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 the Shocking Swerve ceases to shock anymore.
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.
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 mysteriously 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 Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy 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 the protagonists.
See also You Can Panic Now, for when sensationalist news media merely imagine this to be the case.
- 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 he 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Shakugan no Shana implicitly states that existence itself is constantly under threat, and most people aren't even aware of this.
- This is the natural state of things in Sukasuka. 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 literally fall right out the sky without warning at some point in the future. Still, this doesnt stop characters from living their lives as best as they can in the face of impending doom.
- 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.
- 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."
- Various superhero books do this, of course, but writer Grant Morrison's era of JLA is particularly well-known for ramping up the world/universe-shattering threat level every storyline.
- As Linkara puts it: "It's the DC Universe, the end of the world isn't even an excuse for getting off work any more."
- The Marvel Universe is Like Reality Unless Noted... you can guess which is the other "unless noted".
- 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 even 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Incredibles: Mr. Incredible describes it perfectly in the opening sequence.
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!?"
- 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. Apparently, every other day there's 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 1930's 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 keeps getting smacked by cometary impacts just as yet another native life form is starting up its own civilization.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- Very much 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.
- 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."
- Seven Days 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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...
- 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.
- 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.
- Supernatural, starting around the five-season mark. After defying destiny and preventing an 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-Antichrist 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.
- 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!
- 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 it's end... aaaaaany minute now... It's reached the point where a number of writers are starting to hint that all of the threats to the galaxy have collided into each other and effectively canceled out.
- Exalted, full stop. 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)...
- 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.
- Every game in Shin Megami Tensei has at least one plot involving some catastrophic global disaster. Apparently, plenty of gods hate humans, not just YHVH.
- There is a set of four seals in the world of Drakengard: the Forest Seal, the Desert Seal, the Island Seal, and "the Goddess", a human woman who is a living seal. If all of the seals are broken, untold calamity and catastrophe befalls the world. It is only in the sequel that it is revealed that The World Is Always Doomed; the seals at first seem to hold back a typical Sealed Evil in a Can, but it holds back the true form of the world where Eldritch Abominations render humanity into absurd playthings.
- In any given Super Robot Wars game, the earth is usually dealing with world-wide threats of a dozen or so different series more or less all at the same time.
- Justified in Second Original Generation when Shu Shirakawa reveals that a literal Weirdness Magnet had been at work. His own super-mech, the Granzon, was the magnet. Turns out its black hole engine had been generating a singularity without his knowledge; not only acting as a beacon for the alien race that gave him tech in the first place, but also altering probability so that OG-verse would be targeted by other factions (even other dimensions). Shu had already found a way to cancel the effect beforehand, but acknowledges that it's probably too late to stop what's been set in motion.
- Wild ARMs falls into this heavily. Filgaia is so often hit with disasters that leave it a wasteland and so often menaced by demons or evil organizations that one's first inclination is to believe that they're a bunch of different planets that coincidentally share the same name... but it's All There in the Manual that they're really all the same unlucky place — although it's apparently All There in the Manual elsewhere that they really aren't. Though, a small difference is that the catastrophe tends to have happened before each installment, and apparently the people before weren't able to prevent it (or caused it). The protagonists are generally trying to prevent another cataclysm from wiping out the last vestiges of civilisation that survived the previous one.
- Almost every major patch of World of Warcraft introduces a new threat to the world. The Lich King expansion started with a zombie plague, set up 3 separate world-ending threats, and tossed in a world war on top of that. Slightly justified in that most, if not all, of the world-ending threats are caused, directly or indirectly, by one or the other of two Omnicidal Maniac factions, the Burning Legion and the Old Gods. It's not that there are dozens of threats, all of which want to try to destroy the world; there are only two, but they try one scheme after another and their abandoned projects continue with a momentum of their own.
- Touhou, so very, very much. Seemingly every other week Gensokyo has some problem occurring, varying from "annoying" to "seemingly dooming everyone to horrible death". Sometimes they aren't as bad as they first appear, other times they're worse. This comes to a head in Hopeless Masquerade: Gensokyo is in a state of near-collapse due to having had too many successive states of near-collapse. After so many disasters, most of which are beyond their control, humanity decided to forgo inhibitions and live for the moment: an anarchy. Enter the figureheads of religions —Shintoism, Taoism, Buddhism— to save the people... provided they don't tear Gensokyo apart with their fighting.
- Lusternia. It'd be easier to mention the times that all of reality isn't in imminent danger of being devoured by a monster, and scarcely a week goes by without something breaking out of an ancient prison intent on ruling/corrupting/destroying the earth.
- Ratchet: Deadlocked, the fourth game in the Ratchet & Clank series, lampshades this in the manual: "Anyone can save the universe once, but three times?"
- City of Heroes never seems to have any shortage of supervillains for any number of heroes to handle, but that's the least of it. Giant monsters roaming the streets, Zombie Apocalypses, Rikti invasions, and horrors penetrating the veil are COMMON OCCURRENCES (i.e. zone events that can be triggered or just happen randomly).
- Pokémon runs into these kinds of problems with a disturbing frequency despite its target audience of kids. The only games to lack a potential doomsday scenario are the original pair, and even then you fight the mafia mucking up the region. And even better: according to official lore, some of those doomsday scenarios are occurring at the same time. Thank goodness for meddling kids sticking their faces in other people's business.
- Pokémon Gold and Silver: Team Rocket is broadcasting a signal that will allow them to control all Pokemon!
- Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire: The ancient forces who shaped the continents and oceans have re-awoken and are battling each other for dominance! note
- Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness: A crime syndicate's ungodly experiments have inflicted Pokemon with The Corruption!
- Pokémon Diamond and Pearl: The local Omnicidal Maniac is going to remake the world and annihilate human emotion while he's at it!
- Pokémon Black and White: Humans and Pokemon are going to be permanently separated!
- Pokémon Black and White 2: The evil team from the previous games now want to freeze the region and steal all the Pokemon!
- Pokémon X and Y: Another local Omnicidal Maniac is going to destroy all life with his Doomsday Device!
- Pokémon Sun and Moon: Eldritch Abominations from another dimension are spilling out into our world and threaten to destroy everything!
- And to top it all off, in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon all the villains responsible for the previous scenarios come together to form a Legion of Doom. And a couple of them imply they'd like to try again in your universe.
- Pokémon Sword and Shield: An otherwise well-meaning individual is unleashing the local Sealed Evil in a Can in an attempt to resolve an energy crisis, but is in way over their head and now giant Pokemon are going to rampage across the Galar region like they did thousands of years ago!
"I am just a small part of what once was known as "Venom". Pieces of me are scattered throughout the cosmos. Eventually, another will become sentient and exact retribution. You will never escape the shadow of fear. My hatred for your kind...is eternal."
- No matter how many times the Vic Viper beats back the Bacterians, it never seems to stick. It's implied the Bacterian Empire is so immense within subspace there is no conceivable way for Gradius to secure a lasting victory. The Bacterian Empire also doubling as a form of The Virus helps.
- Lampshaded in Gradius V by the "Final Boss":
- The Bydo of R-Type are a similar case. While they were apparently beaten for good in Final, it's hard to say for sure when your enemy aren't just The Virus, but also exist outside of time.
- The Hero 30 portion of Half-Minute Hero contains at least 30 different Evil Overlord wannabes who were granted the power to destroy the world in a single breath by an even more powerful Evil Sorcerer. As said hero, it's your job to travel from kingdom to kingdom to beat the snot out of them as quickly as possible before they can do so.
- Thanks to the events from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword where Demise curses Zelda and Link's descendants to fighting his reincarnations forever, the land of Hyrule will always be in danger from a great evil. However, in at least two of the multiple timelines the curse has apparently been broken, and Ganon Killed Off for Real, but changes nothing about the constant demonic attacks.
- Crisis City (and most likely the rest of the world) in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) is always doomed due to Iblis running around destroying everything long after he was released and wrecked most of the world. Silver and Blaze fight Iblis every time he appears in order to prevent him from completely destroying the world, but it is only a temporary solution since Iblis gets revived after a while, therefore, the world is always on the brink of destruction. It isn't until Solaris is defeated and Princess Elise blows out the flame representing Solaris' earliest form to paradox him out of existence that the trope is finally broken.
- This is the basic premise of the On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness series. It's so bad that an entire evil organization has been founded around making sure the world ends in the correct fashion.
- From Dungeons & Dragons Online, about a halfling adventurer, by the healer caring for him:
Healer: He is all worked up about some threat to the city, as if Stormreach isn't threatened three times before breakfast everyday.
- Metal Gear is a major practitioner of this trope, as part of the series-long Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped motif about the threat of nuclear weapons. Every single game has some sort of menace that threatens to unravel the global world order or start a nuclear war, and Snake and Big Boss are the only people who are able to stop it from happening. Metal Gear Solid has a nuke aimed at Washington DC; Metal Gear Solid 2 has an EMP aimed at Manhattan and actually has a huge portion of the city destroyed by an aircraft carrier crashing into it and it lands at Federal Hall (causing billions in property damage and thousands dead); Metal Gear Solid 3 has a rogue Russian Colonel threaten to start World War III if he isn't stopped; Metal Gear Solid 4 has a hostile takeover of America's military defense grid and the antagonist comes really close to gaining control over the nuclear arsenal by destroying their AI and replacing it with his; Metal Gear Solid V has a madman attempt to use vocal chord parasites to kill everyone in the world that speaks English and supply every nation, PMC, and terrorist cell with the means to create nuclear weapons. And if you wanna count the other two prequels then Portable Ops and Peace Walker have nuclear launches that Big Boss only manages to stop at the absolute last second.
- In Dragon Age, Divine Faustine II was planning to name the ninth and current Age the Sun Age. When a bunch of previously thought extinct dragons appeared and devastated Orlais and Nevarra, she named the Age the Dragon Age and foretold that it would be a time of violence and upheaval. She had no idea how right she was that you might feel sorry for the stress our beloved protagonists experienced throughout his/her journey:
Inquisitor: Could one thing in this FUCKING world just stay fixed?!
- In Dragon Age: Origins: The Fifth Blight. The Thedas will be overwhelmed by Archdemon-controlled darkspawns if The Warden (later Hero of Ferelden) won't gather the ancient order's allies. It's not easy though, as you're dealing with their internal conflicts even before you will get their full support to end the Blight.
- In Dragon Age II: The Mage-Templar War. It started in Kirkwall, but later spread like wildfire across southern Thedas. Unlike the first game, Hawke barely managed to solve the problem due to circumstances and with a help of a lyrium idol that will cause a mass deportation from the lands of rationality.
- In Dragon Age: Inquisition: A barely averted apocalypse all occur within a few years alongside the rebellion mentioned in the second game. And your adversary sends his men to divide and conquer Thedas, aggravating the already existing problems and even made brand new problems. Not to mention the barbarian cult trying to Take Over the World with their dragon-god. And the Age isn't even half over yet!
- And guess what? Even if you end two wars, seal the hole in the sky, kill two alleged "gods", and solve the earthquakes hurting the dwarves' lyrium industry, the world's still ungrateful to you. Even after you thwart an attempt by Qunari terrorists to Take Over the World.
- And now, on the cusp of Dragon Age 4, a god is trying to destroy Thedas once again in order to restore the former glory of his people. And unlike those mentioned above, he can do it in just a single flick of his hand without fail due of being a god. And he's really hopeful that you will prove him wrong.
- Most Kirby games start off with some Eldritch Abomination or otherwise powerful opponent taking over Pop Star (or threatening to do so). If it doesn't, you can safely expect it to happen later, probably from Kirby accidentally unleashing it. So far, these enemies include an evil wizard, a body-possessing being of pure darkness (again, again and yet again), a morally ambiguous knight with an army and a battleship, a manipulative jester note , a mind possessor, an evil sorceress painter, a weird guy made out of yarn, the "god of death" itself, a manipulative alien note , an insect guy kidnapping Dream Land's king under command of an evil queen wasp, a pair of floating hands controlled by another possessing force of darkness, and a giant spaceship sending down robot invaders. The only main series game that doesn't fall under this pattern is Kirby's Dream Land, but even that game's plot puts Dream Land at risk because all its food has been stolen.
- Assassin's Creed: The matter the victories that the Assassin Brotherhood wins against the Templar Order, the latter will always rise again to try their Take Over the World plan. In this case, it is because they can be wiped out in one area but triumph in another. Altiar might kick their ass in the Holy Land, Ezio all over Italy, and Conner in the American Colonies, but there are other areas. In his codex, Altiar suggests that this is because the Templars (like the Assassins themselves) are the manifestation of a fundamental and abstract ideal, which can never be permanently killed.
- Skullgirls takes place in a setting where cosmic horrors not only rule supreme but are actively trying to destroy the world. The tool that they use to this end, the Skull Heart, will turn anyone who wishes on it into a Skullgirl- an entity powerful enough to carry out the task all on her own. Destroying it only causes it to regenerate seven years later, and simply leaving it be allows the current Skullgirl to return to life and continue her rampage. And again, a Skullgirl, or at least the Skull Heart, resurfaces every seven years, which is hardly enough time to grant the world a reprieve after the previous attack from a Skullgirl. To wrap everything up in a nice bow, it's essentially confirmed that the Skull Heart will continue to return and produce more Skullgirls until one of them succeeds in destroying the world... unless, of course, people decide to stop wishing on it and simply opt to destroy it every time it appears, though it's doubtful that'll happen when you have an opportunity to make your wildest dreams a reality.
- Most Super Mario Bros. games have someone wanting to take over the world or destroy it. By this point, the inhabitants are just assuming Mario and co will fix whatever goes wrong this week. Usually that Bowser's kidnapping Peach and taking over the Mushroom Kingdom, though we've also seen:
- Super Mario RPG: Evil weapons trying to take over the world.
- Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: An ancient demon trying to destroy the world.
- Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga: A Wicked Witch stealing Peach's voice, then trying to take over the world.
- Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time: An Alien Invasion courtesy of the Shroobs.
- Super Paper Mario: An Omnicidal Maniac trying to destroy all worlds.
- Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story: Fawful taking over the world, and the Dark Star trying to destroy it.
- Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon: King Boo trying to destroy it in revenge.
- The SCP Foundation and its counterparts contain all kinds of objects of doom with varying degrees of success. We also see many Alternate Universes where the Foundation failed to stop the end of the world.
- In Tales from My D&D Campaign the only thing keeping civilization alive is the Enemy Civil War between the Illud and Deluvian factions of the Kua-Toa. If either side ever wins, they will butcher and/or enslave all humanity. Meanwhile, deep within the Astral Sea, Big Good Ioun and Big Bad Vecna fight an unending battle for control of the Source of all magic. So far, Ioun keeps the Source open, but should Vecna ever win, all magic and all gods will be blotted out, and Vecna will reign unchallenged and unchallengeable for all eternity.
- 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. The Ben 10 animated movie had Ben's Omnitrix in danger of self-destructing... and taking out the entire
galaxyuniverse with it.
- 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 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 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.
- It sometimes seems like every other episode of Peter Pan & the Pirates involves the threat of "the end of Neverland".
- Xiaolin Showdown. Raimundo: "Is it me, or does the fate of the world rest on us a lot?"
- In one episode of Superman: The Animated Series, Doctor Fate refuses to help Superman fight an Eldritch Abomination that Fate defeated in the past because he's grown weary of the neverending 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.
- Similar to Doctor Fate above, 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. 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.
- The series itself averts this though, as there's only one real global threat throughout (Unalaq/Vaatu). Outside of that it's just various dictators and criminals that are local threats to their area of the world and usually just want power or to force their ideology on the populace.
- 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.
- 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.
- August 6, 1945 and August 9, 1945. The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ever since this event, humanity has had the opportunity for a game over. Although the greatest threat of nuclear annihilation was at the height of Cold War (see below), the mere existence of extensive nuclear arsenals in the world's largest militaries makes it completely possible for the world to end at the press of a button.
- After the creation of the atomic bomb came the Doomsday Clock in 1947. Used to measure how close humanity is to wiping itself out. Originally gauged solely on nuclear war but has been expanded to take into account threats including biological and chemical war, ecological collapse, and extreme political upheaval. "Midnight" on the clock is armageddon. At its inception it was set at 7 minutes till midnight. The furthest to midnight its been is 14 minutes in 1991 following the breakup of the Soviet Union. The closest it has come is 2 minutes, which previously happened in 1953 with the advent of the H-Bomb. The clock was set to two minutes to midnight again in 2018, citing the failure of world leaders to deal with threats like nuclear war and climate change. As of 2020, after continued failure of world leaders to deal with these threats, the clock is now at 100 seconds the closest it's ever been...
- The hotter parts of the Cold War. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, it's been argued that over a dozen incidents came close to ending it all. What is certain is that, it's the only time in American history that DEFCON 2note was declared.
- Any number of events could result in the complete extinction of a huge chunk of life on Earth. Some are predictable, others are not. Massive volcanic events, asteroid impacts and gamma ray bursts are just three examples. One such "cosmic ray" makes it seem like the universe hates us, mostly because of the ridiculous misfortune that may result from it.
- It's worse. Some of the nastiest spacey things as gamma-ray bursts or worse move at the speed of light, so we'd never be able to know what was coming towards us until it hit.
- Several economists predicted that the real socioeconomic/financial Armageddon (2008 was just the beginning) would happen as early as 2012. Fortunately they were wrong.
- See Exit Mundi for many examples, some of which could happen any day now.
- More generally: from the earliest surviving writings onward there is always some prophesied apocalypse coming in the near future, several of them a year these days. A good chunk of every generation in every culture has always seriously believed they were living in the last days of the world.