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The Doomsday Cults

Doomsday Cults.

Doomsday Cults (sometimes referred to as "Apocalypse Cults'", "Destructive Cults" and "Death Cults") are a sinister phenomena of cultism (cults) related to groups that refer to themselves as "new religious movements" (or cults to their opponents): they are quite rare in reality, but are often depicted in fiction and folklore due to the fact that when they do surface, Doomsday Cults can cause great harm to themselves or the public.

Signs of a Doomsday Cult may involve any of the following:

  • Brainwashing
  • Fundamentalism
  • Isolationism
  • Ritualistic Abuse
  • Conspiracy
  • Intimidation
  • Terrorism
  • Kidnapping

If not dealt with in time some Doomsday Cults will engage in murder (such as the Manson Family in real-life and The Order in fiction), terrorism (such as Aum Shinrikyo in real-life and Sapientes Gladio in fiction) or mass-suicide (such as the People's Temple in real-life and the Unity Fields cult in fiction) - often the leader of a Doomsday Cult becomes a dark messiah in their eyes and can persuade them to do almost anything.

Doomsday Cults

Members of the Cult of the Yellow Sign (based on a doomsday cult of the same name in the Cthulhu Mythos) roam the streets of downtown Phoenix in black robes.

Only a small number of cults ever become serious enough to be considered Doomsday Cults in reality but nevertheless people must remain vigilant as a Doomsday Cult becomes stronger with time and thus it is important for authorities and communities alike to recognize the danger signs and act to prevent their spread: however in doing so one must always be mindful not to induce a Moral Panic - which simply causes what is known as a "Witch-Hunt".

Examples

Live Action Films

  • Army of the Twelve Monkeys: 12 Monkeys follows the time traveler James Cole from plague-devastated 2035 sent back to 1996 to prevent an enigmatic group known as the Army of the Twelve Monkeys from releasing the virus. A twist at the end reveals that the Army of the Twelve Monkeys is actually an environmentalist protest group who freed animals from the New York Zoo had no interaction with the virus. Instead, the virus was released by an assistant at the lab where the it was developed.
  • Cult of Gozer (better known as Gozer Worshippers): in Ghostbusters, Ivo Shandor and the Gozer Worshippers conducted bizarre rituals intended to bring about the end of the world through the coming of their dark god known as Gozer the Destructor.
  • Order of Valtiel (simply known as The Order): In the sequel Silent Hill: Revelation, the Brethren's parent cult, the Order of Valtiel, sought to not only break free from the confines of the cursed ghost town of Silent Hill, but to cleanse all of the world of its sins by bringing about the apocalypse with Heather Mason/Alessa Gillespie as the chosen incubator of the Order's God.
  • Kane's People: In the Poltergeist film series, a forgotten, Satanic 19th century utopian cult blindly followed their leader reverend Henry Kane to their doomed stay in the caverns beneath what is now called Cuesta Verde because he preached that the end of the world was coming and they had to follow him to seek shelter from the coming doomsday. They now returned as angry spirits with Kane as a vile demon spirit called "The Beast".

Cartoons/Western Animations

  • South Park:
    • In the episode "Jewbilee", "Elder leader" of the "Synagogue of Anti-Semites" captures Moses in order to ready the world for the return of Haman.
    • In the episode "Super Best Friends", he suicidal "Church of Blaintology" led by famed street magician David Blaine threaten the U.S. government to grant them tax exempt status or watch them committing their planned mass suicide at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.
    • In the 3-episode "Coon and Mysterion" arc, the Cthulhu cult featured in the .
  • The Red Lotus: In The Legend of Korra, an anarchist cell called the Red Lotus is revealed to have plotted to free Vaatu, the most powerful, evil spirit in existence. They were unaware that he was an only trying to destroy the world, however, subverting this trope, since they believed he would help restore balance to the world, and not destroy it as he intended.

Video Games

  • The Order: In the Silent Hill universe, The Order proved to be this, as they sought to bring about the apocalypse on Earth and rebuild the world based on their twisted image of Paradise.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Cult of the Dragon: A semi-religious evil organization venerating undead dragons, or Dracoliches.
    • Order of Blue Flame: A religious order who are obsessed with the horrid disaster called the Spellplague.
    • In Neverwinter: Elemental Evil, Four Elemental Cults are responsible for destruction and terror after Malabog, Valindra and Tiamat's defeat. The cultists are all zealots who are obsessed with the destructive side of four elementals. They are:
      • Cult of the Crushing Wave (water) in the Drowned Shore beside Blackdagger Ruins, led by Gar Shatterkeel and worshipped Ollydra.
      • Cult of the Black Earth (earth) in the Reclamation Rock beside the Helm's Hold, led by Marlos Urnrayle and worshipped Ogrémoch.
      • Cult of the Eternal Flame (fire) within Gauntlgrym, led by Vanifer and worshipped Imix. (In the current arc, only the Cult of Eternal Flame is yet to be completely destroyed since Vanifer had managed to escape and hide inside Gauntlgrym.)
      • Cult of the Howling Hatred (air) resided atop the Spinward Rise, led by Aerisil Kalinoth and worship Yan-C-Bin.
      • In Out of the Abyss, it was revealed that the Elemental Evil was formed when Vizeran DeVir, a exciled drow mage who calls himself Harbinger of the Elemental Eye, created four items (Ironfang, Drown, Windvane, and Tinderstike) connected to Elder Elemental Eyes and were respectively recieved by the prophets centries later, creating the modern elemental cults. Vizeran appeared in The Maze Engine as the true main antagonist, and his projection appears in front of Vanifer even after his defeat, revealed himself to be the true master of Vanifer and the Fire Cultists.
  • Church of Unitology: In the Dead Space universe, the Unitologists utilize the Marker to bring about a zombie apocalypse as part of their utopian assimilation lot. It goes about as well as one would expect.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Mythic Dawn group in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion are attempting to destroy the safeguards between Nirn and Oblivion so that they may summon Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of destruction.
    • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Dragon Cult from eons past (they may or may not have known that Alduin was destined to devour the world).
      • The Thalmor are theorized to have this motivation as well, and there are some indications that the devs may have adopted this as canon. Unlike most groups, the apocalypse part is less the goal than it is a necessary step. The short explanation is that Altmer (and other Elven) belief holds that they are the descendants of the Aedra (creator gods, loosely) who are trapped in physical form in the physical world. Thus the mortal world is a prison to be escaped, and the best way of doing so is by destroying it completely by killing the god who's holding it together- and mankind with him.
  • The World of Warcraft setting has the Twilight's Hammer cult, originally an orcish clan that turned into worshippers of the Old Gods with the end of all mortal life as their goal. They were most prominent during the Cataclysm expansion in the wake of the dragon Deathwing's world-shattering return to Azeroth.
    • The Cult of the Damned probably also counts, even if they "merely" want to turn the whole world undead instead of outright blowing it up. As far as Quel'Thalas and Lordaeron are concerned, they did succeed in driving civilization to the brink... for a while.
  • Tal'Darim: In Starcraft, the Tal'Darim are a faction of Protoss who worship Amon, the rogue Xel'Naga and aid their master in his schemes. However, they are a subversion since they do not know Amon is planning an apocalypse — they think he "just" wants to conquer everything and will reward them by uplifting them into Hybrids. In Legacy of the Void, the Tal'Darim Alarak is enraged when he learns Amon has no intention of sparing the Tal'Darim from his planned apocalypse and teams up with the heroes to bring down his former god.
  • Salvation: In Dragon's Dogma, a cult called Salvation, who are the worshipers of the Dragon, sees him as the bringer of the end-times. They are the recurring enemies of the Arisen. The Dragon himself sees them as little more than an annoying nuisance and otherwise has no interest in them.
  • Church of Sydonai: In Star Ocean: The Last Hope, a sinister cult led by the Grigori Tamiel known as the Church of Sydonai on the planet Roak, seeks to resurrect the demonic entity Asmodeus by sacrificing one of the Featherfolk. They gather followers by preaching about Asmodeus cleansing this desperate world, while simultaneously spreading a dangerous illness that turns people to stone and then obstructing the distribution of its remedy.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Toward the end of Persona 3, a doomsday cult of Persona users called Strega heralding the appearance of Nyx to bring death to the world appears. Though it only exists behind the scenes, it is led by Takaya.
      • Persona 4 also has a downplayed version near the end as the fog covering Inaba makes the people more and more apathetic, it is implied that cults have started emerging.
  • Kuder Cult: In Vandal Hearts 2, the Kudur Cult is the most dangerous outside faction manipulating the Natran Civil War. While they may lack the military might of the Zora-Archaeo Empire or the endless treasuries of the Republic of Vernantze, the cult was the organization that pulled the trigger on the powder keg that started the war. They extensively recruit from people who have had their lives devastated by the war, and they are trying to spread a zombifying magical spell across the entire continent. It eventually turns out that the real goal is that their leader, who is a body surfing former cardinal who has been alive for over 150 years, is trying to use the civil war as a distraction to break into the sealed underground chambers of the Holy Nigran Cathedral because it is said to permit an audience with God Himself. What nobody expected was that the sealed chamber is actually the remains of an ICBM missile silo from a long-gone era, and it appears to contain a still-working genetic manipulation machine that transforms him into a horrific monster.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Cassandra's personal quest in Dragon Age: Inquisition centers around a cult known as the Order of the Fiery Promise, who believe the world must end for it to be reborn as a paradise. Notably, the cult sets itself up as the Arch-Enemy of the Seekers, as they believe they were supposed to be Seekers and that the other organization somehow stole their powers. In the course of the game, they are led by the former High Seeker, who went slightly mad after learning the secret of the Seekers' abilities.
    • A codex also mentions a short-lived cult called the Empty Ones, who believed that the darkspawn were the Maker's tool for ending the world. They were completely wiped out during the Second Blight when their entire membership gathered before the darkspawn horde.

Comics/Internet

  • In the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. universe, there are a large number of cults and secret societies—Project Ragna Rok, the Oannes Society, and the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra, to name a few—hoping to trigger the apocalypse. Most of them are operating under the logic that the world is going to end anyway, but if they're the ones who pull the trigger, they'll at least have some measure of control over the destruction.
  • The Chosen: In the majority of the East of West comic book series by Image Comics, there exists a group called "The Chosen", a cabal comprised of leading members of each of America's 7 nations that conspires to bring about the apocalypse.
  • The Pride: In the superhero comicbook series Runaways by Marvel Comics, The Pride, an apocalyptic Mafia-esque organization, who are plotting to bring about the end of the world as we know it in exchange for 20 years of obscene wealth and power and the chance for their kids to live in a paradise.
  • The Cult of the Night Walkers: In the dark fantasy webcomic Baskets of Guts, a dangerous secret society called the Cult of the Night Walkers, whose sole desire was to help their undead master in transforming the entire world's population into walking corpses.
  • The mobile online game Call of Cthulhu had Cthulhu Mythos-based cults trying to do this in several campaign adventures.
    • Shadows of Yog-Sothoth: The Lords of the Silver Twilight try to raise the island of R'lyeh to the surface and free Cthulhu so he can take over (and destroy) the world.
    • Masks of Nyarlathotep: Cult groups controlled by Nyarlathotep himself try to perform a ritual that will allow hordes of eldritch beasts to enter into the mortal world to destroy mankind.
    • The Fungi from Yuggoth: The Brotherhood of the Beast tries to cause a global catastrophe by arranging for terrorist attacks, the summoning of gigantic holes and the activation of a giant monster in Egypt, all on the "Day of the Beast".
  • The Zodiac Order: In the RPG online game Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution, a cult called the "Zodiac Order" was dedicated to ushering in an event called the "Eternal Storm", which will result in massive depopulation in order to allow humans with psionic powers into taking their rightful place as rulers of the Earth.
  • The Cult of Orcus: The Nentir Vale campaign setting of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition prominently features the Cult of Orcus, loosely organized network of worshippers of the godlike demon lord Orcus, which is bent upon summoning the Prince of Undeath and thereby ending civilization as we know it.
  • The Neverborn: In the RPG game Exalted, this cult group called the Neverborn . Anyone in the Neverborn's employ is technically an apocalypse cultist since the Neverborn want the world utterly destroyed, allowing them to finally die. In practice, most of them are just in it for power.
  • Winternight: In the science-fantasy tabletop RPG game Shadowrun, Winternight was a Norse apocalypse cult that actively tried to end the world several times. They tried so in 2061 to divert Halley's Comet into a collision course with Earth. In 2064, they almost plunged the Sixth World into the Dark Ages thanks to their plot colliding with a Gambit Pileup that crashed the Matrix and seriously damaged its infrastructure.
  • Genestealer Cults: In the Warhammer universe, The Genestealer Cults are a faction of the Tyranids consisting of both infected humans and Genestealers. They prepare humanoid worlds for the arrival of the main Tyranid Fleets and subsequent destruction, and in this manner, they can be seen as a fusion of a doomsday cult and a zombie apocalypse as they spread across entire star-systems - infecting all they come across whilst their leaders send out psychic signals that attract the Tyranid Fleets to worlds rich in fresh bio-resources.
  • Unsurprisingly, a lot of cults emerged in the RPG game Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Whereas the titular Garou group are either trying to stop the Apocalypse or make sure their final battle against the Wyrm ends in victory, many of those aligned with the Wyrm want to hasten the end of the world. The Black Spiral Dancers, for instance, think the Apocalypse might free the Wyrm from its torment and give it the revenge it deserves, whereas some higher-ups at Pentex think this whole "Apocalypse" thing means they can put their secret plan to rule over the shattered remnants of humanity as a corporate dystopia into action. And then there are the small, misguided Garou camps who think that the best way to ease the suffering of the world and end the spread of the Wyrm is to just get the Apocalypse going already.
  • The Order of the White Sun: The collaborative writing website SCP Foundation features a fanatical cult group called the Order of the White, who worships an eldritch abomination called the White Sun. They try to use a structure called the Memory House to bring the White Sun to Earth and cause an XK-Class End of the World Scenario.

Live-Action TV

  • In the television drama series The Leftovers, many cult groups have been created in the wake of the mysterious disappearance of 2% of the human population. The show's first season most prominently features the Guilty Remnant, (an antisocial and nihilistic cult that dedicates the rest of their lives to being "living reminders" of the disappearance) and Holy Wayne's group. (A cult of personality formed around the strange and enigmatic Wayne Gilchrist, who seems to genuinely have the ability to remove people's pain.) Adding to the spiritual uncertainty and the fuel that creates these cults is the fact that many people agree that whatever happened was not The Rapture, as the disappearance includes everything from babies to The Pope to thieves and murderers. Or as one character puts it in an early episode "The Pope I can understand, but Gary Busey?! How does he make the cut?".
  • Reasonablists: In the political comedy TV sitcom Parks and Recreation, a local cult in the Indiana city of Pawnee who called themselves the "Reasonablists" (also referred to collectively as "Reasonablism" and also known derogatorily as "Zorpies"), who do not make any effort in ushering in the coming of their reptilian destroyer god called Zorp the Survoyer. They just often make rather incorrect predictions on when the world will end and hold "End of the World" gatherings.
  • End of Dayers: In one of the Bad Futures on the Season 2 finale episode "Over There" of Fringe, one universe has already been destroyed and a terrorist organization called the End of Dayers are deliberately tearing apart the fabric of reality in our universe as well.

Literature

  • The Order of Null: In the sci-fi novel series Humanx Commonwealth, a cult called the Order of Null appears in Flinx's Folly and later novels. They have learned of the approach of the galaxy-devouring Great Evil, and see it as their role to remove any obstacles to its coming. This includes Flinx himself, who is the Chosen One fated to destroy it. It is later revealed that they are abetted by none other than Flinx's archnemesis, Mahnahmi, a powerful telepath and an embittered nihilist.
  • Illuminati Prime: In Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's Illuminatus! trilogy, the Illuminati Prime (the 5 most powerful people in the world) are actively seeking to Immanetize the Eschaton - i.e. bring about the apocalypse - to make themselves immortal and provide a massive blood sacrifice to their Elder Brothers and Sisters, the Lloigr of Cthulu.
  • In the Chinese fiction Coiling Dragon series, two organizations can fit this: the Radiant Church and the Cult of Shadows, worshiping the Radiant Sovereign and the Shadow Sovereign, respectively. They are oppsed against each other, but both of them are filled with corruption, evilness and disgrace.
    • Among the two, however, the Radiant Church is perhaps the worst. The reveal of the utterly dark truth within Radiant Church is considered to be one of the most shocking parts of the whole story. Under command of their leader, Heidens the Holy Emperor, the church captured pure hearted souls and sacrificed them to their deity, the Radiant Sovereign. They manipulated people's worship of light to range wars, death and plunder throughout the Four Empires. The church is also the mastermind behind the murder of Linley's mother, Lady Baruch. They sacrificed her soul and turned her into a mindless angel. Another leader of the church, Osenno, a mad savage who controls the church's Ecclesiastical Tribunal as its preator, owns judgement and slaughters many innoncent people. They also have a cruel ritual known as the Divine Baptism... Above all, in front of the Radiant Church, lies the bones and corpse of many innoncence, and that is why Linley is always thirst to torn it apart.
  • Less common in the actual works of H. P. Lovecraft than one might think (there are cults with other goals than a complete apocalypse), but the Whateley family in The Dunwich Horror (including it's two 1970 and 2009 movie adaptions) serve as a concrete if small-scale example of this, explicitly working towards the goal of helping bring about the "clearing" of the Earth of its current occupants.

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