%% ZeroContextExample entries are not allowed on wiki pages. All such entries have been commented out. Add context to the entries before uncommenting them.
[[caption-width-right:350:Who controls the British crown? Who keeps the metric system down? [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons We do, we do!]]\\
Who keeps Atlantis off the maps? Who keeps the Martians under wraps? [[EarWorm We do, we do!]]]]

->'''The Question:''' Reaching back to Ancient Egypt, there's been a single cabal of powerful individuals directing the course of human history. But the common man prefers to believe they don't exist, which aids their success.\\
'''Supergirl:''' Global warming? Military upheavals in the third world? Actors elected to public office?\\
'''Green Arrow:''' The spread of coffee bars? Germs outpacing antibiotics? And boy bands? Come on! Who would gain from all this?\\
'''The Question:''' Who indeed?
-->-- ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueUnlimited''

An incomprehensibly powerful group that has lurked in the shadows throughout centuries of history, such as TheIlluminati or the Masons. Their reach is vast, and they have unlimited numbers of EvilMinions with which to strike at the heroes. They may control TheGovernment, [[CorruptCorporateExecutive industry]], or both, and their goals may be refreshingly mundane (political power, wealth) or horrifyingly supernatural (summon the [[EldritchAbomination Great Old Ones]], trigger the Apocalypse). Killing one member of the Conspiracy, even its "leader", does no good, for there is always another waiting behind him to take his place and continue the group's work seamlessly. Their MultilayerFacade is unbreakable; ResistanceIsFutile.

Sometimes the conspiracy is exposed, only to be revealed in the last pages (or scenes) that that conspiracy was sacrificed to hide the real one -- which leads to the conclusion that if you learn of the conspiracy, it is not the true one, which may take us into Zen territory.

Sometimes the ancient conspiracy is neutral or a force for good, such as an AncientOrderOfProtectors, but more often than not it is evil (when it ''is'' a force for good, it often still does extremely evil things because its members believe [[KnightTemplar they serve the greater good]]). Occasionally (primarily in series by writers who ''understood'' earlier source material such as the ''Literature/{{Illuminatus}}!'' trilogy), the obvious ancient conspiracy is later discovered to be an offshoot of an even more AncientTradition which has lost its way; in such cases, the real AncientTradition may provide some veiled and ambiguous assistance to the protagonists, though they will remain aloof themselves.

It tends to be big on OnlyTheKnowledgableMayPass, which may matter a great deal for TheInfiltration.

This trope often has an interesting combination of CriticalResearchFailure and ShownTheirWork. On the one hand, many writers clearly have spent hours poring over books on history and symbolism and can throw out dozens of completely factual precedents and weave them into an interesting narrative. Then these same authors display a horribly deficient understanding of how the social sciences work. This can make for very frustrating instances where a writer's knowledgeability in one area is undermined by their ignorance in another.

Since the ancient conspiracy often draws on conspiracy-theorist lore, don't be surprised when certain names keep coming up. UsefulNotes/TheKnightsTemplar are popular, as are UsefulNotes/TheHashshashin. In [[ValuesDissonance older works]], [[OnceAcceptableTargets Jewish]] secret domination of the world through the banks is the norm. The Freemasons might crop up occasionally, but as a real, semi-secret society, they're generally not scary enough, so expect them to be a front for the ''real'' secret society, at best. By far the most common are TheIlluminati, who have been used as an ancient conspiracy so many times that the term has become generic, and need not have anything to do with the historical Bavarian Illuminati at all. Occasionally they might reference [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Weishaupt Adam Weishaupt,]] but don't count on it.

When it appears in a television series, it is usually the BigBad behind everything, TheManBehindTheMan to all others. Expect to see a lot of them in the form of TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness. They also tend to employ EvilPlan and the GambitRoulette. In modern times, an ancient conspiracy commonly overlaps with TheSyndicate.

The ancient conspiracy is a subtrope of TheConspiracy and a subset of the PowersThatBe. Contrast with the benevolent AncientTradition and the harmlessly benign BrotherhoodOfFunnyHats. The PathOfInspiration is a specific type of this, and [[HollywoodSatanism Hollywood Satanists]] may or may not be involved in the conspiracy. May be an NGOSuperpower. Not to be confused with the [[Literature/{{Xanth}} Adult Conspiracy]].


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
%%* SEARRS in ''Anime/MaiHime'', and there is at least one more, unrelated.
* Both the "Symbol" organization and the Gowa clan in ''Anime/{{Gasaraki}}''.
* ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'': SEELE has the trappings of one, but there's a lot of confusion about exactly ''how'' ancient they really are. The series proper seems to imply that they came into existence near the end of WWII, and came to prominence during the 1950s (when the real life Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered). The extra-canonical material (the canonicity of which edges quite a bit towards WordOfStPaul) states the organization has existed in some form or another since the Dark Ages, but notes that they didn't really rise to any kind of prominence before the 20th Century. They couldn't have done much without modern technology anyway, and their crowning achievement -- [[HumongousMecha the Evangelion series]] -- barely work as it is.
%%* Les Soldats in ''Anime/{{Noir}}''.
* Enfant in ''Anime/{{Madlax}}'' had the feel of an ancient conspiracy and used the power of ancient texts, though the actual organization seemed to be [[TheSyndicate more recent]].
%%* Both the British Library and Dokusensha in ''Anime/RODTheTV''.
* The Hunters in ''Manga/{{Spiral}}'' look this way in the anime, but the manga reveals that they've only existed as long as the teenage Blade Children have been alive.
* In season 4 of ''Anime/YuGiOh'' the villains are a group called Doma who play with this trope-while they own the richest, most secretive and most powerful company in the world and own a piece of every company on Earth, as well as having some measure of influence on the governments of countless nations, all of the members are fairly recent recruits, and [[OddlySmallOrganization there are only a handful of them]]. The sole exception is their leader, Dartz, who is [[Really700YearsOld really 10,000 years old]], is the former King of Atlantis, was present when the Pharaoh battled Bakura and Zorc in Ancient Egypt, and has been spending his immortal lifespan battling millions of people individually and [[YourSoulIsMine stealing their souls]] throughout the ages, with the ultimate aim of bringing about TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt.
* Yliaster in ''Anime/YuGiOh5Ds''. Two versions of it exist in the series:
** The first Yliaster was an Illuminati-like cult founded 3000 years prior to the start of the series in South America. Their goal was to gain control over human society, and to use their power and influence to ensure humanity's survival in the cyclical DivineConflict between the BigGood Crimson Dragon and the EldritchAbomination Earthbound Immortals. The BigBad of the first arc is the leader of the organization, who seeks to [[AGodAmI become an all-powerful god]] so he can end the cycle once and for all.
** The second Yliaster comes about when a three-man BigBadEnsemble uses their powers to take over and CosmicRetcon the previous origin out of existence, with the new origin being that they were a relatively new organization with possibly a few members (the ones involved with the Dark Signers) ''inspired'' by the original Star Dragon King. In its new incarnation, the founders of the organization are actually four [[WellIntentionedExtremist well-intentioned extremists]] from the future; having harnessed the ability to TimeTravel with the intention of going back and preventing the [[ApocalypseHow global catastrophe that led to the devastated future in which they are the only surviviors]]. This change in depictions was the result of some [[RealLifeWritesThePlot behind-the-scenes difficulties]]: one of the voice actresses had been fired from the show due to her involvement with a cult that had been getting bad press recently; to avoid any scandal, the series producers removed references to cult-like activity, rewriting Yliaster with a more Sci-Fi origin and a more antagonistic role.
* The Shuffle Alliance of ''[[Anime/MobileFighterGGundam G Gundam]]'', which secretly arbitrated nearly every world war in history and perfected the art of talking in perfect unison.
%%* Esset in ''Anime/WeissKreuz''.
%%* The Bahbem Foundation in ''Anime/RahXephon''
* The true nature of the Heaven's Feel in ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' and ''Literature/FateZero''. Specifically, the goals of the three families Eizenbern, Makiri, and Tohsaka. A subversion in that they never actually finish grail ritual; they've tried it four separate times before Fate/Stay Night and each time it failed for a completely different reason, [[NotSoOmniscientCouncilOfBickering usually due to infighting between factions]]. [[spoiler:It's actually impossible for them to succeed, as the Grail was corrupted beyond repair, thanks to the Einzbern clan summoning [[UsefulNotes/{{Zoroastrianism}} Angra Mainyu]] during the third war.]]
** The [[MagicalSociety Mage's Association]] itself qualifies. As does the [[ChurchMilitant Assembly of the Eighth Sacrament]].
* The homunculi in ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist''.
** In the manga/second anime [[spoiler: Homunculus/Father is both the [[MonsterProgenitor founder]] and [[TheManBehindTheMan leader]] of said Ancient Conspiracy which is also part GovernmentConspiracy. As with Dante below, his plan is to live forever, but by [[AGodAmI becoming God]].]]
** In the [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist first anime]] [[spoiler: Dante runs a conspiracy dating back to a quasi-dark age, which manipulates the highest levels of the nation's government. Her plan is simply to use the philosopher stone and transfer herself to a new body to live forever, starting genocides if she has to.]]
%%* The Book Men in ''Anime/PrincessTutu''.
* The Void Century and perhaps the Will of D as well in ''Manga/OnePiece''. The lost century considered to be a pretty big threat to the [[TheGovernment World Government]]. Such that anyone who is even ''able'' to read the ancient history will automatically be targeted by the World Government and labeled a dangerous criminal.
** The ancient history is recorded on the Poneglyphs, as well as the location of various [[LostTechnology Ancient Weapons]], capable of massive destruction.
* [[spoiler:Celestial Being]] in ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundam00 Gundam 00]]''. To accomplish their goals of [[spoiler:wiping out war and unifying humanity,]] they have subverted the greatest minds of the scientific community and formed a development chain that lasted over ''two hundred years'', all to ensure utter technological HumongousMecha domination when they chose to reveal themselves. In the process, they even [[spoiler:''executed a round trip to Jupiter''.]]
** And in a peculiar twist on the trope, this ancient conspiracy is mostly staffed by the heroes. [[spoiler:The resident BigBad is also a member, who is trying to co-opt the organization's resources for his own means. In fact, a lot of the conflict in the series is a result of warring factions trying to be the lead actor of the conspiracy and to swing it's end result in their favor. Further complicating matters is that very few are privy to the plans full scope.]]
* ''LightNovel/ScrappedPrincess'' has Lord Browning's plan, a five-thousand-year long BatmanGambit to [[RageAgainstTheHeavens bring down Providence]]. [[spoiler:Zefiris and Natalie]] keep the scheme on track [[WellIntentionedExtremist whatever it takes]]. [[spoiler:Notable for planning TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt and manipulating the entire cast into doing their bidding ''without'' being evil.]]
* ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'' has the heroes eventually discovering that [[spoiler:humanity was relocated underground against their will]] by Lordgenome who himself created the Beastmen for this very purpose. A few years after killing him, it turns out that Lordgenome was only doing this for the greater good: [[spoiler:with the population growing uncontrollably, [[NiceJobBreakingItHero the Anti-Spirals are now targeting Earth for extermination]].]] During the quest to [[spoiler:off the Anti-Spirals as well]], they reveal that they are ''also'' working for the greater good by suppressing all Spiral races in an effort to protect the universe from '''[[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt total existence failure via Spiral Nemesis]]'''.
* The Vist Foundation from ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamUnicorn'', [[spoiler: in a sense that their knowledge of where [[ArtifactOfDoom Laplace's Box]] is could be a turning point between the two primary warring factions of the story.]]
%%* The Daath Organization in ''Anime/GuiltyCrown''.
* [[spoiler: The Marginal project]] in ''{{Manga/Marginal}}'', which uses [[spoiler: Earth]] as a huge laboratory to observe cultural evolution after [[spoiler: a disaster causes women to lose their reproductive ability and human to become an all-male OneGenderRace]]
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' reveals that [[spoiler:Black Zetsu has been using ''the entire world'' since the time of the Sage of the Six Paths, all in his pursuit of reviving Kaguya. He was responsible for the Senju-Uchiha feud by manipulating Indra into attacking his younger brother Ashura, and then altered the tablet left behind by the Sage to make the Uchiha Clan his pawns. Since then, he has watched over their descendants, until he found Madara, someone capable of awakening the Rinnegan, and saved his life after he lost to Hashirama at the Valley of the End. He then used Madara's Moon's Eye Plan to help resurrect Kaguya -- a plan which also created Tobi, who caused the Kyuubi Attack (including the death of his own sensei and his wife), the Bloodline Massacres of Kiri, the Uchiha Clan Massacre, and the formation of the Akatsuki, and God knows what else. Black Zetsu is all but responsible for ''all of ninja history''.]]
* In ''LightNovel/{{Katanagatari}}'', Kiki Shikizaki [[spoiler:using his power to see into the future]] crafted the Twelve Deviant Blades [[spoiler:and helped found Kyotouryuu, his Thirteenth Deviant Blade]] all for the purpose of [[spoiler:averting the destruction of Japan in the future]]. The power of the Deviant Blades changed the course of history [[spoiler:while Kyotouryuu became stronger with each passing generation]]. The time of the series is the culmination of Shikizaki's plan: [[spoiler:Shichika Yasuri, a Kyotouryuu practitioner stronger than all of the other Deviant Blades put together, one strong enough to avert Japan's destruction]]. The end of the series reveals that [[spoiler:Shikizaki's plan failed for one simple reason: Shichika didn't want to change the future and was content to let the people of the future handle things.]]
* ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'': [[spoiler:The Wall Cult ''knows'' more about the Titans than the rest of humanity, including that the Walls protecting them from Titans are composed of ''other Titans.'']]
* The [[TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness Organization]] of ''Manga/{{Claymore}}'' is initially depicted as being the one who saved Humankind from being predated by Yoma through the creation of the titular Claymores, half-human and half-yoma warriors, [[spoiler:but the truth is that [[MonsterProtectionRacket it was the Organization itself who created the Yoma]] in the first place, and the Claymores are as oblivious of this fact as the helpless villagers. The [[NebulousEvilOrganization Organization]] comes from another continent where two nations have [[GreatOffscreenWar waged war for over a century]], one of such nations has allied itself with the Dragon Descendants, superhuman warriors who are infinitely more powerful than human soldiers, in order to fight the Dragon Descendants the other human nation created the Organization to develop powerful and controllable monsters that could be used to counter the Dragons. The Organization took over the island where ''Claymore'' is set and has kept the local population oblivious about the fact that there are other lands beyond the sea and any Claymore who grows disobedient or learns too much is either sent on a SuicideMission or hunted down as deserter, while the whole land is used as a giant research lab for biological weapons]].

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The Conspiracy from the Franchise/{{Batman}} ''Legends of the Dark Knight'' three-issue {{arc}} of the same name.
%%* The Minutemen and The Trust from ''ComicBook/OneHundredBullets''.
%%* The Grail in ''ComicBook/{{Preacher}}''.
%%* The Catholic Church in ''numerous'' ComicBook/ChickTracts.
* The Clan Akkaba of the ''ComicBook/XMen'' made up of the descendants of [[VillainSue Apocalypse]].
* The Nine Families in ''ComicBook/LeScorpion'' who ruled ancient Rome and seek to control the world by controlling the Catholic Church in the 18th century.
%%* The Secret Monarchy of the World in Ed Brubaker's ''ComicBook/{{Sleeper}}''.
* The Five Archons in ''ComicBook/TheSecretHistory''. They control world events from behind the scenes, and many real-world or suspected real conspiracies are revealed to be run by the Archons.
%%* The villains of ''ComicBook/TheUnwritten''.
* The League of Assassins has existed for centuries, led by [[Comicbook/RasAlGhul Ra's Al Ghul,]] a man who remains immortal thanks to periodic use of Lazarus Pits. Their goal is to reduce the human population to more manageable levels as mankind is slowly destroying the ecosystem. As their name implies they also do a lot of assassinations.
* Following the ComicBook/{{New 52}} reboot, the Franchise/{{Batman}} comics introduced the [[ComicBook/NightOfTheOwls Court of Owls]], a group that has supposedly ruled Gotham in secret since colonial times, and so clever they ''convinced Batman himself'' that they were nothing but a myth. (Okay, he was new to the hero business at the time, but still...) [[spoiler:The worst part of this is, the Court may have had something to do with the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, and a member might be Bruce's ''brother''.]]
* We all know HYDRA as a terrorist outfit that aided the Nazi party, but as it turns out, they're the continuation of an ancient Egyptian cult (but their [[WorldDomination goals]] haven't changed much).
** As it turns out, [[spoiler: SHIELD]] has a very similar background.
* With ''ComicBook/WarOfKings,'' Marvel's cosmic title have the Fraternity of Raptors, who used to control the Shi'ar empire via a mixture of technology and magic, and the occasional acts of murder. They disappeared for centuries, but the aftermath of ''ComicBook/SecretInvasion'' wakes their tech up again. Then it turns out ComicBook/{{Darkhawk}} is supposed to be one of them.
* In ''ComicBook/AstroCity,'' the NebulousEvilOrganization Pyramid is believed to be this, running schemes that go back centuries if not even further.
* In ''ComicBook/BlackMagick'', the witch-hunting organization Aira has lore that their origins extend back to AncientGreece. By the sixteenth century some of its members have come to doubt that they are quite ''that'' old, but their factual existence does go back for centuries.
* The graphic novel ''Cryptocracy'' is not only about this, but actually uses the conspiracy as its protagonists. Specifically, it's stated that practically since the dawn of humanity, the Nine Families (all codenamed after Roman gods) have use their advanced technology and control of the world's cryptids to manipulate global politics and society as they see fit for the [[WellIntentionedExtremist greater good]] (for the most part; some just see themselves as superior to non-Family normal humans). Interestingly, they've actually encouraged the myth of TheIlluminati and other such conspiracy theories, making the very nature of this trope so outlandish that only the most fringe of groups will ever even believe in their existence, thus preserving their security.

* ''Fanfic/AdviceAndTrust'': SEELE is a secret cabal has been planning for a long time [[spoiler:turning everyone into tang and merge their souls.]] Asuka meets them after [[spoiler:fighting Leliel]], and she and Shinji gradually realize behind the fight against the giant aliens invading them there is something more sinister and shadier going on.
* The Circles from the ''FanFic/DevaSeries'', who have suppressed much magic development on Earth.
* In ''FanFic/TheDifferenceOneManCanMake'', [[spoiler:The Maesters of Citadel have actively tried to eliminate Magic and its influence from the world for centuries, with the exception of Marwyn the Magician and possibly other Maesters who still try to study Magic.]]
* Practically the entire concept behind ''Fanfic/EquestriaAHistoryRevealed'', in which supposedly everything in Equestrian history has a massive conspiracy behind it. It's [[PlayedForLaughs played for laughs though]].
* ''Manga/{{Evangelion 303}}'': Seele has been manipulating world politics for centuries in order to try to keep a power balance between countries, consistently supporting the military or political underdog.
* Whoever's behind the Omega Project in the ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' fanfic ''Genius Losers of Konoha''.
* Parodied in ''[[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/6475444/1/Haruhi_Isolated Haruhi Isolated.]]''
* ''Fanfic/{{HERZ}}'': SEELE is a secret organization has been plotting the end of the world for decades. On the other hand, GEIST is still another secret organization which is very big on individualism and has been opposing SEELE since they knew about its existence and goals.
* More traditional versions are a part of the Katawa Shoujo fanfic FanFic/HisaoandKenjiMasterDetectives.
* ''Fanfic/LastChildOfKrypton'': Several characters [[spoiler:such like Kaji or even Gendo]] warn Shinji he is getting involved in an ancient ploy people very powerful and very dangerous have spent a long time scheming.
* Both played straight and subverted in ''FanFic/SonicXDarkChaos''. The backstory runs on the idea that both Christianity and Islam are nothing more than fronts for the Angel Federation. However, [[spoiler: Maledict's gigantic "Ultimate Weapon" gambit to defeat the Angels is less than a century old]].
* ''Fanfic/SOE2LoneHeirOfKrypton'': As ''Comicbook/{{Supergirl}}'', Asuka must fight against giant monsters, alien beings, an evil cult and an ancient secret society comprised of old madmen whose goal consists in killing everybody and merging their souls to give birth a new god. Said secret society is not happy with the unforeseen appearance of a super-powered girl coming along out of nowhere and interfering with their plans.
* In the ''Manga/OnePiece'' story ''Fanfic/RerumDanarae'', the entire setup of the Navy, the Kumori clan/Dai Senmei and their direct allies is this – [[spoiler:with their knowledge of the Void Century and the Kumori’s control of the fealty/loyalty of the Navy, they are holding the World Government by its throat for the last 820+ years. With the rising arrogance/corruption of the World Government these days, the Dai Senmei are understandably irritated with them. The setup turns the Navy effectively into an NGOSuperpower, unknown to most people. They’re a mercenary military hired 820+ years ago by contract whose major condition was to give them “justice”.]]
* In ''Fanfic/NeonGenesisEvangelionGenocide'', secret organization SEELE has been plotting the end of mankind for decades, and [[spoiler:even after being defeated, their leader is determined to carry out his scheme one way or another, even if it takes years.]]

* The League of Shadows in ''Film/BatmanBegins'' and to an extent, in ''Film/TheDarkKnightRises'' is an example of an Ancient Conspiracy that [[KnightTemplar does evil in service of a "good" goal]].
%%* The Illuminati in the ''Film/LaraCroftTombRaider'' movies.
%%* The Machines in ''Film/TheMatrix''.
%%* The Masonic group protecting the ''Film/NationalTreasure''.
%%* The {{ninja}}s of ''Film/NinjaAssassin''.
* The particular incarnation of the Sith that appears in the ''Franchise/StarWars'' films is similar to this, except that most of its actions were devised and implemented by Palpatine alone, as opposed to being planned out in advance.
%%* The fashion industry in ''Film/{{Zoolander}}''.
* ''Anime/TheCastleOfCagliostro'' has the Cagliostro family's secret counterfeiting ring through which they've secretly controlled global economics for centuries.
%%* The Tarsus Club in ''Film/TheConspiracy''.
* The Brotherhood of Sleep, an order of Catholic priests who keep the secret of the canisters for centuries in ''Film/PrinceOfDarkness''
* The people who run The Game in ''Film/ThirteenSins'' may date back to Ancient Greece.
* In ''Film/{{Jumper}}'' there is an entire conspiracy revolving around killing teleporters and inventing technology to stop them.

* This trope is played straight in the science fiction series, ''{{Literature/Alterien}}'' by Adam R. Brown. The Alteriens Oberon creates go on to form a massive society that spans time and space. In order to more covertly assimilate selected candidates into their society and firmly establish their fellowship on 3D Earth, they create an extension of their nation, a secretive organization they call the Community. Members of the Community are either Alteriens or humans who will soon be transformed into Alteriens. Despite their efforts to keep this secret society a secret, a human who overheard them in the mid-20th century later investigated further. Though that person's efforts to reveal them were never successful, word of their society's existence continued throughout the next two centuries, albeit within the context of an old conspiracy.
* Eugene Sue was an innovator of this with the Jesuits in ''The Wandering Jew''. And also indirectly (and unintentionally) inspired ''[[Literature/TheProtocolsOfTheEldersOfZion The Protocols of Zion]]'' with the last chapter of ''Mysteries of a People''.
* Avalon in ''Literature/TheHellequinChronicles'' is generally described as a supernatural version of the UN, but with actual power, with representatives and agents in every human government and usually, advisers near a ruler to make sure that they toe Avalon's line. If they don't... they are removed.
* Creator/AlexandreDumas also laid important groundwork with his ambitious ''Joseph Balsamo''.
* Creator/PaulFeval was a vital Trope Codifier; he wrote a work entirely dedicated to being a fictional history of secret societies, and included it in ''Literature/TheVampireCountess'' and more absurdly in ''Literature/VampireCity'', where it's implied ''all'' the elite of the world are vampires. But his masterwork in the subject was ''Literature/TheBlackCoats'' continuity which included ''Literature/JohnDevil''.
* Subverted in Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's ''Literature/{{Illuminatus}}'', in which it is ultimately revealed that [[labelnote:spoiler - click to reveal]]There is no ancient organization known as the Illuminati, and that the various groups throughout history that have been using that name have been acting completely independently. Moreover, its current incarnation (the one featured in the book) was actually founded with the express purpose of preventing such conspiracies by recruiting potential conspirators into one organization, where they can be conveniently monitored and manipulated. So ultimately, it's the conspirators who are getting the wool pulled over their eyes. And if that's not enough, it turns out that there actually ''is'' an ancient, all knowing conspiracy that has its roots going all the way back to Atlantis, but -- as it turns out -- it has no interest in human affairs whatsoever. Finally, [[spoiler: Fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord mushroom mushroom (The meaning of the previous statement will be published in heaven).]][[/labelnote]]
** The ''Illuminatus'' theory is filled with these, and range from few decades to tens of thousands of years old, and it's perfectly possible for organizations to split, die, reemerge and resurrect, as well as their teachings to get corrupted in various ways. Somewhat rarely for the genre, the protagonists are mostly members of an ancient conspiracy of their own.
* ''Literature/TheDaVinciCode'' portrays the Catholic Church as an Evil ancient conspiracy.
* The Cavaliers from ''Literature/TheCavaliersSeries'' Since the seventeenth century, they have been keeping the United Kingdom under vampire control, by turning promising young lords, and more recently university students, then getting them all the best jobs. Their wealth, beauty and mind control powers all help this process along. Half of government, media and the police are working for them, the other half can easily be bribed, charmed, hypnotised or mesmerised into doing what they want.
* The Forsworn in ''Literature/DisAcedia'' are an ancient, thousand years old religious conspiracy actively sabotaging efforts to solve the titular maze. They have infiltrated most of the setting's factions to a degree or another.
* The House Targaryen from ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'', once masters of dragons, had served as the ruling family of the Seven Kingdoms for three centuries, during which [[spoiler:they attempted to resurrect the long-dead dragons (well dead for about 150-200 years as of the start of the series - Aegon conquered Westeros for the Targaryens using his dragons) and find TheChosenOne for at least a hundred years]]. As by the series standard, the family has not been portrayed as wholly good or evil, but some individuals frequently swerve to some extreme.
** Also, in a straight example, the Maesters, the fantasy equivalent of {{Omnidisciplinary Scientist}}s (they learn a little bit about everything, in order to be better advisor-types). Their love of science and the codifiable, however, has apparently lead them to [[spoiler:attempt to destroy all magic, possibly by weakening the dragons, as mentioned above; an old legend states that without dragons in the world, there can be no magic]].
* In Umberto Eco's ''Literature/FoucaultsPendulum'', the main characters [[spoiler:invent an ancient conspiracy out of whole cloth, which is taken to be real by virtually everyone else... including a couple of groups named in it, who are rather put out that they don't seem to have all that power anymore, and want the protagonists to help them regain it!]]
* ''Literature/SecondApocalypse'' has the Consult, a conspiracy of great sorcerers and generals who were persuaded to take the side of the Inchoroi against the Nonmen during the first Apocalypse. After their initial failure, they spent the next four thousand years lying low, waiting for their next opportunity.
* In Creator/OrsonScottCard's ''Literature/HomecomingSaga'', the true nature and purpose of The Oversoul could be considered an ancient conspiracy.
* Trystero, a mail-based (and possibly imagined) conspiracy in Creator/ThomasPynchon's ''Literature/{{The Crying of Lot 49}}''.
* In the novel ''Country of the Blind'', by Creator/MichaelFlynn, the ancient conspiracy is not all that ancient, going back only to the early 19th Century, when a handful of American mathematicians, armed with Babbage's Analytical Engine, discovered the science of "cliology" (substantially similar to psychohistory in [[Creator/IsaacAsimov Asimov's]] ''Literature/{{Foundation}}'' novels), which can be used to reliably both predict and manipulate the course of historical events. This underground society soon schisms into several antagonistic groups, one of which prefers to play the Ancient Tradition role of usually passive observation (while making killings in the stock market), the others seeking power for its own sake. It eventually develops that there may be another set of cliological societies that emerged in Europe at about the same time, because, as Charles Fort put it, "It steam-engines when it comes steam-engine time."
* Humorously subverted in ''Literature/TheAreasOfMyExpertise'':
-->"It is true that all of the past fourteen presidential candidates have been Bonesmen, with the exception of Ralph Nader, who was merely of member of the much less prestigious consumer-advocacy society Scroll and Seatbelt. And it is also true that Skull and Bones was originally chartered by the Illuminati and Knights Templar in order to infiltrate the Secret World Government at Yale's New Haven campus. But having failed to make any progress in this goal, the Bonesmen now focus almost entirely on tending to the pterodactyls on their private island and on ritual masturbation."
* In Creator/JorgeLuisBorges' short story ''Literature/TlonUqbarOrbisTertius'' the protagonist reasons that the only explanation for the creation of the incredibly intricate encyclopedia for the fictional country known as Tlön.
* The Evil Librarians, in Creator/BrandonSanderson's ''Literature/AlcatrazSeries''.
* In ''Literature/AngelsAndDemons'', the Illuminati are a secret organization of scientists who oppose the Catholic Church, and try to destroy the Vatican with an antimatter bomb. [[spoiler:Subverted in that the organization does not exist anymore and all of the Illuminati symbols were planted by the Camerlengo in an attempt to get himself elected pope and restore faith in Christianity. He...kind of succeeds.]]
* Spoofed in the ''Series/DoctorWho'' Literature/EighthDoctorAdventures novel ''Trading Futures'':
-->"The conspiracy theorists had been saying it for decades - there was a group of people, small enough to fit round a table, who were the secret masters of the world.
-->"Cosgrove knew of at least nine organizations, of which six were still active, who thought it was them."
%%* The Cahill Family from ''Literature/The39Clues''.
* The Grail Brotherhood from Creator/TadWilliams' ''Literature/{{Otherland}}''. It isn't that old (its leader and founding member is a mere 200 years old), but it fits all the other criteria.
* Creator/VernorVinge's ''Literature/AFireUponTheDeep'' contains an extremely dormant trap setup by [[SealedEvilInACan the Blight]] the last time it was active, ''billions'' of years ago. [[spoiler:Those helpful Skroderiders everyone loves so much? They were uplifted specifically so that they would remain stable--neither transcend nor go extinct--and built with backdoor code so that the Blight could use them as slaves.]] Hexapodia is the key insight, after all.
* The Second Foundation fits in the ''Literature/{{Foundation}}'' Series, by Creator/IsaacAsimov. While admittedly they are "only" five hundred years old by the end of the series, which takes place ''thousands'' of years into the future, they nevertheless manipulate the course of Galactic events towards their own ends for centuries. And until the end, quite successfully. However, they get beaten by an even older Ancient Conspiracy, [[spoiler:Gaia. Which itself is a 9,000 year old BatmanGambit by R. Daneel Olivaw, whose plans are more than 20,000 years old. Wow.]]
* ''Franchise/{{Dune}}'': The Bene Gesserit worked for thousands of years to [[Literature/{{Dune}} produce the Kwisatz Haderach]], meaning they seduced every political leader that showed some talent, however inane, while portraying themselves as being mere servants to those political leaders.
** Paul steals the religious aspects of this, but then himself gets lost in his own religious movement in ''Literature/DuneMessiah'' and ''Literature/ChildrenOfDune''. Then Leto II takes both the religious movement from Paul and the breeding program from the Bene Gesserit [[Literature/GodEmperorOfDune during his three thousand year rule.]]. The Bene Gesserit regain control a millennium later in ''Literature/HereticsOfDune'' and plan to use Sheeana, a girl that can control the worms, to start the religious cycle again in ''Literature/ChapterhouseDune'', though that plan isn't realized.
** The ''Literature/DuneEncyclopedia'' takes this UpToEleven, by having the conspiracy go back all the way to ancient Earth, including Jesus and Alexander the Great being failed/proto-Kwisatz Haderachs.
* The Bane Sidhe are a "good guys" variant on this, from Creator/JohnRingo's ''Literature/LegacyOfTheAldenata''. Also mentioned is the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), who are working with the Bane Sidhe against the [[CorruptCorporateExecutive Darhel]] (who are an ancient conspiracy of their own) and human collaborators.
* Played straight in ''Literature/TheNightsDawnTrilogy'', when one of the protagonists discovers that 27th century Earth (though not the [[TheFederation Confederation]]) has been controlled for centuries by the secret "security council" B7, which evolved from a cartel of [[BodySurf virtually immortal]] {{Corrupt Corporate Executive}}s. Their mooks consist of the criminal underclass, who are made reliable by having their leaders be mind-controlled via bitek technology. At one stage the cartel conspired to have bitek banned so they could have sole use of this technology, thus inadvertently creating the breakaway [[HiveMind Edenist culture]]. Their sole goal is to hold onto their own power, though at least one (the Western Europe Supervisor) believes they have a moral obligation to their subjects -- he's something of an eccentric though; [[WhoWantsToLiveForever bored with his immortal life]] he eventually takes voluntary exile on a prison planet.
* Creator/DavidWeber is quite fond of these:
** The Mesan Alignment turns out to be this the ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' novels, having arranged [[spoiler:the actual fall of the Republic of Haven into the People's Republic by affecting their social dynamic for centuries]] and much more.
** The first book in ''Literature/EmpireFromTheAshes'' reveals that the Moon's mutinous crew have been manipulating human civilization from the very beginning, sometimes to halt scientific progress... and sometimes just ForTheEvulz. They have complete control over a variety of terrorist organizations and have puppets in all the major governments as well. [[spoiler:And then there are the counter-mutineers who have been waging a secret war against them.]]
** In the Literature/{{Safehold}} novels, the entire Church of God Awaiting is a conspiracy so ancient they've forgotten about it. The counter-conspirators in the form of the Order of St Zherneau do remember things, though.
** ''Literature/InFuryBorn'' has a huge conspiracy as well, backing the pirate raiders.
* "Comes a Horseman" by Robert Liparulo has the Watchers who were waiting patiently for Antichrist so that they can use all of their power and money to help him rise and they themselves can enjoy unbridled freedom. The twelve council members had either followed a parent into the position or have been recruited. [[spoiler:They were created before the middle ages to combat the rise of Christianity. They also have control of the ancestors of a norse colony that dissapeared by moving deep into Canada to avoid being forced into Christianity.]]
%%* The Jacks of All Trades from ''Literature/TheGraveyardBook''.
%%* The Society of the Evening Star from the ''Literature/{{Fablehaven}}'' series.
* The resistance movement in Keneth Bulmer's ''The Secret of ZI'' have been preparing for Earth's liberation from alien conquest for nearly 300 years... because [[spoiler: Earth's counterstrike was launched at sublight speeds and will take that long to reach the aliens' world.]]
* The Dark Forest from ''Literature/WarriorCats'', which has influenced many cats, including clan leaders and plotted to overthrow the clans since long before Firestar came to the forest.
* In the historical novel ''Literature/WingsOfDawn'': Two of them. They hate each other. %% This entry was added automatically by FELH2. In case the wording doesn't make sense, rewrite it as you like, remove this comment and tell this troper.
* The Immortals, a trio of immortal sorcerers who have been working from the shadows for centuries in ''Literature/TheExtraordinaires''.
* ''Literature/AbrahamLincolnVampireHunter'' and its film adaptation turn slavery in America into this. A means for Southern plantations to obtain cheap labor? No, that's just what they want you to think. Slavery was really a ploy by vampires to obtain a steady source of nourishment all along. When Lincoln's Gettysburg Address mentioned "government of the people, by the people, and for the people," he wasn't talking about democracy, he was talking about wanting a country run by human beings instead of the undead.
* [[spoiler:The Bureau, responsible for [[{{TheMasquerade}} the constructed, faction-based community in Chicago]] for at least eight generations]] in ''Literature/{{Allegiant}}''.
* Already ancient in AncientEgypt, the priests' SecretCircleOfSecrets in ''Literature/{{Pharaoh}}''.
* The House is the granddaddy of them all in the ''Literature/RedRoom'' series. They are a group of wizards who have been controlling the world since, according them, ''the time of Gilgamesh.'' Possibly subverted as Derek says they only have the word of the Committee (all notorious liars) on this and their records only go back to the late Renaissance. Still old but not nearly so impressive.
* ''Literature/TheWitches'' by Creator/RoaldDahl features an ancient conspiracy of {{wicked witch}}es whose express goal is to kill all children.
* In ''Literature/StarshipsMage'', the [[ObviouslyEvil Eugenicists]] that originally "created" the mages were already subtly manipulating lineages before they took over the Mars colonies and began overtly manipulating the population and force-breeding test subjects.
* In ''Literature/{{Aeon 14}}: Destiny Lost'', the {{terraform}}ers guild, of all people, has become a BenevolentConspiracy aiming to shepherd humanity out of the [[LostTechnology technological dark age]] brought about by the development of FasterThanLightTravel: the sudden relief of resource strains meant humanity gave up on being efficient, and the ability to travel between stars in weeks or months rather than decades meant interstellar warfare was now possible, [[LostTechnology causing some pre-FTL knowledge to become lost]]. The FGT have covert operatives subtly influencing humanity's governments and sometimes provide new planets beyond their reach to allow threatened populations a fresh start.
* James Rollins' ''Literature/SigmaForce'' series has a recurring adversary in The Guild. Early on it's thought to be just a very powerful terrorist organization, but he slowly unfolds more of its backstory with each book. ''The Devil Colony'' and ''Blood Line'' brings their story arc to its (current) conclusion revealing that [[spoiler: their origins can be traced back through every conspiracy organization through history, going back literally thousands of years. With their every action and goal working towards uncovering the secret of immortality, which was once granted by a now extinct herb during biblical times.]]
* All works by Jean Parvulesco feature a war between 2 ancient conspiracy networks. The conspiracy consists of the french presidents searching for treasures in the pyramid and a huge part of it is a war over the control of russia.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
%%* The Grim Reapers from the Series ''Series/{{Grimm}}''
* The Senior Partners and the Circle of the Black Thorn in ''Series/{{Angel}}''.
** The Senior Partners actually started out as a cabal of extremely weak low-level demons who developed an ingenious plan of conquering the universe using the laws and political institutions of the worlds they wished to rule. Thus, the OccultLawFirm Wolfram & Hart was born. They've been around since the beginning of time, but by the time the series starts, they've pretty much got the world under their sway.
** The Circle of the Black Thorn is a SecretCircleOfSecrets that serves as the Senior Partners' EliteMooks. Doesn't sound like much at first blush, until you realize that being number two to the most successful group of inter-dimensional demons on record means that they're pretty much the UltimateEvil by default.
* To some extent the Watcher's Council from ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', although they hover between this trope and AncientTradition. The organization is decended from a trio of prehistoric African shamans who created the first slayer by infusing a teenage girl with demon strength. Their initial purpose was to guide and protect the slayer, to make sure that she had at least some human allies even if she was ostracized from the rest of her community, and to ensure that she had the knowledge and training necessary to fight demons effectively. However, by the time they make their first appearance, they're an arrogant NotSoOmniscientCouncilOfBickering that don't do much more than cling to the slayer as a reason for existing and hinder her work with their archaic rules and LawfulStupid behavior.
%%* The Millennium Group in ''Series/{{Millennium}}'', at least as depicted in the show's second season.
* The Torchwood Institute from ''Series/DoctorWho'', a secret organization founded by Queen Victoria to operate outside of the British government, fighting aliens and confiscating their technology by force for the good of the British Empire (with the implication of starting a new one when it dissolves). Though its sinister facade of mystery fades prior to the debut of the ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'' SpinOff.
** Also the Cult of Skaro, which supported the Dalek forces in the Time War from the shadows. They were so secretive that even the Doctor thought they were a myth until he encountered them personally.
** Plus the Silence, who have been ruling and controlling humanity secretly through post-hypnotic suggestion from when civilisation began [[spoiler:at least until the late 1960s]]. The Doctor had visited Earth literally hundreds of times and never even realised they were even there since he can't remember seeing them.
** Humans exist specifically so that the Fendahl could have a [[DemonicPossession host.]]
** ''Series/TorchwoodMiracleDay'' also reveals that some of the events of the 20th and 21st centuries have been manipulated by the Three Families, who made a pact to work together and use their combined influence to work in the shadows for the goal of immortality (after witnessing Jack's resurrection) and world domination. A Creator/BigFinish audioplay reveals that even the Families were manipulated by an even older (and alien) conspiracy called The Committee.
%%* The Familiar cult from ''DarkAngel''.
* The BigBad from Season 3 of ''Series/{{Bones}}'', the Gormogon, attacks people he believes to be part of the ancient conspiracy. [[spoiler:He somehow convinces Zach to join him in this quest, much to the dismay of most fans.]]
%%* The Cabal from ''Series/{{Sanctuary}}''.
%%** And now 'Hollow Earth'
%%* The Company from ''Series/{{Heroes}}''.
* From the very beginning, the idea that someone or something manipulated the characters of ''Series/{{Lost}}'' to bring them to the island was a popular theory. The sixth season has finally confirmed that [[spoiler:Jacob messed with their lives to get them to the island]], something the [[spoiler:Man in Black/Smoke Monster]] disapproves of.
* In ''Series/{{Community}}'' according to Dean Laybourne, the society of air conditioning repairmen dates back to fan wavers in ancient Egypt.
* ''Series/ThatMitchellAndWebbLook'' has a sketch featuring the not-so-sinister ''Inebriati'', whose goal is to make sure that everyone is ever so slightly drunk because drinking actually does make you better at stuff instead of just over confident like most people believe.
** There's also a parody of ''The Da Vinci Code'', "The Numberwang Code", where all numbers turn out to be part of a secret conspiracy of some kind.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** From the episode "Z'Ha'Dum", we have the human emissary of the Shadows, Justin, describing things thusly:
---> Justin: "Who decides that the workday is from nine to five instead of eleven to four? Who decides that the hemlines will be below the knee this year, and short again next year? Who draws up the borders, controls the currency, handles all of the decisions that happen transparently around us?"\\
Sheridan: "I don't know."\\
Justin: "Ahhh... I am with them. Same group, different department. Think of me as a sort of middle man. And the name is Justin."
** On the other side, the Vorlons have been manipulating their current allies for millennia, to make them suitable as Vorlon pawns during the next Vorlon/Shadow war.
%%* The Secret Society in ''Series/HouseOfAnubis''.
* NBC's ''Series/{{Dracula}}'' features the titular count going up against the Order of the Dragon, a group of aristocrats who have pulled the strings of Western civilization since the Dark Ages, and are responsible for him becoming a vampire in the first place.
* The Masons and whatever unnamed group the Hessians belong to in ''Series/SleepyHollow'' are good and evil versions of this. So is the witches coven that Katrina belonged to (which was allied with the former).
* ''Series/{{Helix}}'': The show's GenreShift is marked by the revelation that [[MegaCorp the Ilaria Corporation]] is actually a front for a group of [[TheAgeless immortals]] who have been plotting to TakeOverTheWorld for half a millennium. [[spoiler: Hatake was part of this group, but broke away out of disgust with their plans.]]
* ''Series/AmericaUnearthed'' has host Creator/ScottWolter who posits that there's an ancient conspiracy starting from the rule of Pharaoh Akenaten through the birth of Jesus and into Europe with UsefulNotes/TheKnightsTemplar, then through the Freemasons to America.
* The mega-rich gamblers in ''Series/ThePlayer'' who have been tapping into human communications since long-distance communications started are described as so ridiculously powerful that the Game is necessary as a way for them to relieve their boredom and blow off steam, otherwise they would indulge (more) in diversions such as assassinating world leaders or starting wars.
* ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'', much like the comics universe, eventually retcons HYDRA into one of these. Specifically, Season 3 reveals that the modern version founded in Nazi Germany and reborn within SHIELD is just the latest incarnation of a cult that's been working for thousands of years to liberate their master, an ancient Inhuman who was long ago banished through a wormhole to a distant planet, so that it will lead them in conquering the world.
** Season 2 of ''Series/AgentCarter'' features an earlier incarnation of this same group (though you only realize this if you [[FreezeFrameBonus notice]] that their insignia is an earlier version of the HYDRA one) that really plays up the trappings of this trope -- operating from within the public facade of a simple social lounge, the Arena Club, whose membership includes some of the most powerful people in the country, their leadership, the Council of Nine, meets within a hidden room to discuss and plan how to manipulate world events to their advantage ([[BeenThereShapedHistory apparently including the assassination of McKinley and the Great Depression]]).
* ''Series/{{Timeless}}'': Rittenhouse has apparently been controlling America since the days of the Revolutionary War, and according to the Doc in episode 6, it was founded in 1778 [[spoiler:by a clockmaker named David Rittenhouse]]. The secret is held so tightly that even rumors of the existence of Rittenhouse are violently suppressed before they can spread. [[spoiler:This was Flynn's StartOfDarkness. While working as a contractor for the NSA, he found a series of large transactions between Rittenhouse and Mason Industries (to develop TimeTravel). Four days after he reported it to his boss, there was a home invasion, and his wife and daughter were killed. Flynn himself barely managed to escape and swore to avenge them. Since he has no idea who ordered the hit, his plan is to RetGone Rittenhouse using Mason's time machine, even if it means destroying the US. At the end of season 1, Lucy convinces her grandfather in 1954 to gather evidence against Rittenhouse. By the time they meet again in 2017, he has enough solid evidence to arrest all known members of the organization, although, it appears that Rittenhouse has a backup plan in place. She also gives Flynn the name of the man, who ordered the hit on his family, but Flynn is arrested before he can make use of the information. Throughout the season, Lucy learns that she's more intimately connected to Rittenhouse than she likes, as the Cahill family (her father's) is a longstanding member of Rittenhouse. The CliffHanger at the end also has her discover that her mother's family are also Rittenhouse members and that her conception was no accident]].
* Members of The Brotherhood of the Bell (1970), a cabal of insiders founded in Colonial America, helping each other and punishing those who oppose them. It's based in a college and new members take an oath that leads them to tremendous success, as long as they obey orders. One man, Glenn Ford, opposes them after they cause the suicide of a friend and finds they can easily take away everything that he has.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Illuminati}}'', a card game by SteveJackson Games, is ''made'' of this. Each player takes on the role of one of eight ancient conspiracies: either the [[TheIlluminati Bavarian Illuminati]], the [[SwissBankAccount Gnomes of Zurich]], the [[MysteryCult Servants of]] [[Franchise/CthulhuMythos Cthulhu]], the [[UsefulNotes/{{Discordianism}} Discordian Society]], [[TheHashshashin the Society of Assassins]], [[TheInternet the Network]], [[TheBermudaTriangle the Bermuda Triangle conspiracy]], or [[AlienInvasion the UFOs]] (with a particular society, they can even be [[AliensStealCattle the cow-stealing variety!]]). Expansion packs introduce the [[ParodyReligion Church of the SubGenius]] and a [[TheShangriLa Shangri-La]] conspiracy. They then have to take over various interest groups (ranging from political parties to industries to fandoms to aliens). These generate money and can take over other groups, until your cards are arranged in a web. Each conspiracy has a specific goal, although all conspiracies can win by eliminating the competition.
* The Camarilla (and also the Sabbat, and also the Followers of Set, and also many internal conspiracies within vampiric societies...) in ''TabletopGame/VampireTheMasquerade'' RPG. Vampires and ancient conspiracies generally go together like hand and glove, so this trope is often seen in vampire-related fiction/games/movies/what-have-you.
** The Mage/Vampire/Whatever conspiracies are so common in the old ''[[TabletopGame/OldWorldOfDarkness World of Darkness]]'' that it often seems like the Holocaust was the ONE event in history that was solely the work of normal humans (since none of the supernaturals want the "credit" for it). However, as these conspiracies oppose and counter each other, they often fail to really control anything.
** The Revised Edition, while {{retcon}}ning out the "True Black Hand" nonsense (specifically destroying them, reducing the extent of their influence, and debunking their beliefs), manages to deconstruct the trope fairly well. While the group in question had plenty of mortal and immortal "agents", the group itself was too fractional to do anything with them, and the agents themselves knew so little about the group in question that they were useless for anything important.
*** The 20th anniversary edition brings the Hand back, but {{reconstruct|ion}}ed. They're just barely cohesive enough that they can function as an organization, and they have a fair amount of influence over things, but they can't do everything they'd like, and they have to deal with opposition within and without. While they may well be sitting on potentially world-shaking secrets, even they don't know which are real and which aren't.
* The reboot ''TabletopGame/VampireTheRequiem'' does this as well, although the scale of its conspiracies is much more local. They mainly influence mortal society in small ways without any overarching scheme. Sometimes they mess with people just as a game.
* The Technocracy in the ''TabletopGame/MageTheAscension'' RPG is a group of super-scientists who work to change the very nature of reality by [[ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve making humanity believe in science and disbelieve in magic]]. Sadly, they have been more successful in eroding people's faith in magic than in making them enthusiastic about science, meaning that people now don't really believe in anything, with [[CrapsackWorld general apathy and despair]] as a result.
** Interestingly for a conspiracy, their overall intentions are almost wholly benevolent. They want to better the lives of humanity by protecting them from the dangers of magic and all the other supernatural monsters out there, and the [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans end result of their goals]] would be a textbook futurist utopia.
** While it might seem like it, not all the OWOD games get in on this. Ancient conspiracies in ''TabletopGame/HunterTheReckoning'' and ''TabletopGame/DemonTheFallen'' are the enemy, both the imbued and the Fallen being relatively new to the present-day supernatural scene. The conspiracies of ''TabletopGame/WraithTheOblivion'', meanwhile, are chiefly limited to wraithly society. Even so, there are sufficient conspiracies around that it doesn't help any attempts to fit them all into the same setting.
* The Seers of the Throne in the successor game ''TabletopGame/MageTheAwakening'' are devoted to ensuring that humanity remains ignorant of the Gnostic truths of the universe by keeping as much control of human culture as possible, and directing it away from any supernatural insights whenever possible and necessary, a goal they have been pursuing since the time of Alexander the Great. The Seers are organized in the manner of an ''extremely'' convoluted bureaucracy, with none of the members knowing the entire structure of it, and with the potential for members to be appointed to offices which are ultimately meaningless, but which can be taken so seriously that they eventually 'evolve' a meaning, based on the importance attributed to them. The Guardians of the Veil and the Silver Ladder are also arguably ancient conspiracies, albeit with arguably more altruistic goals (the former seeks to prevent humanity from finding truths they are not ready for, the latter seeks to help all of humanity to Awaken).
** Also a {{Deconstruction}}, in that their potential power is limited ''by'' their secrecy (as in, RightHandVersusLeftHand) and that they spend so much of their time [[DeadlyDecadentCourt fighting amongst themselves]] that their own schemes have a tendency to turn against them due to lack of supervision.
* As long as we're on the TabletopGame/NewWorldOfDarkness, there are so ''many'' ancient conspiracies in ''Tabletopgame/HunterTheVigil'' that it's hard to keep them straight. In fact, the largest possible organization of hunters is commonly called a "conspiracy." Ones that best fit the criteria include: the Aegis Kai Doru, relic hunters who date back to Ancient Greece; the Ascending Ones, Arabic alchemists who use the drug trade to fuel their quest against the darkness; the Cheiron Group, a recent {{megacorp}}oration with some very occluded origins who [[TheydCutYouUp perform medical experiments of supernaturals]] to [[strike:better mankind]] increase their profit margins; the Lucifuge, made up of self-proclaimed children of the Devil who seek to fight against Hell and all its works; and the Malleus Maleficarum, the Catholic Church's black bag group.
* In another ''World of Darkness'' example, ''TabletopGame/GeistTheSinEaters'' has introduced tiers of organization for krewes, the "gangs" of the game. Tier 3 is the Conspiracy level, a national-to-global level death cult that's a strange mixture of religion, mystery cult, and political group. Subverted in that there's a reason they're ''Ancient'' Conspiracies -- no Tier 3 krewes exist in the present day of the setting. However, the core book does include sample Tier 3 krewes, such as an African tradition devoted to protecting the grave goods of the dead, a Hindu death cult that attacked the wicked, and a Soviet experiment in near-death experiences that eventually got taken over from within by the Sin-Eaters it generated.
* The fan-made expansion ''TabletopGame/GeniusTheTransgression'' has, among others, Lemuria -- an ancient conspiracy that [[VestigialEmpire ain't quite what it used to be]].
* And while we're discussing Creator/WhiteWolf- in [[{{TabletopGame/Exalted}} Shards of the Exalted Dream]], the point of The Modern Age is that [[spoiler:the Infernal Exalted rule the world from the shadows. The chapter does state that it's not important who is the conspiracy- the point is that there ''is'' a conspiracy.]]
* Oh, where to ''begin'' in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}''? The existence of Chaos and daemons is kept secret by the Inquisition from as many people as it can be, the Orks and Eldar were originally created to fight the Necrons, the C'Tan spliced the pariah gene into proto-humanity for later harvesting, God-Emperor only knows what's up with the Adeptus Mechanicus... the list goes on.
** And then there's 'effing Tzeentch, a one-god ancient conspiracy who has his hand in ''everything.'' Yes, even the plans that oppose each other.
** Well, he is the literal embodiment of conspiracy. So much so that, should his grand plans ever actually succeed, thus ending the conspiracy, he would immediately cease to exist. So it makes quite a lot of sense for him to have two opposed goals. Well, as much sense as Chaos ever has...
** The Emperor is something like this as well. He's as old as humanity itself, minus the lives of those first shamans.
** His companion Malcador the Sigillite gave the Imperium its big "I" symbol. Thing is, the symbol existed long before the Imperium, and it belonged to [[TheIlluminati another group]] that Malcador was a part of. Malcador helped create the [[OneWorldOrder one-galaxy order]], by the way.
** In the grim darkness of the far future, the ancient conspiracies are riddled with ancient conspiracies.
* In ''TabletopGame/WarhammerTheEndTimes'' it is revealed that [[spoiler: the High Elves Council of Wizard have been hiding the truth that the Dark Elf King Malekith is the rightful King of Ulthuan and the High Elves. Having secretly used their magic to protect every Phoenix King who stepped into Asuryan's flames, making it look as though they were blessed by the gods.]]
* The Ascended from ''TabletopGame/FengShui'' are a conspiracy of animals that have taken human form in defiance of the natural order. They control everything in the 1850 and contemporary junctures since using TimeTravel to capture enough feng shui sites to cause a Critical Shift and evict the world's previous rulers, the Four Monarchs, to the Netherworld by pulling history out from under them. Because magic is the only thing that can revert these transformed animals back to their natural forms, one of their driving goals is to suppress magic, relying on the media and scientists to discredit those who try to prove that magic is real, and Pledged hit squads to kill known sorcerers and supernatural creatures. It doesn't exactly help that most sorcerers and supernatural creatures tend toward the evil persuasion themselves.
* The Kolat from ''TabletopGame/LegendOfTheFiveRings'' provide the obligatory shadowy conspiracy in that particular setting. Since the basic structure of Rokugan's society was set down by mystical beings from on high, the Kolat seeks to return control of the world to the hands of mortal men. Themselves specifically, lest they be mistaken for having purely noble intentions. Within the setting, doing away with the influence of the Kami would likely lead to an apocalyptic breakdown of the society.
* Take your pick of them in the ''TabletopGame/DarkMatter'' setting. Ancient conspiracy within ancient conspiracy facing off against other conspiracies. Aliens, humans, and odder things all conspiring for or against something or another. It's probably the main focus of the setting.
* The name says it all. This is also probably one of the best examples of this Trope in existence. What is it? None other than ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'' Illuminati.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' is a game set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian city where everything is controlled by The Computer. The Computer is extremely paranoid about ancient conspiracies and has the players hunt them down. Some of the conspiracies actually exist. Okay, a lot of them do. Unfortunately, the players are always part of [[FlockOfWolves at least one ancient conspiracy]], and have to hide this fact along with their mutant powers.
* [=ComStar=] is a pseudo-religious organization from ''TabletopGame/{{BattleTech}}'' that derives a lot of power from its monopoly on the interstellar communications network. However, the organization has also been hoarding [[LostTechnology LosTech]] for the past few centuries, hoping that it will give them an edge after the rest of the Inner Sphere bombs itself back into the Stone Age.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Eberron}}'': The Lords of Dust and the Chamber are conspiracies stretching back to the initial dragon-demon war, one of the earliest significant events after the creation of the world, both of whom mostly work through intermediaries since the greatest fiends are chained and a large number of dragons getting directly involved tends to cause inconvenient side effects such as mass destruction and the growth in power of the rakshasa rajah known as Tiamat. More recently, the Blood of Vol (dating back to the destruction of House Vol and the end of the elf-dragon war) and the Dreaming Dark (originating with the severing of direct Material Plane to Dal Quor connections) are at the very least ancient enough to predate the formation of Galifar by quite some time, although they're very modern compared to the Chamber and the Lords of Dust.
* ''TabletopGame/HollowEarthExpedition''. The Terra Arcanum is a secret organization created by the Atlanteans to prevent humanity from finding out about or entering the Hollow Earth. Over the centuries they have become a network of power brokers who control the Earth's leaders and institutions.
* The Powers in the Shadows in ''TabletopGame/AnimaBeyondFantasy'': Imperium (humans), the Technocracy (Sylvain -light elves-), and Illuminati (Duk'zarist -dark elves-). Each one of them controls a part of the world, [[SmallSecludedWorld isolated by magic of the others]] and ''in theory'', even [[WellIntentionedExtremist if their methods are debatable]] are there to watch and protect their people.
* The Cult of Transcendence in ''TabletopGame/DetaGreen'' is an interesting example, simply because all the time it spent attempting to manipulate Europe from behind the scenes ''didn't work'' - its front organisations got taken apart on a regular basis, various wars ended up gutting it, and its unaging leaders tended to get out of touch and fixated on old grudges, most notably when they dedicated quite a lot of effort to finishing off the House of Habsburg long after they stopped being politically relevant. Following the First World War, they gave up on taking over the world and retooled themselves into a free-sprawling cult of Nyarlathotep, backing a whole bunch of groups in a bid to mess things up.

* In ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia,'' this is revealed when you find out that [[spoiler: the world religion is basically just a facade, constructed so a [[Really700YearsOld 4000-year-old child hero]] can create a human vessel in which to resurrect his dead sister.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Exmortis}} 2'' has the main character seeking to save the final dredges of humanity in a post apocalyptic world ripped bare by monsters from hell. You solve the point and click puzzles, race the descending evil clouds of doom, follow the clues and scare yourself in the process, only to win and discover that [[spoiler:the bad guy you thought you were defeating was actually kicked out of his own cult centuries ago. You've been working to get rid of the Exmortis so that he can take over again with them out of the way. Out of the frying pan and into the furnace, in other words. [[ShootTheShaggyDog Oh, and your character dies anyway.]] Damn.]] (It's a point and click game, but you know).
* In ''VideoGame/DeusEx'', the Majestic 12 is a Recent Conspiracy that split from its founding organization the Illuminati. There's also UsefulNotes/TheKnightsTemplar.
** ''VideoGame/DeusExHumanRevolution'' [[DeconstructedTrope examines this]]: As it turns out, the reason the Illuminati survived for so long is that [[spoiler:they're only an organization in the loosest sense of the term: they're more like an old boys' network whose members barely know each other.]] One of them even claims that [[spoiler:"'Illuminati' is just a name used to get rich people to invest more money", meaning that at the end of the day, they're just an aspect of "ordinary" economic power.]] Also, ''every'' scheme they've ever done in order to control the world has [[spoiler:backfired in some way or another,]] due to unforeseen factors such as [[spoiler:[[RidiculouslyHumanRobot Eliza]] developing a conscience or due to the differing goals of their members (Darrow hijacking the biochip signal). Ultimately, the real threat of Majestic 12 is that they happen to be ''competent''.]]
** [[spoiler: And, ironically, this turns out to be their downfall.]] As ''Human Revolution'' reveals, [[spoiler:the Illuminati's greatest strengths have always been sticking to the shadows while letting proxies do much of the dirty work and also preselecting fall guys to cover their ass. True, they occasionally failed, but they always had a fallback.]] In the original game, [[spoiler:Bob Page ruined that by forcing the Illuminati to have to work directly with JC because he eliminated their other indirect options when he splintered off from them. And, by the same token, despite Majestic 12's competence, he also eliminated the ability to have a proxy to cover his ass if things went badly, which meant that he essentially undid his victories from ''Human Revolution'' at the same time.]]
** Played with in the first game that suggests the the conspiracy in game is only the latest incarnation of an idea.
-->'''Stanton Dowd''': It's true that our organization stretches back to the Order of the Assassins, or Hashishim, but not in the way you might imagine. The order hasn't so much lasted as been continually revived. Adam Weishaupt started from scratch in Bavaria in 1776. But so did Thomas Jefferson a few years later. It's the IDEA that has lasted. The SYSTEM. Or the DESIRE, every thinking person's desire to give the world some decent organization. Cecil Rhodes, for instance. Absolutely no formal connection to the Illuminati at all, but one of the greatest visionaries of centralized power. Now we have the Rhodes Scholarships, which feed recruits right into the Council on Foreign Relations... A very powerful tool. In my opinion, the history of the human race has been one long succession of conspiracies. To deceive ourselves, we call the successful conspiracies 'governments.'
** ''VideoGame/TheNamelessMod'', a [[PostModernism Post Modern]] GameMod for the original ''Deus Ex'', has a very meta ancient conspiracy where [[spoiler:aliens from the planet [=GameSpy=] are in league with the administrators of [=ForumPlanet=] to control the world ever since the apocalyptic "Planetization" occured, in which they took control]].
* The La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo -- er, Patriots from ''VideoGame/MetalGear''. However [[spoiler:it turns out the Patriots are a fairly modern conspiracy formed in the 1970s which has rather taken on all the trappings of an ancient conspiracy as protective coloration, formed using the missing funds of another organization already on its last legs, The Philosophers, who themselves only dated back to around the beginning of the 20th century.]]
* The Genoharadan in ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic''. Oddly enough, they appear in almost no other ''Franchise/StarWars'' works, not even in the comic series of the same name.[[note]]The Genohardan are mentioned in later Star Wars works, such as the first Darth Bane book, as well as the Darth Plagueis novel, implying they survived at least until the years leading up to Episode I.[[/note]] Granted, they were meant to be ''highly secretive'' assassins...
** ''Videogame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic'' has the Star Cabal, a group of influential non-force sensitives that serve as the central antagonist of the Imperial Agent storyline who are dedicated to the eradication of Jedi and Sith-ruled governments and seek to plunge the world into another galactic war to wipe the slate clean. It's members include various characters featured in other storylines. The Genoharadan make a brief appearance in the Bounty Hunter storyline.
%%* The Orange and Purple clans in ''VideoGame/{{Fahrenheit}}''.
* In the ''VideoGame/MegaManZX'' series: [[spoiler:The very creation of the Biometal devices, even the ones made and used by the games' protagonists, turns out to be part of a vast plot put into motion over 200 years before the series takes place, courtesy of the second game's main villain, Master Albert--who is a key member of the city-state Innerpeace's governing body.]] Additionally, it's revealed during the course of the second game that [[spoiler:by design, all of the Biometals require a host with Master Albert's DNA to function. Indeed, Master Albert had been randomly seeding the general population with his DNA throughout the entirety of that 200 years.]] Alternately, this one could be viewed as something of an extended GambitRoulette.
** It goes ''waaaay'' back further than that: [[spoiler:Dr. Weil of the ''VideoGame/MegaManZero'' series, who is still in a [[AndIMustScream state that can never grant him death]] as the ''original'' Biometal, is widely believed to be the one who's really pulling all the strings, including Master Albert himself.]]
* The Templars in ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed'', though it's questionable when one considers that everything you learn about the [[UsefulNotes/TheKnightsTemplar Templars]] being in control of the world is coming from their own deceitful mouths, and e-mails you can secretly read imply that they're not quite as powerful as they make themselves out to be. Meanwhile, the Assassins are a similarly ancient counter-conspiracy that exists to thwart the Templars.
** Every famous figure in history is a Templar/Assassin/Ally of either side. For the third variety, see Creator/LeonardoDaVinci. Yes, ''that'' da Vinci.
*** A few of the involved were just some poor schmucks or descendants of "[[{{Precursors}} Those Who Came Before]]", who, more or less unwittingly, got themselves rolled into the conspiracy. This group of people often caused some disruption to the balance of the power struggle, and would soon there after face a very untimely demise. People in this category includes UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}} and UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy.
** While their impact in the first seems minor, if Subject 16 can be trusted then the involvement of Templars and opposition by Assassins is even wider-reaching than originally believed.
** Let's put it this way, the majority of the quote's page for the trope is taken from this series. Ancient conspiracies don't get much more ancient (or intricate, for that matter) than Assassin's Creed. We're talking about a war that's been going on since CainAndAbel, where Cain was the first Templar and Abel had an Apple of Eden. You know Atlantis? Supposedly an ancient First Civilization city. A lot of gods and goddesses, both of mythology and actual religion, were just members of the First Civilization (e.g., Juno, Jupiter, Minerva, etc.).
* In ''VideoGame/TheSecretWorld'', all three playable factions are in fact, Ancient Conspiracies: the Templars are {{Well Intentioned Extremist}}s dedicated to preserving order ([[KnightTemplar go figure]]); the Dragon pursue order through inducing anarchy and mayhem, destabilizing the world in predictive models reminiscent of chaos mathematics; TheIlluminati are power-hungry [[TheSocialDarwinist Social Darwinists]] with a very polished, corporate image. All three of them are out to protect their interests via [[EvilVersusOblivion saving the world from things much worse than any of them.]]
* The Inner Circle from ''VideoGame/MaxPayne''. Lampshaded by Max himself; a member of the circle, Alfred Woden, provides an in-depth description of the organization and its activities, following which Max [[DeadpanSnarker snarks]]: "[[YouWatchTooMuchX You've been watching too much]] [[Series/TheXFiles X-Files]]."
** Come the second game, however, the Inner Circle turns out to be a NebulousCriminalConspiracy rather than an ancient conspiracy.
** It's also a GovernmentConspiracy, having senators among their ranks and being connected with top secret SuperSoldier projects like Valhalla.
* The Cabal from ''VideoGame/{{Blood}}''. They become more publicly known in the sequel, reforming after their god's death as [=CabalCo=].
* [[spoiler:Puritas Cordis]] from ''VideoGame/SecretFiles 2: Puritas Cordis''. It's unclear whether it was continued from the original, or collapsed and restructured, though.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'' has a conspiracy of the gods to "straighten history's weave".
* ''VideoGame/TheConduit'' has a government organization that's been kept under wraps for centuries. Turns out that the current-day leader, John Adams, [[spoiler:is under alien authority (you hear him speaking with his superiors in the credits) and part of a centuries old plot to take over the world. On top of that, the ending credits reveal that Adams is a couple of centuries old himself, hinting that he may actually be ''the'' Founding Father John Adams, as well as an alien.]]
* The Disciples of Andraste from ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins''. Originally the followers of the setting's most important religious figure, [[MessianicArchetype Andraste]], they secreted away her ashes to Ferelden after her death at the hands of [[TheEmpire the Tevinter Imperium]]. For centuries they guarded the mountain temple where her ashes were kept. Interestingly, this ancient conspiracy lost its original purpose a long time ago and no longer care about guarding the Urn of Sacred Ashes. They have become an AxCrazy dragon cult who believe that their prophet has been reborn in the form of a [[OurDragonsAreDifferent high dragon]], who also makes its lair in the mountain temple. The PlayerCharacter has the option of assisting the cultists by defiling the Ashes, which they believe are somehow holding back the reborn "Andraste" from reaching her full power.
* ''VideoGame/EternalDarkness'' depicts a power struggle between a trio of [[EldritchAbomination Eldritch Abominations]] known as the Ancients, and an in-story choice made by the player at the beginning of the game determines which of the three becomes the BigBad for the rest of the game. The rest of the story depicts the Ancient's [[TheDragon Dragon]] and his secret cult working behind the scenes over thousands of years, and at one point, they're depicted as being the ''real'' reason why a certain historical figure died.
* Midway through the first ''VideoGame/{{Drakensang}}'' game you find out that the BigBad [[spoiler: is working with the ancient Dragon Men serving the evil wyrm Andracor, and they plan to use the Adamantine Heart belonged to Andracor's father Umbracor to take over Aventuria and restore Andracor's powers.]]
* The [[LovecraftCountry rural New England]] [[TownWithADarkSecret town of]] ''Videogame/{{Anchorhead}}'' is home to a [[spoiler:town-wide, nearly four-century-old]] {{Cult}} of [[CorruptHick Corrupt Hicks]] that worships and aims to summon an EldritchAbomination.
* The plot of ''VideoGame/DarkSouls'' has the player falling into one for the fate of the world and the First Fire.
* In ''VisualNovel/{{Rewrite}}'' The organization Gaia is controlling familiars and is trying to destroy humanity so that the planet can be saved. The organization Guardian is trying to stop them by whatever means necessary.
* In ''VideoGame/AzraelsTear'', the [[spoiler:Prieuré de Sion (think Priory of Sion from ''Literature/TheDavinciCode'', albeit different in details) believes it has a holy obligation to acquire the Holy Grail at a specific time and has devised a centuries-long plan to acquire it]].
* The plot of the ''Videogame/LegacyOfKain'' series is very convoluted, but it all boils down to several conspiracies colliding with each other:
** First there's [[spoiler:the Hylden's conspiracy to break out of their ancient prison by bringing down the Pillars of Nosgoth.]]
** Second there's [[spoiler:the Elder God's conspiracy to exterminate the Vampires who can no longer feed him.]]
** Third there's [[spoiler:the conspiracy to bring into existence the Scion of Balance.]]
** Kain and Raziel have the misfortune of getting mixed up with all three. Kain because [[spoiler:he ''is'' the Scion of Balance and the one destined to defeat the Elder God and the Hylden]]. Raziel because [[spoiler:he is a living temporal paradox and thus the only being in existence who can ScrewDestiny.]]
* According to K'Valk in ''VideoGame/StarTrekOnline'', B'Vat is the last member of one of this, ruling the Klingon Empire in secret since the Temporal Cold War. However, he went kinda loony and he had to be put down before he ''really'' messed things up.
* Even the Ancient Conspiracies in ''VideoGame/XenoGears'' get caught up in gigantic [[GambitPileup Gambit Pileups.]] First off, you have [[spoiler: Deus, who engineered the human race to replace his broken parts after the wreck of the Eldridge, and having created Miang, the first woman, to herd mankind towards that purpose. Semi-separately, [[TheOmniscientCouncilOfVagueness Cain and the Gazelle Ministry]] found Solaris and quietly take control over the surface dwellers. Thirdly, the Wave Existence imprisoned in the Zohar is trying to get out of said artifact and return to its home dimension, using the -Contact- that is, Fei- to do so. Finally, you've got Krellian, who somehow manages to [[OutGambitted out-gambit]] ''everyone'', playing everyone off of everyone else with the intention of [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence following the Wave Existence home]] in a plan that takes 500 years to fulfill. ]]
* [=EXALT=] in [[VideoGame/XComEnemyUnknown X-Com: Enemy Within]] at first appeared as a relatively recent [[LesCollaborateurs alien sympathizers.]] However, a raid on their headquarters recovered many ancient relics and artifacts which were ''not'' imitations, suggesting that they had existed for a '''long''' time.
* In ''VideoGame/KultHereticKingdoms'', the Order of the Veil was founded to secretly oppose the theocratic tyrant who ruled at the time, and more generally, to oppose all religion. In recent times, one of its five branches has stepped into the open to pursue the Order's goals in public: the Inquisition, which the protagonist joined before she knew about the larger organisation. The other four branches remain secret, and its members may hold prominent public posts.
* In the ''[[VideoGame/KisekiSeries Legend of Heroes Series]]'', the organization Ouroboros was founded to obtain the Seven Sacred Treasure of Aidios, known as the Sept-Terrion. Naturally, they're the villains of the [[MythArc overarching series.]]
* From ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerTiberianSeries'', we have The Brotherhood of Nod, a mixture between religious cult, rogue nation-state, MegaCorp, and paramilitary organization [[NGOSuperpower capable of taking on the GDI in battle.]] Its influence stretches back as far as [[VideoGame/CommandAndConquerRedAlert World War II]], hinted to be stretching centuries further back (how one character noted that they've been biding their time for centuries, and now it's the time to reveal themselves), and if [[DarkMessiah Kane]] is to be believed, they have existed as far as human history itself.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'':
** In ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind Morrowind]]'', nearly the entire plot of the main quest traces back to the [[WhenItAllBegan events surrounding the Battle of Red Mountain]][[note]]the [[RiddleForTheAges disappearance]] of the [[OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame Dwemer]], the [[DeityOfHumanOrigin ascension]] of [[PhysicalGod the Tribunal and Dagoth Ur]], [[OurGodsAreDifferent Azura]]'s (likely) curse on the Dunmer and her prophesy that Nerevar would be [[{{Reincarnation}} reincarnated]][[/note]] and the [[PlotTriggeringDeath death of Lord Nerevar]] some 4000 years prior. Due to his perceived treachery, House Dagoth, the Sixth House of the Dunmer led by [[BigBad Dagoth Ur]], was dissolved. The Sixth House Cult later formed in reverence and service to Lord Dagoth, who they (rightly) believed [[KingInTheMountain would return one day]]. In the years leading up to the events of the game itself, the Cult ramped up their activities, including assassinating Imperial officials. This is one part of the ("official") impetus for the Emperor ordering the PlayerCharacter to be sent to Vvardenfell.
** ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'':
*** The Dragon Cults formed in ancient times in service and reverence of the [[OurDragonsAreDifferent dragons]]. After the ancient Nord heroes manged to banish the leader of the dragons, [[BeastOfTheApocalypse Alduin]] (using an [[TomeOfEldritchLore Elder Scrolls]] to cast him out of the time stream), the remaining dragons were either slain or forced into hiding while the cultists and their [[SinisterMinister Dragon Priest]] leaders were persecuted, executed, and entombed in Skyrim's many ancient barrows. With the return of Alduin during the events of the game, he is not only [[ResurrectiveImmortality resurrecting]] the dragons, but the cultists as well.
*** The Thalmor are a [[ANaziByAnyOtherName fascistic]] Altmeri political party which dates back to the 1st Era. Originally formed to preserve the history and culture of the [[WitchSpecies Altmer (High Elves)]], they grew into a powerful [[FantasticRacism Altmer supremacist]] political party within the [[AntiHumanAlliance Aldmeri Dominion]] which eventually militarized. When [[TheConqueror Tiber Septim]] used the [[HumongousMecha Numidium]] to decimate the Aldmeri armies and sack their capital city ''[[CurbStompBattle in less than an hour of fighting]]'', the Thalmor retreated to the political shadows to wait out the Septim Empire. When the [[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion Crisis]] struck, the Thalmor [[StealingTheCredit stole credit]] for ending it within their homeland, earning them populist support which allowed them to rise into the highest positions of the Altmeri government. They assassinated [[RegentForLife Potentate]] Ocato, who capably kept the Empire together for a decade after the crisis, severely destabilizing the Empire and sending it toward [[VestigialEmpire vestigial]] status. The Thalmor re-formed the Aldmeri Dominion of old, annexed neighboring Valenwood (homeland of the [[ForestRanger Bosmer (Wood Elves)]], and got Elsweyr (home of the [[CatFolk Khajiit]]) to join as a [[VoluntaryVassal client state]]. Over the next century, their power waxed while they also [[ManipulativeBastard manipulated]] events throughout the rest of Tamriel to further weaken the Empire, ultimately culminating in the [[GreatOffscreenWar Great War]]. Though they were driven back by the forces of the Empire, they did manage to [[WonTheWarLostThePeace force an imposing treaty]] (the White-Gold Concordat) on the Empire which served to destabilize it further leading up to the events of the game.

* The organization of the same name in Webcomic/IronGate has been secretly fighting supernatural threats to humanity for centuries without any serious exposure to the general public.
* ''Webcomic/{{MAG ISA}}'' -- [[http://mag-isa.thecomicseries.com/comics/pl/119594 We have a group of baddies]] whose faces aren't even known... plotting with demons and /or extra terrestrials.
* ''Webcomic/KevinAndKell'' has the Great Bird Conspiracy, which featured the birds of the K&Kverse doing its best to civilize the various animal people of Domain and ran things in the background via seemingly subservient jobs as teacher or secretary. Once it was made [=Y2K=] compatible, the GBC left the machinations to a computer program designed to do that job for them, allowing them to retire.
* ''Webcomic/{{Narbonic}}'' has "the Dave Conspiracy."
* The Gatekeepers of ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'' have been using their monopoly over the Wormgates to manipulate galactic civilisations for millennia and the Pan'uri have been manipulating them for even longer. Given Petey's new hobby of engaging in social engineering experiments where he can't intervene directly the only thing stopping him from fitting this is that he hasn't been at it all that long.
* In ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob,'' Earth has been legally owned by the Nemesite Empire since the extinction of the dinosaurs. They're aware of the rise of humankind, but they still consider us wildlife largely beneath their notice. That is a ''good'' thing, because the day that they ''do'' decide to declare us full citizens of the Empire, the sovereignty of every nation on Earth will become meaningless, and we'll have to pay Nemesite taxes, be up for the draft in their military, etc.
* Subverted in ''Webcomic/WapsiSquare''. There is a group of immortal politicians from an ancient civilization who have been subtly manipulating everything for ages. However, they aren't particularly competent, and have been controlled themselves by Jin, one of the main characters, the entire time. On top of that, all of their manipulations have been for the purpose of fixing the calender machine and saving the world, though they don't know this.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Sinfest}}'', [[http://www.sinfest.net/view.php?date=2007-12-14 Lil' E claims Genesis is a coverup by such a conspiracy.]]
* Plenty of these pop up in ''Webcomic/OzyAndMillie''. Just about all of them are perpetrated by dragons ForTheLulz and PlayedForLaughs.

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* The Forsworn in ''Literature/DisAcedia'' are an ancient, thousand years old religious conspiracy actively sabotaging efforts to solve the titular maze. They have infiltrated most of the setting's factions to a degree or another.
* In ''Roleplay/TheGamersAlliance'', the Order of the Black Rose has existed since the First Age and has plotted the rise and fall of various kingdoms behind the scenes for centuries with varying levels of success depending on who's been leading them at the time.
* Various Website/YouTube conspiracy videos are full of information about various ancient conspiracies, from the Illuminati to the Freemasons to the Bilderberg Group and the New World Order, for anyone who is interested in listening to that sort of thing, and all of various [[UnreliableNarrator questionable degrees of believability]], and usually overlapping with [[ConspiracyKitchenSink subjects like chemtrails, 2012, and shapeshifting aliens for bonus fun]]. And if you believe these things (some of the evidence isn't... toootally unconvincing) you can file them under RealLife too.
%%* The Order of Denderah from ''WebVideo/Lonelygirl15'' and other Breeniverse series.
* Music/DoctorSteel believes (whether in actuality or whether it's part of the crazy act is anyone's guess) that the world is controlled by a cabal of alien "Illuminati".
* The criminal organization known as Tarot, in the ''Roleplay/GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse'', is a secret society founded in the late 1500s by Niccolo Machiavelli, with the express purpose of taking over the world through the power of economics. While they haven't quite achieved that goal by the modern day, they are so large and so powerful that they were beyond the power of any single superhero (or group of superheroes) to destroy.
* Website/CollegeHumor: According to the "truthumentary" ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zbl-vMN2gzo Deceptive Deceptions,]]'' the world is now, has always been, and will forever be controlled by a shadowy elite who trump the government, the Freemasons, and the Illuminati combined: [[spoiler:The College Humor staff]].
* The Southern Cross Organization in ''WebAnimation/InfernoCop'' is an over-the-top parody. Doing things seemingly ForTheEvulz, controlling the whole country, having mysterious code names and [[InTheHood wearing cloaks with large hoods]]. They even have a symbol they brandish their people with.
* In ''Podcast/{{Qwerpline}}'', The Pipesmen are an obvious reference to the Illuminati, Free Masons and Stonecutters. They secretly control much of Nsburg though unlike their inspirations are a poorly guarded secret in no small part thanks to their habit to post recruitment posters all over town and having "Open Doors" days with open bar.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The Illuminati, in ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}''. The tie-in comics and WordOfGod reveal that the organization was founded by Sir Percival, who had become immortal thanks to the Holy Grail, about a century after the death of King Arthur. It therefore predates the real-life Illuminati by about 1000 years. Less clear are their goals, but there are some subtle hints that it's more or less a gentleman's club for wealthy people wanting to unravel the secrets of immortality and expand their influence over the world's affairs. To give a rough hint of their power and influence, David Xanatos, who is the wealthiest character in the series and practically owns the city of New York, is at the ''rock bottom'' of their hierarchy.
* Cobra-La, the secret ancient civilization of snake people in the ''GIJoe'' [[TheMovie movie]].
* Parodied with the Stonecutters in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', a world-wide group who claim to have fought since ancient times to "split the rock of ignorance that obscures the light of knowledge and truth", along with a few other tall claims (robing cavefish of their sight, rigging every Oscar night). Mostly what they do is just hang out and get drunk.
* Parodied by ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' with the Illuminutty, a group attempting to keep the secret that [[spoiler:George Washington Carver wasn't the one who really invented Peanut Butter. It was actually Abraham Lincoln's wife who invented it as some bizarre ingredient for calling on spirits. The conspiracy intended to give credit of the invention to an African American to help rebuild race relations after the Civil War, but the plan was delayed due to Lincolns death, and didn't come to fruition until years later when the credit was given to Carver, who did in fact invent all the other peanut stuff, he just hadn't thought of mashing them up and putting them on bread for some reason.]]
* Subverted in ''WesternAnimation/HuntikSecretsAndSeekers''. While the main villainous organization--unoriginally called "The Organization"--would have everyone believe that they are a centuries-old group with tendrils everywhere, they are in reality less than sixty years old.
* As the page quote shows, ComicBook/TheQuestion in ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueUnlimited'' believes that a vast conspiracy has ruled the world for thousands of years, and are secretly responsible for virtually everything in human history. Given that many of the Question's wild theories [[ProperlyParanoid are proved correct]] and that there are [[ComicBook/VandalSavage several]] [[Characters/BatmanRoguesGallery characters]] in the DCAU that have ''lived'' for thousands of years, [[ParanoiaFuel he might well be right]].
-->'''Green Arrow:''' Does everything have a sinister motive in your world?\\
'''The Question:''' Yours too. You just don’t know it.
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'': The Order of White Lotus is the Secret Society of [[OldMaster Badass Grandpas]], spread out across all three nations.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' has an ancient conspiracy that is "only" about a century old in the form of the Red Lotus, an offshoot of the White Lotus with different ideas of how to bring balance to the world. The Red Lotus believes that the governments and ruling institutions of the world are hopelessly corrupt and must be utterly destroyed.[[spoiler: This extends to every organization and political representative which enforces order, including the Avatar.]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Real life conspiracies tend to be much shorter in time, much smaller in scale and much less successful. Almost always the are found out after less than a decade by someone spilling the beans or their own incompetence. However, complex political upheaval (such as the French Revolution) or real life conspiracies being exposed (such as Watergate) tend to make people more open to believing more far fetched stories. This is why most "classic" Ancient Conspiracies date to the late 18th century (Illuminati, the Freemasons, the Jesuits) or the 1960s (Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, things involving Castro).
* UsefulNotes/NaziGermany was governed by people who believed that everything except them was a conspiracy, consisting mainly of communists, foreigners of various nations including Jews, effeminate male homosexuals and corrupted politicians from other parties. There were equal parts true believers and opportunists or cynics who would say anything to get into power in the party, and some had individual varying opinions on the matter, but the official party line was that their actions were justified by the intentional destruction of the state within by organized enemies. The "ancient" part of their AncientConspiracy was mostly centered around the Jews: The Nazis believed that the Jews had "stolen" the origin of Christianity from the Aryan folk tradition, were controlling the world's wealth through finance capitalism and, later, communism, and had been attempting to take control of German state institutions and outbreed the German race. The other targeted groups were targeted because they fit into the conspiracy, i.e. the communists were the agents of the Jewish economic plot, homosexuals were trying to spread an aversion to reproduction to other Germans, etc.
* Nearly all autocratic governments either believe or promote the belief that they are surrounded by organized, powerful enemies at all sides, no matter how much influence they gather. This has the benefit of justifying their existence as well giving them a solid reason to act outside of established laws and norms. After all, if you're surrounded by enemies, arbitrary actions that break the law are justified by the need for self-preservation. This is how the word "dictatorship" got its negative connotation: it's a government that's run as if it is in a constant state of emergency.
* As our Risen Savior J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, founder of the [[ParodyReligion Church of the SubGenius]], has revealed, in real life the Conspiracy's greatest strength is that it is not even aware it ''is'' a Conspiracy.
* Website/AboveTopSecret, as one of, if not the largest conspiracy website, is chock full of these.
* [[UsefulNotes/{{Discordianism}} Discordianists]] rule the world. Just like everything else in the religion, it's a [[ParodiedTrope parody]].
* The basis of Creator/FrancisEDec's theories and mad rants was his conviction that a supercomputer called Worldwide Mad Deadly Communist Gangster Computer God runs one of these. He claims that the Computer God covered up most of the history prior to its inception, including existence of worldwide Slovene Empire, and that it interbred Slovenes with other people to make mankind stupid. [[ThroughTheEyesOfMadness Among other things]].
* Song Hongbing's 'Currency Wars' is a curious case. The author portrays banking systems as the major clandestine players but at the same time he portrays bankers more as simple opportunists and adherents of realpolitik than as conspirators.

[[spoiler: Oh, and TV Tropes, whose real purpose is... well, that would be telling.]]