Then the father hen will call his chickens home.
The wise men will bow down before the throne.
And at his feet they'll cast their golden crown.
When the man comes around."
How do we know that the End of the World as We Know It is approaching? By the warning signs that precede it, of course. Whether The Stars Are Going Out or a beast with seven heads rises out of the ocean, or just dogs and cats living together, everyone knows that something bad is about to happen. It's a sign of the end.
Works that want to make biblical allusions will often use things from the Book of Revelation, although not always literally.
- Doom Patrol:
- As reality begins to merge with Orqwith -
- In Stuttgart, all the clocks chime 15. Simultaneously.
- In Kyoto, four stainless-steel pyramids are found rotating five feet above the ground.
- In Patagonia, a library is discovered. The books it contains are unknown, unreadable.
- In Johannesburg, a little girl named Harriet inexplicably catches fire.
- In Reykjavik, three shadows come to life and murder their owners.
- In London, Madame Tussaud's wax figure of John Lennon begins to bleed from bullet wound stigmata.
- 'In Rome, in Leningrad, in Darwin... "The door flew open, in he ran - the great, long, red-legged Scissorman."'
- In Barcelona, when the Cult of the Unwritten Book starts to summon the Decreator -
- A bus full of teenagers was possessed by the Unquiet Face and driven through the Corridor of Hallucinations
- The Needle Children, who cannot be seen through glass, laid pointless siege to an old folks' home in the suburbs.
- At 11:30 there was an outbreak of spirit skywriting which continued for an hour and a half.
- At midnight the word 'harmony' disappeared from the vocabulary of everyone in the city.
- At 12:30 the Embryo Stains invaded the marrow of a nightclub owner and forced him to compose terrifying poetry.
- Everything blue became temporarily invisible.
- The rain forgot how to fall.
- When Shadowy Mr. Evans appears (his apocalypse is local and sex-based):
- A bunch of men lick a street lamp erotically.
- A couple paints maps of the Soviet Union and the USA on their bodies before having sex.
- Dozens of people park their cars in the middle of football fields and start having sex in them at the same time.
- A group of college professors specializing in the XVIII-Century German literature go on suicide/gang-rape spree.
- Local doctors and nurses surgically create new sexual organs on bodies of comatose patients.
- A woman in a dog costume chases a man in drag.
- As reality begins to merge with Orqwith -
- This was a very popular trope in early Vertigo Comics. In The Sandman, Doctor Destiny's hold over Dream's gem leads to a wave of cruelty, hallucinations, and general nightmares sweeping over the global consciousness as the fate of the Dreaming lies in the balance.
- Alan Moore uses similar nightmare scenes during the "Love and Death" arc in Swamp Thing. Anton Arcane's unholy resurrection leads to a "shockwave of nightmare", affecting people and animals around the area and spreading:
- A man approaches a homeless drunk in an alleyway, and pulls out a book of matches...
- A woman approaches her husband with a cast iron skillet...
- A cat climbs into a sleeping baby's crib, claws bared...
- A guard dog attacks its owner...
- A cow gives birth to something that screams like a woman and then dies...
- In Arkham Aslyum, Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man, starts screaming maniacally, and The Joker has stopped smiling...
- This wave of supernatural evil even attracts the attention of The Monitor (this page was not included when DC printed the arc in trade paperback).
- In Fantastic Four, fire and floating stones in the sky were actually illusions generated by the Watcher to try to conceal Earth from the oncoming apocalypse, but The Herald saw through them, and his presence ushered the coming of Galactus.
- One DC Comics story sees reality itself beginning to unwind. One of the signs of this is that Batman can no longer solve any of the Riddler's puzzles, proving that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.
- Last but definitely not least, the sky turning red heralded a Crisis that could mean the end of all reality.
- In Purple Days, the Red Comet serves as this, as it transmits a signal that awakens the Others and the White Walkers, beginning the end of the world. The return of magic is a mere side effect of its passing.
- In the final loop, characters who spend more time with King Joffrey, like his Silver Knights, become capable of sensing what he calls 'the Song of Existence', a sort of metaphysical manifestation of the will of the living world battling against the opposing, dark force he calls 'the Silence', represented by the Red Comet.
- In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "The Castle At The Crossroads", the multi-colored sky that appears over the entire Smurf Forest (caused by Castle Captor's appearance) is thought to be a sign of the end of the world by Tapper, a Christian Smurf who is looking forward for the Lord's coming.
- Ghostbusters films does this twice:
- Ghostbusters (1984)
Winston Zeddemore: Do you remember something in the Bible about the last days, when the dead would rise from the grave?
Ray Stantz: I remember Revelations 7:12. "And I looked as he opened the 6th seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake. And the sun became as black as sack cloth, and the moon became as blood."
Winston Zeddemore: And the seas boiled and the skies fell.
Ray Stantz: Judgment Day.
Winston Zeddemore: Judgment Day.
Ray Stantz: Every religion has its myth about the end of the world.
Winston Zeddemore: Myth? Ray, has it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason we've been so busy lately is 'cause the dead have been rising from the grave?
Peter Venkman: Or you could accept the fact that this city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, biblical?
Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament biblical, Mr. Mayor. Real wrath-of-God-type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming from the sky! Rivers and seas boiling!
Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes! Volcanoes!
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!
- Ghostbusters (1984)
- The Seventh Sign. A man is breaking the seven seals of the Apocalypse, causing the warning signs of the Apocalypse to occur.
- The Core had:
- People with pacemakers all dying due to localised electromagnetic pulses.
- Birds mass suiciding because their directional sense was off, causing them to fly top speed into buildings.
- The ozone layer developing holes that let through unfiltered sunlight hot enough to melt the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Nightfall (2000): The Watchers teach that when wind from the desert that goes on for days, a rain of suns fall from the sky, and during Twilight (only Beta is in the sky), it will be swallowed whole and the world will end.
- In Piers Anthony's Being a Green Mother, plague, earthquakes, floods, and volcanic eruptions are all the result of singing the Llano of Chaos, which ends all living things within weeks of it being sung. Although one could argue that these are less signs of the end and more the cause.
- In the novel The Yiddish Policemans Union by Michael Chabon, reports of talking chickens are mentioned as a sign of the end times, or at least of the coming of Messiah.
- Good Omens has a lot of these, as it's a book about the lead up to the End of Days.
- In the "present" (23rd century) of Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, the world has already gone through an apocalypse that has reduced the population to 700,000,000 people and necessitated great efforts to replenish the earth to what it formerly was. An example of this is what spurs those on the Columbus Project to make the decision to change the past and obliterate their entire post-Columbus history and those who existed in it in favor of repairing the past and creating what turns out to be a better future. It turns out that despite their optimism and everything they've done, there are more people than the planet can support, North America is in the midst of a famine, crop production is going down, and no matter what is done, everything's going to go to shit, another Ice Age will come, and humanity will be plunged into the Stone Ages.
- C. S. Lewis' The Last Battle where all the signs of Revelation begin to happen, albeit in Narnia.
- A classic example is William Butler Yeats' The Second Coming, a poem that predicts the birth of the Antichrist.
- Arcia Chronicles and Reflections of Eterna by the same author have a lot of these but they are mostly ignored by Normal People.
- John Hodgman's That Is All is dedicated to making this trope as weird as possible. Ray Kurzweil acquiring a kayboard arm (not the kind you're thinking of), the Blood Wave and the Rise of The Ancient and Unspeakable Ones are all signs of the Apocalypse.
- The first sign in Tailchaser's Song is that cats from various places are suddenly disappearing and some cats are even found torn to pieces. Later on, prey animals begin deserting areas. When the apocalypse starts nearing closer, very weird things start happening. Mothers give birth to deformed and sickly kittens, lights start appearing in the skies, and random distant cries can be heard. When Blind Night (an eclipse) nears, the moon opens its Eye sooner than expected and turns blood red.
- In Carnivàle, Brother Justin says that the depression and all the traits of the Crapsack World in which the show takes place are surely signs of the apocalypse. He isn't wrong, but what he isn't aware of at that point is that he's the one who's bringing it.
- Angel's "Apocalypse Nowish" does this-there are birds crashing into buildings, snakes coming out of plumbing, rats everywhere, and eventually, all the locations of the phone calls they get about these things, when laid out on a map, make an ancient symbol of destruction, with Connor's birthplace-slash-the place where the Beast rises smack in the middle.
- In the first season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Miss Calender knows the Hellmouth is about to open based on locally occurring portents; a family's swimming pool begins to boil (with them in it), a cat gives birth to a litter of snakes and a baby is born with his eyes facing inward.
- Charmed (2018)
- When the weakest of men reaches ill gotten glory.
- The Movements great sages fall.
- With the blossoming of death, comes the awakening of the source of all evil and than we fall.
- Millennium eventually shifted from a straight-up "serial killer" series to the idea that the general rise in the tide of human cruelty was tied into the upcoming apocalypse, sharing equal time between investigation of hideous murders and investigation of strange phenomena.
- They also had an episode with literal signs of the end times, revolving around a Russian who sabotaged Chernobyl (sometimes translated as "Wormwood", the name of a poison star in the Book of Revelation) and who might just be the anti-Christ. Even though the anti-Christ isn't in the Book of Revelation. The episode instead conflates the anti-Christ with the Beast, including him surviving a fatal head wound and his helicopter having the serial number 666. Curiously, for a show about the coming end of days, he never reappeared.
- The Watchtower, a magazine published by Jehovah's Witnesses, has numerous features on how current events line up with predictions in The Bible.
- Other religious examples such as Chick Tracts, or the late Plain Truth note .
- A secular example would be Fortean Times, which explores these strange world-views and catalogues many, many, examples of people convinced the world is about to end.
- From "Earth Died Screaming" from Bone Machine by Tom Waits:
There was thunderThere was lightningThen the stars went outAnd the moon fell from the skyIt rained mackerelIt rained troutAnd the great day of wrath has comeAnd here's mud in your big red eyeThe poker's in the fireAnd the locusts take the sky
- "Seven Swans" (the song, not the album) by Sufjan Stevens is rife with apocalyptic imagery:
We saw the dragon move down. / My father burned into coal.
- In Finnish folk tale Velisurmaaja (Brother-killer) the fratricidal protagonist declared he will go far away. When asked by his mother or sister when he will return, he replies (according to the version recorded in Kanteletar): "when the crow turns white, when the goose turns black, when a stone rolls on water, when a feather sinks to the bottom, when sun shines in midnight, when the moon burns hot, when stars dance in the sky". Many versions include assorted Christian elements like the Last Judgement, raining fire, blaring horns of heaven, and the return of Christ.
- In Norse Mythology the coming of Ragnarök is to be foreshadowed by a three year long winter and wolfes eating the sun and the moon.
- The fairy-tale of Chicken Little, who when a leaf dropped on his head in autumn took it as the sky falling down and was convinced the world was ending.
- Increasingly unhinged right-wing fundamentalist preacher John Hagee makes a big thing about "The Four Blood Moons", arguing that the Bible foretells a time when four eclipses of the moon will happen in quick sucession, heralding the commencement of the End Times, unless the world renounces its evil ways and turns from liberalism, socialism, feminism, unjust criticism of God's holy state of Israel, and other manifestations of godlessness, and returns to the ordained path of the LORD, as defined by people like John Hagee. Apparently the Bible was written four thousand years ago to predict what is happening right now. note
- In Islam, Signs of the End are categorized into Major and Minor: minor signs are quite vague and subject to interpretation regarding what they refer to. However, major signs, like the emergence of the Antichrist (in Arabic "Dajjal") are unambiguous. There are many minor signs but only ten major ones.
- The biblical Book of Revelation is crammed with them from start to finish, including plagues, world wars, stars falling to earth, the Number of the Beast, Demon Lords and Archdevils showing up... it would be easier to list the signs that don't appear. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the original Trope Makers if not the Ur-Example.
- The early 2015 craze among some Christian denominations concerning the "Four Blood Moons", a sequence of lunar eclipses coinciding with major Jewish religious festivals, leading exciteable people to conclude God is about to initiate the Last Days.
- Despite the occasional Christian groups claiming to know when the world will end, most Christians consider trying to predict the end times to be an exercise in futility, due to Jesus Himself being on record as "sighing deeply" and saying, "Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it." (Mark 8:12) In another verse, He explicitly states that the coming of The End will be a major surprise for everyone, that "concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. (Matthew 24:36)" In other words, even Jesus Himself doesn't know when the world is going to end.
- The joke religion the Church of the SubGenius has a pamphlet with the masthead "The end of the world is coming...and it's hilarious!"
- Dungeons & Dragons Sourcebook Elder Evils has this all over the place - book introduces nine Eldritch Abominations whose appearance is proceeded by the signs of upcoming apocalypse. They're even divided in generic and monster-specific signs. Notable signs include:
- The coming of Atropus, the World Born Dead is heralded by a global increase in strength for necromancy, making it easier to raise the dead, but also harder to control them. Eventually, everyone who dies will be revived regardless of how they died.
- Father Llymic is hurt by light, so his coming is heralded by the sun (as well as magic that produces light) dimming, until it goes out completely, and the Father arises.
- Warhammer 40,000 has the ringing of a mysterious clock in the last Christian church. During the unification of Terra, the man who would later become the God-Emperor of Man set out to purge anything that would challenge his vision of a secularist science-based mankind. Among those things is the last Christian church, maintained by a single elderly preacher. The Emperor, under a disguise, attempts to peacefully convert the priest. After getting utterly defeated in the ensuing philosophical debate, the Emperor storms off and orders the church to be burned down. The clock begins chiming, as it is prophesied to do when the end of man begins.
- Total War: Attila has a mechanic to warn the players of the incoming apocalypse that will befell on the game. Starting with the birth and rise of Attila himself and going with the many climate catastrophies that happened at the time, until it finishes with the sack and fall of Rome itself.
- Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines runneth over with all kinds of approaching apocalypse signs. Turns out, most of them are fake or just misinterpreted. A few of them are real and Gehena really is about to begin within a week, but it has nothing to do with this story.
- Max Payne touches upon this trope in reference to a book he finds in Lupino's nightclub, Ragna Rock.
I was surprised to find that somebody had been passing time reading. The paperback was entitled "The Age of Murder and Storm." The blurb on the back mentioned Norse mythos and Ragnarok, the end of the Viking world with a terrible winter that covered the earth in ice, when vile crimes were rampant and all humanity lost. I could see how somebody impressionable might get it into their head that we were at the end of time. I was also beginning to see what the nightclub and its owner were all about.
- In 7th Legion, there is a prophesy about the signs that the Chosen, those humans who had left Earth long ago, were returning to reconquer it. The first was a night without darkness (the lights from the ships filling the sky). The second is a day without light (those same ships blot out the sun with their numbers). The final sign is the rain of fire (landing craft entering the atmosphere).
- Diablo III starts with one of these. The star that falls upon Tristram at the beginning of the game is mentioned in the Prophecy of the End Days as a sign that the end has begun.
- In the Dark Souls games, the rise of the undead curse and the coming of hollows is invariably a sign that the First Flame is weakening and the Age of Fire is close to ending, meaning that if someone isn't stuffed into it soon, Bad Stuff will happen. Dark Souls III goes even further: if the Flame is on the edge of death, past Lords of Cinder will be revived, and the Unkindled will rise from their graves.
The Fire fades, and the Lords go without thrones...
- The Secret World: Richard Sonnac wastes no time in establishing a certain event you stumble upon during one mission, Lilith's reappearance, is a definite sign of the end-times. He's dead bloody serious about it, and immediately gets you on the case. Your contacts for the other factions don't make it explicit, but their reactions still imply it (the Dragon reports the Child waking up crying and birds divebombing windows, and the Illuminati reports alarms going off that your contact didn't even know existed and her bosses contacting her directly for the first time).
- Treknologic: Mike's trivial prowess and vaults of Quatloos signified the Mike-pocalypse.
- In Gamer Poop, Cicero's penis is so big that it's apparently a sign of the end times. Played for Laughs, of course.
- SCP Foundation: The Burning of the Wanderer's Library is generally considered the worst that can happen. Wether it actually is literally leading to the end of the world or is more just a shit hit the fan indicator varies.
- Danger Mouse: In "Gremlin Alert" the shadowy shroud enveloping London portends the End Times. What could be worse? According to Colonel K, it's the cancellation of the third test.