"When one tries to rise above Nature one is liable to fall below it... Consider, Watson, that the material, the sensual, the worldly would all prolong their worthless lives. The spiritual would not avoid the call to something higher. It would be the survival of the least fit. What sort of cesspool may not our poor world become?"Seeking to live forever, or just for a really really long time, is often portrayed as just plain wrong. The rationales for this viewpoint fall into three basic categories: 1: Immortality is achieved through ethically dubious forms of Applied Phlebotinum. 2: Immortality is bad in and of itself, even if attained without using evil means. Perhaps it's "meddling in God's domain", which tends not to end well for the meddler. From a secular viewpoint, perhaps immortality is bad for society even if it's great for individuals. Some works suggest that immortality in itself is damaging to valuing other people's lives: if most people's lifespans seem to pass in the blink of an eye for you, why care if they end slightly earlier? 3: And, perhaps most obviously, immortality exempts one forever from the possibility of going to Hell. If there's absolutely no way you can ever get a truly cosmic punishment, why should you restrain yourself from doing whatever the hell you want, right up to rape and outright murder?note This trope focuses on immortality viewed by others as a bad thing, as distinct from Who Wants to Live Forever?, which focuses on the immortal character feeling that eternal life is a curse rather than a blessing. It may come up in discussions of The Singularity, as immortality and moving beyond traditional principles of human thought are seen by some as some of its defining characteristics. The trope may result in a Broken and/or Anvilicious Fantastic Aesop. Expect anyone going ahead with these plans to become Enemies with Death. Also expect them to believe that Living Forever Is Awesome because why else they would commit such a heinous action except for something they want? Also note that there are generally many kinds of immortality: Biological immortality (live "until killed", like Tolkien's elves) is usually natural, and full immortality rarely is (except for gods). A person actively seeking the latter is almost always evil (The Epic of Gilgamesh being a notable exception, although even there the same basic Fantastic Aesop of "Mortal Man should not seek to rise above his station" was enforced). See also Immortality and its subtropes.
— Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Creeping Man
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Anime and Manga
- In Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan, the reason Dokuro has come to the hero is on account of this. According to her, the hero will in the future create a Lolicon paradise by inventing a device that freezes every girl's growth at 12, allowing girls to live forever as eternal Lolitas; since such immortality is God's domain, the hero must be killed or otherwise stopped.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, using a Philosopher's Stone to extend your life is portrayed as immoral. The process of creating the Philosopher's Stone uses up human lives, lots of them.
- Greed's ultimate goal is immortality, since, as he puts it, "They don't call me Greed for nothing. I want money. I want women, status, and power. I want everything this world's selling and eternity's topping the list!" It's both a means to achieving his other desires and an end in and of itself. While Al points out that Greed seems to already be immortal, Greed himself is aware that he has a finite (though large) number of resurrections available. What he really wants all that time was friends.
- Hohenheim is granted immortality after he (unknowingly) helps Father sacrifice the entire population of the nation of Xerxes to create Father's body.
- However, this is averted in the case of Ling and May, who are actively seeking the secrets to immortality, but are still presented as sympathetic characters. This is probably because they're not looking for it so they can use it themselves, but so they can give it to their emperor to help their clans. They've expressed worry that if the emperor knew it was possible to sacrifice everyone in his country to extend his life he would, meaning he is a potential example.
- In the 2003 anime version, the main method of using the Philosopher's Stone to extend one's lifespan involved stealing other people's bodies. In fact, one of the major recurring themes in both the original series and the 2003 anime are the lengths people are willing to go through to achieve immortality.
- As expected of a series that puts a lot of emphasis on the succession of the old generation by the new one, all cases of immortality in Naruto employs this trope. Orochimaru uses Grand Theft Me, effectively killing someone every time he steals a new body. Kakuzu stole his opponents' hearts to replace his old, failing ones (though Kakuzu declines to think of it as immortality, being more of an extended lifespan than an indefinite one, and is likely more interested in the power that gives him than the immortality). Hidan's immortality is both very evil and very immortal, effectively being fueled by him killing people, though exactly how it works isn't explained in detail.
- Sasori also considers transferring his heart into a puppet a form of immortality. While he did not have to kill anyone to do it, it is partly a byproduct of his twisted views on human life (according to him, he can "make" people if he wants companionship by creating human puppets from the bodies of ninja).
- Rather jarring is Hidan though, who has perfected immortality unlike anyone else in the series. The immoral part comes in that he has to constantly sacrifice people painfully but unlike the other versions of immortality he's able to keep his original body intact with no other repercussions at all. He even sees durability that's unmatched by anything below the zombies of the series.
- Variation in Death Note; from the point of view of the Shinigami, it's no big deal to increase their own lifespans by killing humans, but for them to use someone's death to increase the life of a human is "forbidden and unnatural," and results in the Shinigami in question immediately dying and crumbling into dust. This may have something to do with the motivation most shinigami have to break that rule (love). Given that any death might potentially increase someone else's lifespan, this prohibition only applies to a Shinigami intentionally saving someone from their intended death.
- In Dragon Ball, the driving point of many a villain was to collect the eponymous mystic orbs in order to summon the Dragon to grant their wish for immortality. While the immortality itself was not portrayed as evil, the fact that everyone searching for it was a Card-Carrying Villain that killed countless innocent people (even the eradication of entire civilizations) and the heroes never considered it (even former villains lost interest in the idea) does carry the inevitable Fantastic Aesop implications. Additionally, the single villain that successfully achieved immortality, Garlic Jr., was subsequently shoved into a pocket dimension for eternity.
- Gunnm: Last Order has the citizens of the solar system essentially immortal through Phlebotinum - which means that uncontrolled reproduction is a massive crime and children are lucky to be treated as garbage.
- This could be thought of as one of the major themes of Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix series. It's usually the antagonist of the volume that seeks the eponymous bird so that they can drink her blood and become immortal. The protagonists don't often agree with this, because Who Wants to Live Forever? Though it is worth stating that there are quite a bit of subversions as well, especially since the protagonist of one volume actually succeeds in become immortal.
- An episode of Shikabane Hime dealt with a doctor who was trying to make people immortal by injecting them with solutions of Shikabane cells in order to save his dying wife. Unfortunately, the quasi-Shikabane ended up dying horribly.
- Slayers portrays not so much the pursuit of immortality as universally bad, but the verification. Lina points out that the only way to be sure any method of immortality actually works is to apply it to somebody, then try to kill them by every means you can think of(Bleeding and asphyxiation don't work? How about organ removal?). Sooner or later, you'll succeed, then it's back to the drawing board(and the next test subject). One entire kingdom fell into ruin after the king offered a massive reward to anyone who could grant him immortality. While true immortality is implied to be impossible, two methods of achieving partial immortality do appear in the series: selling your soul to the Mazoku, which is bad; or being cursed with ''Raugnut Rushavna'', which is worse.
- Keith White in Project ARMS wants to be an immortal god and is willing to kill everyone in America with a missile to do so. It ultimately is revealed that his plan would never work - the immortal alien lifeform Azrael would never help him destroy the planet because it had spent several billion years alone in space and wanted companionship. The many clones of Huey Graham are also immortal to a degree (their conscious is backed on a computer, and thus can be reuploaded to any body), but all are shown to be emotionless. Their father ultimately decides that it is wrong to keep them that way and destroys their mental backup, shortly before they all die in an explosion.
- Code Geass plays it a different way. We don't know the actual origin of immortality in the setting, but for C.C. it qualifies in a different way since she had her Code forced upon her by the woman she had come to view as a surrogate mother, who was insane and wanted to be free of the curse of immortality. It's similarly implied later on when C.C. considered foisting it off on Mao, and later Lelouch, but despite her supposed Ice Queen nature, couldn't bring herself to do it. She might have gone through this before the show, but that part of her past was never covered.
- This is just the tip of the iceberg. Immortality is apparently gained in a somewhat immoral way (if you do it that way), through taking the immortal's "Code". Now, maybe in a good world, it was designed to be in a voluntary way, but Charles proves it can be done through deception, without the victim's knowledge or acceptance - after all, V.V. probably wanted to live longer), so this aches to the Sith Rule of Two. But to have immortality, you need Geass, and to get a Geass, a former Geass-user, now Immoral Immortal himself/herself has to go to the trouble of giving you the Geass, and he/she will give it only to someone capable of using it to satisfy his needed, which may range to Magnificent Bastard qualities needed (like C.C. needed the Geass to evolve in Lelouch, finally being able to take on immortality. This may be further complicated if an immortal doesn't want to die, and makes more than a Geass user. The manga expands on this, stating Geass exists to bring chaos to the world, and thus balance it.
- Subverted in Baccano!. While the massacre aboard the Advena Avis suggests the "Immortality is bad" route - they even get immortality through a Deal with the Devil - it eventually becomes clear that eternal life is exactly what it claims to be: Life, only (infinitely) longer, while the 'devil' they made a deal with for it is more of an amoral observer than a malevolent force.
- The Stone Masks in Jojos Bizarre Adventure can turn a human into an immortal vampire if they absorb enough blood/lifeforce. One character in particular (a former good guy even) was so desperate to avoid old age that he betrayed his allies so he could use their blood to activate one of the Masks.
- This was lampshaded by Artax in the Nodwick Highlander parody "A Kind of Tragic" after an attempt at immortality gone south: "I just wanted to live forever. Was that so wrong?"
- In X-Men, the entire goal of the Dark Phoenix is to live forever, even at the expense of everyone and everything else. At least now it is.
- This trope is rather more explicit (and literal) in the case of Selene, who discovered her mutant ability to devour life force well before recorded history. Given the inability of popular X-Men to stay dead, you have to wonder why they bother...
- The DCU has Professor Ivo, a mad scientist who developed and drank an immortality potion, which unfortunately left him physically twisted, with a thick scaly skin. It got much worse later on when Ivo discovered his immortality process was slowly turning him into an unmoving living statue, which he would be trapped as for all of eternity. He got turned back into a normal human and learned his lesson... for about two months, after which he got spooked of death and downed the serum again.
- There was a spate where immortal DCU villain Vandal Savage found his immortality had been shut down. The only way to restore it was to kill and devour one of his genetic descendants. He didn't even think twice about it.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe comic series Dark Empire gives us an interesting example with (who else?) Palpatine. He had a bunch of clone bodies to put his soul into, coming as close as possible to the Sith dream of immortality, but the clones are shorter-lived every time. To that end, he decided to give Alderaan expatriates a home "in restitution for Tarkin's crimes" and drain their energies, and eventually the entire universe would face this fate. So Luke and a lost tribe of Jedi sabotage the process and Palpatine tries to take possession of Han and Leia's son (this being a desperate last-ditch Plan B when he's down to his last clone, since it would result in being trapped in a helpless child for years), leading to a good old-fashioned father-son team-up wherein Han kills Lord Sidious' body and Anakin (Leia named him. Cute.) kills the soul.
Films — Animated
- Hayao Miyazaki animations seems to fall heavy on this. In Princess Mononoke, the generic Emperor wants to be immortal through the head of the Spirit of the Forest, which means the death of the spiritual world.
- His son, Goro Miyazaki, follows the same line. In Tales from Earthsea, the generic evil Sorcerer wants to be immortal through means of Black Magic, which means the death of the world (naturally). This plot is taken from Ursula K. Le Guin's book The Farthest Shore, a sequel to A Wizard of Earthsea. A wizard is so petrified of dying that he endeavours to become a great necromancer and manages to make a door between the world of the dead and the world of the living which he can cross at will, setting himself up as lord of life and death. However, the door he opens drains all the light and life and magic of the living world; people find magic, creativity and imagination fading away, becoming forgotten.
- The plot of Tangled revolves around this. When the king's army takes the flower that Gothel had been using to keep herself eternally youthful for centuries and uses it to heal the queen, its power is transferred to Rapunzel's hair, which loses its power when it's cut. Gothel then kidnaps Rapunzel and keeps her in a tower, doing everything she can to ensure that she stays there forever, so that Gothel will always have access to Rapunzel's hair when she needs it to rejuvenate herself.
- This idea drives the second half of Renaissance, and the film comes off as a mixture of "It's inherently wrong" and "Even if it was a good idea, letting the resident Mega Corp. control it is a recipe for disaster."
Films — Live-Action
- Pirates of the Caribbean:
Teague: The trick isn't living forever, Jackie. The trick is living with yourself forever.
- Jack Sparrow seeks immortality but is still initially presented as a likable protagonist. Until, that is, he makes a few deals — a bad one with Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, then a really awful one with Beckett in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End — betraying and sacrificing the lives of many others in order to save himself. It takes a little talk with Captain Teague to put Jack back on the other side of the line.
Blackbeard: I'm a bad man.
- Blackbeard in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is even more so. His quest for eternal life has more to do with a prophecy that he will die soon. Even then, he's perfectly willing to let his daughter die so he can live.
- MST3K alumnus B-Movie The Leech Woman features a woman who retains her youth by using an African pollen... and the brainstem juice of the men she's murdered.
- The MST3K movie Parts: The Clonus Horror is Immortality Immorality at its best!
- Another movie featured on MST3K, The Unearthly, involves a scientist performing tests on human subjects to activate "the seventeenth gland" and achieve immortality. His experiments have a bad habit of turning his victims into semi-catatonic zombies.
- Point 2 is brought up in The Man from Earth.
- Palpatine's conversations with Anakin in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith imply that the Sith are this trope, able to resist or even halt death using techniques and knowledge that the Jedi would consider to be abominable. It's most probably a big pack of lies though (considering he's a Magnificent Bastard attempting to convert Anakin to The Dark Side), and while the Star Wars Expanded Universe features numerous Sith that seek immortality at any cost and a few that come close, none were successful.
- In The Dark Crystal, the new Skeksis emperor seeks to restore his youth by drinking the painfully and fatally extracted essence of other sentient beings. This may or may not be a subversion, as it's unclear if success would also prolong his lifespan: the previous Emperor had just died of old age, but that could've been due to a lack of gelfling victims, not an indication that essence grants youth without long life.
- The two villains in The Skeleton Key live forever by tricking victims into believing in hoodoo and then stealing their bodies via hoodoo when they are susceptible to it (they are only affected by spells if they believe in them) when their current bodies are too old to sustain them. They got away with it for centuries and get away with it again.
- The evil Alchemist from the film Vidocq needs the blood of virgins to make a special type of glass for his mirror mask. Said mask grants him immortality and eternal youth by storing and slowly draining the souls of people who died staring into his mask. So there's a lot of death involved
- Mr. Nobody, in which society has achieved biological immortality by 2092, and the title character is going to be the last human to die of old age. Pop culture, at least, doesn't come off too well....
- The point made by the protagonist Will in In Time, who is against immortality if other people have to die for it. The point is also made by a century-old rich man who is tired of living.
- In Bicentennial Man, as Andrew first petitions the World Congress to recognize him as a human, the President of the Congress cites this as the reason why it will not validate Andrew's request; since he still possesses an artificial brain despite having become a cyborg, he is effectively immortal. The President states that society can accept an immortal machine, but that it can never accept an immortal human, which would arouse too much jealousy and anger.
- Star Trek: Insurrection takes place on a planet with radiation that makes people living on it eternally young. But the villains are so old they may die before the radiation takes full effect, so they want to collect the radiation and concentrate it, destroying the planet in the process.
- In the 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie: "We're immortal...We can do whatever we want."
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Holy Grail gives immortality to whoever drinks from it; however, the perk comes with two catches: First, you have to stay in the temple to benefit from the holy water; second, you can’t take the grail outside. Immortality serves as more of an imprisonment, since the knight guarding the grail was stuck there in perpetual old age. The fate of the villains clearly suggests immortality is impossible to have. Walter Donovan ends up drinking from one of the decoy grails and rapidly ages to death. Afterward, Elsa Schneider tries to take the grail out of the temple, but triggers a self-destructing mechanism. She finds herself in a Literal Cliffhanger, with the chalice just within arm’s reach. In her greed, she pulls herself from Indiana’s hold to grasp it. Needing just a little more to get it, she stretches too far and the glove pulls off her hand, which sends her falling to her death. Indiana also goes for it but he gives up after his father talks some sense into him.
- In The Wolverine, Ichirō Yashida wants to gain immortality by stealing it from someone else. That should be the first clue that he's not a good person.
- In Jupiter Ascending, how the Abrasax family — and presumably others out in space — maintain their long lives is pretty horrible. The substance that rejuvenates them is created by harvesting human life forms they seeded millennia ago on other planets.
- House of the Scorpion: People clone themselves, then kill the clones in order to harvest their organs and to prolong their life. And the best organs come from clones under age thirteen.
- More or less the entire point of The Picture of Dorian Gray.
- In the Harry Potter series, Voldemort doesn't care what he has to do or who he has to harm or kill to preserve his own life. The Horcruxes he uses to guard against death are so evil that not even dark wizards want to talk about them; murder and something JK Rowling describes as "nauseating" are required to make one, and each Horcrux created causes the degradation of the maker's soul.
- Conversely, the eponymous Philosopher's Stone of the first book was held and used by Nicholas Flamel for centuries, with no suggestion that it was at all morally questionable. However, Flamel agreed to destroy the Stone to keep it out of Voldemort's hands (though it is also hinted that he and his wife were sick of immortality anyway).
- Probably because the Flamels weren't so much "immortal" as "unaging". They could still have died through accident or deliberate violence, and there was always the option, which they take at the end, of ceasing to take the elixir that makes them not age. Voldemort's horcruxes mean that he will survive no matter what happens to him, as long as one is still intact. There is also the aforementioned "nauseating" procedure in making a horcrux, while the Stone seems to be a simple matter of harmless chemistry (or alchemy, given the setting).
- It's implied, at least in the film, that Flamel would die in a very short time without the elixir. Dumbledore mentions that Flamel has enough elixir to put his affairs in order. This means that he wouldn't even survive a few months without the elixir.
- In the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Creeping Man", Professor Presbury's use of a rejuvenation drug causes him to exhibit animal-like behavior. Holmes' comment, quoted above, indicates that he disapproves of immortality in and of itself.
- In Ben Bova's story "Stars, Won't You Hide Me?" humans have developed an immortality treatment that requires killing a member of a peaceful alien race for each human made immortal.
- Joan D. Vinge's The Snow Queen has a very similar premise: an alien species can be killed for a serum that prolongs life.
- In the Alan E. Nourse story "The Martyr", immortality threatens to cause cultural stagnation, because people who have been made immortal hang on to their positions of influence forever (stultifying the ambitions of new talent) and feel no pressure to get anything accomplished.
- This concept is countered in Kim Stanley Robinsons's Red Mars Trilogy, where it is argued that the brevity of human life was responsible for its institutions. Making a fresh start is easier when you have a few hundred years of experience and resources under your belt.
- HP Lovecraft's character Herbert West differs somewhat in that he was seeking to reverse death after the fact rather than merely stave it off, and that originally his goals were indeed great and noble, the society that couldn't spare some dead bodies for his experiments seeming quite oppressive. But later on, his grand quest turns into necrophilic obsession with death itself, and is even seen abandoning a potentially successful path to immortality in favour of attempts to reanimate detached body parts, for apparently no good reason aside from morbid amusement. That and the fact he kills someone just to ensure he has a perfectly fresh body, and refuses to stop his experiments despite the fact most of the bodies he revived immediately went on epic, savage kill-sprees.
- Elizabeth Moon's Familias Regnant books are set at a point when life-extension drugs have just become common enough to cause widespread social chaos. The books can be considered a Deconstruction of this trope, looking at the effects that immortality can actually have on a society.
- The Forever King contrasts two opponents: King Arthur, who is naturally reincarnated to fulfill his destiny as the once and future king, and Saladin, who has used the object that became known as the Holy Grail to live for many thousands of years. Arthur argues repeatedly that immortality twists people, as he says it has done to Saladin, but it comes off as a very warped or forced aesop because Saladin was a nasty (if brilliant) piece of work long before becoming immortal.
- J. R. R. Tolkien's Númenórean kings grow envious of the Elves' immortality, refusing to accept the "gift" of mortality that Ilúvatar has placed upon their race. When Sauron comes to tempt them, this ultimately leads to Númenor invading the undying lands of Valinor and its consequent destruction in a Deus ex Machina of cosmic proportions.
- In Larry Niven's Tales of Gil the ARM, bioethics are explored through having a society that can prolong life through transplant technology. This also addresses the death sentence issue, as the "donors" are condemned criminals, or for that matter any group that the voting public decides can be used for "spare parts" (In one of the stories, frozen dead — corpsicles — that died insane are being considered for becoming "donors", even though cures for their ailments now exist.) The conclusion: The inevitable erosion of the value of human life that this would cause is Not a Good Thing for society (if you can imagine death sentences for traffic tickets...)
- Later on in the Niven verse, the organ donor problem is resolved with the invention of boosterspice, which prolongs life without requiring any ethically dubious ingredients.
- In David Eddings' The Belgariad and Mallorean series, even the sorcerers that dedicate their lives to the Prophecy of Light have somewhat warped morals, though it's unrelated to "pursuit" of immortality.
Belgarath: ...and an occasional murder. Does that shock you? It shouldn't. I've never made any pretense at being a saint, and there were people out there in the world who were inconvenient [...] I was driven by Necessity, so I did what was necessary.
- Also in the Belgariad, Queen Salmissra of Nyissia wanted to sell the Kid Hero to the Big Bad in exchange for immortality. Neither the protagonists nor the baddies were OK with it (the baddies wanted no conditions).
- Sorceress Polgara eventually made her immortal by turning her into a big sentient snake (She doesn't seem to mind). In a later conversation with Garion Salmissra makes specific note of the fact that she no longer feels the desires that drove her prior to Polgara snaking her, and that she actually has no desires anymore. Mental changes would seem to be indicated...
- The desire for immortality in itself isn't portrayed as immoral, since there are about fifteen immortals in the Belgariad (including Garion and various of his companions). Salmissra is mostly shown as desperate and crazed by drugs, with the general problem being that she wanted to be made immortal by screwing the God of Evil.
- Also in the Belgariad, Queen Salmissra of Nyissia wanted to sell the Kid Hero to the Big Bad in exchange for immortality. Neither the protagonists nor the baddies were OK with it (the baddies wanted no conditions).
- The Old Kingdom trilogy is populated with various evil beings made from either the spirits of the dead, the bodies of the dead, or both. Necromancers, though not strictly dead, themselves attempt to prolong their lives as much as they can. Both types need to prey on the flesh and spirit of the living to keep from dying.
- In a number of C. J. Henderson's stories, becoming a sufficiently accomplished mass murderer in and of itself nets you an extended lifetime by way of absorbing souls to snack on later. It's just that the exchange rate is too low to really benefit unless you really get depraved about it.
- Celia Friedman's Coldfire Trilogy has a main character who kills his kids and wife to be immortal (in the prologue), and survives on the fear of sacrifices.
- Also by C.S. Friedman, the Magister Trilogy. They become immortal by draining other people's life force after their own has been used up, which has the side effect of giving them unlimited magical power, since magic is Cast from Hit Points.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan's Quest, the nineteenth Tarzan novel, the malevolent Kavuru tribe manufacture immortality pills from the bodies of recently killed young women. Tarzan soon puts a stop to this when he finds out. He then uses the remaining pills to extend the lives of himself and some of his closest friends, reasoning that not using them won't bring the dead women back to life. This explains why Tarzan is still as spry fighting the Japanese in WWII (book 22) as he was fighting the Germans in WWI (book 7).
- In Fire Sea, part of The Death Gate Cycle, necromancy is commonly used by the inhabitants of Abarrach to raise the dead to fight as soldiers, though they are little more intelligent that zombies. Each resurrection kills a living person however. It is possible to bind the spirit of one of these zombies back into its reanimated body, giving it a twisted kind of life. These beings, called lazars, are quite sapient and capable of repairing their own bodies to full strength and wield all the magical powers they did in life making them quite unkillable. They find their undeath deeply unpleasant yet inescapable, and seek vengeance upon the living who they blame for their state, generally murdering and reanimating them as an eternal punishment.
- Toyed with in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan books. The standard method of life-extension is clearly immoral; it involves raising a clone to adulthood and then transplanting your brain into their body (killing them in the process). However, the main characters' discussions about stopping this practice are less moralising; the general consensus seems to be that the right response is to develop a more direct form of longevity treatment (which would probably be safer as well as less ethically horrific).
- In the Takeshi Kovacs series by Richard K. Morgan, cortical stack technology allows people to have their mind transferred to a new sleeve (body). A life insurance policy will have your stack downloaded to a new sleeve when you die. Doing it repeatedly will allow you to live forever. However, because of the expense most people can only afford to resleeve after working for their entire live to save up for it, meaning you have to go through the pains of aging every time. In Altered Carbon it's explained that most people can only face going though the whole process a couple of times before giving up and accepting death, especially since it's worse second time round because you already know what you have to look forward to. As a result, only those who are both very rich and have the right mental attitude can live for more than a couple of hundred years, and are nicknamed "Meths", short for Methuselahs. Meths tend to be amoral bastards:
- Firstly, because you have to be to reap enough success and wealth to fund repeated resleeving
- Secondly, because you begin to view the lives of normal people to be short, miserable and therefore worthless in comparison.
- Finally, unless a Meth uses a cloned or artificial sleeve, it means they've bought the repossessed sleeve of a convict who's stack has been put on ice for the duration of their imprisonment and couldn't afford the storage costs. Once they're released, they have to put up with whatever wasted junkie body the government provides. One character discovers that while she was on ice, her body was sold as a spare to an advertising executive who wears it on alternate weekends.
- Averted with some of the Time Monks, who achieve immortality through circular aging. It's never suggested in-story that this is unfair, perhaps because they tend to devote their vastly-lengthened lives to maintaining the Discworld's patchy timeline.
- In the back-story of P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, Gerridon, Highlord of the Kencyrath, betrays his entire people to the chaotic entity of Perimal Darkling in return for immortality. He has his consort and sister reap the souls of two-thirds of his people in one night of betrayal, the souls being fuel for his continued life.
- In Joe Abercombie's The First Law trilogy, people known as Eaters are able to maintain eternal youth and superhuman strength by eating human flesh. Many of them seem to revel in this existence, but a several hate what they have become and one is actually grateful when one of the protagonists successfully kills him. Bayaz, while not an Eater, has no qualms about manipulating the lives of millions to enforce his vision of civilization.
- In The Dresden Files, immortality is the motivation for quite a few necromancers. However, the least villainous of the ones that show up in Dead Beat, Kumori, plays with this trope a little; the reason she studies necromancy is to try to end death for everyone. As she puts it:
"Can you imagine if da Vinci had continued to live, to study, to paint, to invent? That the remarkable accomplishments of his lifetime could have continued through the centuries rather than dying in the dim past? Can you imagine going to see Beethoven in concert? Taking a theology class taught by Martin Luther? Attending a symposium hosted by Einstein? Think, Dresden. It boggles the mind."
- A key plot point of Paul Anthony Shortt's series, The Memory Wars, in which the Council of Chains is considered by the Reborn Conclaves to be violating the natural order by breaking the cycle of death and rebirth. The various paths to immortality all seem to involve either preying on innocents or making deals with evil gods, so the reborn have a point.
- Hopscotch by Kevin J. Anderson has few methods of extending one's lifespan, and doesn't allow for cloning, cyborgization, or even storing one's mind in a computer. What it does allow for are body swaps, both voluntary and involuntary. The most ethical (and richest) of those who wish to live forever bid on the bodies of those sentenced to death, as portrayed in a rather repellent scene reminiscent of a slave auction. Those who lack sufficient funds must steal their new bodies, and usually can't impersonate the people they've "become." They're forced to hide out in the most secret of places and live a sort of half-life, constantly fearful of both justice and the coming time when they must steal another body or finally let old age catch up with them.
- Mistborn: The kandra's immortality comes from being implanted with two Hemalurgical spikes, each of which requires requires the death of a human to create.
- In Stardust, you have to kill a star and eat her heart to achieve everlasting youth.
- In the film, though, there's another option: have one fall in love with you.
- And *being* a star is perfectly fine.
- In Otherland, the Grail Brotherhood, an international conspiracy of financiers, corporate executives, criminal lords, and heads of state, is united for the single purpose of cheating death via Brain Uploading. They accomplish this by building a hypersophisticated virtual reality computer network from the harvested brains of unborn children. Karma bites them in the ass hard.
- The tragedy of all this is that the only reason to use the psychic children to power the computer was to make it more realistic. If they settled for worse graphics they could have won!
- In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, Theo insists that he must use no more magic, which is all Black Magic, and must not take the Water of Life from Miranda, and is therefore dying of old age. Despite the revelations of undue influence on him, his siblings are all pleased and surprised when he agrees to take it again.
- In Robert E. Howard's The Hour of the Dragon Conan the Barbarian meets up with Akivasha.
"Her only sin was that she loved life and all the meanings of life," said the Stygian girl. "To win life she courted death. She could not bear to think of growing old and shriveled and worn, and dying at last as hags die. She wooed Darkness like a lover and his gift was life-life that, not being life as mortals know it, can never grow old and fade. She went into the shadows to cheat age and death — "
- In The Strain, anyone can be a vampire- perks include immortality, regeneration, and unnatural levels of speed and strength. Downsides include disintegrating in sunlight, starving to death after about four to five days without blood, and spending the first week of your existance as part of a hive mind, and being completely enthralled by your ancient afterwards. Yay...
- This is explored in the Agent Pendergast novel The Cabinet of Curiosities. The focus of the novel is a 19th century Mad Scientist who discovered an immortality formula, which unfortunately had to be taken regularly and required living human spinal cords as a key ingredient, turning the guy into a serial killer. However, even after the scientist developed a version of the formula which didn't require human bits, allowing him to stop killing, it's still explained by another character that the immortality formula is the most dangerous weapon ever developed; if the ingredients are rare and thus the potion expensive, it would lead to total social collapse as the poor would riot against the rich demanding equal access to it. If the ingredients are common and the potion easy to obtain, the human population would explode even more and the world would drown in billions of immortal losers, criminals, and other undesirables.
- In the Tide Lords, the immortals are thousands of years old and completely unkillable. Even the nicest ones simply don't have any regard for human life, since from their perspective they were going to outlive them anyway.
- Averted in Mikhail Akhmanov and Christopher Nicholas Gilmore's novel Captain French, or the Quest for Paradise, where the titular protagonist lives in a universe where humanity has long ago discovered Cell Regeneration, a treatment that, once applied, stops aging dead in its tracks. The protagonist is quick to point out that this doesn't stop people from dying, as, statistically speaking, most are likely to die in accidents, murders, wars, social upheavals, etc. At the same time, he himself is over 2000 years old, although due to Time Dilation from his constant relativistic travels he is over 20,000 years old in planetbound time. The lack of aging doesn't make humans any more or less moral than they normally would be, if everybody else is just like them. Certain things are different, though, such as the concept of inheritance. There's an equal chance of a son dying before his father, so there's no expectation of your parents' possessions becoming yours anytime soon. Retirement is also out of the question, as the whole concept assumes you make enough money while you work to last you the rest of your life. If your life is potentially unending, you never make enough. Wars, man-made disasters, coups, etc., are still present. Overpopulation is present on many worlds, although it's resolved through child licenses and occasional colony ships habitable worlds. The only people who grow old are criminals sentenced to aging and children of colonists on recently-settled worlds who haven't set up CR machines yet. A planet undergoes a period of religious fanaticism after a comet strike and a civilization collapses. Not only do they not consider immortality to be evil or immoral, they think it's God's gift to humanity and will not even deprive criminals of it (prefering to re-educate them through hard labor instead).
- Played straight and subverted in Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy books. Played straight with the Harammins, a race of blue-skinned Human Aliens, or rather their upper class, the so-called Immortal Quota. They record their memories on crystals that then get downloaded into new cloned bodies. As a society, they have done absolutely nothing for 3 million years, after conquering two other races and forcing them into servitude, along with the majority of their own race. When they discover human rapidly expanding close to their hidden territory, and worse, that these young upstarts have weapons the Harammins can only dream of, they stage a surprise attack on human worlds, hoping to eliminate the threat in one fell swoop. The attack is repelled, revealing the Harammin hideout and resulting in the destruction of the Immortal Quota. Subverted with many humans who start using the mind-recording crystals to live on in virtual space after their deaths. Other examples exist, including cyborgs, virtualized minds, AIs, and mutants.
- Darth Plagueis in the Star Wars Expanded Universe (and the novel of the same name) learns how to stop people from dying, and he very likely would have mastered this technique for himself, had not a certain other Sith Lord decide that his apprenticeship was at an end. Darth Sidious thought he'd be able to duplicate Plagueis' process, but was wrong. Thus he had to fall back on body-surfing into clones of himself after dying.
- Vlad Tepes is utterly determined to become immortal in Count and Countess, just so he can be with Elizabeth Bathory, with whom he has been exchanging letters since a small boy despite the huge gap in their time periods. Vlad will do absolutely anything that he thinks will help him achieve it—even cannibalism. The price definitely isn't worth it in the end.
- According to Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla King Aun a.k.a. Ani of Sweden sacrificed nine of his ten sons to Odin to prolong his own life. He would have sacrificed the last one too, but his subjects stopped him, causing him to die at the age of two-hundred.
- Isaac Asimov makes this point throughout the Robots series, especially in The Naked Sun. He shows the Spacers as having highly extended lifespans (as much as four hundred years), but as a result, their culture stagnates politically, socially and technologically because it's run by very old people who are stuck in old ways of thinking. Even when scientists want to develop new things, they'd rather work alone than collaborate because they've got time and want the glory for themselves. On a personal level, they become a society full of risk-averse germophobes because they've got more life to lose, and fear death a lot more as a result.
- Not so much evil as grumpy, rude, and bored, Wowbagger The Infinitely Prolonged from "Life The Universe And Everything" has become immortal due to an inimitable accident. Not having been born immortal, he hasn't the mental faculties to deal with it, so has vowed to spend all of eternity insulting every creature that ever existed in alphabetical order.
- In the Secret Country books by Pamela Dean, the Big Bad Melanie and her brothers became immortal using the blood of a (sentient) unicorn they killed in what was supposed to be a ritual hunt.
- Thomas Didymus and John believe Pentexore is an abomination because no one should have life everlasting on Earth in Dirge for Prester John.
- In Turnabout an organization makes a drug that greatly extends life span, and if completed would indeed lead to immortality. However during trials, they discover that people tend to go crazy after having live too long, and thus change their focus to making sure medical science never advances to allow people to live past 120.
- The Immortals in The Extraordinaires maintain their immortality bu transferring their souls into the bodies of children, the younger the better.
- In Numbers 3: Infinity, the fact that Adam has the power to see people's dates of death piques the interest of a man who has the ability not only see, but steal, other people's dates of death when he reaches his own and has used this ability to live past the age of two hundred.
- Ritual from The Haunted Air requires annual child sacrifice. Interestingly, main perpetrator genuinely regrets the necessary death of the child and drugs them to keep pain to the minimum. He also balks at suggestions of some of his colleagues.
- Bug Jack Barron: The immortality treatment is produced by irradiating children to death.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Revan reveals that the Sith Emperor (later appearing as the Big Bad of Star Wars: The Old Republic) achieved immortality (and extreme levels of power) via ritual that wiped out all life on his homeworld, allowing him to absorb the life energy of everything from people to the lowliest microbes. To the point that The Force itself no longer exists on that planet, because he absorbed it. Visiting Nathema is therefore a deeply disturbing experience for Force-sensitives. Even his fellow Sith Lords (those that know what he did, that is) are disgusted by his actions. And it's still not good enough for him; while he's ageless and incredibly powerful, it's still at least theoretically possible for somebody to kill him. Thus, the Sith Emperor is trying to create an improved version of the ritual, one that will wipe out all life in the entire universe. This has the added benefit from his line of thinking that once everything else is dead, there'll be nothing left to kill him.
- Doctor Who:
- In "The Lazarus Experiment", the Doctor argues against the life-extension researcher who gets turned into the Monster of the Week, though strangely he focuses more on immortality itself than the fact Lazarus had become a monstrous thing that required that he eat people to continue living. He makes a similar argument against Cassandra in "The End of the World", although her monstrous qualities were unrelated to her longevity.
- The Family of Blood try to steal the Doctor's immortality to extend their extremely short lifespans, killing a lot of people in the process. Naturally, the Doctor wasn't happy with all the killing and condemned the Family to a A Fate Worse Than Death.
- In "School Reunion", Mr. Finch offers eternal life and eternal youth to the Doctor and his companions, even offering to help resurrect the Time Lords. Sarah Jane talks the Doctor out of it, saying "No. The universe has to move forward. Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love. Whether it's a world, or a relationship... Everything has its time. And everything ends."
- From the original series, "The Five Doctors" deals with the attempts of a renegade Time Lord to become immortal, the secret involving a chat with Rassilon, the founder of the race. Rassilon does NOT like the idea of Time Lords being immortal; his solution probably inspired what the Tenth Doctor did to the Family of Blood.
- In The Brain of Morbius, the Doctor visits an alien race that possesses an immortality drug. The Time Lords have traded with them for ages, but only use the drug to help with failed regenerations; they believe that true immortality would cause cultural stagnation, as it has with the race in question.
- The Master, once he reaches the end of his regeneration cycle, is perfectly willing to extend his life at the expense of others, whether by using the energy from a black hole's nucleus to restore his emaciated body — which would result in the destruction of Gallifrey and the Time Lords — or, ultimately, hijacking the body of a companion's beloved father.
- The Time Lords, as well as the Doctor himself, waver back and forth on this. They are said to be "immortal, barring accidents" and can survive even fatal damage at least twelve times, but while individual Time Lords are generally good people the civilisation as a whole is immensely arrogant and indifferent to the rest of the universe, and they have an alarming tendency to produce power mad renegades that use their immortality and knowledge to lord over and cause immense damage to "lesser races" (a category in which many include the Doctor). At the very least, in "The Ultimate Foe" the Doctor states they are "decadent, degenerate, and rotten to the core" due to eons of such power, and The End of Time demonstrates to what lengths they are willing to go to preserve their immortality.
- When Jack Harkness is accidentally given immortality, both the Doctor and the TARDIS immediately run the hell away from him and display some hardcore Fantastic Racism. Jack calls them out on it.
- YMMV: We have only the Doctor's word for it that the TARDIS was trying to spin Jack off in the Time Vortex, and there could be other interpretations; the Doctor is a notoriously unreliable witness.
- In Stargate SG-1, the Goa'uld regeneration sarcophagus, which doesn't grant complete immortality but is damn close, gradually turns its users sociopathic with repeated use. This, combined with the fact that Goa'uld memories are passed on in their DNA to future generations, is the cause of the species' Always Chaotic Evil nature. It's also why the rebel Tok'ra faction (descendants of the only known good Goa'uld, Egeria) refuse to use the sarcophagus, even at the cost of their own extinction. However, even the sarcophagus eventually fails, as it was in Yu's case. Conveniently, he was one of the most benevolent Goa'uld to become senile and close to death. It was not the issue with the host but with the symbiote.
- The immortality treatment offered by the title character of the Babylon 5 episode "Deathwalker" requires the death of some in order to make others immortal. Deathwalker hopes to cause the various races to degenerate into civil war as revenge for the destruction of her own people.
- Ironically, her plans are foiled by the Vorlons, a race that has already reached true immortality, and apparently by less immoral means. (But then again, you never know for sure with those First Ones.)
- In Battlestar Galactica, the Cylons couldn't appreciate life prior to their civil war, when the rebellious faction is exiled from the Resurrection Ship, meaning that any deaths would be permanent. Their leader explains it as the possibility of death made each second important, more so than it ever was before.
- Subverted in season 3's "Time Is On My Side" with an immortal doctor who needs to replace his organs when they "wear out"; Sam steals his notebook, complete with the formula for how to become immortal. Turns out its not some dark magic ritual that involves drinking blood from a baby's skull, its just science — though "weird science". The brothers eventually bury the notebook with the doctor, not wanting to have to prey on others to survive. It seems like they didn't stop to consider the positive implications of that kind of immortality paired with organ cloning technology...
- And subverted again in the season 5 episode "The Curious Case Of Dean Winchester", where the leads come across a witch who lengthens his life by playing Texas Hold'em with humans. At least 25 years of life is the buy-in: winning means you can regress to your younger self or not age for that amount of time, while losing means you age rapidly or die. There are no tricks involved, as the only ones who play the witch are those who search him out knowing full well what the game entails. Interestingly, the witch never cheats (he's been playing and winning so long, he doesn't feel the need to), tries to dissuade potential players whom he believes don't have a real shot at winning, and on one case, he folds a hand he's certain he'll win and voluntarily ends the game, just to give an aging opponent enough extra years of life for him to see his granddaughter's Bat Mitzvah. He's a pretty nice guy.
- His companion/lover eventually gets tired of immortality and forces him to play her and win, betting and losing all her years.
- There was an episode of The Twilight Zone (1959) entitled "Queen of the Nile" about a reporter investigating a beautiful actress who doesn't appear to age. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that the actress (who's implied to be Cleopatra) maintains her youth by using a magic scarab beetle to drain the life from people and transfer it into herself which she promptly does to the reporter. Her daughter (who is initially passed off as her mother) seems to believe there was a Deal with the Devil involved.
- The driving force of the rogue watchers, or hunters, in Highlander: The Series.
- Yes and no. While it does partly stem from the idea that Immortals are somehow "abominations before God/nature" or some such drivel, there's also the very reasonable fear of what would happen if an Immortal actually does win the nebulous "Prize," and what kind of world-ruling power they may actually have. Especially any of the evil guest-star Immortals, Kern, Kanis, Kronos. . .
- In the Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "The Youth Killer", Helen of Troy maintains her life and beauty by draining the lifeforce of attractive young people as a sacrifice to the goddess Hecate. Kolchak defeats her by revealing the glass eye of Helen's latest sacrifice. Displeased with the imperfect sacrifice, Hecate revokes her gifts and Helen crumbles to dust.
- In the Kolchak TV movie The Night Strangler, an alchemist has developed an elixir of youth that has to be renewed every 21 years with the blood of a few women.
- Space: 1999 has a race that can become immortal by extracting and implanting into themselves the brain cells of Maya's shapeshifter species. Needless to say, this kills the "donor".
- The mysterious caller in Forever claims he has been around for over 2000 years and, over this time, has lost all compassion for humanity. He sees no problems with killing an innocent person just to get someone to notice him. In contrast, Henry cares a lot, although the caller claims it's because Henry is only 200 years old and hasn't yet become a cynic. Being a doctor probably helps, although Henry is currently working as a coroner. Additionally, unlike the caller, Henry is determined to end his "curse" and die for good, much to the chagrin of his much older adopted son Abe, who himself wouldn't mind a few more youthful decades.
- Averted with Henry Fitzroy in Blood Ties, who is a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire and does his best not to kill any of his victims. Played straight with Monsignor Javier Mendoza, a high-ranking member of The Spanish Inquisition, who goes to Knight Templar lengths to ensure the destruction of all vampires. He doesn't shy from killing innocents and has kept himself alive all these centuries by draining his vampire victims and using their blood in a life-extension serum. Medusa is a Monster of the Week who also fits the trope. What was done to her all those millennia ago is terrible (being unjustly punished for being raped), but it doesn't justify seducing attractive young men and then turning them to stone when they call her beautiful. Henry's maker/ex-lover Christina is also morally ambiguous.
- Becoming a Lich in Dungeons & Dragons is invariably evil. Some guidebooks justify this with 1., stating that the rituals necessary to become a lich are themselves irredeemably evil, while others use 2., claiming that existing as a lich twists the mind. The actual rule only requires creating a phylactery, which is not explicitly evil, and performing a ritual, which is, or so they tell us.
- Back in 1st Edition, a Dragon Magazine article described the lich-making ritual, claiming that it involved drinking a potion blended from things like the blood of an elf, the heart of a fellow mage, etc. Not something a person could concoct without committing a number of Evil acts though given that D&D - and its Dungeon Masters - tend to avert to varying degrees Always Chaotic Evil and its inverse makes it possible (albeit probably hard) to get said ingredients without crossing the Moral Event Horizon.
- The Forgotten Realms campaign setting averts this trope though, featuring Baelnorns, age-old elven liches who chose to remain in the mortal world to guide their descendants. Additionally, Archliches are good-aligned liches who are slightly less powerful than their evil counterparts.
- The Forgotten Realms also features magic that drains the life from others and adds it to your lifespan. Casting the spell is an inherently evil act, though not very much of one (the setting features several characters that lived for centuries using the spell without ever crossing over to Evil simply by not otherwise doing evil, including in their choice of targets for the spell).
- The Eberron campaign setting averts this in another fashion with the Deathless, ancient elven nobles who channel positive energy (unlike bog standard undead, who channel negative energy) and serve as benevolent gods to their people.
- Eberron also averts it at least partially with regular undead, removing their Always Chaotic Evil label. The most well-known vampire of the setting is the guy who ended the last 100 years of war, and he didn't even want immortality originally. Since the setting tends towards at least somewhat realistic politics he earns his Lawful Evil alignment with his ruthless nature, but at least he's working towards relatively good ends.
- For DMs who want to enforce this trope, there are creatures called Inevitables that travel around the planes enforcing the fundamental principles of the universe, including "people die when your time is up". It's less about immortality being immoral than it is cosmically illegal, but the general idea is the same. (Which hasn't stopped people from making the Inevitables... not so inevitable.)
- In 4th edition, Liches get immortality through an evil ritual invoking Orcus, an evil demonic deity of the undead. However, more noble casters with enough effort can find an immortality ritual that forgoes calling upon the demonic forces to become Archliches. Generally, in 4th edition, most epic destinies can involve immortality through different means, almost all of which are good or neutral. There's even a Prince of Hell Epic Destiny from Dragon Magazine, with no alignment restriction (though they do mention that insufficiently ruthless characters don't last so long).
- Ironically, prior to 3E, potions of longevity were a regular part of every D&D game edition. Each potion consumed could add a few decades to someone's lifespan, but had a small chance of causing their deferred age to instantly catch up with them instead. So non-lichly longevity was available, without any moral baggage: it was just a gamble and didn't last long, relatively speaking.
- And in BECMI D&D at least, the wish spell could knock off 1d10 years of age, without any drawbacks. So once a magic-user hit the right power level, they had it made.
- The Tremere Liches, mages from the New World of Darkness, who make themselves immortal by devouring souls.
- Also from Awakening, we have The True Soul, a grimoire authored by Tazanteotl, an Atlantean magus who had a unique inability to extend his own life past eighty. The book contains a Legacy that essentially obliterates its members' identity, turning them into a psychic clone of him. The book explicitly says that the new Tazanteotl loses a point of Wisdom, on the basis of him being a self-absorbed Jerk Ass obsessed with survival at all costs.
- The Tremere's namesakes, Clan Tremere from Vampire: The Masquerade, weren't much different. Once their immortality started fading because mankind wasn't buying magic anymore, they poked at vampires with sticks until they gave up their secrets of immortality. Then, in order to compete with other, older vampires, the founder of the clan diablerized the founder of the Salubri, then spread lies about infernalism so the rest of the clan would be destroyed and he'd get off scot free.
- Immortals gives us the Blood Bathers and Body Thieves, both of whom are Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Oh, and the Patchwork People, who stay alive by taking other people's body parts to replace their own.
- The Harvesters become and stay immortal by killing other immortals. Sure, some of them justify themselves with the whole 'only kill criminals' cliché popularized by Lestat and only target the above groups, but when the hourglass is running low and the only nearby source is an innocent, do you really think that they're going to cling to their standards and face Mother Death with their head held high?
- One of the adventure seeds for World Of Darkness: Innocents features a woman who maintains eternal life by sucking the youth out of children until they're mummified sacks of bone that aren't immediately recognizable as ever having been human, and if found to be such, appear to be hundreds or thousands of years old except to scientific analysis. She uses children because it works best with them — they have more potential lifespan to drain.
- Geist: The Sin-Eaters introduces abmortals, humans who've discovered or fallen prey to strange processes that leave them immortal, unaging, and capable of healing any injury, but usually at a human cost. Sample abmortals feature processes ranging from "must convince someone to jump from the bridge they failed to commit suicide off of once a year" to "never rejects foreign tissue, but often needs a 'full work-up.'" The statted-up sample abmortal is a crooked exorcist who found a way to devour ghosts.
- The Dark Eldar from Warhammer 40,000 keep their eternal youth by living in Commoragh and enjoying the suffering of others. Their reason for immortality may seem legit, if a little self-centered (Chaos God(dess) Slaanesh eats their souls when they die), until you remember it's their fault Slaanesh exists in the first place, as (s)he was created by their decadence.
- Also, in the Ultramarines novel Nightbringer, some Dark Eldar in search of more reliable immortality end up waking up the incarnation of Death itself.
- The ultimate goal of any follower of Chaos is to transcend the Materium and become an immortal Daemon Prince, and mortal Chaos Champions can live for thousands of years. Given that the best way to gain favour with the Chaos Gods is indiscriminately conquering and slaughtering everything in one's path, inevitably this trope is involved.
- The origin of the Necrons. Millions of years ago the Necrontyr use to be an ancient race who have painfully short lifespans as they came from a planet that was very close to its sun. When they discovered the Old Ones who are near immortal they struck at them out of sheer jealousy. The Old Ones and their servant races easily push the Nercontyr back to their home planet. In desperation the Necrons aligned themselves with the C'tan who not only want to eliminate the Old Ones, but also provide the Necrontyr mechanical bodies to make themselves immortal. The new power the Necrons have allowed them to purge the galaxy of almost all life, and the war lead to the extinction of the Old Ones. After the war the Necrons went into stasis and hope to awake when the Eldar Empire would fall, and they would take over the galaxy, instead they awoke in a galaxy where various races are fighting each other for supremacy, the Necrons strive to rebuild their old dynasties and eliminate all organic life in the galaxy. Though one Necron Lord actually wants to preserve organic life in the galaxy because he intends to use that biomass to give the Necrons flesh and blood bodies again.
- A valid concern for players who reach Span Four in Continuum: your PC has probably lived several hundred years, adopting numerous identities in multiple timelines, had a bunch of nano-technology implanted, and killed (or Fragged) enemies in service to an ethical code that only other spanners can relate to. At Span Five, you're telepathic, functionally immortal, you can traverse nearly all of human history in a single span and you're much more like the Inheritors than a human being.
- The final boss of Sonic & the Black Knight is attempting to use the powers of the Underworld to make Camelot last forever. Said powers result in a spread of darkness and Underworld knights terrorizing the kingdom.
- Several examples pop up in Dragon Age: Origins, which includes Zathrien and Flemeth - both of whom possess immortality due to dark magic. In Zathrien's case, his life is bound to a self-perpetuating werewolf curse upon the bandits who killed his son and raped his daughter centuries previously and still affects their descendants. As long as the curse remains, so does Zathrien. In Flemeth's case, she simply Body Surfs into her daughters' bodies when her current body gets too old.
- Alternatively, Flemeth can send an artifact holding a piece of her to a friendly Dalish tribe, who perform a ritual that revives her.
- According to Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, Dracula became a vampire so that he could live forever in defiance of God's decree that all living things must die.
- Touhou almost entirely averts this, most of the characters long-lived or even immortal in some way without any negative judgement towards them, however while it doesn't present immortality itself as a bad thing it can be bad if sought for selfish reasons:
- Fujiwara no Mokou attained immortality by drinking the Hourai Elixir, obtaining the elixer after killing its guards and only desiring immortality in the first place to have an opportunity to enact revenge on Kaguya (who also drank the elixir and had recently returned to the moon, Mokou correctly fearing that a mortal human would be dead by the time she traveled to Earth again). When she finally did reunite with Kaguya the two spent the following centuries repeatedly killing each other. She is also notable for being the only member of the massive cast to not be in the Living Forever Is Awesome camp, the only human with any form of immortality and thus not fitting with either humans or youkai.
- Kaguya is this trope from the perspective of the other Lunarians who, though "naturally immortal", view the Hourai Elixir as being "impure" and banished Kaguya to Earth for its use (though not, interestingly, Eirin for creating it). This could be due to Lunarian immortality being the "never age or fall ill" variety while Hourai immortality is the "never ever die, ever" variety.
- Remilia Scarlet is a bit of a grey area, as while she is a vampire who drinks blood from people to survive she always "leaves some on her plate" and doesn't actually kill anyone, so her bark is worse than her bite. On top of that, Word of God has it that Remilia will forever have the physical appearance of a child because "creatures of her kind forfeit their growth and maturity in exchange for eternal life. In other words, she can live forever because she never grows up."
- Ten Desires introduces Miko and her followers, who followed Taoism solely to gain the immortality it provided and then exacerbated a religious war to ensure that everyone else in Japan would follow Buddhism, intending to use it to suppress the masses while they gained power through Taoism. Special mention goes to Seiga Kaku who was not only the one who mentored Miko and the others in the ways of Taoism but was also the one who adviced Miko to use Buddhism to pacify Japan on top of also being a Necromancer.
- Learning to stop one's own aging is considered a natural if difficult goal for human mages. Alice Margatroid was fully human once (Patchouli Knowledge may have been as well). Their early characterization suggests that while it isn't precisely immoral, the sheer degree of obsessive study and focus required for a human to attain an indefinite lifespan this way (before dying of old age) may be itself unhealthy. As Marisa's trying for this herself, it remains to be seen if she'll be affected.
- Played straight in Wild and Horned Hermit though, where it's revealed that immortality is in fact a sin in the Touhou-verse, at least according to the Bureau of Right and Wrong. And since they're the ones in charge of sorting people out into Heaven or Hell or Whatever, they have the final say in these sorts of things. Specifically, Hell sends agents to hunt down and kill people who live too long, such as Seiga. Kasen muses on what this means for the naturally immortal youkai, but the question remains unanswered.
- Fable II introduces Reaver, who sacrifices others to a triumverate of demons so that he can stay eternally young and beautiful.
- Asakim Dowen of Super Robot Wars Z is implied to attain immortality as a punishment for a certain sin he committed in the past. He goes all the way, going back and forth crossing the Moral Event Horizon in order to find something that can kill him.
- This seems to be an underlying theme in both Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy X. Many of the themes of the former game center around the meaning of life and what it means to live, and the attempts by the people of Terra (through Garland) to stave off death and stay alive lead them to commit horrific crimes (the mass murder of the Madain Sari summoners, Kuja being sent to cause more havoc in Gaia), to the point where it's implied that Terra has destroyed several younger planets already in its quest to stay alive. In Final Fantasy X, on the other hand, the efforts of Yu Yevon to keep Zanarkand from dying are responsible for much of the suffering that afflicts Spira, from its religious and racial divisions to the suffering of even many of the citizens of Zanarkand themselves. In both games, the quest for immortality leads its pursuers to inflict no end of misery on others.
- In addition, the selfish actions of the Unsent, who control the world government/church insisting that the steady hand of the undead is better than the possible instability or even (Yu-Yevon forbid) CHANGE that might occur if new, living leaders were in charge.
- In I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream one of many inventions produced by Nimdok during his employment in the Nazi death camps was a Youth Serum. According to Doctor Mengele, it took the deaths of many Jewish children to perfect. Ironically, over seventy years later, AM uses the same serum to keep Nimdok and four other survivors of The End of the World as We Know It in eternal agony.
- In Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, Feolthanos has stayed alive for centuries by draining the anima of the aegyl.
- The Big Bad of TimeSplitters: Future Perfect (and, by extension, the entire series) is revealed to be a scientist who was obsessed with discovering the secret to immortality. In the process he screws things up royal multiple times (leading to various forms of monsters eating all his staff members). By the time he gets the process right (by turning himself into a giant cyborg blob, natch) he's gotten it into his head to wipe out humanity and replace it with his own artificially developed species, the Time Splitters.
- The Big Bad of Thief: Deadly Shadows was a Keeper who used a secret Glyph to extend her life by killing others (it's implied she absorbs their biomass, which gives her the added bonus of shapeshifting). The game ends with Garrett destroying Glyph Magic itself, both to depower the Big Bad and also to stop future Keepers from becoming like her.
- Averted in a deeply morally dubious fashion in Golden Sun. In the first game Babi, the ruler of Tolbi, the largest empire in the world, has a life-extending draught that has kept him alive close to a century and a half. In desperate need of a refill of his draught, Babi enslaves the people of Lalivero to build a lighthouse for him in order to find the location of the island the draught came from. The protagonists are more than happy to strike a deal with this tyrant and accept his offer of a boat in return for your picking up some more draught for him. In fact, they have no moral qualms whatsoever about picking up more of this immortality potion for a dictator. They're off the hook, though: Babi dies in Golden Sun: The Lost Age before they can get back to him, so their mission of aiding the perpetual domination of Tolbi by an immortal tyrant is called off.
- Averted in a less morally ambiguous fashion with the Lemurians, the inventors of the draught. Their use of the draught doesn't seem to have affected their morality at all. One of them, Piers, even becomes a party member in The Lost Age.
- Somewhat averted with the Lemurians in generally because they aren't immortal, just long-lived. They gain their longevity from the water spring on the island, which has the same properties as the draught. That's because they stopped making it because of Babi's ambition.
- Averted in a less morally ambiguous fashion with the Lemurians, the inventors of the draught. Their use of the draught doesn't seem to have affected their morality at all. One of them, Piers, even becomes a party member in The Lost Age.
- Sly Cooper:
- Clockwerk in Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is so motivated by his hatred of the Cooper family that he was able to live for centuries. The fact that he replaced his entire body with mechanical parts also helped.
- Arpeggio in Sly 2: Band of Thieves also wanted immortality, but while he wasn't portrayed quite as negatively as Clockwerk, and it seems he didn't have anyone he particularly hated, he still stole Clockwerk's body for himself, and planned to fuel it by driving the entire city of Paris into a drug-induced rage.
- The downloadable content scenario Lost in Nightmares of Resident Evil 5 reveals that Ozwell Spencer planned to develop a virus which would reverse his infirmity and make him immortal. This plan involved thousands of human test subjects. Too bad his top scientist ran off with the test subjects and the research data.
- In Sword of the Stars, the Suul'ka are functionally immortal. Due to their long-term view they tend to view themselves as gods and mere 'mortals' as playthings or tools at best. To add to this, their immortality came through enslaving their own species and forcing them through a premature industrial revolution just so they could build the life support devices necessary to make the Suul'ka immortal.
- To clarify, their species, the Liir, are naturally immortal but never stop growing so eventually the Square/Cube Law kills them. So they got the idea of teleporting into space where they'd be free from gravity's restraints, but they needed someone to build them spacesuits first.
- Averted with The Black, the living weapon actually another Liir Elder created to fight the Suul'ka. The only reason it hasn't embraced a long overdue death already is because there are still Suul'ka out there.
- If the player casts Necromutation in Dungeon Crawl, they can't starve anymore and can live forever as long as they periodically recast the spell. The good gods consider this evil and will excommunicate the player for doing this.
- In Age of Mythology, Gargarensis, the Cyclops Big Bad attempts to release Kronos, the God of Evil and Sealed Evil in a Can from Greek Mythology, whom would cause The End of the World as We Know It in order to make him reward Gargarensis with immortality, as he wishes nothing but to become a god. Gargarensis almost succeeds, but eventually The Hero seals all gates to Tartarus, Kronos' prison, and Gargarensis dies from getting skewered with a trident.
- Averted with Arkantos, The Hero of the story, as Athena rewards him with immortality in the ending, whcih is not treated as amoral in any way.
- This becomes a somewhat Broken Aesop in Age of Empires III, as the villains seek immortality, bur other than using the heroes as tools to obtain it, they do not actually do anything evil related to the immortality. Actually, it goes so far that just in order to prevent the villains from getting immortality, the heroes destroy the only source to it, making it impossible for anyone to ever become it.
- They don't do anything evil *solely related to immortality*, but they do pleeennnty of evil things related to other matters. "Using the heroes as tools" specifically involves toying with the lives of thousands at least for selfish gain, and their schemes to get at it also involve Axe Crazy behavior such as Cold-Blooded Torture, murder, and coups. And that's before we get at the fact that we have absolutely no reason to believe- from their prior record- that they would not horrendously abuse said immortality.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim DLC Dawnguard, Harkon feared death so much he sacrificed thousands of his own subjects so Molag Bal would make him a Vampire Lord.
- The Thalmor are trying to regain the immortality elvenkind lost when the world was created. Their plan is to unmake reality itself and ascend to godhood, and their methods involve large-scale murder of humans and even other elves who disagree with them. Their rhetoric, backstory, and imagery have a distinct Nazi-ish vibe.
- Planescape: Torment uses this trope in interesting ways. In a setting where immortal angels, devils and other beings of the outer planes are a dime-a-dozen, The Nameless One is considered an anomaly for being a human and a complete immortal whose very mortality was torn from him by a powerful ritual. The game explicitly states that the nature of his immortality is what makes him tormented. Amongst other things his immortality routinely killed his memories every time he died, is implied to slowly kill his mind with every death even in his current state, keeps killing other people across the planes in order to balance Death's books every time he dies, and merely staying alive apparently makes The Nameless One strain the fabric of The Multiverse.
- Pokémon X and Y, of all things, has this as a background element. The ancient king AZ built a device to resurrect his pokemon companion who died in a war. However, this was accomplished by draining the life from other beings - and as this trope frequently works out, the ratio of sacrifices to beneficiaries is extremely skewed, though he was past caring. AZ promptly enhanced his new ultimate weapon to wipe out both sides of the war, and his pokemon promptly abandoned him out of guilt. 3000 years later, Team Flare tries to reactivate the weapon, though whether the emphasis is on the "make ourselves great" or "wipe out everyone else" components depends on the version (they plan on both either way).
- Zu Zu the Occultist from "RuneScape" faced a similar quandary as she possesses immortality at the cost of hundreds of sea life; Zu Zu isn't evil herself, but she was hired by an evil empress who employed her skills to discover the method of obtaining immortality and struggles to keep the method a secret while also seeking to reverse the condition.
- Haunting Ground: Both Riccardo and Lorenzo are out to gain immortality. Both require the Azoth inside Fiona to achieve this. Both employ heinous methods to harness it:
- The former plans to live forever by having Fiona give birth to him over and over again. She understandably unwilling to do this. He doesn't care.
- The latter (who is already implied to be hundreds of years old) wants to take a much more direct approach and simply suck the Azoth out of her (mouth to mouth), leaving her a lifeless husk while he revels in his youth and magic.
- In Ancient Magic, the Sorcerer King Jerah used magic to obtain immortality in the backstory. The mages at the mage guild immediately react with horror to this, and when you actually meet him, Lot instantly demands to know how many people died in order to let him live forever. Note that the game never actually says exactly what he did (or whether Lot actually knows); everyone just seems to take it as a given that getting immortality requires doing something evil.
- Starcraft II: Stetmann finds out that the way Zerg DNA works, they can't die of old age. However, he completely refuses to start trying to do this for moral reasons (that and the vast majority of Terrans aren't exactly paragons of virtue, and those that could afford it even less so).
- Mocked by The Nostalgia Chick in her Xanadu review:
Chick: (as Zeus) That's the thing about immortality, it makes you oblivious and stupid.
- A few of the SCP Foundation's cases feature this, most notably Totenkinder and the population of a remote Russian town, whose immortality is Powered by a Forsaken Child.
- While mostly averted in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, where Benjamin Franklin and Dr. McNinja are researching a cure for death and the attempt is treated as a positive thing, it turns out to be a case of #1 as Ben was unwittingly receiving "help" from Dracula, and the serum wound up turning Ben into a Headless Horseman. The debate behind this trope is parodied at the end of the arc in this strip.
- Subverted in Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name when Hanna turns Conrad into a vampire. Immortality's no cakewalk, and it comes at a price, but Hanna is still portrayed as a sympathetic character who was only doing the best thing he could do at the time.
- Angel Eye from Rice Boy was formerly on a Mission from God which granted him immortality as long as he continued seeking The Fulfiller. He quit, but didn't want to give up his immortality, so he began drinking the Black Spirit. As the Overside Encyclopedia explains: "Anyone who drinks it is immortal for as long as he drinks it, but it isn't the same life as before. Extended use is thought to make the drinker increasingly warped and evil."
- It's worth noting that immortality per se isn't portrayed as evil, as one of the heroes, T-O-E, is on the same Mission From God that Angel Eye abandoned, and is likewise immortal. However, T-O-E does consider himself very foolish for taking the offer in the first place.
- In Drowtales, a human royal coupled sought immortality by bathing in Elf blood Elizabeth-Bathory-style. It's not explicitly stated whether it really worked against aging, but it definitely didn't work against being killed.
- The Dragon Doctors had Preston Chang, who turned himself into a parasite known as the Crax so that he could become immortal by infesting everyone. However the Crax eventually determined that his attitude was detrimental to survival and discarded his soul before mutating into benign gut fauna.
- Ra's al-Ghul from Batman: The Animated Series has this as part of his Utopia Justifies the Means philosophy, and it's shown that the Lazarus Pits that he uses renders the user completely and utterly Ax-Crazy for a brief period of time after using it. In the animated series, he nearly threw his own daughter to certain death (the pits are lethal to healthy humans, and only work on the dying).
- And then he takes a flying leap over the Moral Event Horizon in Batman Beyond, when it's revealed that after being wounded too badly for even the Pits to heal, he took over Talia's body, overwriting her mind with his. Talia apparently agreed to this out of sheer devotion (or so Ra's says), but that doesn't make it any less despicable. It drives home the point of his own selfishness; if his daughter was THAT devoted, she surely could have been counted on to continue his life's work, so his only reason for taking her body would have to be his own selfish desire to continue living.
- Batman taunts him at one point that after all this time and delusions of grandeur, Ra's hasn't mastered death at all; he's ruled by the fear of it.
- Played with in Batman: Under the Red Hood.
Jason Todd: Oh, you got to talking with Ra's, huh? Does it make it easier for you to think my little dip in his fountain of youth turned me rabid? Or is this just the real me?
- Charles Montgomery Burns displays a similar cowardice on The Simpsons. Coming close to a Heel-Face Turn numerous times, he finally doomed himself after a random act of kindness nearly killed him. He then realized that evil was literally the only thing keeping his frail, 104-year-old body alive, and he vows to never reform his ways in order to keep himself alive forever.
- Marceline from Adventure Time does have a case of this, as it is flat out stated (well, sang) in her introductory episode that the reason she is so Chaotic Neutral is that she's lived so long she's stopped caring.
Narrator: (singing) Oh Marceline! Why are you so mean?Marceline: (singing back) I'm not mean, I'm a thousand years old, and I just lost track of my moral code.
- Some commentators, both religious and secular, argue that to "cure" aging would abolish a key part of the human experience. Perhaps the most notable exponent of this viewpoint is Leon Kass, formerly of the President's Council on Bioethics.
- Presumably, if this were applied on a global scale, it would result in massive overpopulation (and thus, this trope is in full effect in Immanual Kant's system of moral philosophy, which says that you should not do something that would be bad if everyone did it). If only a few people were granted immortality, they would likely acquire disproportionate power and control over the course of their lives, and would never be removed from power by death. So, unless there's Population Control, completely effective contraception, and/or cheap, reliable space colonization becomes available, you shouldn't try to invent immortality.
- On an even larger scale, one could argue that immortality threatens all life on earth, via a lack of evolution. Eternally young but experienced creatures will almost always outcompete their own offspring. Thus, any immortal species will stop replacing its individuals with those from a newer generation. This stays true as the environment changes, while some of the young creatures will be slightly better adapted to it by chance, this advantage doesn't outweigh the massive gap in experience. This in turn means that those slightly better adapted individuals can't reproduce and produce (ones more by chance) even better adapted ones. The gap between the environment the species has evolved in and the one it's currently living in will eventually become too big, and the immortal species goes extinct (barring magical means that let the animals survive literally anywhere). This could take as long as hundreds of millions of years though, in select cases, and it can be subverted altogether if the immortality is incomplete and enough immortal individuals still die from predator attacks or other causes. Still, this is pretty much why we have the lifespan we have, evolution selects against populations with too long an average life.
- For a given definition of immortality, people who commit horrible crimes just to get featured on the news so they can live on in infamy forever would count.