God Will Be Televised
Hon-Ming Chen founded this new religious movement -- a mix of Buddhism, Taoism, and UFOlogy -- and brought it to the U.S. in the early 90s, registering the group under the name God's Salvation Church. 160 members strong, the group set up shop in Garland, Texas in 1997, and predicted that at 12:01 a.m. on March 31, 1998, God would show himself on a single TV channel across North America and save his followers from the doomed planet Earth.
When the predicted appearance didn't happen, the group quickly became confused. Chen reportedly offered himself to be stoned or crucified as a concession but no one obliged him. The group fell apart soon afterward with many of the members returning to Taiwan.
The World Will Cease to Exist
Known as "The Amazing Criswell," Charles Criswell King was a flamboyant radio and TV broadcaster who decided to become a psychic. In March 1963, he correctly announced that John F Kennedy wouldn't run for re-election in 1964 because "something was going to happen to him."
According to Criswell in 1968, the world would to cease to exist from August 18, 1999. But here we are. Go figure.
The Rapture Cometh -- in the 80s
Former NASA engineer and bible student Edgar C. Whisenant predicted that the Rapture, the return of Christ and the end of the world, would occur in 1988. He went on to sell four and a half million copies of his book, "88 Reasons Why The Rapture Could Be In 1988"
Televangelists were so taken by Whisenant that many started airing tips on how to prepare for the Rapture as they neared 1988. After 1988 passed without incident, Whisenant went on to recalculate his prediction to1989, 1993, and even 1994, writing books for each year. Sales were weak.
The UFO Will Save Us
Heaven's Gate was an UFO-centered cult based in San Diego, led by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles. The group believed that the Earth was about to be "recycled," and the only chance for human survival was to escape on a UFO trailing the Haley-Bopp Comet.
On March 26, 1997, in a period when Hale-Bopp was at its brightest, the bodies of 39 members of the group were discovered by police, after committing suicide. At this point, the Earth has yet to be "recycled."
Computer Bugs Will Doom Us
The year 2000 was perfect symbolic fodder for would-be prophets -- but one prediction of millennial disaster was rooted not in mysticism but rather a confounding computer bug.
The Y2K problem resulted from the practice of abbreviating four-digit years to two digits meaning that when the "...97, 98, 99, 00..." ascending numbers suddenly became invalid, worldwide computer failures would ensue. Very little actually happened, but whether this was the result of preparation or because the problem was less severe than predicted may never be known.
The End Is Near -- Just Not in 1844
William Miller was a prosperous Baptist farmer who became infatuated with prophetic symbolism eventually leading him to boldly predict the second coming of Christ -- and the beginning of the end. Initially ambiguous over the exact date, he started to focus on 1844 and soon gained a large following of believers known as Millerites.
What occurred instead in 1844 was known as the "Great Disappointment." With no appearance from Christ, Millerites were left disenchanted and confused.
The Sun Will Explode -- Not
In 1919, meteorologist Albert Porta predicted that the alignment of six planets would generate such a significant magnetic current that the sun would explode and subsequently engulf the Earth on December 17 of that year. Miraculously, mankind avoided this doomsday destiny.
Did He See the End?
Legendary French seer Nostradamus was noted for allegedly predicting such events as the rise of Hitler, the Great Fire of London, the death of Princess Diana and even the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Nostradamus also wrote that in "1999 and seven months . . . from the sky will come the great king of terror."
Perhaps it rained that day. But the end didn't come as predicted.
...But Maybe THIS One Is Right
Adored by conspiracy theorists, the Mayan calendar abruptly ends December 2012, at which point some predict a series of cataclysmic or transformative events will occur, many of these apocalyptic. It's been a popular date in media and entertainment, stories and movies that illustrate massive solar storms, magnetic pole reversals, earthquakes, supervolcanoes and other drastic natural events.
For all we know, this one could be true. But it's probably not .... right?
Countless people have predicted countless end-of-the-world scenarios -- and the planet's still here, fortunately. We look back at some of the wackiest forecasts.