flooded by a monster tsunami wave, followed by New York's entire cityscape getting completely frozen over after it's been buried in snow on top of the frozen floodwaters.
    • 2012's use of this was parodied even before it came out. The main characters say "Hey, come look at this!" often during the film just to show off the effects: LA crumbling and sliding into the sea, Hawaii, the Crack in Las Vegas, the tsunami coming over the... oh heck. It's two hours of Scenery Gorn. (The movie seems well aware of its purpose as such and dashes through the pseudo-explanation and character introduction with efficient haste to get to the show.)
  • Deep Impact: The meteor impact, which causes a huge tsunami that floods the U.S. eastern seaboard as far as the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Ender's Game showcases precisely what Dr. Device did to the bugger homeworld.
  • Escape from L.A.. "He did it, he shut down the Earth."
  • Subverted in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005). the Vogon constructor fleet has surrounded the Earth and are about to demolish it. You expect a spectacular explosion, but the Earth just disappears in a pathetically small puff of smoke.
    Often this section is preceded by the words In a World… [Earth explodes] but sometimes not.
    • Played straight in the TV miniseries, where Earth heats up to a brilliant red before detonating.
  • One of Godzilla's themes is him being nuclear apocalypse in the form of a giant creature. Just look at Honolulu and San Francisco in the wake of the monster. This also ties into Gareth Edwards' "delayed gratification" approach to showing the monsters; Godzilla and the MUTOs don't fill the screen as often as the CGI stars of other summer blockbusters do, but the aftermath of their rampages can still be used to imply their recent presence. In fact, that's the major indicator of their presence.
  • Knowing: The ending. As the plasma burst from the sun slowly blowtorches Earth it is all shown in incredible detail.
  • Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior begins with one of these.
  • Lars Von Trier's Melancholia does it twice. At the start of the movie, the titular planet engulfs Earth while classical music plays. The movie also ends this way, but now we see the collision on a human scale from the Earths' surface.
  • The original Nihon Chinbotsu(1973) featured an extensive sequence of Tokyo being swallowed up in the disaster done by Teruyoshi Nakano, who is nicknamed "Japan's Michael Bay" for his love of Stuff Blowing Up.
    • The 2006 remake didn't lack in the catastrophe department either, though it saved Tokyo (for last).
  • Even people who say that Pixels is terrible agree that scenes of pixellated destruction are amazing. Even more so in the short film, as there the apocalypse goes on undisturbed rather than being stopped.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Inverted at the end, only to be played straight in III. Both times with the same planet (Genesis).
    • Star Trek (2009) has the mightily impressive destruction of Vulcan, not before (well... actually, yes, before...) the destruction of Romulus in a super nova, which sparks off the whole chain of events.
  • Star Wars:
    • A New Hope: The obliteration of Alderaan, showcasing just how powerful the Death Star's superlaser is. The scene was especially spectacular, as Star Wars may be the first film to actually show an entire planet exploding in this manner.
      Obi-Wan Kenobi: I felt a great disturbance in the if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror...and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.
    • The Force Awakens one-ups ANH with the destruction of the Republic's capital worlds in the Hosnian system. In addition to showing the destruction of every planet in the system simultaneously, it avoids A Million is a Statistic by actually showing the terrified faces of the citizenry as the blast approaches.
    • Rogue One goes the other direction, showing the Death Star's first two "test shots". At single-reactor power, these are "merely" strong enough to vaporize entire cities and launch chunks of planetary crust into orbit.
      Director Krennic: Oh, it's beautiful.
  • The start of Superman Returns shows the destruction of Krypton.
    • The destruction of Krypton also featured prominently into the beginning of Superman: The Movie.
    • Krypton's apocalypse takes up the opening 20 minutes of Man of Steel
  • Surrogates ends in a way with this, as all the surrogates just shut down, and as a result, cars start crashing en masse into buildings and each other, with all the destruction drawn out (though it is Bloodless Carnage since the surrogates are not human.
  • Terminator: The nuclear holocaust that Skynet unleashes. Both Terminator 2: Judgment Day (inside Sarah's dream) and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (for real at the end) show it in great detail.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: The destruction of Asgard by Surtur.
  • The 1980s TV films The Day After and Threads were made specifically to scare the world straight about the threat of nuclear war. Increasing the fear factor for audiences is how both films are set in smaller, lesser-known cities of the US and UK (Kansas City and Sheffield, respectively), showing that nowhere is truly safe, and that the characters are ordinary people just trying to survive.
    • The Day After was originally going to have a more graphic nuclear holocaust scene, but this didn't get past the ABC censors.
  • V for Vendetta ends with the exact event the plot's been building towards: The destruction of British Parliament. It might not even count as a Class-Zero, but dang was it well done.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: During the film, Apocalypse uses his power to tear apart and reshape Cairo into a giant pyramid lair, and he has Magneto use his powers over the Earth's magnetic field to begin leveling every city on the planet.

  • Dungeon Crawler Carl is all about aliens watching the last few humans struggle through an eighteen-level dungeon assembled from what's left of Earth. It's a fantastically popular and profitable show — so long as you're in the audience instead of being one of the poor sods in the dungeon.
  • Mark Geston's novel Lords of the Starship is about a vast rocketship that takes well over a century to complete, at which point two immense armies fight for control of it. Then the ship uses its rocket exhausts to incinerate the armies, and then reverses thrust to incinerate itself. Then the shadowy enemy that designed the ship in the first place sends a couple of city-sized fireballs to finish the job.
  • The great freezing at the end of Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, which sounded like "the great door of heaven being closed softly" and, within moments, caused the sky to fill with tornadoes.
  • At the end of Greg Bear's The Forge of God, the Earth's destruction is described in loving, agonizing detail.
    • Same for the asteroid colliding with Earth and breaking it into pieces in Remnants, near the end of the first book.
  • Though the actual Shattering is not described, the vivid imagery of huge fragments of landscape tumbling through the Void in The Shattered World makes it clear that the titular world's breaking must have been an Apocalypse Wow. The collision between two fragments in the sequel, The Burning Realm, gives an ominous preview of the surviving fragments' impending doom.
  • This happens in the 1933 classic When Worlds Collide, in the kind of spectacular fashion that you'd probably have guessed from the title. The 1951 film adaptation did the best it could with this, but the upcoming remake certainly should provide more of the disaster porn as described in the book, to say the least.
  • Arthur C. Clarke's novel The Songs of Distant Earth had its doomed planetbound inhabitants set up cameras to record images of the end of the Earth for the posterity of those stargoing vessels which just managed to escape its final destruction. Mike Oldfield's album The Songs of Distant Earth which is meant as an accompaniment to that novel has a music track that chronicles the Earth's destruction. The ship that features in the novel, Magellan, was the last ship to leave the solar system. Its primary mission (before going on to set up a new colony) had been to operate as the relay station for all the cameras, probes, sensors and other telemetry, forwarding the data collected on to the rest of civilisation.
    • Clarke's early story (in fact, the first story he sold) "Rescue Party" also had the people of Earth set up cameras to beam images of Earth's end to the huge escape fleet in which they evacuated. It was following the line of those transmissions that led the alien rescue ship to the fleet.
  • The last remaining normal human broadcasts this at the end of Childhood's End.
  • The end of The Chronicles of Narnia is described in detail at the end of The Last Battle — which, by no coincidence, heavily draws upon the biblical apocalypse.
  • The Ciaphas Cain novel Caves of Ice ends with the detonation of a gigaton range Fuel Air Explosive. It completely obliterates the sole settlement on the planet, and the shockwaves are felt by ships in low orbit.
  • The third act of The Talon of Horus opens with the nascent Legion completely annihilating the Canticle City by the way of throwing a kilometers-long ship at it from orbit. Khayon takes his sweet time observing it and notes, among other things, that the entire city is engulfed in a miles-tall layer of dust and smoke and that the entire continent shakes.
  • Know No Fear, of Horus Heresy, spends nearly thirty pages to describe the opening attack on Calth. Ship speeding near c crashes into orbital installations, half of the waiting fleet is annihilated, two or three city-sized vessels hit the planet, the impact causes earthquakes and tsunamis and that's just the beginning. Highlights include: "It starts raining main battle tanks." and "For a brief moment, Calth has no nightside."
  • The demolition of Vavatch Orbital in Consider Phlebas is so spectacularly donenote , it almost qualifies as performance art.
  • In Lucifer's Hammer, Niven and Pournelle detail the end of the world with beautiful descriptions. The meteor leaves behind a fiery rainbow trail that blinds anyone who looks at it. The resulting multiple-impacts cause earthquakes and giant tsunamis all around the earth, flooding entire mountain ranges.
    • And when they finally got around to finishing Footfall (the publisher took a look at a partial draft, and suggested they do a book just on this event, which is Lucifer's Hammer) it included the aliens, after being driven off Earth once, dropping an asteroid in the Indian Ocean to soften up resistance before trying again.
  • The aftermath of Operation Oyster Bay in the Honor Harrington series is described in substantial detail, despite being "only" a set of class 0 events.
  • In Cerberon, the complete destruction of Loethess and everything around it is described in detail from multiple perspectives, from a mage in the center of the city paralyzed with Oh, Crap!, to a family nearby hoping they'll survive, to a distant overview by a pair of people being carried away by a flying dragon.
  • That is All goes through every day of 2012 as it deals with Ragnorak via the awakening of the 700 Ancient and Unspeakable Ones. All the oceans are flooded by a giant sentient pool of blood. All the dogs gather together and eat most of humanity, while the animatronic presidents finish off any remnants. Finally, all the Iron in the world magnetizes, burrowing into the Earth, cutting it in two.
  • Despite the subversion of the film adaptation, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy plays it straight:
    • Although the visual effect of the Earth being vaped by the Vogons, on the TV series, is good enough to provoke a shudder.
  • Unsurprising for a series in which regular starship weapons can wipe a city off the map with a few shots, bombs exist that can consume an entire planet in a slowly but steadily spreading unstoppable nuclear firestorm, and even stars get blown up once in a while, Perry Rhodan has been known to indulge in this in what over time amounts to a fair few issues.
  • The Great Fire in Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin. First a green ribbon of fire snakes across the sky and fireballs begin to fall like meteorites across the city of Castle Reach, then the entire ribbon comes crashing down across the city and smashes Quillarth Castle to the ground.
  • This is the meat of the book Death from the Skies by the astronomer Phil Plait. It deals with the different ways everything may end in Real Life, from the effect of asteroid impacts to the death of the entire Universe and everything between and each chapter opening with a description of one of those events not sparing details at all. note 
  • The Long Utopia ends with the complete destruction of an alternate Earth (Earth West 1,217,756 to be precise), described in minute details, as it is observed by Lobsang who downloaded himself to an orbiting satellite.
  • The Lensman series provides a few examples as the trope namer to the Lensman Arms Race. Spaceships capable of depopulating or destroying a planet on their own are already present in the first book, and by the end of the sixth we've had the "nutcracker" (hitting a planet from opposite sides with two other planets) and doing similar but with a planet made of antimatter, and end up with firing planets travelling faster than light by launching them from a parallel universe, not only giving them insane levels of destructive power but also making them impossible to detect or counter in any way.
  • The slow apocalypse in Seveneves is described in detail. It gets especially spectacular around the A+2 year point where the larger rocks start dropping (and there are still earthbound PO Vs to show it).
  • Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park features this at the end. Where the fictional Costa Rican Air Force destroys Isla Nublar with Napalm.
    "Grant looked back just once, and saw the island against a deep purple sky and sea, cloaked in a deep mist that blurred the white-hot explosions that burst rapidly, one after another, until it seemed the entire island was glowing, a diminishing bright spot in the darkening night."
  • Death's End includes an antagonistic alien race which literally flattens the Solar System with a weapon that folds a dimension away into the quantum level, turning it 2D. This is described in horrifically intimate detail for several pages.
  • The Ragnarök of Norse Mythology. Literally meaning "The Final Fate of the Gods". Two wolves so massive that their open maw stretches from the earth to the sky devour the Sun and the Moon, kicking off the three-year-long Fimbulvetr. Then the Fire Giants of Muspelheim invade, and then the army of the Underworld too. A serpent so colossal that it can wrap around the world and touch its tail is unleashed. Almost all the gods and all the monsters wipe each other out in an utterly titanic conflict, and all life is wiped out as it is caught in the crossfire. The world will flood and Surtr will call the end of Ragnarök by wreathing the planet in fire, and then finally everything left will collapse into Yggdrasil. Or perhaps a single couple, Lif and Liftrasir, survive to build the world anew. Truly a final War in Heaven that is certainly deserving of that Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut.
  • Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner features the destruction of the Junkyard - which to the characters was their entire world. At first absolutely everything, including the impossibly tall Karma Tower is covered by the black ooze. Then, the ooze vanishes in an instant, leaving everything perfectly clean, and the whole Junkyard disintegrates in a gold light.
  • The whole last volume, and especially the last few chapters, of the original Mistborn trilogy is a spectacular example, complete with volcanic particulate winter, the planets being moved in their orbits (by warring gods), and the entire surface of the world being scourged by fire as it is moved too close to the sun, while the surviving humans shelter in underground bunkers. And that's in a world that was a postapocalyptic wasteland from the very start of the series. It ends with an inversion, though: a World-Healing Wave.
  • Stephen Baxter's short story "Last Contact" ends with the earth (and universe) being ripped apart from the inside as cosmological inflation accelerates, as seen from the viewpoint of a mother and daughter awaiting the end in their backyard.
  • Halo: Hunters in the Dark starts with a family fleeing their home world as the Covenant arrive to glass it. Luther Mann, four years old, is amazed by the power of the Covenant vessels and whispers "Pretty". His mother flips out and hits him. As anyone who has played the games can tell you, the Covenant plasma fire is hauntingly beautiful. And deadly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica starts with one in both the original and the reimagining. Galactica 1980 starts with a computer simulation of one, and goes downhill from there.
  • Dollhouse deconstructs its premise to this conclusion: after a season of ridiculously, incredibly Misapplied Phlebotinum, the Season One finale skipped forward 10 years and revealed that the Dollhouse's technology would destroy civilization if used just a little bit more creatively.
  • Supergirl (2015) starts with Krypton exploding right after the House of El launches Kal and Kara into space.
  • The end of the final episode of Walking with Dinosaurs.
  • An alternate universe episode of Star Trek: Enterprise shows the Xindi super weapon kabooming Earth.
  • Shows up in the end of the pilot episode of SGU, and again about halfway through the 19th episode, where both the Icarus-type planets capable of dialing Destiny, end up suffering an Earth-Shattering Kaboom as a result.
  • In Stargate SG-1, the episode "A Matter of Time" starts with one of a pair of binary stars collapsing into a black hole, while SG-10 desperately scrambles to reach the Stargate in slow-motion... at least, that's how it appears because of the massive time-dilation.
    • Carter later invokes when she comments they can actually witness spaghettification and the planet being torn appear by the black hole, earning her a rebuke from O'Neill who reminds her that she's talking about watching good men die horribly, in extreme slow-motion.
    • This pales in comparison to some of the Season Finale episodes. The writers often didn't know if the series would be picked back up for another season and would blow the entire SFX budget. Extreme examples are the season 6 finale destruction of Abydos by Anubis' super weapon, and the famous season 4 Sam Carter triggered super nova which decimated Apophis' fleet.
  • While the series itself averts this (with a 33-year Time Skip after a brief shot of the Votan fleet descending), the intro to Defiance episodes shows the ships spectacularly falling to the ground and some of the effects of the uncontrolled terraformer tech, such as plants mutating into strange and colorful versions and also showing the Old St. Louis folded in on itself before moving the camera up to the titular town built atop the ruins.
  • The Farscape Grand Finale "The Peacekeeper Wars, Part 2" has John Crichton finally demonstrate the full destructive power of a wormhole weapon, summoning into existence an expanding black hole that destroys a planet depopulated by Scarran death squads and gradually eats the warring Scarran and Peacekeeper fleets. John threatens to allow the black hole to devour everyone present, himself included, unless the Scarrans and Peacekeepers agree to sign a peace treaty.

    Multiple Media 
  • Transformers:
    • The Transformers: The Movie: Unicron, while on-camera, graphically and messily devours a small planet, a moon, and rips into a larger planet with his bare hands. It's kind of like The Worf Effect, but with a planet...
    • The Unicron Trilogy version does it a bit differently: he generates sort of a suction that causes a planet to be torn apart as it's pulled toward him. By the time it reaches him, the planet is in chunks small enough to be pulled inside the (relatively) small circle on his body. Ouch.

  • The final track of The Mechanisms' Rock Opera The Bifrost Incident, appropriately titled "Terminus", depicts the delayed arrival of Yog-Sothoth to the Yggdrasil system. It's not a song, so much as a series of distress calls that overlap and build to a cresendo before cutting out.
  • The Insane Clown Posse song "It's All Over" is surprisingly upbeat take on the apocalypse, although every horrific way the world could end is happening at the same time the main duo are just enjoying the view; one of the lines of the song even states "Seeing this great world come to an end, would be the next best to seeing it begin!"

  • Given, it doesn't last particularly long, but the sound of the Earth exploding in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978) is absolutely perfect.
  • The Halloween broadcast of The War of the Worlds should be mentioned. An hour long description of Humongous Mecha from another planet destroying everything in their path. Bonus points for making people actually believe it was happening.


  • Dino Attack RPG's alternate ending, December 21, 2010, is fully dedicated to showing off this trope in all its horrifying glory.
  • Destroy the Godmodder: Destroy the Godmodder 2 ends with an illustrated version of this. To summarize, not only is Minecraftia's Moon destroyed and its fragments are sent on a collision course to Minecraftia while the Sun itself turns a crimson red in Trial 6, and Earth itself is destroyed by crashing its Moon into it in the End of Act 4, but the universes that those planets are located in are destroyed through the power of the Conflict.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 gives us exterminatus. A planet is bombed with a virus which consumes all organic matter, in the process producing large quantities of flammable gasses. The gasses are then ignited, setting fire to the atmosphere and ensuring that not only is everything on the planet dead, but that it is left a barren husk that will never support life again. Or, barring that, the surface is glassed through orbital bombardment and the planet is finished off with Cyclonic Torpedos, an explosive so cataclysmically potent it shatters and churns the entire surface until there is nothing but fire and molten rock. This is used by the "good" guys of the setting.

    Video Games 
  • Crysis 3 opens up with a vision Prophet has about the Ceph forces arriving at Earth, with him being unable to do anything but watch as it is destroyed. Towards the end of the game, the very same thing happens and you can even watch the Ceph freeze the planet if you do not succeed in stopping them in time.
  • In Don't Escape: 4 Days to Survive, the moon has been shattered, causing various deadly phenomena, and will culminate in the moon crashing into the Earth in 4 days, destroying everything left. The protagonist's party's only option for survival is reaching a space station on the moon, built by the same people who caused the apocalypse, to access technology that will transfer their consciousness to an alternate universe before that happens. The protagonist has a nice view of the moon falling to Earth as everything starts tearing apart.
    • You can also see it from the Earth's side in a premonition the night before, and the failure cutscene if you don't get off the planet in time.
  • As can be seen here, Xenogears does this with Weltall- Id fulfilling its programming and taking out main parts of the superstructure of Solaris. The resulting "reaction weapon" explosion leaves a significant hole in one of the nearby continents on the game map.
  • The glassing of Taris near the beginning of Knights of the Old Republic. A good minute of cutscenes showing a Beam Spam of turbolaser fire blowing up buildings and turning the sky red as the Ebon Hawk takes off.
    • And keeping with tradition, Star Wars: The Old Republic has the Devastator's use on the formerly-fertile world of Uphrades in the Jedi Knight storyline. It also invokes it again with the "former" Sith Emperor exterminating all life on Ziost in Rise of the Emperor.
  • The moon crashing and destroying the world in a fiery inferno in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
  • The opening of Meteos, involving a number of planets getting obliterated in seconds.
  • The ending of Mother 3, which features lingering shots of all of the places you've visited crumbling away to nothing. Though the "The End?" screen shows that at least the people somehow managed to survive.
  • NieR opens up with an intro beginning shortly after the apocalypse hit, with the hero scraping by to support himself and his daughter, fighting off monsters in the process. The game then skips forward thousands of years after the apocalypse, with humanity now struggling to scrape by.
  • The opening sequence of Primal Rage shows the Earth being struck by a meteor, triggering the cataclysm that reduces humanity to a primitive state and frees the god-like dinosaurs that rule the planet in the new After the End setting.
  • The end of the mission "Shock and Awe" in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, which comes complete with satellite images of the nuclear detonation that kills your character and most of his unit.
    • A striking point...the people who made the game showed us part of how you would die if you were within about 3 miles of ground zero and not vaped in the blast. Yes folks, expect your death to include barfing your organs out in your last moments on earth to the sound of radioactive wind blowing away the last of your Organ of Corti, that is, the organ that does the actual hearing in your ears.
    • Things get even worse (or better, in way of trope examples) in the sequel. We see the US East Coast being invaded by the Russians, Washington, D.C. in ruins, and an EMP occurring over the city wiping out all forms of electronics on the US East Coast!
  • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne.
    • The planet turned inside-out and all but five people on the planet were wiped out and replaced with demons before you enter a single battle.
    • Six if you count Hijiri. But he was Dead All Along, so not really.
    • Seven if you count Dante, since he's only half-demon.
  • The PS2 version of Deus Ex has its New Dark Age Ending cutscene showing the lab explosion being seen from space, and the lit cities of Earth all going out.
  • Darksiders opens with the Biblical Apocalypse. Angels, Demons, the whole shebang. You get to run around and kill things (briefly).
  • Losing to Lavos in Chrono Trigger will "treat" you to a scene where you see the world getting fried by Lavos's explosive fury. The most iconic scene is watching the viewscreen in the dome fill up with red dots that each represent a big crater, driving the point home that the world is now FUBAR.
    • The Fall of Zeal is also a pretty destructive scene in its own too.
  • Warhammer 40,000 is the setting that gave us Exterminatus, so when it gets adapted in a visual medium expect to see major fireworks. Fire Warrior features a spectacular orbital bombardment for its ending, but was one-upped by Dawn of War II: Retribution, where the sudden death of a world serves as a potent Wham Episode.
  • Metroid:
    • In Super Metroid, after defeating the Mother Brain and successfully making it back to your ship, the camera zooms out, showing massive cracks in the surface of the planet Zebes, which are apparently even visible from high orbit, before the planet is reduced to space debris. There is a secret sidequest at the end where the last surviving natives of Zebes escape with just moments to spare.
    • SR388 in Metroid Fusion; the Biological Research Laboratory space station plummets into the plant and self-destructs, wiping out both in a titanic Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
    • Phaaze in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, with added drama with the Galactic Federation fleet trying to escape in time. Subverted in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes with the destruction of Dark Aether, we only get a space view of the half-visible Dark Aether fading from Aether.
  • The aptly named "End of the World" stage in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). You see some really trippy colors while playing the level as it slowly gets more and more screwed up. Orbs appear as it gets more intense, and then there is a purple glaze that goes over the levels you are playing, until it is a very dark green all over. Somehow, statues with eagles on them can reverse this effect temporarily. It's intense, but for all the wrong reasons. Accompanied with very echoey music which is incredible.
  • Nobody does nuclear apocalypse like the guys behind Fallout. Ron Perlman's narration is just the icing on the cake.
  • The LC campaign ending from Earth 2150.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy VI, after Kefka destroys the balance of the Warring Triad, the world is torn asunder. This is depicted as the land shaking, shifting, mountains rising and chasms opening, all while helpless people run for their lives. Then the view changes to a distant view of the planet, covered in hundreds of explosions... and all of a sudden, to drive the point home that everything has changed, a chain of explosions travels across the planet and splits the continents apart.
    • Final Fantasy IX Kuja destroys the entire world of Terra at the end of the third disk. This makes him one of the few FF villains to actually succeed in destroying a world.
    • Final Fantasy X has (Sin) do this regularly. The fun comes when the rest of the world fights back.
      • It was taken up to eleven at the conclusion of the game, when Sin was shown punching holes in continents, leaving trails of explosions visible from space, and releasing gravity magic that made the moon visibly shudder...
      • The sequel has this as one of the optional endings. Lose the final battle on purpose to see it.
    • In Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, though hardly apocalyptic, we get treated to a rare fully animated scene when Bahamut first appears, just in time to show it shattering an entire floating continent, crumbling it almost to nothing.
    • Final Fantasy XIV:
      • Near the end of the original game, one of the antagonists, Nael Van Darnus, sends one of the moons on a collision course with the planet. As the moon reached closer and closer, the moon begins to break apart until...this happens.
      • Even better yet, this cutscene was the last thing any player of Final Fantasy XIV saw before the servers were cut for good. So in a way, Bahamut's rampage completely destroyed the entire first world of Final Fantasy XIV.
      • The end of Shadowbringers has you witness firsthand the destruction that befell the world that came before The Source and its shards. A terrible sound came from within the Star, with no known explanation of what it was. The native inhabitants of this world were driven mad by their fear of what could be causing it, and this, in turn, caused their natural ability of Creating Life to spiral out of control, causing them to unwillingly manifest the very monsters that would tear their world apart. It's made especially tragic in that you get to meet and interact with shades of this world's original inhabitants, and they are all nothing but pleasant and friendly to you and your companions. As you make your way to the Final Boss you are completely unable to stop any of the destruction going on or save any of the innocents you see dying around you.
  • Freespace 2 ends with the Sathanas Fleet causing Capella to go supernova.
  • In Mass Effect 3, you are right in the middle of the action when huge swarms of Kaiju-sized Eldritch Abominations descend on planets and start to rip them apart while swarms of Cyborg Zombies pour through the streets.
  • Tiberian Sun's ending of the Nod campaign has Kane teleporting off the world while his Apocalypse missile starts, then launch its capsules and finally unleashes the Tiberium bomb that sets Earth's atmosphere ablaze and turns everything into pure Tiberium.
    • Maybe — the cinematic doesn't go close enough to show us if certain things Nod (and the rest of the world, right before the end) was told about what would happen was true or not. The claim is that it would turn the world into a true Tiberian world — complete with humans being adapted to the new ecosystem, but not turning everything into pure Tiberium. This isn't actually contradicted by the visible effect of a green Earth.
  • The ending cutscene (one of only two not rendered using the game's engine) in Assassin's Creed: Revelations shows exactly how the First Civilization was destroyed. There's a Kick the Dog moment with a terrified mother clutching her child as an explosion slowly engulfs them. After this, the hologram simply mentions that out of two civilizations (humans and the First People), only about 10,000 individuals survived after only a few days of the catastrophe.
  • The opening cinematic of X3: Albion Prelude. The Torus Aeternal is a giant space station around Earth's equator that serves as a docking ring, trade center, orbital defense station, and shipyard, as well as a symbol of Earth's prestige and might. Saya Kho suicide-bombs with a nuke it one year prior to the start of the game, an event akin to the 30th century equivalent of Hiroshima and 9/11 rolled into one: it kills thousands of people on the Torus alone, never mind the millions potentially killed by deorbiting debris. It touches off an all-out interstellar war between the Terrans and Kho's own Argon Federation. The event is at least Planetary/Societal Disruption.
  • The trailer of Heroes of Might and Magic IV depicts the cataclysmic battle between Gelu and Kilgor, the ensuing impressive Earth-Shattering Kaboom and some of the aftermath in loving detail.
  • Space Siege opens with the Kerak devastating Earth and eliminating nearly the entire evacuation fleet.
  • The still canonical extended opening cutscene from Freelancer features a massive Nomad ship triggering a supernova, eliminating almost everything in the solar system.
  • Might and Magic VI features an optional case — at the end of the game, you are tasked with destroying a reactor. If you do this but fail to take certain steps you were instructed to follow afterwards, you get to visit a cinematic showing first several explosions rocking the building the reactor was in, and then the scene shifts to a view of the planet, zooming out until you see the planet and its moon. Then the planet explodes, with the shockwave obliterating the moon.
  • In Sands of Destruction, Kyrie's destructive powers are shown twice in all their sand-inducing glory.
  • In the original PlanetSide, the Bending that caused the breakup of Oshur continent into 4 islands and scattered the rest of Auraxis across the cosmos culminated in a massive meteor storm across the planet as an unknown voice initiated the "bend sequence". When the game shut down after 13 years, the world ended in a cross-empire party around Ishundar's 'stonehedge' as meteors rained down and the ground shook as the shut down timer approached.
  • The Talos Principle: On finishing the game, the simulation is deleted, which is depicted as everything disintegrating and falling apart. Road to Gehenna shows the same event from the perspective of one still inside, if you choose to stay behind.
  • Digital Devil Saga features two of these:
    • In the first game, the Junkyard disintegrates into green data, starting from the edges. Before it reaches them, the gates to Nirvana at the top of the Karma Temple explode and everything is engulfed in a golden light.
    • In the second game, the Sun downloads the Earth. That is depicted as the Earth slowly dissolving into - golden this time - data and being absorbed in a manner eerily similar to that of a black hole. It doesn't help that the sun is black.
      "It's transmitting from our side... Upload rate is... 945.56 zettabytes per second!"
  • Halo quite a few, almost always involving the Covenant.
    • The War Is Hell opening montage of Halo Wars includes shots of vessels glassing the planet Harvest.
    • Halo: Reach: The later levels have a Watching Troy Burn feel, as you travel around Reach that is being further and further destroyed by the Covenant. The level "New Alexandria" has you fly around the city as the Covenant burn it around you. It is simultaneously visually amazing and absolutely heartbreaking.
    • Halo 4 set on the shield world Requiem. One level is set in an inner level of the planet (in or near the core), and ends with you racing out of it as collapses around. You can't stay to take the (very impressive) destruction in though, or you'll be caught in it.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, it is later revealed that The Most Despair-Inducing Event in the History of Mankind happened, converting most of the world into a wasteland, prior to the events of the game.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation has the "Competitive Eschatology" series of tales. Essentially, the pantheons of every human culture (and many non-human ones) are all trying to end the world in their own ways.
    • Also, SCP-1288's dimension heard about our 2012 Mayan Apocalypse and decided they should get in on that. The "Wow" factor is from the giant Mayan pyramids (apparently nuclear power plants) at the center of every major city.
      How you have concluded that the end of the calendar signifies the end of all things, we can not be sure. Before we saw you, we thought it only a way to tell the passing of seasons and kings. Your reckoning of time inspired us and urged us to take action.
      We have left you this record to show you how we succeeded. For a hundred years, you have only waited for the end to come. From this, we concluded that we must instead bring it about. Please, study it so that you might properly plan in the next thousand years.
  • Hermitcraft Season 8 ended with a professionally-made animation of the moon crashing into the planet, featuring close-ups on some of the series' beautiful builds being torn apart by gravity and smashed by moon rocks.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of Captain Planet and the Planeteers ("Planeteers Under Glass") has the Planeteers and a female scientist (Dr. Derek) enter a virtual planet where pollution is sickening the planet in centuries (sped up in minutes), starting from societal disruption up to planetary devastation and species extinction. But then Dr. Blight traps them all in the rapidly wasting virtual planet, bringing the Apocalypse Class up to total extinction and closer to physical annihilation before destroying them all (not even Captain Planet can save them)... or so Blight thinks. Fortunately, the team of Planeteers have a backup spot before they vanish so they can return safely to stop Blight.
  • Final Space: Season 1, Chapter 9 treat us to some terribly beautiful and somber shots from Earth as the planet's cities, atmosphere and crust are being torn apart by the Final Space breach's gravity overwhelming Earth's own, whilst this piece of soundtrack is playing.
  • Futurama, in "The Late Philip J. Fry": The one-way time machine goes so far into the future that Fry, the Professor, and Bender watch a time-lapse of the end of the universe, complete with stars exploding like fireworks and receding into the distance, while drinking beer and generally treating the events as a spectacle.
  • Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (2023): In episode 6, the Beyonder performs his erasure of Earth and humanity like he's conducting an orchestra. People and objects levitate as structures crumble, gradually glitching out of existence. However, he restores everything back to normal, revealing he wasn't gonna do it because Eduardo's science fair project (which he made the determining factor of humanity’s fate) impressed him.
  • The Beast Planet, would EAT planets several times through the duration of Shadow Raiders. First, a giant metal hatch on the Beast Planet would open and a truly massive claw would come out. That claw would then reach out and grab the planet to be eaten, then pull the planet back inside the Beast Planet, before the hatch would close.
  • Superman: The Animated Series, of course, begins with the destruction of Krypton, but with a rather impressive presentation and rochestral musical score to match. As we see it deteriorate, it starts with the populace panicing and the destruction of infrastructure, moving on to planetquakes and tectonic fissures, escalating into surface explosions on par with nuclear detonations with the entire outer portion of the planet becoming molten, until finally the entire planet explodes into oblivion.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Disaster Porn


The End of the Universe.

While stranded in a post-apocalyptic Earth by traveling through time with a forwards only time machine and no way to get back, Fry, Farnsworth, and Bender decide to watch the universe end. It is depicted and treated as a spectacle, with stars exploding while the three sit and drink beer as they watch.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / ApocalypseWow

Media sources: