->''"The trouble with humans is that it's all or nothing with them. They seem to think that anything impossible could happen in the old days. And just because these are new days, they tell you none of it is true."''
-->-- '''Creator/DianaWynneJones''', ''Literature/{{Dogsbody}}''

Once upon a time, there was magic. Kings had wizards as courtiers. Knights and saints slew dragons. Shame those days have gone by, huh?

'''Here There Were Dragons''' is the idea that the past was a time when magic was everywhere, as opposed to our boring old mundane present. This isn't a case where magic went underground or adopted some {{Masquerade}} to avoid yet another WitchHunt; no, this is a case where magic has disappeared almost entirely. But, who knows? It could always [[TheMagicComesBack come back around again]] or [[TheDragonsComeBack at least the dragons could]], if there were actual dragons...

Compare with {{Gotterdammerung}}, where it's the gods that have left or died. See also TheTimeOfMyths. If the story is ''about'' the magic going away it's, well, TheMagicGoesAway. See also EndOfAnAge.
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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/InuYasha''. Seems like you couldn't go anywhere in Sengoku-period Japan without tripping over a demon. Five hundred years later, though, there's nary a one to be found, or any evidence that they had ever existed. A bit odd in that the characters have run into one the show's {{Plot Coupon}}s in the present (although it was being guarded by a [[SealedEvilInACan sealed demon]]). However, they once saw the soul piper in the modern day, so there are exceptions.
* ''Anime/OtogiJuushiAkazukin'' takes place in two worlds, the world of technology and the world of magic. The two worlds were once one, however were split into two by 'God' after a single human proved just how terrifyingly much potential humanity had if they were given access to both technology AND magic.
* In ''Manga/OutlawStar'' the Caster Gun used by Gene is rumored to either have been forgotten technology or magical in nature. It's eventually revealed that the 'old magic' of the universe was fading and the last masters of said magic encapsulated what remained of it into caster shells so that they could still use it. Note that old magic did fade away but Tao Magic, presumably based on an inner persons capabilities, is still around and effective.
* In ''Anime/YuGiOh'', Egypt was ruled using magical artifacts and monsters and such. There was even a magician in the Pharaoh's court. The Pharaoh then locked the magic away. This lasted about 5,000 years.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
%%* ''{{Wanted}}''%%
[[/folder]]

[[folder:FanWorks]]
* ''FanFic/TheThreeKingsHunt'' the author has said that at the time of Camelot around 3 in 10 of the human population had some form of magical power. Needless to say this is no longer the case due [[spoiler: to the genocide against the mages]]. These days the mage population is probably in the hundreds of thousands, with the wizard population in the low millions and the non-magicals outnumbering both by a lot.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Dragonslayer}}'' is all about the transition from a magical world to this. Galen, a sorcerer's apprentice, isn't happy about magic fading from the world. Some of the villagers, though, are quite happy they won't have to be worrying about random dragon attacks anymore. In the end [[spoiler:all the magic disappears... or has it?]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheFlightOfDragons'' deals with the [[MagicVersusScience transition between the magical world and the world of science]], framed by the wizard Carolinus as 'mankind faces an epic choice'. In the finale, when the protagonist uses logic and mathematical formulas to [[spoiler: literally will the BigBad out of existence]], the world of magic is sealed away from mankind forever.
* The Djinn in ''Film/{{Wishmaster}}'' discusses how the magic and spells of the past are now forgotten, and there is nothing left to stop him with.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Subverted In Dragon Slippers, Creel is convinced that dragons have been extinct for decades, as no one has sen one in living memory. Because of this, she's not too troubled by her aunt 'sacrificing' her to said dragon, as it means she can go off to seek her fortune.... and she's promptly carried away. oops.
* Robert E. Howard's original ''Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian'' stories are said to have taken place in Earth's prehistory.
* Creator/JRRTolkien's letters indicated that the same was true of ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings''.
** The effect actually happens within ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings''; at the time of the War of the Ring the magic was almost completely faded from the world. For a random example, at one point there were so many Balrogs they had their own army instead of only one, and the current dark lord is only a pale imitation of the old one, who was order of magnitude stronger still.
** Tolkien retconned the purpose of the quest in ''Literature/TheHobbit'' to be Gandalf's move to deny Sauron a weapon of mass destruction by making this literally true.
* ''Literature/JonathanStrangeAndMrNorrell'' opens with Britain's rich history of magic having faded away by the Regency Era. Then it slowly trickles back… This trope is well summed up by a book written by a man who found spells he had once been able to cast becoming ineffective, titled ''A Faire Wood Withering''.
* ''Franchise/TheDarkTower'' has the Prim, a magic that was lost when the Old Ones brought in science.
* Creator/LarryNiven's ''Literature/TheMagicGoesAway'' setting posits that magic is powered by something called {{Mana}} which is very much like other natural resources. When it was plentiful on Earth, wizards cast mighty spells and great gods ruled the Earth, but as [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything foolish and wasteful uses drained Earth's irreplaceable mana supply]], magical creatures became mundane and gods withered away into "myth", leaving nothing of [[AuthorTract the great magical civilization but confounded savages standing in crumbling empires]].
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'':
** In the opening of the series, dragons have been extinct for over a century, and magic has faded to such a degree that some people think that it doesn't exist. As the series progresses, however: [[spoiler:[[TheDragonsComeBack dragons return to the world]], [[TheMagicComesBack causing magic return to its previous potency]]]].
** In the fourth book, it's actually hinted that [[spoiler: The Maesters are actively trying to get rid of magic.]]
* Fritz Leiber's [[Literature/FafhrdAndTheGrayMouser Newhon]] stories are kind of an odd case, since they are set in a different universe, yet have easily indentifiable real-world cultures like the Conan stories, and in at least one story, the characters are explicitly in AncientGreece. (Many years later, while compiling a collected edition of the stories, Leiber wrote a prequel explaining that they were temporarily transported to Earth by their TricksterMentor Ningauble, though [[HandWave remaining vague]] on ''how'' or ''why''.)
** Ningauble's cavern tunnels lead to [[AlienGeometries many different worlds.]] The boys got lost and went down the wrong tunnel. When they emerged, their memories changed to match the world where they wound up.
* ''Literature/TheAgeOfMisrule'' plays this ramrod-straight. The only possible subversion is that, then, it starts to come back. [[spoiler:And then gets sealed away again, but that's another story...]]
* The ''Literature/{{Shannara}}'' series has this with a long gone and nearly forgotten age of mythical creatures before the advent of man. The only remnants of it are the elves, Elfstones, and a magic tree that keeps demons sealed within another dimension.
* In the ''[[Literature/RealmOfTheElderlings Liveship Traders]]'' series, people use a funky kind of magical wood found in the Rain Wild for all sorts of things, such as building ships that come alive and birth control. They eventually find out that (a) dragons used to exist (they find this out when they find a survivor), and (b) the wood was essentially ''dragons in utero'' and they pretty much killed a bunch of dragons in order to create things.
* The trilogy TheNewHeroes is set in a world where superheroes existed, but twenty years prior to the first book, they all disappeared for a reason unknown. The reason is later revealed, along with the fallout. And of course, given the title, {{The|MagicComesBack}} [[strike:[[TheMagicComesBack Magic]]]][[TheMagicComesBack Heroes Come Back]]
* In ''Literature/TheDeathGateCycle'', Earth was full of magical beings up until about The Renaissance, then they faded out, only coming back AfterTheEnd for the series.
* In ''Literature/TheUnicornChronicles'' series, unicorns and dragons once lived on earth but human persecution forced them to migrate to AnotherDimension.
* Pretty much the whole premise of Terry Pratchett's ''Discworld/GuardsGuards'' novel. Big dragons can no longer exist, right...?
** The first two Discworld books exhibit this in general. In ''Discworld/TheColourOfMagic'' Rincewind encounters dryads in a tree and says he thought that TheFairFolk were all extinct (which they are shortly afterward). They encounter dragons later in that same book, but they are imaginary and can only exist inside the Wyrmburg's magical field. In ''Discworld/TheLightFantastic'' it's implied that trolls are also on their way out, many of them having already become immobile. Later books drop this, save for the case of Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde, who are the last of the {{Barbarian Hero}}es and somewhere in their 80s.
*** The dying out of barbarian heroes is less a shift from a magical world to a mundane one, and more a shift from a HeroicFantasy world to a DungeonPunk one. In other words, in the later books it's less that trolls are dying out, and more that they've stopped living under bridges and eating people, and started living in Ankh-Morpork and joining organised crime or the Watch.
* Invoked almost literally in ''Faith of the Fallen'' in the ''Literature/SwordOfTruth'' series. In the setting, dragons are biological creatures that depend on magic to fly and survive. Because of events far too complicated to explain here, magic is slowly dying out in the world and Richard, while traveling, comes across the remains of a dragon and wonders if this means they're all dead. [[spoiler:A few books later, we find out they're still around.]]
* Played with in ''Literature/TheFirstLaw Trilogy''. There WAS an Age of Wonder, where demons walked amongst men, monsters roamed, and great magic was wrought by the Magi... but that was a long time ago, and as far as the 'civilized' people of [[TheFederation The Union]] knows, may well just be myth and legend. And indeed, they're not entirely wrong - according to Bayaz, First of the Magi, the magic is literally leaking out of the world - and even those that remains of the Magi of old, are slowly growing weaker and weaker. Still, more remains of the old world than most people realize... which could come back to bite a lot of people in the ass. [[IAmAHumanitarian And the rest of their anatomy, for that matter.]] Ultimately, most of the problems that appear has to be solved through mundane means - politics, money, violence, or a combination of those. Attempts to call upon ancient magics or find forgotten artifacts of power tend to either backfire badly, or just fail outright.
* Implied in pretty much [[TheTimeOfMyths all mythologies.]] The big ElephantInTheLivingRoom, back when those myths were believed, was that in the past you had heroes and magic and gods running around, but by the time of those telling the story, all such things had vanished with no explanation.
** Though interestingly {{Double Subver|sion}}ted in medieval European chronicles themselves, where they took TheTimeOfMyths to be when the early parts of Literature/TheBible were set, and then there were about 1500 years of no supernatural things (with [[UsefulNotes/{{Christianity}} one exception]]) occurring, during AncientGreece and AncientRome, but ''then''… [[TheMagicComesBack there were tales of sorcerers, dragons, and]] [[KnightInShiningArmor Knights In Shining Armor]]… which inexplicably disappeared at some unspecified point in the narratives.
* Our world in ''Literature/TheTalisman'' is a place where there used to be a lot more magic. Wolf can only detect the dying remnants when he makes some medicine for Jack out of weeds.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* A rare example that sets the modern era in the "age of magic" is ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''. According to the spin-off comic, ''Comicbook/{{Fray}}'', at some point in the future the magic gets sealed away. [[spoiler: At present, it appears that this point in the future is the end of Buffy Season 8.]]
* The opening narration to the first episode of ''Series/{{Carnivale}}'' says that man "forever traded wonder for reason" on the day of the A-bomb test at Trinity.
* The opening narration of ''Series/{{Merlin}}'' "In a land of myth, in a time of magic..." seems to indicate this.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''Earthdawn'' and ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'' are two roleplaying games that take place in a world where magic ebbs and flows over the eons. The term "Worlds" is used to distinguish a period when the mana levels are high enough to support magic or nearly nonexistent. ''Earthdawn'' takes place in the Fourth World, when the FiveRaces (and others) are commonplace and magic is a steady trade. The Fifth World is the present day (well, an AlternateHistory version of "the present day" that splits off around 1999), when magic is nearly nonexistent. The Sixth World of ''Shadowrun'' begins in 2012, with the return of dragons, magic, and the FiveRaces.
** Interestingly enough, the current owners to the rights for ''Earthdawn'' have a product in development called ''Equinox''. Not much is known about it yet, except that it's supposed to take place in the ''Eighth'' World.
*** As the current rights owners for Shadowrun and Earthdawn are different (Catalyst Labs and Red Brick Limited, respectively), it's likely that the games are no longer interconnected as they used to be.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Rifts}}'' Earth was once a magical place, until the sealing of {{Atlantis}} also took most of the magic away, too. It came back in a big way: [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt the reemergence of magic]] and the opening of several (hundred/thousand) interdimensional portals was caused by the mystical aftershocks of millions of lives being simultaneously wiped out by [[WorldWarThree atomic bombs being used on population centers]]... at noon on the winter solstice during a total eclipse of the sun and at least one planetary alignment, effectively a mass human sacrifice at the worst possible time, when mystic energy was more or less under a 100x multiplier. Unfortunately, planets use things like Earthquakes, volcanoes, and hurricanes as magic pressure release valves...
* ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'' recently put out a new supplement; ''[[http://e23.sjgames.com/item.html?id=SJG37-1651 Thaumatology - Age of Gold]]''. The setting is a 1930's pulp reality with magic on the way back. The triggering even was discovery of Philosopher's Stone in ancient tombs - apparently common enough in the distant past, its rediscovery is leading to a renaissance of magic research and even the emergence of magically-powered super-heroes.
** In ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}} Technomancer'', since the magic came back, most people ''assume'' the legendary past was actually high mana, even though there's no evidence to support this.
* The ''WarhammerFantasy'' world, while still plentifully enmagicked, has lost a lot of it since the olden days because of the elves partially sealing the Chaos Rift, greatly decreasing magical potency and also preventing daemons from rampaging across the world.
* Replacing magic with technology, you have The Dark/Golden Age of Technology of Warhammer40K, when Mankind had access to unbelievably awesome technology. Nowadays finding the tiniest scrap of it makes a man rich beyond his wildest dreams. Why is it called the Dark Age? Because men's use of technology meant they didn't worship the GodEmperor (the truth is a bit more complicated, the Emperor didn't ''want'' anyone worshipping him in those days, and wanted science to replace religion).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/DwarfFortress'' randomly generates a world history for each new game. If the world history includes the death of most Forgotten Beasts and Megabeasts and humanity has become a dominant civilization, the game enters the Age of Twilight.
** Two additional Ages dealing with this trope exist beyond that. The Age of Fairy Tales begins when magical creatures make up less than 10% of the world population. The Age of Civilization begins when there are no magical creatures at all.
* ''VideoGame/GodOfWar'' seems to have an interesting explanation as to why there are no Greek gods anymore: [[spoiler:[[SociopathicHero Kratos]]]].
* In ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'' there was the Kingdom of Zeal, a FloatingContinent whose existence was based around the use of magic. There are almost no clues of its existence in any other eras (though LostTechnology and a few refugees make appearances here and there), and this being a TimeTravel story, you eventually find out [[RocksFallEveryoneDies why]].
** It also inverts the trope: you go back far enough, you come out to ''before'' there was magic (this is why the party member from that time, Ayla, can never learn it). {{Ps|ychicPowers}}ionics, on the other hand, exists... and is used by the dinosaur-people Reptites. The only reason humanity survives to reach the age of magic as opposed to the more advanced Reptite civilization? Sheer luck - Lavos took out the Reptite capitol when it hit Earth and the Ice Age killed the rest. This is a ([[KudzuPlot very confusing]]) plot point in ''VideoGame/ChronoCross''.
* In ''VideoGame/TheLongestJourney'', magic was integral part of our world... ca. twelve thousand years ago. But since [[AndManGrewProud Man Grew Proud]], all magic and magic wielders had to be exiled into AnotherDimension called Arcadia to prevent humanity from destroying itself. The Earth as we know it (which is called Stark to differentiate between it and the real Earth) became the world of science and the onset of the game sees Arcadia starting to "leak back" into Stark.
** ''VideoGame/DreamfallTheLongestJourney'' has the Barrier restored to full strength, cutting off magic from Stark. However, this results in the Collapse, with most advanced technology (e.g. AntiGravity, FasterThanLightTravel) simply ceasing to work. Many fans speculate that this means that these technologies are impossible through pure science and that humans in Stark were using magic without knowing it. This would partly explain the alarming frequency of AntiGravity accidents, as magic is inherently unstable.
** By that same token, Arcadia in the sequel is much different. Magic and magical creates were everywhere in the first game. However, in-between the games, a horde has devastated the land, leaving it vulnerable to the magic-hating Azadi Empire, who chase away the horde but refuse to leave afterwards. All magic-users and magical creates are herded into ghettos. This is despite the fact that all Azadi "inventions" are, obviously, MagiTek due to the fact that laws of physics are in constant flux in Arcadia, thus necessitating the use of magic to stabilize them enough for things like steam engines to work.
* In ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'', the world of Sylvarant goes through this repeatedly. An evil organization known as the Desians prey on the world's {{mana}} and slowly makes magic weaker. Each time the situation becomes sufficiently dire, TheChosenOne is born to perform a pact with the goddess Martel that seals away the Desians and fully restores the mana to the world -- for a time. They always return eventually, neccessitating the birth of a new Chosen. [[spoiler:A series of [[TheReveal plot twists]] eventually reveal the whole truth behind this situation, and suffice it to say it's far more complex than how it's initially presented.]]
* The premise of the ''VideoGame/GoldenSun'' franchise is that the power of Alchemy was sealed away in the distant past. Among the select few who know about the seal, conflict arises between those who want to remove the seal and those who want to maintain it.
* While magic still exists in the ''VideoGame/{{Overlord}}'', actual dragons are extinct. And in ''VideoGame/OverlordII'' [[spoiler: the dwarves join them]]. While other magical beings such as the Elves, Unicorns, Gnomes, Fairies, Mermaids, the Overlord himself and the Minions still exist they suffer anti-magic persecution in the same game.
* This is the setting of ''VideoGame/BrutalLegend'': The giant mythical beast has been dead for millenia, titans had born, built a civilization, kicked ass and [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence ascended to a higher plane of existence]], the landscape is littered with their giant relics and the rebellion against the demons has already failed. And then TheHero shows up and inspires some.. well.. legends of his own.
* In the ''VideoGame/ChzoMythos'' it is shown that magic used to be common and achievable in our world. Then the magic waned and almost entirely went away, which is shown to be a good thing, because the lack of magic would cause the EldritchAbomination to die if he ever crossed over to our dimension.
* ''VideoGame/VagrantStory'' centers around the last place of magic left in the world - Lea Monde. The trick is that we've ''seen'' what the world looked like with magic; it was called ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'' (which was itself an example to ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'' and ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTacticsA2'', which had much more advanced magic and magitechnology). What happened in the intervening centuries between each of them is unknown. (Funny enough given the trope name, there are ''lots'' of dragons in ''VagrantStory''.)
* Obviously, in ''Franchise/SpyroTheDragon'', there still ''are'' dragons, but this applies to the Forgotten Worlds in ''VideoGame/SpyroYearOfTheDragon''. The dragons left the Forgotten Worlds long ago, and as a result the worlds' magic is dying out.
* The Franchise/DragonAge setting has elements of this trope, along with DeathOfTheOldGods. Griffins died out and dragons had been hunted into extinction centuries ago. However, the current century is named the "Dragon Age" specifically because of the [[TheMagicComesBack return of dragons to the world]].
* ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'' has Dragon burial mounds scattered across the landscape, having been hunted to near-extinction thousands of years ago and considered to be near-myth by the inhabitants of Skyrim. Now ''[[BigBad something]]'' is [[TheMagicComesBack bringing them back to life]] and those people who considered them myth become suddenly very aware that they may have built their town ''[[OhCrap right next to one]].''
* ''VideoGame/LegacyOfAThousandSuns'' takes place eons in the future, but before humans came to earth they existed on Tor'gyll with other magical creatures, including dragons, elves, dwarves and orcs.
* In a way, the civilization of ''Franchise/{{Metroid}}'' fits into this; the wonders of the Chozo have faded away to myth and stories, and from ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime'' it was shown the Chozo society was, despite their [[SufficientlyAdvancedAlien unmatchable technology]], one closer to that of a magical one, what with their prophecies and [[DemonicSpiders ghosts]]. Consider as well that there is Ridley, the last space dragon flying around, and as the games advance the amount of mythically focused things seems to go down, and you have this trope RecycledInSpace.
* In ''Videogame/DarkSoulsII'', true dragons are practically extinct. The Guardian Dragons in the Dragon Aerie are mere wyverns. There is only one true dragon present in the game [[spoiler:and there are hints that even that dragon might be a fake]]. The gods have suffered a similar fate. Barely any traces of their existence remain and even their names are long forgotten.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* ''Webcomic/CodenameHunter'' ''starts'' there. Then AllHellBreaksLoose.
* In ''Webcomic/TheGodsOfArrKelaan'', it is revealed that the Earth no longer has magic or gods outside the Christian faith because [[spoiler: for some reason all the magic power is running out of our galaxy, so they cannot even get to Earth without a VERY large outside source of energy, which the gods who started Christianity have. By the end of the stroyline they lose it though, so magic is completly gone.]]
* In ''Webcomic/ThePhoenixRequiem'', magic disappeared along with the Spirits. Now that the Spirits have shown signs of returning, people want the magic back. [[spoiler: Well, UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans...]]
* In ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob,'' dragons didn't die out, they just left Earth and went to live in outer space.
* In ''Webcomic/ImpureBlood'', there used to be Ancients, [[http://www.impurebloodwebcomic.com/Pages/Chapter005/ib025.html but even Roan's mother was only a half-blood]]. [[http://www.impurebloodwebcomic.com/Pages/Chapter005/ib026.html There used to be monsters that the Ancients fought, too.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In the backstory of ''WebVideo/SuburbanKnights'', magic once existed side by side with science. The gradual decline of magic started when the wizard Malecite challenged the alchemist Aeon in a duel and lost. Aeon's inventions laid the foundation of the world of science and technology as we know it today, while Malecite was forced to watch all magic fade away. Technically magic still exists, both in the backstories of most of the reviewers (though how canon to the specials those are is debatable) and in the movie itself. [[spoiler:It just is that using magic drains life force, unless one has the Hand of Malecite to protect them. In the commentaries Linkara lampshades this detail and {{handwave}}s his own painless use of magic by saying his hat protects him.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/SWATKats'' have had to fight supernatural villains on a few occasions. The modern skyscrapers of Megakat City are built on the ruins of a medieval citadel, from which strange things sometimes emerge... The presence of magic in the city's past is so well-known and well-studied that [[MundaneFantastic the cops are unsurprised when confronted with undead skeletons]] and the museum includes ancient spellbooks among its exhibits.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Look in any geology or paleontology book. Giant flying reptiles? Massive beasts trudging across the land? Horrid monsters lurking in the deep? Earth's distant past was one of these!
** Of course, plenty of modern creatures would be equally outlandish to one who had never encountered them. Huge beasts with one massive horn jutting from their face? Hairy man-beasts in the jungle? Feathered, flying lizards with clawed pincers instead of a face? Familiarity, as one palaeontologist has observed, breeds familiarity.
** It's also thought that the fossils left behind by these creatures may have inspired the legends of dragons and such in the first place.
*** Mammoth skulls found in Europe and the Mediterranean during the Iron Age are thought to have given rise to legends of the cyclops.
* On a more personal level, GrowingUpSucks. Suddenly, the world ''isn't'' always such a magical, wonderful place when there are bills to pay and chores to do.
-->"[[Music/PuffTheMagicDragon A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys. Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys...]]"
[[/folder]]
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