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The World Is Always Doomed

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Luthor: Is the world gonna be vaporized?
Superman: No, Luthor, it's as it always was: on the brink. With good fighting evil. See you in twenty.

One day, the world is threatened with a meteor the size of Sicily. The next day, some Mad Scientist's "ultimate weapon" will destroy the entire planet. The day after that, the entire universe will implode because the Cosmic Keystone slipped off its pedestal...

Some series use a threat to bring about The End of the World as We Know It as a common plot device. The problem is, the drama or shock value wears off pretty quickly once it's been done more than once. While it may be true that bigger threats can make for more exciting stories, there's only so many times we can hear "All of Earth is doomed!" before it ceases to shock anymore.

This is particularly problematic when the repeated near-destruction of the world never seems to have any consequences. Life goes on as normal. Heroes and even civilians remain reasonably happy and go about their everyday lives without a care. (Though the civilians can be explained away if The Masquerade is in effect and most people aren't aware that the world was nearly destroyed last week.) There's no great urgency to come up with a permanent way to protect the world so we don't run the risk that one of these days the world will actually end. It's the result of writers who want to make their stories exciting but also optimistic, combined with Status Quo Is God.

One way that something like this is really believable is if the world really is always doomed, as in a Cosmic Horror Story setting where rather than defeating one menace after another that seems to randomly choose this very moment to come out of nowhere, it's all the heroes can do to merely provide an impediment against the progress of the same catastrophes that are continually attempting to worm their way past and wreak havoc. In a Lovecraft Lite setting the cosmic horrors may be very much defeatable, but there are an endless number of them. Such stories usually have a bleak tone to match the the setting.

Insignificant Little Blue Planet is sometimes used to justify how the Earth can be in danger so often in science fiction stories; If nobody cares about Earth in the larger cosmic scale of things, chances are there won't be any legal consequences for those who want to destroy it for any odd reason.

Common for any long running Action series. Pretty much endemic to Monster of the Week series. Storyboarding the Apocalypse might help restore some of the impact by reminding the viewer what will happen if the heroes don't pull off this week's victory.

When threats of impending doom are always being predicted but fail to happen, then you may wish to refer to the Apocalypse Day Planner. If the series dwells too heavily on how the characters won't get a "Happily Ever After" in the fairy-tale sense, then a Too Bleak, Stopped Caring reaction might result. Evil Only Has to Win Once is usually involved, since the destruction of the world is usually the end of the line for those fighting said evil.

See also Media Scaremongering, for when sensationalist news media merely imagine this to be the case.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball, almost every villain at least tries to take over the world, which probably counts as doomed. Oh, and it really IS destroyed once, though it got better. In fact one of the reasons Goku decides to stay dead midway through Dragon Ball Z is that he's noticed this, and furthermore, that he's usually what the villains are seeking. Later, he tries to get Gohan, Goten and Trunks, and later Uub to be the heroes because the villains still come. Ironically, the one who Jumped at the Call, his granddaughter Pan, didn't have the muscle necessary to take over the hero job.
    • In Future Trunks' timeline, Trunks manages to defeat the Androids and Cell. Then he stops Majin Buu from being summoned. Then he has to deal with Zamasu who more or less succeeds in ruling the Universe.
  • In Even Though I'm a Former Noble and Single Mother, the protagonist Shirley doesn't expect a promotion to S-rank because of this. In the country she lives, high ranked adventurers are legally required to assist with country threatening emergencies, which happen multiple times every single week.
  • Sailor Moon, the Earth is threatened no less than five times by Eldritch Abominations that threaten to destroy all life (six counting the side story). Justified in the manga, since the foes are actually fragments of the same abomination, Chaos. The Anime does not have this justification.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Dominaria is a planet that had so many magical near-apocalyptic experiences (five at last count) that it had a near-apocalypse caused by having had too many near-apocalypses. Seriously, the place was starting to fall apart.
    • When the game stopped focusing primarily on Dominaria and started showcasing a different world each year, every world visited would have a near-apocalypse... which were all later revealed to be indirectly caused by Dominaria's latest near-apocalypse!
    • The Innistrad block is primarily about humans trying to survive in a world full of vampires, werewolves, and zombies. One character in particular, the Planeswalker Sorin Markov, is vampire lord trying to keep humanity from dying out. Because if the humans go, the vampires will have nothing left to eat. Even so, the other vampires aren't too happy with him.
      • Specifically, it's managed to push back world-ending catastrophes at least three times in the years it was introduced (monsters run amok, Eldrazi invasion, and eternal night). When New Phyrexia got around to invading the entire multiverse, Innistrad was one of the better-prepared planes.
      Dance With Calamity: It was just another day on Innistrad.
    • Nicol Bolas, who incidentally is responsible for at least one of the near-apocalypses, boasts to Ajani that he's "survived more apocalypses than you have chest colds."

    Comic Books 
  • In one Astro City story, most residents of an apartment building gather on the roof to watch a potentially cataclysmic battle - except for one kid who stays inside to finish his homework. As his mother explains, "if the world doesn't end, he's still got school tomorrow." .
  • Judge Dredd: Since Judge Dredd started his career, the world has been through multiple atomic wars, invasions from other worlds and dimensions, pandemics, and a Zombie Apocalypse. Most of these are localized threats, but the only reason the Earth isn't an uninhabited wasteland yet is because the Mega Cities are so huge.
  • Various superhero books do this, but writer Grant Morrison's era of JLA is particularly well-known for ramping up the world/universe-shattering threat level every storyline.
  • The Marvel Universe is much like its blue-colored brother in that, especially after The '70s, you couldn't throw a rock without hitting some diabolical schemer attempting to control/destroy/eat the earth. One can argue this was present even from the Marvel U's inception, with the Fantastic Four foiling alien invasion plans and the like.
  • This gets brought up in Marvel Zombies. When Nick Fury starts organizing a counterattack, he does so with an attitude of "right, we're being invaded by an interdimensional undead virus, it must be a Wednesday, so we'll probably figure something out." Nova is shocked at how casually he's taking it, as by the time of the meeting, dozens of superheroes have already been infected, including multiple entire teams, making it by far the biggest disaster they've ever suffered. Fury tells him, more or less, to can it unless he has a better idea. Tragically, Nova ends up being right, as Fury's ragtag resistance ultimately completely fails to stem the tide. Turns out that Expendable Alternate Universe + Zombie Apocalypse has a tendency to remove that troublesome Plot Armor...

    Fan Works 
  • As befitting a story set in Warhammer 40,000, the planet of Dandriss is constantly in danger of being enslaved or slaughtered by Daemons, Rogue psykers, and the not-yet-fallen Eldar in Age of Strife.
  • A Dovahkiin Spreads His Wings is a crossover between A Song of Ice and Fire and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, can you see where it's going? Jon Whitewolf had singlehandedly stopped Alduin the World-Eater and the First Dragonborn to lay waste to Mundus, now the Others are about to invade Westeros while he's visiting his family — dude just can't catch a break. And that's only the onscreen world-shattering events.
  • Lampshaded by Rainbow!Saito in Outsiders (xTRESTWHOx) about the Pokémon world. He and his Louise did the math, and found that the world was nearly devastated (or outright destroyed), with catastrophe averted by sheer luck and the happenstance of having a plucky trainer be in the right place to stop it, twenty-two times in just the last seven years. This is part of why he and his companion joined Team Rainbow Rocket in the first place, believing that they can do the best job to stop these threats before they become a problem.

    Films — Animated 
  • In the beginning of Disney's Fun and Fancy Free, Jiminy Cricket remarks how the newspapers are always reporting one disaster or another.
    Jiminy: But why get so excited? What's gonna be is gonna be. Why, the end of the world's been coming since 1903! That's uh, B.C. of course.
  • Ice Age: Every movie features a new disaster, to the point where the series can be summed up as Apocalypse Of The Week. Beyond the titular ice age, the cast has faced global warming, the dinosaurs coming back, and giant meteors, nearly all of which end with everyone fine and/or in a new location that looks exactly like the last one.
  • The Incredibles: In the opening sequence, Mr. Incredible describes the nature of this trope perfectly for superheroes.
    Mr. Incredible: No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; "I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for... for ten minutes!?"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Dark Crystal. It's the end of the world... or the beginning. Same thing.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: When Allan Quatermain is first being recruited by Sanderson Reed, who says that the British Empire is in peril, Quatermain cynically answers "You're probably too young to know, but the empire is always in some kind of peril."
  • Lampshaded in the Men in Black movies. The MIB doesn't have a Godzilla Threshold since there's always a situation where the world just barely avoids being blown up by disgruntled aliens.
    Jay: Man, we ain't got time for this cover-up bullshit! I don't know whether or not you've forgotten, but there's an Arquillian Battle Cruiser that's about to—
    Kay: There's always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet, and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they Do. Not. Know about it.

  • The Alex Rider series seems to have a villain bent on destroying the world every few weeks (in-world time).
  • Assuming that H. P. Lovecraft's various Cthulhu Mythos stories take place in the same continuity, the world dodged a dozen near-apocalypses in the 1930s alone.
  • The Diogenes Club protects the world from supernatural menaces, more than a few of which were capable of bringing about The End of the World as We Know It. In one of the chronologically later stories, "Cold Snap", the Club's top agent and his archnemesis are captured by an Evil Genius with a plan to wipe out the human race, and they derail his Evil Gloating by reminiscing about all the other times the human race has nearly been wiped out in the century to date, and getting into a good-natured argument about the details ("...make that eight alien invasions...").
  • Discworld: In the fiction chapters of The Science of Discworld II, Roundworld (i.e. our Earth) keeps getting smacked by cometary impacts just as yet another native life form is starting up its own civilization. The point being made is that, on a large enough timescale, the trope is actually true.
  • A major plot point in the later The Dresden Files books is how the series of Masquerade-breaking disasters and near-apocalypses strung together can't be coincidence. It leads to Foreshadowing of a Greater-Scope Villain to be revealed in the second half of the series.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya has the continued existence of the world, or at least this version of it, relying upon the temperament of the eponymous teenage Genki Girl, and many of the plots revolve around preventing her from essentially erasing the universe and putting a new one in its place. In her defense, she doesn't know about it.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In the first book, Earth is destroyed; in the second, the universe ends (billions of years in the future — the main characters time-travel there and back); in the third, the Universe is threatened but saved; in the fifth, all Earths in all Alternate Universes are destroyed forever; and in the sixth, the only human space settlement is threatened. That leaves one book out of six without some sort of apocalyptic threat—in fact, the Earth comes back in the fourth, so...inverted?
  • The Last Horizon: The reason that Varic is so worried despite being the most powerful wizard in history. In each of his five other lives, he remembers failing to stop a galaxy-ending threat, and there's little sign that these are the only such threats. After he solves the problems he knows about, he becomes a bit paranoid about everything else that could be lurking out there.
  • Neil Gaiman's short story "Only the End of the World Again", in which a werewolf goes to Innsmouth and somewhat-deliberately thwarts a ritual to destroy the world.
  • In the Long Runner Redwall series, the number of books in which the titular Abbey is not besieged by vermin as part of the B-plot can be tallied on one hand (not counting the ones set before the Abbey was built). This is sometimes Lampshaded in books set later in the chronology, with several vermin leaders speaking of the Abbey with dread because of all the hordes that have broken on their walls.
  • Par for the course in the Secret Histories series, as defending humanity from epic-scale threats is the Droods' job.
  • Shakugan no Shana implicitly states that existence itself is constantly under threat, and most people aren't even aware of this.
  • In The Sharing Knife, malices can be destroyed while young, but new ones will never stop appearing, and if one ever gathers too much power it will devour all life.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Many arcs and individual stories, especially those set after the Hand of Thrawn duology, are all about the new Rebellion/Republic/Jedi-destroying Threat, even bigger and badder than the last ones. It's difficult to find anything big that doesn't hype itself as the biggest threat ever faced.
    • Lampshaded by Wedge Antilles in an X-Wing Rogue Squadron comic set not long after Endor.
      Wedge: After every major victory, I hope the fighting is over, but it'll never be over. Even after we defeat the Imperials, there will be someone... another threat to peace...
    • Yet there's still Starfighters of Adumar, which is "only" about civil war on a single world with the only thing at stake being whether its torpedo production goes towards the Empire or the New Republic. It's one of the lowest scale EU novels there is, and also one of the most entertaining.
    • Nearly every second story set during the Clone Wars features another plot of the Separatists trying to crush the Republic, which is impressive considering that the war lasted for a mere three years. And again, Shatterpoint, about a minor civil war on a single planet (and Mace Windu being badass), manages to be one of the best pieces from that time period.
    • Cade Skywalker lampshaded this during his own series, along with a bit of a rant on how the Galaxy never treats those who save the galaxy, i.e the Jedi, well despite their many heroic deeds.
  • Present in the Sword of Truth series, where one book's solution tends to lead directly or indirectly to the next book's problem. Many of these dooms make a return for the Grand Finale trilogy, making the world doomed by at least four different methods simultaneously.
  • Lampshaded/Parodied in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next: the ChronoGuard treat The End of the World as We Know It as an everyday occurrence. Apparently Thursday's dad alone has saved the world at least 40-some times.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Battles sure likes the "Holy Terra is Doomed" as a plot device. Just to give a few examples, in Death of Antagonis the villains plan to take a giant planet buster to Terra as a side plot, and in World Engine Earth is but one point on the list for the Necrons who's taken the eponymous device on a joyride.
  • This is the natural state of things in WorldEnd: What Do You Do at the End of the World? Are You Busy? Will You Save Us?. Most of the world was destroyed by the 17 Beasts 500 years prior to the main story, with the survivors making their way onto a series of floating islands mostly out of the Beasts’ reach. To make matters worse, no one knows how long the spell keeping the islands afloat will last, meaning that they could fall right out the sky without warning at some point in the future. Still, this doesn’t stop characters from living their lives as best as they can in the face of impending doom.
  • Diane Duane's Young Wizards series. Considering that the ultimate antagonist is the Lone Power, which invented death, loves suffering, and threatens to destroy the protagonists' home worlds when they piss it off, this isn't too surprising. Ronan in A Wizard Abroad comments to Nita not to take Johnny too seriously because the seniors all sound like the world is ending half the time. Nita thinks something to the effect of "probably because it is."

    Live-Action TV 
  • 7 Days (1998) is about the agent the NSA sends back in time to avert all the catastrophes that would befall us every week without his intervention - things like a weapons test wiping out all life on Earth, or China and Taiwan getting into a war, or the President's nuclear launch computer falling into the hands of an irate ape. This raises the question of how the world survived before the Backstep project went online. The series actually starts with a mere 'terrorist attacks kills the President, the Vice-President and the Secretary of State' (damaging to the US and history-altering, but as it was not causing international tensions when the backstep is made, far from world-threatening). Then the second episode has the release of a virus killing about 98% of humanity, setting the stage for about two-thirds of the episodes (even discounting the ones where the danger to the world comes from the Backstep project itself).
    • Thanks to the time-travel aspect, we usually get to witness the catastrophe before the hero goes back to prevent it.
  • The 100 is a unique example, as it doesn't merely threaten the Earth with destruction multiple times, but actually carries those threats out. First was when rogue A.I. Alie caused a nuclear apocalypse, turning the world radioactive, with only a handful of people managing to survive. Then, a hundred years later, a series of nuclear meltdowns bathed the world in radiation again, wiping out all life on Earth except for a single valley and an underground bunker. Then, six years later, both the bunker and the valley were destroyed, and Earth was finally declared utterly and irrevocably dead; the only survivors were those who escaped into space, and had no choice but to seek out a new planet to live on. The only end of the world threat that was actually averted was Alie's Assimilation Plot.
  • Arrowverse: At the end of the Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019) crossover, Barry unveils a headquarters for the combined teams for when they need a place to meet up. Jefferson, who only met everyone when he showed up in the last few hours of the Crisis, wonders if it's really necessary to get a whole headquarters.
    Jefferson: I mean, how often does the world almost come to an end?
    [awkward silence from everyone]
    Jefferson: Oh, it's like that...
    Kate: Don't worry; I was the new kid last year.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel have at least one planet-ending apocalypse per year (the Hellmouth alone was almost opened on three separate occasions), as well as one reality-ending apocalypse, along with endless armies of vampires, demons and the forces of darkness maiming and slaughtering and generally being not very nice. Lampshaded in numerous episodes, to the point where characters were going "AGAIN?!" whenever anybody mentioned it. One episode of Angel even has Spike and Angel arguing over who saved the world more:
    Angel: I helped save the world, you know.
    Spike: Like I haven't.
    Angel: Yeah, but I've done it a lot more.
    Spike: Oh, please.
    Angel: I closed the Hellmouth.
    Spike: I've done that.
    Angel: Yeah, you wore a necklace. You know, I helped kill the Mayor and, uh, and Jasmine...
    Spike: Do those really count as saving the world?
    Angel: I stopped Acathla. That saved the world.
    Spike: Buffy ran you through with a sword!
    Angel: Yeah, but I made her do it. (Spike gives him a disbelieving look) I signaled her with my eyes.
    Spike: She killed you. I helped her! That one counts as mine.
    • Further, the fifth season of Angel seems to indicate that all those big "end the world" scenarios are mere distractions while the real apocalypse goes on right under our noses. The world spins more and more into chaos and decay... and the heroes chase around monsters all day long.
    • In "The Zeppo", the entire gang except Xander saved the world in a huge epic battle... almost entirely offscreen, played as a joke. And Xander saved the world (on his own) by saving them from a different plot.
    • As the fourth-season episode "A New Man" shows, the Scoobies have become a bit blasé about the stakes they tend to deal with.
      Riley: Buffy. When I saw you stop the world from, you know, ending, I just assumed that was a big week for you. Turns out I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of "apocalypse".
  • Lampshaded in Charmed (1998), where after receiving a ticket, Piper states that the world is so unfair to her that she just might stop saving it every week.
  • Doctor Who: Every season has at least several instances of the entire planet Earth being on the brink of destruction from alien colonists/marauders/psychopaths whenever the Doctor arrives (not that other planets are spared), there is always a vast army or powerful being or cosmic force threatening to crush the universe under its heel, and there are numerous isolated instances of the entirety of reality about to be destroyed, or perhaps have a hole the exact size of Belgium blown in it (It Makes Sense in Context, sort of). It long ago reached the point where if it weren't for the Doctor the universe wouldn't have even existed in the first place. Even the Master, the Doctor's own Arch-Enemy who is constantly trying to conquer the universe, admits this, saying in "The Five Doctors" that "A Cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bears thinking about."
    • The trope was particularly evident during the Third Doctor/UNIT era, where the Doctor was in exile on Earth, meaning that the invading aliens and villainous humans had to come to him every few weeks. It is a bit more plausible at other times in the series, when he can show up at any disaster in all of time and space (yet always manages to somehow land on Earth a disproportionate number of times).
    • The Doctor remarks about the population: "You lot, you're like rabbits. I'll never be done saving you." He's got a gleeful, joyous grin on his face while he says it.
    • In the Comic Relief Affectionate Parody "The Curse of Fatal Death", the Doctor states "I recently calculated that I have saved every planet in the known universe a minimum of twenty-seven times." This is not much of an exaggeration.
    • Also parodied in a comedy sketch by Mark Gatiss, where a villain tries to come up with a sufficiently villainous plan to interest the Doctor — but fails to come up with anything that hasn't been done at least once already.
    • Deconstructed in "Turn Left": in a For Want Of A Nail timeline where the Doctor is Killed Off for Real after Series 2, the Earth quickly becomes a Crapsack World without his protection. Any wins that humans achieve against the world-ending threats are at best a Pyrrhic Victory, coming at increasingly horrific costs. By the time the Reset Button is hit, it's clear that Earth won't last much longer.
    • Played for horror in "The Name of the Doctor". Because the Great Intelligence erases his timeline all the Doctor's victories become defeats. Cue the scene where Vastra watches entire star systems erased from history, because the Doctor wasn't there to save them.
    • To say nothing of the sort of trouble Earth tends to get into on Christmas, as the Tenth Doctor once laments:
      Mr. Copper: Rather ironic, but this is very much in the spirit of Christmas. It's a festival of violence. They say that human beings only survive depending on whether they've been good or bad. It's barbaric!
      The Doctor: Actually, that's not true. Christmas is a time of peace and thanksgiving and... what am I on about? My Christmases are always like this.
    • Starting with the "Key to Time" arc in the Original Series, the entire universe gets thrown into jeopardy on a fairly regular basis. In the revived series, it seems to happen about once per season, on average. And then there's the time Davros tried to destroy the entire multiverse... Lampshaded by the Twelfth Doctor right before he regenerates.
      "The silly old universe. The more I save it, the more it needs saving. It's a treadmill."
  • Elementary: In the first season episode, "The Red Team", Holmes and Watson are investigating a Conspiracy Theorist's less-than-crackpot theory that the "enemy" players in a military wargame, simulating a terrorist attack on New York City, came up with such a good plan that it was immediately classified, and the plan, if ever used in real life, would be catastrophically effective. Watson is concerned that Holmes is more focused on tracking down the persons targeting the members of the team, than with the danger that the plan could actually leak out and be used. Holmes gives a verbal shrug:
    The world is balanced on a knife edge of destruction every day, Watson. Accept that, and you can just move on with things.
  • In Heroes every time a character travels into the future (which is quite a bit) it turns out to be doomed, a dystopia, or a doomed dystopia. Lampshaded in a third-season episode by one of the characters: "The world always needs saving."
  • Power Rangers:
    • Since 1993, the Earth (usually the West Coast in particular) has been attacked by monsters pretty much every year, usually about once per week, with each monster being a potential world ending disaster. The rest of the universe is seen only sporadically, but at least two seasons and several occasional episodes have hinted that Earth is not in any way unique in this regard.
    • Earth did get a few breaks though: Earth didn't get attacked in Lost Galaxy because the villains were attacking the heroes in space, and there was a one-year reprieve after Dino Thunder because the next season took place in the year 2025. It also got a break after Jungle Fury because RPM took place in an Alternate Continuity (and in the future of said Alternate Continuity, at that).
  • Stargate SG-1 spends about every second episode attempting to prevent some horrible calamity about to befall the planet, whether it was a another Goa'uld plot, an incredibly virulent Space Infection, or a group of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens they had managed to annoy. Eventually the series graduated to The Galaxy Is Always Doomed, with one thing after another attempting to conquer/exterminate/consume all life (Goa'uld, Replicators, Ori, Wraith...). Lampshaded numerous times, with SG-1 getting a little tired of the whole "save the world" routine as early as the fourth season, and apparently Teal'c is keeping score.
  • Star Trek:
    • Normally avoided in Star Trek: The Original Series. Gene Roddenberry disliked this kind of plot and discouraged it after The Alternative Factor in which this was precisely the case and the Enterprise, as usual, stayed the only starship in the quadrant despite this problem being known to Starfleet. Roddenberry felt that even the galaxy was too big for a threat that was galaxy wide and did not want storylines like these to become a recurring habit. The movie era, however, didn't have much problem with letting the Enterprise save the Earth and/or the the Federation in 2/3rds of their films.
    • Explored with every bit of cynicism that can come from a Darker and Edgier part of The 'Verse in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: with multiple other shows before it, it's by now acknowledged that the Federation is constantly on the edge of destruction by everything from a Negative Space Wedgie-of-the-week to the Borg to the Cardassians, which means that Section 31 (named after a part of the Federation charter that acknowledges the possibility that Starfleet personnel may need to cross the Godzilla Threshold to prevent the Federation's destruction) thinks that it is perfectly justified to constantly do monstrous things for the sake of defending the Federation.
    • Star Trek: Discovery has drawn criticism for having every seasonal story arc ultimately revolve around some apocalyptic-level threat, which keeps undergoing Serial Escalation: first a Klingon invasion that nearly reaches Earth before the Klingons are forced to stop via the threatened destruction of their homeworld, then a rogue Starfleet AI that co-opts Section 31 and threatens to wipe out all life, then trying to resurrect a vestigial future Federation after all the galaxy's dilithium mysteriously exploded, then a gigantic Negative Space Wedgie traveling the galaxy and threatening multiple star systems at a time.
  • Supernatural, starting around the five-season mark. After defying destiny and preventing a Zombie Apocalypse led by Satan himself, the Winchesters find there's still no shortage of world-class threats. An angelic Civil War leads to Castiel getting a literal god complex and rampaging across the world. This in turn leads to the release of the Leviathans, a whole new breed of primordial monster who organize the harvesting of all of humanity for food. After they are defeated, the Winchesters try to close the Gates of Hell until a manipulative angelic scribe banishes all Angels except himself out of Heaven, making Earth the new playing ground for all the remaining factions from the attic. Another season or so after that conflict is resolved, Cain decides that much of humanity must perish before Dean stops him, and then The Anti-God is released to destroy the universe. After she and God reconcile, Lucifer becomes a threat again, before he's upstaged by a Blood Knight counterpart of the Archangel Michael who aims to conquer this dimension. After both Lucifer and Michael are dealt with, Lucifer's Anti-Anti-Christ son Jack may turn out to be The Antichrist all along, before it's revealed that God Is Evil. The Winchesters just can't catch a break at this point.
  • The Supernatural spinoff The Winchesters actually has this as the motivation for its Big Bad, the Akrida Queen. She was a hunter who got tired of hunters always having to save humanity and suffering on the behalf of the masses so she decided to wipe the human race out.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Teutonic mythology pushes it back to Older Than Dirt. Okay, Sigmund or Beowulf deals with the current monster but Ragnarok is still coming. And oh goody, you get to spend your afterlife training for it!
  • In The Bible and in Christianity more broadly, the main reason our world still exists is because God wants to give us a chance to be saved. Our world will end (even if a better one will be in it's place).

  • Discussed and defied in The Adventure Zone: Amnesty: the characters are aware of how much is at stake with every victory against a Monster of the Week, and that, in an infinite universe, whether tomorrow or in a century, the heroes in charge of holding back the apocalypse will eventually lose. A fair amount of the overarching plot revolves around coming up with and executing on an alternative to this outcome.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted. From the quotes page:
    Exalted is a game where one of your main antagonists is Death, Creator of the Underworld. Except there's several of him, probably six or seven. Oh, and he's got 13 dread henchmen, one of whom was probably you at some point in time. Also, Hell has a personal grudge against you this time. Did I mention Magical America regularly trains and sends ninjas out for you personally? Ninjas specially trained in ass-kicking? Which, if they won't work, they keep giant robotic suits of armor on reserve for. Oh, and the Transformers have united under Omicron, and are invading. The Jedi have corrupted Heaven and usurped your rightful place as the Masters of Everything. Your ex-wife just dropped by, and she's a two thousand year old shape-changing man-eating monster now, interested in maybe going on a date next Thursday. Your best friend from your last life and while growing up now seeks to cover all the lands of Middle Earth in darkness, if he can just find this damn ring. And your God has the world's biggest crack habit, and needs some serious rehab.
  • The implications of this trope are brought up in the Forgotten Realms book Champions of Valor:
    ...not every adventure has to pit absolute good against absolute evil or thwarting the machinations of yet another villain who wants to rule all of Faerun (after saving the world day after day, one starts to wonder why it hasn't fallen apart due to some hero's failure)...
  • Warhammer 40,000 does this with an entire galaxy. The daemons of Chaos and their mad human servants, the implacable life-hating Necrons rebuilding their ancient dominion, and the endlessly ravenous Tyranid hordes are all closing in, completing intricate plans or simply steamrolling over everything in the path, and any minute now the galaxy will meet its end... aaaaaany minute now. It's reached the point where a number of writers started to hint that all of the threats to the galaxy have collided into each other and effectively canceled out due to infighting or stalemates.
  • In the Old World of Darkness gameline Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the player characters are strongly hinted to be on the losing side of a secret shadow-war between the Garou and the Wyrm, a spirit of hatred and corruption. The final sourcebook (titled Apocalypse: Time of Judgment), four scenarios are given for how the last battle plays out: the nicest version would ravage the spirit world and kill most of the Garou, the most extreme involves Lovecraftian entities destroying biospheres while a giant Wyrm eats the Moon. The world is not necessarily doomed for everyone; in the aforementioned "nicest" scenario, life goes on for humanity more or less as usual except even more miserable, whereas most of the shapeshifters wanted to mass murder humans anyway...

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10 did this numerous times. A two-parter involved a ghostly alien that planned to mutate all of Earth. One episode titled "Ultimate Weapon" involved a weapon that could destroy all of Earth. Secret of the Omnitrix had Ben's Omnitrix in danger of self-destructing... and taking out the entire galaxy universe with it.
  • In Futurama, every year at Christmas Robot Santa goes to Earth and wrecks everything for jollies.
    Professor Farnsworth: Oh we're doomed. Every year we're doomed.
  • Almost every episode of Invader Zim's plot involves Earth being doomed. Justified in that nearly all of them are the result of the machinations of the bumbling incompetent title character.
  • The Legend of Korra, has the elderly Toph Beifong, who reveals she has retired because she grew weary of the endless struggle between good and evil, feeling nothing has really changed except that it was time to let somebody else/younger handle it. Her family being in danger, and their willingness to make such sacrifice were enough to give her hope in those who still fight for what's right, but she still leaves the larger conflict to the next generation after saving her family from being killed.
    • The series itself averts this though, as there's only one real global threat throughout (Unalaq/Vaatu). Outside of that it's usually various dictators and criminals that usually just want power or to force their ideology on the populace. Their actions threaten to create turmoil and war, but not on a scale that would pose a threat to the world itself. The Red Lotus probably comes closest, threatening the Avatar itself and planning to follow that up with the assassination of any world leader they didn't like (all of them).
  • The Animated Adaptation of Men in Black both uses and averts this trope, with world-ending disasters being not unusual but the most common situations involve a single alien (or group) or a threat to the MIB itself instead of the planet.
  • In Mighty Max (almost) every episode summoned Max to help save the world from aliens/magic/parasites whatever. The episodes that involved Big Bad Skullmaster's attempt to steal Max's hat are much better as a result.
    Max: What's going on here?
    Virgil: Oh merely the end of the world!
    Max: Oh good. I was afraid it was something serious.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic threats that will spell doom for Ponyville, if not all of Equestria, are horribly common. A burst dam, choking smog, parasprites, Sombra, Nightmare Moon, Discord, even a full scale invasion of the kingdom... the ponies never seem to get a break. Furthermore, "Hearth's Warming Eve" shows that even in the distant past ponies lived in nigh-constant peril. Subtly lampshaded in "It's About Time", with Twilight immediately assuming that Future Twilight contacted her to warn her of some terrible catastrophe, every other pony easily believing her (at least before she started yet another Sanity Slippage), and in the course of attempting to prevent the disaster that doesn't exist they encounter another potential disaster completely by accident. Said disaster casually reveals that Ponyville is located within walking distance of the gates of Hell, where a huge number of monsters are kept imprisoned solely due to Cerberus's keeping watch on the gate. And apparently he runs off every so often.
    • Outright parodied in the 100th episode "Slice of Life", in which the background ponies are pretty used to the constant attacks, and throughout the episode the Mane 6 are seen in the background fighting whilst everyone goes about their daily lives.
    • In "Gauntlet of Fire", Celestia and Luna casually mention how, in addition to matters of state, they're often busy dealing with some crisis or another.
  • In My Little Pony 'n Friends practically every second or third storyline is about some kind of threat to the entire pony populationnote , even discounting the threats in the TV specials and the movie.
  • It sometimes seems like every other episode of Peter Pan & the Pirates involves the threat of "the end of Neverland".
  • South Park has apocalyptic scenarios remarkably often, including a giant robot Barbra Streisand, Satan rising from hell, a Trapper Keeper assimilating all of technology, Earth getting cancelled and demolished, and the town being overrun by Nazi Zombies.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: In "The Hand Of Fate", Doctor Fate refuses to help Superman fight an Eldritch Abomination that Fate defeated in the past because he's grown weary of the never-ending fight against evil. Superman being willing to fight against impossible odds (Supes is weak against magic) convinces Fate to help.
    Superman: You came after all. What changed your mind?
    Fate: It was because you went back. You reminded me that it's not just the forces of evil that never give up.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), the Earth (or, occasionally, the multiverse) is on the risk of being conquered and/or destroyed at least once every season, to the point that Renet once outright stated to the Turtles that they'd save it many times. The final season in particular had this happen often enough that the episodes and story arcs that don't have it as the premise are a relief in comparison.
  • Xiaolin Showdown. Raimundo: "Is it me, or does the fate of the world rest on us a lot?"


Video Example(s):


Mr. Incredible

Mr. Incredible describes the nature of this Trope perfectly for Superheroes.

How well does it match the trope?

4.93 (54 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheWorldIsAlwaysDoomed

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