A Crack in the Sky is a (usually jagged) rent or rift in the sky, as if the atmosphere was a physical dome with a gap in it. If one is seen during the daytime, it's normally black; at night, the crack is usually brilliant white instead.
Its appearance typically signals that something very, very bad is happening, and that whatever caused the break is powerful enough to mess things up on a metaphysical scale — that the very fabric of reality is about to fall to pieces. Sometimes, this may also signal a breakage in whatever keeps dimensions separate from each other, allowing things to come through the newly opened gap.
In real life, this is of course impossible (the sky isn't a physical object capable of breaking), but it doesn't prevent it from happening in fiction.
Compare Screen Tap, when it's the fourth wall that cracks. See also The Stars Are Going Out for another sign of doom that happens in the sky. Subtrope of Signs of the End Times. A Cosmic Flaw may manifest as one.
- This can happen when hollows (such as Arrancar or Gillian/Menos Grande) enter the World of the Living (Earth) or the Soul Society from Hueco Mundo.
- The Menos Grande hollows open a large hole in the sky when they rescue Lord Aizen and his lieutenants from the Soul Society.
- When Lord Aizen and his forces return to invade the World of the Living, they do so by opening a large breach in the sky.
- In episode #254, Muramasa opens a breach into Hueco Mundo which allows an army of Menos Grande to enter. Luckily, Captain Kuchiki is able to use his spiritual pressure to seal the breach.
- Fairy Tail: In the final arc, the protagonists think they've successfully sealed away Acnologia in a space time rift that he'll never get out of, albeit at the sacrifice of two of their members who have rammed him into it. Not long after Zeref is finally defeated and everyone starts to relax, Wendy notices the sky suddenly cracking before Acnologia suddenly breaks through, having eaten the magic in the rift to free himself. On the upside, said members are likewise revealed to be alive.
- Both Gundam Build Divers and Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE feature ominous cracks in the sky as a crucial plot point, used to represent server damage to the game world of GBN. In Re RISE, this actually signals a full blown Alien Invasion plot. In both instances, the rips in the sky are fixed by the game's admins firing on them with in-game weapons. Apparently stability/repair patches can be deployed via high explosive missiles.
- One Piece: Whitebeard possesses a power that can crack space itself.
- Star Driver has every single entrance of the Galactic Pretty Boy involve smashing through the starry sky of a Pocket Dimension like it was made of glass.
- Stellvia of the Universe: The cause of the supernova that devastates Earth in the backstory is revealed to be an interstellar fissure headed for earth. However, there is no indication that said fissure is anything but natural.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: The heroes crack spacetime by punching you through it.
- Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: The premise of Joys of Seasons episode 34 is that an angry Wolnie sends Wolffy flying into the sky so many times that it creates a crack in the sky that gets bigger and eventually breaks, creating a hole that spills water and sends the goats into action when it threatens to flood the Green Green Grassland.
- Magic: The Gathering:
- In the Time Spiral cycle, the central conflict revolves around giant time rifts that have appeared all over Dominaria and are sucking the mana out of the land and threatening the total destruction of the space-time continuum.
- In the Ravnica cycle, a dimensional rift above the Utvara region is a main plot point. (It turns out to be related to Dominaria's time rifts, too.)
- The trope appears on a variety of individual cards, such as AEther Rift and Wargate.
- Kaya's homeworld of Tolvada apparently has cracks in the sky that drive people mad. Its why she made a deal with Nicol Bolas, which she comes to suspect caused that in the first place.
- In the 1945 flashback part of Last Days of the Justice Society, the JSA of that period see a "rip in the sky" that forms when (as the Spectre reveals) Adolf Hitler used the Spear of Destiny to merge the Norse gods' Ragnarok with the fate of the universe.
- Legion of Super-Heroes: In The Condemned Legionnaires, the Legion visit a strange world called the Puppet Planetoid. When her teammates notice the rift across the sky, Supergirl -who had previously discovered the planet-, explains that it was opened by a race of giants from a parallel dimension so their kids could use the uninhabited world below as a safe playground.
- Elementals of Harmony: When the Elemental of Magic awakens, the sky above the Ponyville library shatters into a giant star-shaped pattern as a sign that the world is almost about to end, accompanied by a loud cracking noise and the hiss of air getting sucked through the breach.
- Guys Being Dudes: A glowing one of these appears on Go Fest Day 1 as the first sign of the Ultra Wormhole that will open the following day.
- A Mid-Sinnoh Night's Dream: In this Pokemon/Gurren Lagann conglomeration, this occurs in Chapter 29 as the Heavens Shatter.
- Shattered Skies: The Morning Lights: In this Magical Girl Crisis Crossover, the titular effect appears in worlds heavily effected by the Big Bad's rampant tampering with time and space.
- The Unseen Hunt: In this RWBY fanfiction, a Nightmare — a spike in Grimm activity when the barrier between Earth and the Grimm's world becomes weaker — is signaled by a black fissure splitting through the sky, although only Grimm and the Awakened can see it.
- Chicken Little: The climax starts with the sky appearing to crack, revealing the hexagonal tiles that the aliens use to disguise their ships in the sky.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games: When Twilight Sparkle's device traps too much of the Humane Six's magic, it starts to spill out and create rifts between Earth and Equestria to open in the air and the sky, which take longer each time to close.
- In The Prince of Egypt, a blinding-white tear appears in the sky when the Angel of Death comes to smite the Egyptian firstborn.
- Spider-Man: No Way Home: The climax involves containment on a powerful, reality altering spell breaking down. This unstable spell causes massive fissures to begin opening in the air surrounding the Statue of Liberty, threatening to bring in every person in the multiverse that knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man into one reality.
- The City and the Stars: When the Master Computer simulates the end of the world, the simulation begins with the sky splitting open to reveal darkness, from which the Great Ones descend.
- Dream of the Red Chamber: The book opens with an alternate version of the myth of Nüwa patching up the sky, with 36,501 stones gathered rather than five as in the original. Most of the stones were used to repair the sky, but the last one was cast away and eventually gained sentience as a spirit, thus kicking off the events of the novel.
- The Elder Empire: The Great Elders manage to rip open a hole in the sky, exposing the Way beyond. While the people of this world don't have a perfect knowledge of astronomy, this terrifies everyone because it goes against everything they know about how the universe works. The heroes have to scramble to fix this before the Great Elders tear the world in half. As it turns out, a crack is all that the Great Elders can do. This world was specifically designed to imprison them; even with all of them working together, they can barely hold it open this much. Their plan was to frighten everyone enough to give them an opportunity to escape, but if they are killed then the crack will immediately fix itself.
- Oathbringer (third book of The Stormlight Archive): Odium begins tearing apart one of Dalinar's visions from outside, starting by opening a hole in the sky. This makes more sense than most examples, because it's not the real sky - the world Dalinar is in at the time is a sort of magic interactive video recording.
- Tales from Watership Down: In "The Hole in the Sky", while injured and delirious, El-ahrairah ends up seeing the eponymous hole — a massive, horrifying wound in the sky. It appears to descend toward him, and he rolls down a slope in a panic and blacks out. Coming to later, he asks Lord Frith how he could allow such a horror to exist, but Frith tells him that it was never real, only a product of El-ahrairah's delirious mind.
- Unsong: This is the first sign that something has gone terribly wrong when the Apollo 8 capsule crashes into the crystal sphere surrounding the world, before the laws of physics more broadly start breaking down.
- Doctor Who:
- In "The Sound of Drums", alien invaders arrive through a massive crack in the sky.
- One Eleventh Doctor story arc involves "cracks in time" that manifest as visible cracks, though usually against a solid surface (like a wall). The cause is the future destruction of the Doctor's own TARDIS, which is gradually erasing all of time and space.
- At the climax of "The Time of the Doctor", the final Eleventh Doctor episode, a crack in the sky (identical in shape to the previous ones above) opens between Trenzalore and the frozen-in-time Gallifrey to dispense the Doctor with a fresh new batch of Regenerations (and enough spill-off energy to blast the Dalek fleet from the sky).
- Power Rangers Ninja Steel: In "Dimensions in Danger", the villain Lord Draven attempts to use his "mega arrows" to break down the barriers between dimensions. Firing two of the arrows causes a large crack to appear in the sky, with a third being all Draven needs to finish the job.
- Ultra Series: Cracks in the sky usually herald the arrival of a powerful enemy, most notably the the Choju, a race of powerful bio-weapon Kaiju made by the malevolent Yapool people for the purpose of spreading misery and ruin. Notably, they're usually stronger than the average Kaiju.
- Chinese Mythology gives us the tale of Nüwa repairing the sky after one of the pillars supporting it suddenly collapsed. (Some versions of the myth hold that the draconic water god Gong Gong smashed his head into Mount Buzhou, one of the pillars, after his defeat by either the legendary emperor Zhuanxu or the fire god Zhurong.) To fix the sky, Nüwa melted five stones representing the elements (water, wood, earth, metal, and fire) in a furnace and filled in the crack with the liquified stones, then slew a giant tortoise and inserted one of their legs where the broken pillar once stood. The myth also doubles as a pre-scientific explanation for the seasonal rotation of the stars in the night sky, since the tortoise leg was supposedly shorter than the mountain it replaced and left the sky slightly off-kilter.
- Judaism: In Jewish mythology, the sky opens at midnight on the holy day Hoshana Rabba.
- Devil May Cry 5: In Mission 17, the scenery is an illusion of Dante's childhood home, complete with cracked sky, whose bits of it occasionally fall down as the boss fight progresses. The illusion completely shatters when V and Urizen fuse back into Vergil.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition is jump started by a massive explosion which, among other things, creates an enormous hole in the sky as well as dozens of much smaller ones. The big one is called the Breach; the smaller ones are called rifts. All of them are a huge problem because they aren't just holes in the sky, but also holes in the Veil, which separates the mortal world from the realm of spirits and demons.
- In Drakengard 2, the destruction of the final seal causes the sky to crack and shatter as The End of the World as We Know It sets in.
- Drawn: Huge tears in the sky and landscape are seen through, as the game takes place inside a Magical Girl's living paintings that have been damaged.
- Epic Battle Fantasy 5: The Final Boss is located in front of a rift in space. The "space" itself is red-tinted, so it is easier to see it being cracked and shattered around the boss, with nothing but empty blackness behind it.
- In .hack R1 Games (IMOQ), viral corruption leads to cracks in the sky of different areas and eventually the Root Towns.
- Hyrule Warriors: In "Adventure Mode" missions where he is fought, this is how Ganon's intro cutscene starts. The sky forms cracks and dark holes like breaking glass and sounds as such as the cracks spread before the shards fly away. Ganon slowly emerges from the revealed darkness.
- In Loom, the sky rips open at the end of the game. It's not really a disaster, but dramatic nevertheless at it marks the new boundary between the land, one part ruled by Chaos and one part by the Weavers.
- The aftermath of the damaged Dimensionator firing in Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart causes broken glass-like rifts to appear in the sky, revealing holes to other dimensions before disappearing again, complete with "shards" of reality flying out before abruptly flying back into place. As the game progresses, these become more frequent, indicating the impending collapse of all reality if the protagonists aren't able to fix it.
- Super Paper Mario: With the marriage of Bowser and Peach, a multidimensional black hole called the Void is summoned. It floats in the sky of every outdoor level, growing bigger throughout the story...
- Super Smash Bros.:
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl: The save points in the Great Maze show a massive rip in the sky in the background, with Subspace behind it.
- Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS has a passive version in the Magicant stage, where the sky opens up to show moments from the Mother series. Ultimate changes these visions from rips in the sky to being formed out of several squares.
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: In World of Light, the sky cracks open when Dharkon enters from the Dark World.
- Wild ARMs: A crack appears in the sky above Adlehyde right before a beam of light shoots down and reduces the town to a flaming wreck. Then monsters are sent down to cut apart any survivors they can get hold of. Another crack appears much later when Zeikfried decides to drag the heroes into the Gate Generator in order to kill them.
- World of Warcraft: Following the release of the Shadowlands expansion, the sky over the Icecrown zone - previously just a dark, cloudy blue-grey - now sports a gaping hole with edges like broken glass to depict the breaking of the veil between life and death. It's also a reddish-brown colour, going for an Orange/Blue Contrast rather than black and white.
- Homestuck: Lord English's going on what can best be described as a killing spree of the afterlife resulting in giant cracks in Paradox Space that grows bigger and bigger as the story progresses.
- League of Super Redundant Heroes: A crack in the sky is described happening about once a millenia, letting creatures called "the Old Ones" enter the world, bringing insanity and chaos by their mere presence. They happen to be Cthulhumanoid... tourists.
- The Order of the Stick has rifts, holes in reality which lead to a prison dimension built by the gods to imprison the Snarl. One particularly impressive example, which can be seen in this strip, opens above Azure City and grows much larger than any of the others, looming in the skies of the city like a colossal wound where the fabric of the universe is very literally and visibly unraveling.
Haley: Don't forget the giant hole in the sky. I'm sure that absolutely isn't a sign that we're all screwed.
- Rusty and Co.: A magical artifact is jury-rigged to weaken the fabric of existence enough for an Eldritch Abomination to break in, which it does through a jagged, blindingly white rift in the night sky. The effect reverses when the artifact is neutralized.
Unsound Effect: Deus ex machina!
- Ed, Edd n Eddy: Played for Laughs in "Run Ed Run" where the Eds smash against the sky and make it fall apart, revealing television static behind it.
Eddy: Ed was right! The sky is falling!
Ed: Thank you very much.
- Futurama: At the end of the first movie, Bender's Big Score, Bender convinces all of his (many, many) time-travelling duplicates to stay behind in Planet Express's basement until the end of the movie "instead of coming out when they were logically supposed to". The sheer magnitude of the resultant time paradox causes a massive tear in the fabric of the universe, clearly visible from Earth. The second movie, The Beast With A Billion Backs, starts one month later, where it's revealed that the tear hasn't actually done anything since, and the denizens of the universe are treating it with varying levels of nonchalance.
Bender: Well, we're boned.
- Gravity Falls: The series finale involves a big cross shaped crack in the sky granting access from another dimension.
- Green Lantern: The Animated Series: In "Steam Lantern", a steampunk scientist creates a giant ray to open a rift to another (our) universe in order to save his world from the Anti-Monitor; this remains visible in the planet's sky as a tear in the sky.
- Robotomy: While on his tonic-enhanced rampage in "Field of Screams", Blastus ends up tearing open the fabric of reality and creating an ominous dark portal in the sky over the mutilation ball field, which starts sucking people into the sky and out of existence.
- The hole in the ozone layer.
- Sometimes, magnetic field reversals will cause the magnetosphere to weaken, allowing solar flares due to the sunspot cycle to case more damage to the power grid.