Medieval Stasis

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Oh, god of progress,

Have you degraded or forgot us?
Sufjan Stevens, "The World's Columbian Exposition"

So, you have a Heroic Fantasy with a long history in order to account for the fact that the Sealed Evil in a Can has been forgotten. You fast forward about five thousand years and reveal a world... exactly like the one you started in! Same technological level, same form of government, same culture—you wouldn't even need to dress differently to fit in.

Medieval Stasis is a situation in which, as far as the technological, cultural, and sociopolitical level are concerned, thousands of years pass as if they were minutes.

Heck, the "castles and knights" period of Medieval Europe didn't even make it to five hundred years, and compare these three castles to get some idea of how much things changed even then.

Furthermore, there have been no wars—between countries or civil wars—no redrawing of any national boundaries, no demographic changes (both population increase and epidemic driven population loss have, historically, caused major changes), no changes in dynasty, no new organizations of political or social significance (such as guilds), and no fashion changes, either in art or clothing. Despite these apparent centuries of peace, there will still be a professional warrior caste standing for the entire period. If the landscape changes at all, even in the course of 100,000 years, it won't be due to geological processes, but due to magic. Otherwise, expect the landmarks and geography to remain identical across the eons.

Sometimes, in fact, it seems that things were better in the past, and things are slowly in a vague decline.

Sometimes Justified Trope by long-lived inhabitants, being a Scavenger World, having The Powers That Be artificially retard humanity's development, or other barriers to significant technological advancement. If some people do manage to create a Hidden Elf Village with advanced tech, it's Decade Dissonance.

There is an Enlightenment idea that the Middle Ages were a "dark age", in which the brilliance of the Romans declined. However, this only really applies to The Dark Ages, prior to the 9th century or so, when stone buildings weren't even that common. Technology ramped up again in The High Middle Ages which saw the invention of the mechanical clock, the crank, windmills, and three-crop rotation: the medieval world changed considerably. Even the so-called "Dark Ages" were a western European phenomenon- the Eastern Roman Empire, the Arab world, China, India, and many other places were as civilized and innovative as ever. The idea of a medieval decline is a trope in itself, which has been around since the Renaissance.

Some object to the idea that advanced technology is inevitable at a certain point. The history of cultures besides Western Europe shows that it is not. Greece and Rome both seemed to be at the point of being able to move into the technology of the Industrial Revolution but they never did. There are many other examples, like China, where cultures could have made the leap but never did, for various reasons (Due to the isolationism policy adopted by the Ming and subsequent Qing Dynasty). Usually, the reason was social (why scramble to invent labor-saving machinery when slaves are cheap?) or technical (you can't build steam engines if you haven't figured out how to make precision-machined metal parts, even if your civilization is otherwise very advanced).

Then again, it could just be the creator's attempt to avoid Totally Radical or Twenty Minutes Into the Future by the most readily available means, with no attempt at in-universe justification.

It should also be noted that some fans genuinely enjoy the lack of technological development and would be rather dismayed to see their beloved fantasy world suddenly discarding broadswords, plate and mail armor, and other such standard fantasy tropes in favor of guns and industrialization (even though the former really were around then). Not that that's likely to happen in less than centuries, so only stories that feature Flash Back or Time Skip that long really need to worry about it.

The availability of magic, be it of the controllable kind or otherwise, can have a huge effect—consider the influence reliable healing magic would have on the the development of medicine. Then again, past magic might have been responsible for the current situation in the first place. Besides, your average non-magical Joe would probably be all for technology, as it would end the magic user's monopoly over things like fast travel, healing, and most importantly, blowing things to bits... assuming Magic Genetics is in place and prevents Joe from learning magic himself. It also raises questions as to why if wizards are so good they are content to let non-magic-using feudal rulers run things (unless the wizards actually do run things).

And then there's the question of whether science even works the way it does in the fantasy world the way it does in our real world. Considering that the Standard Fantasy Setting typically already violates some of the fundamental laws of science (wizards who cast fireballs and lightning bolts are essentially creating energy out of nothing, which goes against the laws of thermodynamics), who's to say that steam can actually serve as a viable source of power? Do the chemicals that make up gunpowder actually react the way they do in our real world, or do they just fizzle and pop, if they even do anything at all? You might be able to use oil to Kill It with Fire, but can that oil still power an engine? If it can't, would-be inventors and innovators don't have much to work with.

May feature in a Feudal Future—even if the technology is far advanced. Compare Modern Stasis. A related trope is Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale, which is this trope applied to distances rather than time. Also compare to Muggles Do It Better, where in settings that separate the supernatural and the mundane world, the supernatural is locked in a medieval stasis while the mundane continues to advance. If parts of the world are stuck in Medieval Stasis and others have jetpacks, see Schizo-Tech.

Examples of Medieval Stasis include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The underground villages of Earth in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann have been in a state of technological stasis for a while, because the village elders proclaim that leaving the villages equals death. This is justified however because of the Beastmen on the surface, whose sole purpose is to crush mankind. Further justified in that the Beastmen were devised not to evolve beyond their current state, because the Anti-Spirals would detect if there were more than 1,000,000 humans on the surface of the Earth and would promptly wipe out the human population.
  • The world of The Twelve Kingdoms changes little from year to year, although this might have something to do with the world being run by rigid rules governing the selection of rulers and commerce and travel between the kingdoms. Additionally, many of its leaders are immortal and have been strictly charged by the heavens with achieving and maintaining a happy status quo. The lack of any fossil fuels might also be a cause. However, a number of innovations, such as Buddhism, were introduced by people from Earth Trapped in Another World.
    • Rakushun also credits refugees from Earth with introducing paper, print and ceramics (presumably an advanced * type* of ceramics, like porcelain?). They use Chinese characters and social structures. Presumably the gods ran off 12 copies of classical China for reasons of their own. Their technology might be 'stagnating' at the level of late China, no steam (but no coal) or electricity (if that even works), but good mechanisms... the fact that many kingdoms get major disasters every 50 years or so when the king dies won't help.
  • In Scrapped Princess, what at first appears to be a stock Medieval European Fantasy setting is actually the ruins of a highly advanced society possessing artificial intelligences, computer systems, and flying fortresses, not to mention Humongous Mecha. Their society was artificially sealed into the Dark Ages by an external force after the collapse of this civilization.
    • With stability enforced by genocide of uppity populations.
  • Kyou Kara Maou centers in the Great Kingdom of Shin Makoku, which is purportedly 4,000 years old, and has been ruled by the same, true-breeding twelve families the whole time, without any advancement of technology past 'horses and swords,' and an apparent decline in magic. Partially justified in that they've been being shepherded through all that history by the deific presence of their first king, who picks all their new kings and protects them, etc. Less justified in that the rest of the world has only moved forward very slightly, either.
    • A lot of the same countries are still around from four thousand years ago, some of them still ruled by the same family who ruled them back then. Or the family that exiled that family and took over, if the previous family was an ally of our guys (the Big Bad rules a country previously ruled by Conrad's father's family, loyal human allies of Shinou).
      • With reference to this, Conrad inserts himself into the middle of a succession dispute in season 3, to distract the new villain who had the last one offed.
    • On the other hand, the Mazoku, the race occupying Shin Makoku, appear to have bred to be incredibly long-lived in the four thousand years since breaking off from the rest of humanity. Apparently concentrating the magic-user genes can have really impressive effects.
  • Apparently, in Zero no Tsukaima , culture has been stuck at around this level for 6000+ years. Sigh


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Thieves and Kings has this without explanation - there have been (many, many) wars, mind, but one character moved from centuries in the past to join the main characters and no-one even comments on her accent.
  • Justified in-universe in The Adventures of Barry Ween. Barry travels through a dimensional wormhole to the world of Ramaat, which is locked in a Medieval Stasis due to "The Drain"; a natural phenomenon that causes all power to dissipate rapidly. Even ordinary fire is not possible. Being that Ramaat is a world with three suns, this actually makes sense, as it would keep the world from being cooked by solar radiation.


Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • In With Strings Attached, while Ketafa is a thriving quasi-Victorian society with factories, guns, and at least one motorized vehicle, Baravada has completely stagnated, technology-wise (though they are rife with magic), and the inhabitants brush off inventions as “tinkerings.”
  • In Halo Finishing The Fight, magic is justified as the reason why society has remained somewhat stagnant. Why build a dam when you can just have a wizard divert a river for you with a spell?
  • In The Fall of the Fire Empire, this is justified. While taking place in an era analogous to The Legend of Korra, technology has barely advanced from what was around in the original series. It's eventually revealed that the imprisonment of the Moon and Ocean Spirits unintentionally trapped the natural world in social and technological stasis because of the metaphysical disruption to the Balance of all things. The world can only get worse but not better until the Spirits are freed.


Film[edit | hide]

  • The technology of the Predators is never seen to advance, even when their appearances are hundreds of years apart. The Expanded Universe justifies this by explaining that a long time ago the Predators' society became all about the hunt, and they lost all interest in intellectual pursuits.
    • There is a sometimes-canon and sometimes-not explanation that their tech is stolen from an older race that attempted to occupy their planet. They can replicate and adapt it, but lack the understanding of its base principles to improve on it.
    • An easier explanation is that the only Predators we see are hunters who explicitly show "sportsmanlike" behavior, including killing only armed opponents and sparing, for example, pregnant women. It follows that the crazy-superior tech they are using is what they consider fair. Their tech may be better, but what is "fair" to use on the humans hasn't changed in hundreds of years. Much the same way some humans often still use bows to hunt deer rather than carpet-bombing them from the stratosphere.
      • Hinted in the current comics to be this, as it's about a clan of Predators who don't follow the hunter's code of honor.
  • The aliens of James Cameron's Avatar supposedly have existed in the same level of tribal hunter/gatherer tech for longer than humanity has existed, making theirs a case of Primeval Stasis.
    • They really don't have any incentive to develop advanced technology since their population is stable, they don't suffer from diseases, and the planet itself provides them with quite advanced biotech for free. Of course Homo Sapiens spent about 90% of its existence in lower technological level than the Na'vi without these incentives, so neolithic aliens aren't that unexpected.
    • Given their innate connection to the sentient planet and the rest of its ecosystem, they may be more extensions of Pandora then a real "alien race" in any case.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • JRR Tolkien's Middle-earth (The Lord of the Rings The Silmarillion, etc). Generally speaking, over thousands of years, the basic technology appears to be the same - for the most part. However, everything was grander and more magical in the First Age, and the Elves are fading away as of the Third Age. They are in their "autumn, never to be followed by another spring". The ages of the world tend to end with Eucatastrophe, meaning any technological advances were lost to Middle-earth between ages. Either the technology itself was lost to all knowledge or the Elves took it away with them as they left Middle-earth. Still, while technology, armor and weapons in particular, is generally described in the same terms over the ages, there are indications of advances, though they are usually unique to certain cultures and simply don't become widespread as in the modern world.
    • The peoples of the First Age had the best tech of all. The Elves built a ship of mithril and elven glass that could travel through the sky and the Void (outer space). When Morgoth invaded Gondolin, according to one version, his troops rolled across the mountains with "great engines with fire in their bellies" that could flatten defense towers and carried hundreds of orcs inside. Sounds very much like he had access to large APC vehicles. Also the dragons were implied to be biomechanical. However, this is glossed over in later versions. The Elves also invented magical lanterns with an everlasting blue flame which never get mentioned again later. The Dwarves invented chain mail, which later spread to most cultures in Middle-earth.
    • At the end of the Second Age, when Númenoreans under Sauron's guidance get engines, ships made out of metal and possibly missiles ("Our darts are like thunder and pass over leagues unerring."). See The Lost Road, HoME V. They also develop bows made out of steel.
    • At the end of the Third Age, Númenorean settlement in Middle-earth produced structures beyond the ken of most people, so that even their descendants the Gondorians couldn't match them. The wizard Saruman encouraged industrialization, though this isn't necessarily portrayed as a good thing as it was for his war effort. He and fellow wizard Gandalf both used gunpowder for military and benign purposes (bombs and fireworks). The Dwarves also invented "metal hose" that was even better than chain mail, though they kept the knowledge for themselves.
    • Word of God has it that Medieval Stasis ended entirely from the Fourth Age on due to the Elves' magic no longer stopping the world from "changing", and that Middle-Earth is the world we live in many thousands of years ago. V-J Day at the end of World War II in this chronology marks the transition between the Sixth and Seventh Ages. However, all the magical and otherworldly aspects of Middle-Earth slowly faded away until only Men and material things were left. The Elves of the First Age didn't have modern technology because they didn't need it; they had all sorts of magic and magical materials that allowed them to make things like the aforementioned flying ship.
  • Star Wars, wherein, according to the Expanded Universe, the Galactic Republic has been socially and technologically stagnant for at least five thousand years (out of twenty-five thousand years of its history).
    • It's quite plausible that the Star Wars galaxy has "maxed out" its technological development. This galaxy had a starfaring civilization for thirty thousand years. Sooner or later they were bound to run out of new laws of physics to uncover. Likewise, the social stagnation of the Galactic Republic was imposed by the Jedi Order: the Sith were responsible for most efforts to overthrow the Republic, which brought the Jedi in on the Republic's side. So the Republic itself was never under much pressure to reshape itself, because the Jedi would support it against any truly menacing outside threat.
    • The earliest comics do show that space wasn't nearly as well explored five thousand years before the movies, and there's a throwaway line somewhere in Tales of the Jedi (circa 4,000 years before the movies) about hyperspace craft having to use jump beacons to navigate instead of their own ships' computers.
    • Also, blasters appear to have been given a major upgrade from KotOR, genetic engineering occasionally shows up despite taboos, superhuman AI are and have been standard for ships (Millenium Falcon's droid brains), and megascale/planetary engineering is in fact common since KotOR II and before.
    • Luke's artificial hand he got in Empire Strikes Back appeared to be way more sophisticated than the less attractive metal one given to Anakin at the end of Attack Of the Clones, but this just as easily could have been Jedi proscriptions against vanity or Anakin's desire to make the limb simpler and easier to service himself at the expense of aesthetics instead of actual technological development. Neither artificial hand seemed to differ in functionality from a human hand at all; Anakin's "clunky" prosthetic hand makes the most cutting-edge prosthetics of today look like stone tools and could do anything a human hand could.
    • Lightsabers used to have external power supplies attached to the wielder's belt.
    • Technology does seem to be moving forward: the A-wing, AT-ST, and AT-AT, for instance, were canonically invented between the films. Not to mention that the plot of the very first film was entirely driven by a new invention.
      • Depending on which EU sources you read, it is implied that the "advances" that allowed the creation of the Death Star were political, not technological. A massive engineering project like that requires a strong centralized government with access to resources far beyond what the Old Republic (a loose confederation of more-or-less autonomous member worlds, lacking even a standing army until the prequels) could command without the willing participation of a large number of member worlds. Not to mention that there was no need for such a weapon in peacetime. They had the tech to build it all along, just not the resources or will.
    • Star Wars follows a curious trend of 'punctuated equilibrium', with long stretches of technological and cultural stagnation shaken up by some event (usually a war) that jumps things forward a bit before settling back down. Most of the Expanded Universe deals with the era starting with the movies, which has been in a near-constant state of crisis or agitation for most of a century and has seen several galactic upheavals, with advancements in technology to match.
  • The Discworld is generally an exception to this trope—you can see technology and culture changing from year to year—but it was a plot point in Pyramids, where the kingdom of Djelibeybi is caught in this state, thanks to a time loop generated by an oversupply of pyramid power. Having said that, the TV adaptation of Hogfather included a Flash Back to Alberto Malich's childhood, two thousand years ago... using the same vaguely Georgian costumes and streets as in the main story. (Although to be fair, it's not actually stated that Albert's 2,000 years old in the TV version.)
    • It has also been mentioned (especially in the Science of Discworld series) that a world where many tropes (such as the Rule of Funny) are fundamental laws does not lend itself to technological advances - things are simply too unpredictable.
    • Ankh-Morpork and the Empire were locked down for centuries in-story, while Klatch advanced. The changes were caused by Twoflower introducing new ideas, which business-minded tinkerers were able to replicate. This set minds thinking in new directions, and competition forced the tech level up.
    • In general over the last half of the series there's been something of a metaplot of Ankh-Morpork (and since Ankh-Morpork is the Fantasy Counterpart Culture to England, the rest of the civilized world) breaking out of the Medieval Stasis.
      • The dwarfs, too, broke out of Medieval Stasis somewhat recently, due to the invention of safer means to deal with gas pockets some 50 years ago. This kicked off social upheavals that led more dwarfs up onto the surface, where their skills and competition probably helped spur humans' own inventiveness. This has gone on to the point that Ankh-Morpork is now the largest Dwarf city on the Disc outside of Überwald, even though they are still a minority there.
  • The Dune universe is kept intentionally technologically stagnant, for different reasons depending on the time period. In the distant past, humanity rebelled against the thinking machines that had all but taken over; the outcome of this jihad was an absolute prohibition on machines mimicking human thought processes. In the original Dune trilogy, the proscriptions of the Butlerian Jihad are still in force, combined with a situation of hydraulic despotism as all interstellar travel, communication, and commerce depends absolutely on the spice. Then, in Leto II's reign as God Emperor, he takes this to the ultimate extreme, forcing society (by means of overwhelming retribution backed up by prescient vision) to abandon most technology and live in a primitive, idyllic manner. This is all designed to cause a massive upheaval after his death, and indeed it does; a forced withdrawal from the spice motivates the construction of devices capable of interstellar navigation, "no-ships" that are immune to prescient detection, and a general release of three thousand years of pent-up innovation. By the time of the last two books, a Lensman Arms Race has resulted in weapons capable of sterilizing planets and literal fleets of no-ships.
    • The prequel novels reveal that some progress was indeed made on the two technological planets: Ix and Richese. In fact, it was a Richesean scientist who first invents the no-field generator and builds the first no-ship, as an extension of Holtzman's theories. It is, however, not immune to prescient vision but is otherwise completely undetectable. This technology is lost, though, when the Emperor orders the lab destroyed in an unrelated matter. The Ixians have also improved the heighliner design against the opposition from House Corrino.
  • In Succession (published as The Risen Empire in the UK) by Scott Westerfeld the Risen Empire has been technologically stagnant for about 1,000 years as a result of the ageless Risen controlling the entire government. The Empire's enemies, who lack immortality, do keep advancing.
  • The Star Trek novel Here There Be Dragons features a medieval culture which has been transported off Earth and apparently remained the same for 900 years. The stagnation is explained by the low population and isolation of the cities (because of the eponymous dragons), and it's demonstrated that the culture hasn't completely stagnated, as apparently they've managed to invent a better suspension system for their horse-drawn carts. At this rate they'll invent steam power around the time their sun burns out.
    • A similar concept is used in an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, only with an Old West town with a period drift of about 300 years or so. They were kidnapped for slave labor but rebelled, destroying the alien ship which brought them. Similar to the above example, these people were stuck on a desert planet with the towns separated by a fair distance. Their stagnation is partially justified through paranoia; they're unwilling to let the descendants of the original aliens know that they were once a spacefaring race that enslaved the humans, even though said aliens are forced to live in the remains of the very ship the humans destroyed. One of the characters even lampshades the lack of progress.
  • Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen is an extreme example: The world has a history stretching back three hundred thousand (300,000) years and more, yet technology is still medieval (except for the existence of dynamite-like munitions). Lampshaded and justified by Samar Dev in The Bonehunters: She noted (lamented, really) that the power of The Warrens means will never really have a need to strive for technological solutions to their problems. If they can't magic it, they'll just buy or trade for what they need from another race.
    • An additional reason is that most human empires in the Malazan world are very short-lived and humanity is thrown back culturally and technologically regularly over the millenia, due to violent upheavals. The one empire that did survive since the fall of the First Empire, Lether, has magical reasons for being put in a - literal - stasis.
    • And of course ancient civilizations were more technological advanced: The Short-Tails had anti-gravity devices, lasers and nanobots while the Jaghut heavily dabbled with genetic manipulation.
  • In David Eddings The Belgariad and Malloreon book series the stasis of the world is explained to be a side effect of the accident that divided creation into two opposites. The future cannot happen until the effects of the accident are undone and the two possibilities are combined back into one.
    • This doesn't stop technology from advancing throughout the 7,000-odd years that Belgarath the Sorcerer covers. It just moves very slowly.
    • In the Elenium, soldiers summoned from the ancient past use Bronze Age armor and weapons.
    • Played more believably in The Redemption of Althalus. The eponymous protagonist is around 2500 years old, and civilisation has advanced from early bronze age to a Greco-Roman level during his lifetime. The main antagonist is significantly older (about 10,000 years), and it's noted that things were much more primitive when he was born and it's heavily implied that he was among the first behaviourally modern humans (although unlike in the Elenium it's not established whether humans were created as is or evolved).
  • Both justified and averted in L.E. Modesitt's Recluce series. Although some technological progress is made, the eponymous island's government suppresses the knowledge in a mistaken belief in Status Quo Is God, and keeps things under control within its sphere of influence. However, the Big Bad empire on the other side of the world has been busy inventing....
    • That universe's laws of chaos/order physics also mess with thermodynamics, making some technology, such as steam engines, require wizards to hold it stable.
    • The series is very good at illustrating how a cultural dependence on magic will tend to cause stagnation, or at least greatly limit technological progress. A fact which is actually lampshaded in at least one book. It also takes the logical course of having the nations most dependent on magic be ruled by their most powerful mages; and shows the effects this would have on politics.
    • Also, the laws of that universe are radically different, so stuff like electricity might not even work. There were at least 2 civilizations that came from other universes; Westwind and Cyador (although they possibly come from the same one). Of course, in the story line, civilizations and technological level rise and fall. Cyador, in the earliest of the chronological order, had something that sounds like Nuclear reactors, although, to be honest, they were failing. Cyador was industrialized, before it was wiped out by disaster, although they were declining by then anyway. Fairhaven, the next city to hold a major chaos civilization, got wiped out by what could be best described as a nuclear blast (extreme application of magic powers). Guns are around, but since a wizard can blow them up from afar they are not used. Of course, the biggest justification is that if you have a steam engine outside of water, it has to be constantly tended to by a wizard or else it blows up. Ships can have them though. The Order civilizations like Westwind and Recluce prefer no advancement because advancement is chaotic, and thus frowned upon. Of the civilizations that balance the powers of Order and Chaos, one is a bunch of tree hugging druids who believe in communing with nature, and Hamor hasn't really been featured enough of yet to tell. Hamor does seem to be advancing though. Oh, and if you come from a civilization that is not run by mages? You get trampled by the ones that do.
      • Assuming Cyador is a descendant of the ancient Rationalist Demons (as seems probable) they were using laser-based tech, and the towers were likely fusion, not fission. This world is /not/ a good example of the trope, however, as technology advances from crude iron swords to highly advanced cartridge rifles and steel battleships in a reasonable timeframe despite the magic issues, and you can see the progress in each and every book (except for the ones written about the same characters).
  • In The Memory of Earth by Orson Scott Card humanity has been stuck at the same technological level for 40 million years. They're colonists, genetically modified to be susceptible to mind control by an advanced AI which was programmed to prevent technological advance past a certain level, since its creators have seen that as the cause of wars and misery back on Earth.
    • On the bright side, they do have the chariot now! This amazing feat of engineering was baffling and unheard of until lately. Technology that isn't applicable to war is actually fairly common, though, such as levitation pads for cripples, some advanced data storage and one or two things like that.
  • In Captive Universe by Harry Harrison an Atzec culture survives unchanged over centuries, hidden in a remote valley. They turn out to be unwitting travellers inside a huge spaceship.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, technology hasn't advanced in any significant way during the last couple of millennia. The author has hinted that there's a sinister, plot-important reason why technology has stagnated. Politically, the world has gone through a number of wars, upheavals and mass invasions.
    • What's most disconcerting is the lack of proper medical care. You'd think after a few millenia, the doctors would figure out that bloodletting isn't actually effective.
    • The later books repeatedly point out that the dating scheme in the common "history" of Westeros is inaccurate, like you would expect from scholarship without access to modern archaeological and historiographical methods (such as carbon dating). One character says that the histories get more mythological and unbelievable the farther you go back, and the Maesters (the most educated scholars in Westeros) have different views on when events occurred. For example, the general view is that the Andals came over 4,000 years before the book storyline, but the Maesters believe it was closer to 2000 years. That actually works as a rough date, when you consider that real-life civilization went from the early Iron Age around 1300 BC, to medieval knights approximately around 1000-1300 AD.
  • In Janny Wurts's Mistwraith series, five immortal wizards have forcibly maintained medieval stasis for more than 10,000 years, by removing the memories of anyone who discovers technologies they disapprove of.
  • In Steven Brust's Dragaera novels, this is a Justified Trope within the Dragaeran Empire. While magic leaps forward after the Interregnum due to divine intervension, the Great Cycle of the Empire keeps society spinning through an endless stasis. Dragaeran Kingdoms and the Eastern Kingdoms, however, have also stagnated for hundreds of millennia without any apparent justification.
  • In Yulia Latynina's Wei Empire cycle, the basic political, social and economical structure of the empire has been preserved for about 2,500 years... or so the official sources of Weians say, and some of the Earth characters are somewhat skeptical of this, apparently with good cause. In any case, though the same order was preserved for at least the last few centuries, it did not exactly exist without interruptions, so it's more of a persistent cyclical thing. As for technology, it is again clearly shown to have progressed from bronze weapons made 2,000 years ago to advanced steel, early gunpowder and friggin' poison gas thanks to a certain mad scientist; it is also pointed out as some point that the Wei Empire, much like the Roman Empire in real history, had failed to take advantage of numerous potential technological breakthroughs that could've led to an industrial revolution because it had no need of it and because some of its past rulers were ardent technophobes. In any case, the plot of the last novel has to do with the rapid and rather ugly breakdown of this stasis in the aftermath of the contact with "men from the stars" who have recently discovered and infiltrated the empire.
  • Such a stasis is also arguably the main theme and plot point of another Yulia Latynina novel: Inhuman, which is set in the dystopian interstellar Empire of Humans where, according to one of the characters, no technological advances were made for the last several centuries. The, uh, antagonists (both sides involved are villains by most measures), effectively an alien conspiracy masquerading as a government conspiracy, want to remedy this.
  • The Lizards in Harry Turtledove's Worldwar novels have been technologically stagnant for nearly 50,000 years, as have been the other alien species they conquered and subjugated in that time. Their leaders are quite surprised when, in the mere 800 years between their first reconnaissance flights over Earth in the 12th century and the arrival of their invasion fleet in 1942, that the human race has gone from horseback to radar.
    • It's also stated in the books that their slow technological development is at least in part on purpose. When something new is invented or discovered, it is introduced into their society over the course of decades or centuries, so they can study it's impact on society.
    • In the final book, one hundred years later the Lizards are only just beginning to consider what the difference in advancement might mean to their future when the first earth FTL ship arrives in orbit of their Homeworld. The Lizards didn't think FTL was possible and haven't thought about it, or even considered it, in their 50,000 year history.
  • An important plot point in Dan Simmons Hyperion Cantos is the fact that the Hegemony of Man is culturally and technologically stagnant, albeit with AI-given toys, while the Ouster "barbarians" have continued to progress.
  • Justified in David Weber's novel Off Armageddon Reef. The last human colony has been in Medieval Stasis for eight hundred years, thanks to a religion designed to prevent the re-emergence of technology (not to mention an orbital kinetic weapons platform programmed to smack any location with evidence of advanced tech like electrical power), so that the colony isn't found and destroyed by aliens. However, cracks have begun to emerge—water power and gunpowder have been invented.
    • Also, eight hundred years is a period of time not far out of line with how long the real medieval period lasted.
      • These books are interesting because the goal of the protagonist is explicitly to break the Medieval Stasis and restore the advanced technology.
    • A similar situation is set up in Weber's Heirs of Empire.
      • The novels set in the Armageddon Reef setting seem to be an attempt by Weber to revisit his basic plot concept in Heirs of Empire in more depth. There are differences between the two settings, but in the broad sense the similarities are striking.
    • The Bahzell series, being a Fantasy Series, actually strives to avoid this at all costs. The Author has said as much as he's tired of fantasy novels being written as Luddite sounding. The original Empire of Ottovar was rather Magitek in nature, instead of their being a grand total of one wizard and barely enough mages to be worth anything, there were entire orders of Wizards, with most people of noble blood being noble because they were wizards (the king and queen founding the Empire being the two greatest wizards of all time). The Magitek was very advanced, but the Empire was limit to only the continent of Kontovar due to the Dragons forbidding Wizards from colonizing Norfressa after the original Wizard War. There was evidence of gradual advancement, as the Warlocks and Witches became the elves, and much research was done (including Time Travel!). The Dwarves are at the cusp of the industrial revolution with Bessemer ovens and shock absorbers but still no steam engines. Until recently they were trying to recreate was they knew was possible but without the help of Wizards (before large scale steel production required the help of a Wizard to do it).
  • In Larry Niven's Kzinti histories. The Kzin aren't terribly intelligent to begin with, and gained the great majority of their technology by rising up against their Jotok masters and offing most of them, and in a universe without FTL technology, it takes a LONG time for things to propagate over several hundred light-years of empire. Imperial standardization as well as simple physics kept the Kzin at a very, very, painfully minuscule level of advancement. The Kzin even have a priestlike caste called the Conservers Of The Ancient Past, whose job is to prevent unneeded change.
    • Though after the first couple wars with humanity they become much more motivated to advance, even acquiring hyperdrive shortly after Earth does.
  • Justified, then heavily averted in Ian Irvine's Three Worlds series: in the first series just about every culture is enormously traditionalist, and magicians are highly secretive. By the second, a mere few hundred years later, one magician decided to start a proper school and the military is now equipped with Dungeon Punk Humongous Mecha, thanks to a cataclysmic war with a race of extradimensional ubermensch. Irvine (a scientist) has described the books as Darwinist fantasy, and appropriately the main theme of the series is punctuated equilibrium.
  • In The Darksword Trilogy, the use of magic has caused society to stagnate. The idea of The Magocracy essentially suffocating itself by suppressing all non-magical innovation is an important motif throughout the series.
    • They did develop mathematics considerably due to its use, though to a lesser extent than in the outside world (ours). In the third book we finally have enough backstory to realize that the populace is mostly descended from refugees from Dark Age witch hunts, who equated education with priests inciting violence against them, and subtext implies their "Death Mages" (engineers) stayed behind to help start the Renaissance and start changing attitudes toward magic to prepare for a future reunion. Anybody wanting to organize and control the relocated people for their survival practically had "Technology Is Evil" dropped into their laps as a tool... and so the project to keep magic in the human gene pool started going horribly right.
  • Thoroughly averted in Sarah Ash's Artamons Tears trilogy. The borders of the nations of Rossiya have changed often over the past millennium. Old artwork and stories in-character portray people using swords and bows where they currently use muskets. Some areas are more technologically advanced than others (the Renaissanceesque Tielen, Francia, and Muscobar are quite different from the medieval Azkhendir, barbaric Khitari, and the unnamed tropical islands of palm-branch clothing and tikis). Even during the less-than-a-decade in which the actual plot takes place, Rossiya experiences significant changes in technology.
  • In The Arm of the Stone, 'Hand Power' is harshly suppressed and even minor innovations are punished severely.
  • Somewhat subtle in Orson Scott Card's Ender books. Ender's Game is set Twenty Minutes Into the Future, and the next book, which takes place 3,000 years later, is also Twenty Minutes Into the Future, more or less. Not only have technology, politics and linguistics seen few apparent changes, but also social, cultural, and religious attitudes, which can seem rather incongruous, given the amount of change in all those fields during a comparable span of Earth history.
    • Most colonies were settled by ships moving at near-lightspeed, thus the passengers were effectively in Suspended Animation for centuries since leaving Earth.
  • In the Mistborn trilogy, the Final Empire has writhed and bled in the iron grip of the Lord Ruler for a thousand years... so the world has only advanced about 300 years, or 500 at the most. There are pocket watches and limelights, and canneries were recently invented. On the other hand there's nothing approximating an Industrial Revolution, and technologies like gunpowder weapons are suppressed as thoroughly as possible.
    • However, the newest book, The Alloy of Law, averts this entirely. It is set a few hundred years later, and technology has progressed to an early 1900's Dieselpunk level. There are guns, electric lights, universities, and trains.
    • Other works by Brandon Sanderson play with the trope. In Warbreaker, Vasher mentions that new ways to use Awakening are being developed constantly, though technology is pretty stagnant otherwise. In The Stormlight Archive, it seems that magic was much more versatile in times gone by, but fabrial development has advanced quite a bit, and the map has been redrawn a bit (more in some places than others). Elantris justified the Medieval Stasis with Elantrians ability to provide nearly everything with the lack of need for actual technology.
  • Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern novels feature Medieval Stasis for two thousand years. Partly because roughly every two hundred years, alien organisms would rain down from the skies and try to eat everything carbon-based, which tends to put "staying in a safe place" much higher than "technological advancement" on the average person's list.
    • The colonists were deliberately looking to build a largely non-industrial society - plus, the "resources negligible" status possibly means that the planet doesn't offer the means to do so if they wanted to. Thread just accelerated the process and pushed it a little further along than the colonists intended.
    • In Rescue Run, contained in the Chronicles of Pern - First Fall the ship that picks up Stev Kimmer and Kenjo Fusiaki's family requests the planet be placed off limit due to the thread organism.
    • Pern has an innate paradox. The danger of the Thread is so great as to make the society primarily centered on civil defense. However it is a natural disaster not a sentient enemy, which means the Weyrleaders and Hold Lords can find a predictable pattern and parry it with rigorous discipline and scheduling. Which in turn makes for less inclination toward innovation and more toward conservatism. The fact that F'lar developed his system out of faulty records made for improvements. It is noticeable that he had charts to predict the Thread before it arrived. The old-timers were surprised as they depended on on the simple fact of having grown up answering dispatches rather then putting it together from research.
  • Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun tetrology of novels take place a looong way in the future (the techno-fantasy "post-historical" era where Stone-Age Man, the Modern Era, and the Galaxy-Spanning Imperial Era are all lumped together as the "Age of Myth"). The world is roughly at medieval levels (even though fragments of other tech levels are scattered about) and has been for perhaps a million years. It is implied in the books that this was done deliberately - time travel had become a common technology at one point, so accurate record-keeping was abolished and cultural stasis enforced to prevent time-travelers from targeting historically-important points.
    • The average person is at medieval levels because the Urth has used up all its resources (Word of God says this is the future where "mankind stays home and waits for the money to run out"). The government is too poor to educate the population so they have lost most of their scientific culture, although they scrupulously talk about the world rotating away from the sun (rather than "the sun setting" as we would say.) As for the Anachronism Stew elements, that is partly a Scavenger World effect, partly due to genetically-engineered species surviving in the wild (their war "horses" are fast enough to charge lasers) and partly the fact that the ruling class can trade with other planets and get things like anti-gravity and life-extension.
    • The Book of the Long Sun has this going on too. After a sizable population left Urth on a generation star ship thousands upon thousands of years back, their society has reverted to city states that worship computer programs that emulate once-living aristocrats.
  • Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms seems to be in a stasis of sorts - but it's heavily implied that this is due to The Tradition, which really likes things to stay the same. Sometimes, this can be a problem, since The Tradition also likes to fit things into tidy little stories...and it doesn't especially care if the story has a happy ending or not.
    • The Heralds of Valdemar series by the same author is also set in a medieval stasis, though there are hints that an industrial revolution (using a techno-magical blend) is in the works.
  • Subverted in Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones - the world just pretends to be constantly medieval to as to live up to expectations.
  • In Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light, the former crew of an interstellar colony ship, who use advanced technology to create personas as members of the Hindu pantheon, purposely keep the descendants of the ordinary colonists in low-tech stasis so that they will not be able to rise up and overthrow their "gods". The printing press, for instance, was repeatedly independently discovered, and despite their best efforts the "gods" had to resort to using nuclear weapons against regions where forbidden technologies had become entrenched.
    • The moment the gods lifted up their collective thumb (during a "war in heaven") people immediately began to improve their lives with innovations like indoor plumbing. And the priesthood didn't even try to stop the one-armed bandits, but coopted them as 'pray-o-mats'.
  • The Wizarding World in Harry Potter generally avoids this, as magical techniques are shown to be constantly developing new aspects, though many cultural elements (architecture and fashion, for example) are held over from previous periods, mainly the high Middle Ages, the Victorian era, and the 1930s-1940s. The latter part possibly justified by wizards living much longer than normal humans, and being fairly isolated from outside trends.
    • This is averted in the movies, when the Hogwarts uniform was changed to be reminiscent of boarding school uniforms and the Yule Ball "dress robes" were basically regular tuxedos and dresses.
  • Averted pretty thoroughly in one Michael Stackpole book, Once A Hero. For the first half of the book, the protagonist heroes around with his elf companion in your basic medieval fantasy setting, fighting with his broadsword. At one point he forces a feuding pair of clans to make peace. Then he ends up magically Human Popsicled and wakes up four hundred years later to find that his elf companion had a daughter and got old, the clans, under altered names, are feuding again, all these things have different names and roads are different, and people fight using rapiers and newfangled weapons called "flashdrakes", which are basically primitive guns.
  • Partially averted in the Dragonlance books; technology has not changed all that much but there have been profound cultural and political shifts over the millenia: the collapse of the Ergothian Empire, the splintering of the Elves into three different kingdoms, the rise of Solamnia and Istar and the destruction of the latter, the rise of new religions and the abandonment of the true gods (and then their return).
    • Possibly justified in that most technological advancements are developed by Gnomes, which in and of itself is a reason for other races to want to steer clear. When other people see a toaster that uses multicolored explosions and flying serrated blades in its standard operational process, most will decide they don't need their bread warmed up that badly.
  • This is a common complaint/question about The Chronicles of Narnia. Without even worrying about, say, the decades between The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Silver Chair—a thousand years pass between The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, and seven generations between The Silver Chair and The Last Battle. Technological achievement consists of one channel dug at Cair Paravel and one bridge built at Beruna. (Of course, this is one of those aggressively nostalgic cases where development is actively opposed by the protagonists and anyone who tries it gets put down in a hurry. Caspian actually says as much in Dawn Treader—the issue is slavery, but they're talking in general terms. Even the author/narrator, when he's writing about our world, is always dropping in things like how sweets used to be cheaper and kids don't know to swear on the Bible anymore, and Eustace's liberal, modern upbringing is described basically as code to show that he's going to be an unsympathetic jerk. There are also a couple of technological anachronisms in Narnia, like Mrs. Beaver's sewing machine, to combine the medieval and twentieth-century nostalgia. Sewing machines good, Plumptree's Vitaminized Nerve Food bad.)
    • Well, it makes sense, given that C.S. Lewis and his literary friends (notably J.R.R. Tolkien) were greatly concerned about the effects of industrialization and the loss of the English countryside. This was apparently a theme in the Lord of the Rings, so the fact that it's the secondary theme of Narnia isn't that surprising. Still, it is kind of jarring when you realize that Narnia starts out medieval straight off the bat and remains utterly unchanged until the world ends a few thousand years later.
  • Redwall's world doesn't seem to have evolved at all in twenty books covering several hundred years. Maybe it's because they're all too busy dealing with the rapidly-breeding vermin threat to have time to invent much.
    • The map has evolved, the Abbey seems to have expanded over time as new additions are built, and the animals have become more anthropomorphized (in series order, not chronological order). But the in-world technology hasn't budged.
    • Short lifespans may also be a factor, as most Dibbuns only have about half a year to grow up and become productive members of woodlander society. Not much time for basic education under those circumstances, let alone trying out new ideas.
  • Christopher Stasheff's Warlock series, while largely set in a spacefaring civilization, has one installment where the protagonists find themselves in an alternate Earth with much stronger magic than in the main series...and which is, surprise surprise, stuck in medieval stasis. One of the characters hypothesises that this is because the presence of magic has reduced the incentive towards technological development, but since magic can only be wielded by its practitioneers (as opposed to technology, which can be used by anyone once invented), the reliance on magic kept society in a feudal-style Magocracy.
  • Justified in Poortvliet and Huygen's Gnomes books, in which gnomes have maintained a steady level of technology (metalsmithing, balloons, water and wind power) for many thousands of years, being only recently surpassed by humans. Being a Friend to All Living Things, no gnome would even consider using any form of technology that creates pollution or otherwise endangers the wilderness.
  • The worlds of K.J. Parker feature Medieval Stasis. In The Fencer Trilogy, a metaphysical force known as the Principle has the world in its grip, forcing history into circular patterns. The Scavenger Trilogy has traces of identical civilizations from thousands of years ago. This world is the plaything of a god of death, periodically crushing progress. The Engineer features a pivotal scene where a man trying to introduce cannon into the world is blown up by his creation: it isn't explicit but the sense is no good comes to those trying to break the stasis.
  • Gor is technologically stagnant because people who push the envelope too far tend to suddenly burst into flame. However, they somehow managed to invent light bulbs and cure aging. This is also philosophically convenient for Norman as it lets him justify why men on Gor are... uh, better.
    • Gor is controlled by the non-human "Priest Kings". They allow advances in some areas (medicine, lighting, etc), but not in others (weapons, vehicles, etc), because they fear that if men advance in these areas they might challenge the Priest Kings' power. They enforce this by using a weapon that causes a person experimenting in forbidden knowledge to burst into flame.
    • The patchwork technology was most obvious in the first few books, which were intentional imitations of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars stories, and feature conveniences like thermostatic sleeping bags which were quickly forgotten when he took the series his own way.
  • In the Codex Alera technology is static and has actually regressed from the original Roman settlers' because of the universal access to Elemental Powers. Magitek is so universal that despite the low tech levels, the quality of life is roughly equivalent to the mid-20th century, and the use of magic has been evolving. There is also an institutionalized traditionalism within Aleran society, thanks to the fact that they've spent a millennia simply fighting to survive against the Death World that is Carna, which resulted in an emphasis on following set, traditional methods. This is, ultimately, a serious problem that the Alerans have, as they have no reference point to deal with enemies using advanced engineering like the Canim, let alone a completely out of context problem like the Vord.
    • And then Bernard reinvents the catapult. Which turns into a WMD when loaded with lots of small fire orbs children can make with little effort. A WMD in a world with Races of Mass Destruction. This is when the Alerans realize their Medieval Stasis is breaking.
      • According to Word of God, this will eventually be averted. The author has stated that if he ever writes a book set in the same world again, it'll take place roughly 200 years in the future, and technology will be a kind of magical steampunk. Furypunk, he calls it.
  • Somewhat toyed with in the Sword of Truth series. In Naked Empire, the protagonists discover the Empire of Bandakar, made up of the descendants of pristinely ungifted D'Haran exiles, which was sealed behind an Underworld barrier for over three thousand years. One Bandakaran, Owen, leads them past an Imperial Order occupation force to their capital city. When he proudly presents their great financial and cultural center, all Richard and Kahlan see is a city block full of tiny shops with studio apartments built above them. Richard even asks, "This is all your great culture has achieved in 3,000 years?", while a flummoxed Owen clearly thinks that the block of two-story shacks is up there with Crystal Spires and Togas. As for the rest of the world, the trope is more played straight, as the ancient world had thousands of mages serving the people's needs and as they gradually died out, the idea of using technology to fill the niche they left behind hasn't quite caught on yet.
    • Averted in a later spinoff, which states a thousand or so years later, the world is a rather advanced Magitek civilization.
  • Discussed in Ascending of The League of Peoples Verse, where races that were "uplifted" by the League of Peoples hundreds or even thousands of years before humanity have no significant technological advantage over them. Having been handed everything they could ever need by sufficiently advanced aliens, their own industries and cultures stagnated. What's worse, the League technology was all of the Black Box variety: they didn't understand the first thing about the technology they were using, and thus couldn't make any further scientific progress. The result: a long downward slide into Creative Sterility. This is a fate that threatens humanity as well.
  • The Heralds of Valdemar series is a case of medieval stasis enabled by the use of Functional Magic to supply many of the conveniences that would otherwise be provided by technology. However, three thousand years with no notable scientific advancement is a bit much, and a very subtle (i.e., blink and you'll miss it) justification is provided in that the Powers That Be have been carefully orchestrating history in order to set the stage to avert the return of a world-shattering magical Cataclysm. As this imperative wanes, it can be seen in the Mage Storms trilogy that Valdemar, by far the most progressive nation from a cultural standpoint, has begun to support a cadre of artificers who are rapidly moving toward late Renaissance and even steam technology. Also, apparently, nobody's figured out gunpowder.
  • Justified in the novel Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds, where the world is divided into technology-limiting "Zones", one of which runs on Steampunk in which advanced technology often doesn't work. Science is unknown, and no advancements have taken place for almost 5000 years, except for technologies adapted to specific zones. Ricasso, an important character who wishes to understand the world (he notes that they can replicate TVs, flintlock pistols, revolvers, energy-discharge weapons, and steam locomotives but they really have no idea how they work) pokes fun at this.
  • The faster-than-light engine does that to societies in Harry Turtledove's The Road Not Taken. One of those (stuck in Napoleonic times, technologically) attacks 20th century Earth. It was a short invasion.
  • Inverted in R.A. Lafferty's "Slow Tuesday Night", in which brain-enhancements that speed up all decision-making processes have become universal. This accelerates the pace of human activity so drastically that it takes 15 minutes to make and lose a fortune, two minutes to read the hot new (for the hour) Doorstopper, and half an hour (on average) to marry, honeymoon, lose interest and divorce.
  • Enforced by laws known simply as Protocol in the Incarceron series by Catherine Fisher. It's undoubtedly a Crap Saccharine World, as one character in La Résistance says about their Era that it condemns their best minds to work only on sterile reproductions of the past. It's excusable in a world where most knowledge was destroyed earlier, but enforced and anti-intellectual? Not right man.
  • In Vladimir Vasilyev's Big Kiev series, it can be initially assumed that the setting is an Alternate Universe. It is, in fact, the year 368,764, but technology remains about at the same level as it is now (it may even have regressed a little). Nations have been replaced with mega-cities (e.g. Big Kiev, Big London, Big New-York, Big Istanbul). Machines can function on their own and appear to have animal-level intelligence (possibly, ubiquitous AI). Humans live alongside fantasy creatures like elves, dwarves, orcs, goblins, and halflings. Instead of building machines (which is an inconceivable concept), the living (a new word used instead of "people"; there are no undead) tame the wild machines, teaching them to respond to the living. Technicians use formulas to operate machines, which are, basically, instructions. Even scientists are not tasked with inventing new things but with understanding how to operate the existing machines. According to one character who has access to notes dating back at least 10,000 years, nothing has changed in that time frame. The plot of The Big Kiev Technician is kicked off when the main character finds out that someone is actually building new machines, an idea that can change the world.
  • In Mikhail Akhmanov's Envoy from the Heavens, Ivar Trevelian works for a human agency dedicated towards studying and advancing pre-space humanoid races. Ivar is sent to a planet that has been stuck in the Middle Ages for centuries with no drive for progress or discovery, mostly due to the political situation on the settled continent being remarkably stable. He infiltrates the society as a Wandering Minstrel and soon finds out that, for various reasons, this society frowns upon attempts to change the status quo with radical new ideas. For example, when Ivar suggests an idea for a saddle for horses to a soldier to ride them instead of using chariots, the soldier looks horrified at the idea of doing this to such majestic creatures. Attempts to build steam engines often result in them exploding, which the natives use to conclude that they are bad. There is a whole undiscovered continent in the other hemisphere, but the natives believe that their world is flat, surrounded by a ring of their head god. Attempting to reach this ring by boat may anger the god with consequences for everyone. Because of this, no one has ever attempted to sail this far. In the end, though, it turns out that another alien race is deliberately causing Medieval Stasis on this world.
  • David Gemmell's final Drenai novel, The Swords of Night and Day jacks an established character forward a thousand years in time in a Fish Out of Temporal Water plot. Despite some political upheaval, technology has more or less remained the exact same, with some advances in monster-making techniques being the only notable difference.
    • Averted however in his other work, The Rignate Series. The First two books take place in times similar to the height to the Roman Empire, the next two books take place several hundred years later and combat is now based around guns and cannons with society now being similar to the 1600's.
  • The Prince Roger series has Marduk, a Death World that for the most part hovers around "early Medieval" tech. Partially justified in that the climate does make inventing - or maintaining - the more advanced tech the Imperial Marines are used to much more difficult (torrential rain two or three times a day makes it harder to keep the insides of electrical components from getting compromised, and it makes inventing a good gunpowder rather tricky - although the Mardukans have managed it). The protagonists are also reluctant to change things too much - first, because they don't want to leave any distinct traces that they're there (they are trying to be as stealthy as a several-hundred-man march can be, after all) and second because they're wary of falling into the trap of cultural superiority.
  • The world of Erna in the Coldfire Trilogy has been stuck at the same tech level for a thousand years thanks to the fae. It turns out Your Mind Makes It Real doesn't mix very well with technology: for example, worrying about a gun jamming/misfiring will make it happen, and humans can't help but worry. Furthermore, all of the advanced technology possessed by the original colonists who landed on Erna was lost when one officer sacrificed all of it, including the colony ship itself, to make the fae into Functional Magic that humans could safely use.
  • The Wheel of Time plays this both ways. The level of technology has remained roughly the same since the Breaking of the World destroyed the Magitek culture of the Age of Legends three thousand years ago, but the nations and their borders definitively haven't. On the other hand, these changes usually don't affect day-to-day life all that much: at one point a character is reading about a foreign country in a fifty-year-old book, and notes that "little of any consequence would have changed in so short a time". On the other other hand, the last books of the series have introduced both steam engines and gunpowder used as a weapon.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy makes heavy use of Medieval Stasis on the titular colony's enemies. In its early stages, the Foundation is only able to survive because its neighbors have first regressed and then fallen into an (albeit futuristic) Medieval Stasis where they have forgotten most physical science (most prominently, nuclear power). The Foundation's preservation of such knowledge (via a veneer of mysticism) is what initially propels it to superpower status.
  • While R. Scott Bakker's Second Apocalypse series takes place in a medieval setting, roughly around the time of the Crusades, its timeline averts this. The First Apocalypse was two thousand years ago, and took place during the Bronze Age (supplemented by magic and borrowed tech from the Inchoroi). There are also ziggurats left over from civilizations two thousand years before that. The Unmen, on the other hand, are in a state of technological status due to their immortality and its accompanying amnesia.
  • The Lone Wolf series of gamebooks is set on the planet Magnamund, which was declared by Word of God to be in stasis. This was actually retroactively enforced after another writer created a series of straight novels telling the story of the gamebooks and ended one of them with a Distant Finale set in a modern future.
  • In Patricia Kennealy's The Keltiad, Keltia's futuristic technology, dark ages culture, and even language have been in a stasis for thousands of years. This extends to the time before the Kelts left planet Earth to found their interstellar kingdom.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • A very low-key and unnoticeable at first glance version is present on the decidedly-Space Western border planets of Firefly, which background material describes as intentional on the part of the Core planets to keep them backward and controlled. There's even intentional technological stasis where the villain of the episode has the money to build a real city, but keeps it at a wild-west level so he can 'play cowboy' and be the one with the best toys.
  • An interesting variant appears in Stargate SG-1, in which the Goa'uld are shown in ancient Egypt sequences as using the same technology as they do in the regular episodes. In the time that humans went from simple bows to nuclear missiles, the Goa'uld haven't added trigger guards to their guns. This is justified by Goa'uld culture being antithetical to good scientific practice (although Goa'uld scientists like Nirrti and Nerus do exist), and all their technology being stolen anyway, but to be this extreme, they need to be quite the Planet of Hats.
    • It's shown a few times that some isolated worlds, free from Goa'uld control, had actually advanced FURTHER technologically than humans on Earth.
    • Better yet, in the episode "Line in the Sand" a Power Crystal from an Ori weapon is used to power an Ancient cloaking device. They use an adapter, but Carter still says the reason it works is that "Ancient and Ori technology is similar," despite that the two civilizations were isolated from each other for fifty million years. This is somewhat justified, however, as the Ori were obviously not the intrepid scientists the Ancients were. The split occurred when the Ancients were near the height of their development anyway, and technological repression was in full effect. Considering that the Stargates were canonically invented by Ancients after the split yet they have a working network, it would be fair to say that the Ori simply used Ancient knowledge to build their stuff.
    • Justification is given in show that the Goa'uld don't want the primitive humans and Jaffa under their rule to have any understanding of how their tech works, as it's better for the ignorant masses to think that tech is "Magic," that only their god/goddess can activate.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, the Wraith systematically destroy any society advanced enough to pose a threat to them, meaning the most likely type of society will be of medieval level, or lower.
    • Subverting this is the Genii, who pretend to be at an agrarian level of development, but it's all just a ruse to keep the Wraith away from their secret underground facilities, which are about... somewhere between the 1940s and the 1960s.
  • In the Australian-Polish series Spellbinder the Spellbinders have remnants of advanced technology in the forms of powersuits and walkie-talkie like stones. While they themselves have little understanding of how these things work, they non-the-less imprison any non-spellbinder who creates any new invention or innovation as they fear that technological progress will end up leading the commoners to overthrowing if they don't nip it in the bud.
  • In the classic Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Errand of Mercy". The Organians live with medieval technology and have absolutely no interest in help developing from The Federation or the Klingons. Subverted in that the Organians are actually advanced Energy Beings who simply have no need for technology anymore and the town was just a front so they could interact with physical beings.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Up the Long Ladder" The Enterprise rescues a group of Space Amish who have lived as they have for 200 years, even keeping their Irish accents. In the same episode they come across the other, technological, group from the same original colonists of whom only five survived landing and they have been breeding through advanced cloning for 200 years - but evidently keeping their stasis so as not to develop space travel to go back and get more humans for their genetic pool.
  • The Bajorans from Star Trek have culture going back over half a million years, but whose first space travel was roughly 800 years before The Next Generation era, and were surpassed by the Cardassians who conquered them. Their society has been directed by their (accurate) faith in the race known as the Prophets for much or all of that time, so it is probably deliberate.


Tabletop RPG[edit | hide]

  • In BattleTech, a series of violent civil wars have destroyed almost all the factories for Battlemechs, and the equipment that goes into them. Battlemechs from 500 years ago are more advanced than the ones being built at the time. ComStar is dedicated to retrieving LosTech and preserving/worshiping it.
    • This is eventually subverted as the timeline progresses. By the time of the Fed Com Civil War and Word of Blake Jihad, the Inner Sphere powers have rediscovered and even improved upon Star League technology, or invented entirely new equipment.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 game setting is another sci-fi example of this trope: thanks to the Imperium of Man's Cargo Cult approach to maintaining technology and its leaders' unshakable belief that the Status Quo Is God, or rather that God is Status Quo, human technology and culture have remained largely unchanged for the past ten thousand years.
    • This has bitten the Imperium in the ass on occasion. In one case a planetary purge and colonization was postponed indefinitely (due to a violent warp storm that enveloped the planet) abandoning the spear-wielding natives for over 6,000 years (technically 5,953 years, but who's counting?). They were more than a bit surprised when said spear-wielding natives showed up on some of their frontier colonies with railguns and plasma rifles.
    • The Eldar, as well as being quasi-immortal, have been trapped in a decadent, decaying culture since The Fall; expending their very limited resources on simply maintaining their existence in a universe where Everything Is Trying to Kill You.
    • Ork culture is far too chaotic and violent to ever manage to develop very far and their basic technology is innate knowledge coded in their genes. That said, they have managed to develop rough-and-ready tractor beams and mass teleporters that are much more effective (if more dangerous to the user) than any other race's equivalents quite recently in the current setting.
    • The Necrontyr turned themselves into mindless automatons serving Cosmic Horrors. On the other hand, they are so far ahead of everyone else already that it hardly matters. The armies used on the tabletop are scouts and raiding parties; their full-powered war machines aren't even reactivated yet.
    • Pretty much the only races that are advancing/evolving are the Tau and Tyranids.
      • If the Tyranids constant taking of the genetic code counts as "developing tech."
  • The fantasy counterpart setting, Warhammer Fantasy Battle, is an interesting example. In its earliest incarnation it was essentially based on Early Modern Europe (roughly the era of Luther and the reformation), with printing presses and firearms being known albeit early, experimental and sometimes dangerous. Over the years, each new edition of the setting has advanced the date and the technology level in some cases.
    • The Empire ("Germany") has developed Dwarven technology into such advances as steam tanks as well as developing firearms technology to the extent that the handgun has become the prime Imperial ranged weapon. At the same time, with the assistance of the High Elf mage Teclis, wizards have been "unionised" into a number of colleges of magic.
    • The other main human faction, Bretonnia ("France") was originally portrayed as on a similar technological level to the Empire but with a social situation more akin to the 18th century with powdered and bewigged nobles mincing about effetely and ignoring the plight of the massed poor. Recent editions have regressed Bretonnian technology to a High Medieval level and given a more "heroic" slant with a culture of bold knights and doughty peasants straight out of Malory's La Morte d'Arthur. It has been implied that this is due, at least in part, to manipulation by the immortal rulers of the Asrai (Wood Elves). For game balance they apparently have blessings from their goddess to protect them from bullets, making them equal in overall effectiveness to the Empire.
      • Or at least theoretically making them equal. The reality of the game looks different since the game suffers a certain amount of Power Creep with every newly released army book (GW wants to sell miniatures) and the Bretonnians are among the armies with the oldest supplements.
    • The Skaven (essentially Ratmen) are also continuing to progress forward with some of their more recent innovations being trains, long range communication devices, and gatling guns (many of which have puntastic names). Their technology generally sacrifices safety for results though, and is prone to exploding and other malfunctions.
    • The Dwarves are advancing in certain areas, in Gotrek and Felix, one of them built a zeppelin to take them over the Chaos Wastes. Let me repeat that. A culture at a technological level of about 1600 AD Europe has built a Zeppelin.
    • Different areas of the Warhammer world are not advancing. The Elves are locked in stasis, and other human settlements like the island of Albion are still in a stage of cavorting druids and priestesses prancing naked round the maypole and where it never stops raining.
      • For those Elves that don't go around hugging trees, this is handwaved by suggestions that the Elves have avoided an industrial revolution for "aesthetic reasons" (even Dark Elves, apparently... maybe they're allergic to smoke) but can make "intricate clockwork and torsion-powered" artillery pieces that are supposedly every bit as good as equivalent gunpowder weapons. They don't live up to the hype. The stasis of the Dwarves, on the other hand, is explained by Dwarven society being in an old-is-good mentality. This actually has some resonance with real-life scientific theories - it is sometimes said that what it takes for a new theory to be accepted is for the older, more respected figures in the field who don't like the theory to die off... and Dwarves can live for a lot longer than humans. That the younger Dwarves with new ideas apparently have a tendency to run away to Imperial engineering schools where their ideas might meet more acceptance probably doesn't help.
    • There's an interesting case with the Lizardmen - they're the oldest inhabitants of the Warhammer world, and apparently haven't invented the wheel yet, something even the Orcs have got around to. However, when some of them tried to colonise a new area, they were cut off from their froggy leaders and regressed to a less advanced society, with less magic and overall co-ordination. Those that tried to colonise a nearby island had no contact whatsoever, and pretty much became beasts. This seems to suggest that not only are the Lizardmen locked in Medieval Stasis, but that it's only due to the Slann that they're not going backwards.
    • History of Empire and Westerland shows the progress from the barely-united barbaric tribes (think 1st-2nd century AD) to medieval feudalism, to early Rennaissance and, in case of Westerland, to the equivalent of early XVII century (Marienburgers introduced, among others limited democracy and early stockmarket). Kislev is locked in medieval stasis though (what may be justified by unnatural cataclysms and rather barren lands, also Kislev is an Expy of Russia with dashes of Poland, both known for having been somewhat behind Western and Southern Europe).
  • Practically each and every Dungeons & Dragons RPG fantasy game world; perhaps with the exceptions of the bizarre Planescape setting and Wizards of the Coast's latest world setting, Eberron (which features a Pulp Adventure setting influenced by Indiana Jones movies, mixed with Dungeon Punk, in a faux-19th century world heavily influenced by arcane technology and magic).
  • Pathfinder has Alkenstar, a duchy where magic does not work anymore. They have rifled guns, experimental revolvers, and a gun factory. Taldor also uses cannons for artillery, and most of the nations seem to be at a more Renaissance level. Most countries have printing presses. However, most tech is expensive as hell. If I remember correctly, a gun costs as much as magic weapons.
  • The Forgotten Realms setting generally falls under this, with a few notable exceptions. Countries come and go, several fallen kingdoms/empires may have been built on the same spot, and politics has dramatically changed. To the extent there's enough ancient-to-modern history to have a splatbook (Lost Empires of Faerun) devoted to it. And while swords-and-bow technology hasn't changed all that much, humans have advanced out of the Bronze Age and into the Iron Age, new spells and fighting styles are constantly being developed, and one church (Gond) has the invention and development of technology as one of its primary goals, thus leading to things like the printing press and the alchemy equivalent of gunpowder.
    • The Lantanese inventors also avert this trope a bit in Forgotten Realms.
      • Guess what? There's no smokepowder in Faerun in 4e.
      • The gnomes also avert this. Heck, the only reason that gnomish inventions aren't more widespread (and more willingly accepted) is that the gods are deliberately meddling to keep things in stasis. The only reason the gnomes have accomplished as much as they have is that they are very innovative: every single thing that the gods warp to try to discourage them from playing around with technology is repurposed to do something that fits with the warping.
      • Netheril, one of the lost empires, had medieval technology over a thousand years before the 'present'. This was justified by the Netherese reliance on magic, which was both more readily available, and more powerful than it is now. Also wizards really did run this empire.
    • The lack of technological progress and continuous state of warfare are Justified within the setting by the legend of The Sea of Fallen Stars' creation, which supposes that the gods made it so that the peoples of the world would never become too curious or cooperate too much, as punishment for the titans' hubris.
  • Justified in the Hollow World, where the Spell of Preservation acts to inhibit cultural and technological change, thus maintaining what amounts to a planet-sized anthropological museum. Elsewhere in Mystara, technical and social progress is much faster in some regions (Darokin, the Savage Coast) than others.
  • Averted in Ravenloft, where the northwestern Core has undergone significant (Clockpunk-level) technical and scientific progress in recent decades. The fact that most domains in the Land of Mists are less than 200 years old also helps spare it from accusations of Medieval Stasis; Barovia is over twice that old, but is openly derided as an archaic backwater by its neighbors.
  • Averted in Dragonlance if the tinker gnomes have anything to say about it. Societies have come and gone, especially with The Cataclysm wiping out the most advanced empire on the planet and sending the rest into a downward spiral. But through it all, the tinker gnomes continue to plug away at their inventions (doomed by the gods to fail, however). Despite their handicap, gnome ships sail the seas and rivers powered by steam (occasionally exploding); labor-saving devices process wheat (usually exploding); and other gnomish inventions milk cows, shear sheep, walk dogs, groom horses, and collect eggs (at the same time. While exploding. If you're lucky).
    • One short story features an insanely evil tinker gnome whose latest invention, while complete, is still theoretical. His loving, if sociopathic, description of how it works place it squarely in the category of an atomic bomb.
    • An extremely tongue-in-cheek article in a Dragonlance Splatbook describes one gnome's theory on constructing a giant span of strings sprawling across the continent, connecting every town and place of interest. Since the springs resemble an interconnected rope net, he calls it The Internet. And given it's appearance to a spider's web, he suggests calling it The 'Web for short.
  • Magic: The Gathering's city-plane of Ravnica has apparently been ruled by the exact same ten guilds for ten thousand years. This is handwaved to some extent by the existence of a powerful magical pact binding them all, and some change seems to still have happened (it's hard to picture the fractious slum-dwelling Gruul Clans having been the way they are 'now' from the beginning, for one thing)...still, considering how much happened in the same time in real life (basically all of recorded history), it's probably a good example of Game Designers Having No Sense Of Scale.
    • Of those ten guilds, four are still ruled by the same immortal magical creatures that signed the Guildpact, two are ruled by immortal councils, one is basically the physical manifestation of hidebound bureaucracy, and the other three are more or less insane and generally poor at long-term planning.
  • GURPS Banestorm's world of Yrth has been kept at a Late Medieval level of technology and society, in part due to the Megalan Empire's Ministry of Serendipity, a secret police charged with hunting down inventors, technologies and other ideas which threaten the status quo. The other nations of Yrth appear to have similar organisations.
  • Iron Kingdoms deconstructs this (with the possible exception of the elves). A few centuries ago the IK were invaded by a nation with more powerful wizards, so to retake their home they had to develop new technology powered by magic. To make it even more shocking, it isn't just the humans that have advanced. At some point they noticed that certain bands of goblins, trolls, and ogres seemed smarter than others, and these sub-species were incorporated into the societies (gobbers are the most advanced, and make excellent mechanics).
    • Later it turns out that the Elves (the ones form Ios anyway) are even more technology advance than the other other races as they have laser guns (or guns that fire magic laser beams) and force feilds.
  • Exalted has an interesting take on this, based on the setting's conception for how technology works. It typically requires supernatural powers to develop and build anything more advanced than 16th century technology, and how easily this is done depends on the people in question. The Solars had the best powers, and governed an age of technology at least as advanced as what we have now, and frequently greater. The Dragon-Blood ruled Shogunate didn't have the means to maintain the Solar infrastructure practically where at all, and was slowly falling apart due to infighting, invasions of reality and simple entropy. The Realm (also run by Dragon-Blooded) maintained a social and technological level roughly equivalent to medieval Japan (with the occasional remnant of previous ages) for about 800 years, but that was due to deliberately enforced restrictions. Development in the rest of Creation at during that period varies, depending on factors like security from raksha or Underworld attacks, Realm influence, and available resources and Essence-users.
  • In Fading Suns the church blames technology for the fall of the Second Republic, so the Engineer's Guild has mostly focused on maintaining or at most duplicating old technology. What little research they do has to be done in secret.
    • The Vau are even worse than humanity; they have not advanced at all since the Second Republic first made contact two thousand years ago due to having an (even more) rigid caste system that prizes stability over all else. Though they were largely more advanced than even the Republic at its height.
  • The Vilani First Imperium in Traveller was quite stagnant, leading to their defeat at the hands of the Terran Federation.
  • Inverted in Pendragon, which starts off in post-Roman Britain until King Arthur takes the throne, then each phase of his reign parallels a period in the history of England from the Norman Conquest to the Wars of the Roses with technology to match.


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  • Bionicle's planet of Bara Magna. Following a literal Earthshattering Kaboom, during which the planet Spherus Magna split into three, the society of the desert region-turned-planet found itself in shambles. They created a system in which disputes over resources would be settled with gladiator matches, and when the story continues 100 000 years later, nothing is any different -- even most of the people are still the same, thanks to their long-ass lifespans. Characters who were treated as inexperienced youngsters a hundred millennia ago are still seen as such. Super-powerful beings still continue their war that to the rest of the planet is only a memory. Some people, like Vastus, still feel guilty over what they've done in that war. True, the Iron Tribe died out and at some point the Skrall Tribe moved from the Northern mountains to the desert, but that's pretty much it. Society and technology never moved an inch forward, even though the characters built high-tech implants into themselves and had the war-machines of old to study.


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  • Medieval II: Total War- If you continue to play the game well after you pass/fail the requirements needed to beat it, and assuming you and another faction is still playing, you could potentially see Europe celebrating the year 1900 AD, yet have everything look as it did way back 900 years ago.
    • Not to mention that, if you play as a country like Scotland, the game never lets you build gunpowder units because Scotland never got them in real life. In other words, other countries get to roll out cannons while you're still stuck with swords.
    • Averted by finishing the game within a reasonable year. Technology, castles and weapons all advance. In Empire: Total War, research is an important tactical element of gameplay.
  • Warcraft averts this trope. Though it initially appears to have a fairly stock medieval Anachronism Stew, there's actually a wide variety of technological bases, from early industrial to nomadic, each usually with an appropriate justification. Many of the less-technologically-advanced races were either isolated or xenophobic, or suffered massive social upheaval.
    • On the one extreme, the Night Elves have existed in what seems to be a state of technological and societal stasis for ten thousand years. However, this is explicitly shown to be part of the (very conservative) race's way of life; a large segment of their population goes into otherworldly trances, sometimes for centuries at a time, and the remainder are so devoted to their sylvan ways that until recently they tended to disparage all technology or arcane magic. The fact that they were immortal at the time and this represented a single generation also contributed.
    • The Trolls, whose empires once ruled the world, and who build vast ziggurat cities in deserts, jungles and snow (in Northrend a whole troll Kingdom on the continent is one giant ziggurat) now live in straw huts and ruins. Culturally they have not regressed at all however, long ago they were voodoo worshipping cannabals, and they still are, they just dont rip peoples' hearts out on altars on giant temples anymore.
      • They aren't stuck in medieval stasis as much as some other sort of mixed-blend-of-cultures stasis. Generally they seem to Inca and Aztec while worshipping primal voodoo spirits and Old Gods. Their cultural history mirrors that of the Maya, great temple cities that one day were suddenly abandoned, the citizens regressing into nomadic hunters lving in small isolated communities. In the trolls' case, the abandonment had more to do with the fact that their gods were more Cosmic Horror than benevolent overseer.
      • Of course, it could also have to do with the Aquir, Elves and Humans consecutively crushing their civilisation into dust whenever they got into contact.
    • And on the other extreme, the civilizations of Dalaran, the Burning Legion, the gnomes, the goblins, the high elves, and the draenei and their naaru patrons all have access to exotic (and in the case of the gnomes, goblins, and dwarves, extremely quirky) Magitek technology.
      • Blood Elves are an unusual case. They're so obsessed with the power of magic that magical ability is basically the only thing they respect - their society looks down on those with solely physical or technological skills. So at a glance you see them wielding simple bows and swords and think they haven't advanced in ten thousand years, but then they attack Tempest Keep, an eons-old dimension-hopping magitek fortress built by near-transcendent beings who have been fighting the Burning Legion since its creation, and manage not only to sabotage it during the attack, but have reverse-engineered its technology and reshaped the whole area around it by the time we see it in Burning Crusade. They're amazingly advanced, but only with magic.
    • Last but certainly not least is the fact that many of these cultures, having allied and interacted, are beginning to pick up each other's tricks. This leads to some interesting interactions in the present, more internationalist era, such as an Alliance Steampunk airship, golems being produced like mass-produced robots, or a druid of the Cenarion Expedition excitedly studying super-advanced Ethereal Magitek for possible ecological renewal purposes.
  • The Legend of Zelda, whose games take place across a span of hundreds and hundreds of years. Ocarina of Time, the last game before the timeline splits in three, depicts a Hyrule nearly identical in terms of technological and social development to all later Hyrules in timeline B, and the earlier games in timeline A. Modern technology is curiously present in a few places in the series (Ocarina of Time has a jukebox, Link's Awakening has telephones...) but other than that it's typically medieval.
    • This can't exactly be said for timeline C, though. Wind Waker has cameras, Phantom Hourglass has steamboats, and Spirit Tracks even has trains. Of course, the fact that people were basically forced to move from a monarchy of sorts into an island society might explain this.
    • However, check out the game Oracle of Ages. When you travel 400 years into the past, the world is still pretty much the same—but there are people with hard-hats! Talk about your Anachronism Stew...
    • Don't forget the Minecart Madness in most of the handheld games which is absent in the later, chronologically older Ocarina of Time. This and the above imply a slow, gradual evolution across the series' fictional time frame, though they are simultaneously littered with anachronisms (mostly for comedic effect.)
    • Notably, timeline A is shown to pretty much go backwards later on, with loss of most Schizo-Tech advanced items, massive population crashes, near-total loss of historical record, cruder looking clothing, and less complex equipment outside of magic. Given that the above Oracle of Ages is part of this timeline, the loss of hard-hat technology, sadly, fits that timeline's overall trend well.
    • Skyward Sword hints that Hyrule's current state may be the result of a past cataclysm, which could explain the schizo tech in some areas. The prevalence of magic and the supernatural may also justify the slow pace of technology progress in some areas (think how much of modern medicine would be rendered obsolete in the face of cure-all potions), and the devastating reach of the Triforce Wars - as well as the various civil conflicts mentioned in backstory - probably didn't contribute much to its advancement.
  • Tamriel in The Elder Scrolls. Though to be fair, they do have a reason: The Dwemer, the last race to advance beyond the medieval level, were instantaneously banished from the face of the world (or used their newfound knowledge to leave voluntarily - it's a subject of much in-universe debate) when they attempted to scientifically reproduce the powers of a god.
    • There are a fair number of people who at the very least are more than happy to use Dwemer artifacts of all shapes and sizes. After all, a golem is a handy thing to have around, but so is a hybrid steampunk-magitek automaton.
    • It is also mentioned in Redguard that the abundance of magic negates the need for much technology. An NPC points out that there is little need to learn to build better bridges when you can just have a wizard teleport you to the other side. Of note is the fact that Redguard was set over 400 years before the other Elder Scrolls games, and yet has a similar level of technology.
    • It is not entirely true either. The Elder Scrolls' world has only existed for a few thousand years, and during those people (especially men) have advanced from stone age to medieval age technology. Some cultures have halted at different stages, and magic-based cultures (ruled by mages, even) have also been developed. And, though the game series will most likely remain in it's medieval stasis, it has been hinted in lore that technology will be more advanced in the future.
      • According to the descriptions in the book 2920, The Last Year of the First Era (found in Morrowind and Oblivion), the technology of that date was pretty much the same as it is in the games. Oblivion is set at the end of the third era (after its main quest, era 4 begins), which is 1,330 years after the events described in the book, so technology was stagnant for at least 1,330 years, maybe more. Seeing as man and mer only existed for ~7,000 years, this actually makes it worse because it means that they were in stasis for at least 20% of their existance. On the other hand, 2920 is fiction, so it might simply be in-universe Anachronism Stew.
    • Tamriel has not been politically stagnant, if the backstory is any indication. Every game has dealt with a period after Tiber Septim founded the Cyrodiilic empire, but there have been a lot of things going on before and after that, including invasions, attempts at secession, and literal climate change (Cyrodiil). And then there's Orsinium which, prior to the events that concluded Daggerfall, was frequently destroyed and rebuilt.
  • 'Justified' in Final Fantasy X, for two reasons. First, the state religion made high-tech taboo. Secondly, a gargantuan sea monster tried to destroy all the high tech it could find. Final Fantasy X-2, set after the depowerment of the religion and destruction of Sin, shows that given the chance, Spira can rapidly take to new technology.
    • But particularly Egregious in Final Fantasy VI, where, after 1,000 years after the War of the Magi, civilization has rediscovered steam engines and "...high technology reigns." However, one soon realizes that 80% of the world is locked in Medieval Stasis with a Victorian skin, as the only signs of any sort of technology are Narshe (steam and coal), Figaro Castle (but not South Figaro), and the Empire's Magitek. It's redundant for Setzer to claim that the Falcon is the fastest airship in the world -- after the Blackjack's destruction, it is the only ship in the world.
      • While it's the only true Airship, the Empire also has a rather under-utilized airforce of more advanced craft.
    • Averted in Final Fantasy XII and the other Ivalice Alliance games, where the further you go along the in-world timeline the more things have gone to hell, mostly likely due to the sort of turmoil caused when your religious warfare gets even the gods involved. In Final Fantasy Tactics mention's made of how they no longer have the technology to make airships and by Vagrant Story even magic's been largely forgotten.
  • Apparently, in the 4,000-ish years between Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Phantasia, the technology went from robots to Medieval European Fantasy. A great magitek war (and the destruction of the civilization of Thor by a meteor) was to blame for it, apparently.
    • For that matter, Tales of Symphonia had some pretty heavy Medieval Stasis going on, with 4000 years of stagnation caused by the constant vaxing and waning of mana and repeated predations on all the world's nations by the Desians. It eventually turns out that this is due to a system intentionally set in place by the Knight Templar Big Bad to prevent the humans from inventing Magitek devices again and setting off another great war. The hero's defeat of the Big Bad is, then, resonsible for the later war which almost wiped out mankind and pushed the survivors back to a mideval level.
    • And the ones who AREN'T affected by the constant mana changes, the desians and renegades, have nicely advanced technology, as well, with the Human Ranches of the former and rheiards of the latter. Tethe'alla, having been the dominant one for some time, also has more advanced technology to a point, though not quite on par with the Desians.
  • The Legacy of Kain games jump around by millennia, but always stay firmly stuck in vague middle ages with very little technology thrown in. However, the world of Nosgoth is in a permanent state of biological and spiritual decay, so advancement might be hampered.
    • In the original backstory of the first game, there was minimal to no advancement in a 5,000 year period; later games retconned this to only 500 years.
    • Interestingly, one game in this series completely averts this; Blood Omen 2 takes place 400 years after the original Blood Omen, and in that time has Nosgoth go from a midieval fantasy world with sparse dashings of magitek and steampunk to a full on industrial revolution(still, technically, magitek and steam punk, but on a much grander scale). Averting this trope is one of the reasons that Blood Omen 2 is the least popular game in the franchise; most fans felt it didn't fit withe the over all tone of the series.
  • The Myth prequel Myth III: The Wolf Age' changes little from the original games despite being set 1000 years earlier, as commented on in this review. Dwarves still fight mainly with grenades, and at one point get a flamethrower to boot.
    • The backstory has them at this level for several millennia before that. They never have more than a millennium at a time to progress before the Leveler knocks civilization back down, though.
  • The Humans and Dwarves were down to one city each at the end of Myth III, so even maintaining the status quo is impressive. The backstory is that civilization rises up only to be toppled again every thousand years, but even so they've been locked for at least six cycles.
  • Adventure game The Longest Journey and its sequel posit that, way back in history, the inhabitants of the world in question had to make a choice between "magic" and "science", and two parallel worlds were created, between which the Player Character can skip. Our PC is from the Science world, apparently Twenty Minutes Into the Future, whereas the Magic world is still on swords and bows, because anyone born with ingenuity and inventiveness ends up in the Science world.
    • There's also the fact that the laws of physics exists in a state of flux in Arcadia. Making a power plant must be hard when the technical principles you relied on yesterday have been inverted and will probably invert again by the end of the week.
    • Twice, however, groups have attempted to introduce the Arcadians to new technology. In the first game, the Vanguard are offering people inventions from Stark (the science world) so as to subvert the power base of the Sentinels who believe that Status Quo Is God. In the sequel, the magic-hating Azadi Empire takes over a large chunk of Arcadia and introduces airships and steam engines. However, it is mentioned that this is still Magitek, as this is the only way to make them function reliably.
    • On the other side of the coin, most advanced Stark tech suddenly fails after the Collapse (the rebuilding of the Barrier between the worlds). Most in fandom speculate that this is because some of this tech (e.g. antigravity, FTL) defies the laws of physics and only worked through the unintentional use of magic. This explanation also justifies the high number of antigravity accidents prior to the Collapse, as magic is inherently chaotic. The entire world had to revert to using old tech, losing all contact with extrasolar colonies.
  • Averted in Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura where the world is in the process of going through the Industrial Revolution.
  • In the 116 years between Fallouts 1 and 3, the world has changed very little. Even Hundred years old settlements look like they were just recently built out of the scrap available, even if the settlers have plenty of food and protection (so no reason they wouldn't be making their towns any more comfortable). Take Megaton for example, whose been inhabited for 3 generations, and it's still full of crap lying around like discarded tires.
    • Some have tried to say it's justified due to the high levels of radiation saturating the area, but Bethesda admits in the Fallout 3 art book that it isn't realistic, it's only that way to keep with the series style.
    • If you look at the timeline closely, F3 setting doesn't fit into the current Fallout chronology in any way(NCR was already a huge unified nation in F2, fifty-years ago while D.C. survivors just sat on their ass for the last 200 years), so really the best course of action is to ignore that aspect or mentally move all the dates to twenty-years after the bombs fell.
    • The series also implies the world never left The Fifties in style and culture, despite the war happening in 2077. While transistors were never invented, fusion power was, in the late 1950's, causing technology and society to develop differently.
      • The Brotherhood of Steel IS this trope, they only care about preserving Old World Tech, they are in a slow death, mostly thanks to the NCR who don't care much about this trope.
    • A large part of Mr. House's plan in Fallout: New Vegas involves subverting this trope. He intends to use Vegas to kickstart a new era of scientific progress, eventually culminating in space travel so humanity can abandon their craphole of a planet for something better.
      • The same goes with the NCR just not to that scale as much slower, by the time of New Vegas California is near pre-war standerns.
  • Lampshaded in Wizardry VII, where the party comes across a laser rifle of sorts and wonders why anyone would create such a thing when a few sword swipes would do just as well.
  • Played straight in Battle for Wesnoth, whose timeline crosses nearly 1,000 years without any tech level change, then an unspecified time passes during which technology advances far enough to put another star in the sky (well, technically a big nuclear moon) to improve the climate, which then crashes back down enforcing Medieval Stasis just in time for us to pick up the story again.
  • Touhou, sort of. The setting was a backwater back in the Meiji area when it was sealed off from the rest of Japan, so this really makes sense. Then the kappa started building sci-fi technology and a hell-crow turned into a living nuclear furnace, and things are starting to head towards Schizo-Tech.
    • This was averted earlier with Rinnosuke; the man runs a shop that sells "odd things," although most of the stuff consists of things that fell across the border. Among other things, he has a Game Boy, and iPod, and a small personal heater. All of these things work, he just doesn't know how.
  • Averted, to a degree, in Might and Magic VIII. Three plot points centres around recent technological and magical inventions (though you only deal with two of them in any one given play-through): The stolen Nightshade Brazier, the Necromancers' Skeleton Transformer and the Regnan Pirates' Prototype Super-Cannon. In addition, the Handwave given for vampires in the party being able to walk around at day is that the Necromancers' Guild recently developed a new sort of amulet that protects a vampire against the sunlight. It's too costly for producing in any larger numbers, though, so it's only vampires that need to travel around that gets them.
    • Might and Magic games don't even sport a medieval stasis. It's actually a sci-fi series where worlds have been created or seeded by a highly technologically advanced race, called the Ancients. However, due to a war with an alien race, the Kreegans, the whole system collapsed and many worlds fell into barbarism for as much as 12 centuries. Considering the fact that this actually happened in the course of our own history, it's not strange. Also changes in styles, fashion and sophistication in building, etc., are clearly evident. Newer castles are depicted with different styles, weapon technology changes, newer metals are used, etc. It's just that the actual games span a time-frame of no more than a century, so these changes are not evident from game to game, so much; it's rather historical evidence present in the games (items that you find, building styles, etc). Games other than Might and Magic VIII or IX, feature actual laser guns, which are from the time prior to the event marked as the Silence (see spoiler). There are also spacecrafts and robots from the same period and tons of other technological stuff, depicting the advance of the Ancients.
      • Heroes Chronicles used the same towns as Heroes of Might and Magic III while covering a period many centuries in length (the chronologically first has been fan-dated to around 200 AS, while the chronologically last takes place around 1172 AS). Given that the series also used a grass/forest town to represent the Vori Snow Elves, this is likely Gameplay and Story Segregation, however.
  • Dwarf Fortress can generate a world's history covering 200 to 1,000 years with normal parameters - even more, or less, with custom ones - and the only difference time makes to civilisation is that empires will be bigger and more megabeasts will have died. This may change, but the developer has said that the technology present in the game won't become more advanced than "1400 AD."
    • On the other hand, players can make ludicrously complex death traps, like one that uses water funneled from a glacier to freeze enemies - it's essentially a liquid nitrogen thrower. This isn't even getting into other mechanisms; one player made a Turing-complete calculator.
  • The Spirit Engine 2 is a borderline example. Gunpowder is just beginning to become used, and classic knights are still being employed, especially by local militias and as headhunters, but the progress is very, very slow. It's later revealed that the Rakari have been trying to hinder progress as much as possible, mentally dulling humanity and mindwiping (potential) inventors, but their grip is slipping, which is why they couldn't prevent the (re-)emergence of gunpowder.
  • The world of The Legend of Dragoon seems to have barely changed within eleven thousand years.
  • Averted in the Fable games. Even over a short period of time, things change, and in the time between games there has been massive changes in culture, science (Guns!) and society. Most notably is that the Guild, once the most beloved organization in the world, fell into disfavor with the public, and has since then been raized to the ground.
    • Five hundred years, is hardly 'short period', though. If anything, it's a strictly realistic jump from Fable 1's 1100's to Fable 2's 1600's.
    • The 'short periods' referred to are the in-game periods, not the 500-year jump between the two games. For example, in Fable 2, there are two ten-year time jumps, and considerable changes have occured in Albion (Bowerstone Old Town, Oakfield, Giles' Farm, etc.)
  • Averted in Luminous Arc 2, where lapis-based science and technology was notably being used and developed in Carnava. A few scientists also mentioned steam-power energy from foreign countries without magic.
  • Fire Emblem uses this trope a hell of a lot. While politics and society may change a bit, architecture, transportation, weaponry, and technology in general is pretty much the same as it was 1200, 1000, 800, or however many years it was since the great cataclysm or war between humans and monsters/demons/dragons that sets up the game's plot.
    • It's sad that, in the entire game's history, the only time (that this troper can think of) when this trope was averted was between Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, a 3 year period, during which time crossbows were apparently invented.
  • Battalion Wars on a purely technological level. Fluff from BWii reveals that most of the Solar Empire's military hardware has remained unchanged for two hundred years, and still isn't outdated.
  • The land of Thedas from Dragon Age is hit hard by this. Due to over-reliance on magic coupled with distinct bans on in-depth research on the phenomenon, the nations of Thedas have remained stagnant socially and technologically since the fall of the Tevinter Imperium over 1200 years before the start of the story. The only groups that seem to have made any technological advancements are the dwarves and the Qunari. Both isolationist peoples with very little reliance on magic. Even then, the advancements are extremely slow and, socially, both are even more rigid than the general populace.
    • In a Dragon Age II a dwarven merchant tries to "court" the Qunari into selling him the secret to their "blackpowder"; the Qunari leader he's courting explains to all involved that non-Qunari aren't ready for the responsibility to use the substance (not to mention it's a significant advantage for their military to possess). Earlier in the quest Hawke can ask why the merchant he's bothering when lyrium can also act as an explosive. The merchant lists the problems with using lyrium as A) it's lethally toxic, B) it's trade is controlled by the Chantry and C) its blue-white glow makes its user visible at a distance. Blackpowder has none of these problems and would be a great help against the Darkspawn Horde that continually attacks the last of Dwarven civilization. So while the setting's Applied Phlebotinum is useful it's also restricting the development of the cultures reliant on it. Why the Qunari haven't developed personal firearms isn't certain, but who knows why the Qunari do anything they do?
      • This article takes the same position as the first entry as it postulates that the presence of magic itself is what is holding back Thedas, that technology does not advance because magic can be used to do the same things with greater ease combined with the apocalyptic nature of the Blights and the restrictive dogma of the Qun and the Chantry's holds on magic experimentation. The sentence "that mages are holding the world... back, even as they hold it up" could be used for every medieval fantasy setting.
  • Invoked in the King's Quest universe: Expanded Universe material says that magicians, mythical creatures, The Fair Folk, fairy tale characters, and those sympathetic to them withdrew to another universe to escape the enchroachment of "enlightment" thought that wanted to study them into irrlevance or destroy them through disbelief. There is evidence that they're taking a Magitek route instead of conventional industrialization.
  • The Mass Effect universe has a zig-zagging example of the trope. On one hand, technology doesn't seem to have advanced too much since the Council started inhabiting the Citadel. On the other hand, we do know that it is advancing technologically, as more powerful "heat sink," based weapons are the norm by Mass Effect 2, as well as omni-gel proof systems, and by Mass Effect 3, Mech suits and omnitool lightsabers have come into practice. On the third hand, everything about the technology in the Mass Effect universe is a trap. Everything is reverse engineered from technology left behind by the Protheans, who reverse engineered the tech from another race that came before them, who did the same thing to the previous race, and so on and so forth. The entire tech base is a trap set by the Reapers, who use organic life to further their own technology before taking anything good, while having the benefit of millions of years of development to crush anything in their path.
    • On the FOURTH hand you have the Geth, the machine race that happen to not only have the most advanced technology (aside from the Reapers) and progress at the fastest rate, but since they believe in self determination, all of their tech is of their own design, and may be the only suitable counter against the Reapers.
  • Dark Souls has at least a 1,000 years with no progress past the Medieval European Fantasy seen during the Action Prologue.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Parodied in Eight Bit Theater, when Red Mage confronts Thief about the supposed superiority of elves, who have technology on par with the rest of the world despite having a 9000-year headstart. Thief responds with something to the effect of "Er... we like it that way. You inferior beings wouldn't understand." Plus there are ruined ancient civilizations everywhere who had helicopters, flying castles, killer robots, cold fusion reactors, which indicates that progress does occur elsewhere, it just keeps getting knocked back in anachronism every so often. Occasionally because of the elves, but mostly because everyone is Too Dumb to Live.
  • In Floyd by Aaron Williams, at one point "ten thousand years" are mentioned, with an even longer history prior. This is longer, in the real world, than written history has actually existed (though this may be an After the End situation as well).
  • Nodwick also suggests that a time travelers mistake knocked society back to a medievel level from which it never recovered, magic is there but used by very few, which contributes to the problem.
  • Drowtales plays this trope straight concerning the technology, but there is a slow cultural, social and political evolution during the 1000 years of the moonless age. for example, great clans rise and fall, the faith in Sharess was strong, but is now challenged by demonic worshipping.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Averted in Tales of MU, which is supposed to be a "medieval fantasy setting, five hundred years later," with Magitek in place of modern technology. A side story set two hundred years in the past of the main story resembled America's colonial period.
  • Limyaael has written a rant specifically on how to keep these kinds of settings plausible.
  • In The Salvation War, the realms of Heaven and Hell are stuck in this state, partially because the angels and demons are very conservative and long-lived, and partially because the respective leaders (Yahweh and Satan) have discouraged technological growth because advanced underlings are dangerous underlings, and instead built cults of personality around themselves that resulted in a societies of fanatical devotion to egomaniacal despots. This is mostly the reason why the humans utterly crushed them both.
    • See also the Stargate example above, where the Goa'uld do the same thing.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender. In the flashbacks into the lives of three of Aang's previous lives, which seems to span somewhere on the order of three or four-hundred years, literally nothing seems to have changed. In fact, the Fire Nation Navy ships during the bulk of the series are vertually indistinquishable from the ones composing the small fleet seen during the episode describing the origins of the War. One-Hundred years previous. Considering the fact that the technological level of the show's setting seems to be late-19th to early 20th Century industry with a few Steampunk elements, and that war tends to accelerate technological development, this is especially jarring.
    • A few exceptions include the out-of-date Fire Nation Soldier clothing the Water Tribe tries to sneak on board with at the end of season 1. The Fire Nation soldiers see right through the 85-year-old clothing and Sokka pointed it out too.
      • This one has an interesting, hidden, corollary: the Kyoshi warriors. They model their outfits and fighting style off of Kyoshi, who was probably alive something like 200 years before the start of the series... which is plausible enough, but makes Kyoshi Island essentially the badass ninja version of Colonial Williamsburg.
    • Also in Season 3, Aang tries to blend into the Fire Nation using 100-year-old slang and body language, failing miserably.
      • Also there's Misty Palms Oasis, which... as Aang puts it: "must have changed ownership since I was here."
    • There is one big exception in the original series: aircraft. Once the Fire Nation gets their hands on a hot air balloon, they take the concept of airpower and run with it.
    • This trope is completely averted in The Legend of Korra, which takes place 70 years after the end of the main series. Technology has evolved into full-on Steampunk, complete with skyscrapers, cars and motorcycles.
  • In Adventures of the Gummi Bears, humans forced the Gummi's across the sea and into hiding centuries ago by the time the series proper starts. Yet the timeline still seems to be stuck in the Theme Park Version of The Middle Ages. However, it is noted that the entire reason for the conflict was because humans wanted Gummi technology, which is quite advanced compared to what humans have.
    • In the course of the series, the Gummis are known more for their magical prowess and general cleverness, but two standout examples of their technology would be a human-sized, combat-capable Mini-Mecha, and the Gummiscope, which could be used as either a long-distance communication device (complete with an animatronic hand for transcribing the message on the receiving end!), or a colossal Death Ray. In addition, they also had access to heavy ground vehicles, aircraft, and chemical weapons. In a world otherwise trapped in Medieval Stasis, the Great Gummis seem to have mastered Clock Punk.
  • Deliberately invoked by the people of Tarkon in Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. A devastating war happened on their planet many centuries ago, and the people were hell-bent on making sure that they never again reached a technology level high enough to cause the same kind of devastation. Unfortunately, the rest of the galaxy started to notice Tarkon, and the people are Human Aliens, who are implied to be perfectly compatible with the Queen's psychocrypt. Cue one Badass Princess waging open rebellion against her society and her father to try and get her planet catching up.
  • Parodied in Futurama where the professor, Fry, and Bender travel in a forward only Time Machine and see epochs of human evolution that at one point reverts back to middle age castles and knights wielding swords and riding birds.
    • The series itself could count in a strange way. Due to many alien invasions, robot rebellions, wars with carrots, and brutal dictatorships, Earth has had many years of technological stagnation, and they still use the same technologies for over a thousand years (such as the suicide booths that advertise their use since 2008).
  • Hilariously/Tragically subverted in ThunderCats (2011) While the Thundercats' society has remained in Medieval Stasis at a level around that of the dark ages or Lord of the Rings, the opening has the Lizards suddenly attack with Giant Robots, Missiles, and laser guns. It's a massive Curb Stomp Battle for the heroes, and Thundera (the homeland of the Thundercats) is wiped out in less than a day.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Averted in Real Life; the people of the Middle Ages certainly didn't think of themselves as living in stasis (or, indeed, in the 'middle' of anything). A perfect example of this would be the actions of Pope Innocent II who tried to ban crossbows which could be fired by people with little or no training and penetrate the armor of the finest knights. It was believed in some quarters to be so devastating a warfare equalizer that it would make all war unthinkable (It didn't).
    • This is actually a common misconception. In reality, he banned all missile weapons (including crossbows, but also bows, slings, etc) for wars between Christian nations, but absolutely nobody listened to him.
    • The invention of the Longbow actually signaled the death of knights, as it was capable of piercing through their armor. The knights didn't like it, though, but recognized the usefulness of such a thing. So, they had serfs or servants fire the weapons instead of them. Then they started being deployed without the knights...
      • Far from it, by the end of the 15th century, the Longbow was reaching an impasse in terms of power, as it couldn't reliably pierce modern armor anymore (seen at Agincourt, for example) and were only ever used en masse in Scandinavia and the British Isles. Artillery, on the other hand, did make people comment on the end of knighthood.
        • Agincourt was an example of how archers could turn the tide of battle against heavily armed cavalry. They simply ran out of arrows before they could finish the job with their longbows (and thus, switched to their swords and we know how the rest of that story played out). Further on, the invention of man portable firearms ended the reign of knights, just as artillery ended the widespread development of castles as fortified positions. The difference is in how technology marched on. Quality archers, not just any old conscript, had to be trained from youth in the use of a longbow to be at their most effective. When the first Hand Cannon came about, a conscript need only a couple weeks of training to be effective.
      • While the longbow was intensely powerful in the hands of a trained archer, its main drawback was the time required to master the weapon. It tooks years to learn and became the ultimate profession of anyone who used it simply because it demanded their very lives. This is evidenced in the fact that the spines of archers who used the weapons have been discovered horribly warped by lifelong dedication to the weapon. It was only at the advent of the gun when troops could be trained in mere weeks that armor began to fade away.
    • It could be argued that it was played straight: the artists of the Middle Ages at least seemed to have no idea that people used to dress differently or other places looked different. First-century Judea or Rome is usually depicted in a very similar way to Mediaeval England, despite the fact that in the fourteenth century alone styles of clothing changed drastically.
  • Actually, the Middle Ages saw a great deal of technological innovation. To name a few, the windmill, spectacles, sophisticated armour, three-crop rotation, the mechanical clock, gunpowder and the flying buttress all were medieval inventions.
  • Earth - Industrial technology has existed for at least 2500 years going back to Ancient Greece, but it wasn't till the end of the eighteenth century that one small, damp little island in the corner of Eurasia decided to do something with it.
  • The political, social and technological organization of Japan remained practically the same from 1600 to 1853 -while the rest of the world evolved- but this was mostly intentional, due to legally enforced restrictions. The basic organization of the Japanese society and state experiences little to no evolution throughout the Feudal period, 1185-1868, despite all wars, upheavals and European conversion attempts.
    • Considering how many things the Chinese invented, China definitely peaked earlier than Europe, but like Japan its development was very much slowed during the reign of the Qing dynasty. The Emperor/Empress took a Ludd Was Right approach to almost all European technology or innovation, although an earlier Chinese government did use some Jesuit priests' information on astronomy to fix their lunar calendar, which had fallen out of sync with the actual moon.
  • The Amish deliberately shun most or all kinds of new technology due to religious beliefs and enforcing a strong belief in hard work as rewarding, instead electing to live a life that is not very different from the lives of those who lived around the 18th century or before that, on the whole part. They do have contact with modern society, and some do use modern technology, like tractors, but they mostly aim to be self-reliant and any use of modern technology is rare at best.
    • This will occasionally move into Schizo-Tech territory, with motorized farm machinery mounted on a wooden platform and pulled by horses. This seems to be fairly popular around Lancaster PA, not sure about other places.
    • The Amish value group effort when determining whether to use or avoid a piece of technology. Families are discouraged from using mechanical farming equipment in order to motivate them work together in order to accomplish a harvest. In one case, a governing council actually commanded an elderly Amish farmer to purchase a tractor as his sons had moved out and he could no longer accomplish his harvest. The idea is that relying on the community discourages vanity and other sins.
    • The Amish will use technology when required by the law - modern pasteurization for dairy products was the first example of this. Likewise, if you hire Amish for construction work and ask them to use power tools or supply them, they will use them without considering it a "sin."
      • Amish and similar groups are survivalists who don't want to be dependent on other people. They simply don't use technology they can't reproduce themselves but doing a job for someone else does not contradict this rule.
    • Interestingly, while a lot of people may be opposed to genetically modified food, the Amish love the idea of disease-resistant crops and eagerly grow them.
    • And while the Amish may not use nor closely follow the latest in technology, they're hardly ignorant about it. They know what computers are and have a grasp of what sort of things they do - if an Amish man has a massive injury and an ambulance takes them to a hospital they will hardly be confused and think there's magic at work - they won't gasp in shock at a person's cellphone. They're Genre Savvy and all, just not involved.
      • Children raised as Amish are actually expected to spend a few months living in the modern world upon reaching adulthood, so that if they do decide to commit to the Amish lifestyle, it's an informed choice.
    • Some Amish have started using solar panels in order to have electricity without needing to abandon their self-reliance.
    • With the popularity of Amish furniture as being extremely well crafted and durable, a few Amish businesses have devised absurdly clever "no-tech" ways to shuttle the one telephone they have between everyone in the building to handle business calls.
  • In medieval times, this was a popular perception in reverse. Paintings of great battles or events such as the Crusades would often depict the armies in whatever the latest, most fashionable, and most advanced armor of the present time was; when in reality the warriors fought in little more then chainmail.
    • This is also why the popular images of Jesus, the Saints, and many angels look suspiciously like Renaissance-era Italians both physically and in how they are dressed.
  • Oddly enough, this trope is invoked for the Rule of Drama in non-fiction TV documentaries about the future of our solar system. It is a true that in four billion years our Sun will expand into a red giant, and if the sun itself doesn't envelop our orbit the Earth will be blasted with extreme heat. The documentaries like to instill a sense of foreboding as if history, technology and time don't have a LOOOOONG time to march on before this happens. See Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale.
  • Many peoples were never able to get much beyond "hunting and gathering" up to the modern day. Mostly these have been very isolated communities or tribes (such as jungles) where little trade with other people is possible, there is no single reliable food supply, and every person is constantly working to keep the group of people alive, leaving little time for technological and social advances.