Bad Moon Rising

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Well, technically, it's not really "rising".

Hope you got your things together
Hope you are quite prepared to die
Looks like we're in for nasty weather
One eye is taken for an eye
Well don't go 'round tonight
Well it's bound to take your life
There's a bad moon on the rise

When the epic struggle is just around the corner, ominous portents are going to come out of the woodwork. Well, what portent more ominous than the heavens themselves?

A blood-red celestial body that wasn't there yesterday, without exception, means things are about to take a nasty turn. If the Bad Moon is itself the threat, as in a Colony Drop or similar, you'll most likely be able to prevent it. If the star-gazers are getting a light show Because Destiny Says So - yeah, people are going to bleed.

This portent has its roots in the old myth about "blood on the moon," how a reddish ring around the moon was a sign of bad things to come and also in the myths about comets and other celestial movements being portents, often of death, war, or plague.

See Lunacy for when the moon is actually the trigger of events on Earth, rather than crashing into it. This is commonly, but not necessarily, a Weird Moon.

A subtrope of Alien Sky and Portent of Doom. See also The Stars Are Going Out, Total Eclipse of the Plot, and When the Planets Align. Not to be confused with Melancholy Moon.

Examples of Bad Moon Rising include:

Anime and Manga

  • In My-HiME, the red star that shines even during the daytime is also Invisible to Normals.
  • The planet of Thanatos in Dragonaut: The Resonance. Which later proves itself to be alive and a giant dragon. Somehow.
  • In later episodes of Wolf's Rain the moon turns blood-red (both in the show and in the closing credits), portending The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Near the end of the second season of Darker than Black the moon—having vanished years ago when an Alien Sky replaced the real one—reappears, large and red. According to prophecy, shit's supposed to hit the fan when the moon turns full.
  • In Ookamikakushi, dramatic scenes at night inevitably occur against the backdrop of a blood-red full moon. Given the spread of events, one can't help but conclude that the moon is full all month long in Jouga.
  • The moon in Yami no Matsuei seems to turn red whenever Muraki kills someone.
  • In Tiger and Bunny, the appearance of the Vigilante Man, Lunatic, is usually accompanied by an ominous-looking red moon.
  • In Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, Ponyo's venturing to human worlds draws the moon closer and causes the water to rise toward it.
  • In Naruto the moon is red on Itachi's Mental World
  • At the beginning of Sailor Moon SuperS, the moon is out-of-place — enough to cause a solar eclipse that hides the appearance of the Dead Moon Circus.

Comic Books

  • The Elf Quest "Siege at Blue Mountain" arc began in 1986, the same year Halley's Comet reappeared, so not surprisingly there's a comet sighted in the comic (hey, rhyming alliteration!) - and equally unsurprisingly there are major upheavals ahead. Again, something of a no-brainer, because if there weren't there'd be no plot.
    • The comet was thrown in because Richard Pini loves astronomy (he's designed planaterium shows), and was WAY disappointed with that appearance of Halley's, so they put a cool one in the book for his Avatar (Skywise).
  • Writer Peter David once wrote a comic about Atlantis where an asteroid was about to hit. The script mentioned they could now see the 'face' of the asteroid. The Spanish artist misunderstood and drew an actual face on the asteroid (similar to the image above). David decided to keep it.


  • In Lifeforce, the reappearance of Halley's Comet means trouble - because a group of alien soul-sucking vampires is on a ship inside it, just waiting for someone to bring them back to Earth.
  • In Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, Legolas makes reference to a red sun, indicating blood has been spilled.
  • "That's no moon."
  • In Kull, the moon turning red with a demonic face marks the imminent resurrection of the fiendish lords of Acheron.
  • Played with in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence; during the second act, The leaders of the Flesh Fair hunt for unlicensed robots using a hot air balloon disguised to look like the moon. Apparently, they've been doing so long enough for the "Old Iron" to make up a warning cry for when the Moon Balloon appears above them: "Moon on the rise!"


  • The Sword of Truth: "On the red moon will come the firestorm".
  • Simon R. Green's Blue Moon Rising, which unleashes wild magic, strong enough to reshape reality.
  • A red comet appears in the sky early in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series - unusually, the characters aren't universally filled with dread; several of them decide the comet shows divine favour for their side (Daenerys thinks it's a sign that will lead her khalasar to safety; the Lannisters believe it is a sign of good fortune for their family and especially Joffrey; etc.) At the end of A Feast for Crows it seems to be confirmed that it's a part of the prophecy of the Prince Who Was Promised.
  • If the Red Star in Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern appears during the daytime, it means vast torrents of flesh-eating fungus from outer space are imminent. Justified Trope, because the Red Star's gravity (another planet in Pern's solar system) is whats dragging the flesh-eating fungus into their atmosphere.
  • The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett.
    • Ultimately subverted, though. "The star is life, not death."
  • The conjunction of the planets in C. S. Lewis's Prince Caspian, and also a similar star event in The Last Battle.
  • Subverted in The Riftwar Cycle: a seer announces that since a certain three red stars are in alignment, it is time for the hordes of the North to go forth and conquer the world. When they (inevitably) fail, the seer figures that, since the stars really aren't moving that fast, he'll be able to use the alignment as an omen of prophecy for another few years.
  • In Stephen King's The Dark Tower's Backstory installment, A Fete Worse Than Death is foreshadowed by the equivalent of the Harvest Moon, the Demon Moon, turning blood red in the middle of the sky.
  • L.E. Modesit Jnr's Spellsong Cycle, has two moons, Clearsong (normal) and Darksong (small, red, a prortent of trouble when it is unusually bright.)
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: "Mars is bright tonight."
  • In Red Mars, the bad guys put a Death Ray on Phobos.
  • In the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Drool Rockworm uses the Staff of Law to corrupt the moon, turning it blood red. This is a bit of a subversion, since the characters point out that turning the moon red doesn't actually do anything and is probably a way for Lord Foul, the real villain, to keep Drool distracted and happy while Foul works his Xanatos Gambit. On the other hand, the trope is later played straight when Lord Foul himself turns the moon emerald green; Foul being a Chessmaster par excellence, he must see some kind of value in this maneuver, probably for its effect on the morale of Revelstone.
  • "The Plague Star," one of George R. R. Martin's "Haviland Tuf" stories (chronologically the first); the recurring "star" is actually a (huge) derelict starship automated to bombard a planet with bioweapons.

If this is found after the plague star has waned, as the night-hunters say it will, do not be deceived. This is no fair world, no world for life. Here is death, and plagues beyond numbering. The plague star will shine again.

  • Nightfall by Isaac Asimov may be a slight subversion of this Trope since the Class-1 Apocalypse How is caused by a fluke stellar alignment and total eclipse of the last star by the planet's moon. We also learn that is is a recurring phenomenon, and that this world is caught in a cycle of Class 1 apocalypses.
  • Inconstant Moon by Larry Niven involves an unusually bright full moon. The protagonists work out that it must be caused by an unusually large amount of sunlight being reflected back, and that either the whole Earth is about to be destroyed by the Sun going nova, or at least the side of Earth facing the Sun has been (with bad side effects for everyone else anyway).
  • One of the many hallmarks of Revelation: complete with the stars falling from the heavens.
    • Jesus mentioned that in advance of His return, "The sun will be darkened and the moon will become blood red." It's noteworthy that a total lunar eclipse makes the moon appear blood red.
  • Werenight had a disastrous event occur during a rare time when that world's three moons are in the sky and full at once - it triggers massive Involuntary Shapeshifting in a chunk of the population, crippling an empire and leaving the heroes' land cut off from them.
  • In Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, the protagonist used his astronomical knowledge to take advantage of a solar eclipse, thus convincing the members of Arthur's court that he was a powerful magician.
  • Poison Moon involves the Big Bad taking over the moon to gain ultimate power, which resulted in some rather obvious changes in the appearance of the moon.
  • Hilari Bell's Knight and Rogue Series has an interesting example. Even though the series is strongly based in fantasy, the planet they're on has two moons: one is gold, the other is green. Their cycles directly effect the severity of the natural, chaotic, and dangerous magic that is found in a lot of animals and plants our heroes are unfortunate enough to stumble upon.
  • One Young Adult book was actually called 'Bad Moon Rising'. The bad moon in question led to werewolves.
  • There are some seriously unsettling things going on with the moon in The Kingkiller Chronicle. For one thing, its synodic period is 72 days, so it goes through its phases more slowly. More significantly, when part of the moon is not in the sky, it quite literally vanishes because it's doing double duty as the moon in the realm of Fae. According to legend, this was caused by a man trapping part of the moon's True Name in a box. During a full moon, The Fair Folk can cross over to the mortal world, and on a moonless night, mortals might get pulled into Fae.


  • The song "Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival speaks of the eponymous bad moon rising and death, earthquakes, and other bad times on the way, so it's best not to go 'round tonight.
    • How not going out will do you any favors, given the whole earthquakes thing, is left unspecified.
    • On a side note, BMR is the CCR song that has been used in most movies (five at present). And now it's a trope.

Tabletop Games

  • In White Wolf's Old World of Darkness, the appearance of the red star, Anthelios (whose name literally means "Anti-Sun") signifies that Crapsack World's descent towards even worse levels.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle setting has the warpstone moon Morrslieb, which is at its brightest on Geheimnisnacht, and is also bright during Chaos invasions.
  • Subverted in Dragonlance, where the red moon Lunitari is associated with Neutral magic rather than Evil. Nuitari, the "Evil magic" moon, is black and sheds a black light seen only by beings that use such dark magic.
    • By extension, the domain of Sithicus in Ravenloft has only Nuitari in its night skies, illustrating the fact that it was created for Lord Soth, an undead wielder of Evil magic from Dragonlance.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a card named Bad Moon, which gives a bonus to Black creatures.
    • Not to mention Blood Moon, which turns nonbasic lands into mountains, and Chaos Moon, which either gives a bonus or a drawback to Red creatures and mountains, depending on how many permanents you have.
  • With the Elder Evils book for Dungeons & Dragons, the moon turning red is a sign that the Hulks of Zoretha have begun to awaken. At first, it will just be a reddish tint, but by the time the Hulks awaken, the moon has become the color of blood. As this is happening, every living thing on the planet steadily goes Ax Crazy as they are consumed by rage.


  • In Woyzeck, Marie remarks about the moon being red moments before Woyzeck stabs her to death.

Video Games

  • Subverted in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, where the Red Moon causes the souls of the prinnies who have paid for their sins to be reincarnated.
    • Compare with the Dark Sun; in later Disgaea games, located in the Dark World. It corrupts main characters and powers up enemies and seems to be a symbol of worship, if one of Axel's comments are any indication.
  • The Weird Moon from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (above). Happy dreams!
    • Though in this case, it's a Bad Moon Falling
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the Blood Moon in a phenomenon that occurs every month (game-time), caused by Ganon's evil influence. When this occurs, indicated by the blood-red moon rising and Zelda giving Link a telepathic warning, every monster that's been killed rises from the dead. Not that this is a bad thing as far as gameplay goes, as Link can gain treasure and resources by killing them again.
  • Meteor in Final Fantasy VII will basically destroy the world.
  • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years begins with the arrival of the True Moon.
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Ring of Fates has a plot that centers around its blood red moon and how it relates to the game world. In fact, the trope name is the game's Tagline.
  • There's a comet in the sky that's talked about in the Crystal War in Final Fantasy XI. Considering you go back in time to there in the Wings of The Goddess expansion, it's guaranteed it's a plot point... possibly. Story isn't done yet.
  • The Day Star in Jak 3 was a sign of doom because it was actually a giant space station-y thing full of Dark Makers.
  • In Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, Alpha Centauri B approaching perihelion (closest approach to Alpha Centauri A) signals the beginning of twenty years of increased attacks from Planet's native life.
  • The final battle in Embodiment of Scarlet Devil takes place with the aforementioned blood-red moon in the background. Kind of makes sense seeing as the battle is against the titular Scarlet Devil, Remilia, who claims to be descended from Vlad himself. On the hardest difficulty, the final attack is considered one of the hardest in the entire series to 'capture' (defeating the spellcard without dying or bombing).
    • A variation of this trope is basically the plot of Imperishable Night. The Big Bad seals off the moon on the night of the Harvest Moon Festival and replaces it with an illusion of an "old fashioned moon" that's "old and worn" which disconcerts the relevant youkai half of the player team enough for them to decide to stop the night until they can fix it (hence the title).
      • It even fulfills this trope at Stage 4, after you fight off the midboss (which is either Reimu or Marisa, annoyed that the youkai partner's actually gone as far as stopping the night). The background turns to a reddish hue, and when the player reaches the boss, the moon is red. Not like you'll see it through the danmaku and Spell Card backgrounds, though. It should also be noted that it's in this stage that the game really ramps up the difficulty, especially on the jump to Normal.
  • The plot of the Computer Game Myth: The Fallen Lords in part revolves around the millennial appearance of a comet heralding the change in the cyclical balance of power between Light and Dark.
  • As acknowledged by Kayisen when playing it himself, the moon is never a good sign in I Wanna Be the Guy. For example, on one screen? The moon falls on you. Twice. It's also one of Dracula's attacks.
  • Red star... FALL! Stain the earth... RED!!
    • And explicitly lampshaded in the sequel: "My world only had one moon!" Apparently, the Dragon Gods created the second moon as counterpart to Harle, the human form of the Lunar Dragon of the Seventh Element.
  • The "Star of Destruction" of legend in Dark Cloud 2 (as seen in the game's American logo) is actually the Blue Moon, which was enchanted by the Ancients to drop onto whoever gathered all three Atlamillia Stones together. Presumably to keep said person from having too much power and growing corrupt, but it makes no distinction between would-be gods and innocent people. It actually does fall upon the world at the end of the game, but Sirus comes to his senses and redeems himself by casting it out of existence. From that point on, and for the remainder of the game, there is only one moon in the sky.
  • The titular moon from the Morrowind expansion Bloodmoon
    • This is later repeated in Skyrim, in the quest for Hircine (the Big Bad of Bloodmoon).
  • In Okami, this trope signifies the arrival of both Orochi and Ninetails. The full moon signifies the beginning of Orochi's ritual of sacrifice. A blood-red moon, complete with nine dark lines, replaces the regular one after Queen Himiko is killed by Ninetails. It stays in the sky until you defeat the fox.
    • And then of course there is the solar eclipse, which signifies the rising of Yami, the Lord of Darkness, and the concurrent waning of Amaterasu's solar power. (Which, fortunately, is only an issue during the very last battle. You don't suffer any gameplay weakness during the eclipse.)
  • The Moon That Never Sets in Legend of Dragoon, which looks like a normal moon but behaves oddly.
  • So it's not strictly a moon, but the third Mega Man Star Force game features the Crimson Meteor, a giant cluster of noise that, in addition to the force of the impact, will wipe out pretty much all the electromagnetic energy on the planet, which is especially bad since, by this point, pretty much everything except for the humans themselves and maybe a few animals is made of EM tech.
  • Terraria has the "Blood Moon" event, which involves the sky turning red, and enemies spawning twice as often as they'd usually do. Zombies can also break open doors during this night.
  • The penultimate mission in Thief II: The Metal Age has a red moon in the sky. Another sign that things are about to go to hell.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Sozin's Comet will make a Fire Nation victory a lot more likely if they're not defeated when it appears ( though technically, they pretty much won months before it did. Then comes Ozai's radical take on Kill It with Fire...). (Closer to Lunacy, in that the comet is stated to actually boost the Fire Nation's Elemental Powers, instead of just being a sign of dominance.)
    • More directly, when the moon turns blood-red, that's a sign that the Moon Spirit is in danger. When it disappears completely, that means the spirit is dead.
  • In one episode of Challenge of the Superfriends, the Legion of Doom uses a powerful artifact to, among other terror-wreaking methods, make the sun go out for a bit, prompting a police officer to declare that it's doomsday.

Real Life

  • The appearance of a new comet is always seen as a portent of major upheavals, as witness the comet of 1066 which was seen just before the Battle of Hastings. Of course, since human history is full of major upheavals, it's probably just a coincidence.
    • Mark Twain lampshaded this. He eventually died in 1910, just after the comet passed the point at which it gets closest to Earth.

"I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together."

    • A book of prophecy published in 1977 said that the return of Halley's Comet in 1986 would portend the fall of the USSR. The Chernobyl disaster, widely seen as the catalyst for glasnost, which fatally undermined the Soviet state's ability to control its citizens' access to information and encouraged relative freedoms of speech and assembly, occurred when the comet was at its perihelion.
  • A red ring around the moon, known as blood on the moon, is also considered a ill portent. Oddly, a red moon, called a Blood Moon, is associated with feasting and is also known as a Hunter's Moon.
  • The word "disaster" comes, originally, from astrology, "a calamity blamed on an unfavorable position of a planet," from Greek dys="bad" and "aster"="star."
  • A Blue Moon is said to be a ridiculously rare and unlikely occurrence, as is anything said to be "Once in a blue moon". May be good or bad though.
    • A "Blue Moon" is the second full moon inside a calendar month. It is rare, but it isn't unlikely.[1]
      • It's also been defined as a full moon on a Midsummer Eve, which should happen on average once every 28 years.
    • Things supposedly tend to get a little strange around the full moon, though how much of this is Confirmation Bias and/or Urban Legends causing a sort of placebo effect is debatable. It makes sense that the extra full moon in the year serves up potential for even more weirdness.
    • There was a literal blue moon for several days following the eruption of Krakatoa's volcano, because the ash in the air caused the moon to appear discolored.
  • On the Scottish Border there used to be a saying, "Full moon will come again." It has been speculated that full moon is raiding season because a rustling party can see its path in the dark. On the other hand, with no moon pursuers can't see the trail of bands running away with plunder. Whether having it be raiding season is a good thing or not depends, one supposes, on which clan you are from.
  • From the German point of view in World War 2. The Big Book of War of the SOE considered that aerial insertions should use the moon to guide them (see World War II Secret Operations by Hart, Stephen and Mann, Chris). In other words if there was a full moon and something blew up a week later it likely was not a coincidence.
  1. It's a product of lunar years (12 lunar months) being 11 days shorter than solar years, so it happens on a predictable cycle. There are seven blue moons in each 19-year cycle (it takes 19 years for lunar months to go from aligning with solar years through not-aligning and then back to alignment)