25 Failed Predictions of the End of the World

Posted by , Updated on November 14, 2023

Do you know when the world will come to an end? Predictions on exactly when the world will end have been around for as long as people have been around, or so it seems. Predictions come in all shapes and sizes, and some have come true and some, thankfully, have failed. We are pretty glad that these predictions are among those that have failed.

Here are 25 Failed Predictions of the End of the World.


Large Hadron Collider Mishap (no specific date)

Large Hadron Colliderhttps://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ten-notable-apocalypses-that-obviously-didnt-happen-9126331/

570 feet below the ground below the Alps along the Swiss-French border is the Large Hadron Collider. The LHC can smash proton beams together at nearly the speed of light. This allows scientists to simulate and study a lot of conditions that might have been when the Big Bang happened.

The concern is that these proton collisions could cause micro black holes that could grow to swallow the whole Earth.

Physicists won’t 100% rule it out, although they say the chances of that happening are what they call “non-zero.


Mayan Apocalypse (2012)

Mayan Apocalypsehttps://www.britannica.com/list/10-failed-doomsday-predictions

The Maya Long Count Calendar started with a date that’s over 5,000 years ago, and this calendar also had a final date of December 21, 2012. There was no clear answer on *how* the earth would end, but scenarios included solar flares, massive tidal waves, and crashing with other planets.

Those that believed this prediction to have merit prepared with survival kits and boat building kits.


Y2K (2000)


The Y2K craze incited world-wide panic and whole new wave of doomsday preppers.

While some did believe the world was going to end one the strike of midnight Jan 1, 2000, most thought it was more like the end of the world as we knew it. Y2K started with the realization that a computer coding bug could wreck havoc on computer systems all over the world and cause a stock market crash and for banks to collapse. Whole departments were created to help prevent system shutdowns, and when 2000 rolled around, there were a few glitches here and there, but the world spins on.


Harold Camping (1994/2011)

Harold Campinghttps://www.britannica.com/list/10-failed-doomsday-predictions

Harold Camping was an evangelical Christian radio broadcaster that predicted the end of the world several times. As each doomsday date passed, he would blame faulty math, “fix” his calculations, and come up with a new date.

His two most popular predictions were 1994?, a book which speculated that the world would end sometime that year, and May 21, 2011. The last one was not a book, but this prediction gained a lot of traction and was based on that date supposedly being 7,000 years after the biblical flood.


Pat Robinson (1982, 2007)

Pat Robinsonhttps://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/12/20/apocalypse-not-other-times-the-world-was-supposed-to-endand-didnt

Pat Robinson, a prolific Southern Baptist preacher made the prediction in 1976 that the world would end towards the end of 1982.

In 1990, he took his end time zeal to the written word and published the book, The New Millennium, where he made a case for the destruction of the world on April 29, 2007.


Chen Tao and Human Mass Extinction (1988)


What do you get when you create a religion that mixes Buddhism, Christianity, UFO conspiracy, and Taiwanese folk religion?

You get very interesting end-times predictions, among other things!

According to the creator of Chen Tao, Hon-Ming Chen, God would appear on TV on March 25, 1988 to announce his arrival to Earth, quickly followed by mass human extinction.

As if that wasn’t suspicious enough, you could save yourself from this extinction by paying for a spot on a spaceship – a spaceship cleverly disguised as a cloud.


The Jupiter Effect (1982)


This prediction gained a lot of credibility due to it being touted by two astrophysicists, one of them as being an editor at a nature magazine. These astrophysicists, John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann, published a book in 1974 that made a case for a series of cataclysmic events caused by planetary alignment.

The book, The Jupiter Effect, was criticized by other scientists but supported by other doomsday prophets like Hal Lindsey (The Late Great Planet Earth). 

No surprises, but after March 1982 came and went, they published a follow up book called The Jupiter Effect Reconsidered. Both books were best sellers.


Nuclear Holocaust (1980, 1987)

Nuclear Holocausthttps://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/12/20/apocalypse-not-other-times-the-world-was-supposed-to-endand-didnt

Leader of a branch of the Bahai faith, Leland Jensen, led his followers to a nuclear fallout shelter in 1980 as he believed there was going to be a nuclear holocaust.

Then in 1985, he purported that Halley’s Comet would enter our planet’s orbit in 1987, cause earthquakes, crash into the Earth, and destroy everyone and everything.


Worldwide Church of God (1936, 1943, 1972, 1975)

Worldwide Church of Godhttps://www.businessinsider.com/failed-doomsday-predictions-ebible-fellowship-2015-10#1936-1943-1972-and-1975-7

The Worldwide Church of God, founded by Herbert W. Armstrong, told his followers that the Rapture would happen in 1936. When the followers weren’t taken up to be with Jesus, three other rapture predictions were made.


Charles Taze Russell (1914)

Charles Taze Russellhttps://www.businessinsider.com/failed-doomsday-predictions-ebible-fellowship-2015-10#1914-6

According to the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Charles Taze Russell, the Second Coming would happen in 1914.

The group has prophesied about the world ending at least 7 other times, with no success, lucky for us all.


Halley's Comet (1910)

halleys comethttps://www.britannica.com/list/10-failed-doomsday-predictions

Back in 1910, the Halley’s Comet passed by the Earth (as it does every 76 ish years or so), and scientists were concerned that it would be passing by too close to the planet – close enough to destroy the planet.

Some though the Comet would crash into the planet, while others thought the gasses from the Comet would fatally poison everyone.

This prediction caused widespread panic as the prediction was stoked by the media.


Mormon-geddon (1891ish)

Joseph Smithhttps://www.livescience.com/16606-failed-doomsday-predictions-apocalypse.html

Founder of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, spoke with God a lot.

Towards the beginning of 1835, God told him that Jesus would return sometime within the following 56 years. The return of Christ would obviously usher in the quick end to the world.


Pyramid Prophecies (1881)

The Great Pyramids of Gizahttps://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ten-notable-apocalypses-that-obviously-didnt-happen-9126331/

Mother Shipton’s prophecies (or rather the publisher’s) weren’t the only ones to stir up some fear that the end of the world would happen in 1881.

The Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Charles Piazzi Smyth, was convinced that the Great Pyramid of Giza was divinely inspired and built by an Old Testament character, perhaps Noah. Because of the connection to the divine, Smyth believed the measurements of the Pyramid could be used to calculate the end of the world.


Mother Shipton (1881)

Mother Shiptonhttps://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2020/05/cancelling-the-apocalypse-6-famously-failed-predictions/; https://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2011/04/the-world-comes-to-an-end/

In 1837, a book containing the predictions of a 16th century oracle, Mother Shipton, was republished. Since these predictions were published 80 years after Mother Shipton’s death, it was hard to verify if they really happened or not.

It soon came out that the publisher made the whole thing up, but it was too late. There was a pretty significant amount of people that believed the world would end in 1881, as predicted in “Mother Shipton’s” (aka the publisher’s) book.


William Miller (1843)

William Millerhttps://www.britannica.com/list/10-failed-doomsday-predictions

Starting in 1831, religious leader William Miller preached that the Second Coming of Christ would happen in 1843. Followers, around 100,000 people, believed that Christ would come on this day and carry them to heaven. Like many other predictions you’ll see on this list, when 1843 came and went, Miller recalculated to 1844.


The Second Messiah (1814)

The Second Messiahhttps://www.britannica.com/list/10-failed-doomsday-predictions

When Joanna Southcott was 42 years old, she started hearing voices telling her about the future. After accurately predicting the crop failures of 1799 and 1800, she started publishing her own books. Then in 1813, she stated that she was going to give birth to the second Messiah the following year. The arrival of the second Messiah would usher in the end times. It should be noted that at the time, Joanna was a 64 year old virgin…the second Messiah was never born.


The Prophetic Hen (1806)

The Prophetic Henhttps://www.britannica.com/list/10-failed-doomsday-predictions

This prediction was a scam more than anything, but it did cause a lot of panic over end times.

In Leeds, England, there was a hen reportedly laying eggs with, “Christ is coming” inscribed on them. A lot of people came to see these eggs and believed it and panicked about the impending Judgement Day. Luckily, the owner who was writing the phrase on the eggs was found out.


Dark Day (1780)

Dark Dayhttps://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ten-notable-apocalypses-that-obviously-didnt-happen-9126331/

Early in the morning on May 19, 1780, the sky over New England was covered in darkness. While the darkness was probably caused by smoke from forest fires mingling with heavy fog, people at the time were terrified that Judgement Day had arrived.

While the world didn’t end that day, and clear skies returned by midnight, the episode caused a large number of people to join an offshoot of Quakers called the Shakers. (No, we’re not making that up.)


Nostradamus (1555)


Nostradamus, French physician and astrologer, is well known for a book he published in 1555, called Les Propheties. Each of the 942 four-lined poems were said to contain a prophesy.

While many poems could be connected to several different events, none of them hint at the end of the world.

So how has Nostradamus come to be connected to predicting the end of the world? Mostly rumors – and a 1981 film, The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, which revived the interest of the public.


Pisces Flood (1524)

Johannes Stöfflerhttps://www.britannica.com/list/10-failed-doomsday-predictions

German mathematician and astrologer Johannes Stöffler predicted a great world flood when all the planets aligned under Pisces, on February 25th, 1524. This prediction was spread via a pamphlet that went into circulation, and much panic ensued. One nobleman at the time even built a 3-story arc.


The Mystical Nativity (1504)

The Mystical Nativityhttps://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ten-notable-apocalypses-that-obviously-didnt-happen-9126331/

Likely influenced by the apocalyptical sermons of Girolamo Savonarola, Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli included an end-times scene in the lower portion of his painting The Mystical Nativity. The painting was also inscribed with a prediction that the world was soon coming to an end.


Inciting a Crusade (1284)

Inciting a Crusadehttps://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ten-notable-apocalypses-that-obviously-didnt-happen-9126331/

The Crusades are notorious for their mass destruction and downright evil campaigns in the name of religion. While trying to gather people for a fifth crusade to capture the Holy Land from the Ayyubid Empire, Pope Innocent III connected the rise of Islam to the Antichrist. He predicted that the Crusaders would defeat Islam and usher in the Second Coming in 1284.

Seven years after that year came and went, the last Crusader kingdom fell, and the world (and Islam) carries on.


The Second Coming (1000 AD)

The Second Cominghttps://www.businessinsider.com/failed-doomsday-predictions-ebible-fellowship-2015-10#ad-1000-1

While not all of these failed predictions involve the Second Coming, there’s a theme. Here is another that fits that theme.

Christian leaders at the time thought that the new millennium would bring with it the return of Christ. They believed it enough to sell belongings, leave their homes, and quit their jobs.

When 1000 AD came and went, a new prediction date was given for 1033. Woops.


Simon bar Giora (66-70 CE)

Simon bar Giorahttps://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2020/05/cancelling-the-apocalypse-6-famously-failed-predictions/

During this time period, there was unrest between the Jews of Judea and the Romans. Simon bar Giora, a Jewish Essene, predicted that this fight would actually become the final end times battle and bring on the coming of the Messiah. This end times prediction is one of the earliest recorded.


Assyrian Stone Tablets (2800 BC)

Failed Predictions Of The End Of The World

While the Assyrian Empire didn’t end until 612 BC, there was a stone tablet from 18 centuries earlier that warned the world was coming to a quick close.

The inscription read, “Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.

Funny how wanting to write a book and adolescence ranked up there with corruption and bribery as a sign of the end.

Which prediction did you find the most wild and “out there”? Do you have any theories on when the world will end?

Photo: 1. metmuseum.org, Assyrian Stone Tablets (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 2. Steerpike, Simon bar Giora, CC BY 3.0, 3. Shutterstock, 4. Shutterstock, 5. Fra Bartolomeo, The Mystical Nativity (Public Domain), 6. Jean-Jacques Boissard, Johannes Stöffler (Public Domain), 7. César de Notre-Dame, Nostradamus (Public Domain), 8. Shutterstock, 9. Shutterstock, 10. Wm. Sharp, The Second Messiah (Public Domain), 11. Unknown author - Ellen G. White Estate, William Miller (Public Domain), 12. wellcomeimages.org, Mother Shipton (1881), CC BY 4.0, 13. wikipedia, Pyramid Prophecies (1881) , CC BY-SA 3.0, 14. Likely William Warner Major see , Joseph Smith, (Public Domain), 15. NASA, Halley's Comet (1910) (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 16. Rursus, Charles Taze Russell (Public Domain), 17. Costaricky, Worldwide Church of God, CC BY-SA 4.0, 18. <a href="https://list25.com/25-of-the-bloodiest-and-most-disastrous-massacres-in-united-states-history/" title="25 Of The Bloodiest And Most Disastrous Massacres In United States History">United States</a> Department of Energy, Castle_Bravo_Blast (Public Domain), 19. , The Jupiter Effect (1982) (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 20. , Chen Tao and Human Mass Extinction (1988) (Fair Use: Illustrative Purposes Only), 21. Paparazzo Presents, Pat Robinson , CC BY-SA 3.0, 22. © O'Dea at Wikimedia Commons, Harold Camping, CC BY-SA 4.0, 23. Bug de l'an 2000, Y2K, CC BY-SA 3.0, 24. Shuttertstock, 25. Shuttertstock