Follow TV Tropes


Just Before the End

Go To
It's all downhill from here.

"Last one to die — please turn out the light."
Graffiti on poster in Children of Men

It's probably sometime between Next Sunday A.D. and 20 Minutes into the Future, but it could also be another planet in a distant galaxy in an inverted universe. All that really matters is that the world, or civilization anyway, is ending... any day now. The zombie army is making its way across the continent... oh so slowly. The worldwide economic crash is in its 10-year stretch. The global powers are arming for all-out war, The Virus's death toll is rising, and the asteroid named Malthus Prime is on its way to end the human race... in exactly X.5 months, Y days and Z hours.

The world you're in probably resembles a Crapsack World verging on a Scavenger World. The trains are still running, though probably not on time. Everywhere it's ominously hinted that however bad the present is, the future will only get worse, and by the end, or at least by the next sequel, it has, and we get to see what things are like After the End. Just Before the End is usually a bleak dystopia (or alternatively, a facsimile of the modern era) that is coming apart at the seams. Expect to see people Dying Like Animals. Graffiti and abandoned cars are usually a given. The Depopulation Bomb may have already dropped, leaving a Crapsack World or worse, but if it hasn't dropped yet, it's on its way... oh yeah, it's coming. Better get your $99 bottled water and your car batteries while they last, folks! Right here, at Joe's Apocalyptic Emporium! Alternatively, you might want to invest in a suicide kit: Thank God for State-Sponsored Euthanasia!


As many of the examples show, Just Before The End can either take place just before the impact of a Depopulation Bomb or after its impact, provided the effects of said Depopulation Bomb are not immediate: for example, if an asteroid crashed ten years ago but was only large enough to destroy a few cities at most, but it brought with it a deadly contagion which has reduced the world's population drastically in those ten years to the point that the contagion is daily news and everyone's expecting to die, then you've also got Just Before The End set in a Crapsack World.

Also known in apocalyptic literature as the Dying Earth subgenre. You can expect anyone previously chanting that The End Is Nigh to gloat about being right... but not for very long. Compare The Cretaceous Is Always Doomed, this trope's Time Travel counterpart.


Compare Signs of the End Times. Not to Be Confused with Dénouement or Before the Dark Times.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • A particular review of the manga Berserk said that "It shows us how the apocalypse starts" and "what happens during the apocalypse."
  • In episode 42 of the Kirby: Right Back at Ya! anime. The Phantom Star Geras is revealed to be coming to Dream Land and that it will bring about the end of the world. On the last day of the world, Everyone flees to King Dedede's castle. In one of the cutest scenes in the anime, King Dedede takes Kirby to the playground that he built. Kirby goes onto one of the swings and Dedede goes onto the other. Then a strong wind starts to blow sending Kirby and King Dedede into the sky.
  • ShadowStar starts about a year before the End. Eventually, the protagonist and her Evil Counterpart (both of whom are pregnant and about 13 years old) are the only ones left. The last page of the series shows their children, a girl and a boy, respectively, playing on the beach where the series started, apparently about 12 years old, in an Adam and Eve Plot.
  • 7 Seeds has flashback arcs that tend to take place before the meteorites hit earth.
    • The Ryugu Shelter arc has a diary telling the events a few days before and how things went down in the shelter after the impact.
    • The Hail Of Corn flashback arc tells the raising of Team Summer A and looks to be finished shortly before the impact, too. The final chapter of said arc reveals that Team Summer A was put to sleep around the time Hana, a member of Team Spring, was born. She was eventually cryogenically frozen when she was the same age as the Team Summer A candidates. The entire arc ended 17 years before the impact.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion mixes this with After the End. The story is set 15 years after a cataclysm wiped out half of Earth's human population and caused massive ecological damage to the planet. World society at this point has been steadily recovering and has become somewhat stable, but little do people know that an Ancient Conspiracy is working towards causing another, even more destructive cataclysm.
  • Now and Then, Here and There manages to be set both Just Before the End and After the End. Human civilization has long collapsed, and now Earth itself is in its final death throes. Depending on how Lala Ru is interpreted, the series also contains the point of The End as well.
  • Phoenix: Volume 2 starts this way. There are plans underway to restore humanity, but nobody seems to really believe in the future.
  • Saikano begins with everything apparently peaceful, although the weather has gotten bizarre. As Chise reveals at the end, the world was actually dying from the start. She performs a Mercy Kill on all living things to spare them the pain of dying slowly with the planet.
    • The manga is more hopeful, in that the by-then transhuman Chise survives, as does her still-human boyfriend. They set off to explore the universe, hopefully to find someone they can talk to.
  • Wolf's Rain takes place in a decaying world-turned-wasteland, dotted with Adventure Towns.
  • Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (Record of a Yokohama Shopping Trip), except that it paints it as a Cosy Just Before The Catastrophe that you might actually want to live in. The manga is about an android named Alpha taking care of a store in the countryside, who occasionally needs to go traveling around. Humans are starting to depopulate due to unexplained reasons; however, the "children" of humanity, the robots, are so human-like it's clear they'll carry on humanity's legacy and humans themselves seem to be pretty cool with this fate, the way an elderly person has accepted their inevitable death (even if they don't invite it).
  • Humanity Has Declined. Humans are dying out for reasons that are never really explained.
  • The events of Attack on Titan begin when the human population has been reduced to about 1.5 million due to the titular monsters. After the Time Skip shortly afterwards, that number is reduced by a fifth.
  • The final saga of Dragon Ball Z focuses on Majin Buu, a monster that makes short work of killing 80% of the population. In a focus on background characters unusual for the series, we see those left either cowering and clinging to life or going on The Last Dance. It was the latter that caused Buu to have a Heel–Face Door-Slam and kill the last 20% within the span of a few minutes.
  • Ciel ~The Last Autumn Story~: Volume 15 reveals that the Sun has already died, and only the effort of the godlike Arc Dragons preserves mankind. And they don't intend to stick around forever.
  • Sunday Without God takes place in world supposedly abandoned by God, where human beings can no longer procreate and can no longer truly die unless buried by gravekeepers. So, Ai and her companions pretty much inhabit a dying world - with no new humans being born, the world's population has shrunk considerably, and even the most well-preserved of the deceased will eventually rot away to almost nothing, leaving them no choice but to be buried by gravekeepers, and once all human beings are dead and buried there'll no longer be a need for gravekeepers.
  • AKIRA: At the start, Neo-Tokyo is experiencing massive social unrest caused by an incompetent government, gang violence has gotten to the point where bikers battle in the streets and police can do nothing about it, a school for the city's orphans is covered by graffiti and taught by teachers who don't care about reaching students, and a secret research project involving powerful psychic children is about to reach a head. Neo-Tokyo is a powder keg waiting to explode...

    Comic Books 
  • Watchmen is set in a world that's teetering on the edge of a nuclear holocaust but then manages to avert and subvert it, as the holocaust is prevented, for now, but whether Ozymandias' plot works or not is left open to reader interpretation. Doctor Manhattan puts it best:
    Dr. Manhattan: In the end? Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.
  • Y: The Last Man has this atmosphere, for all that it centers on the titular last hope for natural reproduction. After all, he's one slim hope given that every male mammal in the world had died. Even if you knew he lived, it would be reasonable to assume this was the last generation of humanity.
  • Neil Gaiman's Signal to Noise features the Nested Story of a group of villagers gathering on a hillside on New Year's Eve, 999 AD, convinced that the world is about to end.
  • The Books of Magic includes a scene where the main character goes to the very last minutes of time.
    Death: I'm sorry. I can't let either of you stay here and watch. You see, this really is it. The universe is over. It's my job to put it all in order, now, and lock the place behind me as I leave.
  • Transformers:
    • Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: The Shadowplay arc was a flashback to pre-war cybertron, a Crapsaccharine World, where one's alt-mode reflects their place in society Functionalism runs rampant and the working class has turned into a boiling pot of issues. The arc takes place on the cusp of the uprising, where the Cybertronians would engage in a war their species became infamous for. While society moves along normally, news reports show so many of the faults, rampant shootings, government mutilations, thugs able to assault or even kill the homeless, etc. The protagonists encounter casual murders, and government conspiracies that involve tampering with civilian minds to stop them from revolting. Even with Orion and his friends saving hundreds from a bomb, society falls apart anyways mere months later when a group of workers-turned-gladiators unite, sack Kaon, and plunge the world into war.
    • Brian Ruckley's Transformers (2019) begins before the war between the Autobots and Decepticons, with a seemingly peaceful and happy Cybertron where the worst things going on are some minor political disputes. Then the first murder in living memory is committed, setting off a chain of Disaster Dominoes where all the little problems in Cybertronion society explode in the worst ways possible and the world hurtles uncontrollably towards a nightmarish Forever War.
  • Zombies Christmas Carol reimagines A Christmas Carol during a zombie apocalypse Hate Plague, the source of which is Ebenezer Scrooge, and a plague of zombies inexorably sweeps through London and the world. If Scrooge doesn't mend his ways and start helping people, humanity is irrevocably doomed.
  • The 2000 AD prequel series The Fall of Deadworld. It's already established that the Dark Judges exterminated their entire homeworld before their very first appearance in Judge Dredd, but this story arc shows the apocalypse slowly unfolding.
  • East of West is set in a dystopian, cyberpunk version of America where tensions are boiling between seven nations and all-out war is seemingly on the horizon, with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse actively working to bring about the end... except the Horseman of Death, who’s decided he wants no part of it. This gets played with at the end, as the apocalypse is prevented and the world saved... but even as the heroes celebrate their hard-earned victory, the narrator calmly informs us that they have done nothing but delay the inevitable by about a thousand years. Humanity will eventually end, no matter how long it takes to happen, simply because it is the nature of all mortal things to die when their time passes, and mankind's time is almost over.
  • Sweet Tooth chronicles the final days of humanity in a world where a horrific plague is wiping out everyone except a growing population of mutants who resemble human-animal hybrids. The story begins when the end is already well underway, and we get a few flashbacks to just before things start going to hell. The Distant Finale depicts the end of the apocalypse, with the last humans dying out and the hybrids becoming the new dominant species.
  • The prologue of Descender takes place just before the Harvesters launch a cataclysmic attack that kills billions, setting up the rest of the series. The entire first part of the series is an example, given it leads into the Harvesters coming back to try and finish the job, causing the collapse of the UGC and the return of magic. The second part, Ascender, takes place After the End.
  • Superman:
    • Most versions of Superman's origin story show his parents trying to save their home planet, Krypton before sending baby Superman to Earth seconds before the planet explodes.
    • In Supermans Return To Krypton, Superman gets stuck into Krypton over three years before the explosion. He cannot go back to his time because he is literally powerless, and he knows he will unable to convince people that Jor-El is right, so he tries to lead a happy life, without the pressures and stresses of being a super-hero, before the end.
    • In The Untold Story Of Argo City, the floating city's population is getting killed by Kryptonite radiation. Zor-El and Allura manage to build a single-passenger rocket and send their daughter to Earth, and then they set up a disaster headquarters. Unfortunately, there is no way to cure the Kryptonite poisoning or escape the space city, so all they can do is to monitor the plague, knowing Argo and its citizens have weeks left, at best.
  • In Green Lantern storyline Green Lantern: The Lost Army, the Lanterns eventually realize that the reason none of them recognize anything about the sector of space they're in is because they've been moved through time as well as space and have been stranded in the final days of the universe that preceded the one they're from.

    Comic Strips 
  • One cartoon from The Far Side featured a sign company manufacturing placards reading "The End of the World is Coming", right as a nuclear war erupts outside their building.
    "Wouldn't you know it! There goes our market for those things!"

    Fan Works 
  • The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum takes place at this time. Apocalypse Anarchy reigns, the Barrier has rendered more than a third of the world uninhabitable to humanity, the remaining landmasses are overpopulated with starving refugees, at least two billion humans are either dead or ponified, and the war has been going on for so long and has been so brutally hopeless that the world's remaining governments have resigned themselves to a suicidal Taking You with Me plan that involves rigging the Yellowstone Caldera with nukes, resulting in an Earth-Shattering Kaboom, just to spite the Solar Empire. That is until the leader of the human resistance stumbles upon another Equestria that didn't fall to the same corruption as its counterpart and is willing to do everything to help humanity survive.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos takes place in a Crapsack Galaxy torn to pieces by thirty years of civil war and the Angels and Demon forces fighting over the remnants, with an Eldritch Abomination and the Shroud poised to devour everything else. Sonic and friends end up just barely managing to avert the end except in Endings A and B, where they fail.
  • Children of an Elder God: In the final chapters, the five pilots are anxious and worried because they can feel the end of everything is coming.
  • In The Second Try, the pre-time-travel chapters happen After the End, and the post-time-travel episodes happen a few months before the end of the world. When they go back to the past, Shinji and Asuka are well aware of the incoming Apocalypse. At the beginning, Asuka is too depressed to make anything about it, but Shinji encourages her to try to avert it.
  • Once More with Feeling:
    • Shinji is aware that the world will end within half year unless he does something.
    • SEELE and Gendo are not concerned with some Government agency finding out something in the long term or paying NERV’s debt because if they fulfill their plans, they’ll never have to answer for anything since humanity has no future.
  • Furry Outbreak, a bizzare King of the Hill fanfic, take place minutes before a unnamed Virus that transforms people into titular Furries. And even cause humanity only least in Texas goes insane with societal collapse.
  • In Ward Peggy Sue fanfic Warp, Victoria Dallon is transported from two years After the End to two years before the Apocalypse. Unfortunately, she has no better plan than transmitting her incomplete knowledge to the secret organization trying to avert the end of the world, working on her GED before her hometown gets destroyed and doing whatever she can before all hell breaks loose.

  • Children of Men: After nearly twenty years of depopulation due to infertilitynote , human civilization has virtually crumbled to dust. It's all the protagonist can do to stay properly drunk through the last few years of Britain's existence.
  • Mad Max: Max was a police officer in a collapsing dystopian Australia where wars, environmental disasters, and global economic recession had just started to take effect. The later films in the series are fully post-apocalyptic.
    • Interestingly enough, Mad Max 2 was originally an example of this trope. The script for Mad Max 2 reveals that civilization has yet to end during the event of the second film, as Australia has collapsed due to lack of resources and order. However, later movies and comics would retcon the second movie to take place after a nuclear apocalypse. See here for more details.
  • Brazil may or may not count as this. It's not unsubtly implied that ecology has gone completely to hell, machinery is (explosively) malfunctioning left and right and the only reason society has not crumbled is because people are too stupid to take notice and the Vast Bureaucracy is much more adept at covering its ass than it is at actually fixing things.
  • 12 Monkeys definitely counts as this. The entire film is a Stable Time Loop that has one of the main characters seeing the first few minutes of a viral infection that will cull mankind in the flesh, and see his older self being assassinated by airport security in a futile attempt at stopping it. The only true change he brings with his time travel is providing information to the scientists that did it so they can maybe create a vaccine many years later.
  • Countdown to Looking Glass is about the Cold War going hot concluding in nuclear war from the perspective of newscasters.
  • Blade Runner (less clear in the book that humans are evacuating to the off-world colonies to escape the radioactive dust in Earth's atmosphere).
  • Planet of the Apes:
  • Living Dead Series:
  • Reign of Fire is a fairly unique, though equally forgettable film about dragons waking up and trying to kill off all life on the planet because their multi millennial nap was disturbed again. This is not immediate, because Humans Are Warriors and are the first things to fight back, leading to this scenario.
  • These Final Hours has a wave of fire from an impacted asteroid travelling around the world, with the main characters in Perth, Australia, due to be killed in approximately twelve hours. A radio DJ narrates as they lose contact with other cities around the world.
  • When Worlds Collide, except shocking inattention is paid to the fact that everyone on Earth but the named cast dies in the final act.
  • Knowing is about a list of numbers and dates predicting disasters. Only 3 are left when the protagonist finds it, the last one predicting a solar flare that will kill everyone else alive in the planet.
  • The Time Machine (2002): The protagonist in The Film of the Book stops by at a time where the Moon is about to fall. He then fast forwards to After the End.
  • Quintet: A new ice age has covered the earth. It's established that the Earth will continue get colder until man cannot survive, so there is no real future. Some people have decided to pass the time playing Quintet, a kind of five-man Russian roulette game.
  • Seeking a Friend for the End of the World takes place in America after it has been announced that an asteroid is going to end the world in 3 weeks.
  • Last Night, an obscure 1998 film, subverts the usual trends of this trope. Some kind of cosmic, unavoidable disaster (it's never outright stated what that disaster is, but it seems to have something to do with the Sun) is going to occur at precisely midnight. The general public has known this for a few months, so the last few hours (which the film covers) are a mix: some people are busy rioting or partying, but others are simply enjoying a final dinner with friends and family or praying.
  • Interstellar has a mysterious blight killing off the world's plants. The loss of oxygen-producing plants, combined with the nitrogen produced by the blight, will eventually cause the atmosphere's oxygen content to fall below the level necessary to sustain life. The plot of the film revolves around finding humanity a new home before the oxygen runs out.
  • The Day After; which at its end shows the horrors of life the titular day After the End.
  • Threads went further to 10 years after the end.
  • The Speculative Documentary Supervolcano starts out After the End (the eruption of the Yellowstone caldera), then flashes back to five years before the end, and eventually catches up to the present story.
  • When the Wind Blows is about a naive elderly couple preparing for, then attempting to survive a nuclear attack.
  • Dr. Strangelove takes place at the climax of a Lensman Arms Race and ends with the Doomsday Device destroying the world.
  • 2012 chronicles a family racing against the clock to survive the imminent Mayan Doomsday.
  • Warcraft (2016): The parts concerning the world of Draenor have this feel. There are barely enough draenei to send a thousand warriors through the portal — by contrast, it only took few days of collecting enough Azeroth humans to bring the far bigger chunk of the Horde — the world is a barren wasteland, the entire Horde fits into one (admittedly large) valley, and at some point, when already in Azeroth, Orgrim and Durotan notice snow in the distance and wonder when was the last time they've seen it.
  • Independence Day starts off on an ordinary July morning in America. Then suddenly, thirty-six spaceships appear over major cities throughout the world.
  • Automata is set in a world where solar storms are rendering Earth uninhabitable to humans. Only 21 million people are left, and robots are used to construct massive walls and mechanical "clouds" in an attempt to hold back the radiation just a bit longer. By the end it's pretty much accepted that humanity will be dead soon. However, they will be succeeded and honored by their robot creations, which have developed sentience.
  • Apocalypto is set in the very last gasps of the Mayan Empire. Crops are failing, whole forests are burned down for lime dust, plagues and starvation are rampant in the lower classes, the aristocracy is oblivious to the mounting problems, and the priests are demanding more and more sacrifices in a desperate attempt to stave off the obviously imminent collapse. At the end, the first Conquistadors arrive. Truth in Television; all of these are theorized to have contributed to the collapse of the Real Life Mayan Empire, and there probably was a sort of “we’re all gonna die” period like what’s depicted in the film.
  • A Quiet Place Part II has flashbacks to just before the Alien Invasion that destroyed society; we see the first attacks from the perspective of the Abbott family as they're going about what they think is going to be a normal day.

  • Heart of Ice is set in a world where an insane weather control AI has turned the Sahara into an icy wasteland and is otherwise wrecking the global ecosystem (except when she's terraforming new ecosystems for her own creations). While there has been no specific world-ending event, almost all of the world's governments (except for the United States) above the city-state level have collapsed, and humanity is not expected to last another century. This is part of what tempts people to try to destroy the world and make a better one with the power of the Heart of Volent.

  • A Canticle for Leibowitz is an interesting case: it begins After the End, humanity spends a few centuries rebuilding, and by the end of the book it's just before the second end.
  • Alpha and Omega: The novel takes place during the months before the fulfillment of the Abrahamic End Times prophecies, with mounting tensions everywhere. At the end of the book God's existence has been confirmed, but it remains unclear if the end of the world is in fact around the corner.
  • Fahrenheit 451 has the fall take place at the end of the book, with the beginning of nuclear war between superpowers.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy begins with the main character being saved by his best friend moments before the Earth is destroyed unexpectedly by a swarm of alien bureaucrats.
  • Hothouse: The narration makes it clear that, in terms of stellar lifetimes, the Sun is not far from going nova and wiping out the solar system. At the end of the novel, the end begins in earnest, as Earth's vegetative life begins beaming itself into space in preparation for the world's impending demise.
  • In Wielding a Red Sword, the Incarnation of War deliberately brings the world to this state in an act of brinkmanship against Satan.
  • Black Legion: At the end, Khayon tells the Inquisitor interrogating him that the Time of Ending, which they are living through, is just that — the Golden Throne is failing, the Imperium is losing ships to flickers in the Astronomicon and Abaddon is about to begin the Crimson Path, which would lead to both Throne and Astronomicon dying, plunging galaxy in Chaos.
  • Rifters Trilogy reads basically like the trope description. The West Coast (well, the part that isn't a four-thousand-mile-long, one-mile-deep refugee camp) is run by the power company. The East Coast is an enourmous urban sprawl run by street gangs. The bit in between is run by Kudzu-4. The currency is the Quebuck, a new drug-resistant disease breaks out every 24 hours on average, and the vestigal remains of the North American government has been reduced to sporadically napalming the whole mess just to keep things down. This is the status quo. It gets worse.
  • The Elric Saga begins just before the end, continues through the end itself, and concludes with the beginning of a new world.
  • The Stormlight Archive: The first two books take place just before the next Desolation, the coming of the Voidbringers, which usually signifies the end of human civilization on Roshar. The main characters' efforts focus on averting it. By the end of Words of Radiance, the Desolation begins, but it's unsure whether it succeeds.
  • Atlas Shrugged: The trains are literally running on time at the beginning, but by the end are not running at all.
  • Millennium by John Varley. The plot involves time travellers from a future where humanity is dying out stealing replacements from the present. Towards the end, as things get worse, the surviving humans get homicidal and suicidal.
  • The War of the Worlds dips into this before the Deus ex Machina pulls us back from it; it's not for nothing that the second half of the book is called "The Earth Under the Martians".
  • Dying Earth, by Jack Vance, is a rather influential example. The sun is big, red, and going out any minute now, the Earth is increasingly inhospitable and civilization is breaking down.
  • Book of the New Sun takes place a looong way in the future (the techno-fantasy "post-historical" era where stone-age man, the modern era, and the galaxy-spanning imperial era are all lumped together as the "Age of Myth") where it's Just Before The End — the Old Sun is dying, reduced to a naked-eye object at high noon, and the world will either enter the Ragnarok of Eternal Winter or become the Garden-World of Ushas when the New Sun is ignited. The book follows the life of Severian, the poor bastard who's the one who actually gets to decide which future will dominate.
  • The Dark Tower series by Stephen King is set in a reality where the worlds are winding down. Civilization is crashing, people are getting weird diseases, and reality itself threatens to crash together as the titular Dark Tower verges on collapse. Even once-immortal creatures — the Guardians — are all either long dead or on the verge of a madness-tinged death.
  • The Last Days subverts this. Peeps, or parasite positives, or vampires, are biting everyone. People are afraid to leave their house because there might be feral cats or worse outside. The Internet and phones are failing. Basically, it's an apocalyptic world. But, it is revealed that there is a worm under the earth that comes out every thousand years. Only music from parasite positive singers can bring the worms to the surface so they can be killed. The band involving the main characters, The Last Days, saves the day because their lead singer, Minerva, is a peep. It is never revealed how long it took for the world to be saved, though.
  • Last and First Men: With the book's cyclic view of history and two-billion-year timespan, this happens all the time. We get details of the insoluble coal crisis that first destroyed civilization, and of the eighteenth human race as they try to seed other solar systems and wait for the sun to explode, having chosen to appreciate this tragedy as an appropriate part of the beauty of the universe. And then there's the afterword, where they're blowing each other up and eating their dead while the system is being scorched clean. Seeding work, such as it is, is done to provide any sort of purpose, and the consensus is that the species should have died in peace before it started to putrefy. Still, in their lucid moments, it is very good to have been Man.
  • Isaac Asimov: The second to last segment of The Last Question takes place just before the heat death of the universe. The last segment is After the End. It gets recreated, though, when the Last Question — "How do you reverse entropy?" — is answered: "LET THERE BE LIGHT!" And there was light.
  • Life as We Knew It, by Susan Pfeffer. An asteroid has hit the moon, causing mass climate change and flooding. Infrastructure is failing, food supplies are running low and there is a horrible flu going around.
  • On the Beach by Nevil Shute. Set in a world where a nuclear war has contaminated the entire northern hemisphere with radioactive fallout slowly being spread around the world by stratospheric winds, the book narrates the Australian population's attempts to live out their last days in joy. The book ends with most Australians taking their suicide-pills once radiation levels reach lethal levels.
  • Vera Kamsha:
    • The Arcia Chronicles are not set before The End of the World as We Know It per se but rather before the Final Battle. However, in that series, said battle can very well turn into the apocalypse. Although Normal People are still not aware of their impending doom, the knowledgeable characters all comment that their chances of victory are very slim. At one point, some characters visit another world that has lost its Final Battle and was devastated. They actually get to see its end in a vision. Let's just say that the local Physical God of War was nearly driven insane by said vision.
    • This motif is even more omnipresent in Reflections of Eterna, where the end of the world is already set in stone, and there's no escape, since it's already been postponed once. The bad news is that nobody (except a couple of aliens who are forbidden to communicate with anyone) on that world knows about the impending catastrophe and everyone happily contributes to its end. That Eterna is Low Fantasy, as opposed to Arcia's High Fantasy, probably contributes.
  • The Robert A. Heinlein short story "Year of the Jackpot" takes place in 1952 when a confluence of the cycles of human civilization are causing humanity to go crazy. There is horrible weather, a nuclear war, and just when things are looking up, the sun goes nova.
  • Children of Men by PD James (later filmed) starts with the world where there hasn't been a birth for eighteen years, and everyone knows this is the end. It's mentioned that examples of human culture and knowledge are being sealed in vaults to preserve them, if there's ever anything else to find them.
  • The Word and the Void trilogy by Terry Brooks takes place Just Before The End, about 50 years before the impending fall of civilization; the follow-up, The Genesis of Shannara, takes place during The End of the World as We Know It. His Shannara series takes place After the End, in a new habitable world.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The looming specter of the Others seems to indicate that the entire plot so far amounts to mere squabbles in the face of a truly cataclysmic future The Magic Comes Back scenario. “Winter is coming” indeed.
  • Sunshine has the protagonist facing a very bleak future for humanity in the face of the oncoming vampire and other paranormal creatures' onslaught.
  • Reckless Sleep is set in a future where a nuclear detonation on the floor of the ocean has torn the tectonic plates to pieces. By the start of the novel, the west coast of the United States is underwater with the east not far behind. The people that are left struggle through a miserable existence of constant earthquakes and volcanic ash clouds, seeking escape from the tiny living spaces, reprocessed food and rampant crime with the use of drugs and VR simulators. The whole of society has crossed the Despair Event Horizon because the world is eventually doomed to total collapse, and two missions to colonise a distant planet have ended in disaster.
  • Spin starts with Earth becoming covered by a bubble that blocks all light, except for the Sun. It's later discovered that time inside the bubble passes much slower than outside. For every second inside, roughly 3 years pass outside. The people quickly realize that this means that, in 50 years' time, billions of years will pass in the universe, and the Sun will expand to consume the Earth. Amazingly, the fact that nobody can really see the Sun expand (except for NASA, who keep sending probes outside the bubble) means that most people just get on with their lives, although many turn to religion to find comfort.
  • The Last Policeman takes place 20 Minutes into the Future, with the title protagonist investigating a suicide that he thinks is a murder ... only no one really cares because an asteroid will hit the earth in six months, and everybody will be dead.
  • Stephen Baxter: In the short story Last Contact, the Big Rip is coming to destroy the universe, we know when the last particle of matter will be destroyed by the trillionth second and we can't do anything about it.
  • Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card, originally portrays a world 20 Minutes into the Future, where humanity is recovering from an ecological catastrophe brought on by pollution and wars. The rainforest is being restored, farms are producing food, and the atmosphere of hope is in the air. Later, it's revealed that it's all propaganda. The efforts are failing, the rainforest is still dying off, and all available farmland is being used but the governments are already dipping into the reserves. To top it off, global cooling has been detected, which will result in a new Ice Age. Humans will survive, and nature will recover, but attempts to rebuild civilization will fail, as all easily-reachable resources necessary for progress have already been mined out. Long story short, humanity is destined to be thrown back to the Stone Age and stay there. Facing these prospects, the protagonists decide that Time Travel may be the only solution. However, the insist on world-wide referendum in an aversion of The Time Traveller's Dilemma (scientists have determined that as soon as the time travelers go into the past, the current timeline will be replaced with everyone in it never having existed). Worse, with their past-viewing machine, they determine that theirs is not the original timeline. Apparently, an ever worse history led to the same bleak future and required temporal intervention, resulting in the current state of the world. According to the epilogue, this change appears to have succeeded in averting the disaster.
  • The Laundry Files series is rapidly approaching Case Nightmare Green, the point at which a great many Eldritch Abominations will be dropping by to eat everyone's brains.
  • Nightfall (1941), by Isaac Asimov: Lagash is a pretty decent place to live, with a technology level about equal to Mid 20th Century America. The main difference between it and Earth is that there are six suns in the sky, causing darkness to be all but unknown on the world. Astronomers from a major University announce that five suns will set and an eclipse will cover the one remaining sun, plunging the hemisphere into darkness. The story ends with night falling for the first time in over 2000 years, and people going mad all over the planet.
  • The Stand: The first section (which is long enough to be a book in itself, at least in the uncut version) describes the spread of the devastating Captain Trips virus, and the U.S. government's ultimately futile attempt to contain it. When the book starts, the world is doing fine. By the end of the first section, 99.4% of people in the United States (and probably the world) have been wiped out.
  • In The True Meaning of Smekday, the earth has been invaded by aliens called the Boov who have put all humans on reservations. Then the Gorg arrive and are even more ruthless than the Boov. The story is about Gratuity Tucci, who is trying to find her mother during this. The trope ends up being averted, since the Gorg takeover is thwarted by the end of the book.
  • Atlan takes place in the final days of Atlantis, though this is not made explicit until the last book, Some Summer Lands. Thus, the world is simultaneously an elder Earth and a dying Earth.
  • In the For Your Safety series, the story Mimsey's Tale is from the perspective of a morph companion robot, watching the child it is assigned to grow up, as the Earth teeters towards total environmental breakdown.
  • The Zothique series by Clark Ashton Smith takes place in a far future Earth where humanity has regressed to medieval technological and social levels. The Sun is growing dim, the Earth's population is in terminal decline, and it's pretty obvious that the universe is about to call time on the human race.
  • The Butter Battle Book, one of Dr. Seuss's works, opens with an old man taking his grandson down to the wall between the Yooks and Zooks, two factions in a Space Cold War. As the grandfather (a Yook) recounts the conflict, we ultimately discover that all the other Yooks have been sent into bomb shelters in preparation for the detonation of the "Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroo," which Grandpa is going to drop on the Zooks. At the end of the book, Grandpa discovers that Van Itch, his Zook counterpart, has also been sent to the wall with a Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroo of his own. The story culminates with a Bolivian Army Ending as Grandpa and Van Itch face each other in a Mexican Standoff atop the wall, afraid to drop the bomb and with no idea who will make the first move.
  • Young Wizards: The side novella Lifeboats takes place during this period on the planet Tevaral, about to be destroyed by the upcoming violent disintegration of its moon. The plot revolves around the wizards' attempt to evacuate the planet before that happens.
  • The Bone Clocks: The last section is set in 2045 and shows Ireland (along with most of the rest of the world) slipping into a new dark age: people can still remember a functional civilization in the recent past, and some technologies and institutions still function, but they're breaking down, and things are almost certainly going to get a lot worse.
  • The Last Battle, the final installment of C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, depicts Narnia in its final days before an invasion by Calormen. The book culminates as the Calormenes decimate Narnia and summon their God of Evil, at which point Aslan proceeds to destroy the fallen world in a spectacular manner and guide the righteous to heaven after his final judgment.
  • Seveneves starts with the Moon exploding. It doesn't take long for the scientists of the world to realize that the fragments' collisions will send plenty of smaller fragments to Earth, transferring a large part of the explosion's kinetic energy to Earth's atmosphere in the form of heat in a few years.
  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union employee a non-apocalyptic example. In this Alternate History, the Slattery Report was passed in 1940, turning Sitka, Alaska into a refuge for 4 million of Europe's Jews. After the stillbirth of Israel in 1948, Sitka was left as the world's only true Jewish refuge. However, this was only meant to last for sixty years and, by the time of the novel, the land is about to revert back to American control. The residents will not be able to stay in the US once the territorial transfer is complete, but they don't have any emigration alternatives either. The president, an evangelical Christian, is adamant that the Jews must retake Israel, but there's no doubt that it would involve war. Thus, many Jews don't know what exactly they are supposed to do and what will happen in a few months at all, and the book portrays the resulting feeling of all-pervasive uncertainty, emotional collapse and resignation very effectively. Within the police force, reports are left incomplete, cases are dropped, and no one besides protagonist Meyer Landsman actually cares about solving a murder.
  • The Death Gate Cycle: Fire Sea, the third novel, is set on Abarrach, a world in the process of being rendered uninhabitable by gradual freezing. The mensch died out long ago and only the Sartan are left, having preserved their society by copious use of necromancy, but even they are in steep decline. This is hammered home partway through the novel, when one character asks another why he's so certain a particular prophecy will come true in their generation, to which the other replies he thinks it has to because he doubts there will be another generation after theirs. And when their society's undead servants slip the leash and go on an omnicidal rampage, he's proven all too right.
  • Eurico the Presbyter also has an non-apocalyptic example with Visigothic Spain undergoing it's twilight years, being divided by petty squabbles and unable to resist when the Umayyad Caliphate invades, completely crumbling when their king is slain in combat with the Arabs. In-universe, many characters believe this is the case as an prelude for the end times and that their enemies were a divine punishment for their wickedness.
  • The first book of K. A. Applegate's Remnants focuses on the events leading up to Earth's destruction by a giant asteroid called "The Rock".

    Live-Action TV 
  • The first couple scenes of the Battlestar Galactica Miniseries and the TV Movie The Plan.
    • Caprica counts as well, although it's 58 years before the Fall and the characters have absolutely no idea of what's about to happen to them.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The 2007 three-parter beginning with "Utopia" has this: in "Utopia", humans are the last species left in a dying universe, and things are going to Hell pretty quickly. Their only hope is a rocket to a place called Utopia. They wind up adrift in space. In the third episode, it's revealed that the Master's "little friends" the Toclafane are actually sadistic and evolved, or perhaps devolved, humans. "The skies are made of diamonds" indeed.
    • "Hell Bent" has this happen twice. The first time it happens is when it's revealed that Gallifrey has been moved to the end of the universe, "give or take a star system or two", for its own protection. The second time happens when the Twelfth Doctor and Clara travel to the extreme end of the universe, that being literally five minutes before the last remnants of the universe give away.
  • In the Dollhouse episode "Epitaph One" we're firmly in After the End territory, but through a flashback we get to see what it was like just before it all went to Hell. We have a scene up in DeWitt's office, the roar of panicked mobs and sirens in the background, while Dominique relates how random imprints are spreading like wild-fire, possibly as a form of suicide.
    • Then in season 2 the viewer is treated to seeing just how it all led up to it...
  • Now officially averted Bad Future from Fringe episode "The Day We Died". Parallel universe is destroyed and now primary world is slowly consumed by fringe events. Special opening had "Hope" and "Water" in its usual Mad Science topics list.
  • A few episodes of Sliders dealt with alternate Earths that were about to end. The Sliders sometimes found ways to save them, sometimes not.
  • For most of the fifth season Supernatural appears to be doing this: Lucifer is unrolling his apocalypse across the globe, at a very slow pace, the humans are starting to notice something's going on, and Sam and Dean have no foreseeable way to prevent the end of the world. Then they do, of course.
  • From The Twilight Zone, "The Midnight Sun" is the story of a young woman and her elderly neighbor trying to survive in their apartment building as the Earth slowly drifts closer to the Sun, causing extreme climate change. She has to deal with day to day life in the increasingly deserted city, extreme thirst and heat, and crazed, murderous people just desperate to survive. It's actually just a fever-dream. In the real world, the Earth is slowly drifting away from the Sun, causing it to grow colder and darker...
    • Which is actually better, because it's a lot easier to keep a shelter warm in a cold environment than vice versa. At least a few thousand people could survive on an Earth with no solar energy at all from geothermal and nuclear power.
    • The episode "Third from the Sun" takes place just before a nuclear war. A scientist and a test pilot steal an experimental spacecraft an use it to get themselves and their families off the doomed planet. The episode ends with them escaping and heading to their destination, a planet called Earth.
    • The opening episode from the 1985 version, "A Little Peace and Quiet" has a harried housewife, Penny, using a special amulet to freeze time literally "just before the end." A nuclear war had broken out between the United States and the Soviet Union, with missles headed toward southern California. In the minute (or so) before "the end," panic is heard in the distance outside Penny's house and a radio announcer is losing his attempts to keep calm as he reads news bulletins about the air strikes. Penny's husband is trying to figure out how to gather their children and go to a shelter ... but there's no time, as their youngest son comes into the room crying, and then an explosion is heard in the distance. Penny screams out the words "SHUT UP!!!" ... freezing time in the split second before their home was (presumably) burned to a crisp. Outside, time is frozen as people are trying to flee, and one man is looking upward at the sky; another is on the ground shielding himself. Look up to the sky ... to see a nuclear warhead just seconds from impact and a bright orange fireball in the distance of another bomb that had gone off.
  • You, Me and the Apocalypse is about the last 34 days before an 8-mile wide comet collides with Earth.

  • This is one of many things that interest Fortean Times. FT has catalogued and discussed many, many, examples of Doomsday Cults, end-of-the-world panics, and eschatology in general.

    Myths & Religion 
  • All religions have their eschatology - that is, their doctrine of the End Times as revealed to them by their God and Prophets. Examples include:
  • Hinduism: the Kali Yuga, the end of Brahman's 64,000 year world-cycle, the destruction of the old (ie, our world) and the beginning of the new.
    • Nordic religion: the Ragnarok, the end of the current world and rebirth of the new.
    • The three Religions of the Book (Islam, Christianity and Judaism) share the common heritage of belief in the coming of a Messiah just before the old world collapses into fire and ruin, who will lead a remnant of the Faithful into a Golden Age of Heaven on Earth.
  • The Ur-Example of "Just Before The End" thinking is the commonly accepted last book of the Bible, the Revelation of the Apocalypse Unto St John of Patmos.


    Tabletop Games 
  • The Old World of Darkness was taking place just before five or so ends, depending on which specific game you were playing.
  • Exalted and Warhammer 40,000 are also prime examples.
    • Albeit with most races having tiny light at the end of the tunnel, and many of them are aware of this slim chance. The Emperor's possible revival for mankind, the slumbering Eldar god's awakening, the full force of the Tyranid hive fleets. Of course, any one of those happening means all the other races get After The Ended.
    • Exalted has at least four possible Ends coming up: the Yozis breaking out of hell (which would resemble a cross between a nuclear war and a planet-sized child jumping on human ants), Oblivion swallowing everything, the world being unmade into the Wyld, or - quite possibly worst of all - the Solars regaining their ancient power and hubris. Over in Autochthonia, at the current pace it's only a matter of time before the Great Maker dies and consigns most of his people to horrible death.
  • Magic: The Gathering's Fallen Empires expansion, which takes place after the Brothers' War but before the Ice Age.
  • The Dying Earth RPG by Pelgrane Press, based on the Jack Vance novels.
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Fearful Passages, adventure "Slow Boat". The far future setting where the PCs end up, complete with a large orange dying sun and a population made up of necromancers and zombies.
  • Dungeons & Dragons, Mayfair Games' Role Aids supplement Lizardmen. When the Meraska Empire fell some of its lizardmen escaped into an alternate dimension which entirely consists of a vast plain dotted with the ruins of ancient cities under a a dim sun dying of old age.
    • An alternate 3rd edition Krynn has a universe where Raistlin wins, and players pass through a world which is gradually being destroyed by magically-enhanced storms.

    Video Games 
  • The Last of Us starts out just hours before the outbreak of the Cordyceps fungus leads to the fall of civilization.
  • While all the games in the Fallout series take place After The End, there are a few glimpses of what it must have been like Just Before. In particular, the Anchorage simulation in Fallout 3 and Mr. House of Fallout: New Vegas (and Big MT in the DLC expansion) are relics from this time.
    • The prologue and opening scene of Fallout 4 takes place during the morning of October 23, 2077-the morning the bombs fell.
  • NieR is set in a world that is slowly dying despite everyone's best efforts to hang on. Then at the end of the game, the main character inadvertently destroys the last thread of hope.
  • The Deus Ex series take place before, during, and after a cataclysm that all but wipes out the human race.
    • Warren Spector describes the original Deus Ex as being set in a Crapsack World, "Five minutes before the fall of human civilization."
    • The sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War, is in turn set in a Scavenger World, "five minutes before humanity's rebirth."
    • The prequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, is set in a relative "golden age" five minutes before the gold peels off.
      Eliza Cassan: It's not the end of the world, but you can see it from here.
    • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided takes place after the "golden age" but before the main game, showing how everything is going to hell, following the events of Human Revolution, with augmented people being persecuted and herded into ghettos and radical augments striking back using terrorist-like methods.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: Link arrives in the land of Termina three days before its destruction by the falling moon. People are still going about their business as usual, though a few are in denial about the land's impending doom. By the night of the final day, Clock Town is eerily quiet as nearly everyone has fled in a futile attempt to escape the falling moon.
  • Gears of War: The locust have destroyed all human government presence on the planet Sera except the Jacinto Plateau, which they break into before the first game starts.
  • The Japanese interactive movie Gadget: Past as Future is set in the dystopian, Soviet-esque Empire, run by the shadowy dictator Paulo Orlovsky. The country is on the brink of war with another, Orlovsky is hell-bent on perfecting the Sensorama to brainwash his citizens, and a group of scientists are trying to construct a spaceship to evacuate Earth before a comet wipes out all life. The opening prologue is even set on "A day eighteen years before the End".
  • Half-Life 2: Thanks to the Combine's suppression field, the youngest people on Earth are twentysomethings, and the Combine are slowly but surely intent on turning everyone into either a soldier for them, or the horrifying creatures known as Stalkers. But that's not all! Cut content from the game showed (and hints can still be found) that the Combine is also draining Earth's oceans and replacing its air with a toxic gas.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII hits this once Meteor gets summoned and the WEAPONs start showing up.
    • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. After 500 years of the world being filled with Chaos, Lightning wakes up to find out that the world only has 13 days left before it is destroyed and the new world is created for people to live in. Lightning has to guide souls to this new world while she still can, but she can extend the time by doing certain quests. But eventually the world will still end.
    • Final Fantasy XIV had the red moon, Dalamud, slowly falling towards the world. As it falls, The Empire begins invading Eorzea and powerful monsters show up everywhere, including within cities. Eventually, the red moon does fall and breaks open, revealing the really pissed off primal, Bahamut, The dragon god wastes no time in scorching the land as he annihilates everything in his wake. Only a Heroic Sacrifice by Louisoix stops him and prevents further damage to the land. A Realm Reborn takes place 5 years after the Calamity and while most of the landscape is irreversibly changed, everyone has recovered. The events before the Calamity and during said Calamity occurred during 1.0 before and after the servers were shut down to remake the game.
      • The trailer for the Shadowbringers expansion shows a group of rich and fat Miqo'te lounging around eating and drinking while Thancred is in a room underneath them fighting a monster. The develops pointed out that The First world is about to be consumed by an all destroying force of light, so the rich are partying it up while they still can.
      • It is also revealed in Shadowbringers that the Source may be on its way to the end as well: in the future, the combination of an influx of light aether from the destruction of the First, combined with The Empire using a deadly chemical weapon, would cause an apocalypse that would make Bahamut's awakening seem like a rainy day in comparison. The heroes' efforts to stop the destruction of the First would also mean stopping this doomsday scenario.
      • Also in Shadowbringers, the final act of the 5.0 story shows the Scions traversing the ruins of the forgotten Amaurot civilization, of which the Ascians are the remnants. Emet-Selch recreates the place as it was just before calamity struck, and the final dungeon has you witnessing the apocalypse as it unfolded long ago.
  • The later games in the Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series start heading in this direction, with GDI gradually losing the war to contain the spreading Tiberium.
    • By the time Tiberium Wars takes place, GDI has actually made some progress in removing Tiberium thanks to its new sonic weaponry. Then the aliens show up. The sonic weaponry turns out to be very effective against them, which is pretty appropriate given that it subsequently turns out that they were the ones who created the stuff to soften us up pre-invasion, and it's under control as of Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight. And then the spread of Tiberium is halted, and Nod is gone as of the end of that game. They're going to be alright.
    • Even the first game has a few hints in this direction — it does not take long in Tiberian Dawn before you know tiberium is so valuable because it leeches up everything valuable in the soil (killing off any vegetation), and as the game progresses its toxic and mutagenic properties becomes clear, and no-one has any idea how to stop tiberium from spreading... fittingly, Tiberian Sun has a few hints that looked at from the perspective of a normal citizen the world pretty much has endednote .
  • The colony mission to eponymous star system in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri is sent exactly because even despite there's enough goodwill to build and man the ship, this is quite possibly the last coherent effort at international cooperation, people are already aware things aren't going to end well, and the environment is coming apart at the seams.
    • Also, by communicating with Planet, you eventually find out that the next great extinction cycle that periodically sweeps clean all the life on the world is about to come. It is possible to avoid it, however, and in fact end the cycle permanently, creating a paradise world.
    • The intro to Alpha Centauri shows large flashes visible on the surface of Earth, implying a nuclear exchange of some kind.
      • Confirmed in the novels that flash wars were breaking out across the planet with liberal use of high-yield explosive devices.
    • Mentions that Earth actually crossed into After the End territory are the complete failure to communicate with it over the following centuries, and the hypothesis raised in one of the epilogues that all Earth humans died out.
  • In all of the Guild Wars campaigns, the world gradually comes apart around the player, and the best that can be done is to preserve a small portion of what there once was in the face of the cataclysm. It even happens TWICE in the original campaign, although only the second one is stopped before it goes too far. Interestingly, the second game, which takes place centuries later, features one of the races that caused one of the catastrophies as a playable race... albeit having turned against the faction responsible for the event in the interim.
  • Earth 2150 is an RTS with the goal of gathering enough resources to get off the planet before it blows. Mission environments and shots of the globe start with winter, slowly moving on to spring, summer, Sahara and Venus. It's quite effective since the game's non-linear enough that keeping up with the schedule is your concern.
    • The mostly-unknown predecessor Earth 2140 also qualifies, as the two main factions are fighting over the dwindling resources of the planet.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines takes place just before Gehenna, i.e. the end of the Old World of Darkness.
  • Pathologic : The mysterious town the game takes place in evokes this everywhere you tread. But the real truth behind it is actually far more complicated.
  • Fate of the World charges you with stopping - or maybe trying to stop - catastrophic Climate Change.
  • Though most Shin Megami Tensei games are set After the End, Devil Survivor is all about the lead-up; whether said End happens or not is dependent on the player's choices.
  • The first two Resistance games (as well as the Gaiden Game).
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Morrowind takes place just before the end of the reign of the Tribunal and really, the Dunmer way of life for the past 4000 years. With regard to the effects of the Tribunal dying off and the effect it would have on the Ministry of Truth, between Oblivion and Skyrim the magic holding the Ministry aloft fails and Vvardenfell is all but wiped off the map.
    • A political version of this occurs in Oblivion. It's hinted at the end of the game that the loss of the Septim dynasty is going to seriously alter the geopolitical state of the world, because the Empire won't have a leader. As revealed in Skyrim, the hints were correct.
    • This had a vague hint as early as Morrowind with Wulf, an Aspect of Tiber Septim, about how the Empire seems to be on it's last legs and says "The Emperor is getting old. Don't know how much longer he'll hang on. So is the whole Empire, for that matter. Getting old, that is. The Emperor and the legions have held the Empire together for hundreds of years. It's been a good thing, by and large. But maybe it's time for a change. Time for something young and new. What? No idea. Because I'm old. Old dog doesn't get new ideas. But maybe young folks like you should try some new ideas. I don't know. Could be messy. But change is never pretty." hearing this from Wulf makes it pretty clear that nothing would be the same after Oblivion.
  • Phantasy Star II. While giving many of the details would be highly spoileriffic, there's a reason that it's subtitled The End of the Lost Age. Even in the beginning, it's clear that the people in the cities are blissfully goofing off while bandits and accidental releases from the Biosystems Lab rule the wilderness, the planetary weather control systems are breaking down, and the Motavia government has a grand total of one agent (and a few volunteers who hear about his efforts and offer their assistance) to send to deal with the problems of an entire planet. It gets worse.
  • Wild ARMs 2. Irving Vold Valeria and Vinsfeld Rhadamanthys conspire to forcibly unite the world's people either through being conquered via by a terrorist army or by bringing the world together to defeat said terrorist army, so that they could be ready to face an entire Eldritch Abomination universe, "Kuiper Belt", that consumes entire other universes. And it's also no wonder that playing with so many highly dangerous toys actually awakens more Eldritch Abominations they hadn't yet planned on facing, including the actual Body Snatcher Big Bad, Lord Blazer.
  • Super Mario Galaxy. At the end of the game, the universe is actually destroyed in a supermassive black hole. It is reborn again as a new universe, but never exactly the same way it was before. Word of God is that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is in the reborn universe.
  • There is a very apocalyptic gloom throughout the final act of Dragon Age II, so much that even the resident Cloudcuckoolander Merrill lampshades it, saying "It feels like something is ending". Aveline tries to reassure her that it's gonna be alright, but neither of them is right: it's not alright but the world didn't end... yet.
  • Mass Effect 3 takes place during the opening stages of the Reaper invasion. Things are still running, but planets all over the galaxy are under siege. The entire game is a desperate struggle to find a way to stop the Reapers before they break the back of galactic resistance, and the Reapers are winning for most of the game.
  • Dark Souls: If it isn't After the End, it's this. The First Flame is dying, and when it goes out, nobody knows exactly what will happen. The world suffers through long, cold nights. All throughout the world, humans are being turned into mindless undead called Hollows, and many kingdoms (including Lordran, the setting for the game) have either collapsed or are holding on by a thread. And that's before we get into the monsters, demons, and other nasties roaming the earth.
    • Dark Souls III is even worse. The First Flame is so worn out it can barely even be linked, and the people summoned to restore it have gone rogue, either seeking to bring about the end or consumed by their own demons. As time goes on, even the Sun is eclipsed, leaving the Darksign hanging in the sky. The player's decisions alone will determine whether to delay the end slightly, seek to preserve hope for a new iteration of the cycle after the Age of Dark, or snuff out the world and rule over the dead as the Lord of Hollows.
    • The Ringed City DLC for Dark Souls III takes this to its logical conclusion, apparently taking place mere minutes before the end of fire. As the player is battling the final boss, the sun is dimming, and it's not coming back.
  • Like the page quote, Team Fortress 2 has the Soldier's quote: "Last one alive, lock the door!"
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron focuses on the Autobots and Decepticons attempts to gather enough energon to escape Cybertron before the planet shuts down.
  • X3: Albion Prelude takes place during the final months of the X-Universe, as the jump gate network begins to shut itself down to slow the spread of the Xenon fleets and to stop the apocalyptic war between the Argon Federation and Earth State. The sequel, X Rebirth, takes place twenty years after the collapse as the network begins to reactivate.
  • 1999 A.D. in Chrono Trigger, the year Lavos awakens and lays waste to the world. It's your job to prevent that from happening. Just take a quick look at 2300 A.D. if you're not feeling motivated enough.
  • Endless Legend takes place on the dying Lost Colony of Auriga as its climate collapses. As the game goes on, the brutal winters become longer and longer, until the world is plunged into an eternal ice age past turn 300. The eight empires of Auriga are in a race to get the hell off before that happens. Come Endless Space some time after, Auriga is a lifeless ball of rock and the Vaulters are the only ones who made it off Auriga wholesale.
  • Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light take place in Moscow 20 years after the end of the world, but the player sometimes receives visions from the minutes before, during, and after the bombs fell. A promotional video series for Last Light takes place right when the bomb sirens go off, giving residents less than 20 minutes to make it to the metro system. Within Last Light, Artyom witnesses a hallucination of an international flight as it is landing in Moscow when the bombs hit, with the electromagnetic pulse taking out the plane's control system, causing it to veer uncontrollably towards a Metro entrance at over 500kph while glass shrapnel from skyscrapers shattered in the pressure wave slams into the cockpit. Before the plane crashes the pilots and passengers witness Moscow burning in nuclear fire.
  • The prequel game Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak reveals this about the civilization on Kharak. The planed is dying, the vast desert is expanding north and south every year, reclaiming livable land. The Primary Anomaly (the Khar-Toba and the hyperspace core within) may be the Kharakians' only chance of survival (even if it brings about the wrath of the Taiidani).
    • The original Homeworld game starts off like this as well, but it's supposed to be a twist-beginning. The tutorial level is the Mothership being launched and the player getting used to the controls before it initiates its first hyperdrive test. Cue the success of the test, a return to Kharak...and the sight of the entire planet being engulfed in a firestorm, leaving the Mothership, her crew, and 600,000 Kharaki refugees that had been loaded into cryotrays before the test. And that last bit is only if you manage to save all six in the return mission.
  • BioShock takes place After the End, but several audio diaries, the BioShock 2 Multiplayer, and the Burial at Sea DLC for BioShock Infinite take place Just Before the End. At least for Rapture. The Surface is still running along mostly fine.
  • The Talos Principle: Alexandra Drennan's audio recordings, though soon enough the end catches up with her, the last entry done with her dying breath.
  • State of Decay: The base game's ending revealed that the zombie plague had spread beyond the confines of Trumball Valley and the Lifeline DLC only made it worse. Your Army unit receives periodic updates on the situation around the rest of the world and it isn't good. The United States itself appears to be on the verge of collapse; there is a President out there somewhere and the Army is still operating, but the situation is deteriorating fast. And we find out the President has apparently authorized the use of nuclear weapons on infested cities.
  • Riven takes place almost entirely in Katherine's home world, which is teetering on the brink of destruction. The islands have been shrinking and splitting farther apart from each other, many species of animals are dying out, Gehn has had most of the trees cut down for paper-making materials, and both he and Katherine are seeking a way out to a more stable world.
  • Far Cry 5 gives off this vibe, especially as you listen to the radio. While Hope County is dealing with a violent cult, peace talks are breaking down in the Middle East, multiple terrorist attacks have taken place around the world in the last month, tensions in the Pacific have increased due to North Korea continuing its unrestricted nuclear testing, the U.S. is facing a financial crisis and recalling its citizens from overseas, and worst of all, Russia is reeling from a nuclear terrorist attack on Moscow, with casualties stretching into the millions. In the Resist ending, this escalates into a full-on Apocalpyse How as the nukes starts falling.

  • A world like this is briefly shown in the Sluggy Freelance mini-arc "The Fall," where we see flashbacks of what the Dimension of Pain was like just before the demons conquered the native human civilization. This contrasts the concurrent storyline, "That Which Redeems", where the demons have invaded another dimension full of pacifistic humans, and Torg is the only thing standing in the way of their otherwise inevitable doom.
  • Homestuck starts in a peaceful Earth... but it's not long before we find out that there's at least one meteor en route. The Earth does not survive.
    • An Alternate Timeline shows us what Earth would be like if it were never destroyed by meteors. Instead, it's flooded and all humans die off anyways.
  • The prologue for Stand Still, Stay Silent starts just as a highly infective but otherwise harmless illness is breaking out. The rest of the comic takes place ninety years later.
  • Follower is a prequel to Messenger which takes place After the End, so this is a given.
  • It's hinted that Sleepless Domain takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting: Anemone believes that the unnamed city the comic takes place in is the only city left in the world, and she fears that the current situation may soon become unsustainable.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Generator Rex takes place five years after a nanite plague exploded across the world and began to mutate the ecosystem. By the start of the series, the human population's gradually dwindling away as people randomly transform into monstrous evos (since everyone's been infected, sooner or later everyone changes) and much of the world has been overrun and lost to normal humans. The situation has grown so desperate that Providence, a borderline Knight Templar organization devoted to fighting the evos and finding a cure for the plague, has the authority to nuke major cities (such as New York) if necessary.

    Real Life 
  • For all of recorded history, basically every generation has been positive that The End is upon them, generally due to current events that, at the time, seemed nigh-certain to lead to the collapse of society at best, and the destruction of life on earth at worst. Within living memory, for instance, we have the Great War and the following Spanish Flu Pandemic, the Great Depression, World War II, and the spectre of nuclear war that hovered over the Cold War.
  • The Roman Empire did not end with a bang in 476. The empire had been decaying at least since the mid-third century, and possibly even earlier than that. There was one last attempt to prevent utter collapse under Constantine, but those citizens of the Empire who lived after him (especially after 410 when Rome was sacked and its survivors were enslaved) must have been aware that the Roman Empire was doomed. Unless they heeded the Latin motto "carpe diem" - evil emperors and invading barbarians don't harass you 24/7.
    • The eastern part of the empire (usually called the Byzantine Empire today, but still known as the Roman Empire to its inhabitants) survived the cataclysms that brought down the western Roman Empire in the fifth century, though it too had a protracted Just Before The End period. For the last two centuries of its existence, it barely held on after being fatally weakened by the Fourth Crusade, falling to the Turks in 1453.
  • Neither did the Soviet Union in 1991. The entire decade of the 1980s was the USSR running on momentum of years past, its shortcomings accumulating into a rolling snowball, with things coming to a head following the Chernobyl meltdown. Its rump, the Russian Federation, was barely functional from its very beginning.
  • The planet was already in decline, due to increased volcanism, and the dinosaurs were already dwindling. The meteor 65 million years ago was just the last straw.
  • This can be the personal case for people with terminal diseases who have been given an estimate of how long is left before their death.
  • Really any mass extinction from the perspective of the animals living during it, because given the sheer scales of geologic time there can be hundreds of thousands, even millions of years of everyone slowly dying off.
  • Things had this feel at the start of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the days leading up to social isolation being ordered in a country. In the UK, restaurants were still open, people were mostly milling around freely even the day before...but supermarket and pharmacy shelves were empty, people were avoiding public transport, and everyone knew it was only a matter of time before the outbreak took hold and everything shut down.

Alternative Title(s): Dying Earth Subgenre


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: