Follow TV Tropes


Comet of Doom

Go To

"When beggars die there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes."
Calpurnia, Julius Caesar

Before people had telescopes, comets were frightening objects of awe and wonder that seemed to appear out of nowhere, blazed brightly in the sky, then vanished as quickly as they came. Older Than Dirt, the "falling stars" mentioned in The Epic of Gilgamesh were possibly a reference to comets or meteor showers. For thousands (and perhaps tens of thousands) of years, they were seen by civilizations around the world as omens of good and ill, pronouncing the deaths of kings, horrible disasters, and military victories. Western civilizations have generally categorized them as harbingers of evilnote , but the universal consensus is that when a comet appears, something momentous is happening, enough so that the heavens themselves have taken notice.

In 1705, astronomer Edmund Halley noticed that the comets of 1531, 1607, and 1682 all had the same orbit and period. Suspecting that the three were actually the same comet, Halley predicted not only that it would appear again in 1758, but in what part of the sky, and in what orbit. It appeared exactly when and where he said it would, and Halley's Comet not only acquired a name, but put an end to the thought that a comet was some supernatural envoy of doom.

Be that as it may, comets remain cool, and they are still used in media as the first, last and only suitable omen for truly world-shaking events. Such as said comet coming straight at you...

Subtrope of Portent of Doom. Compare Bad Moon Rising. See also Cosmic Motifs.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Knights on Dinosaurs have it's final battle taking place 65 millions years in the past, with the raptor-men trying to massacre the ancestors of mammals in order to "reclaim the surface world" while Doraemon and friends tries their best to stop them. But then, the battle is cut short by the comet hitting the earth - and the raptor-men eventually found out it's the comet, and not mammals, who killed the dinosaurs.
  • Discussed in Kaitou Saint Tail when the kids at school bring up a hypothetical about what valuables they'd bring if such a Comet of Doom came for them, prompting resident Agent Scully Asuka Jr. to snap at them and call the concept absurd. Meimi is curious about what he considers to be important, so as part of her next heist as Saint Tail, she uses movie footage to trick him into thinking one is coming (in fact, her goal was just to get the observatory staff to evacuate so some kids could use it to see an actual harmless comet). It turns out that his priorities are on "catching Saint Tail at all costs", which convinces Meimi further that he's more interested in her as Saint Tail than he ever would be in Meimi; unbeknownst to her, the actual reason he'd refused to answer the question at school was because he was upset at another boy using it to flirt with Meimi, and his current Saint Tail obsession is because he suspects she's Meimi, implying that Meimi, not Saint Tail, is the actual "important thing" he'd want to keep.
  • Samurai Pizza Cats: The Grand Finale involves one of these. Initially it was supposed to harmlessly pass by the planet but since he was fired from his position, the Big Cheese decides to drop it on the city. Naturally the Pizza Cats take care of it but unlike most episodes in the series, this episode plays the situation very seriously.
  • Space Carrier Blue Noah: The aliens rain down surveillance cameras disguised as meteors onto planet Earth, to scope out whether the planet is worth invading.
  • Your Name starts with news reports about the passing of Comet Tiamat. This is why the film turns from comedy to drama at the halfway point.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Such a comet indicates the imminent fulfillment of Jim Cook's prophecy. For bonus points, it appears to turn and fly straight towards him several times, causing alarm, although this is only an illusion, albeit part of the prophecy, and the comet is never the real threat.

  • Halley's Comet is famously depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry: After scenes that depict Harold Godwinsson being elected and then holding court as king of England, there is a group of people who point excitedly at a flying something meant to represent a comet (as the caption says: "these people are amazed at the star"). In the context of the tapestry, this is an ill omen of the war that is about to be triggered by Harald's coronation, and foreshadows Harold's defeat and death in the Battle of Hastings. Halley's Comet was visible in April of 1066; Harold had been crowned in January, and was killed in October.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • An Empire of Ice and Fire has the Great Fall, a magical comet that passes over the world every 8000 years. Last time around, the Children of the Forest channeled its power to create the Night King, but in the process accidentally tore a chunk of the comet free and caused it to hit the planet, causing the Long Night. When it passes again in the present, the Night King intentionally tears off another piece, bringing about a second Long Night.
  • Purple Days: The passing of the Red Comet over Westeros triggers the beginning of the Long Night, giving Joffrey an estimate of how long he has to prepare.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Brainiac: A comet carries a magician who escaped execution by transporting himself there and who then returns to earth 300 years later as a monster with forked tongue which he uses to suck people's brains out.
  • Coherence features a reality-altering comet that creates (a possibly infinite number of) alternate continuities of a dinner party. The protagonists are forced to contend with their doppelgangers and soon find it difficult to distinguish one reality from another.
  • Deep Impact: A comet is set to impact Earth and bring another extinction-level event.
  • Don't Look Up has a pair of astronomers discover a mountain-sized comet that's set to hit Earth in six months, and their attempts to convince everyone to take action to stop it.
  • Dragonheart: A New Beginning features a prophecy where an ancient evil will take hold of the land using a dragon's heart when a two-tailed comet blazes across the sky.
  • End of Days: The appearance of a comet above the full moon is known as "the Eye of God" by Vatican astronomers, and it's the sign of the prophesied birth of the woman that will give birth to the anti-Christ.
  • Lifeforce: The arrival of Halley's Comet foretells doom for London, as it contains an alien spaceship that carried space vampires. Discussed, as the characters mention that the appearance of Halley's Comet has been considered a warning of disaster for centuries, possibly because seeing it meant the alien ship within was near enough to allow the vampires to reach Earth and feed.
  • Night of the Comet: A comet is due to appear in the night sky, and this comet is such a rare event that it becomes a massive celebration for its very rare appearance. (With an orbit of 65 million years, it was last seen over Earth when the dinosaurs died out. A coincidence, surely.) As its trail sweeps across the Earth, anybody directly exposed to it, meaning almost the entire human race, is reduced to red dust; anybody who suffers indirect exposure becomes a homicidal, slowly-dying zombie. A small handful of survivors were people who managed to shelter themselves away from exposure.
  • Wimbledon: Paul Bettany's character develops his tennis skills only while a comet is in the sky. He wins Wimbledon, because everyone knows it will take the intervention of God for an Englishman to ever win that tournament again.

  • Animorphs: In one book, the characters have traveled to the time of the dinosaurs and see a comet in the sky. Cassie mentions that humans used to believe that comets were a bad omen, and Ax says that Andalites had a similar superstition. Of course, said comet turns out to be the comet that killed the dinosaurs.
  • The Black Company: A comet shows up twice in the story and once in the backstory, each time to portend the White Rose coming to battle the forces of the Dominator. This leads to a shocking twist in book 3; by that point everyone knows the major points of the centuries-long war are linked to the comet's cycle, but the final battle flares up decades early. The dammed comet shows up anyway.
  • Colas Breugnon: A comet pops up during the siege of a town and is taken to be a bad omen, although no one can agree on what it is an omen of or to whom it is bad.
  • The Colour of Magic: When reality starts getting really weird, the narration states that "In the cometary halo around the fabled Ice System of Zeret a noble comet died as a prince flamed across the sky."
  • Deptford Mice: In The Alchymist's Cat, a prequel to the series, a comet signals the birth of Jupiter, who would go on to become the Big Bad of the original trilogy.
  • Dragonriders of Pern: The Red Star is a captured planet in an elongated (comet-like) orbit. When you can see it in the sky, it means that it's nearby... and has dragged a bunch of frozen organisms from the Oort Cloud to the inner solar system with it. These organisms, upon entering Pern's atmosphere, become the Threads. They eat any organic material they can. Crops, wood, grass, fungi... people...
  • George R. R. Martin:
    • Tuf Voyaging: In "The Plague Star", the recurring "star" is actually a (huge) derelict starship automated to bombard a planet with bioweapons.
      If this is found after the plague star has waned, as the night-hunters say it will, do not be deceived. This is no fair world, no world for life. Here is death, and plagues beyond numbering. The plague star will shine again.
    • A Song of Ice and Fire: A red comet appears in the sky early in the series, marking the deaths of both King Robert Baratheon and the murder of Ned Stark. Unusually, the characters aren't universally filled with dread; several of them decide the comet shows divine favour for their side (Daenerys thinks it's a sign that will lead her khalasar to safety; the Lannisters believe it is a sign of good fortune for their family and especially Joffrey; etc.) At the end of A Feast for Crows it seems to be confirmed that it's a part of the prophecy of the Prince Who Was Promised, although, in The Winds of Winter, Euron Greyjoy claims that it is a sign of the end times. Unlike most cases, however, he seems perfectly happy with this.
  • Hector Servadac has the titular hero and several others accidentally travelling into space on pieces of the Earth ripped away by collision with a comet and having to survive while forming a plan to get back to Earth when the comet returns near it again. Somehow, nobody else on Earth notices anything.
  • The Legendsong Saga: The comet appears to be the Earth equivalent of the Unraveller, the sign that the balance between Chaos and Harmony/Song is about to change.
  • Lucifer's Hammer: Pieces of a comet slam into the Earth and destroy civilization.
  • Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn: The Conqueror Star is a highly visible comet whose coming is said to portend the fall of empires. Given the limited amount of information presented in the story itself, it's hard to say whether it actually has supernatural powers, but its periodicity is certainly very odd.
  • The Moomins: In Comet in Moominland, the eponymous object comes very close to Earth, causing quite a bit of upheaval, but in the end just misses the planet and goes zooming back into space.
  • War and Peace: The Great Comet of 1811, still visible well into 1812, is taken as a harbinger of Napoléon Bonaparte's invasion in June of that year.
  • Words of Science and the History Behind Them: The entry for "Comet" explains the fear from ancient people that comets heralded disaster, and not until the 16th century were they able to be studied in enough detail to determine that they were further away than the moon. The first comet to have its orbit calculated is now called Halley's Comet, after the astronomer Edmund Halley who (in 1704) predicted its return around the year 1758 (the approximation is important as it returned in 1759).
  • Wings of Fire: A comet appears in the sky during the last third of The Brightest Night. It's large enough to be mistaken for a fourth moon by the dragons of Pyrrhia, and it passes close enough to affect weather patterns and tides and to cause earthquakes. Though, given that the comet's passing coincides with a peace summit ending a twenty-year three-way war, and that it being in the sky creates the illusion of three full moons (known in-story as a "brightest night") which for in-story prophecy reasons is highly auspicious, this trope is seemingly averted or inverted. And then we find out that the earthquakes caused by the comet's passing snapped the enchanted bracelet keeping The Darkstalker asleep underground...
  • The Year When Stardust Fell: Earth has been caught in the tail of a comet whose particles have caused all metal to bind together, leading to technological and social collapse.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: The Brakiri solar system contains only one comet with a period of 200 years. The comet is considered a death omen (and the focus of the season five episode "Day of the Dead"). As a result, the Brakiri don't even like comets to be mentioned.
  • Beauty and the Beast (1987): A comet was blazing in the sky the night billionaire Elliot Burch is murdered by operatives of his rival, Gabriel. Father marks the occasion by quoting Shakespeare: "When beggars die there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes."
  • Benson: "Last Man on Earth" shows the passing of Halley's Comet causing almost everyone on Earth to dissolve, leaving only piles of clothes and dust (very much like Night of the Comet). However the whole situation is All Just a Dream.
  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey: In "When Knowledge Conquered Fear", Neil Degrasse Tyson explains the origins of this trope and how it was based in superstition and ignorance of how the solar system worked. He goes on to tell a version of how Edmund Halley went about ending this superstition. It ended with Halley's "prophecy" that not only would one particular comet return in 50 years, but accurately and correctly predicting where in the sky it would appear, and how long it would be visible, and how "Halley's Comet" became the best known comet in the history of the world.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Visitation": The Terilepils' ship is mistaken for a comet and taken as a harbinger of doom by the locals.
    • "Silver Nemesis": There is a comet with a period of twenty-five years that, according to the Doctor, really does bring misfortune: it's actually an alien superweapon that somehow (ahem) wound up in a solar orbit. He cites the the two World Wars and the assassination of JFK as the results of the last three times it came near Earth.
  • Game of Thrones: The red comet during the Season 2 episode "The North Remembers" coincides with birth of dragons and return of magic, although everyone interprets it differently.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: The meteor that falls at the end of the first episodes, which hides one of the Istari inside, is mistaken for a falling star or a comet, and everyone interprets it differently. The Harfoots believe is a bad omen, The mages from Rhun mistakes for the coming of Sauron, and the Elves believe is a Sign Of The End Times. Most of the characters are right to link the falling meteor to The End of the World as We Know It, because the Istar was sent on Middle-earth by the Valar themselves now that evil regained its strength.
  • The Murdoch Mysteries episode "Murdoch at the End of the World" is set during the 1910 appearance of Halley's Comet and features various doomsday predictions. The actual doomsday threat is someone trying to spread pnumonic plague, using comet hysteria as a cover.
  • Star Trek:

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In a rare example of a comet being a good omen, some theologists believe that the Star of Bethlehem, which heralded Jesus' birth, was one. Others discount this because of said stigma of comets being doom omens, instead assuming that the event (assuming it actually happened at all) was an alignment of several stars. Conversely, The Book of Revelation predicts a comet or other stellar object named Wormwood will hit the Earth, causing devastation, as part of the end times disasters.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In the adventure module X2 Castle Amber, the appearance of a blazing red comet over Averoigne causes an NPC to become a deadly monster.
    • Forgotten Realms: The "King-Killer Star". It did cause damage, and turned out to be just a random comet with right period chosen as the trigger condition for a magical device — until the latter was "hacked".
  • Magic: The Gathering: In the Alliances expansion, General Varchild saw a comet which she believed meant that she was to conquer the barbarian tribes as a part of a manifest destiny for her people. So she took her army and began the slaughter.
  • Shadowrun: In the supplements The Year of the Comet and Wake of the Comet, the passing of Halley's Comet in 2061 greatly increases the magic level on Earth, which causes SURGE (Sudden Recessive Gene Expression) mutations in (meta)humans, animals and plants, the re-appearance of the dragon Ghostwalker and natural disasters in Asia that brought down the Japanese Empire.
  • Warhammer:
    • The presence of a twin-tailed comet is often seen as an omen to the people of the Empire, due to the legend that their founder Sigmar's birth was heralded by its appearance. This is not always seen as a good omen, however, especially to the city of Mordheim, which was hit by one.
    • In the case of Mordheim, that particular comet and a few other astral bodies are made warpstone. While the disaster of the impact brought ruin to the city and caused the local government to collapse, the comet itself shattered into many, many fragments. The warpstone contamination poisoned the surviving local populace, causing them to mutate hideously and turn insane. It also attracted a number of militant factions and turned the ruins of Mordheim into a free-for-all. Because of its magical properties, warpstone has spiritual importance to Chaos cults, practical importance to outlaw mages, and both to the Skaven; and also a concern to enterprising mercenaries who know that it's worth more than it's own weight in gold, and to the Empire loyalists who are working hard to make sure every last fragment doesn't make it out of Mordheim.
    • The twin-tailed comet is also sacred to the Lizardmen, since one of their gods first manifested under one and turned back an invasion. On the same day Sigmar was born, in fact.

  • ''Julius Caesar': A comet appears in the sky after the assassination of Caesar.

    Video Games 
  • Baten Kaitos Origins: Guillo's strongest special attack, Aphelion Dustwake, showers enemies with the ice trail of a comet. It's quite overpowered.
  • Chrono Trigger: The "Red Star" that heralds the end of the dominance of the Reptites and beginning of the ascension of mankind as the dominant species is actually Lavos, and he not only heralds the change, he causes it.
  • Darkest Dungeon: The DLC The Colour of Madness centers around a comet that crashed into a farmer's field. The Ancestor promptly swooped in and took over so he could investigate. As it turned out, the comet contained an infant Eldritch Abomination, and its presence began to warp time in unnatural ways around the farm.
  • Deep Rock Galactic: The premise of Season 3, Plaguefall, is that a gigantic comet with mysterious properties is passing by Hoxxes IV, with the fragments in its trail falling upon the planet and infecting it with some manner of lithophage disease that can jump between rock and glyphids alike. Miners are tasked with decontamination on top of their usual duties so it won't spread.
  • Diablo III: One of these kicks off the game, falling on Tristram Cathedral and blasting Deckard Cain into its depths, in addition to making the dead rise in its wake. The fallen star is mentioned as the first sign in the Prophecy of the End Days that the end has begun, and turns out to be the archangel Tyrael, having fallen from Heaven because he's sick of being constrained by his angelic brethren from helping humanity against demonkind.
  • Final Fantasy:
  • Gadget: Past as Future: The player has to gather gizmos to build a spaceship before a comet hits a steampunk-ish, Nineteen Eighty-Four-esque eastern European nation.
  • Halleys Comet is about defending the solar system from aliens and comets spawned by the titular comet. Any aliens not destroyed (and, occasionally, enemy fire) will collide with the planet being defended; if any planet reaches 100% damage, it will cause a Non-Standard Game Over. It was released in 1986, the same year the comet was last visible from the solar system.
  • Illusion of Gaia: The game's plot is influenced by a comet that returns every few hundred years. Each visit affects all life on Earth in unexpected ways, although the end results thus far (that tend to linger even until the next visitation) are usually the same (mutations, destroyed civilizations, famine, etc.).
  • Killer Escape: The third game reveals that a dwarf star called "Nemesis" carrying tons of debris from the Oort cloud will strike the Earth as it passes through the solar system. Bonus content from the Icescape series also foreshadows this.
  • Metroid Prime Trilogy is all about this. Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes are about saving the planet after the comet lands and starts mutating everything and creating an interdimensional rift. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has 5: One in the intro sequence that requires you to activate an Anti-air cannon in time, three more that already landed and you're trying to fix, and the final one is inside the Genius Loci planet that makes these to spread its influence.
  • Myth: A comet heralds the arrival of Balor.
  • Events about comets are a running gag in games by Paradox Interactive:
    • A random event in Europa Universalis III involves a meteor (later changed to a comet) appearing in the sky and frightening superstitious peasants, causing the player's country to lose a stability point. Players complained that the event only had one option, so in each DLC the developers added a new option... all of which had the exact same effect.
    • The event returns in Europa Universalis IV, with the devs adding options with every DLC that all had the effect of harming national stability. The only exception is the option added by the Rights of Man DLC, where a ruler with the 'Scholar' trait can study the comet and get a small bonus to their administration.
    • Hearts of Iron: Hearts of Iron III has the "Komet Sighted" event, where a mysterious Me 163 Komet is spotted flying over the player's country, giving a small economic boost. It reappears in Hearts of Iron IV, where it subtracts a stability point and immediately re-adds it.
    • Stellaris: The "Comet Sighted" event returns, and your empire will interpret it as a good or bad omen based on their ethics. Hive Mind, Pacifist, and Xenophile empires gain unity; Egalitarian, Militarist, and Spiritualist empires gain happiness; and Authoritarian and Xenophobe empires lose happiness. Materialist and Machine empires don't see any particular meaning in a hunk of icy rock, so they'll shrug and go about their business.
    • Victoria II has a "Comet Sighted" event, but due to the advent of modern astronomy, it gives the player research points. One option reads "Thank God we live in such enlightened times."
  • Shadow of the Comet: The passing of Halley's Comet coincides with some truly creepy stuff going down.
  • Shadow the Hedgehog: The Black Comet is a meteoroid that serves as the vessel of Black Doom and his army. Black Doom uses the Chaos Emeralds to teleport it into the atmosphere and start sucking energy out of the planet. Fortunately, it turns out that the space colony A.R.K.'s Eclipse Cannon was created to blow the Black Comet to smithereens. After Shadow teleports it back out into space.
  • SOMA: The comet Telos completely scorched the Earth's surface on impact, leaving only the crew of the Pathos-II Underwater Base alive. This prompted some of them to begin work on a machine called the ARK, that could hold a virtual world for human brain scans to inhabit. By the time you arrive, a year already passed since the comet's impact, and things have taken a far greater turn for the worse.
  • South Park: The plot is started by a comet formed from the evil forces of the universe. It heads towards South Park, causing different enemy factions to appear. The boys have to fight off the enemies for five days to keep the town safe until the comet passes over.
  • Strife: The plot is triggered some time before the events of the game by a comet striking the Earth. The last levels reveal that the "comet" was almost certainly the Entity's spaceship crash-landing — probably deliberately.
  • Super Mario Galaxy has the Prankster comets, which enable Challenge Runs for certain levels.
  • Total War: Warhammer II:
    • The plot of the game's primary campaign begins with the appearance of the Twin-Tailed Comet, heralding the destabilization of the Great Vortex of Ulthuan — a Cosmic Keystone that protects the world from demonic invasion. The four playable races swiftly enact plans to fight for control of the Vortex's energies, either to protect the world or fuel a campaign of conquest. The final act reveals that the Comet was an elaborate rocket-propelled hoax created by the Skaven, who want the other races to fight and further destabilize the Vortex so they could use it to summon their god, the Great Horned Rat, into the mortal plane.
    • In the Rise of the Tomb Kings campaign, the appearance of the Comet awakens the Black Pyramid, the greatest creation of a long-dead Evil Overlord, prompting the undead pharaohs of Nehekara to search for the Books of Nagash to unlock the pyramid's secrets.
    • In the Curse of the Vampire Coast campaign, the destabilization of the Great Vortex by the Twin-Tailed Comet drives a colossal (and normally benevolent) sea monster named Amanar into a mad frenzy, roaming the oceans and attacking port cities at random. This opens an opportunity for various factions of Ghost Pirates to hunt and slay the monster, plotting to resurrect it as an undead colossal sea monster.
    • Another disaster caused by the Comet's arrival is the focus of the Twisted and the Twilight campaign, where the Vortex's fluctuations threaten to open a stray portal to the demon realm — one that just so happens to be connected to the roots of the World Tree, threatening the homeland of the Wood Elves with an invasion by The Legions of Hell.
  • Ultima V: Each of the Shadowlords has their own comet. If you have a telescope, you can determine which city they're in by looking for where the comets are.
  • The Witcher 2: In chapter 2, a comet is visible in the skies, even at daytime, while an endless spectral battle is taking place.
  • Wizard101 released some content in late 2012 where a comet is threatening to destroy a Mayincatec Fantasy Counterpart Culture, populated by dinosaur men.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • A comet was seen in the sky shortly after the death of Julius Caesar. Rather than being seen as a bad omen, the comet was believed to be proof that Julius Caesar had ascended to godhood after his murder. Of course, his great-nephew and adopted son Emperor Augustus was gaining power and certainly encouraged this story, meaning he could call himself son of a god.
    "On the very days of my Games a comet was visible for seven days in the northern part of the sky. It was rising about an hour before sunset, and was a bright star visible from all lands." — Caesar Augustus
  • Tacitus mentions two comet sightings during the reign of the Emperor Nero. Nero was apparently so concerned about each of these two comet sightings (in the years 60 and 66 AD, respectively), thinking that they were omens foretelling the sudden end of his reign, that he had most of the Roman nobility massacred as a means to forstall assassination. (Just as an interesting aside, the comet in 66 AD was Halley's Comet.)
  • Months prior to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, Halley's Comet appeared in the sky. The Bayeux Tapestry records not only the appearance of the comet, but King Harold II of England being informed of the appearance of this ill-omen.
  • In 1996, amateur astronomer Chuck Shramek announced that he had found a "Saturn-like object" following the Hale-Bopp comet (closer examination, however, proved that no such object existed). Unfortunately, UFO enthusiasts everywhere latched on to the supposed "fact" that there was an alien spacecraft following the comet. Among the people who got sucked into this fantasy were the members of the Heaven's Gate cult, who chose the appearance of the comet as a signal for their mass suicide. They claimed they were "leaving their earthly bodies behind to travel to the spaceship" that was supposedly following the comet.
  • Mark Twain was born on November 30th, 1835, 20 days after the passing of Halley's Comet on November 10th. In 1909, he had stated, "I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it." Twain passed away on April 21st, 1910, the day after Halley's Comet passed again.
    • Incidentally, the 1910 appearance of Halley's Comet was met with some panic. Earth was set to pass through Halley's tail and it had recently been discovered that comet tails contain poisonous gas. While scientists of the time knew it was too diffuse to affect anyone, irresponsible journalists decided to run with the "all life on Earth is about to be wiped out by comet poison" angle. Even more sensationalistic reports suggested the comet was about to hit the Earth. Some enterprising individuals took advantage of the situation by selling "anti-comet pills" and " comet-protecting umbrellas". An episode of The Time Tunnel, titled "End of the World", depicts a highly inaccurate version of the panic.
    • The 1910 passage was also on the eve of the Xinhai Revolution in China that toppled the Qing dynasty.
  • According to the Florentine Codex, a comet appeared over the Aztec Empire not long before Hernán Cortés arrived.
  • The Great Comet of 1811 was visible during the first of the New Madrid earthquakes that rocked six American states. Speaking of that comet, it was popularly thought to have portended Napoleon's invasion of Russia and the War of 1812, among other events.
  • On a single day, October 8, 1871, the Great Lakes region of the United States was struck by numerous disastrous fires, including the Great Chicago Fire, and the Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin (which remains to this day the largest forest fire in American history). The occurrence of so many deadly fires on a single day led some to believe that fragments from a comet (specifically, Biela's Comet) raining down over the area were responsible, though experts dispute this theory. A more likely explanation is that the region was suffering from a lengthy drought that year, and on October 8, exceptionally strong winds from an incoming cold front swept through the area, creating conditions ripe for disaster to strike.
  • Some people believe that the 1986 journey of Halley's Comet was a portent for the Chernobyl disaster, and thus the fall of the Soviet Union. There are Christians who tie the whole thing in to the Book of Revelation, claiming the event was actually the third trumpet.
  • Older Than Dirt: Mentioned on ancient Chinese oracle bones from the late Shang dynasty. A comet was also among the omens thought to have foreboded the fall of the Shang dynasty by the victory of King Wu of Zhou over King Zhou of Shang, c. 1050 BCE. In modern times, comets are colloquially known as 掃把星 ("broom star"), which is also used to describe people who are The Jinx.
  • Even Older Than Dirt: There is a painting of a comet on a cliff wall in central Australia that is estimated to have been created some 9000 to 10,000 years ago. It is surrounded by painted figures of animals, and some paleoanthropologists believe that the comet was taken as an omen for lucky hunting.
  • Even Older Than The Older Dirt: A comet may have been involved in the most famous extinction event in prehistory.
  • Carl Sagan included a lot about the naming and mythology surrounding comets in different cultures in his 1985 book Comet (co-authored with Ann Druyan) and noted that Comets could be seen as portents of good depending on when they appeared. Most interestingly, he suggested that the Swastika symbol was the result of a comet appearing head-on to Earth so that the rotation of its jets of gas and dust were visible. The Swastika averted this for ages by being a symbol of good fortune in many cultures and religions, especially Hinduism (from where the name comes). It was also a symbol of good luck in Europe and North America all the way into the early 20th century before its association with Nazism turned it into a symbol of evil and doom.


Video Example(s):


Sozin's Comet

Roku explains to Aang how 100 years ago, the Fire Nation used the incredible power of Sozin's Comet to begin the war with the other nations, and now, it'll return at the end of the summer, giving them the power to end the conflict once and for all. In other words, if Aang is to save the world, he must master all of the elements and defeat the Fire Lord within ten months.

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / RaceAgainstTheClock

Media sources: