An obligatory trope for any depiction of The End of the World as We Know It or the threat thereof is a scene of some crazy-looking hobo (usually shown holding or wearing a sign), or possibly a street preacher (typically brandishing a Bible), or maybe just a common guy believing himself to be a prophet (more oftentimes than not wearing a bedsheet draped over as a makeshift robe) declaring that we should all repent because the world is coming to an end. Ha! As if that will ever happen!
Compare with The Cassandra, Just Before the End, and Harbinger of Impending Doom. Not to be confused with Signs of the End Times, A Storm Is Coming, or Vagueness Is Coming, none of which involve sandwich boards. May overlap with Sign of the Apocalypse, the Stock Phrase joking that something unexpected signals the end of the world. When the media does this it's Media Scaremongering.
- Sight gag in an Italian comic book. Two men, holding signs that claim "The world will end tomorrow" and "The world will end the day after tomorrow" respectively, are beating each other in the background. In the foreground, a third man is reading a newspaper article titled "Is the world ending today?"
- In one Batman storyline, the antihero Anarky distributes money to a wide variety of anti-establishment groups and individuals, one of whom is a doomsday prophet who uses part of the money to pay homeless people to walk around Gotham wearing sandwich-board signs proclaiming his message. (Unfortunately, he uses the rest of the money to finance his plan to blow up most of downtown Gotham, which he believes will kick-start the apocalypse.)
- A guy like this is featured in one of the early issues of Buffy Season 8.
- A man in a "The End Is Nigh" sandwich board is one of the people watching Moriarty's bombing of London in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, presumably feeling somewhat vindicated.
- Pondus has a subversion Played for Laughs: A robed and bearded man with a poster that reads: "Everything is in due order!" Pondus has the following comment: "Shit, NOW I actually began to worry!"
- Tintin: In "The Shooting Star", the mad ex-astronomer Philippulus goes around in white robes, banging a gong and generally making a nuisance of himself.
- Watchmen: A hobo is seen several times carrying a sign with this trope's exact title printed on it. He is revealed to be Rorschach's civilian identity. It also lampshades the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over everyone (not to mention future events in the comic).
- A long running trope in magazine comics — always a guy in a robe with the sign saying the end is near. Best one is the man running down the street screaming "10 ... 9 ... 8 ..."
- Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin had at least one strip with snowmen doing this. Jason as well.
- The Family Circus: After encountering a guy with a sign that says "The world will end tomorrow," Billy asks his mom if he still has to do his homework.
- The Far Side has a cartoon with a flea holding up a sign saying "The end of the dog is coming." He's right.
- Another had the guy who makes all these signs glaring out his shop window as the mushroom clouds bloom, and bemoaning the fact that the bottom just dropped out of the market.
- In Frank and Ernest, they see such a man.
Ernest: You think that's right, Frank?
Frank: Of course not! They haven't even started rolling the credits yet.
- In another strip, one man predicts the world will end today, one tomorrow — and Frank observes they can't make ends meet.
- A cartoon in Private Eye parodied the media's constant scaremongering over issues like climate change and terrorism by having everyone in a street wearing "The End Is Nigh" sandwich boards, except one man, who is scorned and called 'weirdo' by the others.
- U.S. Acres: one of the last comics had Lanolin walking around with a sign reading "the end is near", as foreshadowing that the series was about to end.
- Boldores and Boomsticks: Professor Cyric Cypress is constantly worrying about new threats to the world. Most of the time he's dead wrong, but when it comes to the Grimm...
- In Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (pictured above), as the food storm rages all over the world, two guys wearing sandwichboards are standing on a street corner in NYC. The first guy's board says "The end of the world is today!" and the other's says "The end is tomorrow!" The second guy is crushed by a hot dog, and the first guy gloats, "I was right!"
- In Flushed Away, a rat wearing a sandwich board made out of two slices of bread can actually be seen warning all the other rats about the floodgates.
- One of these appears in Hercules ranting on the streets of Thebes.
- 12 Monkeys has one who stops his ranting to address the main character whilst in 1996. It's implied that many doomsayers are actually time travelers scattered throughout history who have gone insane.
- A Generic Graffiti version in 28 Days Later. A bit of graffiti◊ written on the wall, when Jim enters a chapel reads: "The end is EXTREMELY FUCKING nigh." Unlike most examples on this page the person wrote it knew what they were talking about, but if anything it's out of date by the time Jim sees it: The End came and went while he was unconscious...
- There is a random guy like this in 2012, seen on a street corner during the earthquake that eats California.
- Early in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, someone has gratified The End Is Nigh on a billboard advertising the redeveloped Gotham Seaport, where Lex Luthor is up to something sinister.
- There's a drunk guy in the diner in The Birds who claims that the apocalypse is coming.
- Don't forget that guy in Bruce Almighty who turns out to be God all along.
- Bonus points for creative variations on the theme, like "Armageddon Outta Here".
- In God Told Me To, some Christians interpret the outbreak of religious violence this way, and take to the streets waving signs that urge people to repent.
- In Independence Day, there is a preacher in the ruins of Los Angeles who is like this. Justified in that the end already came.
- Iron Sky. James Washington is shown on a street corner trying to warn people that the Moon Nazis who turned him into a white man are about to invade Earth. Needless to say, no-one pays the crazy hobo any attention.
- In Left Behind (2014), Chloe Steele sees a THE END IS NEAR sign (next to empty clothes of the person probably holding it) changed to read THE END IS HERE after the Rapture happens.
- In The Seventh Seal, a radical flagellant comes before a crowd to tell them they're all doomed, and says it several times in succession. Lots of people actually pay attention to him, though, because they're all afraid of The Black Death.
- Sherlock Holmes (2009). Crowds of these are seen being broken up by mounted police outside the Houses of Parliament, indicating the "Panic, sheer bloody panic!" inspired by the villainous Lord Blackwood's apparent return from the dead. One man really goes to town describing the terrible events to come.
"The end is nigh! Blackwood's come back from Hell, and laid a curse upon this land! He walks in every shadow, and every puff of smoke. Behold, he cometh with clouds, and everyone shall see him!"
- Played for Black Comedy in the opening titles of Zombieland, where a man with a sign saying THE END IS NEAR is being attacked by zombies.
- Even before the arrival of Lot and the Hebrews to the title cities in Sodom and Gomorrah, street preacher Alabias regularly warns his fellow Sodomites that they will one day be held to account for the evil they are committing in building their fortune off slave labour and wallowing in decadence and corruption; the other Sodomites laugh him off. He stays on for the cities' destruction in the film's climax, seeing the confirmation of his predictions as reward enough.
- In Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, one man on the New York City Subway reacts to the approach of Hurricane Sandy by warning people about the end of the world and handing out Chick Tracts.
- Isaac Asimov's "The Psychohistorians": Hari Seldon predicts the collapse of the Galactic Empire, within 300 years. Despite the centuries between then and now, Seldon believes this is happening quickly, because after those 300 years will be 10,000 years where the galaxy is a feudal disaster.
- It's worth mentioning that The Bible is ambivalent about these types, claiming that only God knows when the world will end and anyone preaching of this is either misguided or outright a false prophet.
- Chicken Little is one of the more effective versions of this trope, which is ironic as the overwrought chicken is literally panicking over nothing.
- Discworld: The Red Star cultists in The Light Fantastic believe (or claim to believe) that the red star heralds the end of the Disc unless everyone does what they say.
- A Song of Ice and Fire. Tyrion Lannister comes across a Begging Brother preaching about the red comet as a Portent of Doom and decrying the corruption of the current regime. Westeros is already in the midst of a Civil War so none of this is news, but it serves a foreshadowing for the later increase in religious fundamentalism.
- In The Stormlight Archive, we have poor Tanelat. His job as the last Herald of the Almighty was to show up, inform humanity that the Desolation was at hand, and provide leadership and scientific knowledge to help them survive it. Unfortunately, as a result of getting stuck in Hell for several times as long as he was supposed to, he is nearly catatonic and can do little more than babble.
- A pamphlet from the Church of the SubGenius has a masthead reading "The world is coming to an end...and it's hilarious!"
- In Experimental Film, the farmer Hendrij Wròbl let all his animals go, burned his crops, and led his family into the remains of the field, where they spent two weeks waiting for the end. Nine-year-old Giscelia was the Sole Survivor, with the rest of her family dying of privation, being beaten to death by Hendrij, or in Hendrij's case, getting decapitated by Lady Midday.
- The Season 1 finale of Arrow has a variation where everyone is running like hell while waving the requisite doomsaying signs, because they've been told an Earthquake Machine is about to level the Glades. Why anyone would waste time making up a sign under those circumstances is not explained.
- In Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019), Wil Wheaton plays a doomsday preacher who carries such a sign, warning people that the end is near and that Supergirl cannot save them, when a dragon comes out of the sky and attacks him, only for Supergirl to suddenly zoom down and protect him from the dragon's flame breath.
- Legends of Tomorrow. In "The One Where We're Trapped on TV", the Fates have rewritten history so Earth is a 1984-type dystopia.
Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: The Fates are always watching. Relinquish free will. The world is perfect.Gary: (wearing sandwich board saying THE WORLD IS WRONG!) The world is wrong! Can't you people see? None of this is how it should be! (sees Mona) Do I know you? You look familiar. Do you recognize me? My name is Gary but most people call me Crazy Guy.Mona: Stay away from me, you weirdo!Gary: Yeah, they call me that too.
- Barney Miller: In "The Recluse" the 12th Precinct brings in a nutcase who was causing a public disturbance by ranting about the end of the world. When Barney says "Yes, Mr. Roberts, but the question is when?", Mr. Roberts catches him by surprise by saying "5:30."
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Towards the end of Season 7 as the population of Sunnydale pack up and flee, a crazy homeless guy is hauled into the police station shouting the Arc Words "From beneath you, it devours."
- Doctor Who: In "The Shakespeare Code", as the Doctor shows Martha around 1599 London, they pass by a preacher shouting "And the Earth will be consumed by flames!". At the end, when the void opens and the Carrionites are being released, the same preacher is seen screaming with almost glee-like tones, "I TOLD THEE SO! I TOLD THEE!"
- Seen in the miniseries of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981), before the Earth is destroyed. When he realizes the end actually IS nigh, he abandons his sign.
- Parodied in Sliders. The fifth season opener has the group land on a world performing experiments with dimensional travel, causing severe and dangerous weather phenomena. One guy on the streets is reading off apocalyptic Bible verses right until the end, where the experiments are shut off and everything returns to normal. He quickly says, "Or not."
- The mini series version of Stephen King's The Stand featured one of these, played by Kareem Abdul Jabbar of all people. He goes all around New York City screaming "Bring out your dead" in a reference to the Black Plague, even before people start dying en masse from a disease with a 99% fatality rate. He actually survives the plague, and continues his doomcrying until Randall Flagg kills him personally.
- The character was present in the book too, although in an even smaller role than he had in the mini series. Like in the series, he does the "Bring out your dead" shouting, but IIRC is a short, overweight white guy who runs away from Larry when Larry tries to approach him.
- Star Trek: The Original Series. In the climatic scene of "The Naked Time", the crew has gone mad and the Enterprise is falling towards the disintegrating planet below. Captain Kirk is heading for the Bridge to carry out a thousand-to-one chance that will save the ship or blow them all to bits, when he sees someone has painted SINNER REPENT on the turbolift doors in an obvious reference to this trope.
- Star Trek: Voyager. In "Future's End" a Starfleet timeship piloted by Captain Braxton tries to destroy Voyager, claiming they'll be responsible for a disaster that will destroy the entire solar system in the 29th Century. Voyager resists and they get pulled into a time rift, emerging in 1990's Earth where the Voyager crew find Captain Braxton (who ended up crashing back in The '60s) as a crazed hobo putting up signs saying the End is Nigh. Technically he's about 900 years out, but what's nigh is the launch of the timeship by a 20th Century Corrupt Corporate Executive who stole it from Braxton, which will lead to the destruction of the solar system when it arrives in the future.
Braxton: It's too late now. All things are set in motion. The terrible explosion will occur. The end is coming! The future's end.
- Parodied (Inverted maybe) in the pilot for Super Force. While Zach is walking around, looking at the future world, we see a street preacher holding a sign reading "Repent! The world will never end!"
- Supernatural. Justified in Season 5 because the angels have recruited Christian fundamentalist street preachers to locate Sam and Dean, as part of their plan to bring about the Apocalypse. So when these preachers say that Angels of the Lord have told them The End Is Nigh, it's the literal truth.
- Pretty much the whole point of Jethro Tull's album Stormwatch.
- Ford Prefect portends this at the start of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978), without really telling anyone how—that a Vogon constructor fleet was on its way to demolish the Earth to make room for a hyperspace bypass. Ford eventually tells Arthur when the lead ship arrives.
- The Others (2015) features a series of hobos who parade around with these signs warning of the doom that comes, and indeed it is coming as the Sins of the Apocalypse are coming down to destroy Earth. Funny enough, said hobos are part of the problem as they're corrupted monsters.
- Warhammer features Flagellants, mobs of unhinged religious fanatics who are convinced that the latest Chaos invasion, Orc Waaagh!, Dark Elf raid, Skaven uprising, Undead attack, civil war... anyway, they're convinced that it's the End Times and want to take part in the final battle. Since their fervor makes them fearless and they like to bludgeon enemies to death with two-handed flails, Empire generals tolerate their presence, even if army morale tends to suffer slightly.
- The Defective Detective Player Character of Disco Elysium can, after awakening in a wrecked hotel room with amnesia and a horrible hangover, begin preaching that the age of Armageddon is night. They have a point: Revachol is a powder keg of fascists, crooked communists, psychopathic Private Military Contractors, an uncaring foreign-controlled government, desperate poverty, and a currently miniscule, but inexorably growing hole in the fabric of spacetime. Perfectly sane and sober individuals will wryly agree that, yes, something very big is likely to go down very soon, and it doesn't take a supernatural sense to figure it out.
- In Dragon Age: Origins:
- The player can encounter a seemingly insane Chasind barbarian ranting about the Blight in the front courtyard of the Lothering Chantry. Several civilians are trying to silence him, as his shouting is starting to unsettle people. The Warden can choose to ignore him, intimidate him or even shame him into leaving, or try to calm him down with diplomacy. (A sufficiently persuasive Warden can discover the reason for his madness: the darkspawn slaughtered his entire clan, and he was forced to watch as they dragged off his wife.)
- Another doomsayer can appear in Redcliffe, albeit briefly. He warns that the attack on the village by a horde of walking corpses is a sign of the end of the world and that everyone should repent their sins. Like Lothering, the Warden can ignore or drive off the doomsayer, or they can just kill him. He shouts that he welcomes death as you attack him.
- Empire Earth's units change appearances as you progress through time, the final prophet unit is a homeless-looking guy wearing only a sandwich board with "The End Is Near" written on it. In all eras, the prophet unit will also vocalize that the end is coming and other apocalyptic phrases (since their entire function is to unleash natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and volcanoes).
- There is actually a game called The End Is Nigh. Get ready to die a lot.
- The villains in Far Cry 5 are the members of a fanatical doomsday cult that believes the world is about to end and are launching a holy war to "cleanse" nonbelievers of their sins (through torture, drugs, and brainwashing).
- Flight: After the Egyptian man receives the plane, he looks at the drawing of a man and a woman near a fire and misinterprets it as some kind of catastrophe, after which he writes "THE END IS NEAR." on it.
- In Infinite Space, Adis people do this near the end of the game. Of course, by the time they do this, the universe destruction has already started to happen.
- In the Mass Effect series:
- Mass Effect: Manuel, a delusional research assistant at the Eden Prime dig site, correctly foreshadows the Reaper's coming. He's rewarded with a punch to the face, courtesy of a renegade Shepard.
- Mass Effect 2 has a "Mad Prophet" who uses the trope name: "Repent! The end is nigh!" (Presumably, he doesn't know about the Reapers who are planning to destroy all civilization; he blames humans as a "blight" — "You, sir, are a blight! And you! And you!")
- The Mad Prophet returns for a brief cameo in the Mass Effect 3 DLC campaign "Omega", blaming humans for the occupation of Omega (which is factually correct, by the way) and the ongoing Reaper invasion.
- In the "Enter the Metro" trailer for Metro Last Light, a scraggly homeless man is standing in the middle of a street in Moscow preaching about the end of the world — then he laughs as the air raid alarms sound and ICBMs launch in the background.
- Neverwinter Nights has a few of these, with them thinking that the Wailing Death plague is a sign of the end.
- Inverted in Psychonauts 2: A denizen of Strike City wears a sign saying the world is not going to be destroyed, despite overwhelming evidence pointing towards the opposite claim.
- A homeless guy in Santa Monica does this in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines. Someone familiar with the game's plot and the Old World of Darkness Metaplot will find grains of truth in most of what he says.
- The above cards are based on the Doomsayers and Validated Doomsayers from World of Warcraft. The Doomsayers appeared before the launch of the Legion expansion pack, giving warnings of impending doom and handing out pamphlets. Validated Doomsayers appeared later in the expansion after Argus appeared in the skies of Azeroth with updated pamphlets.
- The content of the pamphlets indicates the doomsayers aren't a unified lot. Some support the Legion, some support the Old Gods, and others are just crazy survivalists.
Validated Doomsayer: I was right all along!
- Following on from this the spinoff game Hearthstone has cards based on these Doomsayer characters, which proclaim "The end is coming!" on entering the playfield and destroys everything on the board if allowed to survive to the next turn. He says, "I knew it!" when he dies. If prevented from dying with a silencing effect and then buffed to be able to attack, his attack dialogue is, "Did I miss it?"
- In Whispers of the Old Gods expansion we have doomsayer's triumphant return in the form of validated doomsayer. Because the expansion is about the hour of twilight,note he get the literal last laugh.
- The content of the pamphlets indicates the doomsayers aren't a unified lot. Some support the Legion, some support the Old Gods, and others are just crazy survivalists.
- The rabbit community of Crossed Claws has Jered, an old rabbit raving about how cats in the fields are going to kill them all. Of course, while there is a cat out there, she's one of the most kindhearted characters in the comic. Of course, her caretakers are another story...
- The crazy old guy in Exiern who keeps walking around shouting "DOOM!" and narrating to no one that anyone in the strip can see.
- In Learning with Manga! FGO, Jeanne mistakes Paul Bunyan riding on Babe the Blue Ox for the Rider of the Apocalypse and begin ranting about the end of the world with a plank sign on her.
- The creepy eyeless vagrant from Broken Saints wears a sandwich board with the message "The End is Nigh" written over it. He turned out to be an hologram created by the Big Bad
- The two goofy unicorns in a Charlie the Unicorn short say this phrase and perform an out-of-place frightening image.
Charlie: Okay, that was the scariest thing I've ever seen.
- Ross Twedell of Cultaholic lapses into this when he recaps something some sort of shocking twist in whatever pro wrestling show he's recapping...
Ross: ...you know what that means grab two of every animal and run for the bastard border!
(Warning sirens blare as forest scenery is shown)
Ross: (marching by) THE END IS NIGH, THE END IS NIGH, TIME TO RUN AWAY, THE END IS NIGH—BYE!
- Red Chocobo's Let's Play of Pokémon Emerald has the cutest The End is
- There Will Be Brawl has this guy in the form of Olimar.
- The Crumpets: In "Belief Relief", when Uncle Hurry is introducing his brother's family to Paymeism and Ma asks Hurry why her family should join, he warns that "the end of the world is nigh" and adds that "only true-blue Paymeists will be saved."
- Kaeloo: In the episode "Let's Play Ecologists", when Stumpy hears about air pollution, he panics and hyperventilates. He then assumes that his being unable to breathe properly is a result of air pollution, and he starts screaming "We're all going to die! The end is nigh!"
- The Powerpuff Girls — a guy is holding a sign like this early in the episode. When we get to the Monster of the Week part it reads "Told You So".
- Static Shock — In the episode "Child's Play", A street preacher voiced by Garrett Morris holds one of these signs, and sees a fountain turning a bubbling red as a sign that thirty years of doing this has finally paid off; He is notably upset when it turns out to be a prank with fruit-flavored soda mix. He turns up to the sky and asks plaintively why God is messing with his head.
- X-Men: Evolution (in the episode that introduces Angel) features a doomsayer like this, bearing a sign with "Angels are among us!"
- Going by Wikipedia, Christians have been predicting the Apocalypse literally since the beginning (despite the fact that Jesus was very emphatic about how even he himself doesn't know when the world will end).
- The Seventh Day Adventist Church is built on this. In fact, they were originally formed from the remains of the Millerite movement, a group led by William Miller, who predicted the second coming of Christ in the year 1843.
- The signs are Truth in Television given some street preachers are known to carry signs carrying the same or similar wording note ; however, this may or may not necessarily indicate The End will be definitely next week, more as an inducement to repent and believe the Christian gospel by means of warning of impending judgement to come.