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Portent of Doom

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Oberyn: You were small, but far-famed. We were in Oldtown at your birth, and all the city talked of was the monster that had been born to the King’s Hand, and what such an omen might foretell for the realm.
Tyrion: Famine, plague, and war, no doubt. It’s always famine, plague, and war. Oh, and winter, and the long night that never ends.

The writing on the wall. A mystical phenomenon that tells of a dire future for those who witness it.

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Specific types of portents include:

Compare with Foreshadowing, the out-of-universe equivalent. Compare with Magpies as Portents, which can involve both negative and positive outcomes.

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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Near the end of Vento Aureo, there's a flashback arc that introduces a character named Scolippi and his Stand, "Rolling Stones". This Stand is this trope incarnate: it acts independently of Scolippi's control and rolls around, looking for the closest person whose death (particularly horrible ones) is near; it's able to turn its form into the statue of the would-be-dead person, indicating who the stone is after. It'll then offer the doomed person a painless death by touching the stone. In the story, it predicted the death of Bucciarati, and his friend, Mista, tried to get rid of it; but after Mista and his friend left the building they're in, the stone morphed into the statue of not just Bucciarati, but also Abbacchio and Narancia (Mista's other friends.

    Art 
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • 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.
  • 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'."
    • 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.
    This is not a place of honor. No great deed is commemorated here. Nothing of value is here.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Love Parade, Count Alfred says that seeing a cross-eyed person is bad luck for him. On the morning of his wedding, everyone he sees (including the portrait on one of his medals) is cross-eyed.
  • In Practical Magic, the chirping of the deathwatch beetle foretells the death of a loved one.

    Literature 
  • I Heard The Owl Call My Name, in which the protagonist is subjected to the named portent of death.
  • 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.
  • 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'.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • Spoofed in Blackadder, as you'd expect.
    Prince George: Ah Blackadder. It has been a wild afternoon full of strange omens. I dreamt that a large eagle circled the room three times and then got into bed with me and took all the blankets. And then I saw that it wasn't an eagle at all but a large black snake. And also Duncan's horses did turn up and eat each other. As usual.
  • 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.
  • Parodied in The IT Crowd when Richmond warns the others not to go to their boss's funeral because:
    Richmond: This morning I saw a crow perched upon my windowsill. It looked at me and crowed three times. Caw! Caw! Well, you know what a crow sounds like. And then I stood on a piece of Lego. Ooh, it really hurt, it did! So anyway that's why- (he turns around to see they've all gone while he was talking.)

    Myth & Religion 
  • 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.

    Roleplay 
  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Mirielle's superpower allows her to visualise people's relationships as strings. This also includes their relationship with the thing that will kill them, represented by a black string. When two students start dying in the school, Mirielle is able to tell by the way that it affects their strings.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, the build-up event to 2nd Edition was referred to as "Malign Portents", with various portents of doom were witnessed all over the Mortal Realms, most pertaining to Nagash's designs in the realm of Shyish.

    Theatre 
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • By Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Richard the Rooster has gone from being another hallucination to this, and perhaps the Grim Reaper, too. If he appears to a character who didn't appear in the previous game, it's as good as a spoiler: they're not going to survive.


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