Trope Workshop:Fantastic Tribulation

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    The start of something that will change the world for better or worse.

    The Fantastic Tribulation is a phenomenon describing a setting which has gone through a storm of chaos brought about by supernatural forces and beings, such that society is incapable of countering this event through conventional means. This leads to either an Urban Fantasy or an After the End scenario turning into a Cozy Catastrophe. In either case, they involve people gaining access to magic or some other form of mystical powers. Learning to use these powers is crucial to surviving in this new world.

    The theme of Fantastic Tribulations is common in web-based media, particularly gaming-themed webcomic and has seen a relative resurgence in Korean web novels and webtoons. These particular works are often set in a RPG Mechanics Verse that may or may not be full of dungeons, both of which are often tied to the civilization-shifting catalyst this trope describes. Some urban fantasy works that employ this trope additionally focus on new adversities that arise in these conditions from not just this new status quo, but the people seen as its protectors.

    The purpose is to provide a bridge between the normal world and an extraordinary setting.

    Contrast The Magic Comes Back. See also War in Heaven, which may precipitate this trope.

    Examples of Fantastic Tribulation include:


    • The Zillow ad "The Journey" features this as a little girl prepares to move with her magical animal friends to a new island, navigating on a boat over heavy waves as they mourn what they leave behind. Their new home has trees with eyes, whispers of doubts, and a fantastic, spacious castle carved into the mountains. They resolve to make the best of it, though the girl snuggles her friends when she can't sleep. Turns out it was an Imagine Spot of the girl moving into a normal house, and it ends with another kid inviting her to play, calling her "New neighbor"; her animal friends were her stuffed toys. Her mother is relieved when seeing her daughter smile for the first time in days.

    Anime and Manga

    • As seen in the picture above, in CALL TO ADVENTURE! Defeating Dungeons with a Skill Board, an event called 'The Stampede' caused dungeons to appear worldwide, with monsters ravaging the world. Civilization bounced back as the government allowed people to become Adventurers to venture into dungeons, defeating monsters and leveling up while gaining magical items and equipment.
    • The World Is Overflowing with Monster, I’m Taking a Liking to This Life [sic] is set on Earth where it becomes an RPG Mechanics Verse devastated by monsters, with no access to electricity and other modern conveniences. People, animals, and monsters alike can utilize the verse mechanics for skills, jobs, and increased stats.
    • JK Musou - Owaru Sekai no Sukuikata has monsters rampaging globally, leading to many deaths, lack of electricity, and people creating shelter where they can. However, hope comes in the form of people called 'Players'(people who can use a system to harness skills and magic like in a role-playing game.) These Players act as the vanguard in fighting monsters for the survival of humanity.
    • In Ookami Nante Kowakunai!!'s Tonda Birthday Present, the high-school student Tetsu has a grandfather who is an inventor. The machines he makes usually blow up in his face. For his grandson's birthday, he makes a virtual reality machine to play ‘'Dragon Chest’’, but it malfunctions. This causes the game to become real, where people turn into NPCs and monsters while Tetsu becomes the hero and saves the princess (his crush) from the Dragon King.

    Comic Books

    • The Sandman
      • During A Game of You, it's revealed that Barbie's dreams feature this. As Princess Barbara, Barbie is the rightful ruler of a realm where the Cuckoo has taken her throne and introduces chaos through the power of compulsion. Armies march through peaceful villages and terrify the citizens, anthropomorphized creatures that can talk or perform magic. Barbie notes that while the Land is still beautiful, it is no longer home and won't be unless she defeats the Cuckoo. Martin Tenbones tells her that the Porpentine, a magical sugar gem, is what keeps the Land intact, so she must never let the Cuckoo destroy it. Barbie fails; the Cuckoo slaughters most of her friends, brainwashes the rest, and compels her to destroy the Porpentine. Dream comes and ends the Land's time in the Dreaming, so all the dead inhabitants enter the palm of his hand. Even worse, when Dream appears, he breaks it gently to Barbie that Cuckoos are supposed to invite this level of destruction. Their nature is to grow in a dream world that isn't there, leave by any means possible, and fly to their hearts' content. He says that if Rose hadn't inadvertently interfered with Barbie's dream, the Cuckoo would be able to leave sooner.
      • The Kindly Ones implies that Dream either invokes or passively lets it happen when Loki and Puck kidnap Daniel, the baby designated as Dream's heir, and frame Dream as the culprit for burning Daniel alive. Daniel's mom, Hippolyta Hall, invokes the wrath of the Furies (AKA the Kindly Ones) on Dream and lets them rampage in his realm. Most Dreaming inhabitants get slaughtered, though some, like Gilbert and Mervyn Pumpkinhead, fight to the bitter end to protect their King. Despite the residents' best efforts, the rampage ends with Dream's death. He more than welcomes it once the Kindly Ones let him say goodbye to his sister, Death. Daniel—who rapidly ages to become an adult as the new Dream with the previous avatar's memories—is not pleased by his mother's stupidity, the amount of destruction he has to repair, and the inhabitants whose lives were senselessly lost. Gilbert refuses to be revived, meaning Daniel has to live with the loss among others, and a changed landscape. Daniel has to face what this new world means; as the King of Dreams, he has the choice to be a better leader than Morpheus, to adjust the rules as he sees fit. He faces this uncertainty with Matthew's help and embraces the changes. Later series like The Dreaming and Nightmare County go into how the Dreaming has changed, with the Corinthian becoming a borderline Anti-Hero, a far cry from his Arc Villain counterpart.

    Fan Works


    • Wizards: The Earth was wrecked by a nuclear war which caused radioactive clouds to block out the sun for 2 million years. The humans that survived the apocalypse transformed into fairies, elves, dwarves, and mutants. Magic is brought into the world with the birth of two twins—one good and the other evil.


    • In the System Apocalypse, the titular event causes modern technology to stop functioning. Various creatures, such as monsters and aliens, begin to appear on Earth. However, the System helps by acting like an RPG for people. If preconditions are met, it also provides other services and infrastructure such as constructing buildings, providing food, water, electricity, etc.
    • In The S-Classes that I Raised, Gates appeared worldwide where monsters spill out, leading to humans being massacred. People called the Awakened simultaneously emerge to fight these monsters with their supernatural abilities while leveling up to gain strength and skills. These Awakened can be employed under the title of Hunters which has become a prominent employment in society.
    • The New World series by James Khan (World Enough, and Time (1980), Time's Dark Laughter (1982), and Timefall (1987)) is set in a world where magic came back, technology abruptly stopped working, and creatures of myth reappeared.
    • The Earth is Online: Myriads of black towers begin to float above cities, ominously but harmlessly. Then one day, a voice announces, “Ding dong! November 15th, 2017. The Earth is online.” The next thing people know, the towers are issuing deadly survival games, and humans are suddenly gaining unusual powers.

    Live-Action TV

    • Deconstructed during the fourth season of Angel. Jasmine, one of the Powers That Be, creates world peace and ushers in an age of utopia... by manipulating Cordelia and Angel Investigations to gain a human form and appear on Earth, then removing everyone's free will and forcing them to praise her constantly–even taking over their karaoke nights! In addition, she needs to eat a few people every day to maintain this power, and she naturally robs her victims of any choice in the matter. Angel calls her out for this when Fred snaps him out of mind control, and Angel Investigations succeed in getting rid of Jasmine. This leaves them wondering if they did the right thing, especially when Big Bad Wolfram & Hart thank them for ending world peace.


    New Media

    Newspaper Comics

    • Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes has done playtime scenarios, tinker toys, and even poetry about magical destruction or alien invasions hitting Earth. He succeeds in creeping out Hobbes more than once, who asks if they can play something else.

    Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

    • The Great Tribulation, as described in chapters 7-10 of the Book of Revelation, is the Trope Codifier and Older Than Feudalism.
      • Due to the often colorful and esoteric language of the text in question, it's enough to say those who believe in Christ and those who support his enemy, called the Beast both acquire some limited supernatural abilities during this period, the former mostly immune from certain kinds of supernatural harm that the other side has no defense against. The opposing side gains mostly offensive powers and the ability to deceive the undecided into being swayed to their side.
    • Hindu mythology has Kalki, the final incarnation of Vishnu the protector god. When the world is thrown off-balance owing to people being too evil and selfish, Kalki will ride through with a sword and wipe out those that demonstrate adharma–sowing discord and immorality while neglecting your life duties–rather than dharma. Only then can a new life cycle start on Earth. The period in-between probably won’t be fun for humanity.



    • Welcome to Nightvale has host Cecil try to combat this with his radio broadcasts. The keyword is "try" because Nightvale is too weird and chaotic even on a normal level. You may be able to live a semi-normal life if you find a new definition for migraines, avoid touching plastic flamingos, or resist going to the park after sundown.

    Professional Wrestling

    Puppet Shows

    • The Dark Crystal shows a world where a shard of crystal brought two races and caused societal chaos because the urSkeks mistakenly shattered the Crystal. The Skeksis use the crystal's corrupting power to extend their lifespans while the Mystics try to mitigate the damage. The Mystics send The Protagonist, Jen, on a quest to make the crystal whole again. It's a world where certain characters can talk to the planet’s flora, and sympathetic magic exists. The movie's ending shows the urSkeks leaving after bringing Kira back to life, giving Jen and Kira hope they can reverse this tribulation for their people.


    Recorded and Stand Up Comedy

    Tabletop Games

    • In the backstory of Shadowrun, magic came back. A significant fraction of humanity turned into elves, orcs, trolls, and a dozen of other races. Practically every mythological beast from dragons on down popped out of the woodwork, and there were political upheavals. Did that end the world? Hell, no! That would be bad for business! Besides, Cyberpunk tech made dealing with the Sixth World so much easier.
    • The interdimensional invasion by the "High Lords" that defines the setting of TORG explicitly revolves around each participating 'cosm' (or world) getting a foothold on Earth. Each cosm changes the laws of nature in their area of Earth to reflect its native reality, with players as "Storm Knights" opposing the invasion of Earth. The various realities vying for control of the Earth include a traditional High Fantasy setting, a Cosmic Horror world, two different Cyberpunk worlds, and several Pulp and Weird Fantasy cosms.


    • If the cast survives the end of Black Friday in the Hatchetfield franchise, they will have to deal with this. Thanks to World War Three and the riots, society has utterly broken down.

    Video Games

    • Undertale has this, only with a twist if you do the No Mercy route: instead of a strange monster plaguing a group of humans and disrupting society, it's a human traveling and disrupting society by killing monsters. Alphys evacuates any survivors, reluctantly leaving Undyne and Mettaton behind as they prepare to hold off the human.
    • The backstory of the Guilty Gear series is predicated on this trope, when all technology ceased to function in the year 2000. Society eventually rebuilt afterward thanks to the emergence of magic that became the basis of most technology in some form, though some holdouts to the original old-world tech would form their own society. The games themselves explore the post-recovery world and fill in the blanks on how the world developed after the initial apocalypse.

    Visual Novels

    Web Animation

    • The trailer for Peasant's Quest on Homestar Runner features this. Thanks to Trogdor the Burninator, entire villages and cottages are leveled, and a world is created where you can learn archery and set yourself on fire with no ill effects. Rather Dashing is the first peasant to say this will not do.

    Web Comics

    • In microHUNTER, every human in the world is shrunk down to 3cm. Insects, birds, rats, and even doors become lethal. However, they are also granted abilities with strength determined by a level, and can also check their status through game-like windows.
    • Solo Login has Sky Castles of an unknown origin appearing around the world. At the same time, people awaken as Sky Players, gaining powers and wings that can fly to Sky Castles. They are filled with monsters to level up while gathering money and equipment. When a Sky Player falls from a Sky Castle, they can create an Underground Dungeon where they give a quest to a person to become an Underground Player. Similar to Sky Players, they instead use a tail to access Dungeons like the Sky Castles. However, Monsters can travel outside unconquered Underground Dungeons, which Underground Players need to find and defeat the boss to prevent monsters from attacking.
    • In the setting of I am the Sorcerer King, Rifts suddenly appeared worldwide ten years ago, releasing countless monsters and causing chaos. People called the Awakened become connected to the Ahkasha System under the Director of Ahkash, which allows them to access notification windows, acquire a job, level up, grind stats, and gain skills.
    • In Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint, an apocalyptic event initiated by cosmic entities overtakes the world. The entities are live streamers that allow people to participate in deadly Scenarios for cosmic live streamers. Everyone is granted unique skills, and completing Scenarios rewards them with coins that can be used to upgrade these skills.
    • The setting of Raid (SF) was taken over by a supercomputer through the use of nanomachines. Everyone has a watch-like device called a Nanocircle that augments their abilities and grants equipment, including rewards from various quests given by the computer.
    • In Solo Leveling, portals called Gates, connected to another dimension dubbed a Dungeon teeming with monsters termed Magic Beasts, appeared worldwide. Simultaneously, people known as Hunters appeared with magical powers that could fight these beasts while keeping the public safe. These monsters have Essence Stones, a form of stable and efficient energy source which Hunters gather for income. Hunters can group together and create Guilds which are associations to recruit Hunters for raids on Gates while administered by governments.
    • In Kill the Hero, Dungeons appeared worldwide, with monsters pouring from portals. At the same time, divine beings called Nimbus appeared, who granted a small number of people called Players powers called the Authority. A Player has access to skills depending on the Nimbus while being able to level up and check their status through system displays.
    • In Raid, demons crossed over to our realm fifty years ago through Demon World Gates that appeared all across the world. Concurrently, God granted humans called Masters (whose powers relate to MMORPG roles like Tanker, Melee DPS, and Healer) the power to fight against these monsters.
    • In Tomb Raider King, massive earthquakes in 2025 cause Tombs to appear worldwide, with powerful items called Relics inside based on myths and legends from human history. Society set up laws to restrict people's use of Relics while others monopolize these artifacts. The people who venture into these Tombs are known as "Tomb Raiders" (no relation to Lara Croft).
    • Metro Hunter: Seoul's metro lines turned into dungeons where monsters and other beings from another world appear, leaving the city in chaos until people called Metro Hunters explore these dungeons to hunt monsters and keep the peace.
    • In The Advanced Player of the Tutorial Tower, giant towers called Tutorial Towers suddenly spring into existence and teleport random people within them. Inside, they train to become Hunters and wield magic as well as powers to fight monsters from dungeons that appeared alongside the Tutorial Towers. Hunters have become so famous and influential that their associations and guilds have gained more influence than governments.
    • The World After the Fall has mysterious towers manifesting worldwide, spreading monsters. People can become Tower Walkers, gaining powers to fight these monsters, or use a regression stone to return to the past for a second chance that deposits them in an alternate timeline. The current state of Earth is actually a dream to cultivate and capture human souls while their bodies are in a coma in the real world.
    • I'm the Max-Level Newbie: A game known as Tower of Trails was an online game known for its difficulty, causing its popularity to decline. On the day it was shut down, the tower appeared in reality with a message that humanity would die unless players cleared each floor in 90 days.
    • Seoul Station's Necromancer has a supernatural phenomenon that causes people to be summoned to different worlds where they gain jobs with magic and skills. They are eventually returned to Earth and are known as Returnees. Dungeons and monsters related to these worlds are summoned to Earth simultaneously. The government established the Returnee Control Department to gather and regulate Returnees while giving them therapy for traumatic experiences in the other worlds. Guilds are created to provide employment to hunt monsters and conquer the dungeons. They are also commercialized, where top-ranked members are seen as celebrities.
    • My S-Class Hunters has Gates–global portals where monsters pass through from dimensions known as Dungeons. The sudden appearance of these Gates led to an event known as the Dungeon Shock, where the monsters wreaked havoc across cities, and thousands of people were injured or killed. At the same time, people known as Awakened began to surface, with powers that they used to fight the monsters and clear dungeons. They eventually came to be known as Hunters and rose to become society's most important occupation.

    Web Original

    Western Animation

    • It's eventually revealed in Adventure Time that the land of Oo is actually Earth millennia into the future. We see flashbacks where Simon took in a young Marceline. Princess Bubblegum is a young princess that can create sentient life, Finn the Human and Jake the Dog can go on all sorts of magical adventures, and vampires exist. When Betty strives to undo this timeline, considering it a Bad Future because her boyfriend Simon became the immortal but mentally-ill Ice King, the current residents protest this because it is still their future. Even Ice King, who understands what Betty is trying to accomplish, begs her to stop.
    • In the episode "The Console" from The Amazing World of Gumball, a Game Child temporarily turns the entire town into a JRPG, and Gumball, Darwin, and Anais form a party to turn the city back to normal.
    • Rick and Morty
      • A Cerebus Retcon moment of this happens: season one features Rick forcing Morty to leave their home for a parallel universe after Rick accidentally turns all of humanity into Cronenberg mutants when Morty's request for a Love Potion goes wrong. Rick, of course, goes Never My Fault. The original Smith family remains immune; Original Jerry Took a Level In Badass to rescue Original Beth, and Original Summer appoints herself as their primary entertainer with Earth now a wasteland.
      • "Mort Dinner Rick Andre" features Morty, of all people, accidentally inflicting this on the Hoovians. The upshot is that Morty is traveling through a Narnia-like portal to get wine for a date with Jessica. He accidentally got the first Hoovy killed when the latter helped him carry the first crate to his basement. Hoovy's son beats up Morty the second time Morty grabs a case, and Morty accidentally kills him as an older man. Soon the Hoovians go from peaceful farmers to Blade Runner over the next few hours. Whoops!
    • Most of Samurai Jack features a Bad Future where Aku reigns over the land because his past self sent the title character to the future. It's a world with sentient robots and ghosts, where independent resistance groups have risen up against Aku.
    • In Thundarr the Barbarian, the Earth’s climate and geography were drastically changed due to a meteor passing its orbit. This led to planet-wide natural disasters and the collapse of civilization, resulting in chaos worldwide, followed by magic, savagery, and Weird Science appearing.

    Other Media

    Real Life