What happens when God (or the gods) decides to Kill It with Water. All of it.
Older than the book itself, this is a trope that's nearly ubiquitous in mythology, and with good reason: it may have had a basis in reality note , but as a kind of cultural memory it forms the backbone of many origin mythologies, from the Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime to the biblical Book of Genesis. Usually the moral of the story is "don't piss off the gods", but sometimes the flooding is part of the process of (re)creating a world, often as a literal way of washing away the corruption of the previous one before a new one can be born.
Many scholars posit that real historical events in the distant past are what inspired all of these similar "deluge myths", with opinions divided as to whether it was some kind of global flooding event affecting everyone on the planet or several more localized events in each respective region these tales are found. Some scientists argue that the prevalence of the Great Flood in Eastern Mediterranean myth in particular derives from the Black Sea floods in about 5600 BCE and the Thera eruption in about 1600 BCE, both of which would've sent "megatsunamis" across the sea and caused apocalyptic destruction for ancient peoples. Various other localized events are posited for other parts of the world, including the meteor impact that left the Burckle Crater in the Indian Ocean around 2900 BCE and the Missoula floods that rolled across western North America roughly around 10,000 BCE.
Some of various religious persuasions believe that the prevalence of the Great Flood myth derives from an actual worldwide great flood caused by their deity of choice (although a global flood as described particularly by Abrahamic religions isn't seen as plausible by most scientists.note ).
This may sometimes be tied to a Green Aesop, chiefly when the flooding is caused by runaway global warming causing the global ice sheets to melt.
The waters will usually recede after a while, at which point some focus will be given to the survivors recovering and rebuilding, but sometimes they will stay, and the affected world will be permanently turned into a Flooded Future World.
Expect a Giant Wall of Watery Doom or a Noah's Story Arc.
- Doraemon: Nobita and the Kingdom of Clouds have the heroes trying to prevent one, with the Kingdom of Clouds deciding to execute "Project Noah", a massive flood, in order to save the earth's environment and prevent humans from doing any further damage to the world. At one point Nobita and Doraemon accidentally enters a Bad Future where they failed, and sees Tokyo getting utterly destroyed by an unstoppable typhoon.
- Dragon Knights: The demon fish Varawoo sunk the world before it was sealed away.
- In Fate/Prototype, Gilgamesh's Noble Phantasm, "Enki: Sword of the End", summons a flood in reference to the one mentioned in his story.
- In KonoSuba, Aqua's Sacred Create Water invokes this. The problem is, it's massively destructive, even moreso than Megumin's Explosion, so it's only used when the Godzilla Threshold is crossed.
- Saint Seiya: The god Poseidon, wishing to wash away the filth of mankind, raises the oceans to destroy all of civilization. In the anime, this is compounded by the priestess Hilda praying to Odin to keep the ice in the Grim Up North eternally frozen; her absence causes it to melt and contribute to the flooding.
- Sistine Chapel: The eighth fresco on the ceiling shows people climbing the mountains escape the flood and board arks that are all turned over by the rising water. In the background, Noah's ark is shown floating unperturbed as those left behind desperately attempt to survive the flood.
- Adventure Time Graphic Novels: A massive flood affects the area around the Candy Kingdom, and nearly dissolves it, due to the cloud bikers.
- Cerebus the Aardvark: During Cerebus' time with the Judge on the moon, the Judge mentions a prior civilization of sapient redwood trees that accidentally set off a climate catastrophe that causes a worldwide flooding event every 12,000 years. The civilizations in existence when it happens call it "the Great Flood", while the redwoods that are around call it "oh no, not this again".
- The Eternals: Ikaris describes the Biblical events as taking place when the Deviants fired on the Celestials' Second Host. This combined with the Deviant domination of the planet at that time drove the space deities to cause the Flood, sinking Atlantis and Lemuria, and causing a younger Ikaris to direct and guide the builders and passengers of The Ark.
- The Scrameustache: Because of Atlantis meddling with Earth's second moon's orbit, an asteroid collided with it, causing massive meteor showers that destroyed Atlantis and flooded the Earth. A second flood was due to happen in the future, past the 21st century, but our heroes prevented it.
- Superman: In The Krypton Chronicles, a flooding event inundated the continent of Urrika several thousand years ago. Thanks to prophet Jaf-El — who foretold the flood — and his brother Tio — a beastmaster who provided riding beasts for everyone — many people survived by fleeing to the mountains, but the flood destroyed the first great Kryptonian civilization. As learning about Jaf-El's history, Superman and Supergirl cannot help but comparing it with Noah's tale.
- Suske en Wiske: The titular characters search for Noah's arc in "De Adelijke Ark".
- Nero: In "De Ark van Nero" Nero builds an ark to survive a giant flood.
- "The Nix in the Mill-Pond": The titular water spirit vengefully floods the whole countryside when the lead female frees her husband from the Nixie's grasp.
- I Shall Endure to the End!: The angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley are ordered by their respective Managements to assist and advise a boat-builder called Noah and his family, ensuring the Ark is built on schedule and that Noah's energy and enthusiasm do not flag.
- What happens next more-or-less follows, but embellishes, the biblical account. It also establishes that this was the same flood experienced by Deucalion, Dardanus of Arcadia and Emperor Yao, that did in the dinosaurs and the Minoan civilization, and that destroyed Atlantis, Lemuria and Hy-Brasil.
- Interestingly, a global flood didn't actually happen, as such — there simply wasn’t enough water in existence for Heaven (not God, as these are two separate things in the Good Omens mythos) to flood the Earth completely: rather, it was a collection of floods in the cradles of civilization in China, the Americas and the greater Middle East, combined with the sinking of Atlantis and Lemuria (and the resulting tidal waves on every coastline on Earth) and the flooding of the modern-day Black Sea, which all together gave bronze-age mankind the definite impression that the whole world had in fact flooded.
- Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space: The Mad Scientist plans to use his Tesla doomsday device to erupt every volcano in Antarctica, inundating Earth's coastal cities, with the additional benefit of destroying the Master Computer that controls Earth, buried under the South Pole.
- Under the Northern Lights: This is given as one of the possible dangers of waking Luna and Celestia's "auntie". She is currently sleeping soundly in the form of the great Everfrost Glacier; if she were to wake up, the process of going from stillness to activity would also turn this ice into water, flooding Tarandroland and much of the world in the process.
- Disney Animated Canon:
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire: The Biblical flood was caused by the Atlantis' weapons research and the city was sunk to save it from destruction.
- Fantasia: The "Rite of Spring" segment ends with the entire Earth being flooded by a massive tidal wave caused by a solar eclipse.
- Fantasia 2000: Retold in the re-imagined "Noah's Ark" adaptation of Pomp and Circumstance.
- Epic (1984) opens with a great flooding caused by the Spirit of Evil, the narrator in the original version implies it to be the Biblical Flood.
- 2012: The trope namer is the end result, to which the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are merely a prelude.
- Evan Almighty: Parodied when a poorly-built dam winds up causing the deluge that God ordered Evan to build an ark for.
- Waterworld: The melting of the polar ice sheets completely flooded the Earth in the distant past, and in this scenario the water does not appear to be going away anytime soon.
- Area 51: It's revealed to have occurred as a result of Atlantis's long-ago destruction by aliens. However, it wasn't global, but still a substantial enough event to inspire myths around the world.
- Flood and its sequel Ark center heavily around the transformation of the Earth into an ocean planet due to the release of massive reservoirs of water from within the Earth's mantle. Unlike most examples, this is a slow process — the waters take decades to rise, starting to cover low-lying islands in the late 2010s and eventually closing over Mount Everest in 2052, leaving plenty of time for gradual social collapse. Humanity on Earth survives mostly on massive rafts and ships and in a single underwater city, although in Ark there's talk of genetically engineering an aquatic human species.
- One of the two founding myths of Ankh-Morpork involves a boat that was built to withstand a great flood, containing two of every animal. The accumulated waste products of all the animals was tipped over the side, and they called it Ankh-Morpork.
- An ancient civilisation on the Disc had the most embarrassing Great Flood ever; it took the best part of a century and the people were able to paddle or wade.
- Carpe Jugulum: One of the things that worries the Slightly Reverend Mightily Oats about Omnian dogma is that every Discly culture has a flood myth, similar but different to the one in the Book of Om.
- Eve of Man: London is submerged in an unexplained flood.
- Ice by Lora Johnson. An astronaut appears to travel back in time and helps in the building of a vast granary that floats when hit by a Giant Wall of Watery Doom. On waking up in the present, he realises he witnessed the Biblical flood destroying a society of Advanced Ancient Humans.
- Kine: Played with. The flood in question is a perfectly ordinary localised inundation of low-lying flat land by heavy rainfall, but it is presented as a seemingly global event from the point of view of the protagonists — who are weasels, whose point of view is only half an inch above the water.
- Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus: Referenced. The origin of the myth is tracked back to the flooding of the Red Sea.
- Raptor Red: A flood of the sort that only comes every thousand years strikes Raptor Red and her family around the middle of the story.
- Septimus Heap: One occurred in the setting's distant past, causing Syren Island to sink beneath the sea.
- The Silmarillion: The drowning of Númenor. Sauron convinced the Númenóreans to worship Morgoth, which led them to commit human sacrifices. Eru objected and created a tidal wave that destroyed Númenor and everyone on it, besides turning a previously flat earth into a round one.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: According to The World of Ice & Fire, Westeros was originally connected to Essos by a land bridge thousands of years ago. When the continent was invaded by the First Men, the Children of the Forest (an elf-like race who were the original inhabitants of Westeros) called in "the Hammer of the Waters", which submerged most of the land bridge with the exception of a couple of islands, the modern-day Stepstones.
- Trail of Lightning: The Big Water flooded much of the planet and transitioned it to the Sixth World according to the Diné. Ma'ii claims that great floods have marked the change between each previous world as well.
- The myth version is told in Watership Down. Rather than God Is Displeased (which happens in the rabbit Creation Myth), Frith has to leave on a journey leaving the world covered in rain, but a human builds a giant floating hutch for all the animals until Frith returns and lets them out.
- Wicked: An early pagan Creation Myth stated that the goddess Lurline peed a flood that caused animals to become the sapient, Talking Animals. The later Unionist revision changed it to a flood of tears.
- Battlestar Galactica (2003): Gaius Baltar mentions the story of the Flood as explained in the Book of Pythia to Roslin, comparing his role in the destruction of the Colonies to that of the Flood. While no actual Flood is seen, the story is clearly a reference to the biblical story and may even have been its origin.
- Dominion: Gabriel explains that the Flood story was metaphor for what really happened, since it was easier for humans to understand than the truth. Said truth being that the "flood" was Michael, who believed that humanity had to be punished for daring to worship angels instead of God. The "ark" in turn was actually a bunker Noah built to try and save some people from the slaughter.
- Good Omens (2019): The Biblical flood is mentioned. Despite its supernatural origins, it is tied closely with the real-life historical flood. God didn't flood the whole world, just "the local area;" the Chinese, Native Americans, and Australians are all explicitly spared. Crowley finds the whole thing horrifying, especially the part where the kids get killed. Aziraphale is clearly uncomfortable, but insists he doesn't have any say in policy decisions. Oh, and the reason there are no unicorns any more is because one of the pair Noah got for the Ark wandered off.
- The Clash describes how London drowns in London Calling.
- Franco De Vita: The theme of "Lluvia" (Rain). It tells about a city that is being ravaged by an intense downpour, causing not only an irreversible material loss but also many deaths; at one point, a kid who is struggling to survive tries to check if the ceiling of his house is still in its place.
- "When the Levee Breaks" by Kansas Joe Mccoy and Memphis Minnie is another blues record about the local floods in the South and was famously covered by Led Zeppelin on Led Zeppelin IV.
- Charlie Patton, a 1930s blues singer had a song named "High Water Everywhere" about the Mississippi floods.
- Tears for Fears: If taken literally, the first stanza in "Closest Thing to Heaven" describes a cataclysmic global flood.
28 days of rain
Flashfloods in February
Back in our boats again
While all the world is sinking
- In Abrahamic religions:
- The Torah, and by extension The Bible, features the global Flood sent by God to cleanse the Earth of an unbearably wicked mankind, after tasking Noah with building the Ark to save himself, his family and pairs of every animal (seven pairs each of every clean beast and every bird, and one pair each of everything else). Noah lives.
- Averted in The Qur'an, in which the flood is merely local and destroys only one civilization.
- Gnosticism subverts this trope. Noah constructed the ark according to the instruction of the malevolent Demiurge, but it was burned down with magical fire by Eve's daughter Norea in a fit of supernatural rage. He built a second ark, which turned out to be useless because they were just transferred temporarily into Heaven for the length of the flood.
- The Epic of Gilgamesh: The earliest recorded example. At one point, Gilgamesh comes across Utnapishtim, who had been made immortal by the gods in reward for building a giant reed boat to save his family, his village's craftsmen, and a number of baby animals from a world-destroying flood. After running aground, he even sent out a dove and raven to check if the water had receded, although the order's reversed from the biblical account — the dove found nothing, the raven found land and did not come back, so Utnapishtim and his crew disembarked.
- Various Native American mythologies. The Aztecs believed that the Earth had been created and destroyed four times before the present age, and the end of the last age was a watery one.
- Classical Mythology has three, most notably Deucalion's.
- This list could go on forever. Just check Wikipedia here.
- According to Plato, Atlantis was destroyed by earthquakes and floods.
- Norse Mythology:
- Prose Edda ("Gylfaginning"): When Odin and his brothers kill Ymir (the primordial giant whose corpse is the entire Earth), all the frost-giants drown in the blood flowing from Ymir's wounds, except for the giant Bergelmir and his wife who save themselves on an ark (i.e. a wooden chest). A little later it is said that Ymir's blood turned into the sea and the lakes of the world.
- Eventually, after Ragnarök, the world will sink.
- Hindu Mythology: A demon threw the earth into the sea and Vishnu, as his boar Avatar Varaha, went down and brought it back to the surface, killing the demon.
- There's also the story of Manu, which is somewhat similar to the Biblical and Gilgamesh accounts. The main difference is that Vishnu appears to Manu as Matsya, the fish avatar.
- Chinese Mythology, but instead of the flood wiping out humanity, Yu the Engineer directed the construction of great canals and redirected rivers to control the flood and provide better irrigation for farming. Yu learned his lesson after Emperor Yao executed his father, Gun, whose attempt to control the flood by damming the rivers and seas with gargantuan dykes only made the floods worse when the dykes inevitably broke. Instead of being a story about the sin of man, the Chinese flood myth is a Taoist parable about cooperating with nature instead of futilely fighting against it.
- In Guatuso mythology, the main God, He of the Nharíne Headwaters punishes humanity's disobedience with a global flood, but, he does it against His will, and only because His wife compromised Herself to create all life again, howewer, she didn't know how to do it, everything she managed to create were useless and venomous species of plants and animals. In the end, it was up to Him to reintroduce all the good species of plants and animals, as well as the human genre which he brought forth from a cave.
- Per Taíno Mythology, Yaya and his wife had a son named Yayael who grew to be rebellious. Yaya sent him to exile for months but upon return, Yaya killed Yayael. Out of remorse, Yaya put all of Yayael's bones inside a gourd he hung from the ceiling. One day, he saw that the gourd was full of an endless supply of fish, even when he and his wife ate some. Nearby, Itiba Cahubaba, mother of the earth, gave birth to four children. When Yaya was absent, they took down the gourd to eat from it too, but in their hurry to put it back, the gourd burst, and so much water and fish came out, that it became the ocean.
- In Talamancan mythology, the Tchõ'dawe, the third humanity created by Sibú turned out to be a nasty piece of work, eventually, they killed a high priest and Sibú killed them all with a flood.
- One of several biblical themes in the BBC Radio science fiction series Earthsearch II. The evil Angel computers try to force the protagonists off the planet Paradise by using Hostile Terraforming to melt the polar icecaps. The crew have to use their large shuttle (which is airtight so it can fly in outer space) as a floating ark to save some of the local flora and breeding pairs of the fauna.
- Cerulean Seas: An unknown event caused a global flood that covered most of the world in water and swallowed the cities of the drylanders, leaving the game's current setting dominated by scattered islands and vast seas.
- Dungeons & Dragons: One of the generic Signs of the End Times described in Elder Evils is ceaseless, torrential and constantly strengthening rainfall, causing the levels of bodies of water to rise more and more with each passing day.
- Vampire: The Masquerade calls the extremely powerful, extremely ancient founders of the clans "Antediluvians" for exactly this reason — they predated the Great Flood, and were likely some of the only things to survive while the Earth drowned.
- The Green Pastures is a re-telling of The Bible in a modern day setting. It includes the whole Noah story including the great flood.
- In Afterlife (1996), a great flood is one of the disasters that can randomly befall the planet you're supposed to be taking care of, killing off the entire population "except for a few smarty-pants who figured out how to build a boat."
- Final Fantasy:
- Final Fantasy III: Destroying the balance between Light and Darkness plunges the world into the latter, freezing the surface in time and then flooding it so only a temple and a priestess remain above water.
- Final Fantasy XIV: The setting's history is defined by world-threatening events known as Calamities. The Sixth Umbral Calamity was the Great Flood, triggered by the abuse of magic rampant in the War of the Magi. The Shadowbringers expansion later centers around an Alternate Universe called the First that, save for a small section of its version of Eorzea, has almost entirely succumbed to a more metaphorical flood of Light.
- Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn: In the backstory, long before years began to be counted, the goddess Ashunera expressed great grief over the warring of the Beorc and Laguz, and caused the entire world to be flooded due to her grief unintentionally overlapping with her power. The only portion of the world to remain above water was the continent of Tellius, where the game takes place.
- God of War III: Killing Poseidon unleashes a great flood.
- Halo: While the games don't have a literal flood, they certainly have a metaphorical one (called the Flood). It was definitely successful in wiping out the previous galactic civilization.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker takes place in the Adult timeline of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time; between the two games, Ganondorf broke free, but Link wasn't around to stop him, so the Goddesses froze Hyrule in time and sealed it inside a magical barrier, and then flooded the world. Unlike other flood stories, the waters did not recede, and the survivors fled to the mountaintops, which became islands the player visits during the game, and Hyrule became only a legend. At the end of the game, the magical barrier is removed and Hyrule is flooded completely, this time destroying it for good.
- In Mega Man Legends, the backstory is that the world got flooded and an advanced civilization got wiped out, hence all the tropical islands and ruins in the game. Mega Man ZX Advent implies that Master Thomas had something to do with it.
- Noah's Ark takes place during the flood, where the water slowly raises during gameplay.
- Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire: The goal of Team Aqua is to unleash Kyogre, the Legendary Pokémon that first created the seas, to flood the rest of the world. They don't have a clear reason in the original games, while the remakes reinterpret them as ecoterrorists who reason that, since oceans and wetlands are the most productive and life-rich habitats around, flooding the world will make it more suitable for natural life. What they don't realize is that the flood would be rather more drastic and rather more permanent than they had thought.
- Sonic Adventure: The final boss fight against Perfect Chaos takes place in a city that it has just flooded.
- ULTRAKILL: Hell ironically suffered a Great Flood of its own when the Machine-induced apocalypse came to pass. Going by The Ferryman's notes, humanity's billions died off in a matter of minutes and turned the River Styx into an outright ocean of writhing, struggling souls that swallowed everything else in the layer, barring some ruined dockside structures and the (upscaled) boats of the Ferrymen.
- Steam Prison is set in a divided society which is the result of a catastrophic flood some 400 years in the story's past. The Heights were built as a shelter from the flood, but only for a select group of people; their descendents make up the current population of the Heights, while the Depths are populated by the descendents of those who survived the flood on the surface. As one may expect, there's a lot of bad blood between them: citizens of the Depths resent the people of the Heights for abandoning their ancestors, while most people of the Heights only know of the Depths as the place where criminals are sent into exile and assume the people living there are riffraff little better than animals.
- Ratboy Genius: The premise of the Flood section is that electrical charges from a battle in another, entwined dimension manifest as water in Little King John's dimension, covering the entire world in water.
- Homestuck: In the Alpha timeline, when the Condescence openly takes over Earth, she floods the whole planet to make it more hospitable to an aquatic alien like herself. By the time her flood is done, humans are all but extinct and Earth is completely covered by oceans, broken only by floating prefab slums home to alien exiles and by Dirk's home on top of a ruined skyskraper.
- In one Oglaf strip, God tells some bedraggled survivors that the world was flooded to cleanse of it wicked people, and certainly not because He forgot He left the tap on.
- Everyman HYBRID: The great flood seems destined to happen. Constant reference is made to floods, Hazardous Water, and an ambiguously defined "Ark". Yes, this was made after Marble Hornets. Within the series' Myth Arc, it's implied that the Flood is in some way tied to the Eternal Recurrence the characters find themselves trapped in.
- Marble Hornets frequently alludes to the concept, though such a thing never happens onscreen. Water is treated as sinister, and ToTheArk (note name) named one of his videos Deluge. The series Myth Arc never really makes clear what the frequent Ark/Flood references are meant to imply, but...
- Rational Wiki has several articles dealing with the physical impossibility of a global flood as described in the Bible. The lack of enough water in the polar caps and the atmosphere to cover the planet is the smallest problem.
- The Box: Strongly implied to be just getting underway at the end, when the old man and his young companion wind up carrying their two animals in boxes to — The Ark. While it's pouring rain.
- The Janitor: Noah's flood happens because God's janitor, told to wash off the earth because it is getting dirty, gets distracted and forgets to turn off the spigot.
- My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "The Ghost of Paradise Estate", the villainous Sea Monster Squirk seeks to flood the entirety of Dream Valley, in order to bring it back to its ancient submarine state and rule over it. In the episode's third part, he obtains his old magical amulet and uses it to do just that, unleashing a flood strong enough to uproot trees and shatter hillsides, quickly filling Dream Valley's lower areas with a swiftly increasing tide of water.
- The Smurfs (1981): Gargamel ends up creating such a flood that covers the entire Smurf Forest by using magic beans in "Blue Eyes Returns". It took Smurfette and her pegasus friend Blue Eyes to fix the problem and restore the forest to normal.
- Rugrats: In Two by Two, Grandpa Boris tells the babies the story of Noah's Ark. They naturally re-enact their own ship and collect small critters in their backyard before it starts to rain (which they believe to be a flood like the Biblical one). They wonder why Noah originally collected two of each animal, but conclude it's for having a friend along for the ride.
- The Simpsons: In "Mom & Pop Art" Homer floods Springfield to make it into a modern artwork.
- The Netherlands have been victim of floods for centuries, due to the country being below sea level. The flood of 1953 was so disastrous that a unique project was created to built strong dykes and level the land higher: The Delta Works. It has to be read to be believed, but it actually worked!
- It is said that "God may have created the Heavens and the Earth, but it was the Dutch that built the Netherlands."
- A number of record-breaking floods throughout recorded history could be considered as these, at least in terms of regional and economic effects.
- Rising waters due to global warming and the end of the Ice Age could have been the Biblical Flood. The glacial melting was mostly gradual, but it's thought the melt was punctuated by three periods of rapid sea level rise that would've been disastrous to any coastal communities.
- There has been some evidence found of a massive flooding when the Black Sea originally formed, which possibly inspired the writings on such great Floods in the Bible and the Epic of Gilgamesh in the first place.
- The prevalence of flood myths is beginning to be considered to be the result of most early human settlements being situated on or very close to a large river for fresh water, and large rivers tend to flood every ten to twenty years or so, occasionally catastrophically.
- The Missoula Floods. About 15,000 years ago, Glacial Lake Missoula (located over — surprise! — Missoula, Montana), melted through a glacier arm that was damming it, and poured out over much of eastern Washington (whose torn-up landscape now has the distilled-awesome name of the Scablands), tore the Columbia Gorge a new one, and backflooded up the Willamette Valley eight hundred feet deep in places before draining into the Pacific. It created Dry Falls, which briefly had ten times the water flow of all the present-day rivers of Earth combined. Better yet, this is known to have happened — though not to the same scale as the first time — at least thirty-five times. Many other glacial lakes — notably Lake Agassiz in central North America and Lake Altai in central Asia — are believed to have produced similar megafloods.