Ah, nostalgia. The thing that drives salmon to go back to the river where they were born (yeah, it's not nostalgia, but bear with me), drives people to walk 20 miles in snow to get a slice of pizza of a beloved pizzeria that's about to close down for good, and drives salmon-people
to remember the good old days when the snow pizza in the river
was... You get the idea.
Now. Some people take this a bit too far
. Still, they are benign, right? I mean, they are ridiculous and all, but they don't harm anyone in their quest to relive their youths, childhoods, or more innocent times. So, harmless. Right? Riiiight?
Enter this guy. He loves that time/place. A lot. Enough, indeed, that he will do his very best to recreate it. Whether the society around him wants it recreated or not. Usually it doesn't, if only because, if it did, it would recreate said times itself. Sometimes, this guy will also be fixated on some other place, as well, and will try to recreate it on the world around him (so that, say, instead of going to Italy and trying to recreate the Roman times, they will try to recreate the Roman times in New York).
The Evil Reactionary will usually think of himself as a good guy
who's trying to prevent the decay of society. In reality, he's trying to bring back the past through any means possible
in order to ensure that he never has to set foot outside of his narrow comfort zone ever again.
Their efforts are almost always for naught
, since the past Utopia
they imagine never existed in the first place.
Sometimes the Evil Reactionary is an outright villain. They know that things are better for people as a whole
right now, but want to revert things back because the changes didn't benefit themselves or even reduced their standing.
And sometimes this character isn't even that old, but has merely internalized nostalgia for a particular period; he might even offend older people who were actually
there, and who are as put off by this freakishness as the younger, "modern" people.
Compare Evil Luddite
, who resents technological changes rather than societal changes. Though considering they go hand in hand
, an overlap is possible. This trope may appear unintentionally in a Reactionary Fantasy
where the protagonist comes across as a Designated Hero
. See also Still Fighting The Civil War
, which occurs when a character is willing to admit that most things have changed, but a particular sociopolitical issue that most people have put behind them is still relevant.
Anime and Manga
- The world of One Piece is strongly hinted at to be one where such forces, now known as the World Government, had become victorious. The "Void Century" refers to a hundred years of the world's history that has seemingly gone missing. Bits and pieces of what happened during this time have popped up as the series has gone on, including the existence of robot armies, space travel, and technological superweapons. (By contrast, One Piece's modern day weaponry is restricted to cannons, swords, and flintlock pistols, and strongly resembles the 17th and 18th century days of high seas piracy.) The World Government actively hunts down and kills anyone with knowledge of the Void Century, which is why Nico Robin, an Adventurer Archeologist who can read the Poneglyphs said knowledge is stored upon, has a price on her head.
- Of course, it's very possible that the World Government kept some of this technology for their own use. (It would likely be impossible to build structures like Impel Down with 21st Century equipment, much less 18th; how it was done was never explained.) If this is true, it would make whoever enacted the change a Straw Hypocrite at best.
- Turner D. Century, who wanted to change society back to that of the 1890s.
- There was a Batman issue where a Mad Bomber was demolishing newer skyscrapers in order to restore Gotham's '30s-era skyline. note
- In the Marvel Universe, the Royalist Forces of America are a terrorist organisation (whose leaders are descended Revolutionary War loyalists) who wish to dissolve America's democracy and reinstitute a class system.
- In the Young Bond novel Blood Fever, Bond fights a secret society dedicated to recreating the Roman Empire.
- In Men at Arms, Edward D'Eath wants to bring Ankh-Morpork back to the days of aristocracy.
- Another Discworld example is the villain in "The Fifth Elephant", who tries to force the new king of the dwarves of Überwald into civil war because they view him as too sympathetic to modern mores.
- In Destroyermen, the New British fleet admiral attempts to kills almost everyone ahead of him in succession with a bomb in the capitol building, hoping to become Governor-Emperor so he could cancel all the reforms (especially the ones about women's rights) that were being instituted following contact with The Alliance and the betrayal of the Honorable New Britain Company.
- In Game of Thrones, the Sons of the Harpy are a terrorist organization led by aristocratic former slave owners who want to bring back slavery after it is abolished by Daenerys Targaryen.
- Some of Daenerys' supporters would qualify as well, since they imagine that restoring House Targaryen to the throne will solve all or most of Westeros' many problems.
- This is the shtick (overlapping with Evil Luddite) of the villain Retrograde in the Champions sourcebook High Tech Enemies. His power allows him to transform high-tech items into low-tech, non-functioning equivalents, such as transforming a suit of powered armour into a suit of medieval knight's armour.
- The Guiding Hand of Feng Shui are this at their absolute worst. They want to return China to an era of "enlightenment", and utterly despise modern technology and thinking.
- The Jnanamukti in Mage: The Awakening are a movement of Evil Sorcerers who combine this trope, Fantastic Racism and Evil Luddite to Omnicidal Maniac levels. They yearn for the mythical days of Atlantis, when magic ruled all things and mages were far more powerful, before the Abyss was torn into existence and magic became a rare and delicate thing. As far as they're concerned, Sleeper civilization and the technology it has developed (alongside the existence of non-Mage supernatural creatures) is the only thing sustaining the Abyss. So, they reason, if they destroy civilization and technology, the Abyss will heal and Atlantis can be restored. Keep in mind that they have no proof that this is the case, they just hope it is. But are they powerful enough to enact their genocidal plans? Well...
- Mad Mod, from Teen Titans, wants to impose England on everyone else. Specifically, a historical, romanticized England. He also wants to reclaim America for England. As of this writing, there's been no word from Lizzie on whether or not they will accept it.
- In Jackie Chan Adventures, The Royal Magisters want the UK to revert back to some vaguely Victorian time via magic and alchemy.
- There was a New Orleans ghost like this in The Real Ghostbusters cartoon.
- The Pastmaster from SWAT Kats really misses the Dark Ages. So much so that in his debut he tried to bring them back in the present day. The Swat Kats foiled him. In another episode, he decided to just go back in time to the Dark Ages and take over. The Swat Kats foiled him. Eventually, he suffered Motive Decay and messed with the originally happy future of Megakat City and turned it into a Bad Future just to spite the Swat Kats. The Swat Kats foiled him.
- On The Simpsons, Mr. Burns is a cross between this and a clueless Disco Dan insomuch as he doesn't even know about many of the societal changes in the last century. In one episode, it's revealed that he has Confederate Slave Holdings in his outdated stock portfolio. In another, he still thinks there's a Negro League in baseball, and even more bizarrely, scoffs at the idea of non-WASPs in the major leagues (he's taken aback, for example, by a vintage baseball card showing Joe DiMaggio as a New York Yankee). And in another, he hires women as basketball cheerleaders whom he dresses in demure 1890s attire and forces to perform to ragtime music. The cheerleaders "entertained" the crowd in the arena by twirling their parasols and lifting their floor-length skirts to reveal their ankles. The crowd hated the act.... and Mr. Burns agreed with them - because he found it too obscene!