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Cosmic Horror Story

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The scariest part? This can happen at ANY time.... (Image courtesy of yohkai. Used with permission.)

"Now all my tales are based on the fundamental premise that common human laws and interests and emotions have no validity or significance in the vast cosmos-at-large."
H. P. Lovecraft, letter to Farnsworth Wright (1927)

Imagine a universe where even the tiniest spot of hope for the future is blindness in itself, the insane Straw Nihilist yelling about The End of the World as We Know It in the asylum is actually the only one with a clue, and too much curiosity about the true nature of the world is a precursor to a Fate Worse than Death. A universe where humanity is preyed upon as a mere plaything for all kinds of inconceivable horrors, and all our ideals are naught but cruel illusions; a universe which was once ruled by such eldritch abominations from the depths of space long ago. Nor are they dead; they merely wait, and soon they shall wake. They shall return to rule this world, and all our grandest achievements shall have been in vain. For all our blind pride we are but mice in the wainscoting, making merry while the cat's away—but even today, the world is more dangerous than we may know.


Take one step away from the comforts of home, and you will find danger hiding almost anywhere, terror and madness on every nook and corner — dark cults, hideous monstrosities, truths so terrible that none may comprehend them and remain sane. Demons gibber in the tunnels beneath your feet. Parasites and worms slither unseen in whatever food or drink you dare put into your mouth. Ghosts hover unseen and unheard around you, discerning and mocking your every thought and secret. The vile essence of an alien disease lurks in the recesses of your own family tree, a genetic time bomb just waiting to go off...

Such was the vision of H. P. Lovecraft, pioneer, Trope Maker, and Trope Codifier of the Cosmic Horror Story. This type of fiction doesn't just scare you with big, ugly monsters—though it can certainly have them—it depresses you with the fatalistic implication of being insignificantly powerless before such vast, unknowable and fundamentally alien entities. As a genre, Cosmic Horror is at the very pessimistic end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.


If you aren't sure if a work is a Cosmic Horror Story or not, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the antagonist evil or uncaring on a cosmic scale? We're talking a Big Bad who is capable of destroying humanity, planet Earth, the universe, or all three and doing so with very little, if any, preparation and/or intent, and with about as much effort as it takes you to swat a mosquito that's landed on your arm.note 
  • Does the Big Bad have any human worshipers or servants? If the said villain can destroy the world with a mere finger lift, why hasn't it done this already? Odds are it's probably locked away, or locked out.note  And that's where its agents or worshipers in the mortal realm come into the fray. Their goal is typically to open the door so that the Big Bad can enter. Expect the cult's leader to be the secondary villain, and be very charismatic. And there's a good chance that if he's not killed before the Big bad enters, the Big Bad will kill him anyway. After all, Evil Is Not a Toy. Bonus points if the Big Bad has no concept of loyalty or if their idea of a reward is to kill their worshippers first - to these beings, the cultists are just Loony Fans who happened to do the right things to attract their attention, and their attention does not take into account voluntary service or any other sort of allegiance.
  • Is the attitude of the antagonist towards humanity disregard, simple pragmatism, or incidental hatred or disgust? (A godlike antagonist that actively hates humanity and its works is more in line with Rage Against the Heavens or God Is Evil.) Does the antagonist have a worldview and motivations that doesn't really seem to take humanity into account? Is it just a predator looking for prey? Is humanity just a means to an end? Are the motivations of the antagonist difficult to explain using human terms?
  • Are the antagonist or its minions so alien in appearance or mentality that simply being near them or even seeing them is enough to drive a human to madness?
  • Are the antagonist or its minions indescribable -- literally? Lines like "I cannot find the words to describe the vile thing I saw..." are a hallmark of Cosmic Horror Stories. Bonus points if it's so divorced from the spectrum of human perception that it causes permanent insanity, brain damage, or death just by looking at it, and/or distorts reality because it is just that incompatible with the laws of this world.
  • Can or will the antagonist communicate with humanity? If it does, is it capable of elucidating its goals or rationale, even if they're something as simple as "you have something I need" or "I'm hungry"? Is its method of communication so bizarre or obscure that humanity has to go to great lengths just to be able to understand it, let alone reply (let alone be understood in return)? Can it be reasoned with, or does it simply make declarations, with no attempt (or, likely, ability) to hold conversations?
  • Is the antagonist's arrival or awakening inevitable, or can something be done to prevent it partially or completely? How great is the price? Is it a permanent fix or just delaying the inevitable? Is it even reasonably foreseeable, or is it just going to swoop in and destroy everything out of the blue one day, with no sign whatsoever that it was coming (or had signs that, in retrospect, were clear, but either escaped notice or were rationalized away)?
  • Is the antagonist alive in a conventional sense, or is it outside of life and death entirely? Common examples of the latter include As Long as There is Evil, a disembodied consciousness, a death-and-resurrection cycle that is completely inevitable and cannot be stopped, or most Undead Abominations.
  • If the antagonist is undead, is it just a big ugly dead thing or a ghost, zombie, or skeleton with extra firepower, or is it something of terrifying power and scope that cannot be reasoned with, whose connections to life are long gone (or never existed to begin with), that will either just keep coming back or has a price tag attached to its defeat that is almost as bad as letting it run free, and that has alien, unrelatable, or completely selfish motivations?
  • If the antagonist is mechanical, is it just a really nasty Mechanical Monster, A.I. Is a Crapshoot, or advanced and malevolent cyborg, or is it some sort of unknowable force of cold alien apathy, pragmatism, or menace? If it is actively hostile, is it active misanthropic hatred, ruthless self-interest, or just carrying out a programmed duty? Are its abilities advanced but not inconceivable, or is it on the other side of Clarke's Third Law? Lastly, if it cannot realistically be destroyed (common with AIs), can you easily isolate it, or do you have to effectively reduce large swathes of civilization to a permanent pre-technological level just to keep it from finding a way to come back?
  • If the antagonist is draconic, is it just a particularly powerful dragon that maybe has a few extra tricks at its disposal or is something from a setting where dragons are closer to conventional gods, or is it something far worse? Is it an all-destroying cosmic force, an avatar of something unspeakable, or a Physical God with incomprehensible power that makes almost everything else seem insignificant? Is it effectively invincible or unkillable aside from very specific conditions? Is it a rampaging, mindless beast, a diabolical mastermind, or something that is clearly intelligent, but wholly alien and unrelatable with motivations that are best defined in human terms as ignorant apathy or incidental bemused curiosity?
  • Is the tone of the work deeply pessimistic about the possibility of the antagonist being defeated completely? If it isn't, the work is more likely to be Lovecraft Lite. Usually the best option to defeat the Big Bad in a standard cosmic horror story is to prevent its human worshipers and servants from opening the door or getting its attention. It can still be a CHS if the antagonist can be defeated completely (or so thoroughly that it will cease to be an issue by any reasonable standard), but will result in a Pyrrhic Victory. If the cost of a complete defeat is insurmountable, its defeat opens the door for even worse things, or its influence continues to fester and pollute the world in its absence, it's probably not Lovecraft Lite.
  • Even IF the heroes do manage by some miracle of fate to save the day, are they driven irreversibly mad by their experiences, or did they have to make one hell of a sacrifice, or did they only stop it temporarily and eventually it will rise again causing the cycle to repeat?note 

Answering "No" to more than two of these means that the work is probably not a Cosmic Horror Story, although it may share tropes with the genre. (Note that the scale and stakes of the story is allowed to go much lower than the above implies; the fate of the world need not be at stake to qualify as a Cosmic Horror Story, as long as the implication remains clear that The Universe is Scary and some truly horrific things can happen if you look too deeply.)

In the last few decades it's become fairly popular to invert the common indifference of the Cosmic Horror Story setting, while still keeping it every bit as horrifying, by incorporating elements such as Your Mind Makes It Real, Sense Freak, and Humans Are Cthulhu. Such settings are usually still classed as Cosmic Horror, and are embodied by the works of Clive Barker, and the Warhammer games. In such settings humans often learn that they really do matter, and their emotions and desires really can shape reality...only to then get smacked in the face with Be Careful What You Wish For.

Common tropes in Cosmic Horror Stories include:

The genre is sometimes called "Cosmic Horror", Lovecraftian Fiction, or Weird Fiction. Very likely to use Paranoia Fuel and invoke an atmosphere similar to Room 101; both tropes play with the fear of that unknown thing that happens to traumatize all those who encounter it. A Despair Event Horizon or a Downer Ending can be used to add to the depressing atmosphere. Compare/contrast with Gothic Horror (on which prose the first Cosmic Horror Stories, like those from Lovecraft himself, borrowed), Dark Fantasy (a genre that has a LOT of overlap with this one, although some works are one but not the other), Crapsack World, Mind Screw and Through the Eyes of Madness. Cosmic Plaything could be viewed as this on a much, much smaller scale.

Note that while the Cthulhu Mythos originated in the Cosmic Horror fiction of H. P. Lovecraft, a Cosmic Horror Story need not refer to the Mythos or borrow from its imagery. Lovecraft Lite goes a step further than that by either giving the setting some genuine hope or playing it for laughs.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Attack on Titan is set in a world where humanity is living in fear of a race of giant monsters called "Titans" who are driven solely by their desire to eat human beings. They don't do it to survive, but purely for pleasure. The only way to permanently kill them is to slice the back of their necks, as they can regenerate even from decapitation, and engaging one has an extremely high likeliness of dying. It ends up subverted in the end, though, as pretty much all of the Titans' evil can be traced back to very human antagonists, humanity outside the Walls is far from extinct, and at least some factions have become technologically advanced enough to be able to threaten the Titan-using faction.
  • Berserk operates somewhere between this and Lovecraft Lite. Far on the "cynical" end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism? Check. Ruled by an Eldritch Abomination that can effortlessly crush realities just in passing? Check. Body Horror, check, and You Can't Fight Fate, check. However, the antagonists, far from inhuman, are all-too human and their motivations are far from impersonal. That Eldritch Abomination is nothing more or less than humanity's collective unconscious made manifest. And the protagonist and his True Companions are iron-willed Determinators who staunchly refuse to give in to the Despair Event Horizon or Go Mad from the Revelation. Final judgment on whether the story counts as this or Lovecraft Lite will likely hinge on its ending... if it ever comes.
  • Bokurano, a deconstruction of different focus than Evangelion, yet similar to it: Something is making you fight in its super robot against other super robots, to decide the fate of the world and infinite numbers of other ones. Why? You will never have the slightest idea. The manga features one attempt at an explanation, but it really doesn't help make anything better: the Multiverse has a virtually infinite number of parallel universes constantly springing from slight divergences, but this apparently puts a strain on existence, and so the giant robot battles happen to be a "defense mechanism" to get rid of most universes with not enough divergence with each other. It's a whole new level of cosmic insignificance.
  • Death Note establishes early on that the only reason humanity even exists is to act as a food source for death gods. The penultimate chapter goes the extra mile by stating in no uncertain terms that there isn't even an afterlife to look forward to.
  • Death Parade's take on the afterlife falls right into this. If you die, you're faced with the binary options of continuing to reincarnate or being discarded and deleted from the system. The celestial bureaucracy decides which fate you get by subjecting you to an arbitrary, sadistic Secret Test of Character. The kicker? The whole system exists because the people running it are so detached from humanity that it's the only way they can think of to assess the human soul, and they neither know nor particularly care when they get it wrong, to the point where the higher-ups have had to bring in an assistant to mitigate the Quindecim staff's frequent fuckups and teach them about how humans work.
  • Devilman — thanks to humans being bastards killing the only people protecting them from demons, it leads to them being left alone against the enemy. At the very end, it's implied that humans have been all killed, leaving only demons and devilmen and then everybody except Satan dies. Oh and God is a gigantic Eldritch Abomination that kills anybody who gets too close it. AMON makes it even worse - God has put the entire world on a time loop so all humans and demons live and die for nothing over and over, just to make Satan suffer the loss of his beloved repeatedly for all eternity; it's also implied that this covers the whole Devilman franchise, with each of its iterations being another cycle of the loop.
  • Digimon Tamers started as a Coming of Age Mons series but experienced a Genre Shift when the true nature of the D-Reaper was revealed. At the end of the series, after destroying more than 40% of the Digital World, endless Mind Rapes, and a total invasion and subjugation of the Real World, the D-Reaper cannot be defeated, at least not conventionally. However, it was reverted to its original form, a dinky little program from the early Internet with less power than a cheap calculator. The fact that the main writer is a contributor to the Cthulhu Mythos will not shock anyone who's watched the series, nor will the fact that he also wrote Serial Experiments Lain.
  • Dragon Ball Super builds upon the original series by revealing that all intelligent life in the universe could be snuffed out of existence by a petulant god that not even Son Goku can beat. Said god then reveals that there's a multitude of other universes, each with their own destructive gods and above all of them is a god who can wipe out entire universes with the flick of a wrist, usually because he finds them unappealing after a while.
  • Getter Robo, especially when the nature of the Getter comes into question. Exactly what it is, is left up in the air, and its intentions may or may not be malevolent.
  • The canonical manga Interquel that was never published would put both GunBuster and DieBuster in that territory, with revelation that, long story short, the Universe is one big Eldritch Abomination, the Space Monsters are its immune system and humanity can do nothing but desperately fight for survival, sacrificing their weapons and champions in the process.
  • Junji Ito's works as a whole are heavily influenced by Lovecraft, but two examples particularly stand out:
    • Remina: A newly discovered celestial body turns out to be a gigantic Planet Eater abomination, likely even a Star Eater, hurtling towards Earth and devouring every other celestial body in its path; once it reaches Earth, it stops only long enough to "play" with its meal a bit, swallows the planet whole, and then continues on its rampage, leaving only a handful of human survivors within a specially-built survival shelter drifting aimlessly in space.
    • Uzumaki: A town is built on top of an impossible spiral structure, which proceeds to cause increasingly horrible things to happen before absorbing the entire town. It has done so countless times before and will do so countless times again.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: A post-apocalyptic Crapsack World where a catastrophe caused by an ancient conspiracy meddling with Things Man Was Not Meant To Know led to the annihilation of half of humanity's population, with the remainder under the relentless attacks of "Angels": alien (or not) assailants whose motives and psychology we do not have an idea of. Their biology becomes increasingly bizarre over the course of the series—even early specimens are stated to exhibit wave-particle duality, and one late Angel is a four-dimensional being with a three-dimensional "shadow". Later specimens appear to be evolving toward interfacing with humanity, which mainly just causes Mind Rape of various types. Various factions within the series vie for the opportunity to take down the Angels in the way they deem most appropriate, with the winner being the creation of equally nightmarish humongous mecha, but such a last resort requires the chosen pilots to be mentally ill and psychologically tortured in order for them to function. The war only results in increasingly horrifying circumstances and adversaries, while a key benefactor of the protagonists is actually a Lovecraft-style Ancient Conspiracy who were always planning to use the Angels to resurrect an even worse alien God and cause The End of the World as We Know It In Their Own Image. In the end, the apocalypse is so incomprehensible it even also makes us real life humans go mad from the revelation. And please note that this summary actually leaves out several even more screwed-up revelations about the setting and characters.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Oh, boy... Long story short? Aliens with Blue-and-Orange Moralitynote  harvest magical energy created from girls' suffering and eventual mutation into eldritch horrors in an attempt to stave off the impending death of the universe via the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and even they cannot even comprehend why only this Industrialized Evil works out of all things.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Sailor Stars, the last arc of the anime, reveals that Sailor Senshi exist across the galaxy and have all been engaged in an epic battle against evil. Sailor Galaxia, one of the strongest warriors, has been exterminating entire planets so that she can collect Star Seeds, which are souls. Galaxia is said to have wiped out 80% of the galaxy. The manga is even worse: Galaxia, bad as she was, was also an unwitting pawn to the anthropomorphic personification of Chaos, which at the climax absorbs the source of the universe's life. Sure, Usagi destroys Chaos, restores life to the galaxy and resurrects all her dead friends, but we're told that Chaos has survived, and that one day it'll be back.
    • Chaos is also the true evil in the anime as well. In the manga, it is also the true power behind every other major villain in the series. The Sailor Senshi exist to fight it, and will likely be fighting it for eternity.
  • WorldEnd: What Do You Do at the End of the World? Are You Busy? Will You Save Us? has some notable Cosmic Horror Story elements beneath its fantasy exterior. Nearly all life on the surface was wiped out by the 17 Beasts 500 years prior to the main story. These creatures, as it turns out, inhabited the planet long before the other races and simply re-emerged to take back what was once theirs. In fact all of World End's races were created when the Visitors, a race of godlike extraterrestrials, used their powers to transform those primordial Beasts into the various races that would inhabit their new garden world. The apocalypse that destroyed the surface was a result of the human race reverting back to its original Beast form after its population grew too much for the Visitors’ power to contain.

    Comic Books 
  • The notorious works of indie comics artists Al Columbia and Hans Rickheit and, at times, Edward Gorey.
  • A Donald Duck comic, The Call of C'Russo, of all things, features this as its story. Donald tries out for a singing competition organized by a renowned musician, and gets successfully recruited by having his voice altered by an apparent twin of this musician. It's later revealed that the entire world is actually the dream of Ar-Finn, a primordial cephalophoid monster which slumbers in the ancient city of Sp'too at the bottom of the sea. The two twins are manifestations of the monster's conflicting subconscious desires to either continue sleeping or wake up (which Donald's voice will make it do). When the creature does exactly that, the rest of the world vanishes as it no longer creates the world-dream, and everything in its vicinity shapes itself into its image, resulting in Donald and his nephews growing tentacles and stick eyes. It's eventually put back to sleep, but the story ends on a rather dark note as Donald contemplates everybody's existence as mere parts of the creature's imagination.
  • El Eternauta. The aliens called "Hands", who are smarter and more evolved than human beings, are actually unwilling puppets of higher entities that they only dare to call "Them", and they even define "Them" as the "cosmic hate". "Them" are never shown.
  • Fall of Cthulhu by Boom! Studios. Their other lovecraftian series Cthulhu Tales however, being an Anthology Comic, had a lot of individual stories fall into Lovecraft Lite instead.
  • The Filth, from Grant Morrison, arguably. But Secret Original is living in this: A Captain Ersatz of Golden Age Superman, he discovered his world had no free will and went to change this, by coming into reality. And the reality is: He is just a comic book character...
  • There was an Anthology Comic series from Vertigo called Flinch. In one story, a massive fan of Lovecraft eventually grows up with the realization "We don't deserve monsters" and loses all wonder of creatures out there.
  • It's still uncertain whether Hellboy and B.P.R.D. are this or Lovecraft Lite. It appeared at first to be the latter, but the monsters are getting nastier, and Hellboy is getting increasingly desperate.
  • Leviathan shown in Hellbound: Hellraiser II was described in supplementary graphic novels to be the true Eldritch Abomination. The Cenobites, who function as its foot soldiers, were at least human once. Leviathan appears as nothing more than a floating geometric figure with Blue-and-Orange Morality.
  • Immortal Hulk does this with gamma radiation, and therefore the entire Hulk mythos. In the second issue, when Del Frye was injected with a gamma-irradiated serum, he saw a "green door" that was "below everything" before dying. The next issue, Lew Lembert also mentions a "green door" but this time with what's beyond it: the One Below All. According to Brian Banner in issue 12, his research into gamma energy hypothesized a third form that energy takes when it's neither a wave or a particle, but when he had a nightmare of the Green Door and the One Below All he denounced it out of fear. Issue #25 is an entire issue of the concept: the last survivors of a dead universe, faced with an unstoppable monstrosity they cannot comprehend.
  • The Avengers (Jonathan Hickman) is this applied to an entire superhero multiverse; as its main Arc Words put it: "Everything Dies". A number of foundational Marvel heroes, including Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, and Black Panther, are forced to judge whether to kill other Earths to temporarily save their own as The Multiverse is suddenly locked into an inescapable death spiral. One of them does. On the other side, the optimism of the likes of Captain America and the Great Society (a Captain Ersatz Justice League of America from a parallel universe) is ultimately exposed as meaningless and ineffective against the end of everything. Oh, and also the beings in charge of running the Multiverse want to kill the Earth and any worlds in their way of doing that, and even they're on their last legs because they've been attacked by an unimaginable force far bigger and more powerful than themselves. By the end of the run it's revealed all of this is the result of cosmic beings known as the Beyonders living outside reality, who consider themselves Above Good and Evil. Everything has just been them conducting a callous experiment on the results of the destruction of all creation, and they've already slaughtered every high-tier cosmic being that might have been tasked with stopping them, with the few heroes that manage to confront them such as Thor and Hyperion being destroyed effortlessly. The run concludes with Captain America and Iron Man, the leaders of Earth's Greatest Heroes, dying fighting each other out of spite over mutual betrayals as the universe explodes around them, and there was nothing anyone ever could have done to stop it. The followup Secret Wars (2015) has the final two universes die and the last plans by the Fantastic Four and allies to save even just a few people fail. The only reason anything survives at all is because DOCTOR DOOM, ultimate villain of the Marvel Universe and the only one ruthless enough to truly do whatever it takes to defy the Beyonders, initiated the destruction of countless universes himself, including many of those the heroes dealt with that morally shattered them. He seized enough power in the wake of this to forge their remains into a new planet so brutal its inhabitants refer to it as Battleworld, which he rules over as its tyrannical and unopposable god-king. And after all this, it's clear to Doom that even this last outpost of any kind of known reality is broken, as a reflection of his own blighted soul. However, a few heroes and villains survive from the old multiverse to fight back against Doom, and the fate of the Beyonders is as yet unknown. Given this will end with the Marvel Multiverse restored for All-New All-Different Marvel, the whole saga retroactively becomes Lovecraft Lite, albeit running as hard as it can to the cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism until the last minute.
  • Both Marvel and DC are this to some extent, especially with the Brothers. Crisis Crossover events usually involve cosmic threats great enough to leave the world, if not the entire universe, fundamentally changed afterwards.
  • James Tynion IV's Memetic. The long and short of it is a meme of a sloth induces madness in people within twelve hours of seeing it, culminating in the human race fusing together into skyscraper-tall towers just in time to greet an incoming armada of Eldritch Abominations. It's implied that this was the reason for humans existing all along.
  • Alan Moore has dipped several times in Cthulhu Mythos territory, usually with one or several twists on the typical elements; most notably in Yuggoth Creatures and The Courtyard/Neonomicon and its prequel/sequel, Providence. In all three, things end as well as you would expect.
  • Nameless by Grant Morrison is about an occult hustler with morals (or lack thereof) not unlike John Constantine's who's hired by a group of billionaires to save the world from Xibalba, a massive asteroid on a collision course with Earth... Only there's something far, far worse than the asteroid inside it.
  • The Sandman (1989) stories focus on abstract beings of incomprehensible power and age that govern the whole of reality, and where supernovae exploding and wiping out solar systems of intelligent life are so common that they only mention them in passing.
    • An example of a more Mind Screwingly surreal Cosmic Horror Story is A Tale of Two Cities, which is told in the manner of a Lovecraftian ghost story and has a man become lost in a city's dream (i.e. cities have a sort of collective personality shaped by their inhabitants, and if they have a personality, why can't they dream? In Sandman, this sort of logic applies to many of the anthropomorphic personifications and their realms) and meets a man who has been lost there for countless years, but still prefers the possibility of wandering through the city's dream to the alternative: "That the city should wake. That it should wake and—" but he gets distracted before he can tell us what might happen if a dreaming city woke up.
    • In A Dream of a Thousand Cats it is shown that if enough people dream the same thing at once (and it's not a large number, only a thousand or so) they can not only directly change the physical world, they can change history so that the world has always been in its "new" form, and the "old" world not only ceases to exist, but is Ret Goned from the entirety of history so that it never existed at all.
    • That the Dreaming is a place inhabited by sentient creatures makes the end of A Game of You where Dream uncreates the skerry (a land that is apparently as vast and heavily populated as a country) a true Biblical apocalypse for its inhabitants. He quite casually confirms that he could recreate the land and resurrect the inhabitants exactly as they were before if he chose to, adding an almost Religious Horror to it, as it shows just how powerful he is, and how insignificant sentient beings are in comparison.
    • A story where Haroun-al Rashid makes a bargain with Dream to preserve his perfect, magical city from the inevitable ravages of time by giving the entire city to Dream to take into his realm and preserve it forever in his stories. The story is relatively Lighter and Softer compared to some of the others (which tells you quite a lot about them!), but it still involves a real city being effortlessly transformed into a fantasy by the protagonist of the series.
    • At the same time, one of these abstract beings (Morpheus himself) claims that he and his siblings are merely the servants, the dolls, of mortals. For better or for worse, mortals are the dominant power in creation.
  • Spawn combines this with Religious Horror (and virtually every other horror subgenre): Humans are just pawns to a war between Heaven and Hell. It's mere chance, not the way you lived your life, that determine if you will go to one or the other. Also, going to Heaven isn't exactly a good thing because God and Satan Are Both Jerks; while there is a benevolent entity that is even more powerful than both of them combined, she's too busy taking care of the whole Multiverse to pay attention to the comics' main setting. Also, the Spawn franchise as a whole deals a lot with Fatalism (a heavy element of Lovecraftian stories) and the idea that fighting Evil is pointless.
  • A possible interpretation of Warren Ellis' Supergod, with the twist that humanity is ultimately responsible for the very creation of the incomprehensible god-things whose very existence renders it insignificant.
  • The Thanos Imperative was a storyline where the main Marvel Universe was invaded by the Cancerverse, a version of the Marvel universe where every living thing in the universe was made immortal by Eldritch Abominations (and turned into hideous tentacle-beard monsters in the process) and got too full of its own version of life and started to invade other universes to spread.
  • The Unfunnies features a world of Hanna-Barbera style cartoon characters whose world, where a pie in the face was the worst crime, is corrupted into a horrific place of murder and abuse towards adults and children alike. A cop investigates and discovers they are being victimized by their monstrous creator, who wields godlike invincibility and successfully switches places with one of the characters to escape death row.
  • Grant Morrison's Zenith mainly fought the Lloigor, shapeless body-stealing beings from beyond time and space who can consume reality. Turns out they're actually the first-generation superheroes who "self-evolved" into reality-warping Gods and subsequently went mad with power but were forced to live outside normal space-time since their own universe was too fragile to hold them. And they want back in. Badly.

  • Aftermath: Population Zero: After humanity vanishes, most signs of its civilization disappear within a few centuries' time, the remainder after the next ice age. Other lifeforms move on and adapt. Planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old, the universe three times that length of time; humanity's whole existence was just the blink of an eye.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey crosses into this in its final act. Space is a vast, incomprehensible place that is completely apathetic towards humanity, and any sort of advanced life that we may encounter would be so advanced as to be utterly unfathomable to humanity, would likely either refuse to communicate with us or would communicate in an incomprehensible way with horrific consequences, and would view us with callous indifference at best, and at worst would view us as convenient tools or incidental curiosities in the same way that a small child dismembering an earthworm is curious.
  • AM1200 features an Eldritch creature; the viewer is only able to see its eye and gaping maw through a deep hole in a cellar floor. The protagonist is lured into servitude to the creature after being drawn into a mysterious, abandoned radio station.
  • Annihilation (2018) give us The Shimmer, a strange, complex alien entity that arrives to the Earth via a strange meteorite and does not one bit adhere to the law of physics as we know it, emanating a ever-growing dome of radiation that horrifically mutates every lifeform it comes into contact with, mashing together the DNA of things like Play-Doh, which creates vicious, disgusting monsters out of the wildlife. And it's left entirely vague whether or not it is a malevolent entity seeking to destroy everything out of irrational hatred, or if it's so utterly alien to the point it doesn't even comprehend it's own existence, making it essentially an oversized cancer cell.
  • The original ending to Army of Darkness had more than a touch of this as in it, Ash drinks too much of the sleeping potion and wakes up After the End, which given how freaky the scenery is was likely a result of the supernatural forces mentioned in the Necronomicon running rampant.
  • The 1975 movie Bug (not to be confused with the Michael Shannon movie of the same name), is about blind, pyromaniac cockroaches who emerge from a fissure in the ground after an earthquake. A local scientist named Parmiter becomes curious about them, which gradually turns into an obsession, until it's apparent something else is compelling his actions, particularly cross-breeding them with regular cockroaches, so the subterranean insects can survive on the surface, and this is after one of them kills his wife. Turns out, it's the roaches themselves compelling him. True to this genre, the movie ends with the insects' final form, now with eyes and wings, thanking him by dragging him back to Hell with them.
  • Right from the start, The Cabin in the Woods shows that it's not your typical "dumb kids go in the middle of nowhere to get killed off one by one", given that everything is planned and monitored by a nebulous but obviously very well-funded organisation... It's because that organisation's goal turns out to be to provide sadistic entertainment to beings known as the Ancient Ones, who'll otherwise destroy the world. They have bases throughout the world, each enacting scenarios in accordance to the prevalent Horror Tropes of their country/culture, so that at least one succeeds; in the end, they all fail, and the film closes on an Ancient One's titanic arm bursting from the ground.
  • John Carpenter's "apocalypse trilogy" (The Thing, Prince of Darkness, and In the Mouth of Madness) is an escalation of the trope over the 3 movies: first, a protean, invasive lifeform threatening to subsume in itself every living thing on the planet in a desolate antarctic setting reminiscent of H. P. Lovecraft's At The Mountains Of Madness; then a liquid corruption that turns out to be Satan, and whose goal is to bring to our world its true father, The Anti-God, in an old church being investigated by academics from an establishment similar to Miskatonic University; and finally, ineffable, unreal horrors attempting to find purchase in our reality through the writings of a Mad Artist and his previously-fictitious Town with a Dark Secret in the middle of Lovecraft Country, all the while screwing over the protagonist in such a way that it was formerly the Trope Namer for Through the Eyes of Madness.
  • Color Out of Space (2020), given that it's an adaptation of a Lovecraft story, unsurprisingly has a bleak tone. The Color cannot be stopped from achieving its goals, the Gardners all go mad and die horribly, Ward is left traumatized by his experiences, there are countless other creatures just as terrible out in the vastness of space (and beyond), and the Color's passage may have tainted the water supply for most of the Eastern Seaboard.
  • The Empty Man Veers hard into this after detective Lasombra starts investigating The Pontifex Society.
  • Event Horizon, in which "Hell" is the easiest way for the characters to describe hyperspace, but some elements suggest it to be far, far worse. Warhammer 40,000 fans like to joke that the film is a prequel.
  • The Final Destination series has its protagonists cheating Death and trying to survive the consequences. Death is never presented as a defeatable force, and is unimaginably cruel about how it goes about balancing the books. And no matter what the characters do, Death will always claim them, even if it has to break the laws of possibility and probability to do so.
  • The Forgotten turns out to be one. Telly and Ash's children were kidnapped by Eldritch Abominations and put through all that hell because they were experimenting. The Abominations have the ability to snatch people right out of the air and instantly make any person close to you forget who you are. They have human agents that go along with them because they can't stop them. There's a happy ending, but only because the Abominations said the experiment failed.
  • From Beyond. When an overambitious scientist builds a machine that connects our world with the Outer Darkness - and tests it on himself - you know nothing good is going to happen.
  • While Italian director Lucio Fulci's horror movies are usually more remembered for their bizarre dream-logic and ultraviolent deaths, at least two (The Beyond and City of the Living Dead) can be considered to be Cosmic Horror Stories, as both are deeply nihilistic, concern themselves with incomprehensibly malevolent supernatural forces, and end very badly for pretty much everybody. The links to the Cthulhu Mythos (The Beyond features the Book of Eibon as a MacGuffin, and most of City of the Living Dead takes place in a town named Dunwich) help a bit.
  • The Ju On series and its American remake series, The Grudge are actually quite young in regards to the time scale of the horror since the curse only started in the past 10 years or so before the events of the films, but for all respects they have the characteristics of a Cosmic Horror Story. The curse itself was technically a jealousy-turned-murder-turned-revenge story gone wrong, but it seems that the fulfillers of the curse have strayed from this path to include everyone, even (and especially) the innocent ones, as their targets. Once you do as little as taking a step inside the vicinity of the house or being associated with someone already cursed, it doesn't matter if you're in the cursed house, in your own residence, in your school, in the hospital, in the countryside, or even in another part of the world (the second and third American films take place in Chicago) or if you think that you're safe for a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a year, or even 10 years (the third Japanese film's third act is set a decade after the others), it will always claim you. It's best exemplified in the third Japanese film. The whole of Tokyo is deserted, apparently having each and every one of its inhabitants claimed by the curse.
  • Knowing - The aliens are completely inscrutable in their reasons, their decision to only save kids sounds creepier than it should be, their information has already driven one poor woman to madness, they are unstoppable, and the world ends in a way that is inescapable and utterly savage — a way that these aliens saw coming from many decades prior and did nothing about (other than give an incredibly vague warning that was utterly useless, and depending on the audience's interpretation they may believe they even caused it), which again makes their decisions look even more inhuman.
  • Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce ends up being this. It starts with astronauts finding an Eldritch Starship trailing Halley's comet, filled with dead, dessicated bat-things, and three strangely human-looking (and attractive) survivors; it all goes downhill from there. By the end nearly all the hero characters are dead or servants of the ship. Then the ship, after its snack (read: pretty much all of London's population, if not more), goes off on its merry way to devour other planets. The one survivor who knows anything about what actually happened probably won't be believed, so there will be little to no preparation for the thing's inevitable return.
  • One possible interpretation of The Lighthouse is that the film is about two New England lighthouse keepers who are cursed by the sea gods for violating maritime tradition... Then again, maybe they just went mad from the isolation after being marooned in a freak storm and they hallucinated everything.
  • Life (2017) - The entity discovered by the crew is utterly alien in its biology, impressively cunning and intelligent, and is demonstrated to be unstoppable in its drive to survive and increase/improve itself by manipulating and/or feeding on every other lifeform available. The end of the movie strongly implies that the creature will destroy all life on Earth, which in turn implies that it likely destroyed all life on Mars, where the soil sample containing its cells was collected.
  • In Pacific Rim, were it not for the Jaegers, man would be less significant than mere bugs before the apocalyptic tsunami of mountainous bone and muscle that are the Kaiju. Given how humanity ultimately triumphs by itself in this one, and the optimistic outlook of the end (apparently, it's not a Pyrrhic Victory, all the sacrifices were worth it, and it looks like humanity will manage to rebuild and turn the page), this should be more in Lovecraft Lite. Of course, there's also the environmental implications that are mentioned, like how dropping nuclear bombs on several large cities (San Francisco, Sydney, etc.) and the Kaiju's poisonous dead bodies has destroyed a significant chunk of liveable, arable land around the Pacific...
  • Possession, a film by Andrzej Zulawski which maps Cosmic Horror Story onto a disintegrating marriage.
  • In Resolution,the entity creates an inescapable Xanatos Gambit for its victims, making it completely impossible for them to try and change its plans and ensuring that they would die one way or another. And even if they did manage to escape, they would just bring it back with them. This was followed in 2018 by a Stealth Sequel, The Endless, which ramps up the cosmic horror even more.
  • The Thing from Another World has elements of this as well, with the monster being an alien unlike anything on Earth (apart from its humanoid appearance) and a being who is nearly impossible to destroy. The main narrative comes off more as Lovecraft Lite, but it's implied at the end that there's more of those things out there, and they may come attack again at any time.
  • The Toho Universe, i.e. the fictional universe the Toho Studios films take place in. Invading aliens, Kaiju, ancient civilizations that worship unearthly beings, and humanity just barely able to survive any of the ongoing mayhem. Even films that have happier endings still heavily imply that the danger is far from over and that humanity are essentially insects to the giant monsters that rampage across the world.
    • Gojira is this as well as an allegory for the atomic bomb. A giant ancient monster is awoken/mutated by nuclear testing and ends up wreaking havoc upon humanity. Godzilla ends up destroying Tokyo, swats down airplanes and crushes tanks like they're little more than flies, and is impervious to conventional weaponry. At the end, it takes something worse than the monster to kill it (i.e. The Oxygen Destroyer). And, even then it's heavily implied that Godzilla wasn't the only one of his kind. Cue the sequels.
    • Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster. A princess becomes possessed by the spirit of a long-extinct being from Mars (or Venus depending on which version you are watching) who proceeds to try and warn humanity about their impending doom. Meanwhile, a giant meteor has landed on earth and seems to be growing. Said meteor then bursts open revealing Ghidorah, a giant three-headed space dragon that goes from planet to planet wiping out all life. Why? Just for the hell of it. It takes the combined efforts of Mothra, Godzilla, and Rodan (three already powerful monsters that made humans seem like insignificant ants in comparison) just to drive him away.
    • While Matango lacks the space aliens and kaiju of other Toho films, it certainly has its share of inhuman horrors. A group of sailors end up washed up on an island that's strangely inhabited by a lot of unusual mushrooms. They find another boat washed up that belonged to a research crew, but said crew seems to have disappeared. And then we find out what happens when someone eats the mushrooms.
    • Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack!. Not only do you have the Godzilla returning from the first film as a vengeful zombie-thing possesed by the spirits of those who died in World War II, but you also have three kaiju that were so feared by people that they were actually worshipped as gods. Said three gods (Mothra, Baragon, and Ghidorah) are awoken to help protect Japan against Godzilla's wrath due to the JSDF once again being useless against him. And, even then, the most powerful of the three god-monsters (Ghidorah, who also happens to be the Yamato No Orochi) is no match against Godzilla.
    • Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla centers around Godzilla going up against his alien clone. To give an idea as to how dire the situation is, when asked what would happen if Space Godzilla were to defeat his earthly counterpart, the Shobijin refuse to answer. As if that wasn't bad enough, the ending of the film also implies that Godzilla's battle with Space Godzilla was the catalyst that causes Godzilla to become Burning Godzilla.
    • Shin Godzilla centers around some sort of sea-dwelling....thing that comes on shore, causes tons of massive destruction, and rapidly mutates. It turns out that this incarnation of Godzilla isn't a mutated dinosaur, but rather some sort of ancient organism with adaptive abilities and genetics that are beyond human comprehension. It quickly becomes clear to everyone in the film that Godzilla isn't just some irradiated sea creature, it is a destruction god incarnate. Standard weapons don't work on it. And, while armor-piercing weaponry can cause it to bleed, Godzilla can easily dispatch such weapons using numerous beams of atomic enargy (Not only from his mouth, but also from his tail and dorsal spines). About the only saving grace humanity has comes from when Godzilla is frozen alive by a mixture of chemical coagulants and, even then, it's hinted to not be a permanent solution. Godzilla's tail splitting into Human-Godzilla Hybrids at the end doesn't bode well for humanity either.
  • This is what separates the MonsterVerse from other cinematic universes like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe. Humanity is surrounded by gigantic monsters that have existed long before humanity was even born, and they are basically powerless against them once they awaken and begin laying waste to the world. Whereas the MCU and DCEU has gods and aliens who are willing to protect humanity, the few benevolent monsters (Godzilla, Kong, etc.) in the MonsterVerse can be just as destructive to everything around them as the malevolent monsters causing said destruction.
    • The Legendary Pictures reboot film centers around the premise that hundreds of millions of years ago Earth was dominated by radiation-feeding giants, but some have survived. A mere three of them in the modern day threaten to wipe out human civilization entirely, with the M.U.T.O (Massive Unknown Terrestrial Organism) pair destroying any electronics and are a breeding pair with possibly thousands of eggs, while Godzilla himself creates tidal waves just by rising from the ocean and in the past shrugged off multiple nukes to the face. The most powerful military on the planet can only serve as a distraction, and the only thing that can be done is hope Godzilla kills the MUTOs, as he doesn't like them anymore than humans do.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) not only has Godzilla coming back, but now also throws in King Ghidorah whose mere presence is considered a "living extinction event". he's also revealed halfway through the film to be an alien horror who fell from the stars and seeks to terraform Earth to his liking. Even newcomer kaiju Rodan doesn't even try to limit collateral damage and couldn't care any less about killing any humans that get in his way.
  • Us initially follows a family being stalked by their murderous doppelgangers who invade their home. Eventually, another family is killed by their own set of doppelgangers. And we later learn there are more. It turns out that for every human being born in the continental United States, an Eldritch Abomination in their likeness manifests in an ever-growing network of mysterious subterranean tunnels located beneath the country. Possessed of a cold and alien mentality, a telepathic link with their hosts, as well as unnatural strength and agility, these beings - known as the Tethered - are driven to murder and replace the originals through any means necessary. Desiring a taste of free will, the Tethered eventually emerge from their tunnels and start to systematically slaughter the entire population of the United States so that they may take their place. Alarmingly, the climax implies that they've succeeded at this. Worse yet, it's never stated whether or not there are more Tethered in other countries, so for all it's worth, the human race is doomed and no one can stop the Tethered.
  • Vanishing on 7th Street gives us a phenomenon that can consume entire cities. Darkness becomes a sentient, malevolent force that hunts down and absorbs everyone it can, leaving only Empty Piles of Clothing and turning those it snatches up into shadows in its thrall. Light can keep the shadows at bay, but becomes harder and harder to sustain the longer the phenomenon is active, and the daylight hours grow shorter and shorter. There is no reason or explanation for this phenomenon, only the growing, desperate sense of inevitable doom. It's heavily implied that the will to live is the key to surviving this, but even then the darkness does everything it can to break the resolve of the few remaining survivors, and succeeds in almost every case.
  • V/H/S: The films. Essentially, a large collection of tapes appear throughout various places portraying strange and disturbing supernatural events. The tapes are a Brown Note and watching them drives people into murderous insanity and resurrects the dead as violent zombies. The wraparound of the third film has an unseen force or cult uploading footage from the tapes to phones and computers in a city. In the end, the force behind the tapes manipulate the protagonist into activating a mass upload that presumably causes mass destruction as people all over the world go insane and begin attacking everyone around them.
  • The Void has a sinister cult laying siege to a near-empty hospital, people turning into insane murderers, monstrous abominations, or both, experiments meant to resurrect the dead involving corrupted pregnancies resulting (again) in grotesque horrors and the cause of it all, a massive pyramid-shaped God-thing from a strange, barren wasteland dimension that just may be the afterlife.


  • Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall" invokes this premise not with a paranormal deity, but with a natural and real phenomenon. On the planet Lagash, the night sky is only visible every two thousand years, during an eclipsenote . The concept of "darkness" is so foreign to them that one of the characters needs the concept explained, and torches are an experimental new technology. These eclipses have seemed to coincide with the collapse of past civilizations. A new scientific theory postulates that the night sky, in all its awesome, terrible wonder, has driven every previous civilization mad. On the eve of the next eclipse, the citizens of Lagash are about to find out whether this theory is correct. It is.
    • Asimov's story "Jokester" uses this as The Reveal. An unknown alien power is watching humanity, and is powerful enough to add or remove concepts from the minds of all living beings. The sense of humor was an experiment on the part of this alien power - and as soon as humans taint the experiment by discovering it, humanity's sense of humor is destroyed on the spot.
  • Ambrose Bierce's short story An Inhabitant of Carcosa was a major influence on Lovecraft's work
  • Algernon Blackwood's "The Willows" takes place in an Eldritch Location where the boundaries between our reality and another reality have worn thin. It's very eerie and otherworldly and places a lot of emphasis on incomprehensible reality and human insignificance.
  • Robert W. Chambers's book The King in Yellow, which was an influence on Lovecraft himself, and he made references to it that are now better known than the original source. Filled with Mind Screw and Take Our Word for It.
  • William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land and The House on the Borderland are also notable forerunners.
  • H. P. "Grandpa Cthulhu" Lovecraft and his Weird Tales colleagues - Clark Ashton "Klarkash-ton" Smith, Robert E. "Two-Gun Bob" Howard, etc. - who started the whole Cthulhu Mythos thing (although it wasn't actually named, nor any kind of cohesive whole, until August Derleth laid hands on it) as a collective attempt to lend their works an air of authenticity, by sharing common elements and references as if the stories were actually based on Real Life sources. And it worked - there are now people who genuinely believe the Necronomicon is a real existing book and that Cthulhu was worshiped by ancient Sumerians.
  • The works of Arthur Machen were a huge influence on Lovecraft, particularly his 1894 novella The Great God Pan, which gives us the eponymous Eldritch Abomination and was the basis for Lovecraft's own story "The Dunwich Horror". Machen wrote other works of this kind, though The Great God Pan stands out as the most significant.
  • Guy de Maupassant's short story "The Horla" is another influence on Lovecraft, with its motifs of a cosmos harbouring unknown terrors and, closer to home, a malevolent, intangible organism capable not only of possessing humans but of one day replacing them as a species. Unless, that is, it's just the narrator gradually going mad.
  • Edgar Allan Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, of which Lovecraft's own seminal At the Mountains of Madness is a Spiritual Successor if not outright sequel.
  • J.H. Rosny's Les Xipéhuz is one of the oldest examples, from 1888, but already dips into Lovecraft Lite. The eponymous Xipéhuz seem all powerful and indestructible at first and threaten to wipe out humanity. Later, they are wiped out themselves by the humans.
  • Mark Twain's The Mysterious Stranger is an early example, taking a nihilistic and maltheistic perspective on Christian theology.
  • H. G. Wells:
    • The War of the Worlds, in which a race of Martians arrives on Earth in cylinders containing hundreds of them each. They build gigantic fighting machines capable of leveling cities and killing enormous groups of people very quickly. The military uses just about everything that would have been available at the time, ranging from canons to the ironclad Thunder Child (the ironclad is even replaced by an atomic bomb in the 1953 film), and the best they can do is occasionally stall the Martians before being incinerated. By the second half of the book England is a deserted wasteland with barely anyone left alive. The narrator himself refers to the invasion as "the beginning of the rout of civilization". The only thing that saves humanity is the Martians' bodies being vulnerable to unfamiliar bacteria.
    • The Time Machine has some shades of cosmic horror as well, so far as it emphasizes mankind's insignificance—the protagonist travels thousands of years into the future only to discover that rather than advance, mankind has devolved into two primitive species, the Eloi and the Morlocks (though the 1960 film version was slightly more optimistic, and suggested that it may be possible to rebuild civillization). After that whole adventure he travels further into the future to a point where Earth is implied to be dying and humanity is heavily implied to be gone completely.
  • Many stories by Clive Barker, Skins Of The Fathers particularly. They have all the themes: Artifacts of Doom, Eldritch Abominations, Eldritch Locations, and a general sense of dread and fear caused by contact with higher beings that just might not have humanity's best intentions in mind.
  • The Croning by Laird Barron is about an Ancient Conspiracy involving a race of rather sadistic Puppeteer Parasites with very insidious intentions for mankind, who are the spawn of an interplanetary (and possibly interdimensional, and even intertemporal) entity only known as Old Leech. They use human bodies to disguise their true forms and characters unlucky enough to uncover their existence usually wish they hadn't. They can also be found in many of Barron's short stories, including The Men From Porlock, Mysterium Tremendum and The Broadsword.
  • Jorge Luis Borges wrote the short story There Are More Things in Lovecraft's memory. The story tells the encounter the narrator has with a monstrous extraterrestrial inhabiting an equally monstrous house.
  • Ramsey Campbell, like fellow brits Brian Lumley and Graham Masterton, is one of the most influential latter-day contributors to the Cthulhu Mythos, especially in his earlier works; there's a reason he's Trope Namer for Campbell Country, after all.
  • Cthulhu Armageddon zig-zags between this and Lovecraft Lite. Humankind has survived the Great Old Ones rising and become a New Old West and Weird West combination. However, humankind is gradually dying out and their greatest champion is a humanoid abomination. Then it goes From Bad to Worse.
  • Fiona van Dahl's Eden Green has the title character explore an abandoned alien world, including the mountain fortress of an extinct but advanced race, in search of the origin of an alien needle parasite currently threatening her home city. Her nightmares before and after hint that she (like Earth) is a tiny speck in the larger picture.
  • Mark Z. Danielewski's debut novel House of Leaves. As a book about a book about a film about a blue:House that is a maze (or, in short, a book that is a maze), it layers its Mind Screw into several overlapping narratives, all commenting on each other note  , accompanied by some seriously screwed-up typography, all to give the reader the sense of disorientation one would feel inside the ever-shifting, enigmatic house. It's made particularly explicit when the protagonist of the A-story says that the eponymous house actually is God.
  • Neil Gaiman:
    • "How to Talk to Girls at Parties." The narrator ends up at the wrong party with his friend, flirts with girls who turn out to be Anthropomorphic Personifications of planets, and is almost consumed by hearing a song from one of them. His friend tries to make out with a sun and inadvertently pisses her off, and the narrator never hears from him again.
    • "A Study in Emerald" is a Sherlock Holmes homage set in a late 19th century where the Great Old Ones took over centuries ago. While the world superficially is much like ours and the God-Monsters themselves seem as if they've gone native, one doesn't need to scratch the surface much to find exceedingly unpleasant facts and goings-on which may soon lead to the apocalypse. Imagine the first half of the 20th century if all world leaders were even worse monsters.
  • John Hodgman's That is All has a day by day summary of Ragnarok in 2012. 700 Ancient and Unspeakable Ones destroy the world over the course of the year, killing humanity and any chance of civilization rebuilding in horrific and sometimes darkly humorous ways.
  • Stephen King likes tropes associated with this genre, particularly Eldritch Abominations, although most often they're limited in how much they can affect the world. He also uses Lovecraft Country a lot (many of his works are set in New England, most often rural Maine).
    • In IT, the eponymous monster is perceived as a Giant Spider by the protagonists, because this was the closest analogue that their rational minds could find for Its appearance. Attempting to fight It can result one's mind being flung beyond the edge of the universe, then being driven mad by the Deadlights (which It is merely an appendage of). After the protagonists succeed in killing It, they magically forget about the entire incident; apparently this was the only way they could have lived a normal life afterward.
    • "The Mist" describes what happens when ordinary folk are confronted with an encroaching alternate reality that gradually enshrouds everything in an unnatural fog filled with predatory Eldritch Abominations. (Although as the novella explicitly states, they aren't truly "Lovecraftian" horrors, in that they can bleed and die, particularly if they are set on fire. They're really just animals, albeit incredibly aggressive, dangerous, and horrible-looking ones.)
    • In The Dark Tower several hints are dropped regarding entities and realities of this magnitude, especially in regards to "Todash Darkness and the unspeakable things that dwell there in the black never between realities". The scenes in Book Seven regarding Roland, Susannah, and Oy fleeing through Castle Discordia from one of these things that somehow got OUT of Todash are laced with suggestive themes about what would happen when the Tower falls and Todash sets these critters loose on all the many universes.
    • Revival is revealed to be this in its closing chapters, when we're shown a glimpse of the afterlife: it consists of everyone who dies being herded naked across a barren landscape by cruel, ant-like monsters to "serve the Great Ones in Null", where there will be "No death, no light, no rest." Ruling over this hellscape is "Mother", an enormous creature made of human faces that will, if anyone voices the slightest bit of resistance, tear the sky open and drive everyone it can touch to murder, suicide, insanity, or all three.
    • Under the Dome: The titular dome is the creation of alien children at play. It's only lifted when the protagonists momentarily induce a sense of pity in one of the children.
  • C. S. Lewis's:
    • Perelandra, after Weston returns to his body which had heretofore been possessed by a bent eldil, the picture he paints of the afterlife suggests a Cosmic Horror universe: Reality as we know it is just a thin shell surrounding an endless abyss of nothingness, and ultimately nothing humanity does matters. However, this being a novel by C.S. Lewis, he's wrong about the universe; and it's suggested that this wasn't even Weston talking, but an eldil impersonating Weston in hopes of discouraging Ransom.
    • Mere Christianity: In this apologetic work, Lewis addresses the criticism that Christianity is (or should be) believed simply because it is comforting; in response he writes that without the possibility of redemption offered by Christ's Passion, the prospect of an all-good God and a universe full of sinful humanity is anything but comforting:
      "This is the terrible fix we are in. If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless. But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again....God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from."
  • Thomas Ligotti is a practitioner of cosmic horror, in works such as "Nethescurial":
    "See, there is no shape in the fireplace. The smoke is gone, gone up the chimney and out into the sky. And there is nothing in the sky, nothing I can see through the window. There is the moon, of course, high and round. But no shadow falls across the moon, no churning chaos of smoke that chokes the frail order of the earth, no shifting cloud of nightmares enveloping moons and suns and stars. It is not a squirming, creeping, smearing shape I see upon the moon, not the shape of a great deformed crab scuttling out of the black oceans of infinity and invading the island of the moon, crawling with its innumerable bodies upon all the spinning islands of inky space. That shape is not the cancerous totality of all creatures, not the oozing ichor that flows within all things. Nethescurial is not the secret name of the creation. It is not in the rooms of houses and beyond their walls... beneath dark waters and across moonlit skies... below earth mound and above mountain peak... in northern leaf and southern flower... inside each star and the voids between them... within blood and bone, through all souls and spirits... among the watchful winds of this and the several worlds... behind the faces of the living and the dead."
  • Liu Cixin's Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy, starting from The Three-Body Problem, is a big example of sci-fi Cosmic Horror. Humanity made First Contact with an alien civilization, the Trisolarians, who intend to colonize Earth to flee from their uninhabitable home world. They are magnitudes beyond Earth in technology and had locked down Earth's scientific development before their invasion even begins, and when they finally arrive, a single probe obliterates the entirety of Earth Fleet in minutes, before the audience is revealed to that the entire universe is under a principle that made annihilation of all other civilizations mandatory, plunging the entire story into hopelessness as everyone in the universe is hostile to each other by nature, and way beyond anything the humans and the Trisolarians could manage. By the third book, a third civilization casually obliterates the entirety of Solar System by flattening it into 2D, and all everyone can do is to preserve whatever traces of humanity that were left, since the universe is completely hopeless.
  • Sarah Monette's The Necromantic Mysteries of Kyle Murchison Booth stories take place in a Cosmic Horror Story universe — unsurprisingly, as she openly acknowledges Lovecraft as a major influence.
  • Michael Moorcock:
    • The Elric Saga's world has many, many ancient evils that used to rule the world and now lie around decaying and waiting to destroy any traveler they meet. Elric himself rules over the remnants of one of these evil empires, and his patron god is an Eldritch Abomination (as are virtually all the other gods; Warhammer's Order Versus Chaos theme was clearly inspired by Moorcock's work, at least until they decided to get rid of the Order part). The final book involves the world being completely remade by the Eldritch Abominations, and the "good" ending to the story accepts this as inevitable.
    • In the Corum series the title character fights against Elric's Lords of Chaos in the first series, and in the second series against a group of Eldritch Abominations who are based on the elemental forces of cold and death.
    • An interesting variation is The Dancers at the End of Time: Humanity itself is the source of the horror. Having reached omnipotence through enormously energetically costly technology, they dramatically sped up the heat death of the universe, and the few surviving races still coexisting with humanity are witnessing the stars dying at a frightening rate. Also, since this is a Moorcock story, there is also the implication that some of the Abominations who are wreaking havoc in Elric's universe — including Elric's own Patron God - are in fact Dancers who decided to take part in wars between gods to stave off their boredom.
  • Sean O'Hara's My Dark and Fearsome Queen: Plato was right — except we're the shadows on the wall. And sometimes people from outside enter the cave and alter our existence by their mere presence. Even the nominal good guys don't much care how this affects us. And too much alteration of our "reality" causes distortions, which manifest through Eldritch Abominations.
  • W.H. Pugmire writes this genre from an unusual angle. Some of his stories are from inhuman perspectives, while many of his human protagonists actively seek fates like dissolution in the cosmic ether.
  • Cthulhu's Reign, edited by Darrell Schweitzer, is an anthology of short stories on what life — well, existence anyway — on Earth would be like when the Old Ones return.
  • The Sister Verse and the Talons of Ruin is about an eldritch god that torments people by trapping them in a sadistic cycle of reincarnation until they are completely broken inside.
  • Charles Stross:
    • The Laundry Files take place in a world where bureaucratic top secret government agencies even more covert and shadowy than MI-5 and the CIA battle Eldritch Abominations attracted to reality after Alan Turing discovered a theory that allowed the user to warp reality with computers and the Nazis attempted to summon the Great Old Ones using the souls of those slaughtered in the Holocaust to win the Second World War. CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, where the Elder Gods devour the world, is definitely going to happen; the only question is how long we've got, and the best estimates have it as a matter of a few years... if we're lucky. In The Labyrinth Index, an avatar of Nyarlathotep is the new PM, and Cthulhu is attempting to become the President of the USA.
    • "Missile Gap" begins with humanity finding itself on a colossal, extragalactic construct after being somehow moved there by an unknowable civilization, engendering a good deal of dread about why this happened and what these entities are trying to achieve with it. The ending answers some of these questions, mostly by way of describing humanity as an evolutionary dead-end of piddling importance, doomed to being unsentimentally eliminated by more successful and efficient civilizations.
    • "A Colder War", as its title may reveal, mixes late Cold War paranoia with the Cthulhu Mythos as different factions try to exploit its implications for military purposes, while being more preoccupied by mundane ideological concerns than what those implications mean, with... unpleasant results.
  • The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign: The main premise is that the White Queen, the Top God of the setting who is seen as an incarnation of benevolence, is actually an Eldritch Abomination who doesn't care for humanity as a whole. She does love one person, the main character Kyousuke... in an extremely inhuman fashion, as she sees no problem with making his life a living hell. Kyousuke does manage to defeat her and thwart her plans repeatedly, but only because she doesn't mind losing and so never uses her full power.
  • Watership Down has quite a few rather subtle elements of cosmic horror when you get away from the main plot and look at the setting. The world the protagonists live in is filled with all sorts of dangerous creatures that are both sentient and in many cases actively malevolent and have at the very top of said list of enemy races an entire race of eldritch abominations. This race of cosmic horrors are a driving force in the plot, which starts with the protagonists' exodus when said eldritch beings destroy their original home for incomprehensible reasons, displaying a huge Lack of Empathy. In the course of their exodus, they encounter two other colonies of their kind, one of which is a fascist Dystopia that hides itself for protection against those cosmic horrors, and the other is a Town with a Dark Secret who has a sinister Faustian covenant with one of the eldritch abominations that has them being occasionally picked to be eaten, leaving the rest living on the brink of madness and death. What makes this a Cosmic Horror is that there is absolutely nothing the characters can do to overthrow or even really harm the Eldritch Abominations or change the status quo. The main cast of characters are feral rabbits and the Eldritch Abominations are humans.
  • Peter Watts's Blindsight is essentially Cosmic Horror Story made realistic and scientifically hard. The novel deals with characters that display psychopathic or sociopathic traits, and is set in a future in which the basic human sense of worth is undermined by the social implications of new technologies. However the true cosmic horror is revealed near the end; the aliens are actually all impossible-to-understand beings that are non-sapient. Sentience itself is an evolutionary aberration and perceived by the aliens as a blight on the galaxy. In fact, the only way an extremely intelligent non-conscious entity can understand attempts to communicate is as an attack, since from its perspective it's being made to waste energy processing nonsense information. The novel ends with the implication that humans may be evolving away from sentience again, since it's not actually necessary at all. The sequel, Echopraxia, goes even further, examining the theory of a holographic universe; namely that the universe could just be one big simulation, with the laws of physics being the programming and God being the virus that breaks them.
  • In Jack Williamson's short story "Born of the Sun", the planets of the Solar system are actually eggs of space-dwelling dragon-like monsters that start hatching. Pluto first.
  • Several of Colin Wilson's works dabble in this; The Mind Parasites in particular plunges in head first, and The Space Vampires was the inspiration for the film Lifeforce, above.
  • The Adversary Cycle by F. Paul Wilson depicts a struggle between two forces over Earth — the Otherness and the Ally. Neither of them care about humanity — it's just a counter in a galaxy-spanning conflict for an unknown goal, and implied to be a relatively worthless one at that. The Ally protects Earth simply because the Otherness wants it, and the protagonists serve the Ally only because the consequences of the Otherness taking over Earth are far, far worse.
  • David Wong's John Dies at the End and its sequel This Book is Full of Spiders are Cosmic Horror masquerading as Lovecraft Lite. The antagonists are Eldritch Abominations from parallel realities or stranger places intent on entering our reality and shaping it to suit them. It's strongly implied by the end of the second book that the only reason they haven't been successful so far is that there are so many of these things trying to invade our reality that their various plans and agents keep interfering with each other.
  • Chris Wooding's The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray has the standard deluded-fools-summoning-eldritch-abominations plot.
  • Worm has quite a few elements of cosmic horror, particularly in the Endbringers, horrifically powerful monsters that regularly obliterate major population centers. The efforts of all the heroes and villains combined is really only enough to stall them and limit the damage until Scion, the first and most powerful parahuman, shows up to actually push them back. Even then he is apparently unable to decisively defeat them once and for all (it turns out this is actually because he was never told to actually kill the Endbringers, just to fight them off. When instructed to actually kill them, he does so without trouble. Near the end of the series it's revealed that Scion is actually the avatar of an Entity, one of a race of Eldritch Abominations that devour entire planets to reproduce. All superpowers in the setting are due to shards of these Entities attaching to people, as part of their reproductive cycle. The final arc is about what happens when Scion learns that Evil Feels Good. The setting ultimately tilts towards Lovecraft Lite. Through their combined efforts, the parahumans of multiple dimensions are able to destroy the true body of Scion. The Sequel Series Ward deal with humanity slowly recovering after the results of the original story, although they (unsurprisingly) have a whole host of new horrific things to deal with.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel is closer to Lovecraft Lite for most of its run but lurches into Cosmic Horror in its final season, what with the protagonists wrestling with the futility of their battles and the certain knowledge that everything they've done has either been a minor inconvenience to The Senior Partners, or helped their schemes. The final scene of the series is the surviving characters preparing to fight a massive army of demons, with the implication that they will either die having achieved nothing, or fight for all eternity.
  • Black Mirror: "USS Callister" mixes this with a Deconstruction of Video Game Cruelty Potential - if the video game characters are able to pass the Turing testnote  and being tormented every day by a psychopathic player with practically unlimited power, then there is no denying this is the kind of story they live in.
  • Chernobyl can almost be considered an actual Real Life version of a Cosmic Horror Story. The show is a bleak five-episode miniseries dramatizing the worst nuclear accident in history, and a major theme is the lack of control humans have over the unimaginably powerful and destructive forces of nuclear energy and radiation. Characters scramble to try and contain the accident as it threatens to bring about the deaths of millions of people in Europe while incomprehensible horrors erupt around them and kill hundreds, if not thousands of their comrades. The environment is left forever altered, with the half-life of some of the dangerous elements released by the accident being tens of thousands of years long. If you were to go over the criteria atop this page, the only one you would firmly be able to answer 'no' to is the literal indescribable nature of the disaster.
    Legasov: You are dealing with something that has never occurred on this planet before.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The series heavily implies that the Last Great Time War became this by the end. Entire civilizations were rendered extinct or simply wiped from existence, armies of Eldritch Abominations were created and used as weapons, the Daleks became deranged and maniacal even by their standards, the Time Lords were perfectly willing to destroy time in an attempt to save their own skins, and the Doctor - usually a Badass Pacifist who tries to find a solution that won't kill anyone - was so horrified that he (tried to) kill off everyone involved just to contain it.
    • There's also the backstory of the Toclafane, who turn out to be the last remnants of humanity, having discovered that there was no escape from the entropy consuming all existence, and became some kind of terrifying hive mind race of sociopaths in order to hang on just a little longer. It's shown that merely seeing where the universe ends up is enough to turn the Master's human wife into a Straw Nihilist.
    • Multiple episodes have shown that if it weren't for the Doctor, the entire Whoniverse would amount to one giant cosmic horror story.
  • Farscape borders on this at times. While the universe as a whole isn't overtly threatened by any Eldritch Abomination, it does show mankind's insignificance in a vast cosmos that is almost entirely unaware of its existence; when it is discovered, the only safe option is to deliberately cut Earth off from the rest of the galaxynote . In the event that it hadn't, arguably the most optimistic possible future for human race was to be colonized by the Scarran Imperium and used for casual sex by Scarran officers on shore leave- the next generation of humans being almost entirely comprised of Scarran hybrids. For good measure, the Uncharted Territories alone are populated by countless varieties of nightmarish creatures and impossible beings, most of them extremely hostile or at the very least antagonistic towards other races. Worse still, the nearest things to gods in this setting (be they Sufficiently Advanced Aliens or truly godlike Energy Beings) are amoral and uninterested in anything outside their sphere of influence- at best; at worst, they're murderous kill-crazy bastards who are actually empowered by mass-slaughter. And tellingly enough, Crichton's final victory was only possible thanks to the sponsorship of one of the least selfish group of entities from beyond reality. This gets a flat out parody in one episode, where the eldritch tentacled horror from beyond space and time they encountered was essentially just trying to help them get their car out of a ditch
  • Kamen Rider Build turns into one of these in the second half when it's revealed that Blood Stalk is an alien lifeform that at full power has the ability to create black holes with but a thought and has destroyed countless civilizations. And the only reason why he didn't destroy Earth immediately after reaching such power levels (aside from the fact that he's a sociopath he loves seeing the Puny Earthling struggle) is because he wants to unlock Faster-Than-Light Travel, which would allow him to destroy the universe in record time.
    • Earlier than that, we had Kamen Rider Gaim. Which, incidentally, was written by the same person that gave us the above-mentioned Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Partway through, the mysterious forest dimension of Helheim is revealed to be the ruined remnants of an alien world that was consumed by Helheim itself, poisoning the soil for all but its own plants. Plants that bear Helheim's hypnotically-delicious fruit, which transforms anyone or anything that eats them into a monstrous Inves, which in turn results in Death of Personality for the eater. Worse is that Helheim is spreading from planet to planet, and its infestation of Earth gets worse as time rolls on. Takatora states that Earth only has about ten years before Helheim swallows it completely.
  • Sapphire and Steel took place in a universe threatened by formless evils. The (presumably) non-human "Elements" Steel and occasionally even the more sympathetic Sapphire, could, on occasion seem alien themselves.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959)
    • "It's a Good Life", an episode based off of a short story of the same name by Jerome Bixby is a crowning example. The premise of the episode is that the town of Peaksville, Ohio is under the rule of Anthony Fremont, a six-year-old with near god-like mental and telepathic powers. Everyone in the whole town has to think happy thoughts and say nice, positive things to him or else he snaps at them by mutating them (as he does in the case of Dan Hollis, turning him into a jack-in-the-box) maiming them, or sending them to a place known only as "the Cornfield." (Also in the case of Dan Hollis) No one is safe in the entire town- not even his own family. Oh, and Peaksville, Ohio isn't even on Earth anymore (or even in this universe for that matter) all thanks to good old Anthony. My, what a good boy!
    • "And When The Sky Was Opened" is another example. Two astronauts, Forbes and Gart, fly a prototype X-20 aircraft into space, then disappear from radar for 24 hours, only to crash in the Mojave desert. They all seem to be fine, aside from the fact that there were three of them. Forbes went with the other member of their crew, Harrington, to a bar, where he inexplicably disappeared and nobody but Forbes seems to remember him. As Forbes goes looking around for some evidence of what happened, he starts to speculate that maybe someone or something made a mistake, and their flight wasn't meant to return to earth. By the end, he, Gart, and the X-20 all vanish as well. Nobody knows why, and nobody ever will.
  • Twin Peaks:
    • especially in the second season with the gradual reveal that under a quiet and reasonably cheerful town it turns out there are mysterious otherworldly beings, including one who delights in possessing people's bodies and committing brutal murders, though he is found and apparently defeated until he possesses Cooper's body in the season finale. Then of course there's The Black Lodge.
    • It's sequel The Return goes way beyond that as is implied in the finale, that despite whatever leaps the main character has achieved in understanding such otherworldly phenomena, true understanding is beyond any human grasp or control.

  • In an interview with William S. Burroughs, David Bowie gave this as a possible interpretation of his album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars:
    The time is five years to go before the end of the earth. It has been announced that the world will end because of lack of natural resources. Ziggy is in a position where all the kids have access to things that they thought they wanted. The older people have lost all touch with reality and the kids are left on their own to plunder anything. Ziggy was in a rock-and-roll band and the kids no longer want rock-and-roll. There's no electricity to play it. Ziggy's adviser tells him to collect news and sing it, 'cause there is no news. So Ziggy does this and there is terrible news. "All The Young Dudes" is a song about this news. It's no hymn to the youth as people thought. It is completely the opposite...The end comes when the infinites arrive. They really are a black hole, but I've made them people because it would be very hard to explain a black hole on stage...Ziggy is advised in a dream by the infinites to write the coming of a Starman, so he writes "Starman", which is the first news of hope that the people have heard. So they latch onto it immediately...The starmen that he is talking about are called the infinites, and they are black-hole jumpers. Ziggy has been talking about this amazing spaceman who will be coming down to save the earth. They arrive somewhere in Greenwich Village. They don't have a care in the world and are of no possible use to us. They just happened to stumble into our universe by black hole jumping. Their whole life is travelling from universe to universe. In the stage show, one of them resembles Brando, another one is a Black New Yorker. I even have one called Queenie, the Infinite Fox... Now Ziggy starts to believe in all this himself and thinks himself a prophet of the future starmen. He takes himself up to the incredible spiritual heights and is kept alive by his disciples. When the infinites arrive, they take bits of Ziggy to make them real because in their original state they are anti-matter and cannot exist in our world. And they tear him to pieces on stage during the song "Rock 'N' Roll Suicide". As soon as Ziggy dies on stage the infinites take his elements and make themselves visible.
  • In a massive case of Soundtrack Dissonance, musician DyE's music video for the song "Fantasy" (which contains NSFW scenes) mutates (almost literally) into cosmic horror when the teens at the pool start to turn into monsters. One girl manages to escape when the bottom of the pool turns into a portal, but this only leads her to the Eldritch Abomination responsible for the terror, and the sheer incomprehensibility of what she sees causes her eyes to explode.
  • The Nine Inch Nails album Year Zero and its accompanying Alternate Reality Game plays with this genre, when the involvement of the ghostly alien race "The Presence" comes into play that will wipe out humanity if they don't change their ways — apparently, they succeed.
  • The Prayer by German psychedelic trance duo Electric Universe. It invokes the feeling of cosmic horror by mixing an actual Hindi prayer with exceptionally dark trance samples.
  • Regal Pinion's album, Lunatic Crossing, tells the story of a small town that is tormented by Eldritch Abominations after being released from a box by a young man. And it goes downhill from there...
  • PSY's Urbanite music video throws in a workaholic being supressed by social pressures, business screwups and finally in fear of getting replaced by Ridiculously Human Robots or Artificial Humans in this grayscaled Crapsack World. Sounds like this will be a reality soon...

  • Ain't Slayed Nobody is set in the "Down Darker Trails" setting of the Call of Cthulhu tabletop game, and stars a ragtag posse setting out to bring a notorious outlaw to justice only to both find themselves the unwitting pawns of cosmic entities beyond mortal comprehension.
  • Blake Skye Private Eye includes many cosmic horror story elements, set against a film noir backdrop.
  • The Magnus Archives: As the eponymous institute takes in statements from people who have encountered the supernatural, it becomes increasingly clear that humanity is a plaything for ancient and incomprehensible entities dwelling beyond the universe, which feed on/embody the fears of every living thing on the planet. They defy all attempts at rational analysis; even their own servants, human and otherwise, admit to not understanding what they are or why they do things. These Entities cannot be defeated or even meaningfully fought, any more than you could punch the concept of arachnophobia, and at any moment they might arbitrarily single you out for torment or death because you would be the right kind of afraid while it happens.
  • Old Gods of Appalachia: Appalachia is right at the center of one. Ancient, powerful beings older than humanity? Check. These beings awaking when humans Dug Too Deep? Yep. A general sense of futility in the face of such horrors? You bet.

  • Played with in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Each version of the story literally begins with Earth being obliterated by indifferent aliens to make way for a hyperspace bypass, and would have completely driven mankind to extinction if Arthur Dent and Trillian hadn't conveniently befriended aliens who took them offworld before the disaster happened. (However, in a twist, it is revealed that the Earth was actually a gigantic super-computer designed to figure out the ultimate question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, and it was destroyed five minutes before the program was to be completed, essentially making Arthur Dent the most important person in the entire universe.) A major plot thread, at least in the radio series, involves the "Total Perspective Vortex", a torture device which consists of forcing prisoners to glimpse the entirety of the universe with a tiny, microscopic marker reading "You are here", the idea being that the victim's brain snaps as a result of being unable to comprehend their insignificance. Ironically this helped Zaphod, who survived because it made him realize that his ego was literally as big as the universe. Well that and he was in an artificial universe but that's another matter altogether.

  • Aztec Mythology. If humans ever stop sacrificing each other, the Gods will become too weak to keep the universe running. Entropy will take over, the sky will tear itself apart, skeletal snake-woman monsters will descend from on high and everything will perish. Again. Except, presumably, the Gods, who have already survived five or six apocalypses in the past, pretty-much all of which were entirely their fault.
  • Classical Mythology would merely be a Darker and Edgier Low Fantasy if the Greeks weren't obsessed with personifying everythingnote  but the fact that every abstract concept is personified as a deity means that Fate, which is completely unstoppable, is in fact a sentient being (which was actually worshipped by some mystery religions) and is thus making the word crapsack entirely for her own amusement, and there is nothing that mortals or even gods can do to get her to stop being a Troll.
  • Gnosticism. The entire physical universe was created by a tyrannical, infantile creator called the demiurge, who mistakenly believes himself to be the one and true God. In fact, he was actually birthed by a higher divinity called Sophia. The goal of Gnosticism is to divorce oneself from the physical realm, which is inherently malevolent, and instead embrace the spiritual realm, which is divine.
  • Mesopotamian Mythology. The world is populated with Eldritch Abdominations like Nammu/Tiamat and Kur, Humanoid Abomination Jerkass Gods who may occasionally Pet the Dog, weird monsters like the Aqrabuamelu and Sirrush, and Always Chaotic Evil demons who cause plagues, infertility, and famine just For the Evulz. Meanwhile, humans are nothing more than a Servant Race and the afterlife is a place of stasis and darkness where everyone goes no matter what kind of life they lived.
  • Norse Mythology. Wolves large enough to eat heavenly bodies? A snake so large it encircles the earth? A dragon large enough to eat away at the foundations of the universe? Beings refered to as "giants" (or "jötun" which means "devourer") that are (mostly) sinister primordial personifications of nature that existed even before the universe? The god who runs the show is a scary death-deity that really is not in control of the universe as much as trying to keep it balanced but knows that in the end it will all come tumbling down? An even older race of giants that embody fire and heat and live in a place literary called "Home of the Worlddestroyers" that only wish to burn the entire universe? The fact that they are predestined to succeed in the end and that the dragon that eats away at the foundations of the universe will survive this event?

    Tabletop Games 
  • The entire point of the Arkham Horror board game is the fact that you play as 1-8 humans who are the only people trying to actively stop the Ancient One from waking up. It is possible (although highly unlikely) to force the Ancient One back through combat, however strictly speaking you cannot win the game this way as it ends in a draw: you beat the cosmic evil, but humanity is likely in shambles, it probably did serious damage to the planet, it's likely a bunch of people died the second it showed up, and you failed to seal it, so for all you know it could be back tomorrow. The only true way to win is to seal six gates or close gates equal to all players on the board and have all the gates closed simultaneously. In this scenario, you sealed it off to keep it from arriving, but nobody will ever know your efforts, and people will still think you insane. Its spin-offs, the Arkham Horror card game, Elder Sign, Eldritch Horror and Mansions of Madness, differ mostly in gameplay mechanics but share the same bleak tone.
    • The game line was recenty expanded with Unfathomable, a reskin of Fantasy Flight's previous Battlestar Galactica (2003) boardgame, where the crew and passengers of an ocean liner crossing from Britain to America in 1912 find their ship besieged by dark shapes in the water, and to make matters worse, not everyone on board is who they seem...
  • In Bleak World most races are caught up in petty minded squabbles and being on the brink of war, but all that is meaningless because of the Princesses' story. Their entire planet was consumed by an Eldritch Abomination that can only be stopped by a force field that is made of the stolen wonder and hope of human beings. If the barrier goes down for even a second, they, and every other sentient being in the Milky Way, will end up exactly like the dark princesses, mindlessly destroying other barriers of other galaxies.
  • Breakfast Cult takes place in an academy set in a world where a new era of progress has been achieved by combining science with magic. The players normally end up uncovering a sinister background conspiracy involving the occult, one of several Eldritch Abominations, and an intertwined conspiracy connecting it all.
  • Call of Cthulhu is an RPG based on the works of H. P. Lovecraft, embracing and expanding upon what he developed (though at times in the direction of Lovecraft Lite, depending on the Guardian or scenario). An alternate setting for the game, Delta Green, takes place in modern times and adds in Conspiracy Theories of every stripe by giving them a Cthulhu Mythos spin (The Greys that Majestic-12 are in contact with are cats-paws for the Mi-Go, surviving South American Nazis have access to Mythos-related occult knowledge and are being manipulated by an avatar of Nyarlathotep, the mutated cannibal homeless people in the New York underground are renegade Ghouls, etc.). Curiously enough, in Delta Green it's mentionned in the main book that by the turn of the millenium, most Mythos entities and their minions are far less present and/or active than they were even in the 20s and 30s... They don't need to be. They already won. They just need to wait a comparatively short while for the Stars will soon be Right.
  • CthulhuTech. Mix the above with Robotech, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Guyver and AKIRA. The good news: You have all sorts of wonderful toys (Magitek Humongous Mecha, Psychic Powers, Functional Magic, Lovecraftian Superpowers...) to fight against the Migou invaders and the Eldritch Abomination-worshipping cults. The bad news: the fact that the Migou and the cults also fight each other only barely slows down their systematic conquest of more areas, both have thoroughly infiltrated human society despite The Government's increasingly (and justifiably) draconian security policies, a handful of godlike abominations and countless lesser ones are already here, and the first storyline-progressing book can be summed up in three words: It Got Worse. It's even mentioned in the core book that should Great Cthulhu be woken up by the Esoteric Order of Dagon, it's game over for anything not in thrall to the Old Ones.
  • The boardgame Cthulhu Wars takes the premise of a Lovecraftian Cosmic Horror Story to its logical conclusion - the fighting isn't sane humans versus cults and abominations, but rather cult against cult. The world has already fallen to the Great Old Ones and their thralls; the only question is which of them will run the show.
  • Long-defunct late-80s/early-90s RPG Dark Conspiracy had this sort of vibe — even though the Big Bad Ensemble of the Dark Lords took several cues from mythological gods and demons, they were still overwhelmingly powerful and unknowable extradimensional entities, who managed from behind the scenes to turn near-future Earth into a horribly depressing dystopia with the worst aspects of Cyberpunk cranked up and almost none of the cool stuff that comes with it (they stalled technological progress because too much of it could give humanity hope for the future, y'see, and since they thrive on our despair... Their minions had access to plenty of creepy, evil tech). Oh, and almost everyone even the slightest bit in the know was either an Unwitting Pawn, collaborating, or worse, one of countless monstrous minions who infiltrated and preyed on an apathetically oblivious humanity in secret.
  • Demon: The Descent straddles between this and Lovecraft Lite. On the Lite side, you can actually win against the God-Machine's machinations, foil its plans, cause setbacks, and at the end of the day it will actually avoid ruffling your feathers. But on the Cosmic Horror side, the God Machine is several orders of magnitude more powerful than anything in the setting, it has no definite form,note  it has utterly alien agenda that not even the angels fully comprehend, and your victory over it is simply because it sees you not worth allocating more resources to deal with. That's right, even if you win and gets what you want, it will still get what it wants, just using different methods. And if you confuse that for weakness on its part, you're in for a rude awakening.
  • Dungeons & Dragons very gladly hands the Game Master the tools necessary with the Far Realm. Though D&D already had weird, Lovecraftian monsters like the squid-headed illithids, mid-2nd Edition game designer Bruce Cordell started adding even deeper cosmic horror elements. One of his more influential contributions was the idea of a "far realm" of everything outside the borders of time, making the multiverse into a bubble in the infinite cosmic horror stew. Eberron's plane of Xoriat is strongly inspired by it, and a lot of weirder monsters that weren't from "the planes" or "A Wizard Did It" became the result of Far Realm intrusions into reality. The denizens of the Far Realm don't even care enough to want in, but constant accidents and random events cause little openings in the very thin wall of reality. Add in your standard insane cultists, mad wizards seeking alien power, world-ending monstrosities from later books like Elder Evils, and a bevy of alternate rules including a Sanity Meter rule cribbed from Call of Cthulhu, and D&D is very inviting to someone who wants to inflict this trope on a high fantasy world.
  • Elder Sign is a fast-paced, cooperative dice game of supernatural intrigue for one to eight players by Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson, the designers of Arkham Horror. Players take the roles of investigators racing against time to stave off the imminent return of the Ancient Ones. Armed with cards for tools, allies, and occult knowledge, investigators must put their sanity and stamina to the test as they adventure to locate Elder Signs, the eldritch symbols used to seal away the Ancient Ones and win the game.
  • Eclipse Phase can fall into this. The apocalypse has already happened. 9/10ths of humanity have been wiped out (read: had their brains pulled out and read like floppy disks) by enigmatic AI superbeings called the TITANs, with the remaining ten percent only surviving because apparently the TITANs lost interest for no explainable reason (and apparently human extinction was only a side effect of their goals anyway). Before leaving, they released mindless killing machines charged with harvesting heads, superweapons never dreamt of by human minds, plagues and nanobots capable of turning someone into Body Horror. Space folds differently around some TITAN artifacts, and psychic powers exist... as a side effect of one of their mutagenic plagues which may or may not turn you into a time bomb of some sort. Looking at TITAN artifacts can be damaging to your mind, or even infect you with a mutagenic horror, rewrite your mind, or simply destroy you... from across vaccuum and through the best protection humanity has ever devised. Monstrosities prowl the dark parts of space, just left behind when the TITANs vanished. Of course, the TITANs only started this menagerie of horrors because a cosmic superbeing (superbeings?) of enigmatic origins and goals did something similar to them for similarly ineffable reasons. Transhumanity's only hope lies in the fact that apparently nobody who matters cares enough to take the few months required to finish the job, but they might do it anyway out of carelessness.
  • Exalted. It looks bleak. The ghosts of dead titans are trying to drag all of Creation into Oblivion, the demonic creators of the universe want to reclaim rule of it, and the infinite armies of shapeless chaos want to dissolve all existence back into chaos. After a series of catastrophes, about 98% of the world has already been irreparably destroyed by the start of the series, civilization has been steadily crumbling for hundreds of years, and everybody is lining up to be the one to finally finish the job. Of course, you're Exalted. You can solve all these problems by punching them in the face.
  • GURPS, given its wide variety of settings, hits this trope on occasion:
    • Cabal, where the eponymous secretive organization of amoral sorcerers and monsters tinker with the fabric of reality for fun and profit. The good news: you're one of them. The bad news: there are much worse things out there, and not all of them play by your rules... including fellow Cabal members.
    • Cthulhupunk's setting is on the surface a typical cyberpunk setting... where the Cthulhu Mythos happens to be real.
    • In Infinite Worlds one of the greatest fears of Homeline is precisely discovering worldlines where Lovecraft was right, which, given the number of worlds where other elements once thought purely fictional are somehow real, is worryingly possible. They technically found one, Taft-7, where fortunately the Stars were Right about 16 million years ago and so while humanity never evolved, the Great Old Ones left long ago (which didn't stop the Things left behind from slaughtering and driving insane the members of at least one survey team, and may have led to catastrophe if not for the timely intervention of a Call of Cthulhu-style investigator from another worldline). Unknown to Homeline, there's a second one as well: Taft-1 (Taft worlds have a reputation as Weirdness Magnets), where Stalin's USSR's steady post-WW2 ascension actually owes at least as much of its success to Stalin "signing his name in the Book of Azathoth" as it does to the US's isolationist policies... especially since said isolationism derives from the secret assassination of Harry Truman through Mythos sorcery. Of course, it that's not enough, there's also the fact that since Infinite Worlds is a meta-setting connecting most note  GURPS settings, almost every other GURPS example also exists there; the aformentioned Cabal is a very concerning Wild Card third faction that intrudes unpredictably in the Homeline VS Centrum conflict.
    • Technically, The Madness Dossier is at the low end of the Cosmic Horror range; the "Red Kings", overlords of the antagonists, probably couldn't destroy the Earth, and have an actual interest in humanity (as slaves at the bottom of their hierarchy). Nonetheless, reality is unstable, the Red Kings are godlike Eldritch Abominations who can probably only be slain by crossing the Godzilla Threshold if at all, the heroes are far from certain of victory and may be driven mad in the struggle, and humanity has a very low place in the universe.
  • Some years ago, a short-lived CCG called Hecatomb had this as its premise - each player was an "Endbringer", someone who, whether Mad Scientist, Evil Sorcerer or what-have-you, competed with other Endbringers to be the first to gather enough souls to bring about The End of the World as We Know It to fuel their powers, then move on to the next Alternate Universe to start over. You fought each other by summoning/creating monstrous minions (many of them eldritch abominations in their own right) and fusing them together to form Abominations, calling down evil gods (including Great Old Ones), and similar dirty tricks, all to get the requisite 20 soul tokens at your enemies' expense. And since every player gained a soul token at the beginning of his/her turn...
  • JAGS Wonderland is a massive subversion. The world is being menaced by the Caretakers, a group of entities who live based on story rather than physical laws, as we humans do. They have collectively decided to drive humanity to self-destruction, and have done so via a viral insanity that causes reality to lose its grip on you... The Caretakers hate humans because they're actually terrified of us, since we act in ways they find utterly incomprehensible. That, and the reveal of the fact that vice versa is not true...
  • The world of Kingdom Death. On top of the Crapsack Death World filled with monstrous, madness-inducing horrors where humans are at the bottom of the food chain, the fluff hints at one or several unknowable, unkillable entities who created the world and everything in it for completely unknown reasons. Even managing to defeat the endgame Final Boss of a given campaign is likely to be a Pyrrhic Victory at best. In fact, even the monsters themselves, despite usually being some shade of Eldritch Abomination, aren't immune to being hit by this, the intelligent ones especially - the Dragon King, for example, is the Last of Its Kind, and explicitely angsts over this and the fear of ultimately being forgotten, showing it to be as insignificant as the human chattel it lords over.
  • The Swedish RPG KULT mixed Gnosticism, Kabbalah, Aleister Crowley occult traditions and the Hellraiser movies, and took its aesthetics from Splatter Punk, Clive Barker and H. R. Giger art. It's actually a subversion. Humans are hopeless against supernatural forces, but will triumph once awoken. In fact, most supernatural beings are hopelessly trying to prevent that. In other words, they broke their arms punching us.
  • Magic: The Gathering has the Shadows Over Innistrad block, which is a continuation from a previous Innistrad block. Whereas the original Innistrad block is a Gothic Horror setting with humans being preyed upon by vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons, what-have-you, Shadows Over Innistrad has cultists, people going crazy and resident Eldritch Abomination wreaking havoc. Its ending especially cements the Cosmic Horror Story status: Said Eldritch Abomination is successfully sealed... only because it has decided it's done playing and seals itself for reasons unknown.
  • The same Swedish company behind KULT also released Mutant Chronicles, whose basic premise is somewhat similar to that of Warhammer 40,000, if on a much smaller scale (humanity still hasn't expanded beyond the solar system); although depending on the Game Master's choices for his own campaign, it could be entirely possible for the players to rip the Dark Soul a new one if they try hard enough.
  • Noctum has such a premise (mixed, like others on the list, with splatterpunk), but with the caveat that the reason the abominations were attracted to our world in the first place is because humans are bastards.
  • The Old World of Darkness has elements of this in each of its gamelines, with each one having an apocalyptic ending. Vampire has the Antediluvians, their ancient, cannibalistic and godlike forefathers and Werewolf has the Wyrm and the titular apocalypse. Of the bigger lines, only Mage gives the potential for a happy ending, and doesn't involve one flavour or another of the Old Ones eating everything (unless the PCs screw up BADLY).
  • Pelgrane Press really seem to like this trope, since the first three published settings for their Gumshoe system — Trail of Cthulhu, Fear Itself and The Esoterrorists — all contain varying degrees of it. The first one is classic Cthulhu Mythos pulp horror investigation; the second is about playing more or less normal people suddenly confronted to the fact that their world actually is like every Clive Barker-esque supernatural splatterpunk story lumped together; and the third is about a secret organisation, the Ordo Veritatis, trying to stop an Ancient Conspiracy (the eponymous esoterrorists) from turning their world into a copy of the second one for fun and profit. Things are not going so well for the Ordo. A bestiary-style supplement released first for the d20 then for the latter two is very aptly called The Book of Unremitting Horror. Trail of Cthulhu's Purist mode is meant to emulate a Cosmic Horror Story at its most bleak and austere. The scenario "The Final Revelation" ends with the reveal to the player characters that the world was already consumed by horrible alien entities before their investigation even began, and everything they have experienced so far is a lie their fractured minds have told themselves. Every investigator immediately goes insane as reality itself dissolves into a surreal, endless nightmare.
  • Savage Worlds has published a supplement called Worlds Of Cthulhu. No points for guessing the premise.
  • Shadow of the Demon Lord. Not only is the setting Darker and Edgier even by Dark Fantasy standards, as it stands, there is no way to effectively repel the Demon Lord (an Omnicidal Maniac Eldritch Abomination) and his forces. The best anyone can do is delay the inevitable.
  • Unknown Armies subverts the trope; the setting's big secret is that the universe is humanocentric, existing only for our benefit. Any horrific monsters beyond time that make us insignificant, then, are actually the product, not the cause, of our sense of insignificance; it's a vicious cycle.
  • Warhammer:
    • Warhammer aka Warhammer Fantasy takes place in a world infiltrated by Chaos, a corruptive force given strength by the ickier parts of the human psyche. The only way to combat Chaos is to be frighteningly dogmatic and wipe it out whenever it looks at you funny, no matter who gets caught in the crossfire.
    • Warhammer: The End Times took the trope to the logical conclusion: the world was conquered by Chaos and destroyed. A couple of months later the setting was given a Reset Button Ending in the form of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, acting as a Lovecraft Lite sequel: we've seen what Chaos can do, now mankind fights to keep it from happening again.
    • Warhammer 40,000 (Warhammer's Sci-Fi Counterpart) is even worse. Not only is Chaos even more of a threat (powerful daemons in Warhammer can devastate cities; powerful daemons in 40K can devastate star systems), there are also the implacable legions of the Necrons and their former C'tan mastersnote , and the limitless Tyranid hordes controlled by its immortal Hive Mind, as well as the Dark Eldar, aka the Eldar who gleefully continued with the behavior that created Slaanesh in the first place and now must descend into greater and greater depths of depravity to stave off his hunger for their souls, which translates into them being the one faction you absolutely do not want to be captured by, but are held back by their limited numbers and the borrowed time they live on. Indeed, it's often noted that humanity still survives despite the galaxy always being doomed not because of anything they do, but because the various unstoppable, incomprehensible menaces keep getting in each other's ways.
      • Even the closest thing the setting has to "Good Guys" are pretty horrific. The Imperium is xenophobic Totalitarian Theocracy who feed 1000 souls to keep the God-Emperor alive each day. The Eldar will happily sacrifice millions of lives of "lesser" species to ensure the survival of even a single one of themselves. The Tau are probably the least Xenophobic race in the setting and claim to serve the "Greater Good". However all that really means is they're willing to offer subjugation to other species rather than just exterminating them immediately, as they are every bit as ruthless as the rest of the main factions when their offers are refused, and numerous unsubstantiated but perfectly plausible rumors of labor camps and forced sterilization and eugenics on the human worlds they conquer exist. Probably the fourth "nicest" race in the setting is the Orks, because at least rather than wanting to totally annihilate their enemies (after horrifically torturing them), they're just looking for a good fight. Sometimes you'll encounter bands of Necrons that are on your side or, at the very least, won't shoot you on sight, sometimes, but even people who have worked with Necrons will tell you that you should never gamble on it and should assume that every single Necron is hostile until proven otherwise. The Kroot (who are typically employed by the Tau) are honestly the nicest race out there by a long shot; if you can get past the ritual cannibalism, taste for sentients, and perverse and assholish sense of humor, they're actually quite pleasant, and unless their employers are opposed to you or you've managed to royally piss them off, they are extremely happy to live and let live (assuming they don't decide to fuck with you and make you the butt of an incredibly unpleasant joke).


    Video Games 
  • Alan Wake's premise seems to be for the titular author to prevent his world from falling into this trope.
  • Anchorhead is an award-winningly well-regarded example of an Interactive Fiction text adventure set in the "slowly unraveling horror" Lovecraftian milieu. Look here for download and information on the game.
  • It is revealed in Asura's Wrath that Chakravartin created The Gohma to test humanity after giving them his type of power, and resets the world when he doesn't find an heir, as well as the universe with it. He's done this countless times, implying this has been going on for eons before any of the named characters have even existed.
  • The universe of Battleborn is set when Solus is the sole remaining star after the rest of the stars in the universe have been darkened by the Varelsi. By the time of the game, the Jennerit Imperium, the most powerful civilization in war against the Varelsi, has been knocked out of the war when Lothar Rendain overthrew Empress Lenore and sided with Varelsi with beliefs that joining them would be a better option than engaging in a Hopeless War. The titular Battleborn were formed by the five united-but-squabbling factions (the United Peacekeeping Republics, the Last Light Consortium, the Rogues, Eldrid, and resistance forces from the Jennerit Imperium) with goals to make a difference by uniting against the Varelsi rather than waiting to die alone. The ending has them defeat Rendain, but the Varelsi are still a continuing threat, and just a single star which surely cannot last forever is left in the universe for all life remaining in it...
  • In Bayonetta, Heaven is a white-and-gold version of Hell. That doesn't mean Heaven is at all good, nor that Hell isn't all evil. No, they're both equally evil. Which means humans are screwed the moment they take their last breath.
  • Bloodborne: The city of Yharnam and its environs are one big Great One playground, where most humans go insane with horror or bloodlust and the few that remain sane are picked off one-by-one. There's also other eldritch factions that nobody has ANY intel on. That's not even getting into the possibility that the entire game is a mass hallucination brought on by the dreams of the Great Ones. In a bit of a twist, the Great Ones themselves are generally pretty docile and non-interfering, and some even appear to be trying to help humanity with this situation. Most of the danger and madness comes from human factions that have obtained a sliver of the Great Ones' power through various means and misuse them catastrophically. The game is also something of a zig-zagged example that downplays the true unfathomability and unstoppable nature of the Great Ones and related creatures due to them being enemies that can be killed (maybe; it's a bit unclear). In the initial parts of the game it masquerades itself as a traditional Gothic Horror story with vampires and werewolves and the like, and it's only at a certain point (after attaining forty Insight or defeating Rom, The Vacuous Spider) that the eldritch nature of Yharnam becomes readily apparent. If one were to never get to those points they'd be forgiven for thinking it was just a Gothic Horror story with some weirder bits of lore.
  • From a gameplay perspective, The Breach is closer to Lovecraft Lite, but in narrative terms, it's more like this. At no point is there any hope of permanently defeating the Yellow, just pushing it back where it came from, and Sergei firmly believes (correctly) that if hyperspace experiments continue, humanity is doomed.
  • Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is an alternate viewpoint retelling of Lovecraft's The Shadow over Innsmouth with the main character going irrevocably insane in the end, thanks in part to the knowledge that he has, at best, only slightly postponed the inevitable downfall of humanity.
  • Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game has a Shellshocked Veteran of World War I who's now an alcoholic PI investigating a suspicious death on a remote New England island. As this is an official adaptation of the pen-and-paper RPG, that madness, horror and cults to ancient slumbering monstrous gods beyond human understanding are par for the course shouldn't surprise anyone. You can even choose to kickstart the end of the world yourself at the end by siding with the cultists, completing the ritual to fully awaken and summon Cthulhu.
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops III has not one, not two, but three distinct examples of this:
    • In the main story, humanity in the 2060s is at war with Corvus, a rogue, malevolent AI which desires to control the human race through their DNIs. The threat he poses to humanity is very much an existential one, and he is also responsible for the creation of the Frozen Forest, a virtual eldritch location that could have ended up being humanity's realm for the rest of eternity. Or the protagonist could have been dead the entire time, bringing the very ontology of the campaign's universe into doubt.
    • The Nightmares campaign takes place in an Alternate Universe where the experiments, instead of giving rise to Corvus, end up opening up the realm of Malus, inhabited by Deimos, the demigod of dread, and Dolos, the demigoddess of trickery. Deimos unleashes a zombie apocalypse on humanity so he can have an army to kill Dolos and usurp Malum. The protagonist thwarts Deimos' plan with Dolos' help, but not because Dolos cares about humanity; she doesn't care about us at all, she's just bored with her brother's antics and wants to go home.
    • The new Zombies mode, The Shadows of Evil, takes place in a Lovecraftian Film Noir setting where a cynical magician, a Dirty Cop, a Femme Fatale, and a washed-up boxer are tormented by a mysterious figure called the Shadow Man. He orders the four around promising them redemption, but naturally this is all a crock of shit and he's really trying to trick them into unleashing his "masters" onto our realm. The protagonists eventually realize the deception and defeat him and prevent the takeover.
  • Heavily implied by the ending of Carrion. The monster has learned to perfectly mimic humans and has escaped the base. Anyone who knows about it, its capabilities and the danger it poses is presumably dead, and the music track playing is called "The End As We Know It", likely meaning humanity will now be easy prey to the monster. The twist being, YOU play the monster.
  • In the Chzo Mythos, it just so happens that there's another world next door, a world ruled by the VERY EMBODIMENT of PAIN, and he can't wait to get his hands on our world. Don't worry that he has an intricate web of followers that are helping him to succeed, but thanks to his non linear view of time, he already has. Though, luckily for humanity, it's all a kansas city shuffle on his part.
  • Conarium is a subdued example, but as a sort-of sequel to At the Mountains of Madness it's inevitably one. Fleeing or avoiding enemies is almost always the appropriate response, everyone involved experiences gradual and not-so-gradual hits to their sanity, and in the end the protagonist either is implied to die from the strain of experiments into Things Man Was Not Meant to Know, or ends up with his consciousness stranded in an alien body on a distant world, with no likely way to return back to Earth.
  • The Consuming Shadow by Yathzee Croshaw (like Chzo Mythos above) is a typical Eldritch Abomination invasion scenario, with all the madness and Body Horror one would expect. You must assemble the rune to seal away the god that is currently invading Earth; the problem is there are three gods. There is one who is helping the invading god, and the other one is working against the god and potentially your ally. If you seal away the wrong god, well...
  • Of all things, Crash Bash can dive into this territory. Aku Aku and Uka Uka decide to settle their age-old rivalry with a contest that will determine the stronger alignment between Good and Evil, as well as the fate of the Earth. Should the player win as a member of Cortex's team, Uka Uka draws absolute power from the collected crystals and fully intends to prey upon an Earth and its universe that can no longer stop him. Aku Aku despairs over his naïve faith in goodness and begs Crash and Coco to run for their lives, knowing that no one will be safe from his brother's wrath.
  • Dark Souls:
    • The presence of the Dark makes the setting into this. In humans, it manifests as the Dark Sign, a curse which leaves the victim in an permanent state of undeath, slowly losing their memories and becoming Hollows. For gods or those without the Dark Sign, they become monstrous entities. Anyone who could have done anything to stop the tide is either dead, mad, or both.
    • In the Artorias of the Abyss DLC, the Chosen Undead is thrown back in time to Oolacile, a citystate of magic users which Dug Too Deep, pouring out a plague of Dark from the primeval man that the magister excavated.
    • Dark Souls III makes it even worse. After an unspecified (but MASSIVE) number of cycles where someone chose to Link the Fire and renew the world, the system keeping the world kinda-sorta functional has failed. Not "it will fail soon (no really!)" or even "right about to fail". It FAILED. You, an Unkindled that is unfit to do this naturally, have been tasked to find five Lords of Cinder in a drastic attempt to make yourself strong enough to Link The Fire, and one of those former Lords literally broke time to buy the world one last chance; the world actually died in the previous timeline because its champion didn't reach the Firelink Shrine in time. As you near the end of your journey, the sun bleeds out and the Abyss covers the land. This is the apocalypse and while there are multiple endings, they all come down to whether or not you try (and fail) to Link The Fire again, give the world a mercy kill, or Usurp the Fire to claim whatever power it still holds for yourself.
    • The final DLC The Ringed City adds another layer of senseless tragedy to the whole mess. The Pygmies once had full mastery over the Dark Soul and were faithful allies to the gods of Anor Londo. But Gwyn feared the Dark Soul's power and placed a seal of fire on humanity in an attempt to keep it in check. This seal became the Dark Sign, ushering in the Undead Curse and the Vicious Cycle that would doom the world. All of this sorrow was wrought because of a paranoid god.
  • Darkest Dungeon comes very close to this trope, with the bleak, gothic visuals, Permadeath system that can result in the player feeding numerous party members into the dungeon meat grinder and the Sanity Meter wherein all the horrors the party encounters can wear away their sanity until they finally break and lose their minds. Ultimately, though, the trope is subverted by the occasional shred of optimism, with near-broken characters occasionally catching their Heroic Second Wind instead and coming back stronger than before, and the narrator sometimes reminding the player that, despite how utterly daunting the final goal may seem, victory is still possible. Until it is Double Subverted - in the end, all your character did is delay the inevitable, and the knowledge of the creator of humanity and heart of the world drives them to suicide, leaving them as nothing but a ghost trying to delay it even further, fully knowing that in the end, when the stars are right, the horror within the Darkest Dungeon will hatch from the egg that we call the world and bring an end to humanity. All you can do is delay it again and again so that humanity can live a short while longer, plunging the game fully into cosmic horror and Downer Ending territory. Then again, it may be even Zig-Zagged, as the game downright tells you, the Heart is an Unreliable Narrator, and this causes doubt in whether it's true or not.
  • Darkwood takes place in a dark forest in Poland that no one inside knows how to escape. The people there, including the player, gradually are mutating and falling apart. Eventually, we come to find that the massive tree at the center of the forest is luring the inhabitants to sleep and become apart of it. The player can submit to it and join a comforting dream or burn themselves and everyone trapped by the entity in flames
  • Dead Space. All life in the galaxy seems to exist for no other purpose than to be eaten by the Brethren Moons. Humanity is alone in the stars because every race before it fell into the same rut of expanding beyond their resources and falling prey to the temptation of the Moons' Markers. The Moons can be fought, but only at a high cost. The image at the top of the page? That's pretty close to what Brethren Moons do to planets during Convergence events. The third game also hints that the Moons are waking up, which is exactly what happens in the Dead Space 3: Awakened DLC pack. Though protagonists Issac Clarke and John Carver survive their Heroic Sacrifice moment, they are now faced with the impossible threat of an entire race of hungry planetoid abominations descending upon Earth and the colonies...
  • Surprisingly, Deadly Premonition ends up with elements of this genre. The Big Bad is an immortal Humanoid Abomination from another plane of existence that has warped the hero's life since childhood and thrives on torturing humans For The Evulz. The story is just vague enough to make every detail questionable, making for a Psychological Horror experience.
  • Demon's Souls, unsurprisingly given that it's the Spiritual Predecessor to Dark Souls. The Old One is an unstoppable, unspeakably ancient demon. Whenever it awakens, a colorless fog begins to swallow the world, and anyone (even ancient spirits) caught in that fog will eventually become a demon themselves. The only hope for the world is to assist the Maiden in Black in lulling the Old One asleep by defeating the most powerful demons and offering their souls as bait. The player can choose to prove what a magnificent demon they are by instead slaying the Maiden and becoming the Old One's new Archdemon, thereby dooming the world to being devoured Don't count on the setting's God to save anyone either since "God" is the Old One.
  • The Diablo series. Humanity are the descendants of Nephalem, who themselves were the offspring of angels and demons, both of whom have been engaged in a war with each other since the beginning of creation, only stopping long enough to figure out how the Nephalem came to be. The highest authority of both sides are antagonistic towards humanity, with demonkind actively trying to manipulate and exploit them and the angels looking down on humanity for their demonic blood. Diablo, one of the Prime Evils, has successfully manipulated his brothers, higher-ups who are more powerful than him, into falling for his every trap and scheme, and his machinations have put the world, and even the High Heavens, into jeopardy. While the forces of Hell have been pushed back in the past, a lot of times it came down to humanity to do so, and even then, the only reason why they pulled through in the third game was because the Player Character was one of the first in centuries to tap into their latent angel-demon heritage, which was the only reason why they even stood any chance against him... and this was when Diablo had already united and become one with the other Prime and Lesser Evils. In spite of all of this, what truly cements Diablo as this trope rather than merely being Lovecraft Lite is the implication that it's impossible to permanently defeat the titular character, which means that angels and humanity basically have two options- fight Diablo for eternity, or lose.
  • Dishonored sets humanity in a Constructed World that is entirely hostile to its existence. The seas are filled with all manner of terrifying monstrosities, packs of rats from a nearby continent regularly kill men and eat them alive, the state religion has Devil, but No God, an immortal Eldritch Abomination fights off boredom by granting people incredible power for the sake of seeing what they choose to do with it, and the only thing holding off the end of the world is implied to be the whales — whales whose oil fuels an industrial revolution, and who are being harvested to the point of extinction.
  • In Drakengard, The World Is Always Doomed because the gods are not just evil, but also composed entirely of Eldritch Abominations. They are not slithering masses of tentacles that cause insanity by their very sight, but something very morbid.
    • This is highlighted even more in Drakengard 2, where the breaking of the final seal reveals that the 'natural' state of the world is chaotic invasion by the Watchers, and that any semblance of peace or protection from them is an incredibly fragile cosmic abnormality. The universe is so hostile that we only stave it off by deliberately breaking the system.
    • And finally, in the spin-off franchise Nier, we see the effect of Drakengard's Ending E where Angelus and Caim fight and kill the Queen Beast in modern day Toyko. The mere presence of particles of matter from the Drakengard universe causes the end of civilization simply by being an element foreign to our world.
  • So, you think The Elder Scrolls is simply a High Fantasy RPG set in the land of Tamriel on the magical planet of Nirn? You don't see anything cosmic or horrifying about that? How about the fact that the universe itself is apparently made up of a "Hurling Disk" structure, with Nirn at its hub and the Aedra/Daedra functioning as the "spokes" of the wheel, and even the elimination of one of them could cause the universe to unravel? If that's not enough, consider that mere mortals can influence this balance with the right application of belief/disbelief or even with a badly timed ritual and can cause entire millenia of Surreal Horror to occur at a time. And those planets in the Alien Sky you see over head? Yeah that's actually the dead corpse of the Creator God Lorkhan, which your mind perceives as celestial objects to keep you from going insane if you so much as looked anywhere but the ground under your feet—ground which itself may be simply projecting what you want to see. Oh, and those starts are actually portals outside reality made when the other creator gods fled from Nirn during the fight that killed Lorkhan. Oh, and the titular Elder Scrolls are artifacts the origins of which are completely unknown, which can display an infinite number if possible futures, up until the events come to pass...even then, merely glimpsing one can cause a lesser man to go insane, and even those who spend their entire lives training to read them are eventually struck blind, and the true level of their power is completely unknown, possibly even by the Gods themselves. Suddenly, you might feel very, very small in Tamriel...
  • The Survival Horror game Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem is often seen as this, but strictly speaking, while the tone is unmistakably Cosmic Horror, the plot itself is not, and all three of the standard endings involve the Player Characters triumphing over the Ancients and saving humanity, which lands this one squarely in Lovecraft Lite territory. The bonus ending reveals that there's a bit more to it than that, and that Mantorok, the most powerful and sole surviving Ancient, engineered the deaths of the other Ancients as part of a larger plot. But while on paper that probably sounds like a Bolivian Army Ending, it's not made clear in-story what, if anything, that means for humanity.
  • Eversion gradually reveals itself to be a game of this kind. It starts out as a cute Sugar Bowl of a world, but as you progress further and use your Reality Warper powers in order to get the gems you need, the game gradually gets darker and darker. The Let's Play by DeceasedCrab in particular reads like a Lovecraft story towards the end of it, right down to the rejection of the Sugar Bowl world's "cheery lies."
  • Fade to Silence. The plot is set in a Class 3a (bordering on Class 5) scenario where an Eldritch Abomination with nakedly-malevolent intentions finds its way to Earth by the accidental machinations of human science before it proceeds to wipe out mankind through an Endless Winter and a Zombie Apocalypse. The protagonist is nothing but the Big Bad's plaything, giving him Resurrective Immortality just to watch him fight, suffer and die again and again for no other reason than its own personal amusement.
  • Fallen London fits most of the criteria (uncaring cosmic monsters who can instantly incinerate anything they find disagreeable, monsters and locations so alien that witnessing them can drive you insane, etc.) but usually veers towards Lovecraft Lite, focusing mainly on the zaniness you get by combining an exaggerated Victorian London with an Eldritch Location. However, players can pursue stories that jump right into cosmic horror. The most well-known is Seeking Mr. Eaten's name, which has almost no humor and revolves around the player becoming a cultist who self-destructively seeks to bring about the return of an Eldritch Abomination.
    • The Fallen London universe is a very bad place to die in. The setting’s afterlife, the Blue Kingdom, is a glorified meat processor that feeds you to an Eldritch Abomination, and if you manage to avoid getting eaten for long enough you’ll eventually dissolve in what’s implied to be a Fate Worse than Death. If you dabble in immortality and end up here anyways, your punishment is getting thrown down a pit full of giant spiders that will feast on your undying body, forever. And if you die somewhere out of the Kingdom’s reach (such as London itself) you instead end up in the Far Shore, which seems like some sort of horrifying cosmic landfill.
  • Final Fantasy VII dabbles in this a little, namely when learning about the backstory of JENOVA and the Ancients, the Reunion at the Northern Crater and the releasing of the WEAPONs, and the final stretch of the game involving the center of the planet and the Big Bad transforming into an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Freespace is basically what happens when Wing Commander meets this trope. The Shivans aren't really massive unfathomable monsters (well, they are massive, at least, next to humans and vasudans) but they come right out of nowhere to utterly decimate both sides of an interplanetary war until they're forced to team up just to survive, next to nothing is known about their ultimate goal in killing everything in sight, and any major victories against them come at a great cost (the destruction of the Lucifer in the first game resulted in Earth getting completely cut off from the rest of the Alliance) and are short-lived regardless, because whatever superweapon gets taken down, they have about a thousand more anyway, and many more that are even stronger.
  • Of all games, Frostpunk. While a very unusual take on the genre, the series of discoveries showing mankind's desperation to find the cause for the endless winter, which ultimately fails, has surprisingly many characteristics of it. There is no comprehensible intelligence or intent behind the disaster which has brought the Earth to its knees. It's nothing human science can explain, nor is it something that could make sense on a religious or mystical level. It does not seem to be mankind's punishment, and there's no special reason to it. It just happened, and there's nothing that anyone can do about it. The theme of mankind facing not merely destruction but the realization of its utter insignificance in the great scheme of things defines the Cosmic Horror elements of the story more than any amount of tentacled aliens could've.
  • The Half-Life franchise displays many hallmarks of a cosmic horror story, coupled with orwellian scifi elements. Ironically enough the player is working for the unexplainable eldritch abomination in this case (the G-Man), while the main antagonists (the Combine) can be explained more or less rationally as an invase extraterrestrial space-faring species which has a nasty habit of conquering/assimilating one dimension after another into their empire, complete with all the inhabited (and uninhabited) worlds and civilizations they contain - Though the sheer speculated size of the combine's empire compared against the player could itself be defined as a cosmic eldritch abomination in this case.
  • Halo, of all things, became this with revelations gleaned from The Forerunner Saga. All life was created, or at least had their creation influenced, by a race of incomprehensibly old, powerful, alien and incomprehensible superbeings known as the Precursors. The only thing known for certain is that, thanks to their near genocide by one of their creations scorned in favor of humanity, their only desire is to see all their creations suffer horrible pain and death at the hands of their newest, most recognizable form: the hive mind Virus known as the Flood.
  • Hollow Knight can be explained as, quoting the main page for the game on this very wiki, "what would you get if you took the adorable insects from A Bug's Life and put them in the ruined, oppressive Dark Fantasy world of Dark Souls?"
  • Homeworld Cataclysm: Real-Time Strategy example about a minor faction of mere miners unleashing Sealed Evil in a Can called The Beast on the galaxy and their scrambled response to them. The Beast itself in the Naggarok has been sealed away for a million years after taking over a vessel when Hyperspace Is a Scary Place and their Escape Pod is encountered, leading to half the ship being seized by a cross between Grey Goo and The Virus. Even the characters struggle to explain it, but The Beast uses people’s flesh as Meat Moss Organic Technology nerve endings for operating their ships after painfully devouring them, and it only sees people as food. The Beast is intelligent enough to negotiate allies for itself as well. It’s scary enough to convince the Bentusi to Run or Die.
  • Jak and Daxter: The third game features the Dark Makers. While they had no involvement in the previous games, their history is that they are creatures of darkness that were formally Precursors, the beings that created the universe, before prolonged exposure to Dark Eco consumed them, and they traveled planet-to-planet destroying all life before moving on to the next.
  • The King of Shreds and Patches is another IF example, originating as a Call of Cthulhu campaign set in Elizabethan England concerned with a reconstructed manuscript of The King in Yellow.
  • It's heavily implied that the world of Little Nightmares takes place in one by Little Nightmares II. It's a world where tiny children are always in danger from twisted adult-like monsters who operate on a perversion of the normal world, while eye symbols watch from every direction. The second game's Pale City has an ominous Signal Tower in the center that obsesses and distorts citizens through their televisions, and it is implied by Six's transformation while in the Tower and the Tower's true form as a mass of flesh with eyes that the Tower is an incomprehensible, likely unstopabble entity whose transmission has warped all of the monsters into what they are and that the eye serves as a symbol of reverence toward it.
  • In 1987, Infocom made an Interactive Fiction text adventure called The Lurking Horror loosely drawing on the themes of the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • The MUD Lusternia features a lot of different genres, but this is one of the most prevalent. There was even a war between the Precursors of mortalkind, the Elder Gods, and the resident Eldritch Abominations, the Soulless Ones. (Also known as the Heralds of Magnora, Magnora being the personification of destruction.) Nowadays they're largely sealed away, but there's a world-spanning event every real life year or so where one breaks free.
  • Marathon Infinity features the Security Officer thrown through time and space when the battle between Durandal and the Pfhor is interrupted by a monstrous, alien creature known as W'rkncacnter being freed from a black hole by their skirmish, and proceeds to devour reality. The Security Officer must find a timeline where W'rkncacnter never was released, existed, or something.
  • Marrow: the whole game is set in dungeons beneath the mountain, where the protagonist has to find his lost friends. As it turns out later, the whole insides of the mountain is actually a multi-layered burial site, where long time ago humankind's precursors managed to tear up the fabric of reality and open a passage to the other world. That resulted in the appearance of marrow, mysterious liquid with strong mutagenic and spirit-distorting potential, which purpose is to clot and close the gaping wound of reality, sort of like blood. The using of said marrow in the experiments brought the predecessors to their extinction, when they created The Familiar, a demigodlike being and a vessel of the incomprehensible great will from beyond. Despite that, by some reason, they couldn't destroy the creature, they've managed to seal it in some kind of pocket dimension and bury the whole area around the passage under the earthen mass. After that, many centuries later, the only ones of the ancient race left alive and serving as jailers of the Familiar, meeting the protagonist in his quest, channeling him their powers so he could survive the marrow's influence, and laying their hopes of destroying the demigod on his shoulders.
  • Mass Effect is initially presented as a Cosmic Horror Space Opera, where galactic civilisations are carefully cultivated and then ruthlessly culled by the Reapers in an endless cycle, as they have done for tens of millions of years. The franchise ultimately proved to be Lovecraft Lite, however; with enough War Assets, you can kill the Reapers, control them, or turn them into willing allies. On a smaller scale, the Leviathan DLC of Mass Effect 3 revolves around Shepard tracking down a mysterious, incomprehensible Eldritch Abomination (the titular Leviathan), which was powerful enough to single-handedly take down a Reaper. It has mind control abilities, which it uses to sway countless lifeforms throughout time in order to keep its existence a secret. Fittingly, the climax of the DLC takes place deep beneath the waters of an oceanic planet, where its revealed that the Leviathan are a race of ancient Starfish Aliens that indirectly created the Reapers. In the end the Leviathan help Shepard out, swinging the DLC back towards Lovecraft Lite. At least until the Leviathans come back again.
  • Moons Of Madness takes a rather literal take on the genre, as it could be described as At the Mountains of Madness being Recycled INSPACE, with an astronaut on an away mission stumbling across eldritch horrors. Par for the course for a game set in the same 'Verse as The Secret World, below.
  • The indie Survival Horror/Adventure Game Pathologic achieves this in a very minimalistic, Psychological Horror fashion (no darkness or monsters, just a surreal tale set in a town hit by a mysterious plague).
  • Pathways into Darkness, an early Bungie game, features aliens warning the US government that a slumbering Eldritch Abomination is due to wake up in a week in the Yutacan. A team of US Special Forces are dropped in to bury the creature with a nuke. Naturally, all but one dies, and now the soul survivor must reach the bottom of the Pyramid alone, all the while being beset by creatures from the Dreaming God's nightmares and investigating the remnants of previous teams. It's implied, by way of shared continuity, that the creature is W'rkncacnter from Marathon (see above)
  • The "Cult of Cthulhu" fan-made scenario for Plague Inc.: Evolved consists in spreading Cthulhu's worship around the world. The abilities and symptoms of this new "plague" include astronomical phenomenons which help the cult spreading, as well as actual actions from the cult. The more the cult is active, the faster it spreads and the more it kills. The scenario is won if the player succeeds to research the Cthulhu's Awakening sympton and if all surviving humans are infected. Note that the cult may lose if the cure is completed (even if Cthulhu has been awakened).
  • In Phantasy Star IV, it's revealed that the planets of Algo are the seal on the Profound Darkness, and that the sentient races of Algo exist for no other reason than to produce heroes who can defeat Dark Force and prevent it from destroying the seal and releasing the Profound Darkness back into the universe. Chaz doesn't take well to this news.
  • In Radiant Silvergun, possibly inspired by the aforementioned Neon Genesis Evangelion, an octahedral Artifact of Doom known as the Stone-Like is excavated and wipes out life on Earth in a flash, the only survivors being those who escaped into satellite orbit. The Silverguns attempt to stop the artifact and for a moment appear to succeed at the end, but then it transports them back in time and vaporizes them as well. The sole survivor is the Creator robot, who has cloned the protagonists, but unfortunately he breaks down before he can warn them of the Stone-Like's purpose, which is that it will keep wiping out humans unless they can learn the error of their ways.
  • Downplayed in Returnal. Selene is capable of fighting back proficiently on her own, and the true ending involves her finally breaking the loop. It is clear, however, that Atropos does not play by any rules humans would regard as sane, as she repeatedly returns from death, finds her own dead bodies, and tries to navigate the ruins of a truly alien civilization, as she suffers Sanity Slippage from being stuck with only her ship for company for who-knows-how-long and the planet exploring the traumatic memories of her childhood.
  • RuneScape became this when the truth about the The Elder Gods was revealed. The elder gods create planets until they manage to create a perfect world and then go to sleep on the perfect world for millions of years before waking up, whereupon they destroy all of the planets they created except for the perfect world, which turns into a death world, as they feed of the life energy of worlds, and then start the cycle all over again. Zaros's plan is to ascend to the level of an elder god so he can confront them and convince them to stop because they barely acknowledge that sapient lifeform exist at all other than as tools for them to use. Even before this revelation, Runescape had many elements of this. The young gods, who mostly are former mortal before they were exposed to artifacts left behind by the elder gods and many of whom are Jerkasses, have been fighting each other in multiple Forever Wars that caused the destruction of many worlds and the extinction of many species. The Stone of Jas, one of the artifacts of the elder gods that can grant godhood, is an Artifact of Doom that causes the Dragonkin, a race enslaved by Jas, to grow more and more powerful and enraged whenever it is used, which resulted in the destruction of at least one planet. But despite this terrible danger, both gods and mortals crave its power, causing it to act as an Apple of Discord that has driven many conflicts. Tuska, an extremely powerful but unintelligent Animalistic Abomination god has been rampaging from planet to planet, causing much destruction. It also been implied that the Pirate quest storyline is building towards this with the reveal of Xau-Tak, an evil god of oceans and death, who may also be working with Sliske, the Big Bad of the current main storyline. The game also has a very large number of the tropes associated with cosmic horror stories listed at the top of this page even in the non-cosmic horror parts of the game.
    • Well before this, way back in 2004, a quest called Horror From the Deep has this in its backstory, being inspired by Lovecraft's works. The keeper of a lighthouse, Jossik, investigates the basement after hearing sounds coming from it at night, and a bizarre door stands in your way of rescuing him. However, if you find and read his uncle's diary, you'll discover that the uncle went insane over the course of an unknown period of time, hearing noises coming from the basement and then being called to the ocean as it went on. He began to have dreams of the creatures he discovered under the lighthouse, and then of becoming one as he adopted a schedule based on the creatures so he could be closer to them. It's heavily implied that he turned into one, and that it will happen to Jossik as well.
  • Sea Salt is a pixel-art action-strategy game where you play as Dagon (who is depicted as being more akin to Cthulhu) and control a variety of monsters to ravage a city after the Archbishop refuses to offer himself as a sacrifice.
  • Shadow of the Comet, Prisoner of Ice and the better-known Alone in the Dark, by Infogrames, are all in the same Cthulhu Mythos-haunted world, with several direct Lovecraftian references, including the Necronomicon and De Vermis Mysteriis. AITD 1992 and The New Nightmare veer towards Lovecraft Lite, since Carnby is ultimately able to punch out Cthulhu at the end of both. AITD 2008 plays this trope straight, with Carnby and Sarah fighting a desperate battle against the forces of Lucifer, and a Sadistic Choice ending where The Bad Guy Wins in both options.
  • The Shin Megami Tensei franchise, with the added horror that human passions are to blame for the strength, if not outright creation, of the evil forces that constantly plague the various realities.
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne destroys the world in the first ten minutes. The only survivors of the Conception are a handful of high school students and doomsday cultists who are inside a hospital at the center of the phenomenon. And in typical Shin Megami Tensei fashion, the remaining humans turn on each other as they fight to create the Reason of Existence of the new world that is being born, transforming themselves into demonoids in the process.
    • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey follows a crew of UN investigators traveling to a expanding hole in reality in Antarctica. Things go south quickly.
    • The Persona 2 duology - and by extension, Persona - features good ol' Nyarlathotep himself as the Big Bad, and Innocent Sin ends with the bad guy winning and the party having to push the Reset Button to get another shot at saving the world. Even worse, even that is not enough to take him down, and he promises that he'll return with a As Long as There is Evil speech. The human race itself guarantees his existence.
      • Better yet, in the PSP remake of Eternal Punishment (the last of the three games), he throws an army of entities straight out of the Cthulhu Mythos at Tatsuya, and sure enough he and the other characters have an extremely hard time describing these things. Tatsuya's descriptions make no sense, and Ulala just gives up describing them and calls them impossibly ugly.
    • The events of Persona 3 ultimately leads to the The End of the World as We Know It, complete with a doomsday cult and brain-dead people uttering prophetic warnings. This is all due to the subtle influence of the reawakened Nyx, a vast and ancient being being called down to the earth. Her presence causes people to explode into puddles of black ooze and random organs. In all likelihood, she doesn't care in the slightest. Oh and she's mainly summoned by the Anthropomorphic Personification of the malice and despair in the hearts of humanity. Despite your best efforts, the best action taken was a reverse seal; the protagonist makes a Heroic Sacrifice to keep said personification of malice and despair away from Nyx.
  • Many Shoot 'em Up series, such as Gradius and R-Type, involve fighting a seemingly invincible cosmic menace (notably the Bacterians in the former, and the Bydo in the latter) that keeps regenerating, or worse, multiplying into more copies of itself.
  • The Shore appears to be one, if the bleak island setting and numerous Lovecraftian abominations you mostly run away from or watch from afar helplessly are any indication.
  • The freeware horror game South of Real begins with the cosmic horrors just moments away from arriving on Earth, with only the smallest shred of hope of actually stopping them. Unfortunately, the person responsible for that shred of hope is...questionable. To put it charitably.
  • The Blood Cult gamemode in Space Station 13 is this for the crew, with Nar-Sie being the local Eldritch Abomination.
  • The entire STALKER series. The Zone is an unfathomable and horrific Eldritch Location worshiped by a crazed brainwashed cult (the Monolith), and it has the power to manipulate time and space in very weird ways. In the ending of Shadow of Chernobyl, you end up destroying the last thing holding the Zone's power in check; the Zone is rapidly expanding and there's no way to stop it.
  • The Stanley Parable. Ultimately, your choice is all an illusion, as every potential path Stanley can take has been predetermined for him. Even the Narrator, for all his semblance of control, is just as doomed to this meaningless existence.
  • Star Control 2 has elements of this. Your beef is with the Ur-Quan, an entirely mundane alien race, but as you follow the story, it becomes clear there's something much more sinister out there than the Ur-Quan themselves.
    Arilou: No. In a way, ignorance is your armor, your best protection. If I tell you more, you will look where you could never look before and while you are looking you can and will be seen. You do not want to be seen.
    Orz: Orz is not *many bubbles*, Orz is one with many *fingers*. I push my *fingers* through into *heavy space* and you *see* *Orz bubbles* but it is really *fingers*."
    Ur-Quan: We will protect you from the hazards of this hostile universe, from dangers so hideous your simple minds cannot imagine their dark scope.
  • Star Control 3 introduce the Eternal Ones as the main antagonists, a threat of this nature who are said to be completely invincible and unbeatable. The player must find a way to appease them rather than defeat them.
  • Star Control: Origins, while mostly doing away with the previous games' alien species, being an Alternate Universe of sorts, gives a new spin to several plot elements, including this one: after managing to give a black eye to the Scryve, they are replaced as the main threat by the Xraki, former thralls of the Scryve who, after being exposed to what they call the Gluttonous Eyes became its/their Axe-Crazy cultists, ravaging other civilizations and species to feed it. It also turns out that one of the main reasons you stood a chance at all against the Scryve in the first place is that most of their military might is on the other side of the empire facing an incursion by "the Outsider Phenomenon"; and they're losing, badly. And the Outsider just may be the same type of "thing" as the Gluttonous Eyes, if not one and the same...
  • For the most part, Stellaris is Lovecraft Lite; after a certain level of technological and industrial development, the player's fleets can put a violent end to many an Eldritch Abomination with proper deployment of tachyon lances and heavy kinetics arrays. But two cannot be so easily dealt with.
    • The less terrible example — as they may leave the player Cursed with Awesome — is the Worm-in-Waiting. Existing outside of time, as a sentient Stable Time Loop, they can potentially utterly alter and reverse-engineer your species. Eventually turning your home system into a black hole surrounded by tomb worlds... as well as giving your species the ability to live comfortably on tomb worlds, and just about anything else. Of course, you can choose to not take the deal... which spawns a creature referred to in-game as a "Dimensional Horror" right in the middle of your home system. But then again, see above re: tachyon lances and heavy kinetics arrays.
    • The more fearsome example is the End of the Cycle, if the player is foolhardy enough to ignore the bright red text saying "DO NOT DO THIS" and bargain with it. It will give you massive, game-breaking benefits for fifty years. And then, at the end of those fifty years, it just snuffs out your entire empire in an instant. Doesn't matter how big, strong or influential you were, your fleets will be destroyed, your pops killed, your planets razed beyond all terraforming. You will be given a single planet named Exile, the one leader who saw this event coming and had been secretly evacuating people, and eight pops. Meanwhile, the souls of the rest of the pops in what used to be your empire are absorbed in an armada of ultra-powerful fleets simply labelled "The End", which will proceed to spread out and destroy every single other empire in the galaxy, while Exile is deliberately saved for last. That is, assuming one of the other star empires doesn't bomb you to smithereens for dropping an ultra-powerful psionic horror on their heads!
    • Simply being a pre-FTL civilisation, depending on the state of the galaxy. It might be full of genocidal aliens, rampaging death machines and devouring hives, and there is not a damn thing they can do to defend themselves against them due to the massive technology discrepancy. Imagine yourself if an impossibly advanced alien species invaded Earth in real life and evicted humanity to force them to find a new home among the stars, or dragged us out of our homes to work in Third Reich-style labour camps, or eradicated our current culture to make us battle thralls or livestock, or simply sent death squads to roam the planet, mercilessly killing any people they can find to make space for their own settlers. By the time Nerve Stapling becomes a thing, you likely won't care anymore.
      • Even a relatively benign alien invasion will likely cause a huge existential crisis and much loss of life due to clashing ideologies, and this is supported by a game mechanic. Materialist Empire versus Spiritualist natives? Your agents prove that the "miracles" the superstitious natives believed in are easily provable as mundane, causing them to either fall into a deep state of depression or, worse, actively persecute religious pops and force them to renounce their beliefs or face imprisonment, banishment or even death. Spiritualist Empire versus Materialist natives? Your agents appear as godlike beings and their society's most brilliant minds just cannot find a way to disprove their "divinity" or prove their miracles are anything but, leading the population to Go Mad from the Revelation, denounce the minds as faithless charlatans and chase them away, giving up on science and reason as it cannot understand the real workings of the universe. Egalitarian Empire versus Authoritarian natives? Fed up of the abject failure of the government to fight the invaders and embittered by past grievances, the locals rise up and begin something akin to the French Revolution, leading to the noble classes being rounded up and executed en masse regardless of their personal guilt. Authoritarian Empire versus Egalitarian natives? Your agents worm their way into the fair and democratic government and tempt their politicans with dreams of power, using propaganda and military might to consolidate their power and do away with rule by the people. Perhaps most tragically of all, though, is Militarist/Xenophobic Empire versus Xenophile/Pacifist natives: Feeling that the natives are a bunch of weaklings who need to toughen up, your agents instigate horrendous wars and atrocities against the peaceful natives, forcing the locals to forgo their once-cherished ideals of coexistence and turn-the-other-cheek as they lose loved ones and become a society that sees paranoia and aggression as virtues, as they begin to accept that the universal struggle of dominance and survival is the natural order of things. That's not even getting into uplifted presentients, who arguably have it even worse - at least sentient primitives have an understanding that evil people with enough power over others can and will abuse it, but presentients are basically just smart animals with no understanding of what their creators are doing to them.
    • With the Nemesis update, the player can inflict this on the entire galaxy by becoming the Crisis. With the help of Star Eaters, the Crisis Aspirant can fuel the Aetherophasic Engine with dark matter, all for the express purpose of breaking reality itself in order to enter the Shroud and ascend into gods. How bad do they break reality? To the point in which the Shroud itself starts lashing out in fear and agony by spitting out hostile entities that attack anyone they encounter. What happens should the Crisis Aspirant succeeds is up to this point the quintessential example of this trope in Stellaris, even more so than the End of the Cycle: the entire galaxy explodes, turning every single star into black holes and destroying every planet. There's no coming back from this barring outside intervention.
  • Sundered has the protagonist trapped in a labyrinthine network of giant caverns filled with malfunctioning robots and shrieking horrors that all want to kill her. Her only ally is a sentient, malevolent crystal that constantly urges her to abandon her humanity and corrupt herself with eldritch powers if she wants to survive. Even death is not an escape from this place, for the crystal will just bring her back to life every time she dies until she succeeds at whatever task the crystal is making her do. And every time she comes back to life, the layout of the caverns changes. All possible endings for the game are bleak: if you resist the crystal’s temptations, you manage to destroy it and the Eldritch Abomination it was part of, but break your arm in the process. If you embrace its horrible powers, you turn into a monster, kill a manifestation of your own discarded humanity, and the crystal uses you to escape from the caverns and bring about the end of the world. If you don’t fully commit to one or the other, you defeat the Eldritch Abomination and escape to the surface world, only for the crystal to reveal that it’s not done with you yet.
  • Sunless Sea jumps straight into cosmic horror, dropping most of the zany aspects of its predecessor and bringing you an underground ocean populated with ancient monsters, increasingly otherworldly Eldritch Locations, Alien Geometries, and a constant supply of things not meant to be known.
    • Despite the change in locales, things definitely haven't improved in the sequel, Sunless Skies.
  • The Secret World. Beneath the Masquerade, the world as we know it is near-constantly on the brink of damnation thanks to the influence of the slumbering Dreamers: eldritch plagues, apocalyptic cults and barely-comprehensible monsters are running rampant across the planet, and the three biggest secret societies in the world can barely put aside their differences long enough to do anything about it. Plus, no matter how hard you fight and how incorruptible you remain, all your efforts scarcely add up to a drop in the ocean: you can kill the mortal servants of the Dreamers, but there's next to nothing you can do against the Dreamers themselves; in fact, the only thing stopping them from awakening and obliterating everything is the presence of the Gaia Engines, a set of unearthly creations built by entities somewhere between Angels and Humanoid Abominations. Only trouble is, these Gaia Engines can be sabotaged, and at last one of the Dreamers has already awoken just long enough to obliterate human civilization. On the upside, the Engines can reset the world to factory settings and give reality a second chance - but only by harnessing the awesome power of the Dreamers... and they might not be able to do this a fourth time. Every single human being in the setting has a death sentence hanging over their heads, and even The Chosen Many may not be enough to delay the inevitable.
  • Survival game The Solus Project is set on an alien planet, on which the player's expedition crash-landed. As the only survivor, the player must survive harsh climate, meteor rains, tornadoes, find food, shelter and ultimately assemble a comm device to contact the mothership. On his quest, he encounters ancient structures with strange carvings, and ventures deeper into the cave systems under the planet's surface. Underground, the player finds ruins of a long-gone civilization that worshiped the visitors from space, they called the Sky Ones. However, according to the carvings, the natives found out that the Sky Ones tricked them into sacrificing their own children to an Eldritch Abomination that still, centuries after, lurks the underground halls.
  • Tales of Arise showed hints of this with the backstory of the more technologically advanced Renans invading and conquering Dahna. Of course, it becomes way more Cosmic Horror Story when it turns out that The true cause of it all is a Genius Loci of Rena itself... which had enslaved the actual people of Rena, and consumed all life off of the planet, turning it into a Shattered World. When the player finally goes to Rena, what greets them is a silvery ocean that has occasional buiding remnants poking out of it. Rinwell, the party's mage, cannot sense any astral energy - the planet is dead.
  • Thumper: Whether the game itself qualifies is open to interpretation; some hints that it might qualify include the bizarre bosses with inexplicable motivations and forms, and the way the game's visuals take Lovecraftian cues, including tentacles on many bosses and even the track itself.
  • Transistor involves a group of Well Intentioned Extremists who Dug Too Deep and unleashed the mysterious creatures that run their world, losing control of them, and everyone and everything is consumed in their path. In the end they are technically beaten, but it's too late to save anyone. The protagonist is driven to suicide rather than to recreate and be alone in an empty void.
  • The Turok series stepped into this genre's waters with the introduction of the Cthulhu-esque Eldritch Abomination Oblivion in the second installment, and was fully immersed in it by the third.
  • Under Night In-Birth. The very world we live in is partly merged with an Eldritch Location of an unknown origin every full moon. The merging of this world and ours is accomplished by a powerful and unknown source of energy, this energy is the basis that allows every living organism to exist. Born from this power are Eldritch Abominations known collectively as The Void that feed on this power by sucking it out of their prey. Those who become victim to these Void attacks will gain access to this power of Existence and this can go one of two ways: Either they gain access to powerful and potentially even godlike abilities, or they go completely insane from this energy and mutate into a Void themselves.
  • Undertale: The player is a separate being from the human child that has unimaginable powers and can use them for good or bad. They control what Frisk does and can easily reset any actions they take. Even when Chara pulls an Eviler Than Thou they can only do this because of your actions and you can easily go into the game's files and remove that choice. The game can be considered this even if they use their powers for good because all it takes to undo everything is a push of a button.
  • Water Womb World is a short horror game by indie developer Yames with themes of cosmic horror mixed with Catholic theology. The protagonist is a researcher scouring the ocean floor for evidence of the Garden of Eden, which they believe to have been created at the bottom of the sea rather than being the earthly paradise presented by the Church. While there, the protagonist discovers millenia-old fish, skulls of the sons of Adam, and coral imbued with human neurons along with a cryptic, squidlike "angel" and colossal red entities that they identify as being the sinless human descendents of Adam and Eve. The protagonist believes everything they find to be evidence of the divine until the end, when they choose to become one of the beings they identified as the original humans, staying in the place of origin at the bottom of the ocean forever.
  • World of Horror: It's to be expected when both H. P. Lovecraft and Junji Ito were major inspirations for the game. The whole purpose of the game is to stall the awakening of one of five possible Old Gods, risking madness, death and worse all the while; and for those thinking this may mean the game is Lovecraft Lite, please note the use of the word "stall" rather than "stop"...
    • For the most part, the mysteries you investigate are this as well. With the exceptions of Bizarre Bruit of a Budding Botanist and maybe Chilling Chronicle of a Crimson Cape, your actions never completely stop what's going on, only bringing a temporary fix to the problem, or taking care of a single case of it but being unable to tackle the source.
  • World of Warcraft is ultimately a somewhat idealistic Cosmic Horror Story. Azeroth is home to four known Old Gods, ancient, evil and extremely powerful beings that ruled Azeroth until they were imprisoned by the Titans. Imprisoned because, after one of their number, Y'shaarj, was destroyed, the result was that a good portion of the planet's surface was destroyed with it - imagine a weed with such deep roots that to pluck it out, you uproot a quarter of your garden. The Titans decided to imprison them instead, but the old gods are The Ageless, and can thus afford to play The Long Game, slowly corrupting their prison wardens and engineering their escape. And then it's revealed that the Old Gods are actually the agents of the Void Lords, malevolent extradimensional beings from beyond the physical universe that are nonetheless incapable of directly interacting with it. The Old Gods encountered in the game are just four of a great number of Old Gods that the Void Lords created, and then flung into reality at random across the universe. Why did they do this? Because they hate existence and they hoped that at least one of their creations would infest a planet with a sleeping Titan soul, so that that Titan will be corrupted into an unstoppable agent of the Void who will destroy the entire universe. Guess what's inside Azeroth? The idealism comes into it in that the Old Gods can be fought and contained, even if they can't be outright neutralized.

    Visual Novels 
  • Demonbane: A Humongous Mecha eroge with Cthulhu Mythos elements, with the main heroine being the Necronomicon manifested as a girl and an avatar of Nyarlathotep is pulling many strings of the plot.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!: A stereotypical Japanese style "dating sim" VN with 3 girls to choose from, with the twist being that the 4th girl becomes self aware of her status of being an NPC extra in a shallow dating sim world, and it drives her completely and utterly insane, with horrific consequences for everyone. Her attempts to "hack" the game, Reality Warper style, to make herself into a playable character cause reality itself to start to break down, driving most of the cast to suicide. In the end, she does a Total Party Kill Mercy Kill on her universe, or in the best case scenario merely RetGones herself and the next girl in line ends up doing the same Mercy Kill.
    • In one side story, available if you're cheeky and have advanced knowledge of the game's system, you can remove the 4th girl from the equation before the game even begins via deleting her from the game's folder. However, this causes another girl to become self aware, and the realization of their reality as being a shallow visual novel drives her even more insane than the original.
  • Muv-Luv Unlimited (though that's really more of a harem story in a warfare setting) and Muv-Luv Alternative, where we actually see the alien invaders who are mindlessly destroying humanity, which turns out to be completely incidental to their goal of mining resources, and at the end of the game it's revealed that there are 10^37 planets of BETA in the universe who regard humanity as completely insignificant.
  • Saya no Uta. The main heroine is a clearly Lovecraftian entity that drives people (bar the protagonist who goes off the deep end himself anyway) to madness, it is never shown to the reader and its ultimate goal is to convert all of humanity into Lovecraftian entities. On the other hand, it's hardly invulnerable.

    Web Animation 

  • Awful Hospital: Long ago, before existence was even a thing, there was a single living creature called the Old Flesh. Over time, the Old Flesh succumbed to some unknown infection and died in a state of uncontrollable anger while it broke into several pieces, which broke down further to form the Perception Range. The largest intact pieces remembered the hatred the Old Flesh felt during its dying days. They eventually grew upwards into the Parliament, gained sentience and banded together to rewind the multiverse into its original state. To do this, they engineered an extremely aggressive, incurable pathogen capable of hopping across realities and infecting anything, living or non-living, contaminating their very souls and mutating them into terrifying new forms. After murdering millions of test subjects while perfecting the pathogen, they succeeded with the main protagonist's infant son and began using him as the breeding ground for the pathogen while he was fully conscious and alive. Meanwhile, all doctors back on the infant's home planet (which was eventually destroyed at one point during the comic) were rendered oblivious to his condition before he and his mother were transferred to an interdimensional hospital where the staff and his mother are trapped in a perilious race against time to curb the infection and find a way to save him before it's too late, but the chances are slim - it's very likely that the Parliament might win and successfully reset the multiverse back to its factory settings.
  • This Buttersafe strip uses the trope a way to explain where babies come from.
  • Captain SNES: The Game Masta has a Humans Are Cthulhu variant, where a major driving force of the plot is a conventional Eldritch Abomination (nevertheless hinted to come from our world, not video games) can cause video game characters to start Noticing the Fourth Wall, at which point, overcome by the knowledge that reality-warping inscrutable beings created them and everything they know, all of their turmoils and suffering, for the sake of children's entertainment, they invariably go mad and then either homicidal or catatonic.
  • Homestuck. Entire universes are created for the sole purpose of recruiting players for Sburb, a video game which violently destroys the players' home planets. Victory at the game results in (at best) one's home planet being recolonized, and the creation of a new universe—which will eventually be host to new instances of the game, and that's when things go right. It's stated that the vast majority of Sburb sessions are doomed to fail from the start, never producing new universes, but rather bomb-like tumors to destroy those who try and fail. The protagonists have accidentally rendered the game Unwinnable, by enabling the Big Bad to obtain the powers of a Physical God. Now, the only way to defeat him is to reset the universe—which will pave the way for the arrival (albeit, in a different universe) of a time-travelling demon who feeds on dead universes. In any case, given the way that Stable Time Loops work in this story, the protagonists may already be doomed to fail. And in case all that's too subtle, the comic takes an acrobatic fucking pirouette off the handle and into the deep end with "Jade: Wake up", where the Lovecraft-inspired Noble Circle of Horrorterrors make their on-screen debut. And then we find out that the Horrorterrors need the protagonists' help, because something is killing them. Andrew Hussie cites Earthbound as an inspiration.
  • While the majority of Jack (David Hopkins) is situated in Hell, the narrative gradually descended further into the setting's cosmic implications. The Devil often manipulates time and space to deceive people into committing acts of perdition, while dismissively condemning them for making a choice they didn't have. Souls working towards redemption, including the title character, are curtailed at every opportunity. And Heaven fares little better. God is a frequently unhelpful, hands-off authority figure who reset the destroyed timeline and forced anthros into the same good and evil roles as the previously exterminated humans, effectively damning people before they're even born. As the comic progresses, free will erodes to the point of rendering past lessons about taking responsibility a Broken Aesop when forces of the hereafter direct the living to their doom.
  • The premise of Lovecraft Is Missing is that Lovecraft wrote truth disguised as fiction. And now he's missing...
  • Morphe is at its core a cosmic horror story. It takes place in the Mage: The Awakening canon so it's not too difficult to see why.
  • Necessary Monsters could be considered such, since while the comic itself takes a more Spy Fiction approach, the fact remains that the world is actually controlled by an Ancient Conspiracy of every type of monster possible, from Slasher Movie and Urban Legend-style serial killers to outright eldritch abominations, with a vested interest in preserving humanity — because when you've got a self-perpetuating all-you-can-eat buffet with everything you and your pals like to eat in it, you don't want anybody to go around thrashing it.
  • Ow, my sanity is a Cosmic Horror Magical Girlfriend/Unwanted Harem story. Word of God is that the comic will have a "Lovecraft ending".
  • Thanks in part to Real Life Writes the Plot, Thunderstruck has gained elements of a Cosmic Horror Story world. The city in which most of the action takes place is doomed, period. The primary action focuses on a race of gods for whom all of human history is a single generation - and the action is centered on the scions of the preceding generation's champion.
  • The Watcher Of Yaathagggu is Post Apocalyptic Cosmic Horror.
  • For a long time, The Order of the Stick has The Snarl as the Greater-Scope Villain, with multiple factions trying to manipulate it for their own use and how the world the story takes place is a seal on its prison. But the recent revelations of Strip 1139 drives the whole comic into this. The world is hardly the second, third, or even hundredth iteration, as the Snarl continuously destroys each of its planetary prisons. Try the thousandth, if not the millionth attempt by the gods, each time making it stronger, to no avail. The only reason this one world is special is because its severe flaws, injustices, and outright genocides have created a god of hatred who could stop the Snarl for good, but would rather get justifiable revenge on the rest of the Pantheon for their lack of empathy in enslaving and slaughtering the 'lesser' races they created for adventurers to raid. Even if the Snarl is defeated, which is a poor prospect, many of the gods have been driven half-insane from far too many attempts and will continue to create worlds and cultures that are solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. For all the protagonists' efforts and what's at stake, it's all infinitesimal in the grand scheme of things. Even if they 'save the world', what can they do to save the damaged cosmos, when the gods have tried and failed and went mad from the attempt, over and over?

    Web Original 
  • The Arkn Mythos has an overarching story that's one of these.
  • The "Lord Vyce" and "Entity" story arcs of Atop the Fourth Wall became this, with a Dimension Lord Lord Vyce conquering universes because, as it turns, he is trying to protect the multiverse from something even worse than he is simply refers to as "the entity", an Eldritch Abomination that devours worlds and universes, and he is "forcing the issue" because nobody listened to his warnings. The Entity, revealing itself after Vyce's defeat, shows the intent of absorbing all existence, viewing itself as the pinnacle of all creation. The plot however turns into a Deconstruction of the trope, showing in the end that the existence of an Eldritch Abomination is every bit as insignificant as that of Puny Humans.
  • The BIONICLE serial, Sahmad's Tale, features a plague that robs its victims of their ability to dream, gradually causing them to go completely insane and eventually die. It is eventually revealed that the plague is caused by an eldritch abomination that resembles a miniature sun with tentacles, who feeds on dreams for sustenance.
  • The Castle Series, told with stickmen, but not Played for Laughs. The cosmic horror in this series comes from the titular Castles that may or may not be sentient.
  • This comes up now and again in various creepypasta, most notably The Holders Series.
  • Dimensional Prophecy of Zohar Redux is a cosmic horror story about scientists using an algorithm to calculate the behavior of eldritch abominations and trying to protect civilians.
  • Dino Attack RPG went in this direction toward the end. True, the main plot was about mutant dinosaurs rampaging all over the planet, but let's see... humanity's general insignificance in a vastly uncaring cosmos? Check. Eldritch Abomination capable of destroying the planet with little effort? The Maelstrom makes that a solid check. Eldritch Abomination evil or uncaring on a cosmic scale? Definitely check. The alternate ending December 21, 2010 would be a full-on example, where the Maelstrom has more or less overrun the entire planet with less than ten people still alive by sheer luck and destroys everything in a matter of seconds with no survivors, and the bleak implication that it would spread to the rest of the universe.
  • Division by Zero is a love letter to cosmic horror while retaining its individuality by including biblical, psychological and philosophical horror in its framework. We see this in its world-building: The omnipotent God was torn apart by a war between its creations (lesser Cosmic Beings, though fearsomely powerful) in an existence before existence. The multiverse is made up of pieces of God, and, therefore, has an explicit absence of God. We live in infinite and absolute freedom, because we were not created like the knife, with a purpose and explicit meaning in mind. There is no higher reality to be accountable to, or dependent on. No one can hear our screams, pleas or weeping. a/0 explores the horrific terror of existence without a creator, and how its characters—be they human, gods, or the inexplicable—are inevitably doomed to death. The story itself follows characters trying to navigate this existence, with most unaware of the immutable Crapsack Multiverse they are in.
  • The surreal creepypasta ''Dogscape'' takes place in an Earth that has been hideously terraformed into a worldwide Meat Moss made of dogflesh and canine body parts, as a result of the planet being taken over by an entity known by the nickname of "the Dog Mother". Any attempt at fighting back against said entity only ends with the rebels in question getting assimilated into it. Body Horror does not even begin to describe it.
  • The premise of Gemini Home Entertainment. Humanity is at the mercy of an extraterrestrial force that uses the planets of our Solar System against us, infecting and infesting Earth with unearthly creatures that cause serious injuries and death.
  • Hitler Rants can sometimes go into this territory. Some of the more extreme Untergangers have written characters as having incomprehensible powers related to time and space. this video sees Captain Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (through footage his actor Jürgen Prochnow taken from In the Mouth of Madness- notice a pattern here?) literally tear apart reality for no other reason than to piss off Hitler.
  • ''The Last Stage'', a story-line from Nat One Productions, deals mainly with large-scale paranormal threats, one of which may actually be the government agency employing the main characters. The supernatural entities pulling the strings more or less view Earth as lunch.
  • The Magnus Archives, while it starts with a seemingly episodic Monster of the Week plot, it quickly becomes this after the Powers are revealed: Ancient and incomprehensible entities dwelling beyond the universe, which feed on/embody the fears of every living thing on the planet. They defy all attempts at rational analysis; even their own servants, human and otherwise, admit to not understanding what they are or why they do things. The Entities cannot be defeated or even meaningfully fought, any more than you could punch the concept of arachnophobia, and at any moment they might arbitrarily single you out for torment or death because you would be the right kind of afraid while it happens. And the people worshipping them are trying to complete occult rituals that will re-shape reality to be more hospitable to them...
  • Marble Hornets, which is loosely based on the original below-mentioned Slender Man Mythos. A young man looks through some old tapes belonging to an old friend of his who's gone missing in an attempt to learn what happened to him. He learns of his friend being pursued by a certain Eldritch Abomination and discovers that he's beginning to experience strange events due to watching the tapes. This one is notable in that a semi-normal human proves to be more of a direct threat to the protagonists than the Abomination itself, which is more akin to a force of nature that has been awakened. Also more unusually, the series actually has a surprisingly positive ending. It's bittersweet (and two good guys die) but the protagonists do more or less "win", albeit in a rather ambiguous sense.
  • Mystery Flesh Pit National Park was once a place for fun of all ages, where families could go tour and explore the massive superorganism that apparently dwells dormant under western Texas. Never you mind those stories about park-goers being consumed and turned into half-fused, shrieking amalgamations or getting strange mental compulsions to throw themselves into the pit's gaping maw, rest assured that every effort has been made to ensure your safety! Or...well, at least that was the belief until July 4th, 2007, when, thanks to numerous Failsafe Failures, the Pit consumed 950 park-goers and staff and narrowly avoided waking up before staff was able to pacify it. Now, the Pit is closed off and quarantined, and is just barely kept dormant through the use of massive amounts of sedatives being pumped into it, but every now then, it shifts in its forced slumber, making quakes and "carnal moans" which can be heard for hundreds of miles around...
  • The Never Mythos swings between this and Lovecraft Lite. The City of Never is very explicitly a homage to the works of H.P. Lovecraft with a small Mexican village cut off from the rest of the world and made prey to countless horrific eldritch horrors — but uses that premise to deconstruct or subvert more cosmic horror tropes than it plays straight. The short stories, on the other hand, tend to play it straighter.
  • On The Threshold's subtitle is "A Descent into Cosmic Horror" so this can be assumed, and so far we've seen glimpses of incomprehensible horrible worlds and abominable occult rituals
  • The Quiet Sky begins with a response to the 1974 Arecibo message finally arrive to earth, which seems to be an unintelligible radio signal coming from the direction of the Hercules Constellation. Only this turns out just to be the first half; the second is a telepathic voice asking "Where are you?", which is heard by everyone on earth, including the deaf. The entity is thus named The Voice. As if in replay to the question, all the dead on earth- from humans to animals to ancient skeletons- start screaming. The Voice's response? "I hear you. I am coming." Things only get worse for humanity from there...
  • The famous imageboard-based RPG Ruby Quest is a cosmic horror story about a group of uplifted animals trying to escape an underwater facility plagued by unnatural abominations and horrors, while at the same time trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Rather unbelievably, it actually manages to have a happy ending thanks to the players going off the rails.
  • In the world of the SCP Foundation, the only thing standing between humanity and a legion of sanity-shattering artifacts or implacably destructive monsters is a shadowy organization of Men in Black... whose ruthlessness makes them only slightly less terrifying than the things they're protecting humanity from.
  • The Sick Land is a cosmic horror story in the form of an Apocalyptic Log set in an Eldritch Location that transmits The Virus. Humanity can survive on the fringes of the area...for a while.
  • The Slender Man Mythos is entirely based around its protagonists trying and invariably failing to understand the titular man, who is completely invincible and has been manipulating and horrifying humanity since presumably the very beginning. It's speculated several times that he runs on belief and the only way to stop him is for everyone who knows about him to die, but he inexplicably causes his victims to want to make records of his existence. And then some series introduce more creatures of great power, including an entire new mythos known as The Fear Mythos.
  • Starsnatcher, for the most part, reads like a hard sci-fi take on Lovecraft Lite. It envisions a universe where, thanks to Abusive Precursors, a galaxy-spanning plague exists that's capable of making entire civilizations drop like flies, although the main characters have the means to fight back. However, the epilogue firmly cements the story in the cosmic horror genre. Any civilization beyond a certain degree of advancement is doomed to die. Sufficiently Advanced Aliens have created Mechanical Abominations that exist in a four-dimensional plane beyond spacetime. Gateways to their realms exist in all corners of the galaxy. They are utterly invincible and can, at best, only be locked away temporarily. If a space-faring civilization just so happens to stumble upon them, they will release femtobot plagues that, at best, carry out an Assimilation Plot and, at worst, kill all life in the galaxy. They don't do this out of malice, but simply to ensure that their creators will have fewer competitors for resources. During the story's climax, our heroes encounter one such abomination, but they can, at most, prevent it from being unlocked from its prison at the cost of the protagonist's humanity. There are many more such abominations out there and it is implied that humanity will one day be inevitably get the short end of the deal against them.
  • Stickman Exodus traps hapless stickmen in a Cosmic Horror Notebook (Played for LaughsBlack Comedy laughs). Their goal, the Promised Page, the one place the "Great Doodler" can't touch, might not even exist for all they know. We won't either since the series had a No Ending.
  • The Whateley Universe has a Cosmic Horror Story backstory, and the Sara Waite stories are all centered around one or more Eldritch Abominations... including Sara Waite herself. Plus, there's an in-universe example, since Sara Waite's previous form Michael Waite wrote a best-seller called "Incongruity" which turns out to be The First Book Of The Kellith, which is now in print all over the world. Oops.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time packs one of these into a single episode in "Everything's Jake". Magic Mannote  hijacks Jake's shapeshifting powers, turning his body into its own (historied) world (despite having not existed for more than a few seconds in the real world) note . Jake wakes up trapped inside himself and thinks it's awesome... until he discovers that he's hungry and he can't eat the food there because its made of his own flesh. Jake's hunger begins to cause earthquakes, but one one of the city's scientists correctly realizes that if Jake "leaves", their world will end. Said scientist tries to Take a Third Option by leaving Jake's world to find him some food, but upon emerging into the "glob world" (the Treehouse), he learns that the resident "glob" is a hideous Cthulhu expy note . The scientist melts at the horror of the sight, bemoaning the Awful Truth of their doomed world and the nightmarish beings they've worshiped. Sadly, Jake learns when he leaves that the scientist was right — leaving the city causes its citizens to revert back to being non-sentient parts of his own body, erasing them from existence. No one but Jake and Magic Man knows they ever existed and no one but Jake cares.
  • Despite being a comedy, The Amazing World of Gumball is gradually revealed to have shades of this. Often having to do with their world being sentient and running the "meta" elements that go into a TV show. If a character tries too hard to break out of their role in the story, the very universe can come apart, as seen in "The Job" and "The Test". Reality can also glitch out as seen in "The Signal", the rules of the world are pretty malleable in general, and the universe can seemingly directly manipulate things around the characters when there's a danger of them doing or realizing something that break the status quo, such as in the aforementioned "The Signal", where when Gumball and Darwin start to realize what's going on, only for the show to do a hard cut to them back at home with their family for a blatantly forced "Everybody Laughs" Ending (with the duo laughing along nervously) and when they start to go through puberty "The Kids", they learn they are Not Allowed to Grow Up. And possibly most disturbingly of all, in "The Void", we learn that characters (among other things) that universe decides were a "mistake" can just be spirited away to the titular void and (nearly) all memory and traces of their existence erased. And those of are just some of the major instances of forces outside of the characters' control messing with them. Oh yeah, and that void? The series ends on a Bolivian Army Ending (currently due to be picked up with an upcoming movie and new series) of the void opening up to suck up the the whole world.
  • Futurama seems to set this up in The Beast With a Billion Backs, in which a horrifying, tentacled, borderline incomprehensible Genius Loci attacks our universe from its own after successfully making a way through it, but then subverts it in a sympathetic, if not incredibly disgusting way.
  • The short-lived 80's Cartoon Show Inhumanoids was heavily influenced by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. It pushed towards this trope as hard as was possible for a Merchandise-Driven cartoon from The '80s; even the comedy episodes had more than their share of horrors. One can only imagine how they would have upped the ante had it been successful enough to get more than one season (and toy wave)...
  • Invader Zim has this in the form of "Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom". Zim thinks the kids at Skool are monsters, while Dib is progressively seeing horrible hallucinations from "beyond the veil" that eventually get him committed to an insane asylum in the "Nightmare Realm" from beyond reality that he is seeing into. Zim and Dib reluctantly team up, leading to both being trapped in the twisted world, and are separated when Zim is kidnapped and Dib goes to his house and is confronted with nightmarish versions of Gaz and Membrane who look like terrifying Humanoid Abominations. Zim meets Nightmare Bitters, the leader of the monstrous nightmare race, who wants to capture Dib and enter his mind to take over the world. The two eventually force their way back through the portal in Dib's head in the real world, and when she tries to follow them through Nightmare Bitters sees an extremely fat GIR devouring candy, a sight which is horrible enough that even she, an Eldritch Abomination, retreats at the sanity-destroying sight of.
  • Justice League has a modified version of the Twilight Zone episode listed above. The seemingly idyllic town and quaint superhero team are all creations of their sidekick, who keeps the illusion and the very few real people under ironclad control with powers gained from a nuclear explosion. Becomes Lovecraft Lite when the superhero illusions fight back against their creator to help the protagonists, knowing if they win, they'll be wiped from existence because their real counterparts are already dead.
  • The Love, Death & Robots short "Beyond the Aquila Rift" is a glorious example. It follows a space traveler who ends up stranded in a space station at the very far reaches of known space with his Old Flame Greta. Which is only half true: He is trapped at the far reaches of space, but in the hive of a terrifying spider-like alien creature, and everything he has seen is a psychic illusion the spider projects into his mind. Then again, the alien is a Non-Malicious Monster doing it as an act of mercy so he doesn't realise the real horror of his situation; when he finds out what she really is, she just wipes his memory and puts him through the illusion again.
  • Mighty Max. Although over the course of the series we find Max beating his fair share of enemies, ultimately the great Big Bad is shown to be unstoppably powerful, and our hero's only hope to even tie with him is to let all his friends die and restart the timeline with his own death in the hopes it goes better the second time. Unfortunately, given the prophecies frequently referenced, this cycle has happened at least several dozen times.
  • The main concept of the short (and potential series) Pibby is that various otherwise cheery and optimistic cartoon worlds, including many beloved classics (or expies of said classics) are being corrupted and devoured one by one by a horrific, nigh-unstoppable Glitch Entity that no one knows the origin of.
  • Quoth the Nightmare Fuel page of Rick and Morty:
    [The show] is basically an exercise in existential horror: you are just one of a near-infinite number of yourselves, spread over a vast, uncaring, Godless multiverse. Some of you have died gruesomely and unremembered, others are wealthier and more successful than you will ever be. The fact that you are where you are isn't even down to luck; it just is. Entire civilizations live or die at the whim of callous, Lovecraftian gods, who may even be you, whether you know it or not. There is no meaning to life, no purpose, no destiny. At one point, Morty outlines this reality to his sister, and then, as an antidote tells her to come and watch TV, which is either the most nihilistic cry of despair ever screamed from that medium or the most audacious act of native advertising in television history.
  • The premise of Samurai Jack is that a nigh-unstoppable, endlessly malevolent force of literal evil (the Start of Darkness episodes reveal that Aku is simply a tiny fragment of a creature that formed in the first moments of the universe) has conquered the world and is spreading his influence throughout the stars, and that a lone samurai warrior wielding a magic sword, one of the only things in existence that can even harm this force of evil, embarks on a seemingly hopeless quest to defeat the evil and Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Though after several decades of failure, Jack eventually succeeds at going back in time to kill Aku and ensure a far better future for the world, which firmly sets this as Lovecraft Lite.
    • There's also an episode which shows that if Aku gets sick and so much as sneezes on you, you'll be infected with his evil and literally transform into a copy of him, something that nearly happens to Jack himself.
  • The premise of Shadow Raiders is that the 4 elemental worlds must band together using ancient technology to fight a great giant planet that wants to eat their homes. It is unstoppable, unrelenting, and unbeatable. The only hope is to run away, or face certain destruction. And they can't run forever. For a child's show this is somewhat jarring.

They're coming, they're We're here.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Cosmic Horror, Lovecraftian Fiction, Cosmic Horror Stories, Cosmic Horror Genre


The Sinking City

You take on the role of Charles W. Reed, an investigator in the 1920s United States. As soon as you arrive in Oakmont, Massachusetts, you are led to investigate a mysterious flood inundating the city, in the hopes of shedding light on the darkness that has seized the place and corrupted the minds of the inhabitants - and yours...

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / CosmicHorrorStory

Media sources: