The writing on the wall. A mystical phenomenon that tells of a dire future for those who witness it.
Specific types of portents include:
- Bad Moon Rising: A celestial event foretells doom.
- Comet of Doom: The arrival of a comet as a bad omen.
- Dead Man's Hand: A poker hand with two black Aces and two black Eights means death.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: When nightmares are soon to come true.
- The End Is Nigh: Those doomsayers and signholders know what they're talking about.
- Flying Dutchman: Just seeing the Trope Namer was a portent to an unlucky crew. Even worse if the Ghost Ship tried to hail them.
- For Doom the Bell Tolls: A church bell foretells death.
- Foreboding Fleeing Flock: Animals in large numbers are fleeing something ominous.
- Hellhound: The Portent variety spelled death or grave misfortune for whomever saw them.
- Ominous Fog: Something is coming, but no one will be able to see it.
- Our Banshees Are Louder: The anguished wail of a banshee is a portent of death.
- Red Sky, Take Warning: Evil clouds foretell doom.
- A Storm Is Coming: ...so does the rain.
- The Stars Are Going Out: The stars blinking out foretells the end of the world.
- Signs of the End Times: The portents point to The End of the World as We Know It.
- Tarot Troubles: The Tower, Hanged Man, and Death cards are used for this purpose in fiction. In reality, physical death is not indicated by any individual card but rather an interaction between the combination of cards pulled and the question asked.
- Vagueness Is Coming: The Mad Oracle is speaking in riddles, again, and these visions and dreams won't make sense until its too late.
Only place examples here that do not belong on one of the subtropes.
- Carta Marina:
- According to the commentary, the appearance of the Great Norwegian Serpent ("200 feet long and over 20 feet thick") is a bad omen that betokens a sudden change of rule in Norway, or else an imminent war.
- Mermen coming near ships is a sign of imminent danger, and may presage the sinking of the ship.
- At the end of the Judge Anderson storyline "Postcards from the Edge", Anderson has a vision of the eagle of justice being attacked by the pterodactl of death, and being saved by a bat. This foretold the crossover story Die Laughing, which ultimately came out three years later, and involved Batman helping save Mega-City One from the Dark Judges.
- The Writing on the Wall features the eponymous writing in dozens of unknown languages inside an Ancient Tomb, which Adventurer Archaeologist Daring Do dismisses as a curse on anyone who would disturb the sanctity of the tomb, meant to scare away superstitious tomb robbers.
"'This is the tomb of the great and terrible So-and-So! Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair! Whosoever steals the treasure will face the gods' curse, and the sky will fall on their heads, et cetera'."
This is not a place of honor. No great deed is commemorated here. Nothing of value is here.
- Daring Do is absolutely correct - there is no curse on the place. Unfortunately for her, when the writing is eventually deciphered, it turns out to be a warning about the true nature of the building. It's a nuclear waste storage facility.
- Played with in Saulderon's So We're A Couple. During the History of Remnant class, OC Ty is giving an oratory report on his family's history and Professor Oobleck asks if the Faunus revolutionaries ever attacked Ty's homeland during the Revolution. Ty answers no, it was very likely the war ended before the Faunus could orchestrate an invasion. In truth, Ty did find a single entry of a war that is, according to canon, supposedly the most brutal in over eighty years: "The Faunus set foot on the Coast in search of retribution for the sins of Humanity's past; they were met by the fangs of theirs." It's an incredibly brief message in a book that's filled with thousands of years worth of recorded family history, but it shook Ty up to the point where he went around Beacon avoiding the shadows for a week.
- In Tales from Earthsea, the sightings of dragons fighting is taken to be a sign that the balance of the world is greatly upset, perhaps irreparably.
- In the first few chapters of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the end of the Han dynasty is seen in some very bad portents (a horrible plague among one of those things), kicking of the chain of events that leads to decades of war.
- I Heard The Owl Call My Name, in which the protagonist is subjected to the named portent of death (and in this case survives, as it's autobiography.)
- Any time Stormwings start to flock in the Tortall Universe, at least after The Immortals. Since they feed on fear and live to desecrate war dead, you can bet that trouble's a-comin'.
- In Supernatural, we find that certain ghosts can be death omens and groups of Reapers appear before disasters. In addition, demonic signs (crop failures, storms, and cattle mutilations) are often apparent before the forces of Hell act and there are many signs associated with the Apocalypse including the rising of the 4 Horsemen.
- A particularly cliched example used in Filipino soaps: when a character is about to die in a scene, there is a quick cut to his (or a close friend's) house showing a glass falling and breakingnote , and all his friends or relatives present reacting in shock to it. It then either cuts back to show whether he died, or was just badly hurt, or, an authority calls up to bring the bad news.
- In the book of Daniel, supernatural writing foretells the demise of the Babylonian Empire. It is the origin of the phrase "the writing on the wall."
- The phrase written, Mene, mene, tekel, u-Pharsin and its translations "numbered, numbered, weighed, and divided" (figuratively) and "You have been judged and found wanting [by God/the Persians (unwittingly acting for God)]" are also used.
- Half's Saga: Sailing homeward after marrying Hringja, daughter of King Hreidar of Zealand, Hjorleif observes a giant rising out of the sea who chants a prophecy that predicts the death of Hringja, Hreidar, and Hjorleif's own imprisonment.
- In Julius Caesar Calphurnia urges Caesar not to go to the Senate because of the various omens she's either witnessed or heard about from reliable sources. Caesar pooh-poohs it and goes anyway.