Darkest Hour

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: 'Shut the book now, dad; we don't want to read any more.'"

FrodoThe Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book IV

During the course of a Story Arc, your characters can go places, have adventures, fight bad guys, and right wrongs. They've loved and lost and learned...and then something happens. Something that they never expected. The bad guys win. The people turn against them. The Hero dies.

And they don't have time to mourn or plan or get over their losses, because more bad things are happening. This is the point in a narrative when there's no hope, when the characters are at the edge of the Despair Event Horizon. It is frequently invoked for the strongest testing of The Hero's character: What You Are in the Dark.

Older Than Dirt, going back to The Epic of Gilgamesh. As an ancient and ubiquitous plot device, this scenario has received quite a bit of attention in literary circles; it's cognate to the "death" stage (preceding the "descent into the underworld", but not always clearly distinguished from it) in certain formulations of Hero's Journey monomyth, and shows up elsewhere as well. At least one creative writing course views such "black moments" as essential to effective plotting.

This usually precedes a Day of Reckoning climax where only a few things can happen:

Compare Belly of the Whale, the first of the dark hours. Eucatastrophe is a subtrope.

WARNING! There are unmarked Spoilers ahead. Beware.

Examples of Darkest Hour include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Dragonball Z, there's an entire episode devoted to this in the Cell Saga where Cell powers up a massive Kamehameha wave to destroy the Earth as a badly injured Gohan and the rest of Z warriors look on helplessly.
    • Having already been beaten within an inch of his life, seen two of his comrades killed and another mortally injured within little more than an hour, and his strongest attack not strong enough to kill the seemingly godlike Frieza, Goku's in way over his head
    • Because of Gohan's own arrogance, his father sacrificed himself in vain; Trunks is lying in a pool of his own blood; Vegeta, the only other person even remotely capable of standing up to Cell has been incapacitated with a single blow; and, to top it all off, Gohan only has the use of one of his arms.
    • Piccolo Daimao had killed Goku's best friend Kuririn, with him failing to avenge him, now his Old Master Muten Roshi is also dead along with Chaotzu, Piccolo got his wish for eternal youth, and worst of all, he killed Shenlong himself so that he is no longer challenged.
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho during the Chapter Black where the whole objective is to prevent a portal to the Demon Word from opening potentially letting in A and S Class Demons that can potentially wipe out the Earth. Also the Black and White Morality the heroes are so used to gets thrown out the window. Made even worse that even the protagonist of the series could not catch up.
    • Sensui's power far exceeds Yusuke's being and S class while Yusuke was a B+ at best. Knowing he has no chance in hell of ever beating Sensui, Yusuke opted for a Heroic Sacrifice letting Sensui kill him thus boosting the the power levels of Kuwabara, Kurama, and Hiei up to A class.
    • 3 A Class fighters against an S Class was still a very one sided Curb Stomp Battle in favor of Sensui. It took two Deus Ex Machina just to beat him.
  • At the end of season one of Tower of God, this happens for both Baam and his team in different ways. Baam is betrayed by Rachel, debasing everything he worked for until now, because all he wanted was to be with her, which also destroyed a large part of his trusting nature, and for the team… well, the one that held it together died. Rak and Androssi didn't even bother to show up for the announcement of death, but they all decided to help Rachel achieving her goals to cherish Baam's memory.
  • Mazinger Z: Its Darkest Hour happened in episode 92, but the Mazinger vs Great General of Darkness expanded upon it and turned it even more tragic: The army of Mykene Empire struck, easily razing several big cities (Londo, New York, Moscow...) to ruins. When they raided Tokyo, Kouji flew to fight them... and got the crap beaten out of him. When he returned to the Institute, he found out several Mykene Beasts had smashed the place, destroying Sayaka and Boss's Humongous Mecha. And Shiro, his little brother, had been hurt when a ceiling collapsed, and he urgently needed a blood transfusion. In spite of he was weak -and he was underage- Kouji DID demand they used his blood. Later, at the night, he was sitting in what was left of his bedroom, observing a picture of his father and his grandfather and crying Manly Tears as he muttered the Mykene Beasts would return, and he could not win, but he would fight even though he knew he was going to die (unbeknownst to him, sayaka was observing him, shedding tears as she heard him talking).
    • Great Mazinger: In the anime it happened in the last episode: the Mykene bombarded the Fortress of Science, Kouji and Tetsuya were forced to fight separately, Tetsuya was defeated and nearly got killed and Prof. Kenzo Kabuto died. And in the Gosaku Ota episodes it was worse AND It Got Worse.
      • Nevertheless, in that same manga the Darkest Hour happened in one of the last arcs: Great Marshall of Hell blackmailed the Government into destroying the Fortress of Science, Great Mazinger and Venus A. The Fortress was blown up to bits and crumbled into the ocean, the heroes were forced to flee and hiding, and while they were seeking a shelter and lying low, the Mykene army conquered Japan.
    • UFO Robo Grendizer: In the finale of the first season, The Hero was defeated and forced into hiding with his Humongous Mecha, his lancer was shot down, his Love Interest was dying, the base was taken by one of the Co-Dragons of Big Bad, and the Professor was tortured.
  • Most of the Rossiu arc of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, where the heroes are discredited, stripped of power, and seemingly impotent in the face of the apocalypse. The Darkest Hour for the first two arcs is Simon's Heroic BSOD. And for good reason, Two Words: Kamina's Death!
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, the episode "That Day, Riot Force Six". It ends with most of their forces injured, both the Ground Forces HQ and Riot Force Six HQ destroyed, and Ginga and Vivio captured.
  • By the last episode of Scrapped Princess, Pacifica has sustained a mortal wound, Prince Forsythe has given himself a mortal wound, Shannon and Zefiris have been dragged off by the surviving Peacemakers, and for good measure, the Royal Forces start blasting the place. It ends well.
  • Macross Frontier‍'‍s Darkest Hour begins around episode 20, with the president being assassinated, a Vajra infestation on the main ship causing wholesale civilian slaughter, the death of Michel as he defended his love, and the departure of Ranka Lee. Better yet, It Gets Worse - much worse ... but ends well.
  • The Darkest Hour in Digimon Tamers is when the children realize they can't beat the D-Reaper even with All Your Powers Combined, Juri is in a suicidal, catatonic state, they learn that the D-Reaper obliterated the Digital World, making it a Barren Wasteland, and they realize it's plan to cause a Class 6 Apocalypse.
  • In Code Geass, the Darkest Hour for Lelouch comes in R2 episode 19. He doesn't take the news of Nunnally's death well. Unfortunately, by episode's end, with the Black Knights betraying him and Rolo dying to save him, It Got Worse, and he has passed the Despair Event Horizon. This leads to some regrettable decisions.
  • This takes place in Chrono Crusade after a disastrous battle with Aion leaves the True Companions broken.
    • In the manga, Rosette is nearly killed when Chrono goes into an Unstoppable Rage. Chrono realizes what he's doing in time to save her life, but Aion uses it as his chance to incapacitate him. Azmaria is then kidnapped, Aion leaves the rest badly injured, and Chrono is so distraught that he forces himself into an Angst Coma so he won't take any more of Rosette's lifespan. It ends once Rosette and Chrono decide to follow Aion to his base of operations.
    • In the anime, Rosette is kidnapped by Aion and brainwashed to take part in his plans. Chrono manages to free Joshua from the horns, but they've damaged his mind so much he barely remembers anyone, and in the process Chrono is frozen in time. Thing spiral out of control from there, and don't get better until Chrono's final fight with Aion, and even then, the rest of the series is grim up until the ending.
  • In Princess Tutu, the Darkest Hour is when the Raven turns the townspeople into crows and captures Mytho when Princess Tutu can't remove her pendant from her neck (which is Mytho's last heart shard). Ahiru becomes so depressed that she believes the only way she can help everyone is by killing herself. Fakir stops her by convincing her that he will always be with her and they can save Mytho together. The Darkest Hour comes to an end when Ahiru finds the courage to give Mytho the pendant and return to being a duck.
  • Takes place during each and every arc of Dragonball Z, the Frieza and Cell Sagas in particular being filled to the brim with them.
  • Naruto: During the Pain Invasion. The village has been pretty much leveled, with several important characters and hundreds of nameless villagers killed. Naruto's sudden badassery has failed and he is pinned to the ground helpless. Worse still, he can find no good response to Pain's nihilistic Hannibal Lecture. Then Hinata tries to come to his aid, makes an Anguished Declaration of Love and attacks Pain, only to get stabbed. Naruto's shock and anger overcome his protective seals and the power of the Nine-Tailed Fox bursts free like it has never done before...
  • There's one at the end of each Slayers season.
  • The result of a Gambit Roulette orchestrated by the main villain, Tamaki's Evil Matriarch grandmother, in an attempt to separate him and Haruhi in Ouran High School Host Club.
  • In Cardcaptor Sakura, the main one comes when Sakura believes she's lost to Yue; she has a lucid dream in which the catastrophe actually takes place, and friendships... well, no longer exist, at least for the people Sakura was close to.
  • In Pluto, when all of the seven great robots of the world have been destroyed. Except for Atom, who may be insane at that point.
  • 20th Century Boys' darkest hour is at the end of the second arc, which sees an even crueller person donning the Friend mask, killing several million people, and molding the world in his own image, making all the protagonists work up till then all for nothing.]] After that, things start to eventually look up, starting with the return of the supposedly dead hero from the first third of the story.
  • Huge one in Fullmetal Alchemist now: Father's just activated his transmutation circle and absorbed the entirety of Amestris. Then he absorbed the Truth.
    • Another one is the Elric brothers' first meeting with Father and the aftermath. Basically, they've found out the horrible secret of their country and they're led to believe there's nothing they can do to stop it. One of the chapters in this arc is even called "Inside the Belly."
  • The climax of Sailor Moon Stars. Sailor Moon and the Starlights are pretty much the only Sailor Soldiers left. This is on top of the dark shadow of Tuxedo Mask's disappearance that's been hanging around for half the season. The Hope Spot is a dream as well, and really not that close to the end.
  • Negima‍'‍s Darkest Hour is everything that happens after the Governor's ball, most of it to Negi. The Governor tries to kill him after Negi uncovers his real objective, all while his Super-Powered Evil Side is threatening to consume him. His mentor is killed erased in front of him. The secret organisation headed by his nemesis is activating the plan to destroy the Magical World, which erased a lot of his students' new friends in the crossfire as they watched. Oh yeah, Mahora Academy might not survive either. His childhood friend Anya and Asuna are being held hostage, and he's just found out that the Asuna he's been with for all this time is a sleeper agent that he has to unmask. On top of this, he has to beat the evil side into submission, otherwise he'll turn into a feral, homicidal demon the next time he uses Magia Erebea. He feels personally responsible for most of these... and he's just ten. Most overwhelmed little boy since Ender Wiggin.
    • As if that wasn't enough, the final showdown between Ala Alba and Kosmo Entelechia has gone wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong. Negi is incapacitated (bad), so the rest of the team pull off a daring rescue (good). Half the attacking group is turned to stone in the clusterfuck (bad), but at least they've stopped the world-ending ritual and stolen the artifact, rescued the princess and saved the world, right? Uh, no.
  • One for every JoJo's Bizarre Adventure part:
    • Part 1 - The seemingly dead Dio attacks Johnathan on his honeymoon.
    • Part 2 - Cars achieves his goal of becoming an ultimate being and is now immune to Hamon, and Joseph's out of ideas.
    • Part 3 - Kakyoin, Iggy, Avdol, and even Joseph are dead and just Jotaro remains to take on Dio and his almost invincible time stopping power.
    • Part 4 - Kira has gained a new Stand ability that allows him to easily pick off the only people who can stop him, and the only person who knows Kira's real identity has no way of telling them directly.
    • Part 5 - Polnareff's Requiem Stand has gone berserk, and thanks to some body-switching, Big Bad Diavolo is in Buccarati's body, Narancia is dead, and the Requiem Arrow is almost in Diavolo's hands.
    • Part 6 - Pucci upgrades his Stand to one that can reset the universe, and he plans to make a world where the Joestars never existed. The only one stopping him is a kid with no offensive abilities whatsoever.
    • Part 7 - Valentine has all the corpse parts and merges them with Lucy, giving him complete immunity to Johnny's attacks, Gyro's strongest attack doesn't work and gets him killed, and then Diego shows up...
  • Wolf's Rain. The last couple episodes are a never-ending barrage of this. As in, all the main characters die. And not just die, but die horribly. One by one. Finally, it's just Kiba left standing against the Big Bad. He wins, but he's dying. But wait! Cheza exploding into a pile of black circle things mean something! Yes, there is hope and joy at- wait, never mind. The universe really does die. All the characters you had some attachment to did face horrible, gruesome deaths. And the last thing you see is Kiba dying. Except not. Only not really. A whole other existence is apparently made because of this - an existence where only four of the main characters are shown being in, or at least convincing doppelgangers of them. You never really get to find out if the Reset Button was real, or just Kiba's dying dream. If it is real, it's never hinted at in any way that any of the characters shown alive still know each other at all, or where the rest of the gang is... if the rest of the gang is there to begin with.]]
    • The little black circle things? Those are seeds. In a world that seems to be undergoing an ice age and random geological phenomena. I'll buy the "reset button" but that doesn't really explain anything about the doppelgangers / protagonist look-alikes. Seems to suffer from Anime Ending Syndrome, which is to say it doesn't make much sense even on a symbolic level.
  • Out of 50 episodes in Eureka 7, episode 44 arguably takes the spot for this trope. The entire episode is a depression.
  • The last part of the manga Hellsing develops with the city of London destroyed by vampires and crusaders, with Alucard far away in a ship, and the Hellsing manor almost destroyed and under the attack of vampires. The situation doesn't get better until Alucard arrives (which actually makes things worse).
    • It gets much, much worse. The Vatican authorizes purging of London. Anderson becomes a thorn-monster-thing. Walter pulls a Face Heel Turn. Alucard dies and does not come back before the end of the war.
  • Episode 12 of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. Stocking's ascended to Heaven, Panty's lost her powers, and the Big Bad abducted Brief to unlock the Ghost sealed away. It Gets Better. Then it gets... weird.
  • The Water Seven and Sabaody arcs in One Piece, both storylines in which the Straw Hat Pirates have come close to annihilation.
    • Those are tame compared to The Marineford arc. The marines succeed in executing Ace, Blackbeard kills Whitebeard and steals his powers, Luffy has sustained a massive amount of damage and sacrificed part of his lifespan in vain, and several villains from previous arcs have now been freed from prison (by Luffy himself, no less), and as the cherry on top, Luffy lost his brother despite all the sacrifices he made.
  • The end of Hong Gildong arc in Shin Angyo Onshi. The main character willingly traps himself in a Lotus Eater Machine which he considered a Fate Worse Than Death betting on One in A Million Chance of breaking free versus certain death otherwise. His main companion is deceived into working for the Big Bad. Anti-Villain antagonists of the arc are mostly dead. The main character's former old friend remains undead in the thrall to the Big Bad, and is revealed to be unable to die or to break free unless his body is completely obliterated. The city that the protagonists protected in the arc is taken over by the Big Bad. The Big Bad decides to stop fooling around and get to the business of taking over the world, revealing his vast true power and his array of superhuman henchmen. Few good guys still standing are being manipulated by him.
  • By episode 11 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Homura is the only magical girl left alive and is fighting a losing battle against Walpurgisnacht even after unloading a small army's worth of firepower on it. After repeating the same six weeks who knows how many times, she finally gives up hope... cue Wishplosion courtesy of her beloved Madoka.
  • The End of Evangelion carries this trope to its logical extreme. It's pretty dark.
  • SD Gundam Force: Most of Neotopia's population is turned to stone, Commander Sazabi has stolen Captain's soul drive, and is preparing to rule over the world with it.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh! near the end of season two; the Sealed Evil in a Can turns out to be the demon kingdom's Crystal Dragon Jesus and possesses the protagonist, The Smart Guy performed a Face Heel Turn prior to that and has been planning it for centuries, and the practically invincible army is not only invading the rest of the world but also starting to come over to Earth.
  • The approaching end of the Fullbringer arc in Bleach. All of Ichigo's Nakama are either fighting against him due to the Big Bad's More Than Mind Control or are critically injured, the guy who he thought was a friend turns out to be working with the big bad the entire time, the powers he worked to attain throughout the arc are taken from him, and after getting stabbed through the heart he finds his father behind him, seemingly the one who did it.
  • Inuyasha: Sango and Miroku waiting for the Wind Tunnel to absorb them while their despair consumes the light within the Shikon no Tama leaving it in darkness.
    • Sesshoumaru's darkest hour occurs when he finally learns the truth about Tenseiga's origins and the real reason why he was given Meidou Zangetsuha, resulting in him believing that his father had been training Inuyasha to kill him. His Heroic BSOD is so blatant that even Myouga is desperate to help him. He's left so shaken that when Naraku attacks his group he doesn't even try to rescue them; Inuyasha ends up saving them while he watches from a distance. Nothing in the manga - not even Kagura's death or Rin's second death - has ever made him despair the way thinking his father hated him did.
  • High School DxD's Darkest Hour occurs in the 11th volume when Opfus had 75% of her powers drained from her. Then they're trapped in an alternate dimension surrounded by grim reapers. They were able to destroy the statues and were already about to get out of that place when Opfus gets kidnapped by a newly-rebuilt Shalba Beelzebub, and Ise has to rescue her. The volume ends with Ise getting hit with a dragon-eater Samael blood coated on an arrow, leaving him to die in that place. That's not all however; Hades starts a war on the Underworld, Azazel's been accused of cooperating with terrorists even though he's the one who wanted peace in the first place, and every single member of the Occult Research Club suffering a Heroic BSOD.

Comic Books

  • Among other incidents, unprecedented amounts of crap hit the fan at the end of chapter 100 of Ultimate Spider-Man - right in the middle of the Ultimate Clone Saga. To whit: Peter has already found at least one violently insane clone of himself and has tangled with a mysterious Spider Woman; Mary Jane has been kidnapped by another warped and insane clone of Peter who intends to transform her to make her "just like him" (and as of the last page of the chapter has apparently succeeded); Nick Fury has shown up outside Peter's house to arrest him with an army of "Spider Slayers"; Gwen Stacey has mysteriously returned from the dead, but panics and transforms into Carnage (the monster that killed her in the first place) when Fury shows up; Peter was forced to tell Aunt May his secret when she discovered him with Gwen, driving her lash out at him for lying to her all along and telling him she doesn't want to have anything more to do with him, before the repeated shocks (Gwen transforming into Carnage being the straw that broke the camel's back) cause her to have a heart attack; and Peter's supposedly long-dead father Richard Parker has apparently shown up, with Peter shocked to realize that May had known about him for a while and had kept Richard's return a secret. That's a LOT of crap to be going down at once and it still has to get worse before it gets any better. And while I could say it all turns out alright, that would be what we call "a lie". ("Mostly alright" is about as close as we can get.)
  • Final Crisis for entire DCU.
  • Dark Reign for the Marvel Universe.
  • Jesse falling out of an airplane and being left for dead in Preacher (Comic Book).
  • The nuke exploding, severely weakening Superman, and Gotham rioting in The Dark Knight Returns.
  • Captain Marvel destroying the Gulag and freeing the prisoners in Kingdom Come.
  • The heroes pondering how to handle a Beyonder-powered Doctor Doom in Secret Wars.
  • Nite-Owl and Rorschach discovering Ozymandias' scheme as the world stands on the brink of war in Watchmen.
  • Elf Quest: In the "Kings of the Broken Wheel" arc, Cutter watches helplessly as Rayek abducts Leetah, Skywise, Suntop and Ember 10,000 years into the future.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog comics have had a few points over the years that qualify:
    • The climax of the Endgame arc—Princess Sally is seemingly dead, Sonic's been framed for it and is a fugitive, and Robotnik is posed to destroy Knothole Village and the Freedom Fighters for good.
    • The destruction of Knothole in issue 175, which includes the first time Eggman's ever managed to outright defeat Sonic in a fight.
    • About midway through the Iron Dominion Saga, the Iron Queen hacks NICOLE, allowing the Dominion forces to seize control of New Mobotropolis and send the Freedom Fighters running.
    • The series seems to be heading into a new one, in the aftermath of the Genesis arc—not only has Eggman succeeded in roboticizing Sally and nearly killing Antoine, but rival villain Ixis Naugus has successfully manipulated the fear of the citizens of New Mobotropolis following the Iron Dominion occupation and subsequent events, allowing him to install himself as King.

Fan Works

  • In With Strings Attached, the four return triumphantly with the third piece of the Vasyn, only to find the first two pieces missing and almost everything taken from the house. Tracking down their stuff, they end up in the ruined city of Ehndris, where they learn that Brox found a spell to restore monsters to Baravada—something they did not want to have happen. They're betrayed by their best Baravadan friend; John and Paul are kidnapped and put under the control of the baddies, while George and Ringo are neutralized and can do nothing to help. The Fans are nowhere to be found. And the topper is that Ringo is startled into teleporting hundreds of miles away, leaving George alone, surrounded by bloodthirsty revolutionaries, and utterly powerless.
  • My Little Avengers: Chapter 14 and roughly the first third of chapter 15 -- Loki's Dark Avengers have managed to defeat the Avengers, and a threat on Pinkie Pie's life gets Big Macintosh to surrender Mjolnir and Thor's power to Loki, who proceeds to pervert the Power of Friendship to strip the other Avengers of their powers as well. The Dark Avengers then assault the royal palace, banishing Luna to the moon and taking a depowered Celestia prisoner, with Loki proclaiming himself the new ruler of Equestria. Fortunately, Big Mac gets a Rousing Speech from a ponified Stan Lee, and he proceeds to do the same to his teammates, using the real Power of Friendship to restore their powers. They then take the fight to Loki, setting the stage for the Final Battle.
  • The 15th chapter of a different crossover fanfic, Ace Combat: The Equestrian War certainly fits. The griffins manage to seize Canterlot and the castle becomes the only save area. Many ponies were injured during their raid, some died. Tornado Swirl and Overdrive lost every one of their wingmates, the Stingray squadron was wiped out completely, Blueberry died a Cruel and Unusual Death and Carrot Top dies in Derpy's arms, much to her despair. The situation is so crushing that even Cloud Kicker bursts into tears!


  • In The Dark Knight, the Darkest Hour is when Rachel lies dead, Harvey's been disfigured and is out for revenge, and the Joker is holding two boats hostage, trying to prove that Humans Are the Real Monsters and everyone is in despair.
    • Ironically, just before, Harvey had stated that "Things are always darkest just before the dawn". If he only knew...
  • Serenity: The title ship is grounded on Mr. Universe's moon. Book is dead. Wash was killed by the Reavers. They've got one seriously ticked off Operative on their tail and the Reavers are descending upon the ship. Zoe even states outright that they're not getting out alive.
  • George Lucas admitted that he is fond of this trope, and it shows on the Star Wars films:
    • The Phantom Menace: Anakin's fighter gets stranded with no power in the heart of an enemy battleship, meanwhile Amidala's strike team is ambushed and captured, the Gungan army has been defeated and its been rounded up, and for the record: Qui Gon Jinn is killed by Darth Maul.
    • Attack of the Clones: The Jedi strike team sent to rescue Anakin and Obi Wan from Count Dooku is being overwhelmed by thousands of battle droids, Dooku then offers them a chance to surrender which Mace Windu declines to which Dooku orders to continue the attack.
    • Revenge of the Sith: The Empire is born, Padme dies, Anakin becomes Darth Vader and the Jedi are exterminated (which sets up the conflict for the next 3 films).
    • A New Hope: When the Death Star gets a clear shot of the moon of Yavin, meanwhile R2 gets shot by Darth Vader, and next Vader calmly locks his targeting device on Luke's fighter.
    • The Empire Strikes Back: Han's frozen in carbonite, Luke's lost a hand (and gained some knowledge), and the Empire wins (at least until the next movie).
    • Return of the Jedi: The Rebel fleet is being annihilated by the Death Star while their Ewok allies are being stomped by the Empire, R2 gets shot (again) and Luke has a brief lapse to the dark side and attempts to strike down the Emperor in anger.
  • The Movie version of The Odyssey has one where all of Odysseus' men drown in a shipwreck and he washes ashore to Calypso's island where she makes him her sex slave for seven years. Homer's original is told Anachronic Order, so it's harder to pinpoint there.
  • In Pan's Labyrinth, when the Faun has forsaken Ofelia and her mother has died, leaving her all alone with her supremely evil stepfather.
  • Shows up in both Ghostbusters movies: Twice in the first actually. the first is when the Busters are eating Chinese takeout and Ray says that the business has just run out of money with that meal. That is exactly when the Sedgewick Hotel calls desperately for their services to which Janine at the front desk goes, "We got one!" as the enterprise is saved. The second one was when Obstructive Bureaucrat Walter Peck has the containment unit was shut down, thereby causing the firehouse to explode and releasing all the ghosts that the title characters had caught to wreak havoc upon the city while Peck has the unmitigated gall to arrest the Ghostbusters for doing something that he alone is responsible for.
    • The second film has the part when the river of slime comes up to the surface, covering the museum and generally causing havoc (also counts as a literal Darkest Hour, as the influence of the slime causes an eclipse which plunges the city into darkness).
  • This occurs during the original Godzilla when Dr. Serizawa is torn between using the Oxygen Destroyer or keeping it a secret. It's not until he's shown the tragedy caused by Godzilla's rampage that he finally decides to use it...but only once.
  • During the animated Transformers movie. They even call it by name.

Ultra Magnus: "But Prime, I'm just a soldier... I'm not worthy."
Optimus Prime [mortally wounded]: "Nor was I. But one day... an Autobot shall rise from our ranks... and use the power of the Matrix... to light... our darkest hour."

  • The gay romance Latter Days, where we're led to believe closetted Mormon Aaron commits suicide after breaking up with Christian and getting excommunicated from his church for being gay.
  • In The Matrix Revolutions, Big Bad Agent Smith escapes the Matrix and enters the real world in disguise and attacks the last of the human rebellion. He blinds a defenseless Neo who is really powerless outside of the Matrix, and becomes the biggest threat.
  • The Darkest Hour looks pretty bleak, what with cities crumbling and weird energy tentacles turning humans into ash. The perfect Christmas film!
  • My Little Pony: The Movie: Dream Valley is already buried, and the Smooze is advancing on Paradise Estate, the little ponies' last refuge. The adults don't know for sure if Megan and the others made it to Flutter Valley, and that this could be the end. They tell the children to close their eyes, so that if it is indeed the end they at least won't have to see it.
  • How to Train Your Dragon' has its time when Hiccup, disowned by his father after his forbidden friendship with Toothless the Dragon is discovered, is watching the horizon helplessly after seeing his father's fleet proceed to the Dragon island with Toothless to certain doom when they are bound to arouse the Red Death Dragon.
  • The Avengers has two: one for the film as a whole, and one for the Final Battle (which was so big, Joss Whedon had to plot it out like a film in its own right).
    • The first time comes when the Helicarrier is barely functioning after Brainwashed and Crazy Hawkeye's attack and the Hulk's rampage; Thor is gone, Banner is gone, Iron Man's armour is a hair's breath from completely crapping out, Black Widow is inches from a Heroic BSOD, Agent Coulson is dead, Loki has escaped, and S.H.I.E.L.D. still has no idea where the Tesseract is.
    • The Darkest Hour of the Final Battle is when the Avengers, despite having assembled, have been ridiculously outnumbered and outgunned by the Chitauri. Iron Man and Hawkeye are running low on ammo, Thor and Cap are surrounded, the Hulk is being pummelled by weapons fire, and to top it all off, the WSC declare "Fuck this!" and fire a nuke at Manhattan.


  • In The Princess Bride (both the book and the movie), the boy gets a little upset at the part where Westley is dead and Buttercup supposedly marries Humperdinck. What's the point of reading this story? That's not how it's supposed to end! It takes him years to realize just how deeply that moment affected him.
  • Most of J. R. R. Tolkien's work has at least one of these.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Philosopher's Stone, Harry throws away for his House any realistic competition in the House Cup and resolves to give up saving the Stone.
    • In Chamber of Secrets, the school is under intense lockdown, devoid of hope, and Cornelius Fudge and Lucius Malfoy have banished the people who would be of most help.
    • In Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry has failed in his rescue, a vile man has escaped into the ether, and everyone believes he has been magically confused into believing utter lies.
    • Goblet of Fire's Darkest Hour, oddly enough, is fairly early in, when Harry, in becoming a champion, is shunned by most of the school, including one of his best friends.
    • In Order of the Phoenix, Umbridge is swiftly taking over and souring everything great and good about Hogwarts. This ends when the trio find a way to fight back.
    • In Half-Blood Prince, The Cave.
    • In Deathly Hallows, beginning with Ron walking out and ending with the Silver Doe.
      • From Scrimgeor's death onwards, the entire wizarding community faces its darkest hour.
      • To say nothing of the final battle against Voldemort and the revelation of Harry's destiny.
  • Older Than Dirt: The death of The Hero's best friend, Enkidu, in The Epic of Gilgamesh triggers the first Heroic BSOD.
  • I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream: the ending to the short story functions as this. On the other hand, most of the videogame functions as a Darkest Hour until the endgame.
  • Katie MacAlister's Aisling Gray series ends book three at such a low point that it took this troper at least a year to pick up book four.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Blood Angels novel Deus Sanguinius, Rafen first, under psychic attacks, nearly commits suicide. Fighting against the attacks, and a vision, free him from the compulsion but make his duty clear to him: he tries to blow up the city where his fellow Blood Angels are breaking with their Chapter. It fails, they pursue him. It ends only when they catch him in a factory, and it explodes.
  • The Star Trek: Destiny trilogy by David Mack has its Darkest Hour (and arguably, the Darkest Hour of the entire Star Trek franchise) at the end of the second novel, when enough Borg ships to lay waste to every planet in known space come screaming into the alpha quadrant and tear through the combined forces of Starfleet, the Klingons, the Cardassians, Romulans, Ferengi and Talarians as if they were made of tissue paper.
  • The ending of Soul of the Fire sees Kahlan hanging to life by a fragile thread and having lost the child she was carrying, Richard believing that the Imperial Order is impossible to defeat, and a general lack of anything good having come from the events of the book, with Richard, Kahlan, and Cara quietly leaving in utter defeat.
  • In Andre Norton's Jargoon Pard, Kethan is Switched At Birth for a woman's daughter, because only a son can inherit. At the climax, this is revealed to the woman and his parents; they reveal that actually, they knew it for a long time, practically from infancy, and still consider her their daughter. Kethan nearly despairs, because his purported mother no longer wants him, because she can no longer use him. After the fight, however, his parents eagerly lay claim both to their biological son and the daughter they raised.
  • In Chapter 21 of The Pilo Family Circus, Shalice the fortune teller has gotten her crystal ball back, ending the Freedom Movement's attempt to destroy the circus and curtailing any future bids for freedom. For good measure, Kurt Pilo has had Winston tortured as negative reenforcement.
  • The Alienist: Dr. Kreitzler leaves the team after the shooting at his home. This almost derails the investigation.
  • In Warrior Cats, the darkest hour comes when Scourge kills Tigerstar, who had been the Big Bad up until then and declares that he and his clan are taking over the forest. Points for the book actually being called The Darkest Hour.
  • In Septimus Heap:
    • Queste: When Septimus is taken away from Jenna and Beetle in the House of Foryx.
    • Darke: After Jenna has told Septimus about Sarah being trapped in the Darke Domaine, he is completely broken.
  • Someone Elses War: Matteo and his friends have come up with a clever plan to arrest the ranking officials of the LRA without any violence. And then half his friends are wiped out in a single move when the LRA decides they've got too many mouths to feed.

Live-Action TV

  • On Doctor Who:
    • In "The War Games", the Doctor pragmatically summons his people, the Time Lords, knowing that he will then have to face their judgement and even the ever-optimistic Second Doctor knows he cannot run from them any more. By the end of the story, the Time Lords have separated the Doctor from his companions and he faces trial by his own people. This ended up the Second Doctor's tenure and finished off the black and white era of the program.
    • "Logopolis", the final story of the Fourth Doctor (the longest running Doctor on television to date). Most of the universe One tenth of the universe, to be specific (which is still a hell of a lot), has already been destroyed, the situation has gotten so dire that the Doctor's future self had to bail him out, and the Master finally decides to take the remaining universe hostage.
    • "The Sound of Drums" (which again features the Master) counts as a Darkest Hour, for the Doctor and for the Earth.
    • Possibly the darkest hour in not just the show's history, but in the whole of fiction occurs in "The Pandorica Opens" when it is revealed that the apparently Back from the Dead Rory is actually an Auton duplicate with the original's memories created as part of a huge trap for the Doctor by an alliance of all his enemies, who kills Amy just as she remembers him. The Doctor is shut in the Pandorica, an inescapable prison, despite his pleas for them to listen to his warnings of the impending destruction of space and time. It's in vain, because the TARDIS explodes with River inside of it, creating the cracks that set the season in motion in the first place and causing every star in every universe to explode at every moment in history, making it as if reality never existed in the first place. It all gets better in the finale though.
    • "A Good Man Goes To War", where the Doctor rose so high, and saw everything taken away, when Melody is taken away from under his nose, so she can be raised to kill him.
  • The end of the Chuck episode "Chuck Versus Sarah" is arguably the most depressing moment of the series. Not only has Sarah lost her memory, but after seeing her video logs, she starts to realize just how crucial the last five years of her life were and how different she became after falling in love. She sets out for Quinn with the knowledge that killing him won't actually make that any better, and Chuck watches the love of his life walk away from him knowing that she remembers almost nothing of their time together.

Sarah: I just wanted to tell you that I believe you. I believe everything that you told me about us. But the truth is, Chuck, I don't feel it. Everything that you told me about us and our story, I just ... I don't feel it.

    • For some viewers, depending on how you interpret the last few moments of the series, that doesn't actually get better.
  • The end of the episode "Spiral" in season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hellgod Glory has kidnapped Buffy's little sister/cosmic MacGuffin Dawn/The Key, and is going to use her to end the world. Plus, Giles is badly injured and the gang are stranded in the middle of nowhere.
  • In Angel, argubly one of the darkest moments is the end of season three where Wesley has betrayed the team and been abandoned, Cordelia has Ascended to A Higher Plane of Existence, and Angel's been trapped at the bottom of the sea by his own son.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, the episode "Best of Both Worlds" marks a "darkest hour" for the crew and for the series which was facing cancellation. At the end of Season Three, Enterprise is damaged, the Borg have decimated the forces massed at Wolf 359, and they have captured Captain Picard assimilating his knowledge and their one trick shot with the main deflector dish fails and damages the ship. Riker is forced to take command of the ship and appoint his rival Lt. Commander Shelby to be his first officer, as the Borg move to assimilate Earth. That's about as bad as it gets on TNG.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has quite a few involving the Dominion. The two most likely candidates occur when the station is abandoned at the end of season 5, and is not recaptured until 6 episodes into the next season, and "In The Pale Moonlight", when it appears that Senator Vreenak has discovered the falsified evidence Sisko and Garak had made to get the Romulans to join the war.
  • Stargate SG-1 season 5 leads up to this: despite defeating Apophis once and for all at the start of the season, one by one, Earth and its allies are targeted for destruction by Anubis; the Tollan are destroyed, the rebel Jaffa and Tok'ra are scattered, and Earth escapes a Colony Drop unscathed (barely). Anubis turns out to have Ancient technology that can rival the Asgard, and Thor gets his brain sucked out. Oh, and Daniel Jackson is dead. They're screwed, and the next season doesn't give them much more hope.
    • Season four ended with such as well. Teal'c last seen being taken by Apophis' Dragon. Then, because of the effects of the sun blowing up on hyperspace windows, the ship belonging to SG-1 is flung galaxies away, with zillions of years at maximum hyperspace between them and home. Just after that sank in, It Got Worse: Apophis comes through the same window and is literally right on top of them, his command ship docking with theirs the way theirs would dock with a pyramid.
  • Things rarely get better in Battlestar Galactica. That said, two points in the series count as Darkest Hours:
    • In the first episodes of season 3, the New Caprica arc. Most of the insurgency's leaders are held prisoner on the planet. The free ones, Saul, Anders and Galen are increasingly desperate, with Galen getting careless after Cally is arrested and Saul unhinged after being tortured. Starbuck is missing, held prisoner by Leoben and subjected to Mind Rape with no way to reach her husband or allies. On the Fleet, the two Battlestars are undermanned and have no viable means of penetrating the planetary defence. William and Lee are in increasing disagreement on what to do, feeling hopeless and unable to help the people they love.
    • Starting at the middle of season 4… Ooooh boy. The Fleet finds Earth after years of searching, but the whole planet is a radioactive wasteland. The friendly cylons have been all but decimated, with only one ship surviving. Galactica herself is wounded and falls apart with old age. People fall prey to suicidal and auto-destructive behaviors, a situation that culminates in a bloody mutiny. The one child that symbolizes humanity's future is kidnapped by the bad cylons… and it keeps getting worse until the beginning of the Series Finale.
  • Lost, season six, episode fourteen. The ep is called "The Candidate", but could very well have been called "Darkest Hour" instead. The Man in Black is in full-on Kill'Em All mode, four main characters are dead—including the only person capable of piloting the Ajira plane—and the submarine has been destroyed, meaning there's literally no way of getting off the Island.
  • Babylon 5 has the episode Hour of the Wolf, where The Hero is dead after his Heroic Sacrifice, but didn't even manage to kill Morden. Garibaldi has been captured by someone, the Vorlons are done with what little diplomacy they did before, the League is taking their cues from Dying Like Animals, Londo sees his premonition of Shadow ships over Centauri Prime become true and Emperor Cartagia is planning on turning the Centauri homeworld into a giant funeral pyre to light his way to godhood. The Vorlons and the Shadows haven't started shooting yet, but they've thrown out the rules of engagement so it's only a matter of time.
  • The two-part opener of Merlin series four is called "The Darkest Hour." Furthermore, the tagline for the season as displayed on the posters is: "The darkest hour is just before the dawn." It's also a line of dialogue in the first episode, as said by Prince Arthur.
  • The Power Rangers Samurai episode The Tengen Gate ends with team leader Jayden poisoned and captured by a monster, the rest of the Rangers injured and unconscious, and Sixth Ranger Antonio left standing alone in despair.


  • Our Solemn Hour by Within Temptation.
  • "In My Darkest Hour" by Megadeth
  • "End of All Hope" by Nightwish
  • In choral settings of the Christian Mass, the music often lands in a minor key and slows down in the section of the Credo when Christ is crucified. When, in the next sentence, he is resurrected, the music perks right up into a major key and the tempo moves briskly along.
  • Without question the absolute darkest hour in Ludo's rock opera The Broken Bride is when the Time Traveller is at the apocalypse and decides to destroy his Time Machine, marooning himself there and severing himself from his beloved wife forever, to release the only things that may have a chance at destroying the zombie-making, soul-devouring Dragon: Pterodactyls.
  • Shinedown references this in their song, "The Sound of Madness." Potentially subverted, though, as the following line gives a potential Hope Spot:

The darkest hour never comes in the night; When ya gonna wake up and fight?!

  • The album Rain of a Thousand Flames from Rhapsody of Fire.
  • The Manual (the Timelords' guide to creating a #1 hit single, no money or talent necessary) tells its user to schedule a week in the recording studio actually creating the single, and warns that Tuesday will be wrecked by depression and self-doubt. The only solution is to press on: by Wednesday, everything should start to make sense again.
  • Pretty much the point of Wednesday 13's song, "We All Die:"

No matter what, you always put a smile upon my face
Just know that I love more than anything, just in case
We all die...

Tabletop Games

  • Magic: The Gathering graces us with Darkest hour . As far as the storyline is concerned, this point is reached when Yawgmoth personally manifests himself on Dominaria.
    • And again with New Phyrexia. If you haven't gleaned how that's a Darkest Hour from the title, the Phyrexians have invaded another plane. This time, they've won. From what's been spoiled so far, it seems as if they've been able to infect mana itself. The multiverse is screwed.


  • Joseph being thrown into prison in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: "Poor, poor Joseph, whatcha gonna do?/ Things look bad for you!/ Hey, whatcha gonna do?"
  • Wicked: "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished! All helpful urges should be circumvented - no good deed goes unpunished! Sure, I meant well, well look at what well-meant did!" Dead Little Sister, Villain with Good Publicity as powerful as ever, Beloved teacher reduced to bleating, love interest in chains and torment, and best friend is accomplice to all this.
  • Two in Man of La Mancha: One is for Aldonza, after being gang-raped by the muleteers. Then Don Quixote himself suffers this after the Knight of the Mirrors breaks his spirit.
  • Melchior comes home to find his love interest and their unborn child have been killed by a failed abortion, making it all his fault, and he's reminded that best friend committed suicide, and it's also his fault, indirectly. And this is not helped in the original German play, when the ghosts of his friends actually appear to try to make him commit suicide and join them. Some friends.
  • Les Misérables has a Darkest Hour for each of its main characters, it seems. For instance, Fantine's beg: "I never did no wrong / My daughter's close to dying / If there's a God above / He'd let me die instead."
  • 1776: "Gentlemen, we are about to brave the storm in a skiff made of paper." While history teachers forevermore would trumpet the signing of the Declaration as the birth of the United States of America, at the time the Founding Fathers knew that that "skiff made of paper" would have been a far safer bet - they faced another decade of war with a third of the Colonies on their side in a ragtag militia facing the might of the British Imperial Navy and knew they faced years of hardship and a charge of treason should they fail. John Adams might have been able to "see the rays of ravishing light and glory... through the gloom," but he also knew what they faced. There was very little joy in Independence Hall that day.
    • Actually, the Darkest Hour was yet to come: the Continental Army was soundly thrashed in the initial engagements at New York, and the broken remnants fled across New Jersey desperately attempting to escape the British. It was this that prompted Tom Paine to write "These are the times that try men's souls...."
  • The third act of Vanities, where the characters' friendship is strained to the breaking point. Worse, this was the original non-musical play's finale.

Video Games

  • The ending of Dreamfall: April Ryan was hit with a spear and tumbled into the water, never to emerge; Kian Alvane, the 'apostle' of a religion that converts by killing, had a crisis of faith and was promptly imprisoned; Zoe Castillo, the main protagonist, was sent into a permanent coma.
  • Neverwinter Nights
    • The beginning of the third chapter of Hordes of the Underdark, at least until you talk to the Reaper.
    • For that matter, the beginning of the second chapter of Shadows of Undrentide.
    • The final sequence of the most recent translated module of the Bastard of Kosigan saga, at least for players who chose to ally themselves with Mordred: Modred and Alex are dead, the French are overrunning your city, the Burgundians are too far away to arrive to help in time, and depending on some other choices you made there could be many other things going wrong.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: The party has been imprisoned by Admiral Karath, the Ebon Hawk locked up in the docking bay, Darth Malak is on his way to take possession of the party, and depending on your choices you may be forced to rely on the skills of a snot-nosed teenaged Twi'lek to survive.
    • Don't underestimate said Twi'lek. However, even when you get out, It Gets Worse for Light Side players. Karath uses his last breath to screw with Carth's head, and Malak has a Tomato Surprise. Alternately, if you play Dark Side, you can turn the ending into one of these.
  • Dragon Age: The Ferelden army has been routed, the king slain, the senior Grey Wardens killed, the Darkspawn horde is moving unopposed into Ferelden, and a xenophobic treacherous bastard is seizing power in a heavy-handed manner that may provoke civil war. You are one of two Grey Wardens left in the country. Good luck.
  • The ending of Dragon Age 2: the underlying tension between mage and Templar has finally exploded into open conflict, the Chantry is working on a major schism, and just to put the icing on the cake Orlais is eyeing Ferelden again. There are also hints of Tevinter regaining its power and the Qunari gearing up for another invasion attempt.
  • Mass Effect: The Citadel fleet has been demolished by the Geth, Soverign and Saren are working to open the relay to bring the rest of the Reapers in from dark space, and you have one minute to make it past at least four Geth colossi to get to the Conduit before it closes.
    • Mass Effect 2 open with The Hero dying, along with the Normandy. You're then brought back to life by a terrorist organization, because another group of advanced enemies is working for the Reapers, and the Council has spent two years convincing themselves that the Reapers aren't real. Oh, and you're on a suicide mission to bring down said group.
    • The Mass Effect 3 debut trailer appears to be building to this with the Reapers finally invading the Milky Way.
      • "2 million dead in the first day. 7 million more by the end of the week." Honestly, the Reapers seem to be moving slowly. But then, Trailers Always Lie.
      • Actually, it's implied that that figure is just the number of casualties in London.
        • According to Vigil, it took the Reapers 500 years to exterminate the entire galaxy in the last cycle. Several million dead a day for 500 years will really add up if Shepard can't find a way to stop them...
      • The Loss of the VI on and subsquent Fall of Thessia is handled as an in-story Darkest Hour. Everyone aboard the Normandy, especially Liara, who also realized on that mission that the entirety of her species' history was a lie, is really devastated after the mission. During the debriefing and talking with crew members after the mission, you see Shepard is just inches from a Heroic BSOD.
  • BioWare liked this one: Jade Empire drops a whopper. You battle your way to the Emperor and kill him. your "kindly" master smiles, congratulates you on your strength and skill, then casually kills you.
  • Most of the Final Fantasy series has one, or more:
    • In Final Fantasy VI, an insane megalomaniac has massacred the Espers, destroyed the balance between the Warring Triad, ravaged the world irreparably, attained godlike power, obliterated the heroes' airship, and scattered said heroes to the four winds. As a direct result of his actions, magical beasts run rampant over what's left of the world, what little vegetation is left is dying, humankind is dwindling, and, once the player resumes control of Celes, she's told that she (and Cid) is probably the last survivor anyway, with everyone else on the island having thrown themselves off a cliff in sheer despair... while she was in a year-long coma. In a desperate bid for any sort of hope, Cid and Celes adopt each other as grandfather and granddaughter, but he falls ill and is bedridden. Then, if Celes fails to keep him healthy by feeding him strong, quick-moving fish, he dies, at which point Celes loses all will to live and takes a flying leap off the cliff herself, leaving a Sparkling Stream of Tears in her wake.
    • In Final Fantasy VII it occurs when Cloud hands over the Black Materia to Sephiroth who proceeds to summon down Meteor to bring about The End of the World as We Know It. In addition to that, the WEAPONs are rampaging all over the planet and Cloud and Tifa decide it is a convenient time to have their respective mental breakdowns.
      • The one ray of hope that might save the planet can't work because Sephiroth is blocking it, so the heroes have to lay siege to a series of caves in the middle of a frozen wasteland protected by an energy shield to fight a godlike superbeing just for the planet to have a chance at survival.
    • In Final Fantasy IX, On Terra, at one point Zidane goes through an Heroic BSOD. Before the You Are Not Alone Power of Friendship saving throw, it looks REALLY, REALLY dire.
  • Fire Emblem 4: Genealogy of the Holy War hits the player with this at the end of chapter 5.
  • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
    • During the second arc with Queen Elencia. Ludvec kidnaps Lucia, the Greil Mercenaries and Bastian are nowhere to be found, your main army with the most competent warriors are sidetracked and delayed by an enemy ploy and Ludvec surronds your last stronghold with a massive army of traitors and usurpers.
    • In the Third Chapter, thanks to Skrimir's idiocy, Naesala's treachery and Begnion's bastardry, the Gallian forces are trapped in enemy territory with the world's superpower on one side and Daein, which holds quite a few old friends, closing in on the other. They are forced to stage a full scale retreat losing the territory they gained and some of it they started with.
    • The entirety of the game counts as one for Daein. It opens with them under a positively brutal occupation in which Begnion commits multiple atrocities including labor camps and murdering the citizenry. When that's over, Lord of the Incompetent, Pelleas, gets looped into a Deal with the Devil to serve Begnion which, in short, reads if you disobey every single Daein citizen will die of an magical incurable plague. Then they get wrapped in the the Gallian-Begnion war in which the Greil Mercenaries proceed to beat the crap out of them. THEN the an alliance of Crimea, Gallia and the bird tribes proceeds to march through Daein to Begnion with Daein losing every battle. Their bad luck doesn't end until the event that, strangely, is the world's Darkest Hour which Daein's Hope Spot.
    • The last and biggest occurs when members of the dragon tribe side with Micaiah and Daein. This means that literally the world is at war and that Yune, Goddess of Chaos is going to awaken. By sheer luck, the heros manage to find out the secret to awakening her peacefully just in time. Unfortunately, this also awakens Ashera, the Goddess of Order who proceeds to turn every single person, warrior, peasant, or little child, into stone.
  • Chrono Trigger has this just after you confront Queen Zeal in the Ocean Palace. Lavos woke up, knocked out the entire party with one attack, obliterated Crono, and destroyed Zeal. Schala teleported the party out with her magic, but she was caught in the Ocean Palace as it collapsed. The Epoch is gone, the time gate out of 12,000 BC is still sealed (and without Schala, there's no hope of breaking the seal), and Dalton and his troops are declaring sovereignty over what's left of the world. Just to add to that, the closest thing the party has to an ally is the person they've spent the first part of the game trying to kill.
  • In Chrono Cross, after the visit to Fort Dragonia. Lynx pulls a Grand Theft Me on Serge, turns his party against him, stabs Kid when she figures out what's going on, and throws Serge into a dimensional void. Even after Harle helps Serge out, he's still stuck in Home World, separated from all his friends, stuck in Lynx's body, while Dark Serge is doing god-knows-what in Another World.
  • Twilight Princess Example: Zant steals the fused shadows, Link gets trapped in his wolf form, and Midna is dying.
  • Cave Story, after the Iron Head fight. You've failed to stop The Doctor from acquiring the red flowers, and your last-ditch effort to take him down with the entire island also failed. Mimiga Village is completely empty, all its citizens taken by the Doctor (and its theme music switches to something appropriately creepy), and the Egg Chamber was ravaged by an explosion. King and Toroko are dead, and Curly Brace is either dead in the Core Chamber or damaged and God-knows-where. Your only ally (or allies) who hasn't been killed or taken prisoner says there's nothing left to do but flee, and it's possible to take him up on the offer.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has the microwave tunnel scene. As you continue to hammer the triangle button, the screen is split between Snake moving down the hallway, falling to his knees as his equipment explodes, having to crawl to the end, while the top portion shows his allies about to lose their respective battles. Raiden gets surrounded and stabbed by FROGs, Johnny and Meryl run out of ammo as an endless wave of enemies continues to charge them, and Metal Gear RAY mounts the battleship and prepares to fire on the bridge. This continues into the next scene and gets even worse, with Snake being overwhelmed by Mini-GEKKO and screaming Otacon's name as Otacon practically has a breakdown when it looks like he's not going to be able to upload the virus in time. All played to an absolutely heartrending soundtrack. Things looked pretty bleak before, but that sequence has players nearly breaking the controller from bashing the button so hard, praying that everything will turn out okay.
  • Medi Evil 2 has this at the end of the Whitechapel level.
  • In the Spyro the Dragon game Dawn of the Dragon, the climax has a type three one of these. Ignitus performs a Heroic Sacrifice, Malefor takes over Cynder's mind and turns her on Spyro, this causes Spyro to go over the Despair Event Horizon. A Hope Spot occurs when Spyro saves Cynder with the Power of Love, but is quickly crushed when, while battling Malefor, the Great Destroyer finishes its path, beginning the planet's destruction and forcing the two heroes to battle Malefor as they plummet to the planet's core. They after a long brutal battle they overcome Malefor, causing him to be sealed away and Spyro saves the planet, almost killing them both in the process.
  • The submarine in Ghost Trick. After saving so many lives so many times, Sissel and his friends are left in a leaking metal coffin slowly falling to the bottom of the cold sea. They are totally and utterly alone, without so much as a telephone line as a way out, and those of them that can't die will be left alone in the dark ocean forever.
  • In Super Paper Mario, Sammer's Kingdom gets destroyed by the Void, you're forced to fight your own Brainwashed and Crazy brother, then find that the Pure Heart that was located in the world that just got obliterated has been stripped of its power, no one has any idea of how to fix it... and then The Dragon shows up in between chapters to off your entire party in one go.
  • Literally the Darkest Hour in the last GDI mission of Command & Conquer - Tiberian Sun - Kane's World Altering Missile is set to launch in three hours. And ICBM launchers will destroy the GDI orbital command center Philidelphia to boot.
  • Homeworld has a Darkest Hour of its own. It's not during the third level, but the last, where you have finally found your Homeworld. Unfortunately you've got several enemy fleets between you and it, out for your blood and Fleet Command is not responding...
  • Super Metroid. A giant Metroid appears. You can't kill it with any of your weapons. It latches onto you, and rains your health faster than you being submerged in the acid in Ridley's lair with the Power Suit and nothing more. No weapons can repel that monster. When you're in your very last HP point, it stops, gets off and starts vocalizing. Do you recognize those squeaks? It's Baby! It then flies off, leaving a clear way to a recharge station.
    • Another comes in the battle against Mother Brain. It uses a beam that not only presses Samus to the wall, it disintegrates her ammo as well. No matter how much you fight, it'll keep doing it until you can't stand anymore, then it batters you up with a few more shots and charges the death beam again. And then Baby latches onto its face.
  • Tales of Monkey Island has one: In Chapter 4, Guybrush watches Morgan die from a stab wound (which had been inflicted by LeChuck). As if that wasn't enough, he and Elaine get caught in clamshell traps set up by De Singe just as the former is finishing the Feast for the Senses for La Esponja Grande; and after he destroys De Singe and cures everyone of the Pox of LeChuck, the villain himself breaks free, creates a bit of a Hope Spot for Guybrush and Elaine by temporarily freeing them, and then erases it by killing the former and capturing both the latter and the sponge. While Guybrush is thinking up some means of escape in the Crossroads of the afterlife, LeChuck knocks Winslow off the Screaming Narwhal and sets it adrift at sea, damages Flotsam Island, by destroying many of its inhabitants, destroys Spinner Cay and its many Vaycaylians, damages the entire Gulf of Melange and makes it his own Villain World. Right after Guybrush creates another Hope Spot and opens the rips in the Crossroads, the villain gets his chance to erase it again by tossing the sponge into the rip and drawing voodoo power from the Crossroads. And to make matters worse, Elaine agrees to be turned into his demon bride who then sprays Guybrush with voodoo root beer, zapping him back to the Crossroads! A truly dark hour indeed!
  • Chapter 6 of The Reconstruction. The Watchers are dead, the world is in ruins, and an all-powerful "Lord-God" is sweeping up what little remains. The main characters are the only remaining hope for reconstruction.
  • After the Lava Caves in Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean. Geldoblame is dead, the five End Magnus are in the hands of The Chessmaster, and Kalas has gone to The Dark Side. The party is scattered, with Xelha being locked up in the Imperial Fortress, the others are who-knows-where, and Kalas has disowned the Guardian Spirit. It's ultimately an example of the third type of this trope, as there's several hope spots before the happy ending.
  • A bit early into Dawn of War II, you have been facing an Ork invasion and have only recently found the Eldar mucking around the Blood Ravens' recruiting worlds. Then, Tyranids arrive and Captain Thule, who was in command of the whole affair, is mostly killed by a Tyranid Warrior that gets away. So at that point, you've got an Ork Waaagh!, an Eldar strike force and a Tyranid tendril creeping on your recruiting worlds and only two Space Marine Companies (IV and X), bereft of a leader to fight them back with. Sergeant Tarkus even uses the exact words of the trope to describe the situation.
    • And the Chapter is terribly, terribly understrength after a botched campaign in Kauvara, in Dawn of War : Soulstorm.
  • Battlefield 3. Campo and Matkovich are dead. You killed Cole. Dima failed to stop the destruction of Paris via suitcase nuke. The OGA refuses to believe that Solomon is the Big Bad, and moves to lock Blackburn away in Leavenworth for a long time. And there's still one missing nuke.
  • HAWX 2, at the end. Most of the squad is dead, the Russian general has access to the laser satellites, and nukes are launching all over the place.
  • The beginning of the final day of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All, case 2-4. Maya's been kidnapped by a professional assassin, who wants him to get an acquittal for the client-of-the-week in exchange for Maya's life. Phoenix then has to spend the first day breaking one of the biggest woobies in the series to achieve his goal, only to find out that his client is guilty-as-all-hell. On top of that, just when the player thinks they found out where Maya is being kept, the assassin slipped right out of the police's grasp, leaving them back to square one on where to find her, the player is given a You Bastard moment by said woobie, and now Phoenix has to decide between proving his client guilty or saving Maya's life. All while the client is standing there and mocking you.
  • This was both literally and figuratively the case in Dark Souls before the player character escapes the northern undead prison. The First Flame is dying, and when it does all light and fire shall go out with it. As a result much of the world is suffering through endless nights. The world has also be devastated by a curse of undeath called the Dark Sign and many, many civilizations have collapsed as a result.
  • This is pretty much how the Protoss campaign of Starcraft II, Legacy of the Void, begins: Artanis's attempt to reconquer Aiur from the Zerg is a complete disaster, Amon has taken control of the entire Golden Armada, even Artanis succumbs to Amon's influence and Zeratul has to sacrifice himself to break him out of the mind control, the last few free Protoss are forced to flee in an ancient ship while Amon starts wrecking havoc everywhere in the Protoss system and will inevitably threaten the entire universe.

Web Comics

  • Sluggy Freelance, as might be expected from such a plot-heavy series of its length, has at least three examples.
    • The first is at the end of Chapter 12, when Gwynn is in an apparently irreversible coma, and Torg and Zoë are trapped in pre-Norman Britain in an Army of Darkness parody.
    • The second, a pastiche of such moments in horror films, in chapter 32, after a group consisting of the majority of the storyline's surviving cast, including Torg and Bert, are ambushed and apparently killed in the space of a single strip. It would be just a one-strip fake out like the one two chapters later, except that only Torg and Flaky - and not Bert - actually did survive.
    • The third, and certainly most grim, is at the end of chapter 59: Oasis having crossed the Moral Event Horizon by apparently incinerating Riff and Zoë, Torg's optimistic certainty that they'd escaped to another dimension is defeated by his revelation that his memory of events was wrong, and that what seemed to be pessimistic babble by Gwynn was actually her presenting proof that Zoë, at least, was dead; cut to the alternate dimension Riff and Zoë had in fact escaped to to see Riff apparently be gunned down over Zoë's charred corpse, followed by a Filler arc of Kiki explaining to ZHOAS why you should accept when a likable character's been killed off. And just as Sasha was reintroduced.
  • The Order of the Stick: Azure City, a major bastion of Good, is overrun by an army of hobgoblins. The goblin cleric and evil lich that command them thus get access to a gate holding a universe-devouring monstrosity. Most of the paladins are wiped out, and the strongest is taken prisoner. The survivors from the city are living on boats while trying to find a new place to settle. The leader of the heroes has been killed during the battle. The surviving team is separated and unable to contact each other and the wizard of the party has now defected at the urging of his/her personal demons and is manipulated into accepting a Deal with the Devil and is now teetering on the brink between heroism and villainhood.
    • Oh, and that Gate? It gets destroyed during the battle. And while that may mean that the villains can't harness its powers, it now means that there's a gaping hole in reality and the seal containing the Snarl has been significantly weakened. Oh, and while Vaarsuvius may have come to his/her senses, he/she still owes his/her soul to the IFCC, who still seem interested in using him/her as a pawn. On the bright side, however, O-Chul's capture allowed him to befriend the Monster in the Darkness, and seems to have started it down the path to a Heel Face Turn, so some good came of this mess.
  • Homestuck Act Five Act Two: Vriska kills Tavros. Eridan has a Face Heel Turn, blinds Sollux, murders Feferi and Kanaya (she gets better), and dooms the troll species to extinction by destroying the Matriorb. Then Gamzee runs out of sopor pie, sobers up and goes Ax Crazy, killing Equius and Nepeta. There is also that little matter of Jack Noir, who has so far killed Bro, Davesprite (also gets better), John (also gets better), Rose (also gets better), the actual Dave (also gets better), an alternate Dave (does not get better), the dreamselves of every troll, Mom and Dad, wiped out the populations of three entire planets, and destroyed all fourteen planets of the trolls' Medium. With Gamzee apparently neutralised and Eridan and Vriska killed by Kanaya and Terezi respectively, though, it looks like everyone may finally have the time to work on getting themselves out of this mess.
    • The trolls are first introduced right in the middle of their Darkest Hour. They finally beat the game, and are just about to claim their reward...when Jack shows up and starts killing everything, forcing the trolls to hide out on an asteroid and pretty much wait for death.
  • El Goonish Shive: In the ninth part of the Sister II arc Nanase futilely tries to talk to Abraham to convince him to spare Ellen's life but he cuts her fairy doll avatar down. This hurts her unimaginably as she can feel everything but she creates another avatar and tries again. Abraham thinks he is fighting puppets controlled by the elf he defeated earlier and refuses to even acknowledge what she is trying to tell him believing it to be trickery. Instead, he cuts the avatars down as fast as Nanase can create them each time causing her physical pain but she keeps trying over and over again. All this while every mortal being in the area who could possibly help her has either been put into a deep sleep by Abraham or is unaware of her plight.

Web Original

  • There Will Be Brawl - the butchers are still on the loose, Princess Peach is still missing, and to make matters worse, Kirby has escaped from jail.
  • Whateley Universe example: the story "Christmas Elves". One chapter ends with Fey trapped and powerless in a magical circle so she can be mindslaved, Shroud gone, and Generator locked to a table and stabbed through the heart so hard that the athame goes through her and is stuck in the table.

Western Animation

  • The Powerpuff Girls - The Movie: The city's being destroyed by mutated monkeys, the entire city of Townsville hates them, and Mojo Jojo is holding their father hostage.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has two potential candidates. One is the "Crossroads of Destiny" where Zuko does not complete his Heel Face Turn, Azula backshoots Aang with lightning, nearly killing him, and the previously impenetrable Earth Kingdom Capital Ba Sing Se falls to the Fire Nation. Another is the "Day of the Black Sun" where Sokka tries to lead an invasion of the Fire Nation during a solar eclipse. Instead, we learn that Azula knew about the invasion all along and the Fire Nation was ready. The end result was that the invasion failed, virtually all the troops were sent to prison, and the few remaining children had to hide out in the Western Air Temple.
    • The latter was not all bad—the thing keeping it from being a total downer was Zuko's long-awaited real Heel Face Turn, heralded by an epic Calling the Old Man Out scene and totally badass lightning redirection.
  • Every season of Teen Titans has one of these occur during the season finale.
    • Season 1: The Teen Titans are infected with nanobots that will kill them upon Slade's command. To save their lives, Robin swears to serve Slade as his apprentice.
    • Season 2: Terra casts aside all compassion she once felt for the Teen Titans, ruthlessly attacks and attempts to kill them, and helps Slade conquer the city.
    • Season 3: Cyborg quits the Teen Titans so he can be leader of Titans East. Titans East, however, are under Brother Blood's psychic control.
    • Season 4: Trigon arises and kills everyone on the face of the Earth except for Slade and the Teen Titans.
    • Season 5: Though not technically the season finale, the culmination of the story arc involved the Brotherhood of Evil kidnapping every teenage superhero on the planet (with only five or six exceptions). The actual season finale also fulfilled this trope, at least if you were a Beast Boy/Terra shipper.
  • The last episode(s) of Danny Phantom where a freakin' asteroid is about to come hurtling towards Earth. Several attempts to create a Hope Spot occurs when the entire world sends missiles towards it, but they ultimately fail and the entire planet is left to bind their time till their doom.
    • Not to mention that the protagonist and titular character has gotten rid of his ghost powers and the villain offers everyone another hope spot...in return for being named ruler of the world.
  • The concept of the "Darkest Hour" is a major part of Transformers philosophy, signifying a threat that seems to blot out all hope in the universe. The way to avert it is to bring all Transformers together against whatever threatens them - thus the phrase "Till All Are One". The animated movie is the example of this, but it recurs throughout different continuities.
  • ReBoot: The city is completely ruined, only the principal office has any power, and it's impossible to repair the city. The remaining population is holed up in the principal office and doesn't have the supplies to last very long. And to make matters worse a game has landed which will crash the entire system when the User wins. The only way out of this mess is to invoke a Deus Ex Machina and pray for the User to intervene as the system crashes and everything fades to black. A couple of key strokes from the User and everything is fixed, including bringing back the dead.
  • Kim Possible has had two of these moments, both in original and second Grand Finales. In the first, Kim is devastated from being played by Drakken, who is about to unleash an army of powerful robots all across the world. In the second, Kim has been captured by Alien Invaders while the planet is overwhelmed by alien walkers. The second is probably the closest the world has ever been to being taken over.
  • At the end of the first episode of season two of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Discord has won, most of the heroes have been broken and Mind Raped, the Elements of Harmony, the only thing that can possibly stop him, are in his grasp, and he's unleashed a storm of corruption and suffering upon Equestria.
    • And in the follow-up episode, Discord reveals to Twilight that she led them into the trap because she didn't think the riddle through to the end. Despite that, Twilight does manage to assemble the Elements of Harmony—only for them to fail. The Mane Six go their separate ways and Twilight actually gives up and is ready to leave Ponyville. It takes a timely intervention from Celestia to snap her out of it.
    • In the season finale, the Changeling Queen Chrysalis manages to defeat both the Mane Six and Princess Celestia, and take over Canterlot in a preparation for her horde to conquer Equestria. She's only defeated when Cadence uses The Power of Love to supercharge Shining Armor's shield spell, which banishes the changelings from the city Team Rocket style.
  • The Doomsday Project from Sonic Sat AM.[context?]

Real Life

  • The Black Death, so far the most horrific plague Europe ever had to face. In a span of three-four years, the population of Europe was reduced of one third. The general perception was that the Apocalypse was coming.
    • The Black Death pales beside the plague that was suffered by the Native North and South Americans that wiped out 90 percent of their population at some point in between Columbus and the pilgrims.
  • The Other Wiki attributes Winston Churchill as the Trope Namer for this phrase, having used it in speeches for the period of World War II where France had just fallen to the Nazis, they had turned against Soviet Union to the east and were launching The Blitz against Britain.
  • The Cold War, for humanity as a whole. In a reversal of all indications from history, two powerful nations in an arms race, itching to defeat the other, did not go to war in a period of 40 years. With enough nuclear weapons to render the Earth uninhabitable many times over, and events like the Cuban Missile Crisis bringing tensions to alarming levels, where the public kept track of something called The Doomsday Clock, the Cold War ended peacefully.
    • The Cuban Missile Crisis deserves further special mention, here. It's one of the closest instances of nuclear war to date. The solution that prevented nuclear war was not even possible at first, and was a longshot from the beginning, relying on military and political leaders, as well as the personnel up and down the line on both sides, to put their faith in the hope that the other side (and even their own) would avoid nuclear war at all costs. Leaders on both sides, especially at the worst parts of the crisis, were well aware that The End of the World as We Know It was likely if they didn't pull through.