End of an Age
On the green bank near to the very point of the Tongue the Lady Galadriel stood alone and silent. As they passed her they turned and their eyes watched her slowly floating away from them. For so it seemed to them: Lorien was slipping backward, like a bright ship masted with enchanted trees, sailing on to forgotten shores, while they sat helpless upon the margin of the grey and leafless world.
There was a time our lives and the world were new and full of wonder, when innocence and curiosity led people to explore, trust each other plainly, make amazing discoveries, invent amazing technologies, or simply make awe inspiring works of art.
It can be because we, or the world we are born into, have grown up. It seems smaller by comparison, understandable; no longer mysterious, nor full of adventure or romance. Children can't grow up to be famous explorers if there are no new continents to explore (space or the deep sea floor being expensive future exceptions), and some works of art made with the expertise of long dead masters can never be truly replicated, whether sword or song. This is what the End Of An Age feels like: tragic, cynical and full of loss.
There are many plots and stories that evoke this trope to add the bitter in a Bittersweet Ending, or less commonly as something to be fought against in order to preserve the Age or at least the relics thereof.
- An Adventurer Archaeologist inspired by stories of The Time of Myths and other bygone wonders may make it their life's work to prove it existed, and the story becomes a quest for a MacGuffin or other unique relic of the time.
- If it's a Coming of Age Story, it can be children trying to live one last adventure before growing up because Growing Up Sucks, or even trying to grow up... only to discover they've lost something in the process.
- Or most heart-wrenching of all, destroying said Age or its relics to keep them out of dangerous hands, perhaps even having to do so simply to survive.
If magic is involved, it becomes a case of The Magic Goes Away. If it's technological, then Lost Technology. And if it's religious, see either Death of the Old Gods or Gotterdammerung, and either one may happen in the wake of a War in Heaven.
Anime and Manga
- Throughout Lone Wolf and Cub, it's both expressed and strongly implied that Feudal Japan is about to come crashing down and that Itto is "the Last True Bushi."
- Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou shows the "age of the calm evening" before "the night of humanity". This is paralleled in Alpha's own development.
- The end of Legend of Galactic Heroes is the end of one era of human history.
- Many of the works by Miyazaki evoke this trope (Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke to name just three).
- Holo decides to leave the villagers she helped because they say that they don't need a harvest god anymore. While she initially helped them by making the crops grow, she occasionally had to do the opposite to prevent the growing village from being struck by the Tragedy of the Commons, which made them resent her. In the first episode, before she leaves, we see her portrayed in the village harvest festivities as an oppressive force and a thief instead of as a wise benefactor.
- One Piece is starting to look very much like this as of recent events, with the romantic "Great Pirate Era" coming crashing down, as Portgas D. Ace, who was revealed as the son of Gold Roger, the legendary "Pirate King", is killed by Admiral Akainu, providing the first death of a major character, and Edward "Whitebeard" Newgate, who held the title of the "World's Strongest Man", meeting his end shortly afterward, with the almost certainly series Big Bad Blackbeard and his crew killing him, and stealing his devil fruit power.
- Both of these could serve as symbolic sacrifices of an innocent age gone, ushering in the chaotic new age of pirates with Blackbeard, at the epicenter.
- This is lampshade by many characters who believe that the world is now in the New Age. thought most of they have different conception about how it will be.
- Urusei Yatsura had this in the third movie "Remember My Love". When Lum is kidnapped, all of the Oni leave Earth to find her. Eventually the character's lives return to those of normal teenagers; time even becomes unstuck and our characters advanced to 12th Grade. This is all wiped out, and the original timeline restored by the end of the movie.
- There are a handful of Axis Powers Hetalia fics that picture Nations at either the end of the world or their own "lifetimes." Whether it's peaceful, violent or tragic depends on the writer. But let's just say that they take it well...
- Sometimes, this can include the end of a particular era of their history. Such as the French Revolution or the final years of Austria-Hungary.
- In canon, England reflects on the loss of the British Empire, and France thinks about Joan of Arc and Napoleon as he's being defeated by Germany in WWII.
- In Keroro Gunsou, a flashback chapter revealed that shortly before Dororo reunited with his platoon mates, the denizens of the ninja village he had been living with (including his friend Koyuki) were forced to re-integrate with normal Japanese society after Japan's "department of ninjutsu" was disbanded.
- Humanity is going through this in Neon Genesis Evangelion. SEELE is trying to bring it to an end on purpose.
- Sailor Moon states that an unidentified length of time ago, the entire Solar System was ruled in peace by The Moon and its queen, and every planet was a utopia, in an era known as the Silver Millennium. Now, though, every planet but Earth is dead. (Sailor Moon does promise via Time Travel, though, that the future will be bright - and based in Tokyo.)
- The Big O's Paradigm City is a unique example in that the Golden Age was forcibly suppressed and all memories of that time were erased, thereby skipping the long decline. The result is a grungy, post-apocalyptic noir New York City in which the Lost Technology is memories and the occasional Black Box pops up in the form of giant robots, artificial stars, and advanced androids.
- The aliens of Tokyo Mew Mew see Earth as exactly this due to pollution.
- Partially pollution, and partially because these "aliens" are actually the original inhabitants of the planet, and want to know what the hell we humans are doing bumming around in their property.
- Scrapped Princess. Its entire premise revolves around an Ancient Conspiracy to restore the world from its (both physical and metaphorical) cage.
- Turn a Gundam has this as its distant backstory. They even have a name for it: The Black History. That backstory happens to be the entire Gundam franchise up to that point; Word of God adds in most later Gundam series to backstory.
- Crisis on Infinite Earths is very much about the end of the multiverse and the birth of the universe. Several other comics came out at the same time dealing with each hero's personal End of an Age:
- Alan Moore's Superman story "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" is about the end of the Silver Age Superman legend and all the myth surrounding him.
- Batman #400 is the last story of the pre-Crisis Batman, and ends with: "And so the night of resurrection nears its end, but when next he strides forth from this dark womb of bats... it all begins anew. 'Hello again. Beware... forever.'"
- In a broader sense certain comic books are said to bring about the end of an age, Kingdom Come for instance is often cited as the end of the dark ages of comics.
- Even more common is to describe "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" (Amazing Spider-Man #121) as the story that marked the end of the Silver Age and the beginning of the Bronze Age of comic books.
- This is also the idea behind the Malibuverse comics. The superheros were Human Popsicles from the last "golden age" of men. Or demons. By the way, we are the tenth generation, while they were the ninth.
- Gold Digger - magic and magic users still exist but the age of magic is over and most magical beings retreated to other realms some time ago.
- This was touched on in the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. In Dead Man's Chest, Cutler Beckett had a speech about how the world was changing and there would soon no longer be a place for pirates like Jack Sparrow. In At World's End, Sparrow and Barbossa had a similar conversation; the point gets driven home when they stumble upon the body of the Kraken.
Barbossa: The world used to be a bigger place.
- There is an interpretation that the whole Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy deals with the end of the age of freedom and adventure in a symbolic kind of way.
- On Stranger Tides hammers the point home even more so with the Spanish destroying the Fountain of Youth at the end of the movie.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit?? links the construction of the Pasadena Freeway to the end of old-timey Los Angeles culture, represented by The Golden Age of Animation come to life. For anyone who knows the history of LA, that was actually somewhat Truth in Television. It's the freeway that was a major factor in the basin's development and subsequent suburban sprawl. However, the freeway was actually built seven years before the film is set, making it strange that the very idea of a "freeway" is presented as a novel concept that everyone but Judge Doom thinks Will Never Catch On. Also, living cartoons never happened.
- The Last Samurai and The Hidden Blade are both about the end of the samurai age. In The Hidden Blade, an expert in western culture even teaches the samurai how to run in the "western style."
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country ends with the final mission of the original Enterprise and her crew. In a way, especially for fans, it was emphatically the end of an era. It also had The Federation finally make peace with their long-time arch-rivals, the Klingons, marking the end of the Cold War era in Real Life.
- The Wild Bunch is set in the Twilight of the Old West, with aging outlaws heading to Mexico and taking on One Last Job.
- The Last Days Of Disco. Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Downfall is about the end of World War 2 for the Germans as the Nazi fantasy world comes literally crashing down on their heads.
- The Serbian film Underground is about the dissolution of the united Yugoslavia, which the film mourns. Many critics did not appreciate the film's romanticizing of Tito's communist regime.
- The lightning strike to the clock tower in Back to The Future arguably represents the beginning of the eventual decline and decay of Hill Valley's town square. Or, in a broader sense, it perhaps symbolizes the end of America's 1950s post-war boom.
- It's largely only subtext in the film, but the novelization of Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf makes it clear that for the Norse people the dawning of the age of Christianity means the end of the age of myths and legends, something which Beowulf greatly resents.
Sam: The town will never be the same. After the Tangiers, the big corporations took it all over. Today, it looks like Disneyland. And while the kids play cardboard pirates, Mommy and Daddy drop the house payments and Junior's college money on the poker slots. In the old days, dealers knew your name, what you drank, what you played. Today, it's like checkin' into an airport. And if you order room service, you're lucky if you get it by Thursday. Today, it's all gone. You get a whale show up with four million in a suitcase, and some twenty-five-year-old hotel school kid is gonna want his Social Security Number. After the Teamsters got knocked out of the box, the corporations tore down practically every one of the old casinos. And where did the money come from to rebuild the pyramids? Junk bonds...But in the end, I wound up right back where I started. I could still pick winners, and I could still make money for all kinds of people back home. And why mess up a good thing? And that's that.
- Dragonslayer. The end of magic and dragons, and the start of Christianity.
- Kung Fu Panda 2 has this as a theme of the story as the advent of the cannon threatens to make kung fu irrelevant and useless in battle. However, Po averts this spectacularly by discovering an effective kung fu Catch and Return technique to defeat cannon fire, making kung fu still a vital skill in battle that can counter artillery. Furthermore, Po rather casually makes it clear that he can to teach his friends this technique, which means it will be spreading throughout China in due time.
- The Hungarian film Sunshine chronicles Hungary's fall from glory, from the upbeat optimism of the Habsburg Monarchy to the bleak and fatalistic 1956 Revolution against the Soviets.
- James Cameron's Titanic can arguably be this, especially for the viewpoint of the Present Day Rose.
- In the last segment of How the West Was Won ("The Outlaws") there's a running theme that the days of hot-shot gunslingers and train-robbing outlaws are almost at an end, with all the most famous examples of each having died already. The big showdown between Marshal Zeb Rawlings and outlaw Charlie Grant is portrayed as one of the last of its kind as the West loses its wildness.
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: See Literature below.
- Boogie Nights deals with end the close-knitted 70s, 80s porn producing subculture and the rise of the open market porn industry.
- This is a major theme in The Illusionist as nobody wants to see stage magicians anymore and nobody believes in magic.
- The Old Republic in the Star Wars universe, shown in its final stages of decline in the prequels. In the original film (A New Hope), Obi-wan describes the good old days of the Jedi Knights to Luke.
- Sunset is about both the end of the Old West and the end of silent movies.
- As of 2014, this is reputedly the theme of the upcoming How to Train Your Dragon 3—the film is supposed to explain how the world went from full of dragons (and Vikings who ride them) to no dragons at all.
- David Wingrove's Chung Kuo series takes place in the last years of the world-spanning Han Empire. One of the main protagonists has made it his life's calling to forestall the end.
- Part of CS Lewis's Narnia stories is that only children may enter it, so as the cast ages they become excluded from coming back. However, by the last book all the children, most now grown, who held faith in having gone to Narnia and Aslan in particular, are allowed to come back for the final showdown.
- How was that before the final showdown, exactly?
- None of the children return to Narnia. The children appear in the Narnian version of heaven, on the other side of the stable's doorway.
- At least half the stories relating to Arthurian Mythology, including the musical Camelot name and T.H. White's book The Once and Future King, focus on how swell the age of Camelot was and how much it sucks that it's over.
- Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End follows this form, with two twists: the setting is science fiction, not fantasy and the present-day real-world is construed to be the Golden Age, relative to a (future) alien invasion.
- Conan the Barbarian of all things, focuses on this in its story. REH's Hyborian Age essay reveals that this age of high adventure will end violently with the surge of a Pictish tide from the Western reaches.
- In Robert E Howard's Conan the Barbarian stories, ancient civilizations (such as Atlantis) had risen and fallen. Evil Sorcerers frequently find their magic from olden days.
- The Lord of the Rings is literally set at the end of the Third Age, with the last of the Hhigh Elves leaving for the land of the godlike archangels (Valar). This is an ongoing process, with unnumbered years where the Valar coexisted directly with Middle-Earth, three Ages of ascendance for the elves, and then a slow dimming away, with Middle-Earth eventually becoming the world we know today. These are called the Ages of the Children of Ilúvatar, and the Fourth Age is the first Age of Man. As such it is both Gotterdammerung (for the First and Second Ages) and The Magic Goes Away (for the Third).
- This trope is the heart and soul of The Silmarillion, which details the history of Tolkien's universe from the beginning of time up until the events of Lord of the Rings. Each Age of the world ended with the irretrievable loss of some precious entity or artifact and the overall image is of a world that "grows ever colder" (in Gandalf's words). So for example, the First Age ended with the War of Wrath where Morgoth was defeated in a titanic battle and finally imprisoned by the Valar, but not before most of Beleriand is destroyed and two of the three Silmarils, the last unpoisoned light on Earth, were lost forever.
- The Gondorians suffered from this after the time of the "Ship-Kings." Their great, mighty nation dwindled away as a kingless state. Arnor on the other hand never recovered from their losses in the War of the Last Alliance, and Isildur's death a few years later.
- The Dark Tower: "The world moved on."
- The novelization of Revenge of the Sith, which is generally considered to be very, very good, brings up the concept in its introduction, which gives brief rundown on the situation of the Republic as it stands, how important Anakin and Obi-Wan are to it, and then finishes with a single sentence:
Though this is the end of the age of heroes, it has saved its best for last.
- In Discworld, Sourcery might be considered the last gasp of the age of, well, sourcery. Magic, and the humans who wield it, have been considerably scaled down since then, making things less wondrous but a hell of a lot safer.
- The events of Sourcery also killed off many of the most powerful and dangerous wizards which lead to Ridcully becoming Archchancellor and ending the age of Klingon Promotion among the wizards. The wizards become more laid back, less aggressive and more scholarly wizards were able to rise to positions of power.
- Men At Arms started the transformation of the City Watch into a modern police force and ended the age of the police being marginalized by the guilds, palace guards or the army. Old school coppers like Colon and Nobby don't really fit into it anymore and are nostalgic about how things used to be.
- Interesting Times features the last gasp of Cohen the Barbarian and his band of geriatric heroes - a literally dying breed of men on the Disc whose days, like the Red Indians of North America, are soon to be ended by the "Telegraph" and encroaching civilization. The silver horde elect to go out with a very big bang, first here and in the loose "sequel", The Last Hero.
- Jingo and Going Postal: as incidental detail in both books, the ferocious and savage non-human species called the Gnolls, who like rogue Apache Indians terrorised the overland trade routes through the wilderness in Equal Rites, are seen to capitulate to realpolitik and give themselves up to encroaching civilization, like reservation Indians in 1890. Jingo sees their debased remnant entering Ankh-Morpork to take up the bottom rung on the social ladder, as scavengers and rubbish-pickers. In Going Postal there is a strong hint, from the coachmen who are relieved the former hunting grounds of the Gnolls are suddenly so empty, that the last wild gnolls were victims of a sudden and mysterious genocide akin to the defeat of the Native Americans.
And we never knew what caused it, Mr Lipwig.
- Unseen Academicals ended the old, very brutal way of playing football and many of the old movers-and-shakers are not happy with it.
- Jack Kerouac's On The Road uses this trope symbolically when Sal finally settles with his wife and leads a peaceful life, leaving Dean, the embodiment of his reckless youth, to wander behind.
- Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series includes an effectively infinite number of these, including one explicitly described, and with most fans convinced that a second is coming any book now:
- The events in the present were set in motion by the huge battle and subsequent The End of the World as We Know It catastrophe 3 millenia ago.
- Since time in the series' is circular, the world must go through at least one more end of an age to become the "real" world.
- There's also the implied end of our modern age that prepared the world for the Age of Legends in the first place.
- However, the series also combines this with the Dawn of an Era: new Talents of the Power are being discovered, lost ones are being found anew, vast advances in technology are being made. The present Age is ending; a new one is beginning. One character even lampshades it upon seeing a demonstration of the world's first firearm, saying: "The world just changed in a very big way."
- The Wheel of Time is set 3000 years after the male Aes Sedai (magic-users) broke the world. Now, what were everyday occurrences in the Age of Legends are heralded as miracles, artifacts from the Age of Legends are treasures, etc. Of course, the entire series has an underlying theme of Ages coming and going, so this happens many times.
- It also subverts it by showing that some weaves in this age surpass the Age of Legend. For example, the Warder Bond, a common bond that causes a link to form between an Aes Sedai and a bodyguard (Warder), was unheard of in the Age of Legends. A scene occurs in Path of Daggers where The Dragon Moridin rails off a list of things that were unheard of in his age but the primitives from this age know. One such weave involves curing severing (a process that makes a magic user... not), something thought impossible (though this was itself only discovered very recently, by a main character).
- There are also some hints that the story takes place long after some apocalypse levels our civilization. ("Mosk" and "Merk", the giants who fought with spears of fire that reached around the world is taken by some as a reference to Moscow and America with ICBMs in the Cold War, or perhaps even some future conflict. For more see: here.
- The Banned and the Banished sets one of these up, then argues that it's actually a good thing, because What Measure Is a Non Super is no longer in effect.
- Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon laments the gradual inaccessibility of Avalon - the spiritual center of pagan Britain - as the Goddess-worshipping religion is superseded by Christianity within the lifetime of its last priestess, Morgaine.
- Guy Gavriel Kay does this twice, in both The Lions of Al-Rassan, and The Last Light of the Sun. The former deals with the end of Moorish Spain, and the latter with the last Viking raids on England. Both are very nostalgically written, and capture the uncertainity and sadness that comes with the end of something grand, be it good or bad.
- Fred Saberhagen's Empire Of The East and Books of Swords trilogies both end this way. At the end of Empire, Ardneh undoes the Change, restoring the power of science and technology, and sending the power of magic into a (very) slow retreat. At the end of the Books of Swords, the gods die.
- In How to Train Your Dragon it's hinted by the older Hiccup narrating that the end of the the time of Viking heroes, as well as the disappearance of the dragons, will be brought on by his younger self.
- The "modern" time in Stationery Voyagers, which looks different on each world, subverts Gotterdammerung quite heavily. It's actually still quite magical and quite full of miracles. However, magic isn't as pure as it used to be. Instead, much of it has merged with science and technology to the point that they can sometimes be hard to tell apart. Most of the fantastical creatures are still there; they simply haven't resisted cultural evolution very well.
- Shannara has this. First came the age of the faeries, featuring various magical nature spirits, which ended in apocalypse. Second was the modern, technological age, which also ended in apocalypse. The third, current age is one mainly of magic, although the lost technology from the past shows up occasionally, and the most recent books have solar powered airships.
- The Revelation Space universe created by Alastair Reynolds had the Belle Epoque which came to an abrupt end with the Melding Plague which destroyed all nanotechnology. In one moving scene the protagonist is traveling in a train to Chasm City when an automated holographic display activates, showing the city in its former glory. The local residents just stare straight ahead, doing their best to ignore it.
- The book Gone with the Wind deals with this directly. Ashley tells Scarlett that following the collapse of the Confederacy, the former cottonbelt aristocrats are living a day-to-day götterdämmerung.
- According to JRR Tolkien, this is the entire point of Beowulf: after the age of heroes comes to an end, the Geats face a dark and uncertain future.
- In Dragonlance this actually happens twice. Once after the Cataclysm, when all of the gods(except for the Gods of Magic) withdraw their presence from Krynn, taking with them Priestly magic. Wizardly magic is still around, but Wizards try and keep a low-profile due to persecution. All of Krynn enters a dark age that takes three centuries to recover from. The gods return during the War of the Lance. It happens again after the Chaos War, with the gods going away except for Takhisis due to her stealing away the world. All magic is gone from the world this time around, but it only takes about five years for Mysticism(which is akin to Priestly magic, except it relies on the casters faith in themselves) to be discovered and Primal Sorcery(actually the oldest type of magic, akin to Wizardly magic) is re-discovered fifteen years or so later.
- As a non-fantasy example, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas chronicles the twilight of the optimism of the 1960s in America. See: the famous "Wave Speech."
- Marcel Proust's A la recherche de temps perdu is set against the backdrop of the decline of the French aristocracy and the corresponding rise of the middle class between the 1870s and 1920s.
- John's reign is the downfall of the immortal land Pentexore in A Dirge for Prester John.
Live Action TV
- The last episode of Dinosaurs brings this theme home after suggestively dancing around it for most of the series.
Earl: Dinosaurs have been on this Earth for 150 millions years, and it's not like we're going to just... disappear.
- Babylon 5 uses this lightly at the end of the Shadow War. While it emphasizes the new beginning for the younger races there are mentions that with the passing of the Old Ones the universe has lost some of it's mystery and wonder.
- Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda exists in a time where the great civilization known as the Commonwealth had fallen. Cynically, attempts to recreate it have so far simply resulted in corruption of power.
- Stargate SG-1: The Stargate system is a leftover from a much older galactic civilization. Most of the dominant alien races barely understand the technology they use, and the ones who do are dying or gone. This is a type 2, as Terran humanity is implied to have potential equal to or greater than the old powers, but things will probably still keep declining for a while.
- Most of the Powers That Be, and even the demons in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, are tired, and of mixed blood with humans. The True Demons left long ago. Angel actually managed to interject a sense of sadness that this had happened with the character of Illyria.
- The Federation in Star Trek is somewhat sickly by the end of Deep Space Nine. One of the villains in Star Trek: Insurrection even comments that the Borg and the Dominion attacked because they knew the Federation was decaying; however, this may just be the rantings of a Nietzsche Wannabe.
- Other episodes show that the Federation continues to expand and thrive centuries into the future, including having the Klingons join.
- Important to note Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda was intended originally to be a Star Trek Series set long after the fall of an even greater Federation than reached at the end of Deep Space Nine, where the Klingons took the places of the Nietzscheans. Explains a few things.
- The typically much darker second series of each generation in Skins is pretty much this for the end of the age of teenage rebellion and innocence and the beginning of adulthood and responsibility. The Gen 1 finale rammed it home with the group's separation, while Gen 2 wove it through the series and addressed it on a more individual level.
- Upstairs, Downstairs depicts, through the changes in the Bellamy household, Victorian England slowly yielding to modern Britain.
- The Blue Oyster Cult anthem Golden Age of Leather is about the last stand of old unrepentant Hell's Angels for whom the world has got too small, who choose to go out and die in a blaze of glory:
There passed from man to man/A wanton child, too dead to care,/ That each would find his pleasure as he might;/For that fantastic night was billed/As nothing less than the end of an age,/ A last crusade, a final outrage...
- Puff the Magic Dragon is about the end of childhood innocence and imagination, not pot.
- Ice T's "Gotta Lotta Love" is about the Watts Truce ushering in an age of peace.
Woke up the other morning. I heard a rumor. They said the gang wars was over...
- The song "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Bugles, which relates to the replacement of Radio as the national medium. In an interesting side note the music video was the first one to ever be played on MTV. In producer/composer Trevor Horn's own words, he felt that "an era was about to pass".
- Don Henley's "End of the Innocence" and "Boys of Summer".
Mythology and Religion
- The Bible has several examples:
- The loss of a "Golden Age" in this case is the "fall of man", and being cursed with sin and death.
- Both destructions of Jerusalem are this for the Jews.
- Similar to Ovid, the Book of Daniel compares the four ancient empires around the Mediterranean (which reigned over the Israelites) area to metals: Babylon is gold, Media is silver, Persia is bronze, and Greece/Macedonia is iron.
- According to some interpretations, inverted in Revelation, where the result of the Battle Royale With Cheese between God and Satan will result in the Dawn of an Era that restores humanity to its former glory.
- Shadowrun by FASA adapted the idea of different Worlds or Cycles from the Mayan calendar. The Sixth World started in 2011 with the renewed rise of magic (our own magicless world was the Fifth Age), but there had been previous ages, many thousands of years ago, where magic was far stronger, strong enough that everyone could do magic and Horrors from Another Dimension had broken through and walked the Earth. This was the setting of Earthdawn, another Tabletop RPG by FASA.
- Later, they expanded this concept into the future, with a new RPG set in the Eighth World.
- Exalted is another Tabletop RPG example. The world had an incredibly advanced state of magical technology in the First Age, when the godlike Solars ruled over everything. Then their servants rebelled, replacing their system with the less-advanced Shogunate. Unable to maintain the Solars' technology, they've slowly lapsed into more and more primitive societies, aided by a massive plague and an invasion of the chaos beyond the boundaries of reality.
- Of course the First Age takes place directly after the Primordial War, which culminated in the Three Spheres Cataclysm, which retgoned nine-tenths of Creation right down to erasing existential concepts and possibilities. Those outside Creation at the time (Fair Folk, etc.) describe the High First Age as a "tiny, burnt-out remnant" of what Creation used to be.
- The exact principles behind the decline are detailed here.
- Most of White Wolf's earlier RPG, the Old World of Darkness, had a sense of Gotterdammerung. For instance, Mage: The Ascension had a group of magi called The Technocracy using the power of belief to erase the fantastic from existence. Changeling: The Dreaming was probably the worst, though; the period of fae influence on the Earth was described in terms of seasons, from "Spring", when myth was vivid and the fae interacted fully with humans, to "Winter", when the Dreaming is mostly cut off from Earth and everything fantastical withers and dies. And most of the game takes place in Autumn...
- And now, in Mage: The Awakening, we have the fact that, in the time before history, there was a great civilization of all-powerful mages (Atlantis) who, through their hubris, brought about the creation of the Abyss (a great gulf of anti-reality between this world and the higher "Supernal" world), which led to the destruction of Atlantis, the scattering of mages, the loss of much magical lore and artifacts, and the general weakening of magic. Things have been getting worse ever since.
- Similarly, in Werewolf: The Forsaken the Uratha believe the Material World and the Spirit World used to be one, until the death of their great ancestor Father Wolf tore it apart. Despite not technically being a "paradise" (depending on who you ask), the general consensus seems to be that everyone's worse off for it.
- Vampire: The Requiem has its own example in the Camarilla, the vampiric government of the Roman Empire. It wasn't perfect, but it was the one time when there was an overreaching body of vampiric politics that oversaw the span of the "known world"... and it fell when Rome did, making modern vampiric politics almost entirely local with occasional feuds between covenants.
- Vampire: The Masquerade: Enoch, the First City, where vampires and humans coexisted.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse lore states that the Weaver, the Wyrm and the Wyld worked in harmony at one point until the Weaver ensnared the Wyrm and the latter went mad and hellbent on destroying the world from within.
- Demon: The Fallen: the titular Fallen know that they were better off before...erm, the Fall. To the best of their less-then-perfect memory, everyone else around was better off, too.
- Ironically, the fact that every other splat's having its Dark Age makes now the Golden Age for Hunters. They might not readily agree, but imagine them trying vampire hunt in Enoch or witch hunt in Atlantis, and you get the idea.
- Naturally, this trope is seen in Dungeons & Dragons:
- Eberron featured the imperfect but relatively idyllic continent-spanning (in theory) Kingdom of Galifar, which allowed slow yet steady improvements in sapient rights, Magitek, concepts of justice, and educational standards... until finally an ascension dispute broke out and the five provinces collapsed into over a dozen warring states over the course of a hundred years. When the dust finally cleared, nationalism, distrust, and cynicism ran high. Many of Galifar's achievements remained, but not the optimistic outlook that allowed them in the first place. For those not paying attention, it's World War I in fantasy-land.
- In Forgotten Realms, ancient Netheril was a highly developed magocracy where even servants used minor magics, Magitek was used routinely and most main cities were made of mountaintops cut off, overturned and enchanted to float. When all magic across the world "turned off" for a short while, the empire fell—literally. The same event damaged the 'Weave' which supports all magic on Toril, so the goddess who guards it curtailed access to prevent more damage and the greatest spells of old Netheril just don't work anymore. Now even their minor artifacts are guarded jealously by new owners.
- Also, subverted by the epoch of Myth Dranor. It's known as a lost Golden Age (magical Renaissance and goodwill festival). But with all its wonders, it wasn't completely idyllic, nor was its technology absolutely superior—for example, some Myth Drannan magic items are vulnerable to explosive overload, while modern counterparts aren't. As well, the end of the age led to a proliferation of the arts.
- The default "Points of Light" setting of 4th Edition takes place 100 years after the collapse of Nerath, the last great human empire. Towns and villages are pretty much states unto themselves and there's no central government, so the heroes are usually all that stand between a community and the dangers of the wilderness. The history of the setting also has other collapsed empires, making the rise and fall of nations cyclical.
- In Magic the Gathering, the Time Spiral block concluded with almost all of the original, godlike planeswalkers dying or becoming human to save The Multiverse, and more limited, mortal planeswalkers rising to take their place.
- Warhammer 40,000 has the Dark (or Golden, if you ask the Adeptus Mechanicus) Age of Technology, when mankind first colonised other planets and created amazing technological advancements. Most of the fanciest stuff used by the Imperium are barely-understood and often nearly irreplaceable relics of this time.
- The general underlying theme of humanity in 40k is that it is doomed to die a long, slow death from not only its own beliefs but also the vast hordes of unimaginably strong aliens, traitors and daemons. But that is very far away and right now has lots of explosions and chainsaws.
- The Eldar are no better off - most of their greatest achievements came before the Fall. It's unclear in their case, however, how much this comes from loss of knowledge or lack of the resources required to put that knowledge to use.
- The Eldar are rather deep into this twilight.
- The only real consolation that the Eldar have is the growing strength of a new god to replace their dead pantheon, a god of the dead that grows stronger with each slain Eldar. Essentially, he will reach such great power when the last Eldar dies that he will be able to kill Slaanesh...but all the Eldar will still be dead.
- Gamma World D20, the Darker and Edgier version of the setting, has some feel of this. Humanity had advanced science to an incredible degree, with robotics, bio-tech, genetic engineering and nanotechnology not merely possible, but commercially available—that's right, you could create your own life-form in your living room, and do it legally. Then came the catastrophe, and, well, most people barely know how to build crossbows and forge swords, or maintain old-fashion slug-thrower type guns, never-mind create technology that manipulates matter on the atomic level, maintain robots with human (or greater) levels of intelligence, or design whole new lifeforms from scratch.
- Witchcraft's future iteration Armageddon deals with...well, Armageddon. Though instead of what everyone expected (The Old Gods vs. the Fallen Angels vs. The Heavenly Host with mortal and immortal creature caught between them), an Eldritch Abomination came in and waged war on everyone—and it's winning, forcing the groups to team up or die.
- "Secrets of the Third Reich" has this as a backdrop for the setting. Albeit the world is slowly turning more and more into this as WWII drags on and on.
- A heartbreaking moment towards the end of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The main characters realize that as thrilling and exciting as their adventures and lifestyles were, they have to accept the fact that they're over and they need to move on. Or do they? The show ends on a high note.
[We] must accept the con is done,
- Richard Wagner's opera cycle Der Ring Des Nibelungen chronicles the end of an age. In Das Rheingold Wotan is warned that a dark day is dawning for the gods. By the end of Siegfried, Wotan's power has been broken by the destruction of his spear and also the last of the giants is dead. In Götterdämmerung the gods are finally destroyed, the dwarf Alberich who made the ring of power can only appear in his sons dreams and the ring itself is cleansed by fire and returned to the Rhine from which it came. Humanity are left alone in the world to make their own fate free of the corruption of supernatural beings.
- The end of Tales of Vesperia had the protagonists forced to destroy all blastia, a material people are dependent on for magic and everyday life, in order to prevent the world's destruction. However, the tradeoff is that they create Mana and Summon Spirits.
- Several of the Final Fantasy games:
- Final Fantasy VI ends with the death of the last Espers and the fading of magic... not to mention the entire world being a scarred ruin of what it used to be, although that happened at the game's halfway point.
- Final Fantasy X ends with the end of the thousand-year oppression of Sin. While on the whole this was a very good thing, as people didn't have to worry about their towns being wiped out if they exhibited too much technological advancement (or sometimes just at random), the Fayth had to sacrifice themselves to allow this to happen, meaning the powerful magic of summoning was lost forever.
- Final Fantasy XII saw the end of the rule of its so-called "gods" Occuria. This left mankind able to determine their destiny from now on. Strangely enough, it was the goal of the Big Bad all along, and he succeeded.
- Final Fantasy XIII sees the end of the fal'Cie, who had ruled over Cocoon for a very long time. Like the above examples, this too left humanity free from supernatural forces. While it should have meant the end of magic since only l'Cie could cast magic, the sequel, Final Fantasy XIII-2 may prove this to not be the case.
- After the hero defeats Typhon in Titan Quest, all the greek gods (and presumably the egyptian and chinese too) leave the world behind, ending the age of gods... and beginning the age of man.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion takes place at the end of the Third Age and start of the Fourth. Though the game ended on a somewhat hopeful note, background revealed of the years following the events of Oblivion shows that the end of the Septim line and the death of the Tribunal in the earlier Morrowind made way for a time of increased strife, the destruction of the Morrowind, and the collapse of the Empire.
- Morrowind has shades of this. The age of the Tribunal is over, with Almalexia going crazy, Sotha Sil dead and their power slowly fading away.
- Red Dead Redemption takes place in 1911, in the final years of the Wild West. The enroaching Federal control is a major theme in the third act.
- In God of War, Kratos personally ends the reign of the Greek pantheon.
- Behind the cheery cartoony graphics, this was the theme of The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker- the end of the era of the war between Hyrule and Ganondorf, with both of them in the end lying crumbling and forgotten, slowly eroding to nothing by the unending force of the waves, all their magic departed and memory forgotten.
- Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army takes place during the time period where Japan was furiously modernizing into the 20th century, yet hadn't left behind the old world yet completely. This gives the game a very unique flavor and appearance. There's one important mission involving a vengeful rickshaw puller who's out of work because of automobiles, for a start.
- In the trailer for Dragon Age II, Flemeth mentions that those who face destiny head on and seize control of it are the ones who change the world forever. By the end of the game, Hawke's personal rise to power and the choices he/she makes do change the status quo. For better or for worse, the uneasy stalemate between Mages and those who would suppress them has been shattered by Hawke's actions, and the world stands on the edge of ruin or a new age.
- In Lunar: The Silver Star, it is declared at the game's finale that the age of magic has ended and shall be replaced with an era of technological advancement. Make way for Steampunk!
- Phantasy Star II: At The End Of The Lost Age. The subtitle is not just for show. At the end of the game, Mother Brain has been destroyed, destroying the technological civilization of the Algo system and sending Mota into a technological dark age. As for Palm, the throneworld of the system? It went away in the middle of the game.
- Fallout: New Vegas shows that the world of Fallout is no longer a radioactive Scavenger World, but starting to rebuild itself into a new civlisation.
- Pretty much the standard ending of the Seiken Densetsu/Mana series is the destruction of the Mana Tree and the loss of the world's magic, until the new Tree (grown from the ruins of the old) is ready (in about a millennium or so).
- This is universally presented as a good thing, or at least preferable to the alternative. With the exception of Seiken Densetsu 2, aka Secret of Mana.
- Might and Magic 7 reveals that the Silence mentioned throughout this and the previous game was exactly this, if you complete the "good" path.
- Touhou: Gensokyo is a last-ditch attempt to preserve the existence of the supernaturals. The supernaturals begin to fade from this world as technology arose and humankind no longer believe in the fantastic. This theme is played heavily in Touhou 10: Mountain of Faith.
- In the manga Wild And Horned Hermit, the subject is brought up again. Even within Gensokyo, the old ways are starting to fade. Youkai are starting to no longer be feared, unknown entities, but are acting more like occasionally dangerous eccentrics.
- The storyline of Chrono Trigger features this. A long time ago, there was the Kingdom of Zeal, inhabited by people with incredible knowledge and powers, and all of this is absent in all subsequent epochs.
- Dwarf Fortress starts with a golden age of legends, which gradually gets worse as great civilizations are destroyed by such disasters as carp, kamikaze elves, overpopulation of cats, nobles,...
- Development marches on—as early as .14, it takes the efforts of Fortresses and Adventurers to go from Age of Myth to Age of Legends, and then to Age of Heroes, an effort which involves slaying the humungous rampaging beasts. v.21 introduced a class of Night Beasts to be slain before all fantastical creatures could be considered extinct.
- The Golden Sun series has this, done on purpose by mankind. The two major options are a world brimming full of magical alchemy but with the potential of evil people going on a dictator spree, or cutting off the source of alchemy which results in the world slowly dying over the course of millenia.
- Evolution: The World of sacred device as set in a world where humanity was only just reaching modern-day standards however there were ruins left behind with powerful artifacts remaining. A couple of the characters weld said devises was weapons.
- The sequel elaborates. And by elaborates, we mean reveals that Linear is one half of the instruments that wiped the previous civilization out, and the other half has just convinced her to come along to do it all over again. The Power of Love prevents this.
- Skies of Arcadia had six ancient civilizations which were all nearly wiped out in a massive meteor storm. One of those civilizations were Abusive Precursors.
- Suikoden series had the Sindar, a highly advanced civilization that has ruins left all over the world. Not much is known about them, or why they fell.
- The collapse of EVE Online's titular Eve Gate, a reinforcing mechanism to a naturally occurring wormhole between two galaxies, caused one in the game's backstory. It has been at least 10000 years since then, and the various empires formed from the colonists stranded in New Eden are only now starting to get back up to tech levels remotely approaching what they had before.
- The backstory of Arcanum has both magic and technology being far more powerful 10,000 years ago then they are in the present, a period known as The Age of Legends.
- Ys, the seemingly trendful paradise, pulled from the height of its prosperity into the abyss of infinite isolation. How could such a land simply vanish from the face of the earth?"
- The real Gotterdammerung in that series happened when the Eldeen civilization got submerged in water due to humans' trying to control Weather Control Machine for their own ends. Comparatively, the titular Ys was a minor case as it was a small empire built by the two survivors of the Eldeen civilization with the power of the Black Pearl.
- Fate Stay Night shows this, as the power behind her basic spells used by the servant Caster (who lived in the Age of Gods from the Ancient Greek legends) would take a modern-day magi around a month of to accomplish, and her multi-word spells are seen as bordering 'True Sorcery' or a miracle. She casts in one word spells that would take an excellent magus around a full minute of casting.
- On the other hand, what counted as a True Magic in her day is now common practice as the science of magecraft has advanced. There are less magicians now simply because people have been discovering the principles behind the old Magics and reproducing them. As such, it's actually a bit of a trade off because the likes of Caster could not hope to really match someone like Zelretch and his... well, Zelretch Kaleidoscope/Sword. In fact, Caster appears amazed at the sheer potential Sakura possesses in Fate/hollow ataraxia. The verdict? Caster is a cheater for being able to use her divine casting language.
- It should be noted in the Nasuverse, while magic has steadily decreased in power, magical creatures have NOT. Vampires, in fact, tend to get much more powerful (but much less sane) with age. The most powerful of the Dead Apostle Ancestors are by no coincidence also the oldest.
- Vandal Hearts mentions an ancient, technologically advanced civilization in passing, that's where the train comes from. Vandal Hearts II's world is actually a post apocalyptic wasteland.
- In World of Warcraft, at the end of the Cataclysm expansion, the Dragon Aspects tell you that they have forfeited their powers in their efforts to destroy Deathwing, and now walk among you as mortals.
- Mass Effect 3 has this trope connected with Dawn of an Era. The game consists of Shepard cleaning house and tying up all kinds of galactic-scale loose ends in preparation for the final battle. It's possible to cure the thousand-year Depopulation Bomb inflicted on the krogan, and the centuries-long animosity between the quarians and the geth will come to a head one way or another. But all possible endings involve the destruction / disabling of the entire mass relay network, and potentially most of the other advanced tech as well, pushing the galaxy into a new dark age.
- Asura's Wrath Has the final ending VIA DLC be the end of an Era for the Shinkoku Race.
- In Yosh!, the magic in the world was sealed away in the distant past after the Magi abused it and were beaten down by a unique individual who was completely immune to magic. The story begins in a world that looks much like our own, a few years after some of the sealed magic was released, causing a world-spanning magical event. The results of that event include Cat Girls, Talking Animals, and Functional Magic, among other things.
- In Linburger, the Cyll were once were the typical Our Elves Are Better, with long lives and high class. Unfortunately, some strange, catalclysmic event happened in the distant past, stripping the Cyll of their long lives, and now they live in slums with the other Demihuman races.
- Open Blue's Backstory has the Iormunean Imperium, Precursors (based on the Roman Empire) who were more or less the greatest civilization in the world... until they turned a blind eye to some heretics, causing their goddes to turn her back on them while they were in the middle of a war against invading barbarians.
- The first two years of The Questport Chronicles take place in the millennia-old eponymous village. Then a jealous magician destroys the village, and the next two years of the Chronicles are concerned with the survivors searching for a new home.
- One of the earliest examples of this would be the meteorite collision that ended the Mesozoic era, and hence the extinction of the dinosaurs.
- The ending of the Paleozoic thanks to the Great Dying is an even earlier example.
- And a bit more than two billion years before that, the "Oxygen Catastrophe" marked the extinction of most anaerobic organisms as oxygen first became a significant part of Earth's atmosphere.
- The ending of the Paleozoic thanks to the Great Dying is an even earlier example.
- After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Europe was cast into the Dark Age, and large parts of Roman technology and culture where forgotten. Of course, sixth-century Europeans didn't see themselves as being in a Dark Age, and many may have been very happy not to be on the business end of Roman imperialism any longer. Also, "Dark Age" in this context doesn't necessarily refer to the standard of living at the time but rather the fact that we're "in the dark" about a lot of what went on then due to a dearth of contemporary writings. Nowadays most historians refer to this time period as the Early Middle Ages to avoid the connotations of the word "dark."
- The destruction of Baghdad in 1258 at the hands of the Mongols ended the so-called "golden age of Islam", which had probably ended by the time of the crusades in most places, but probably continued on in Baghdad. Although Islam had been declining in relative power for quite some time in most areas (thanks to the Crusaders, Mongols, and the Reconquista in Spain), it wasn't until Baghdad was utterly destroyed that Islam's decline really set in. The city of Baghdad was razed, the greatest center of Islamic learning was destroyed, and more people died in that city than (possibly) in the destruction of any other up to that point in time. Losing these centers of learning crippled the progress of Islam. How bad was it? For the next 700 years (roughly), Islam retreated into a rigid state, held back by antique tradition, and going from a relatively tolerant religion into the repressive mess seen today. After Baghdad fell, the momentum of Islam shifted from the Arabs to the Turks, whose Ottoman Empire kept the Middle East in stasis, while Europe would go through the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and advance in every human field. It is only today that (possibly), Arab and Islamic countries are starting to adapt to international standards, and with great resistance from dictators, terrorists, and religious fanatics.
- Losing the second of three Islamic intellectual centers was a hideous blow to the Muslim world, especially when one considers that the first intellectual center to be lost, Cordoba, was reconquered by the Christians, and the last, Cairo, never recovered from the bubonic plague until modern times.
- The capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 marked the end of The Middle Ages, and it was also the final defeat of the Roman Empire that had been in existence for almost two thousand years. By then, the Empire was just The Remnant, but the defeat sent shockwaves through Christendom. The fifteenth century also brought the flowering of the Italian Renaissance, and the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation that ended the religious dominance of the Catholic Church in Western Europe.
- Of course this is a highly contentious issue - for others the End of The Middle Ages is marked not by the fall of Constantinople, but by Columbus' first voyage (1492) or Luther's Reformation. And from a Greek-Byzantine point of view there were no Middle Ages, the fall of Constantinople marking the end of antiquity. To a large extent, "The Middle Ages" is a construct of snooty Renaissance writers badmouthing their antecedents. In the view of many (social) historians, the Middle Ages went on until the 18th century in many respects throughout large parts of Europe.
- 1453 also signaled the end of the Hundred Years' War, which meant the end of the English dream of taking the French throne (and uniting both crowns).
- The Wars of the Roses, which went down just two years after the above happened and would not end until 1485, spelled the end of the age of feudalism in England.
Early Modern (15th-18th Century)
- The Golden Age Of Piracy ended in the early 18th century, with the passage of the Treaty of Utrecht and the rise of conscript armies.
- Commodore Perry's arrival in Japan hastened the end of isolationist shogunate rule, which officially came with the ascension of Emperor Meiji in 1867. From that point, Japan embarked on a programme of rapid industrialisation.
- In 1890, the US Census officially declared that the "Frontier" no longer existed. This marked the end of American expansionism and of the "frontier culture" that had characterized the US until then.
- World War I, the War To End All Wars, is considered to have ended an era. Before that, human progress seemed unlimited and war and many other ills would be abolished. Alas, the mighty technologies of mass production and automation can be applied to killing people. The realization pretty much put the kibosh on the centuries-old idealism of the Enlightenment. Nice work, fading monarchies of Europe (And France).
- Very much the sense of Sir Edward Grey's famous words about the outbreak of World War I:
The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time.
- The close of World War II in 1945 (and the freeing of various formerly "conquered" and "settled" territories) marked the end of Fascism and Imperialism. The British Empire liberated itself out of existence, and when taken together with rebellion and revolution in the Empires of France and the Netherlands and Belgium and Portugal the 1970s saw a world without military-political colonialism (so-called 'economic colonialism' is another matter) and geographically large empires.
- Much of the nostalgia surrounding both New York World's Fairs (1939–40 and 1964–65) focuses around the former being held just before World War Two and the latter being one of the last straight examples of the shiny jetpack future prior to the Vietnam War and The Sixties 'back-to-nature' movement.
- The 1960s is considered the End of American Innocence (or Naïvete).
- Symbolically tied in to that, President John F. Kennedy's New Frontier (also known as "Camelot"), ended when he was assassinated.
- The "Summer of Love" is said to have died with the Altamont concert.
- The Manson Family murders can be seen as putting the kibosh on the idealism of the 1960's.
- The Bretton Woods post-war economic certainty was thrown into disarray by the costs of the Vietnam War, industrial unrest, and the oil crises of the 1970s. The knockout blow came with the election of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, signalling the start of the financial deregulation era.
- The 70s is often considered this for boxing, especially the heavyweight division.
- The 1980s and AIDS are considered the End of The Sexual Revolution.
- The Golden Age of Video Games came to a screeching halt with the The Great Video Game Crash of 1983, and coincided with the rise of home computing and the Japanese video games industry.
- The era after the fall of Communism in Europe (E Germany, etc) and friendship between the reforming USSR and America was called The New World Order by Bush 41. Some took it another (facepalming) way.
21st Century and Beyond
- The above era was said to have ended on 9/11/2001, and the Long War/Terrorism era began.
- Periodically, and especially from 2000 onwards, commentators within and abroad say that this is approaching for the United States. And that is all we are going to say about that.
- Perhaps more precisely, many commentators suggested that the Global Financial Crisis of 2007 could have been heralding the beginning of the end of Wall Street's dominance. Seven years later (as of this writing) it doesn't look like it. Yet.
- Chinese scholars have described China as this since the time of Confucius himself, if not before. This hasn't been affected by the fact that China's had at least three Golden Ages since unification.
- The idea that man is in a state of cultural degeneracy from a perfect golden age is Older Than Feudalism. Plato complained that the youth of his age were degenerate and antiauthoritarian. This cycle of the older generation believing 'the youth' are corrupt and only getting worse has basically continued until the present day and probably will not stop now. Moral Guardians often latch on to The New Rock and Roll and cite it as a symptom of cultural degeneracy (which can only be reversed by reverting to The Good Old Days). Comic Books, Video Games, and Socrates were all blamed for corrupting the youth.
- Hesiod, above, was writing during the age after the Dorian conquest. They brought iron with them, but a lot of things were lost from the previous age—like writing. So, it was the dark Iron Age.
- Due to an asymmetry in the space of all events, we perceive time as flowing from a state of low entropy to a state of high entropy.
- "There is no more good music". "All the good music has already been made".
- "Oh look. Here comes the last wave."
- This tends to run in cycles, as the last big thing becomes more and more dominated by label-created groups that are focus grouped to death until the stage is set for the next revolution in music (movies follow the same pattern). The fact that most of what we remember from past eras is the cream of the crop and ignores Sturgeon's Law is also a big part of it.
- Pretty much every generation laments for their respective "good old days". Those born in the 20's wished for the days before rock'n'roll; those born in the 50's wish for the days of Leave It to Beaver; those born in the 60's keep telling those born in the 80's that "we didn't do that sort of thing when we were your age"; and those born in the 80's bitch about how kids have it too easy now, and are growing up soft. It's happened since the dawn of time and will keep happening until the end of mankind as we know it.
- The brain is more or less "use it or lose it", and people often don't rehash unpleasant memories, meaning they forget the bad things and remember the past as being better than it was.
- The Daily Show lampooned this and said it was because everything seems less complicated when you're a child.
- Atlantis in new-age/pop-culture/pseudohistory.
- Hollywood Global Warming. Welcome to planet "Eaarth", in the words of Bill McKibben.
- Mass Extinctions as a whole.
- To put this in perspective: manufacturing military starships in a few hours, casual FTL, universally-compatible modular starship equipment, and weapons systems capable of causing planetary mass extinction events at a whim are considered Tech Level I. Variants of the above constructed with exotic minerals and hyper-specialized components are considered Tech Level II. Fully modular, rapidly-reconfigurable starships based on the technology of several long-dead but highly advanced human civilizations are Tech Level III. Pre-collapse Terran technology is reckoned to be Tech Level X.