The past was an exciting time to live in: Magic was real, mythological creatures roamed the Earth, and humans lived side by side with elves, dwarves, hobbits and the rest. Such a shame that it didn't last and we're stuck with plain, old boring mundane life.
But wait, reports are coming in that something strange is happening all over the planet: Mysterious creatures thought only to exist in storybooks have been sighted in isolated areas and their numbers are increasing with each passing day. Some humans are starting to exhibit fantastical powers that science can't explain. Strange, yet familiar humanoid beings have been seen going about their daily lives in the middle of human cities.
What's going on? Why, the exact opposite of The Magic Goes Away. Maybe it completely disappeared at one point or maybe it didn't exist at all. Regardless of the past situation, however, magic is back and, as a result, can often pave the way for an Urban Fantasy setting.
Sometimes technological prowess will directly lead to Magic from Technology.
This trope seems to be about evenly split between ending and beginnings. As such there may be unmarked spoilers. The presence of names on this list may in and of themselves constitute spoilers.
See also Nothing Is the Same Anymore.
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In Berserk, the appearance of the fifth God Hand, Femto, and his rebirth as Griffith caused a chain reaction that slowly drew the supernatural world into the human world. The final and permanent change occurs during the climax of the battle with Emperor Ganishka when the two worlds suddenly become one. Cue astonished reactions from two lumberjacks as they then witness a herd of unicorns stampeding away from a hydra.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou combines this with a Just Before TheCosy Catastrophe setting. It's the twilight of humanity, and as cities slowly shrink, roads gradually fall into disrepair, and the human population dwindles, magical creatures and mystical phenomena are quietly coming back to the world — in a gradual and completely non-threatening way, of course, as befits the atmosphere of this work.
By the end of Ga-Rei, humans live alongside all manners of undead spirits. The main characters simply shrug when faced with this new reality, saying that "humanity can and will learn to live in this new world".
A major plot point in Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyoubi. The day human beings stopped dying and giving birth is also the day people's wishes started coming true, for good and bad, and it seems most of the supernatural happenings in the series are the result of said wishes.
A Return of Magic was foretold by Ancient Gina in Gold Digger.
The Pony POV Series has the present being the end result of this happening. The Golden Age (the G2 Series) of Pony civilization had magic fade out and into legend. All three tribes didn't even know the others existed. However, Patch rediscovered Paradise Estate and ended up triggering this. Unfortunately, this all resulted in a Class 2 Apocalypse and while the magic stayed, civilization collapsed.
Films — Animation
The 1977 animated film Wizards has humanity being wiped out in a nuclear war. Over time, mystical races such as faeries and gnomes awaken from their long slumber and return to the world bringing magic along with them.
Films — Live-Action
The Marvel Cinematic Universe: The Asgardians once visited Earth, and taught Humans language and culture. After the war with Jotunheim they withdrew, and memories of them faded into myths and legend. And then Thor happened...
Winter of Magic's Return and its sequel by Pamela Service are YA novels about a reawakened Merlin in an After the End setting where magic is starting to replace technology again.
Something rather like this is the undercurrent of the third book in C. S. Lewis' so-called Space Trilogy, That Hideous Strength. By the end of the story, major elements from Celtic -and to a lesser extent, Greek- mythology are running around parts of 20th-Century England; per Lewisian reckoning, these are benevolent, quasi-divine entities aligned with Heaven and mistaken for deities by pagans in times past. The overall effect is similar to what one would expect of the reincarnation of King Arthur, which it sorta is.
At the beginning of Monster by A Lee Martinez, magic is slowly declining as humans lose their ability to comprehend it. However, when Lotus is killed, the Cosmic Keystone she was feeding off is free to balance the universe again, allowing magic to return: not only do magicians become more powerful than ever before, but Muggles become capable of witnessing magic without any form of Weirdness Censor.
In A Song of Ice and Fire, magic is considered a folk tale by most of the people of Westeros, and no provable sorcery has been practiced in years. Then, at the end of the first book, Daenerys uses the principles of blood magic to hatch fossilized dragon eggs, and with the return of the dragons comes a boost in the general level of magic, which is especially noticeable for pyromancers and red priests.
This also comes in conjunction with another set of myths that prove themselves less than fantastical: the Others and the Children of the Forest come back (if they even ever left, that is). And, they have always been linked with the more magical tales. This... is not portrayed as a particularly good thing. In fact, the whole magical package is hinted as being very much not what you'd want as a present. Magic may be amoral in itself, but it's not going to make life easier by coming back.
The Fall of the Kings: The previous two books in the series had no magic, though some of the related short stories had minor fantasy elements (like the appearance of St. Vier's ghost in "The Death of the Duke"). Then in The Fall of the Kings, it's revealed that in the setting's distant past, before the monarchy was overthrown, the country was ruled by a series of kings and their wizard lovers, though the existence of real magic has been covered up by Internal Retcon. One of the main characters is a descendant of the ancient kings (and heavily implied to be the Rightful Heir), and the other is a scholar obsessed with the wizards (who successfully performs magic before the end of the book). Different from most examples in that this does not lead to a worldwide renaissance of magic; it might have, except the scholar gets murdered the first time he does magic in public.
Common in the Dungeon Punk genre. A good example is the Lord Darcy stories, which take place in an Alternate History where a chance scientific breakthrough lead to the codification of magic around 1300, the practice of which inevitably spread to every corner of the world.
The Connor Grey series has this as a backstory. Faerieland suffered some sort of calamity, so all The Fair Folk had to settle on Earth. Now they're coexisting uneasily with humans, and much magic is being done.
In Ben Aaronovitch's novel Rivers of London the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is disgusted but not totally shocked to learn that the Home Office projections were wrong and that the magic has indeed been coming back since about the mid-sixties.
In The Wheel of Time series, as it progresses, a number of magical Talents that were lost start reappearing. Even some abilities that never existed like Healing stilling have been discovered. This is only a partial example, because magic never went away entirely.
In The Grimnoir Chronicles, magic appears due to the arrival of some kind of Cosmic Being, which seeds people with magical power, lets it grow as they use it, and harvests it when they die.
This is happening slowly in the Kate Daniels universe. Tech is slowly losing to magic, which drives as a major driver for social and cultural change.
In The Stand, after a virus wipes out most of humanity, supernatural events start occurring with increasing frequency: everyone starts having psychic dreams, Randall Flagg goes from a vaguely mystical vagrant to a full-fledged Humanoid Abomination, and at least a few divine miracles occur. Magic and civilization are treated as opposing forces in the book; early, uncivilized peoples experienced magic more often, and, now that civilization's crumbling, magic is on the rebound.
In S. M. Stirling's Emberverse series it's a result of the Change that wipes out all tech above a medieval level. In the first trilogy, set during the first decade after the Change it's somewhat dubious but becomes quite explicit in later books set a quarter century after the Change. After Rudi acquires the Sword of the Lady it seems to takes another leap forward.
In Tim Lebbon's Dusk and Dawn, magic is coming back. In the Noreela world that Dusk and Dawn are set on, magic is a natural force and semi-sentient. The problem is that evil wizards have been constantly tapping into it and trying to conquer the world. They end up tapping out magic, until centuries later magic finally feels that the world is ready for its return and it sends out an avatar to revive magic around the world. Unfortunately this triggers a race between those who would safeguard the magic, those who would use it for corrupt ends and those who would it destroy its return (the ones who would destroy it have other supernatural means of doing things). Without magic, Noreela is a shadow of itself and is settling into a slow death spiral.
Quantum Gravity's humans believe this happened. The other races insist that they could and were sneaking into the human world to generally make mischief, it's just that they weren't being obvious about it before. It's a little difficult to tell which is true, since anyone who says such a thing just admitted they like messing with people.
Inverted in The Empire of the East trilogy by Fred Saberhagen, and, by extension, in his Books Of Swords and Books of Lost Swords series, in which Technology Comes Back. All three series are set in the far future of earth, after the United States, as a last resort to avoid the destruction of the world in an imminent (as in the missiles were being launched at that moment) nuclear war, activated a device designed to alter the laws of physics within the vicinity of the planet earth so as to make nuclear fissions so unlikely as to make the chain reactions which power nuclear bombs impossible. It worked a little too well, as changing the laws of nature also caused almost all advanced technology to cease functioning, causing the collapse of technological civilization, and also unleashed the powers of magic, causing the rise of a civilization based on magic. At the end of the Empire trilogy, however, the Great Change was partially reversed, allowing advanced technology to function once again. The magic, however, does not go away.
In Patricia A. McKillip's The Riddle Master Trilogy, the world itself was always deeply magical and this never changed, but actual wizards had vanished centuries ago, leaving behind mysterious riddles. They return during the course of the trilogy and the most powerful, Ghisteslwchlohm, never went anywhere- he just hid his true identity to impersonate the High One.
The Laundry Series uses a particularly dark variant of this with CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, the Laundry code name for when the stars are right. During CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, magic - which works through computation and the focus of belief - should become much more easy to perform. Unfortunately, this means that the summoning of gribbly horrors from beyond space time should not only become easier, in many cases, in may be accidental.
In The Shadow Speaker, which takes place in 2070, strange magical events have started occurring on Earth and people have begun to have strange powers.
Vladimir Vasilyev's novel The Treasure of the Kapitana explores a world 800 years After the End of our civilization. It's the new Middle Ages, with the Vestigial Empire of Albion formally still in control of much of the world. However, in the now-shallow waters of the Euxine (Black) Sea, a different kind of sailing is prevalent. Large, Wooden Ships and Iron Men-type ships can no longer sail lest they get stuck on underwater sand banks. Small sail-powered ships are used instead with people known as shtarkhs taking the place of maritime pilots to navigate the treacherous waters. Instead of knowledge of the waters, the shtarkhs are able to commune with the forces of nature through their companions, mysterious large cats known as cassats. They use this ability to manipulate winds and waters to safely guide a vessel. The Euxine Sea is also the only place where the local version of the Flying Dutchman can be seen. The end of the novel claims that, thanks to the actions of the main characters, magic has been released from its container, where it was placed long ago. In fact, it's claimed that the catastrophe that destroyed the old world is the direct result of magic being removed (screwing up the natural order), and that the cassats came to this world in order to correct this.
This is a common theme of the works of HP Lovecraft, particularly the Cthulhu Mythos.
The Necronomicon: Nor is it to be thought that man is either the oldest or the last of earth's masters, or that the common bulk of life and substance walks alone. The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be... Man rules now where They ruled once; They shall soon rule where man rules now. After summer is winter, after winter summer. They wait patient and potent, for here shall They reign again.
Mana from Heaven by Roger Zelazny is a kind of epilogue to Larry Niven'sThe Warlock's Era shared universe. While most stories in the series deal with disappearance of magic due to the exhaustion of mana in the times of Atlantis, Mana from Heaven is about few present-day magicians who learned to live in a magic-barren world and use its resources sparingly, allowing them to replenish. Then meteor showers started to bring more mana to Earth, promising to eventually raise its amount back to Atlantean levels.
In the Green-Sky Trilogy, the psionically gifted humans have been losing their abilities at younger and younger ages, but after some meddling kids blow the lid off their False Utopia and the iron-fisted rule of the Ol-Zhaan priests and the repressive aspects of society are dismantled, things start vastly improving in that area.
While the Tortall Universe has magic, it used to be filled with with magical creatures called Immortals- things like dragons, unicorns, centaurs, and more unconventional creatures like spidrens and storm-wings. Because many of these creatures were so dangerous, human mages locked them away in another realm for hundreds of years...but then they came back.
Heavily implied in Merlin. The series makes frequent mentions to the Great Purge, the wiping out of most of the Old Religion and all but one of the dragons. The magic-users of that time clearly weren't very good, as the High Priestesses, the best of the best, were taken down by Muggle knights. As the series goes on, a lot of magic that Merlin and other mages use is described as "ancient", and powerful magic-users become more common.
In the series Once Upon a Time, our world is stated to be "the one without magic." And in the first season, when the town was under a curse, magic was in very short supply. The curse gets broken, however, and the magic comes roaring back with a vengeance. Unfortunately, magic not only has horrible price tags attached, it is also stated to be something akin to drugs; highly addictive and highly corrupting. And making matters even worse? The two most powerful mages in town are Rumplestitskin and Regina (Snow White's stepmother).
Like with its source material, the A Songof Ice And Fire books, in A Gameof Thrones most people believe that magic is long gone from the world. Aside from the White Walkers and dragon eggs, there is not much of a hint of the supernatural. Then when the dragons hatch, more and more signs of magic begin appearing. The warlock Pyat Pree even tells Daenerys "When your dragons were born, our magic was born again."
Some mythologies claim that we live in a bad age, but it will change someday when the magic returns. This can refer to the Messias, or the king in the hill, or whatever (already Greek Mythology knows this trope).
In the Riftsmagic had lain dormant ever since an experiment performed by the ancient Atlanteans nearly depleted the Earth's Ley Lines. Then, at the end of the 21st Century, an apocalyptic war accident causes the simultaneous deaths of billions of humans. The sudden flood of magical energy caused by so many deaths floods the ley lines, causing a magical chain reaction that raised the Earth's magical higher than it had ever been before, and opened up Rifts from all corners of the multiverse.
In the Shadowrun campaign setting, magic returns after centuries of dormancy, which causes elves and dwarves to be born of human parents as well as causing others to change into orcs and trolls.
When the dimension Alara from the Magic: The Gathering multiverse was broken into five pieces, each piece could only access three of the five forms of magic, with no two pieces accessing the same three forms of magic. Much of the story deals with the five shards of Alara coming together, and the huge problems the reemergence of unknown forms of magic and the mindsets behind its practitioners are causing it.
In the Alternity campaign setting Dark•Matter, the level of supernatural activity on Earth is directly linked to the amount of dark matter in the universe, which is likened to a tide pool. The rising tide of dark matter, however, is not a good thing. Not only are many supernatural beings extremely dangerous, but previous risings of the tide have resulted in mass extinction events, as noted in the Mayan calendar.
This idea was later copied for Urban Arcana, a d20 Modern campaign setting. Here, the tide is actually the Shadow Plane and the supernatural forces are the monsters of Dungeons & Dragons. There's no Apocalypse looming ahead, though.
In the GURPS setting Technomancer, the Trinity nuclear bomb tests and Oppenheimer's famous words, "I am become death, the destroyer of words" (which he didn't actually say) completes an ancient ritual and returns magic to the world, which humanity promptly fuses with technology to produce all kinds of strange ramifications. (Although, In-Universe, "returns" is an assumption; there's no proof Earth used to have magic and then it went away, although there's enough circumstantial evidence that most people believe it.)
The first campaign arc for the Dragonlance setting, and the corresponding novels, involve the restoration of divine magic to Krynn.
Played with in City of Heroes by the last Signature Story Arc released, Pandora's Box. The arc reveals that Marcus Cole and Stefan Richter, after they drank from the Well of Furies, discovered Pandora's Box and opened it. Doing so released all the creativity of mankind that had been stored up over the past thousand years, ushering in the new age of superpowers that would follow. The catch is—the magic never really went away in the first place. Everywhere in the backstory of City of Heroes, in every century, you'll find superpowered people influencing history. What opening Pandora's Box did was make the presence of superpowered beings even stronger than before.
Bringing magic back is your goal in Zork: Grand Inquisitor. It has already started to return before you get involved, as evidenced by Dalboz's journal entries and your working spellbook, but you still need to reunite the MacGuffins to complete the process.
The opposite, really - the discovery of magic (a technology sourced from the discovery of an "unlimited energy equation") spurred the creation of many kinds of technology to utilize it. One of these technologies was the creation of Gears, living creatures altered or created by magic to be living weapons. It was the Gears going rogue which brought about the near-extinction of the human race.
Final Fantasy VI begins with a narration stating how the War of the Magi devastated the world and brought about the end of magic... but in truth, the magic wasn't gone, it was merely sealed away. Now a power hungry Empire has rediscovered it and is using it as a weapon of conquest. It doesn't last long, however. In the end, upon the destruction of the Three Goddesses of Magic, The Magic Goes Away again, this time permanently.
In Shin Megami Tensei I, the Demon Mother Echidna explains to the Hero how all manner of supernatural creatures roamed freely across the primitive Earth... until "the Hebrew God" conquered them and cast them down into darkness to rule alone. Of course, humans are incapable of using magic, only so-called "demons" can, and so the rule of God went unopposed for millennia. After the End of our world, Twenty Minutes into the Future due to nuclear annihilation, Gaia's children have returned and brought magic back with them, and they're not going to give up so easily this time.
Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader is all about this trope. About ten thousand years ago a spell was cast to eliminate all magic and fantastic beasts. Then during the crusades of Richard the Lionhearted a counterspell was cast (somehow, no magic remember?) after the execution of 3000 arab prisoners, releasing all manner of nasties into the world.
Golden Sun revolves around a deliberate attempt to bring back the magic, with the first game following those who think magic is too dangerous to restore, and the second following those who think it must be brought back. The heroes of the second game are right. Magic was a basic part of nature, and without its influence rising tides are slowly submerging the land. In addition, magic was the foundation of most of the technology in the setting, and without it, technology stagnated—as one character observes, no extant civilization has built or could build anything as impressive as the ancient ruins you spend most of the series trekking through.
The goal of the Big Bad in The Longest Journey could be considered this, in that he plans to re-join the worlds of Stark (world of science, i.e. our Earth) and Arcadia (medieval world of magic), which have been split up for millennia due to the dangers of mixing science and magic. In the beginning of the game, strange, magical things start happening to the people of Stark. Also, the fact that all advanced technology failed in-between The Longest Journey and Dreamfall: The Longest Journey implies that it was an unwitting product of magic seeping into Stark.
The starting point of the plot in the little known Spellcraft - Aspects of Valor.
Darkly deconstructed in NieR. The magic introduced into the world via Caim, Angelus and the Mother Grotesquerie crossing over from the Drakengard universe literally causes The End of the World as We Know It. The result is the incurable White Chlorination Syndrome and The Legion. By the time the game actually starts, humanity as we know it is entirely extinct.
The page quote from Dragon Age II is from a world where Functional Magic is widely acknowledged (and feared for various reasons up to Beware the Superman and Demonic Possession) and seems quite out of context, except that the person in question can do things other dwarves can't, as Dwarves are the only known race in the setting that can't produce mages. There are also hints that the history of his people (and of humans and elves as well) is incorrect on some level, leading to much Wild Mass Guessing about what Sandal means.
Throughout the series we see more and more mystical elements coming back. Dragons were thought to be extinct, yet they reappeared at the beginning of the current age, giving it its name. Old magical arts like shapeshifting or Arcane Warriors can be rediscovered by the Wardens. If the Player Character let Morrigan go through with her ritual one of the Old Gods is reborn free from the taint.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 reveals that a small portion of ordinary humans (the protagonist Serah included) has suddenly gained magical powers in the aftermath of the Fall, when the majority of them migrated down to Gran Pulse. In Final Fantasy XIII, magic was restricted to the l'Cie servants of fal'Cie, and while Serah in particular was a l'Cie once, it is implied she has lost whatever meager powers she had upon de-crystallizing and gained them again the natural way, so to speak.
The Datalog also confirms that by Noel's time (700 AF), everyone has magic (considering that there's only a tiny amount of people around by then, it's not that surprising).
The basis of the furry webcomic Code Name: Hunter. In a subversion, there are places where the magic was never sealed away, such as Australia.
It later turns out that magic was only sealed away in England, and then because one king had the church make a seal for it, which was destroyed in WWII. Everywhere else it just went underground.
Yosh! had in it's backstory the world sudenly re-gaining a large amount of magic and people changing into semihuman forms when the first of 5 seals keeping magic away from the world is broken. When the second seal is broken, more magic returns, magical creatures reapear, and a sunken island rises - into the sky.
In The Phoenix Requiem, magic was provided by the spirits, who were imprisoned 700 years ago. They seem to be coming back. The catch: it is revealed that they are the bad guys.
The ramifications of this is an ongoing theme in The Descendants, where the return of Western style magic (Eastern magic seems to have survived) is allowing monsters from Faerie to cross over and people with natural powers to manifest. Interestingly, magic seems to have died from disuse rather than being sealed away.
This was the premise of the 1980's animated series Visionaries.
Making the people of Earth believe in magic again is part of the mission the Winx Club has in season 4.
While it took quite a while to be addressed in the show itself, Word of God says that Adventure Timetakes place on our Earth, after some nuclear disaster wiped out humanity and magic slowly returned to the world of Ooo. This trope is played rather disturbingly as it's implied that it was both the war and the magic coming back that destroyed everything else- the magic released caused all sorts of bizarre, nonsensical warped monstrosities that eventually evolved into Ooo's inhabitants.
The episode "Jake the Dog" was based around an alternate timeline created when the Lich was never created, which resulted in a lesser disaster where humanity survived but lost most technology and the magic never returned. For a while, at least.
One of the first signs of magic's return? An ancient golden crown, which whispers secrets of ice-and-snow into anyone who wears it, slowly transforming them...
In Thundarr the Barbarian a rogue planet's passing cracked the moon in half, destroyed civilization and somehow led to functional magic.
Played for Laughs in an American Dad! episode, where a mysterious terrorist attacks power plants, laboratories and such. It turns out that said terrorist is an obsessive Lord of the Rings fan who thinks that by resetting Earth to the middle ages, he will cause an age of magic.
At the end of Book 2 of The Legend of Korra, Korra decides to leave the spirit portals open, allowing the human and spirit worlds to relatively freely intermingle, like they did before Wan closed the portals ten thousand years ago. One side effect was non-benders all over the world spontaneously manifesting the near-extinct art of Airbending.