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How do we know that the End of the World as We Know It is approaching? By the warning signs that precede it, of course. Whether The Stars Are Going Out or a beast with seven heads rises out of the ocean, or just dogs and cats lying together, everyone knows that something bad is about to happen. It's a sign of the end.
Works that want to make biblical allusions will often use things from the book of Revelations, although not always literally.
Not to be confused with Sign of the Apocalypse, a stock phrase used for humor.
- Doom Patrol:
- As reality begins to merge with Orqwith -
- In Stuttgard, all the clocks chime 15. Simultaneously.
- In Kyoto, four stainless-steel pyramids are found rotating five feet above the ground.
- In Patagonia, a library is discovered. The books it contains are unknown, unreadable.
- In Johannesburg, a little girl named Harriet inexplicably catches fire.
- In Reykjavik, three shadows come to life and murder their owners.
- In London, Madame Tussaud's wax figure of John Lennon begins to bleed from bullet wound stigmata.
- 'In Rome, in Leningrad, in Darwin... "The door flew open, in he ran - the great, long, red-legged Scissorman."'
- In Barcelona, when the Cult of the Unwritten Book starts to summon the Decreator -
- A bus full of teenagers was possessed by the Unquiet Face and driven through the Corridor of Hallucinations
- The Needle Children, who cannot be seen through glass, laid pointless siege to an old folks' home in the suburbs.
- At 11:30 there was an outbreak of spirit skywriting which continued for an hour and a half.
- At midnight the word 'harmony' disappeared from the vocabulary of everyone in the city.
- At 12:30 the Embryo Stains invaded the marrow of a nightclub owner and forced him to compose terrifying poetry.
- Everything blue became temporarily invisible.
- The rain forgot how to fall.
- As reality begins to merge with Orqwith -
- This was a very popular trope in early Vertigo Comics. In The Sandman, Doctor Destiny's hold over Dream's gem leads to a wave of cruelty, hallucinations, and general nightmares sweeping over the global consciousness as the fate of the Dreaming lies in the balance.
Film - Live Action
- Ghostbusters does this twice:
- Part 1
Winston Zeddmore: Do you remember something in the Bible about the last days, when the dead would rise from the grave?
- Part II
Peter Venkman: Or you could accept the fact that this city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
- The Seventh Sign. A man is breaking the seven seals of the Apocalypse, causing the warning signs of the Apocalypse to occur.
- The Core had:
- People with pacemakers all dying due to localised electromagnetic pulses.
- Birds mass suiciding because their directional sense was off, causing them to fly top speed into buildings.
- The ozone layer developing holes that let through unfiltered sunlight hot enough to melt the Golden Gate Bridge.
- In Piers Anthony's Being a Green Mother, plague, earthquakes, floods, and volcanic eruptions are all the result of singing the Llano of Chaos, which ends all living things within weeks of it being sung. Although one could argue that these are less signs of the end and more the cause.
- In the novel The Yiddish Policemens Union by Michael Chabon, reports of talking chickens are mentioned as a sign of the end times, or at least of the coming of Messiah.
- Good Omens has a lot of these, as it's a book about the lead up to the End of Days.
- In the "present" (23rd century) of Pastwatch the Redemption of Christopher Columbus, the world has already gone through an apocalypse that has reduced the population to 700,000,000 people and necessitated great efforts to replenish the earth to what it formerly was. An example of this is what spurs those on the Columbus Project to make the decision to change the past and obliterate their entire post-Columbus history and those who existed in it in favor of repairing the past and creating what turns out to be a better future. It turns out that despite their optimism and everything they've done, there are more people than the planet can support, North America is in the midst of a famine, crop production is going down, and no matter what is done, everything's going to go to shit, another Ice Age will come, and humanity will be plunged into the Stone Ages.
- CS Lewis' The Last Battle where all the signs of Revelation begin to happen, albeit in Narnia.
- A classic example is William Butler Yeats' The Second Coming, a poem that predicts the birth of the Anti Christ.
- Arcia Chronicles and Reflections of Eterna by the same author have a lot of these but they are mostly ignored by Normal People.
Live Action TV
- In Carnivale, Brother Justin says that the depression and all the traits of the Crapsack World in which the show takes place are surely signs of the apocalypse. He isn't wrong, but what he isn't aware of at that point is that he's the one who's bringing it.
- Angel's "Apocalypse Nowish" does this-there are birds crashing into buildings, snakes coming out of plumbing, rats everywhere, and eventually, all the locations of the phone calls they get about these things, when laid out on a map, make an ancient symbol of destruction, with Connor's birthplace-slash-the place where the Beast rises smack in the middle.
- In the first season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mrs. Calender knows the Hellmouth is about to open based on locally occurring portents; a family's swimming pool begins to boil (with them in it), a cat gives birth to a litter of snakes and a baby is born with his eyes facing inward.
- Millennium eventually shifted from a straight-up "serial killer" series to the idea that the general rise in the tide of human cruelty was tied into the upcoming apocalypse, sharing equal time between investigation of hideous murders and investigation of strange phenomena.
- From "Earth Died Screaming" by Tom Waits:
There was thunder
Myth, Legend, and Oral Tradition
- In Finnish folk tale Velisurmaaja (Brother-killer) the fratricidal protagonist declared he will go far away. When asked by his mother or sister when he will return, he replies (according to the version recorded in Kanteletar): "when the crow turns white, when the goose turns black, when a stone rolls on water, when a feather sinks to the bottom, when sun shines in midnight, when the moon burns hot, when stars dance in the sky". Many versions include assorted Christian elements like the Last Judgement, raining fire, blaring horns of heaven, and the return of Christ.
- Vampire Bloodlines runneth over with all kinds of approaching apocalypse signs. Turns out, most of them are fake or just misinterpreted, even though the Gehenna really is approaching fast.
- Max Payne touches upon this trope in reference to a book he finds in Lupino's nightclub, Ragna Rock.
I was surprised to find that somebody had been passing time reading. The paperback was entitled "The Age of Murder and Storm." The blurb on the back mentioned Norse mythos and Ragnarok, the end of the Viking world with a terrible winter that covered the earth in ice, when vile crimes were rampant and all humanity lost. I could see how somebody impressionable might get it into their head that we were at the end of time. I was also beginning to see what the nightclub and its owner were all about.