So, we have a world. The world has magic in it. However, this world isn't a normal fantasy setting and is instead more or less the real world
. Well, then what happens to magic or magical creatures? It turns out that they disappear, for better or worse.
It seems that magic and science simply don't go well together, so that as one grows stronger, the other fades. Thus, the further humanity progresses in either science or civilization, the weaker magic becomes. In some cases, magic may even die outright.
See Magic Versus Science
for reasons for conflict between the two systems. May occur because magic draws its power
, and belief is antithetical to knowledge
This may be a factor in The Magic Goes Away
. Compare Death of the Old Gods
. Compare and contrast The Magic Versus Technology War
, which involves more direct conflict. If magic appears
to disappear, but is merely explained by advances in science, then it's Doing In the Wizard
or Magic from Technology
Contrast Doing In the Scientist
, which can be seen as this trope in reverse; science fades because of magical underpinnings.
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Anime and Manga
- Side material for Mahou Sensei Negima! reveals that magic may be doomed. Magic is largely dependent upon a theory of the way the world works based on such things as the classic elements or fantasy creatures. However, as science progresses, it becomes more difficult to hold the proper mindset. It is implied that eventually magic will have been replaced completely by science.
- In A Certain Magical Index, the power of magic and the various churches built around them have largely declined, leading to a balance of power that is roughly even between that of the Science and Magic sides. While science continues to grow, magic largely stays the same. Quite interesting when one considers magic came into existence as an attempt to replicate rare but naturally-occuring Psychic Powers in ordinary people, an alternative everyone could use. The balance started unraveling when science discovered how to create espers through artificial means (the Power Development Program shown in the series).
- In DC Comics, Doctor Thirteen is a paranormal investigator who goes around debunking magical phenomena as mundane activity. Since he's in the same verse as The Spectre and The Phantom Stranger, it didn't really make sense and was retconned into being that Doctor Thirteen's very presence makes magic stop working.
- The Lord of the Rings: Elves, ents, dwarves, orcs etc are fading away as "The Third Age of the world is ended, and the new age is begun"
- In Stardust, all the fantasy elements of our world largely left for another world. There are points of contact between the two worlds, but even those are both becoming rarer and the times when people cross between become rarer as well.
- A lot of Victorian literature is constructed around this idea. Dracula stands out as a great example as the mysticism of Eastern Europe is trumped by the science and innovation of an industrialized England.
- In Conan the Barbarian, according to the good sorcerer Pelias Conan's kingdom brought forth an age of logic and science which is slowly destroying the magic.
- In Voyage of the Basset (televised as Voyage of the Unicorn), the motto of the Basset is "Credendo vides", translated in-universe as "By believing, one sees." In other words, you have to ignore science and believe in the fantastic without evidence before you can see behind The Masquerade.
- In Magic Kingdom of Landover, not believing in magic and believing in science kills off magic in The Verse, the "real" world has nearly no magic as a result.
- This is implied to be the end goal of the maesters in A Song of Ice and Fire. There seems to be a conspiracy in the upper ranks that wants to destroy magic in favor of science. This is hardly a universal consensus, however, and officially they still have a field of study dedicated to "the higher mysteries." It seems to exist as much to discourage potential initiates by teaching them spells that don't work as any other reason, however.
- The War of the Flowers invokes this. The Evil Overlord of the Faeries says that this is why life sucks in their world, but he may be lying.
- Seems to work both ways in the Kate Daniels books: Technology destroys magic and magic causes technology to fail.
- Inverted in The Dresden Files. There active magic destroys technology to the point where cell phones are considered the canaries of magical activity.
- Ray Bradbury's short story On The Orient, North featured a ghost fleeing continental Europe to save himself from the scientific intellectuals that were "killing" him, aided by an English nurse.
"Yes," said the ghastly passenger. "You are English and the English believe!"
"True. Better than Americans, who doubt. French? Cynics! English is best. There is hardly an old London house that does not have its sad lady of mists crying before dawn."
- In Suburban Knights, the premise is about the magical villain's intent to seek revenge on the science of the world bought about by the king who bested him in battle for the throne long ago, and destroy technology everywhere. The Channel Awesome crew can only look on in shocked disbelief when the villain takes a call on his smartphone, proving that he's a total hypocrite.
- Mage: The Ascension. This is what happened to Earth in the campaign setting. The Technocracy managed to impose its scientific, rational world view and thereby suppress the fantasy elements (e.g., magic and magical monsters) that were common before.
- Changeling: The Dreaming tends to assume science is Fae-smothering Banality, though the Nockers might disagree (indeed, the largest infusion of Glamour in recent history was the moon landing).
- In Magic: The Gathering, this was basically what Yawgmoth hoped. Phyrexian 'technology' seems to be Magitek, Mechanical Lifeforms or a combination of both, however, so this may not be a full example. Also, during The Thran, Yawgmoth "deconstructed" magic by diffracting light into its five mana components. It's quite complicated.
- One late conversation in Arcanum mentions that the world goes through cycles of magic, uneasy balance, tech ect, with the game taking place during the uneasy balance leading into an era of technology.
- In a more literal sense, advanced technology weakens magic and vice-versa, because tech uses natural laws to do things, while magic breaks the laws of nature to do things.
- Touhou. The main setting, Gensoukyou, has actually been set up to absorb things that would be destroyed from lack of belief. This may hold more for certain beings than for others. Deities are confirmed to be reliant on human worship and new characters appear due to outsiders' disbelief but Youkai are still able to cross the Border for a snack with the right preparations. Then there are the issues of the entire Lunar civilization (which admittedly could be in the same situation as Gensoukyou) and at least one character who can come and go at will.
- The Extended Universe for King's Quest has this as part of the games' backstory. The magical creatures and beings that once lived on our world were Genre Savvy about the matter, so when we started becoming more scientific they voluntarily left to a new world before any weakening could occur.
- The explanation the fantasy side gives in Umineko no Naku Koro ni for why they don't use magic openly is that humans have become resistant to it as they acquired an 'anti-magic toxin'. Thus, in large groups it becomes impossible to use magic on them. The mystery side argues, of course, that magic doesn't exist in the first place. It is largely ambiguous as to who is correct.
- In Shikkoku No Sharnoth, as the light of civilization grew, the dark kingdom of the fantasy realm willingly left to make room for them, as they could not exist in it. The only one who stayed was the land's powerful king, who stayed inside his dark castle alone. By the end, Mary has dragged the king out and told him he can't stay trapped in the past, always fearing the future.
- In Fate/stay night, there is an expression: As technology moves towards the future, magecraft moves towards the past. As technology has advanced, the ability of magic users has only declined. Tsukihime, set in the same continuity, originally introduced this idea with the fact that where magic was once powerful, it now has to hide from society at large or risk destruction.
- The Administrator's note for the SCP Foundation has this as explaining why we don't have all these weird cults dedicated to SCP-level objects. Not that it seems to have worked...