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The writing on the wall. A mystical phenomenon that tells of a dire future for those who witness it.
Specific types of portents include:
- Bad Moon Rising: A celestial event foretells doom.
- Comet of Doom: The arrival of a comet as a bad omen.
- Dead Man's Hand: A poker hand with two Aces and two Eights means death.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: When nightmares are soon to come true.
- The End Is Nigh: Those doomsayers and signholders know what they're talking about.
- Flying Dutchman: Just seeing the Trope Namer was a portent to an unlucky crew. Even worse if the Ghost Ship tried to hail them.
- For Doom the Bell Tolls: A church bell foretells death.
- Hell Hound: The Portent variety spelled death or grave misfortune for whomever saw them.
- Ominous Fog: Something is coming, but no one will be able to see it.
- Our Banshees Are Louder: The scream of a banshee is a portent of death.
- Red Sky, Take Warning: Evil clouds foretell doom.
- A Storm Is Coming: ...so does the rain.
- The Stars Are Going Out: The stars blinking out foretells the end of the world.
- Signs of the End Times: The portents point to The End of the World as We Know It.
- Tarot Troubles: The Tower, Hanged Man, and Death cards are used for this purpose in fiction. In reality, it's the Ten of Swords that is a portent of death.
- Vagueness Is Coming: The Mad Oracle is speaking in riddles, again, and these visions and dreams won't make sense until its too late.
Compare to Foreshadowing, the out-of-universe equivalent.
Only place examples here that do not belong on one of the subtropes.
Film - Animated
- In Tales From Earthsea, the sightings of dragons fighting is taken to be a sign that the balance of the world is greatly upset, perhaps irreparably.
Film - Live Action
- In Practical Magic, the chirping of the death watch beetle foretells the death of a loved one.
- Darby O'Gill and the Little People had a banshee (evil spirit) that appeared and wailed mournfully when someone was about to die.
- In the first few chapters of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the end of the Han dynasty is seen in some very bad portents (a horrible plague among one of those things), kicking of the chain of events that leads to decades of war.
- I Heard The Owl Call My Name, in which the protagonist is subjected to the named portent of death (and in this case survives, as it's autobiography.)
Myth, Legend, and Religion
- In the book of Daniel, supernatural writing foretells the demise of the Babylonian Empire. It is the origin of the phrase "the writing on the wall."
- The phrase written, Mene, mene, tekel, u-Pharsin and its translations "numbered, numbered, weighed, and divided" (figuratively) and "You have been judged and found wanting [by God/the Persians (unwittingly acting for God)]" are also used.
- In Julius Caesar Portia urges Caesar not to go to the Senate because of the various omens she's either witnessed or heard about from reliable sources. Caesar poo-poos it and goes anyway.