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The Day of Reckoning

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"It's been a long journey and no one is coming out without scars. But it all comes down to this moment. We win or lose it all in the next few minutes. Make me proud. Make yourselves proud."
Commander Shepard, Mass Effect 2

There are tons of dark prophecies of doomsdays and master plans that take a long time to put into action. The Day of Reckoning is the day that all the prophecies speak of... the day that the Evil Overlord wins, goodness and mercy are overthrown, and a new Dark Age arises on Earth...


At least, until the hero shows up, defeats the villain, saves the day, and returns everything to normal (usually with one or two characters sacrificing themselves to do it). This trope is about the final confrontation between the heroes and the coming evil. The long-awaited and foretold apocalypse. When the heroes finally get out from under the Darkest Hour and put a stop to the villain's plan for world domination.

A specific type of story Climax. See also Darkest Hour and Final Battle.

And nope, this trope has nothing to do with Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning despite its title.

As an Ending Trope, expect massive unmarked spoilers ahead.



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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Green Lantern: The Blackest Night, when the enemies of the Green Lantern corps will mass against them and destroy them. Blackest Night centers all around a version of it, which ends up getting thwarted.

  • Star Wars: The day Emperor Palpatine takes over the Republic, beginning with the murder of all the Jedi, at the end of Revenge of the Sith.
  • In Star Trek (2009), Nero describes his attacks on Vulcan and Earth as the Federation's "Day of Reckoning".
  • Gozer's arrival on Earth in Ghostbusters (1984) would almost certainly have been this. Judgment Day is even referred to by name and place in the Bible.


    Live Action TV 
  • Dollhouse is notable in that its day of reckoning goes ahead despite (or possibly because of) the heroes intervention. Other than that, it plays this trope to a T.
  • When Angel and his team finally attack the Circle of the Black Thorn and try to avert THE apocalypse.
  • The new Doctor Who series had a Day of Reckoning at the end of every season. Of particular note are the episodes "The Sound of Drums"/"The Last of the Time Lords", "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End", and "The End of Time".
  • Any of the Apocalypses from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • In Supernatural, we have the episodes "All Hell Breaks Loose" where the brothers finally take out Azazel, the demon that killed their parents... but are too late to stop him unleashing his demonic army into the world; No Rest For The Wicked where the brothers attempt to take out the demon's new leader, Lilith, before she can claim Dean's soul and drag him to hell... and they fail, with Dean suffering a particularly nasty death; Lucifer Rising, where the brothers attempt to stop Lilith from freeing Lucifer... and it ends badly, with Sam accidentally freeing Lucifer himself. Then there's the big one, Swan Song, where the brothers have to re-imprison Lucifer before he can fight Micheal, ending the world... they succeed! (Although Sam is sealed in Hell along with a very pissed-off Lucifer and Michael)...

  • In Last Gladiator, the "Warlock" table is a magical battle on Judgment Day.

    Religion and Mythology 
  • Judgment Day, as described in the Book of Revelation. This makes this trope Older Than Feudalism.
    • While the judgment before the great white throne is literally a day of reckoning (since "reckoning" in this sense is synonymous with "judgment"), the battle of Armageddon corresponds more closely to the trope meaning. The good guys have already won by the time Judgment Day comes around.
  • Ragnarok, the prophesied final battle between the gods and Jotun in Norse Mythology.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu campaigns
    • Shadows of Yog-Sothoth - The rise of R'lyeh and release of Cthulhu. 'Nuff said.
    • Masks of Nyarlathotep - The opening of a Gate that will allow Cthulhu Mythos entities to enter our world.
    • The Fungi From Yuggoth. Dholes will be summoned worldwide, the Sphinx will be changed into an avatar of Nyarlathotep and terrorists will overthrow national governments, allowing the Mythos to take over the world.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • Trigon's invasion of Earth in Teen Titans.
  • Sozin's Comet triggers this in Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • Also the Day Of Black Sun, in a sense — it was supposed to be the allies' day to strike at the Fire Nation, but Azula discovered their plan beforehand and they were resoundingly crushed (except in Omashu).
    • The Legend of Korra has Vaatu's return, which although occurring every ten thousand years, is treated as such.
  • In Transformers: The Movie, the coming of Unicron.
  • The two-parter Second Season finale of X-Men: Evolution is actually titled "Day of Reckoning." It involves the iconic X-Men figure of a Sentinel being let loose in the city and attacking all mutants and them having to defend themselves, leading to their existence being revealed on national television.
    • The two-parter series finale "Ascension" probably also counts, as the titular heroes fight against and defeat their ultimate enemy Apocalypse, who had been prepping up for the last two seasons to turn all of humanity into mutants.

"I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse."
Riley Finn, Buffy the Vampire Slayer


Example of: