Follow TV Tropes


Natural End of Time

Go To

Chu: And what is so special about this time, this future, this age?
ColU: Nothing. Nothing, save that it is the last age of all.
Stef: The End Time.

Everything has its time and everything dies. Ultimately, this includes the universe itself. Not by some apocalyptic disaster or Omnicidal Maniac, but simply by the increase of entropy leading to heat death. Or expansion eventually reversing and causing a reality-collapsing Big Crunch. Or the universe just expanding until all particles are too far away from each other for anything interesting to happen ever again. In any case, the results are the same — the universe dies, or at least becomes uninhabitable for life. This is the Natural End of Time.

Plots involving the natural end of the universe will either deal with the time traveler being unfortunate enough to end up there, or deal with what's left of life struggling to survive and/or face the end of all things. Perhaps the end of the universe isn't shown, but a major plot is a character or group trying to stop the natural end of the universe. Unlike with trying to stop an Omnicidal Maniac from causing an unnatural end, however, they're not likely to succeed; stories of this nature tend to be somber, memento mori affairs. It may not be all doom and gloom though, since Eternal Recurrence may be in effect to create a new universe (or re-start the same).

Sub-Trope of The End of the World as We Know It, though on a larger and more natural/inevitable scale. Naturally a Class-X4 apocalypse at the least. Contrast Caused the Big Bang, which deals with the initial creation of the universe and what caused it, and Place Before Time, which is set before even that. This might be what can finally finish off someone with Complete Immortality. If The Grim Reaper can't be killed, he may finally die at this point due to death having no purpose or meaning at this point.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean: The plot of the Big Bad Enrico Pucci revolves around the fact the universe will eventually end, leading it to be reborn the same way. He plans to speed up time so souls can't die before the universe's end, allowing them to be reincarnated with knowledge of their futures, and through that, peace of mind in knowing their fates.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Concern over the natural heat death of the universe is the reason why the Incubators set up the cycle of magical girls and witches—they wanted to avert entropy and prevent the universe naturally ending. At the end of the series, Madoka's reality-altering wish leads to Kyubey and Homura getting a look at the end of time, where the Witch that will one day be born from Madoka Kaname will destroy everything... only to be destroyed by Madoka herself, who wished for the power to stop all witches from existing, including her own.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: The Spiral Nemesis is a scenario resulting from Spiral Beings (life that evolves and possesses willpower) producing enough Spiral Power that it would become uncontrollable and set off a chain reaction causing spiral lifeforms to transform into entire galaxies, thus dramatically increasing the amount of mass in the universe and causing it to collapse in a premature Big Crunch. The Anti-Spirals repressed countless worlds of Spiral Beings and put a set limit on their population to make sure the Spiral Nemesis never happens.

    Comic Books 
  • Alan Moore's "The Big Chill" deals with the heat death of the universe, where the last immortals gather to deal with the inevitable end of their existences.
  • DC Comics: The End of Time is a recurring feature for time travelers in the DC Universe. Vanishing Point is established right before the end of time, serving as the base for time travelers. A null-bubble is used to freeze time so everything isn't destroyed around it.
  • Marvel Comics
    • Fantastic Four: Galactus originates as Galan of Taa, a civilization that lived at the end of the previous universe. He was part of a crew trying to avoid the inevitable Big Crunch, only to fail. As the universe ended Galan was able to be reborn in the current universe as Galactus, some time after the Big Bang.
    • Great Lakes Avengers: Craig "Mr Immortal" Hollis is stated to have such Complete Immortality that he will live to the end of the universe. It's implied that he'll be reborn into the next universe and function as the Galactus of that reality.
    • Immortal Hulk: The end of Issue #24 is a Flash Forward to the end of the universe, where the sentience of the universe is waiting for Mr Immortal so it can merge with him as it did with Galan to bring forth Galactus. Unfortunately he and Franklin Richards have been killed the Immortal Hulk, at this point completely possessed by The One Below All, who eats the horrified sentience. Issue #25 sees the resulting Cosmic Entity tear through the new reality and eventually kill everything.
    • Ultimate Marvel: The Ultimate Fantastic Four built a ship that can go to other universes, and explored the N-Zone, a universe that was about to die. They met Nihil (the Ultimate version of Annihilus), who tried to kill them to steal their ship and escape to their younger universe.

    Fan Works 
  • Step Right In and Start Again: As the story progresses and history goes on, the world becomes increasingly aged and worn around Starlight as she constantly repeats the same few hours of time — eventually, the Castle becomes a broken-down ruin in a field of barren rock surrounded by the eroded cores of ancient mountains, then vanishes completely as the world becomes an endless field of ash, and finally nothing is left but empty darkness at the absolute end of the universe.

  • A pair of bad endings in the Star Challenge book Mysterious Moons have both you and your robotic companion 2-Tor timewarping to either the distant future of the Big Freeze, in which all stars have burned out, or the Big Crunch that you see in the first row.

  • Captain Future: Planets in Peril has the Captain help a universe on the brink of death, the last of the stars there barely shining. The remnants of the people are at war with an Always Chaotic Evil race created to survive in a starless universe, and he needs to help them last until a new Big Bang revitalizes the stars.
  • Cthulhu Mythos: As reality is Azathoth's dream, it is destined to stop existing when it wakes up. Which could be at any time.
  • James Blish has his series Cities in Flight end with the death of the Universe and the characters creating separate new ones.
  • Michael Moorcock's "Dancers at the End of Time" series is about a group of superpowered decadent hedonists living in a Free-Love Future Post-Scarcity Economy in the final years before the heat death of the universe.
  • In the Discworld novel Eric, one of the characters travels to the end of time, where Death is just about to metaphorically put all the chairs up and turn off the lights.
  • In Poul Anderson's Tau Zero, a ship moving at near-light speed experiences an accident in transit and becomes incapable of deceleration. Due to Time Dilation the trip only takes a few years for them, even though outside the universe has ended and a new one begun by the time they get the ship repaired.
  • Zigzagged in Death's End. The natural fate of the universe — or rather, what's left of it following eons of dimensional warfare between Sufficiently Advanced Aliens — is to collapse back into a singularity, triggering another Big Bang that will create a new universe untouched by war. However, those same alien races have been siphoning away matter to create new pocket universes, meaning that the old universe now doesn't have enough left for it to contract, and it will instead expand indefinitely until it reaches heat death, and remain dead forever. There is, fortunately, a Big Good race called the Returners who hope to return the missing matter so that the universe will reset properly — the titular Death's End — but it's left open whether or not they succeed.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
    • In the Past Doctor Adventures, the end of time is described as "Event Two" (the Big Bang is "Event One"), taking place much farther in time from the examples in the series with the last proton decaying, and the universe collapses into a single point.
    • In the Past Doctor Adventures novel The Infinity Doctors, the Doctor travels to a point near the end of time, and finds a small group of people still somehow clinging on to existence.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The end of the universe is a popular destination that you can visit as many times as you want through time travel via Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. The place is built on an asteroid and equipped with a shield to protect it from the end of the universe as well as engines that can move it back in time to relive the end of the universe over and over again. Mention is made of "the photon storms gather[ing] in swirling crowds around us, preparing to tear apart the last of the red hot suns", so presumably either a combination of the Big Freeze and the Big Rip or a flowery description of the Big Crunchnote  are intended here.
  • Isaac Asimov's "The Last Question": Multivac is often asked if entropy can be reversed, forestalling the end of the universe, and each time it answers that there is "insufficient data for a meaningful answer". Eventually, it becomes a Galactic AC, existing entirely in hyperspace, but even then it fails to provide an answer before the universe dies. Alone in hyperspace, no longer on a time limit, it spends eons upon eons collating its data to figure out an answer—when it does, there is no one left to share the answer with, so instead, it decides to put its answer to use by creating a new universe.
    "And the computer said: 'LET THERE BE LIGHT!'"
  • Ben Bova's "Stars, Won't You Hide Me?" has a single human survivor of a light-speed intergalactic war fleeing in his ship from the pursuing enemies for an objective billions of years, living through time dilation right up until the Big Crunch, which he joins triumphantly, proof that humanity had survived until the end.
  • Harlan Ellison's "The Wine Has Been Left Open Too Long and the Memory Has Gone Flat" is a surreal story set billions of years in the future, where reality is tired and worn and sapients are gathered for a symphony of sounds of things that shouldn't necessarily have sounds to stave off ennui. The main character plays the sound of the end of the universe, and, in response to the assertion that the universe will oscillate back to the beginning and begin again, another character plays the sound of the end of everything, which seemingly heralds the actual end of existence.
  • Both H. G. Wells' The Time Machine and William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land have the world (and implied) the Universe ending with the Sun burning out a few million years in the future, before nuclear fusion was known to power it, in a case of Science Marches On.
  • The World at the End of Time: Wan-To comes from a point so far into the future that most protons have decayed through heat death, and the protagonist reaches it through extreme Time Dilation.
  • In Greg Bear's City at the End of Time, the multiverse is unraveling, through a process known as the Typhoon. Two characters are destined to meet while this is happening with the ability to renew/restart everything, but if they do, they'll be separated through the next cycle of the multiverse.
  • Toward the end of Ultima, it's revealed that the multiverse will blink out of existence 3.5 billion years after the present day, and that all the Dreamers' machinations have simply been for the sake of communicating with each other before the end.
  • Saintess Summons Skeletons: The aim of the "Heat Death" Specialization is to allow someone to potentially survive every natural end, with no need for heat, food, air, or anything else outside oneself.
    Where fate ends.
    All will fade, such is destiny. All but you.
  • Played with in the Xeelee Sequence: While the universe eventually suffers from heat death due to natural processes of entropy, the Photino Birds accelerate the process a hundredfold. All official timelines end with Singularity: Timelike Infinity.
    • However, there is a Hope Spot as Ring reveals: The Xeelee managed to create a gateway to another universe, ensuring Baryonic life would survive.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Logopolis" reveals that the universe should've ended due to entropy long ago, but the titular place has been keeping it in play. The Master ends up messing things up and puts the universe in danger. The Doctor sacrifices his fourth life to save it.
    • "Utopia": In order to escape Captain Jack holding onto it, the TARDIS travels all the way to the year 100 trillion. They land on Malcassairo, at a point where heat death has led to all the stars' deaths, with the last of humanity trying to get off-world so they can go to "Utopia", believing it's their salvation. "Last of the Time Lords" reveals it was All for Nothing and humanity cannibalized itself into murderous cyborgs called the Toclafane to survive, eventually joining the Master in a Grandfather Paradox to take over the 21st century.
    • "Listen": 22nd century time traveller Orson Pink accidentally ended up at the end of the universe, with the planet he was on the only place not to fall to the ravages of time.
    • "Hell Bent": Ashildr, already The Ageless, has managed to outlive the rest of the universe. She dwells on the ruins of future Gallifrey, waiting for the inevitable.
  • Supernatural: Similar to The Sandman (1989), Death states that he will be the only being left at the end of time and will be there to reap God. He dies before being able to prove it.

  • Orbital's song "There Will Come a Time" is a monologue set to music, encouraging you the listener to make the most of the time you have because eventually you will die, the Earth will be engulfed by the Sun's expansion, and the entire universe will tear apart into nothingness.
    "But ultimately, nothing will survive. It will all be gone. In the far future, there will come a time when time has no meaning, as the universe expands and fades. Our descendants, isolated and adrift in an ocean of darkness, will watch as the galaxy evaporates away."

    Myths & Religion 
  • Islam: According to some readings of the Muslim End of Days, after the Day of Judgement the universe will eventually collapse.

  • The Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama Singularity features this as the origin of the mysterious Somnus Foundation, a point in the far-distant future when all other forms of life are extinct and all but a handful of stars are dead - as Turlough discovers when the Foundation use his body to house one of their brethren in 21st-century Earth, leaving him trapped in the future, in one of the barely-preserved Somnus bodies, with "a ringside seat to the Heat Death of the Universe." As with the Toclafane in the later TV episode Last Of The Time Lords, the Somnus are actually the last remnants of the human race, and are trying to take over 21st-century Earth in order to change the past in their favor.

    Video Games 
  • Chrono Trigger has The End Of Time, which also functions as a Place Beyond Time. Gaspar, The Guru of Time was flung there by Lavos.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker, it's revealed that the Ea, an ancient alien race that achieved biological immortality and dedicated themselves to discovering the laws of the universe, discovered that the Heat Death of the Universe was not only a thing that could happen, but will happen. The discovery sent the entire species on a spiral of despair, as they felt all their work was meaningless and performed a mass euthanization on themselves. At the end of the Expansion, it's revealed that Meteion's endgame after wiping out all life will be to speed up said Heat Death to end the cycle of reincarnation sooner, though she's stopped before she can.
  • In Outer Wilds, you're stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop, and one of your biggest goals is finding out why the Sun keeps exploding 22 minutes into each time loop, and how you can stop it. The ultimate answer is the Sun is going nova because it's reached the natural end of its life cycle. All the other stars are burning out as well, because you're living in the final moments before the heat death of the universe. There's nothing you can do to stop it. At most, you can complete the Benevolent Precursors's research to find the "Eye of the Universe" and leap into it, and from there you can play a role in the creation of a new universe.
  • The aborted 0x10c is set in the year 281,474,976,712,644 CE. At this stage in the universe’s dying millennia, star formation is long over, and there are black holes everywhere.
  • In Dark Souls III. The First Flame, which was meant to go out eons ago and bring about the Age of Dark, has been artificially extended eons past its natural death. As a result, it's subtly implied a fantasy equivalent to the Big Crunch is trying to push against these unnatural changes during the Ashen One's journey: Lothric is a "convergence of the lands", a kingdom created by locations across time and space having been smashed together, while mountains at the edge of the world push in towards the Kiln of the First Flame at its very centre. It only succeeds several thousand years later at the end of the Ringed City DLC, and even then, it's implied the natural progression of Light to Dark has been so twisted by the Lords of Cinder's actions that the universe can't ever properly recover. Which is what leads Gael to take the Dark Soul into his own body so the Ashen One can take his blood to a painter, who can use it as a pigment to paint a new universe free of the cycle of life and death the Dark Souls universe is trapped in.

    Web Animation 
  • hololive EN's Amelia Watson eventually shows the hololive setting's version of it: an endless desert wasteland of sand and clock faces, with naught but a single bus stop sign and bench, where a Smol Ame and Bubba are resting. It is said to be the final resting place of all versions of the time travelling detective, fated to end up at the bus stop and rest for eternity, frozen in time as to not wake up ever again.

    Web Comics 
  • A Beginner's Guide to the End of the Universe: The series takes place after the heat death of the universe, with only the pocket universe the Everyman lives in left.
  • Homestuck: Lord English emerges at the end of a universe's natural lifespan, though as an immortal, time-travelling demon this doesn't inconvenience him. He then goes back in time in hopes of destroying everything far earlier and more unnaturally.
  • It Hurts!!: On the orders of God, Pasqualo takes the long path to the very end of the universe, when every star in the universe finally runs out of fuel. His reward, straight from the avatars of Harmony and Chaos, is a seed that can create the next universe. He decides to make a universe where his existence is erased and retconned to become Aurora's, since she can't exist without some kind of tragedy.
  • Housepets!: When Peanut and Tarot go to a psychic convention, somebody comes to their booth while Tarot is away and buys a trip to the end of time from Peanut. When Tarot comes back and finds out, she reveals that trips to the end of time are actually impossible, even though it is possible to go to the end of the universe, so now she will have to make a whole lot of phone calls to rescue them.
  • The villain from a story arc in Magellan is a being from a parallel universe who achieved Immortality by turning himself into an eternal being of energy. That immortality lost some of its luster when he ended up outliving not just his peers, or even his race, but the very stars of his universe.

    Web Original 
  • Cat Ghost: Played with. Elon discovers that her universe is ending and is powerless to do anything but wait with Naarah. The universe does indeed explode... and the characters get transported to a strange room where they do nothing but answer questions. When that falls apart, they go to a new universe entirely, even changing form.
    Elon: The universe never truly ends. It just changes.

    Web Videos 
  • Isaac Arthur: Using the Heat Death/Big Freeze model, The "Civilizations at the End of Time" series discusses how intelligent life might learn to survive long past the period where all the stars have gone out, and life as we know it can no longer form naturally.
  • Symphony of Science (melodysheep): Timelapse of the Future is a video showing what happens to the universe up to the heat death 1 googol (1 with 100 zeroes) years into the future. Set to hauntingly beautiful, epic, and melancholy music, the timelapse exponentially gets faster, and for a vast majority of the universe's "lifespan," only black holes exist.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama:
    • "Time Keeps On Slippin" manages to make the natural end of the universe a more immediate doomsday scenario. Thanks to taking chronotons out of where they're supposed to be, the universe suffers from time skips where time passes but people don't remember what happened. Because the skips may reach the natural end of time, but without any memory of what happened, it simultaneously functions as an immediate threat.
      Farnsworth: At this rate, by Tuesday it will be Thursday. By Wednesday, it will be August. And by Thursday, it will be the end of existence as we know it.
    • In "The Late Philip J. Fry", Fry, Bender and Professor Farnsworth end up going too far on a forwards-only time machine and arrive on a desolate Earth in the year 1 billion with no hope of finding a backwards time machine to return home. With this, they decide to go forward and witness the end of the universe. Once the last proton decays, to their shock a second Big Bang occurs and the universe starts over. When they miss getting back to their present time, they simply go forward past the end of the universe again.

  • A paper, later retracted, suggests that in some forms of multiverse the way to avoid paradoxes related to everything happening an infinite number of times as an infinite set of universes would exist on them is that time would end, in such scenario's case "just" some billions of years in the future (a short time next to the possibilities discussed above).


Video Example(s):


The Last Black Hole

From "Timelapse of the Future". In our universe's last moments, the last ever black hole will be ripped apart photon by photon, until it can't hold itself together anymore and releases the last of its mass-energy in a dying flash.

How well does it match the trope?

4.11 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / DisappearsIntoLight

Media sources: