Ancient Evil
A terrible evil that is terribly old. Possibly so evil *because* it's so old.


(permanent link) added: 2011-05-22 04:01:36 sponsor: Wardog (last reply: 2012-10-01 02:53:04)

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In general terms, this trope is about some sort of evil force or being that has been around for an extreme length of time - hundreds or thousands of years at the minimum, and potentially predates humanity - or even life/earth/the universe itself.

Alternatively, it can be about a particular ancient civilization that was (or still is) deeply evil.

In most cases, the extreme age of the being/force/civilization is portrayed as emphasizing how evil it is (either because something that old is evil by definition, or because living that long either requires evil acts or drives you mad).

A Sealed Evil in a Can is often an Ancient Evil, but Ancient Evils are not necessarily sealed; they may just be lurking. Or waiting...

Descriptions and examples of the various forms of Ancient Evil:

1) Some sort of utterly ancient "force of evil", that is as old as the earth, and maybe as old as or older than the universe, and possibly universal in influence. An Eldritch Abomination or Satan equivalent. It is effectively the source of much or all evil among humans, either by tempting or leading them astray, or through some sort of mental corruption.

2) Similar to the above, but not necessarily as old (still older than humanity) or with such a wide influence. But still manages to be the reason why people do bad things. Example: the Martians in Quatermass and the pit.

3) A pre-human sentient species. The earth belonged to them once, and they hate us for usurping it. Maybe they want it back, or perhaps just to harm us out of jealousy. Possible Unfortunate Implications in that they are presented as being evil simply because they are "not us". Examples include the demons from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, many of the creatures in the works of H.P.Lovecraft, and many of the creatures encountered (and killed) by Conan the Barbarian.

4) An ancient (and long-extinct) civilization. Possibly caused its own extinction due to its evil (or the evil it unleashed). Typically had a society based on human sacrifice, demon summoning, worship of dark gods, etc. May be presented as being evil "because" it was so ancient – I think one Conan story made such a claim. A related trope is “in ancient times, people worshiped evil gods”.

5) Related to #4, an ancient and still extant civilization. Again, may be presented as being evil "because" it is so old – either because it is a survivor from a time when ever civilization was evil, or because it has been corrupted over time (a form of Immortality Immorality as applied to cultures).

6) An ancient sorcerer. Evil either because he is a survivor from a civilization such as #4 above, or due to Immortality Immorality.

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