"The contrast between what preceded the funeral car and that which followed it was striking indeed. Before it went old Japan: after it came new Japan. New Japan quickly separated to the left and right and seated itself in the pavilions on either side. But old Japan had passed by and disappeared and we could only hear now and again the distant wail of the reed pipes. After that the long rites began."
— The New York Times, "The Funeral Ceremonies of Meiji Tenno"
There was a time our lives and the world were new and full of wonder
, when innocence and curiosity led people to explore, trust each other plainly, make amazing discoveries, invent amazing technologies, or simply make awe inspiring works of art.
It can be because we, or the world we are born into, have grown up
. It seems smaller by comparison, understandable; no longer mysterious, full of adventure and romance. Children can't grow up to be famous explorers if there are no new continents to explore (space or the deep sea floor being expensive future exceptions), and some works of art made with the expertise of long dead masters can never be truly replicated, whether sword or song. This is what the End Of An Age feels like: tragic
, cynical and full of loss.
There are many plots and stories that evoke this trope to add the bitter in a Bittersweet Ending
, or less commonly as something to be fought against in order to preserve the Age or at least the relics thereof.
If magic is involved, it becomes a case of The Magic Goes Away
. If it's technological, then Lost Technology
. And if it's religious, see either Death of the Old Gods
For the opposite where the age of wonders is just beginning
, see Dawn of an Era
. See also After the End
and Humanity's Wake
. Remnants of a past age may be kept in a Fantastic Nature Reserve
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Anime and Manga
- Throughout Lone Wolf and Cub, it's both expressed and strongly implied that Feudal Japan is about to come crashing down and that Itto is "the Last True Bushi."
- Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou shows the "age of the calm evening" before "the night of humanity". This is paralleled in Alpha's own development.
- The end of Legend of Galactic Heroes is the end of one era of human history.
- Many of the works by Miyazaki evoke this trope (Castle in the Sky, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke to name just three).
- Holo of Spice and Wolf decides to leave the villagers she helped because they say that they don't need a harvest god anymore. While she initially helped them by making the crops grow, she occasionally had to do the opposite to prevent the growing village from being struck by the Tragedy of the Commons, which made them resent her. In the first episode, before she leaves, we see her portrayed in the village harvest festivities as an oppressive force and a thief instead of as a wise benefactor.
- In the original light novels that progress past where the anime ends, this trope is made more explicit as Lawrence and Holo travel further northward towards her home. The old gods of nature that reigned before the rise of humans have been killed or forced to flee their homes by the Moon-Hunting Bear, the survivors quietly blending into human society. Even Holo admits late into the series that her kind's era is fading, though that doesn't mean she can't find a new life with Lawrence.
- One Piece. Several characters have different views of what exactly this "New Age" is about. For example, the Marines seem to think of it as an age where pirates are more ruthless than ever, whereas Trafalgar Law thinks of it as an age where the Marines' days are numbered. Eustass Kid seems to hold the belief that pirates are in an Evil Power Vacuum, dog-piling over each other to get at One Piece - not so much about being the Pirate King anymore.
- Urusei Yatsura had this in the third movie "Remember My Love". When Lum is kidnapped, all of the Oni leave Earth to find her. Eventually the character's lives return to those of normal teenagers; time even becomes unstuck and our characters advanced to 12th Grade. This is all wiped out, and the original timeline restored by the end of the movie.
- There are a handful of Axis Powers Hetalia fics that picture Nations at either the end of the world or their own "lifetimes." Whether it's peaceful, violent or tragic depends on the writer. But let's just say that they take it well...
- Sometimes, this can include the end of a particular era of their history. Such as the French Revolution or the final years of Austria-Hungary.
- In canon, England reflects on the loss of the British Empire, and France thinks about Joan of Arc and Napoleon as he's being defeated by Germany in WWII.
- In Keroro Gunsou, a flashback chapter revealed that shortly before Dororo reunited with his platoon mates, the denizens of the ninja village he had been living with (including his friend Koyuki) were forced to re-integrate with normal Japanese society after Japan's "department of ninjutsu" was disbanded.
- Humanity is going through this in Neon Genesis Evangelion. SEELE is trying to bring it to an end on purpose.
- Sailor Moon states that an unidentified length of time ago, the entire Solar System was ruled in peace by The Moon and its queen, and every planet was a utopia, in an era known as the Silver Millennium. Now, though, every planet but Earth is dead. (Sailor Moon does promise via Time Travel, though, that the future will be bright - and based in Tokyo.)
- The Big O's Paradigm City is a unique example in that the Golden Age was forcibly suppressed and all memories of that time were erased, thereby skipping the long decline. The result is a grungy, post-apocalyptic noir New York City in which the Lost Technology is memories and the occasional Black Box pops up in the form of giant robots, artificial stars, and advanced androids.
- The aliens of Tokyo Mew Mew see Earth as exactly this due to pollution.
- Partially pollution, and partially because these "aliens" are actually the original inhabitants of the planet, and want to know what the hell we humans are doing bumming around in their property.
- Scrapped Princess. Its entire premise revolves around an Ancient Conspiracy to restore the world from its (both physical and metaphorical) cage.
- Turn A Gundam has this as its distant backstory. They even have a name for it: The Black History. That backstory happens to be the entire Gundam franchise up to that point; Word of God adds in most later Gundam series to backstory.
- Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force shows the start of the end of the magic age for Lyrical Nanoha, with the Eclipse having Anti-Magic strong enough to actually obsolete magic and force the (re)introduction of physical weapons, unlike StrikerS where the heroines could simply power through it. However, the sheer amount of Fanon Discontinuity raises the question of whether this series will stay canonical, especially given its sudden "hiatus".
- Fairy Tail has this with the Tartaros arc. Nearly the entire Magic Council was assassinated, Acnologia kills Igneel, the other dragons are revealed to have already been killed by Acnologia, Zeref destroys Mard Geer permanently and makes off with the Book of E.N.D., the Fairy Tail guild hall, along with a good portion of Magnolia Town, was wrecked in the struggle and Makarov disbands the guild at the end of the arc.
- Crisis on Infinite Earths is about the end of the multiverse and the birth of the universe. Several other comics came out at the same time dealing with each hero's personal End of an Age:
- Alan Moore's Superman story "Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow" is about the end of the Silver Age Superman legend and all the myth surrounding him.
- Batman #400 is the last story of the pre-Crisis Batman, and ends with: "And so the night of resurrection nears its end, but when next he strides forth from this dark womb of bats... it all begins anew. 'Hello again. Beware... forever.'"
- One of the key themes at the heart of Batman: "The Long Halloween" is the mob and traditional criminals in general having to come to terms with their own increasing impotence as the age of flamboyant supercrime begins
- In a broader sense certain comic books are said to bring about the end of an age, Kingdom Come for instance is often cited as the end of the dark ages of comics.
- Even more common is to describe "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" (Amazing Spider-Man #121) as the story that marked the end of the Silver Age and the beginning of the Bronze Age of comic books.
- This is also the idea behind the Malibuverse comics. The superheros were Human Popsicles from the last "golden age" of men. Or demons. By the way, we are the tenth generation, while they were the ninth.
- Gold Digger - magic and magic users still exist but the age of magic is over and most magical beings retreated to other realms some time ago.
- Dracula Vs King Arthur ends with the Knights of the Round Table dead and Camelot in ruins after the war with Dracula. Arthur knew well before going into battle this was going to happen. And as a final request, rather then rebuilding the kingdom, that Excalibur and the Holy Grail be returned to the Lady of the Lake in hopes of his kingdom's subjects making their own future.
- In Earth 2, after Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman died fighting off the parademon invasion, the world considers the "Age of Wonders" to be over. Five years later, superheroes start to appear again.
- Final Crisis, from what this troper could gather is about the passing of the New Gods and the age of the Monitors, and the birth of the new-New Gods and the power of stories or something.
- The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck has this as an overarching theme. As Scrooge travels and learns from everyone he meets throughout the latter part of the 19th century, he is a witness to the end of the Frontier-era. The age of the riverboats end as the railroads take their place, the cattle barons time come to an end as the Great Plains are divided up into homesteads, the great gold rushes are at an end, and the Twilight of the Old West finally occurs in 1890, as the frontier is officially closed, America has been settled, and the great names of yesteryear passes into legend. Finally, Scrooge becomes part of legend himself as he participates in the last gold rush in Klondike, finally striking it rich at the top of the world.
- The Code Geass fic The First Servant, which takes place after Zero Requiem, chronicles not only the end of one era but also the events leading the end of another. Which involves Empress Nunnally's death and the final downfall of the Britannian Empire.
- The 1983: Doomsday Stories has this trope as one of the overarching themes. The world as we know it ended in 1983, with the remaining Nations doing their best coping with the new one taking its place. On the other hand, it's also treated as a Dawn of an Era: humanity's rebuilding, Survivor-Nations are finding their place in the brave new world and the pre-Doomsday Nations are coming to terms with their ultimate fate.
- In the Pony POV Series, the G2 world is shown to have been a Golden Age of pony civilization, surpassing even the modern day of G4/FIM (according to Luna, the ponies of that period had even landed on the moon, technology that the FIM ponies do not have). We've so far seen from two different perspectives — first from Celestia, and then from the main seven G2 ponies — how this period came crashing down when Discord's brother Destruction basically nuked the planet back to the Dark Ages in order to prevent the G3 world from coming into existence, thereby preventing the errors of that period from causing universal collapse.
- When the four first meet Grunnel in With Strings Attached, he speaks longingly of the good old days when monsters and Tayhil roamed around and the skahs happily slaughtered them. But the skahs were too efficient and killed everything off, and for the last ten years Baravada has been in the grip of the Rusting: there's nothing for the skahs to do any more, no one is breeding (though Grunnel doesn't talk about that), even the populated places are falling apart, and the gods won't do anything about it. The four have to fake being sympathetic, as they are Actual Pacifists and disgusted by Grunnel's joyous descriptions of piles of bodies. And later, they are not at all happy about inadvertently providing the means to reverse the Rusting. Though they do manage to prevent that.
- The subject matter of Eugenesis deals with the end of war on Cybertron, but there's hell to pay first.
- Legend of the Goddesses shows Celestia and Luna's childhood in a village populated entirely by alicorns, and that alicorns possess a Battle Aura which surrounds them at all times. Four hundred years later, for no adequately explained reason, alicorn birth rates have dropped, the males of the race are gone altogether, and so they're integrating with the other pony races, while those who do live no longer have auras, not even Celestia and Luna themselves.
- Played in Forrest Gump. Many have interpreted Jenny's death from a disease that might be AIDS as being symbolic of the death of the 1960s/1970s counterculture in the early 1980s.
- This was touched on in the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. In Dead Man's Chest, Cutler Beckett had a speech about how the world was changing and there would soon no longer be a place for pirates like Jack Sparrow. In At World's End, Sparrow and Barbossa had a similar conversation; the point gets driven home when they stumble upon the body of the Kraken.
Barbossa: The world used to be a bigger place.
Jack: The world's still the same. There's just less in it.
- There is an interpretation that the whole Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy deals with the end of the age of freedom and adventure in a symbolic kind of way.
- On Stranger Tides hammers the point home even more so with the Spanish destroying the Fountain of Youth at the end of the movie.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit? links the construction of the Pasadena Freeway to the end of old-timey Los Angeles culture, represented by The Golden Age of Animation come to life. For anyone who knows the history of LA, that was actually somewhat Truth in Television. It's the freeway that was a major factor in the basin's development and subsequent suburban sprawl. However, the freeway was actually built seven years before the film is set, making it strange that the very idea of a "freeway" is presented as a novel concept that everyone but Judge Doom thinks Will Never Catch On. Also, living cartoons never happened.
- The Last Samurai and The Hidden Blade are both about the end of the samurai age. In The Hidden Blade, an expert in western culture even teaches the samurai how to run in the "western style."
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country ends with the final mission of the original Enterprise and her crew. In a way, especially for fans, it was emphatically the end of an era. It also had The Federation finally make peace with their long-time arch-rivals, the Klingons, marking the end of the Cold War era in Real Life.
- The Wild Bunch is set in the Twilight of the Old West, with aging outlaws heading to Mexico and taking on One Last Job.
- The Last Days Of Disco. Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Downfall is about the end of World War 2 for the Germans as the Nazi fantasy world comes literally crashing down on their heads.
- The Serbian film Underground is about the dissolution of the united Yugoslavia, which the film mourns. Many critics did not appreciate the film's romanticizing of Tito's communist regime.
- The lightning strike to the clock tower in Back to the Future arguably represents the beginning of the eventual decline and decay of Hill Valley's town square. Or, in a broader sense, it perhaps symbolizes the end of America's 1950s post-war boom.
- It's largely only subtext in the film, but the novelization of Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf makes it clear that for the Norse people the dawning of the age of Christianity means the end of the age of myths and legends, something which Beowulf greatly resents.
Sam: The town will never be the same. After the Tangiers, the big corporations took it all over. Today, it looks like Disneyland. And while the kids play cardboard pirates, Mommy and Daddy drop the house payments and Junior's college money on the poker slots. In the old days, dealers knew your name, what you drank, what you played. Today, it's like checkin' into an airport. And if you order room service, you're lucky if you get it by Thursday. Today, it's all gone. You get a whale show up with four million in a suitcase, and some twenty-five-year-old hotel school kid is gonna want his Social Security Number. After the Teamsters got knocked out of the box, the corporations tore down practically every one of the old casinos. And where did the money come from to rebuild the pyramids? Junk bonds.
- One of the themes of the first Once Upon a Time in China, lamenting the fading of Kung Fu in the face of modern weapons. Particularly exemplified by Anti-Villain Master Yen.
- Dragonslayer. The end of magic and dragons, and the start of Christianity.
- Kung Fu Panda 2 has this as a theme of the story as the advent of the cannon threatens to make kung fu irrelevant and useless in battle. However, Po averts this spectacularly by discovering an effective kung fu Catch and Return technique to defeat cannon fire, making kung fu still a vital skill in battle that can counter artillery. Furthermore, Po rather casually makes it clear that he can teach his friends this technique, which means it will be spreading throughout China in due time.
- The Hungarian film Sunshine chronicles Hungary's fall from glory, from the upbeat optimism of the Habsburg Monarchy to the bleak and fatalistic 1956 Revolution against the Soviets.
- James Cameron's Titanic can arguably be this, especially for the viewpoint of the Present Day Rose.
- In the last segment of How the West Was Won ("The Outlaws") there's a running theme that the days of hot-shot gunslingers and train-robbing outlaws are almost at an end, with all the most famous examples of each having died already. The big showdown between Marshal Zeb Rawlings and outlaw Charlie Grant is portrayed as one of the last of its kind as the West loses its wildness.
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: ruminates on the twilight of the optimism of the 1960s in America. Johnny Depp says the famous "Wave Speech in voiceover while peering out a window.
- Boogie Nights deals with end the close-knitted 70s, 80s porn producing subculture and the rise of the open market porn industry. Little Bill, played by William H. Macy, appears in the 70s scenes, frequently complaining about his wife. However, at a New Year's Eve party, ushering in 1980, Little Bill shoots his wife dead, says "Happy New Year" to the shocked partygoers, and then shoots himself in front of them. The scene sets the tone for the grim, uncertain 1980s after the carefree, hedonistic 1970s.
- The Old Republic in the Star Wars universe, shown in its final stages of decline in the prequels. In the original film (A New Hope), Obi-Wan describes the good old days of the Jedi Knights to Luke.
- Sunset is about both the end of the Old West and the end of silent movies.
- A recurring motif in Ocean's Thirteen, various characters remark at different points at how the casinos and heists in Las Vegas have changed around them ("You're analog players in a digital world"). The changing of the times also divides the crooks of the setting between the heroic Gentlemen Thieves who abide by the codes, and the villain of the movie, who sees the modern Las Vegas as an excuse to betray it.
- The Boris Karloff movie Targets, both in terms of plot and production, marks the end of one age of the horror film, and the dawn of a new one.
- The Artist is set during the twilight of silent films and the emergence of talkies.
- Good Bye, Lenin!: The end of East Germany and, more broadly, the end of communism in Europe.
- In The Flintstones, Mr. Slate announces the passing of the Stone Age with the invention of concrete.
- All in one film, Pacific Rim covers the end of the Kaiju-free Earth, end of the Jaeger's golden age and lastly the end of the Kaiju era...perhaps.
- The downfall of New Hollywood is traced to the box-office success of Star Wars and the colossal failure of Heaven's Gate three years later.
- Apocalypto: The Mayan civilization is on its last legs, and the Spaniards arrive to the Americas.
- The final third of Into The Storm showcases the post-war period. It has a very melancholic feel to it, displaying the definitive end of the British Empire and the downfall of Winston Churchill and the sort of Imperialistic, larger-than life politician he represents
- Roger And Me: The film highlights the end of company towns and the businesses that promised lifetime employment, in favor of a more globalized, greed driven world.
Live Action TV
- The Blue Oyster Cult anthem Golden Age of Leather is about the last stand of old unrepentant Hell's Angels for whom the world has got too small, who choose to go out and die in a blaze of glory:
There passed from man to man/A wanton child, too dead to care,/ That each would find his pleasure as he might;/For that fantastic night was billed/As nothing less than the end of an age,/ A last crusade, a final outrage...
- Puff the Magic Dragon is about the end of childhood innocence and imagination, not pot.
- Ice-T's "Gotta Lotta Love" is about the Watts Truce ushering in an age of peace.
Woke up the other morning. I heard a rumor. They said the gang wars was over...
- The song "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles, which relates to the replacement of Radio as the national medium. In an interesting side note the music video was the first one to ever be played on MTV. In producer/composer Trevor Horn's own words, he felt that "an era was about to pass".
- Don Henley's "End of the Innocence" and "Boys of Summer".
- The Bruce Springsteen song The River is about a man who steadily has to give up his dreams and face the realities and responsibilities of life, with the eponymous river symbolic of those dreams.
But I remember us riding in my brother's car,/ Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir/ At night on them banks I'd lie awake and pull her close just to feel each breath she'd take./ Now those memories come back to haunt me/ They haunt me like a curse/ Is a dream a lie if it don't come true?/ Or is it something worse?
- The Golden Age of Hip Hop starting around the very late nineties into the early oughties.
- Kurt Cobain's suicide is considered to have ended the Grunge era.
- Grunge was still very much around after Cobain died. It just didn't last as long as it would have had Cobain lived. (Generally speaking, 1996 was the last year of grunge.)
- The rise of Punk Rock was the beginning of the end of Progressive Rock.
- The biggest symbol of the rise of the "teenybopper", meaning a separate class of people defined by teenagers moving away from their parents' culture, was the time when Frank Sinatra became the very first musical teen idol. Ol' Blue Eyes was the first music star to elicit screams from moonstruck teenaged girls, copious copying from teen boys eager to mimic their new idol, and disgust from the older generation toward the skinny Italian who was causing all this commotion. Sinatra's rise to fame thus marked the end of the era where there were no defined generations pop culturally speaking.
- The album Queen of the Wave depicts the downfall of Atlantis and the loss of their advanced knowledge, due to the Atlanteans' own corruption and the machinations of an evil wizard.
Mythology and Religion
- The Bible has several examples:
- The loss of a "Golden Age" in this case is the "fall of man", and being cursed with sin and death.
- Both destructions of Jerusalem are this for the Jews.
- Similar to Ovid, the Book of Daniel compares the four ancient empires around the Mediterranean (which reigned over the Israelites) area to metals: Babylon is gold, Media is silver, Persia is bronze, and Greece/Macedonia is iron.
- According to some interpretations, inverted in Revelation, where the result of the Final Battle between God and Satan will result in the Dawn of an Era that restores humanity to its former glory.
- Dharmic religions (mainly, but not limited to, Hinduism and Buddhism) has the Wheel of Time, with ages beginning and ending in perpetuity like the seasons. An age typically come to an end due to evilness (World Half Full or goodness) of men have exceeded the threshold of that age. Sages usually see the current age as part of a long decline in morality, and claim that the old time was better, but the better time had to go because people lost righteousness and began to misrule the world. With the ending of the age of wisdom, people also lost superhuman powers, lifespan, and the capacity for morality.
- The Trojan War is often believed to be the event that put an end to the Heroic Age of Classical Mythology.
- Shadowrun by FASA adapted the idea of different Worlds or Cycles from the Mayan calendar. The Sixth World started in 2011 with the renewed rise of magic (our own magicless world was the Fifth Age), but there had been previous ages, many thousands of years ago, where magic was far stronger, strong enough that everyone could do magic and Horrors from Another Dimension had broken through and walked the Earth. This was the setting of Earthdawn, another Tabletop RPG by FASA.
- Later, they expanded this concept into the future, with a new RPG set in the Eighth World.
- Exalted is another Tabletop RPG example. The world had an incredibly advanced state of magical technology in the First Age, when the godlike Solars ruled over everything. Then their servants rebelled, replacing their system with the less-advanced Shogunate. Unable to maintain the Solars' technology, they've slowly lapsed into more and more primitive societies, aided by a massive plague and an invasion of the chaos beyond the boundaries of reality.
- Of course the First Age takes place directly after the Primordial War, which culminated in the Three Spheres Cataclysm, which retgoned nine-tenths of Creation right down to erasing existential concepts and possibilities. Those outside Creation at the time (Fair Folk, etc.) describe the High First Age as a "tiny, burnt-out remnant" of what Creation used to be.
- The exact principles behind the decline are detailed here.
- Besides, the present Second Age is basically Celestial Exalted - free. Which are, to remind, powers to topple gods and primordials. So by generating a Solar (or Lunar, Infernal and whatever else splat you fancy) for a campaign you are heralding the end of said Second Age, right here.
- Most of White Wolf's earlier RPG, the Old World of Darkness, had a sense of Gotterdammerung. For instance, Mage: The Ascension had a group of magi called The Technocracy using the power of belief to erase the fantastic from existence. Changeling The Dreaming was probably the worst, though; the period of fae influence on the Earth was described in terms of seasons, from "Spring", when myth was vivid and the fae interacted fully with humans, to "Winter", when the Dreaming is mostly cut off from Earth and everything fantastical withers and dies. And most of the game takes place in Autumn...
- And now, in Mage: The Awakening, we have the fact that, in the time before history, there was a great civilization of all-powerful mages (Atlantis) who, through their hubris, brought about the creation of the Abyss (a great gulf of anti-reality between this world and the higher "Supernal" world), which led to the destruction of Atlantis, the scattering of mages, the loss of much magical lore and artifacts, and the general weakening of magic. Things have been getting worse ever since.
- Similarly, in Werewolf: The Forsaken the Uratha believe the Material World and the Spirit World used to be one, until the death of their great ancestor Father Wolf tore it apart. Despite not technically being a "paradise" (depending on who you ask), the general consensus seems to be that everyone's worse off for it.
- Vampire: The Requiem has its own example in the Camarilla, the vampiric government of the Roman Empire. It wasn't perfect, but it was the one time when there was an overreaching body of vampiric politics that oversaw the span of the "known world"... and it fell when Rome did, making modern vampiric politics almost entirely local with occasional feuds between covenants.
- Vampire: The Masquerade: Enoch, the First City, where vampires and humans coexisted.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse lore states that the Weaver, the Wyrm and the Wyld worked in harmony at one point until the Weaver ensnared the Wyrm and the latter went mad and hellbent on destroying the world from within.
- Demon The Fallen: the titular Fallen know that they were better off before...erm, the Fall. To the best of their less-then-perfect memory, everyone else around was better off, too.
- Ironically, the fact that every other splat's having its Dark Age makes now the Golden Age for Hunters. They might not readily agree, but imagine them trying vampire hunt in Enoch or witch hunt in Atlantis, and you get the idea.
- Naturally, this trope is seen in Dungeons & Dragons:
- Eberron featured the imperfect but relatively idyllic continent-spanning (in theory) Kingdom of Galifar, which allowed slow yet steady improvements in sapient rights, Magitek, concepts of justice, and educational standards... until finally an ascension dispute broke out and the five provinces collapsed into over a dozen warring states over the course of a hundred years. When the dust finally cleared, nationalism, distrust, and cynicism ran high. Many of Galifar's achievements remained, but not the optimistic outlook that allowed them in the first place. For those not paying attention, it's World War One in fantasy-land.
- In Forgotten Realms, ancient Netheril was a highly developed magocracy where even servants used minor magics, Magitek was used routinely and most main cities were made of mountaintops cut off, overturned and enchanted to float. When all magic across the world "turned off" for a short while, the empire fell — literally. The same event damaged the 'Weave' which supports all magic on Toril, so the goddess who guards it curtailed access to prevent more damage and the greatest spells of old Netheril just don't work anymore. Now even their minor artifacts are guarded jealously by new owners.
- Also, subverted by the epoch of Myth Dranor. It's known as a lost Golden Age (magical Renaissance and goodwill festival). But with all its wonders, it wasn't completely idyllic, nor was its technology absolutely superior — for example, some Myth Drannan magic items are vulnerable to explosive overload, while modern counterparts aren't. As well, the end of the age led to a proliferation of the arts.
- The default "Points of Light" setting of 4th Edition takes place 100 years after the collapse of Nerath, the last great human empire. Towns and villages are pretty much states unto themselves and there's no central government, so the heroes are usually all that stand between a community and the dangers of the wilderness. The history of the setting also has other collapsed empires, making the rise and fall of nations cyclical.
- In Magic: The Gathering, the Time Spiral block concluded with almost all of the original, godlike planeswalkers dying or becoming human to save The Multiverse, and more limited, mortal planeswalkers rising to take their place.
- Warhammer 40,000 has the Dark (or Golden, if you ask the Adeptus Mechanicus) Age of Technology, when mankind first colonised other planets and created amazing technological advancements. Most of the fanciest stuff used by the Imperium are barely-understood and often nearly irreplaceable relics of this time.
- The general underlying theme of humanity in 40k is that it is doomed to die a long, slow death from not only its own beliefs but also the vast hordes of unimaginably strong aliens, traitors and daemons. But that is very far away and right now has lots of explosions and chainsaws.
- The Eldar are no better off - most of their greatest achievements came before the Fall. It's unclear in their case, however, how much this comes from loss of knowledge or lack of the resources required to put that knowledge to use. The Eldar are rather deep into this twilight. The only real consolation that the Eldar have is the growing strength of a new god to replace their dead pantheon, a god of the dead that grows stronger with each slain Eldar. Essentially, he will reach such great power when the last Eldar dies that he will be able to kill Slaanesh... but all the Eldar will still be dead.
- Gamma World D20, the Darker and Edgier version of the setting, has some feel of this. Humanity had advanced science to an incredible degree, with robotics, bio-tech, genetic engineering and nanotechnology not merely possible, but commercially available — that's right, you could create your own life-form in your living room, and do it legally. Then came the catastrophe, and, well, most people barely know how to build crossbows and forge swords, or maintain old-fashion slug-thrower type guns, never-mind create technology that manipulates matter on the atomic level, maintain robots with human (or greater) levels of intelligence, or design whole new lifeforms from scratch.
- Witchcraft's future iteration Armageddon deals with...well, Armageddon. Though instead of what everyone expected (The Old Gods vs. the Fallen Angels vs. The Heavenly Host with mortal and immortal creature caught between them), an Eldritch Abomination came in and waged war on everyone—and it's winning, forcing the groups to team up or die.
- "Secrets Of The Third Reich" has this as a backdrop for the setting. Albeit the world is slowly turning more and more into this as WWII drags on and on.
- A heartbreaking moment towards the end of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The main characters realize that as thrilling and exciting as their adventures and lifestyles were, they have to accept the fact that they're over and they need to move on. Or do they? The show ends on a high note.
[We] must accept the con is done,
But now and then you may recall,
the moments when you had it all.
You had the charm, you had the talent—
and by god, you had some fun.
It was a ball, it was a blast,
and it's a shame it couldn't last,
but every chapters got to end you must agree!
- Spring Awakening is this in spades.
- Richard Wagner's opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen chronicles the end of an age. In Das Rheingold Wotan is warned that a dark day is dawning for the gods. By the end of Siegfried, Wotan's power has been broken by the destruction of his spear and also the last of the giants is dead. In Götterdämmerung the gods are finally destroyed, the dwarf Alberich who made the ring of power can only appear in his son's dreams and the ring itself is cleansed by fire and returned to the Rhine from which it came. Humanity are left alone in the world to make their own fate free of the corruption of supernatural beings.
- The end of Tales of Vesperia had the protagonists forced to destroy all blastia, a material people are dependent on for magic and everyday life, in order to prevent the world's destruction. However, the tradeoff is that they create Mana and Summon Spirits.
- Several of the Final Fantasy games:
- Final Fantasy VI ends with the death of the last Espers and the fading of magic... not to mention the entire world being a scarred ruin of what it used to be, although that happened at the game's halfway point.
- Final Fantasy X ends with the end of the thousand-year oppression of Sin. While on the whole this was a very good thing, as people didn't have to worry about their towns being wiped out if they exhibited too much technological advancement (or sometimes just at random), the Fayth had to sacrifice themselves to allow this to happen, meaning the powerful magic of summoning was lost forever.
- Final Fantasy XII saw the end of the rule of its so-called "gods" Occuria. This left mankind able to determine their destiny from now on. Strangely enough, it was the goal of the Big Bad all along, and he succeeded.
- Final Fantasy XIII sees the end of the fal'Cie, who had ruled over Cocoon for a very long time. Like the above examples, this too left humanity free from supernatural forces. While it should have meant the end of magic since only l'Cie could cast magic, the sequel, Final Fantasy XIII-2 may prove this to not be the case.
- XIII-2 results in the destruction of Pulse. XIII-3 results in the destruction of BELHEUZE. Which is even more epic than the first two games combined.
- After the hero defeats Typhon in Titan Quest, all the greek gods (and presumably the egyptian and chinese too) leave the world behind, ending the age of gods... and beginning the age of man.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion takes place at the end of the Third Age and start of the Fourth. Though the game ended on a somewhat hopeful note, background revealed of the years following the events of Oblivion shows that the end of the Septim line and the death of the Tribunal in the earlier Morrowind made way for a time of increased strife, the destruction of Morrowind, and the collapse of the Empire.
- Morrowind has shades of this. The age of the Tribunal is over, with Almalexia going crazy, Sotha Sil dead and their power slowly fading away.
- A smaller example of this can be found in the DLC Dragonborn. On Solstheim, there is only one silt strider remaining. It's caretaker explains that when Red Mountain exploded, almost all of them were wiped out. Now, they are extremely rare and the one the player encounters is one that happened to be discovered by chance, protected in a cave and is now dying of old age. For players used to Morrowind and the almost ubiquitous use of silt striders as a form of transportation, this can come as a huge shock.
- Red Dead Redemption takes place in 1911, in the final years of the Wild West. The encroachment of Federal control is a major theme in the third act. All of which is foreshadowed during the opening cinematic, when John Marston gets off a ferry at the same time as a brand-new automobile is being unloadednote , before he boards a train, all in order to reach a place where horses are still the primary means of transport.
- In God of War, Kratos personally ends the reign of the Greek pantheon.
- Behind the cheery cartoony graphics, this was the theme of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker- the end of the era of the war between Hyrule and Ganondorf, with both of them in the end lying crumbling and forgotten, slowly eroding to nothing by the unending force of the waves, all their magic departed and memory forgotten.
- Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army takes place during the time period where Japan was furiously modernizing into the 20th century, yet hadn't left behind the old world yet completely. This gives the game a very unique flavor and appearance. There's one important mission involving a vengeful rickshaw puller who's out of work because of automobiles, for a start.
- In the trailer for Dragon Age II, Flemeth mentions that those who face destiny head on and seize control of it are the ones who change the world forever. By the end of the game, Hawke's personal rise to power and the choices he/she makes do change the status quo. For better or for worse, the uneasy stalemate between Mages and those who would suppress them has been shattered by Hawke's actions, and the world stands on the edge of ruin or a new age.
- In Lunar: The Silver Star, it is declared at the game's finale that the age of magic has ended and shall be replaced with an era of technological advancement. Make way for Steam Punk! The sequel reveals that a thousand years later magic is still around, but fewer people can use it and it has to coexist with advanced technology instead of being the dominant power in the world.
- Phantasy Star II: At The End Of The Lost Age. The subtitle is not just for show. At the end of the game, Mother Brain has been destroyed, destroying the technological civilization of the Algo system and sending Mota into a technological dark age. As for Palm, the throneworld of the system? It went away in the middle of the game.
- Fallout: New Vegas shows that the world of Fallout (at least in the west coast) is no longer a radioactive Scavenger World, but starting to rebuild itself into a new civilization.
- Arcade Gannon's companion quest takes this in a different direction. It shows the Enclave Remnants, a retirement-age squad of former Enclave soldiers. The Enclave were the Big Bad of Fallout 2 and Fallout 3, and were, quoth Arcade, "a Fascist paramilitary organization." They were also the descendants of the pre-war United States government and elites, and considered themselves the last vestige of real America. Orion Moreno tells the story of the evacuation of Navarro, the last Enclave base, a few years after the destruction of the main off-shore base that ends Fallout 2, saying, "Kiss America goodbye, boys and girls." And it's true; the Enclave are the last organization that existed before the nuclear war, even if they did so in secret.
- Pretty much the standard ending of the World of Mana series is the destruction of the Mana Tree and the loss of the world's magic, until the new Tree (grown from the ruins of the old) is ready (in about a millennium or so).
- This is universally presented as a good thing, or at least preferable to the alternative. With the exception of Secret of Mana, aka Secret of Mana.
- In addition, Legend of Mana eventually reveals the artificer's purpose: the revival of the Mana Tree. Complicated somewhat by the fact that the previous Mana Tree burned to ash as an indirect result of the Mana Goddess being unable to contain her Super-Powered Evil Side.
- Might and Magic 7 reveals that the Silence mentioned throughout this and the previous game was exactly this, if you complete the "good" path.
- Might and Magic 6 and 8 makes it clear that a) this was closer to a full-blown After the End, although with some added disasters thrown in to help it to that state, and b), this happened to many, many more worlds than just this one.
- Touhou: Gensokyo is a last-ditch attempt to preserve the existence of the supernaturals. The supernaturals begin to fade from this world as technology arose and humankind no longer believe in the fantastic. This theme is played heavily in Touhou 10: Mountain of Faith.
- In the manga Wild And Horned Hermit, the subject is brought up again. Even within Gensokyo, the old ways are starting to fade. Youkai are starting to no longer be feared, unknown entities, but are acting more like occasionally dangerous eccentrics.
- The storyline of Chrono Trigger features this. A long time ago, there was the Kingdom of Zeal, inhabited by people with incredible knowledge and powers, and all of this is absent in all subsequent epochs.
- Dwarf Fortress starts with a golden age of legends, which gradually gets worse as great civilizations are destroyed by such disasters as carp, kamikaze elves, overpopulation of cats, nobles,...
- Development marches on — as early as .14, it takes the efforts of Fortresses and Adventurers to go from Age of Myth to Age of Legends, and then to Age of Heroes, an effort which involves slaying the humungous rampaging beasts. v.21 introduced a class of Night Beasts to be slain before all fantastical creatures could be considered extinct.
- The Golden Sun series has this, done on purpose by mankind. The two major options are a world brimming full of magical alchemy but with the potential of evil people going on a dictator spree, or cutting off the source of alchemy which results in the world slowly dying over the course of millenia.
- Evolution: The World of Sacred Device as set in a world where humanity was only just reaching modern-day standards however there were ruins left behind with powerful artifacts remaining. A couple of the characters wield said devices as weapons.
- The sequel elaborates. And by elaborates, we mean reveals that Linear is one half of the instruments that wiped the previous civilization out, and the other half has just convinced her to come along to do it all over again. The Power of Love prevents this.
- Skies of Arcadia had six ancient civilizations which were all nearly wiped out in a massive meteor storm. One of those civilizations were Abusive Precursors. The Big Bad's goal is to harness that power and bring an end to the current era.
- Suikoden series had the Sindar, a highly advanced civilization that has ruins left all over the world. Not much is known about them, or why they fell.
- The legends say that their leader was the bearer of a True Rune, the Rune of Change, which compelled them constantly abandon their civilization and reestablish it elsewhere, hence the ubiquity of Sindar ruins. Which might mean that the Sindar still exist somewhere, but unless Konami revives the series we'll never find out.
- The collapse of EVE Online's titular Eve Gate, a reinforcing mechanism to a naturally occurring wormhole between two galaxies, caused one in the game's backstory. It has been at least 10000 years since then, and the various empires formed from the colonists stranded in New Eden are only now starting to get back up to tech levels remotely approaching what they had before. note
- The backstory of Arcanum has both magic and technology being far more powerful 2000 years ago, in the time called the Age of Legends. In the present, Arcanum is undergoing an industrial revolution which is clashing with its history that was largely ruled by magic over the millenia. The two being fundamentally incompatible isn't helping matters.
- Ys, the seemingly trendful paradise, pulled from the height of its prosperity into the abyss of infinite isolation. How could such a land simply vanish from the face of the earth?"
- The real Gotterdammerung in that series happened when the Eldeen civilization got submerged in water due to humans' trying to control Weather Control Machine for their own ends. Comparatively, the titular Ys was a minor case as it was a small empire built by the two survivors of the Eldeen civilization with the power of the Black Pearl.
- Fate/stay night shows this, as the power behind her basic spells used by the servant Caster (who lived in the Age of Gods from the Ancient Greek legends) would take a modern-day magi around a month of to accomplish, and her multi-word spells are seen as bordering 'True Sorcery' or a miracle. She casts in one word spells that would take an excellent magus around a full minute of casting.
- On the other hand, what counted as a True Magic in her day is now common practice as the science of magecraft has advanced. There are less magicians now simply because people have been discovering the principles behind the old Magics and reproducing them. As such, it's actually a bit of a trade off because the likes of Caster could not hope to really match someone like Zelretch and his... well, Zelretch Kaleidoscope/Sword. In fact, Caster appears amazed at the sheer potential Sakura possesses in Fate/hollow ataraxia. The verdict? Caster is a cheater for being able to use her divine casting language.
- It should be noted in the Nasuverse, while magic has steadily decreased in power, magical creatures have NOT. Vampires, in fact, tend to get much more powerful (but much less sane) with age. The most powerful of the Dead Apostle Ancestors are by no coincidence also the oldest.
- Vandal Hearts mentions an ancient, technologically advanced civilization in passing, that's where the train comes from. Vandal Hearts II's world is actually a post apocalyptic wasteland.
- In World of Warcraft, at the end of the Cataclysm expansion, the Dragon Aspects tell you that they have forfeited their powers in their efforts to destroy Deathwing, and now walk among you as (sterile) mortals.
- Mass Effect 3 has this trope connected with Dawn of an Era. The game consists of Shepard cleaning house and tying up all kinds of galactic-scale loose ends in preparation for the final battle. It's possible to cure the thousand-year Depopulation Bomb inflicted on the krogan, and the centuries-long animosity between the quarians and the geth will come to a head one way or another. But all possible endings involve the destruction / disabling of the entire mass relay network, and potentially most of the other advanced tech as well, pushing the galaxy into a new dark age.
- The extended endings add a more hopeful note, the implication being that galactic civilization eventually restores what was lost and this time they don't have to worry about the Reapers anymore.
- Asura's Wrath Has the final ending VIA DLC be the end of an Era for the Shinkoku Race.
- Some of the entries in the Total War series involve the end of certain eras in history, whether it's the twilight of Rome in Barbarian Invasion or the Meiji Restoration in Fall of the Samurai.
- This seems to be a running theme in Grand Theft Auto IV and one of its sidestories. Most of Niko Bellic's employers are either dead or in prison by the end of the game, and he is told repeatedly that with the feds closing in, organized crime as they know it is on its last legs. "The Lost and Damned" sees the dissolution of the Lost MC, and hardcore, all-American biker gangs in general.
- The apocalyptic Terran/Argon war in X3: Albion Prelude caused the Ancients to shut down the X-Universe's gate system to prevent the races from wiping each other with artificially intelligent warships (also because the war was diverting forces that had previously kept the wild AI race, the Xenon, in check; the Ancients specifically called it a firebreak). They did not do so lightly, knowing full well that the shutdown would and did effectively destroy galactic civilization, isolating every colony and all the races from each other, including allies. X Rebirth takes place several decades later, and things still haven't gotten better for most systems, with the hulks of the warships from the war being used as power sources by isolated colonies.
- In Dark Souls, the Age of Flame was brought about by the Lord Soul's triumph over the dragons, and is currently fading into nothingness. The player's mission, eventually, is to Link the First Flame and allow the age to continue. If the serpent Kaathe is to be believed, this is to the detriment of mankind as a whole, as Lord Gwyn's torturous and futile persistence as the fuel of the flame is delaying the Age of Dark, which might be mankind's golden age, to the benefit of the gods. Upon defeating Gwyn, the player may choose to take his place and prolong the Flame for a while longer or begin the Age of Dark.
- Transformers: War for Cybertron sees the collapse of Cybertronian society as Megatron assassinates Sentinel Prime and corrupts the planet, forcing most of the population to flee to outer space.
- Shown in detail in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, which basically consists of rats biting each other as they flee a sinking ship. The transformers have gone from immortal masters of technology to another pack of violent refugees.
- The entirety of Total War Shogun 2 : Fall of the Samurai is the end of the samurai reign in Japan, as Westernization marches in and the old ways are no longer viable in facing the foreign threats. Bye bye swords, welcome Gatling guns. You can be one of the Shogunate clans and try to preserve the regime, but no matter how you achieve that, the old days are over. See also the Japan entry in the Real Life, below.
- You can take this Up to Eleven— you can declare that Japan doesn't need either Shogun nor Emperor, and turn the land ruled by your clan into an independent Republic. Be prepared for the onslaught, though. Historically, only Satsuma Domain and Republic of Ezo attempted it. They ended very badly.
- In the Medieval II: Americas expansion, this is a subtle overlying theme if you play as one of the Mesoamerican factions, like the Aztecs or the Mayans. You could completely change history and prevent European colonisation, but things definitely wouldn't be the same for these factions ever again...
- Fable The Journey marks the end of the Heroic bloodlines and with them the Age of Heroes. However, Gabriel's victory over the Corrupter heralds the dawn of a new age where heroes are not born, but made.
- In Yosh, the magic in the world was sealed away in the distant past after the Magi abused it and were beaten down by a unique individual who was completely immune to magic. The story begins in a world that looks much like our own, a few years after some of the sealed magic was released, causing a world-spanning magical event. The results of that event include Cat Girls, Talking Animals, and Functional Magic, among other things.
- In Linburger, the Cyll were once were the typical Our Elves Are Better, with long lives and high class. Unfortunately, some strange, catalclysmic event happened in the distant past, stripping the Cyll of their long lives, and now they live in slums with the other Demi Human races.
- Open Blue's Back Story has the Iormunean Imperium, precursors (based on the Roman Empire) who were more or less the greatest civilization in the world... until they turned a blind eye to some heretics, causing their goddes to turn her back on them while they were in the middle of a war against invading barbarians.
- The first two years of The Questport Chronicles take place in the millennia-old eponymous village. Then a jealous magician destroys the village, and the next two years of the Chronicles are concerned with the survivors searching for a new home.
- To Boldly Flee discusses a lot how internet criticism is one day going to die, but in the end this is seen as cynical nonsense while "we're a family" wins out.
- Spoofed in an episode of The Simpsons where a couple of hippies say that the 60s ended the day they sold their VW Bus — December 31, 1969.
- The Aardman Animations short Stage Fright is about a stage performer struggling to get by as his assistant leaves to star in moving pictures.
- This is a major theme in The Illusionist (2010) as nobody wants to see stage magicians anymore and nobody believes in magic.
- In the Peter Pan & the Pirates episode "First Encounter", Peter said that when he cut off Hook's hand (illustrated by a Scream Discretion Shot), things in Neverland would never be the same again.
- Adventure Time could be thought of as a sort of inversion; the Age that ended to become the world seen in the show is actually modern Earth. When the apocalypse happened, it apparently led to the introduction of several new species, magic, and adventure (making it seem the more wondrous of the two). But yet, episodes dealing with the setting's past give it a nostalgic and tragic feel. The end of one episode set 1000 years in the future reveals that the Candy Kingdom will share this fate.
- In The Legend of Korra, it's made clear in the second season that people are becoming increasingly less connected with the spirit world then they were in the original series, though the modernization of the setting has led to breakthroughs in technology, such as automobiles, radios, telephones, etc., making it somewhat bittersweet.
- The second season ends another era, with the spirit world no longer separated from the human world, and the Avatar losing her memories of the Avatars before Korra. Quite the change.
Dark Ages, Warring States
- One of the earliest examples of this would be the meteorite collision that ended the Mesozoic era, and hence the extinction of the dinosaurs.
- The ending of the Paleozoic thanks to the Great Dying is an even earlier example.
- And a bit more than two billion years before that, the "Oxygen Catastrophe" marked the extinction of most anaerobic organisms as oxygen first became a significant part of Earth's atmosphere.
- The end of the Paleolithic Ice Age for a number of reasons. First was the extinction of most of the world's megafauna. Many large mammals that were once common throughout the world went extinct completely or were reduced to a handful of surviving examples (ex: rhinoceros used to live in almost every continent save Antarctica, South America and Australia, now they are only found in Africa and parts of Asia). The second was that human beings evolved and rose to become the dominant species on the planet. This could be seen as either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your personal view.
- After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Europe was cast into the Dark Age, and large parts of Roman technology and culture were forgotten. Of course, sixth-century Europeans didn't see themselves as being in a Dark Age, and many may have been very happy not to be on the business end of Roman imperialism any longer. Also, "Dark Age" in this context doesn't necessarily refer to the standard of living at the time but rather the fact that we're "in the dark" about a lot of what went on then due to a dearth of contemporary writings. Nowadays most historians refer to this time period as the Early Middle Ages to avoid the connotations of the word "dark."
- After about four centuries of Han dynasty note rule, in the 3rd century AD the slow disintegration of the first long-lived empire to dominate all of China was punctuated by a coalition of nations south of the Yellow River effectively declaring themselves independent as new states. The fighting eventually ground to a halt as everyone went broke and had to sue for peace, splitting the empire into three de facto countries whose Emperors each claimed to be the sole legitimate heir (aka the 'Three Kingdoms' era). It would be several centuries before the Sui, and their almost immediate successors the Tang, managed to reunify all former Han territory, a difficult task in particular due to somewhat chaotic post-Han migration undermining the old ethnic status quo of the region.
- The destruction of Baghdad in 1258 at the hands of the Mongols ended the Islamic Golden Age, which had probably ended by the time of the crusades in most places, but probably continued on in Baghdad. Although Islam had been declining in relative power for quite some time in most areas (thanks to the Crusaders, Mongols, and the Reconquista in Spain and Portugal), it wasn't until Baghdad was utterly destroyed that Islam's decline really set in. The city of Baghdad was razed, the greatest center of Islamic learning was destroyed, and more people died in that city than (possibly) in the destruction of any other up to that point in time. Losing these centers of learning crippled the progress of Islam. How bad was it? For the next 700 years (roughly), Islam retreated into a rigid state, held back by antique tradition, and going from a relatively tolerant religion into the repressive mess seen today. After Baghdad fell, the momentum of Islam shifted from the Arabs to the Turks, whose Ottoman Empire kept the Middle East in stasis, while Europe would go through the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and advance in every human field. It is only today that (possibly), Arab and Islamic countries are starting to adapt to international standards, and with great resistance from dictators, terrorists, and religious fanatics.
- Ottoman Empire was not all that bad. It put gunpowder into effective use (the reason we have Istanbul Not Constantinople) and it ruled the Mediterranean Sea for centuries. Its decline was caused by influx of gold and other resources from the Americas by the Christian colonialists.
- Losing the second of three Islamic intellectual centers was a hideous blow to the Muslim world, especially when one considers that the first intellectual center to be lost, Cordoba, was reconquered by the Christians, and the last, Cairo, never recovered from the bubonic plague until modern times.
- On the other hand, the Mongol then converted to Islam and started their own brand of Islamic civilizations.
- The Battle of Crécy as part of The Hundred Years War is considered to be the beginning of the end of classic chivalry. Knights on both sides were part of the old warrior nobility of Europe, but the English longbowmen beat them both, having been training weekly with one of the most powerful but difficult-to-master weapons in history for at least a century before the war began. And knights, particularly French knights, were notoriously impetuous, and several battles in history were lost due to undisciplined, glory-hungry knights insisting on being the first into battle. As such, the English forces led by Edward III and Edward the Black Prince defeated the French forces of Philip VI despite being outnumbered at least 4 to 1. And after the battle, peasants even killed the incapacitated knights.
Early Modern (15th-18th Century)
- The abandonment of the Congress of Mantua's planned crusade against the Turks before it had even begun at Ancona in 1464 is considered to mark the final death of the temporal power of the Papacy over the Princes of Europe. Envisaged by Pope Pius II as a grand final crusade, creating a United Europe to fight and finally annihilate Christendom's common enemy, Islam, the "paper crusade" was ignored by almost every European power of note. When the miserable Crusade fleet, a tiny flotilla of barely seaworthy Italian warships, finally sailed into Ancona, the elderly Pope crossed the Despair Event Horizon and died two days later. The Vatican's power was never quite the same.
- The capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453 marked the end of The Middle Ages, and it was also the final defeat of the Roman Empire that had been in existence for almost two thousand years. By then, the Empire was just The Remnant, but the defeat sent shockwaves through Christendom. The fifteenth century also brought the flowering of the Italian Renaissance, and the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation that ended the religious dominance of the Catholic Church in Western Europe.
- Of course this is a highly contentious issue - for others the End of The Middle Ages is marked not by the fall of Constantinople, but by Columbus' first voyage (1492) or Luther's Reformation. And from a Greek-Byzantine point of view there were no Middle Ages, the fall of Constantinople marking the end of antiquity. To a large extent, "The Middle Ages" is a construct of snooty Renaissance writers badmouthing their antecedents. In the view of many (social) historians, the Middle Ages went on until the 18th century in many respects throughout large parts of Europe.
- 1453 also signaled the end of the Hundred Years War, which meant the end of the English dream of taking the French throne (and uniting both crowns).
- The Wars of the Roses, which went down just two years after the above happened and would not end until 1485, spelled the end of the age of feudalism in England.
- In 1492, a mediocre sailor named Christopher Columbus led three ships across the Atlantic in an attempt to reach China and India. What they found was something different, and what happened next was nothing short of The End of the World as We Know It for Native Americans. European diseases spread far in advance of European settlers, killing up to 90% of the Indians infected (estimates for the number of Indians killed by disease at the time exceed ten million). When the Europeans themselves followed, the results were no less tragic, with widespread pillaging, forced conversions, and genocide. Thousands of years of Native American civilization, including two of the mightiest empires the world had ever known, were destroyed in less than a century, leading to the concept of Indians as backwards primitives.
- While not less dramatic, the treatment of the Amerindians was something that varied between the areas of influence of either European power: in the Spanish kingdoms, there were laws to protect the Amerindians from the abuse that the original Conquistadores and their descendents made them suffer (how much were these laws enforced varied between the continent) and actively required the assistance of the native nobility and a sort of respect towards the works of the original populations; the Portuguese and the French, although as not as active as the Spaniards, allowed native populations to be integrated to their territories; on the other hand, the English colonists actually argued that because the Amerindians that lived in their borders had not reached the cultural and technical level of either the Aztecs or the Incas, they couldn't become part of the colonial system. In short, if you were a native and lived in a Catholic zone of influence, your chances of living were better than in the Protestant zone of influence.
- There are two points at which the Sengoku Jidai are said to have ended. The first is the official point, the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, where the forces of Tokugawa Ieyasu defeated those of Ishida Mitsunari. Despite some resistance beyond the battle, the Sengoku period is usually declared to be over after this by most historians. The other is more symbolic, the Battle of Nagashino twenty five years prior, where Oda Nobunaga destroyed the famed Takeda clan cavalry by using European arquebus in rotating volumes of fire. Guns had been used before this battle, but the tactics used by Nobunaga kick-started an arms race and forever altered the Japanese attitude towards warfare. Both are seen as the point when the traditional age of Samurai engaging in honorable single combat, Ronin wandering aimlessly from town-to-town and the political plotting of the daimyo ended. Often viewed in the same light as the declared end of the Western frontier in American culture.
- The Golden Age of Piracy ended in the early 18th century, with the passage of the Treaty of Utrecht and the rise of conscript armies.
- Though technically in the 19th century, British historians consider the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 to mark the end of "The Long 18th century," a period lasting 127 years from the Glorious Revolution in 1688 (when Protestant monarchy in the United Kingdom was restored) to 1815. This period was characterized mainly by Enlightened Monarchs, who while remaining absolute autocrats and fighting wars with each other, nevertheless upheld ideals of the Enlightenment such as rationalism, freedom of the press, religious tolerance, and advances in the arts and sciences. These ideals would eventually lead to the upheavals of the American and French Revolutions and the rise and fall of the First French Empire. The period afterward was characterized mainly by the dominance of the British Empire in European affairs, which itself would end with the First World War.
- The Napoleonic Wars could themselves be considered an end of an era. For about the previous 150 years, warfare, while bloody, was conducted by relatively small armies led by nobles for relatively small gains. By the late 18th century it had become almost ritualistic. The Napoleonic Wars threw all that out the window, with whole national populations mobilized for the first time in centuries and armies swelling to hundreds of thousands. It could also be considered the birth of modern Nationalism. Previously the nobles and monarchs of Europe were a class unto themselves - having more in common with each other than with their own people. At the start of the Napoleonic Wars, the entire Russian court spoke in French. By the end of it, they were speaking only Russian.
21st Century and Beyond
- In 1842, the British forced the Chinese Empire to accept a humiliating peace after two-years of Curb-Stomp Battle in the First Opium War. While it was hardly the first time that the Chinese military forces were defeated by foreign "barbarians," it was the first clear reminder that the Chinese had fallen decidedly behind technologically and needed to change significantly.
- The Crimean War (1853-56) is considered this in the history of European diplomacy. While it was relatively insignificant militarily and characterized by blunders and incompetence, it broke the international system based on "legitimacy" created (or restored, depending on your perspective) after the Congress of Vienna and opened the way for the rise of nationalism and nation states. It set the stage for creation of Germany and Italy, and later the Balkan states, and in so doing, paved the way for World War 1.
- Commodore Perry's arrival in Japan hastened the end of isolationist feudal shogunate rule, which officially came with the ascension of Emperor Meiji in 1867 and started the Meiji Restoration in 1868. From that point, Japan embarked on a programme of rapid industrialisation.
- More tragic-romantically, this is the definite end of the samurai rule. People saw that the samurai regime of Tokugawa couldn't defend the country from the dangblasted foreigners and feared that Japan would become the next China. Wars ensued. The new country that rose from the ashes of war then allow every citizen to hold positions of significant power, not just the samurai.
- In fact, the name that scholars use to refer to this period is Bakumatsu — The End of the Curtain.
- In Europe the slow decline of autonomous noble power began in this period as well. From the greater military power of politically unified nations, a rise of absolute monarchs, the spread of revolutionary political thought and the growing economic power of lower classes the nobles were unable to compete. While there were holdouts for a long time (some European states still have official positions for nobles) it was never the same.
- The American Civil War marked the end of several American political and social concepts, chattel slavery only being the most obvious. The Union victory redefined the United States as a nation rather than a loose alliance of semi-independent nations, and the idea of voluntary and legal succession from the Union was dead in the water. Also, being one of the first modern industrialized wars, along with the Crimean War and the unification wars in Germany, it introduced the concept of "Total War", bringing the conception of warfare as a genteel, ceremonial, small-scale affair to a most definite end.
- In 1890, the US Census officially declared that the "Frontier" no longer existed. This marked the end of American expansionism and of the "frontier culture" that had characterized the US until then. Interestingly, this is about the time that the US started to turn outward to gain more resources, much to the dismay of its Latin American neighbors and, later, countries in the Eastern hemisphere. A lot of historians have noted this.
- The 20th Century was said to have ended on September 11th, 2001, and the Long War/Terrorism era began.
- Periodically, and especially from 2000 onwards, commentators within and abroad say that this is approaching for the United States. And that is all we are going to say about that.
- DreamWorks Animation's Shrek (2001) officially ended The Renaissance Age of Animation.
- There are a pair of video game age endings. Nintendo releasing the Gamecube and finally rendering cartridge-using game consoles extinct and "The Death of the Dream"—the end of the Sega Dreamcast—which saw SEGA go from major console developer to a third-party game publisher and saw the rise of the Xbox, where Microsoft essentially took their place among "Gaming's Big Three".
- The switch from analog to digital television. For decades, television programs were broadcasted with an analog signal and many people watched their programs with antennas on their TV sets. By the 2000s, when high definition started to take off, many television sets produced at that time were made with digital signals instead of analog, which meant the sound and picture came out more crisp. TV programs took advantage of the digital signal for better quality images and sound (including HD formats) and by 2009, the federal government ordered that all basic programs/television channels had to convert to digital formatting in order to free up space on the analog spectrum for emergency services that needed them (such as firefighters and police). The transition looked likethis.
- Many animators and animation fans either consider cartoons of the Millennium Age to be inferior and nowhere near the quality of what was seen in previous decades, or think that there are still good cartoons, but they're just in low supply on television and film due to the economy (and executives).
- On a related note, the cancellation of Toonami is considered to be the end point of the 90's-2000's Anime Boom (Toonami is considered to have started that boom) as it would be difficult for anime (and animation in general, for that matter) to get a place in television, and thus exposure, with Network Decay running a-mock, especially in regards to the animation related networks. Naturally, when the block was revived, some have touted it as a sign that another boom is on the horizon.
- Most people believe the quality of television gets worse every year as the internet becomes a bigger haven for shows and movies.
- A specific point that could be brought up for the cause of the dip in quality, especially in the United States, was the Writer's Strike of 2007-8. When the strike hit, networks fell back on Reality Television shows to pick up the slack. Then they found out that Reality TV not only performed just as well as, and sometimes better than, the more traditional scripted format, but it was far less costly to create and maintain. Now, almost every station on major networks in the U.S has at least one Reality or Reality-style TV show, some networks focusing on it almost entirely (i.e: TLC). Sturgeon's Law being what it is, a majority of these shows are regarded poorly, thanks in large part to the ever more tabloid quality of the subject matter and often lying about just how much of the show is actually scripted, even when it is painfully obvious.
- David Letterman's announcement in April 2014 that he'll retire from hosting The Late Show in 2015 has led some to believe it marks the end of an age in late night television stretching as far back as The Sixties, when Johnny Carson began hosting The Tonight Show.
- Stephen Colbert taking up the mantle is another, since it meant the end of The Colbert Report after a decade of dominating the news pundit scene in its unique parody way.
- Jon Stewart's announcement in February 2015 that he'll retire from hosting The Daily Show later that year signifies the end of an age of satire that started with the Bill Clinton presidency in The Nineties.
- Many believe the golden age of the internet (around 2014) has or will be coming to an end in the United States thanks to a ruling by the government that forbids the FCC from telling internet service providers on how they should regulate their internet services. The ruling means that an ISP is free to start charging people extra to use services like Skype or Netflix if they want those services to not be throttled (the excuse being bandwidth issues). This also means that an ISP is free to throttle a company's connection if they consume a lot of bandwidth (such as an MMO video game or a video streaming site) unless said company is willing to fork over money to operate at maximum performance. For many people, services that they took for granted could now be either blocked by a money wall or suffer degraded service if a content provider doesn't want to pay to upgrade their connections.
- A number of observers have seen the revelation of NSA's Project PRISM and other Internet surveillance as the end of idealism surrounding the Internet and its transition from a tool of emancipation to a means of social control.
- With the Windows XP OS officially having support from Microsoft cut off on April 8, 2014, many people consider the end of XP to be the end of the golden era where many people to this day still consider XP as the best OS by Microsoft. While Windows 7 has come close to being what an upgraded XP would be, XP itself is considered the standard.
- On top of that, the desktop computer market which Windows XP was tied to has been sent into a slow decline by the rise of smartphones and tablets. Their failure to get a foothold in the mobile arena has led to them going from the primary way people got on the Internet to accounting for only about 1/5th of Internet access worldwide.
- Any video game that requires a server to play online will come to an end once the servers are shut down for good. While the notion of servers shutting down once support for the games comes to an end is quite common after 5 to 10 years have passed, Nintendo's shutdown for their online games and services for the Wii and Nintendo DS is a shock and a sad moment for many since they can no longer play popular titles online like Mario Kart Wii.
- Saturday Morning Cartoons which slowly started to decline around the early 2000s as station affiliates (namely NBC, Fox, ABC, The WB, CBS and finally the CW) began ceasing their animation blocks with the rise in digital cable and censors lobbying for more educational shows which hardly any child would be willing to watch. The Vortexx was the last of these and even then was made up of reruns of previous shows. However in 2014, it's spot was brought out by Litton Entertainment which will show nothing but E/I shows come the fall. Thus bringing an end to the era of Saturday Morning Cartoons.
- Even though the reputation of the US was hampered though the years due to the some actions in the past, the Wikileaks scandals have been seen as the final nail of the coffin towards the percieved trust towards the US by many countries to any of its actions.
- In December 2014, US President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro announced their plans to normalize relations between their two nations by re-establishing one another's embassies, effectively ending a 50-year embargo.
- The presidential wins of Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 have been thought of as the end of Southern Strategy, as Obama won both times without the majority of the American south.
- Chinese scholars have described China as this since the time of Confucius himself, if not before. This hasn't been affected by the fact that China's had at least three Golden Ages since unification.
- The idea that man is in a state of cultural degeneracy from a perfect golden age is Older Than Feudalism. Plato complained that the youth of his age were degenerate and antiauthoritarian.
- Hesiod, above, was writing during the age after the Dorian conquest. They brought iron with them, but a lot of things were lost from the previous age — like writing. So, it was the dark Iron Age.
- Due to an asymmetry in the space of all events, we perceive time as flowing from a state of low entropy to a state of high entropy.
- Atlantis in new-age/pop-culture/pseudohistory.
- Global Warming. Welcome to planet "Eaarth", in the words of Bill McKibben.
- Mass Extinctions as a whole.