rabbit-hole on for size.
"I was old when the molecules of your world joined and called themselves land and sea and fish and man.
That's why they come back to Z'ha'dum every time they're driven off. Because I'm here. They think they are showing respect. They don't understand. They did used to. But that was a long time ago. A million years."
There are the old, and then there are the truly old. People usually die within a century or so. Cities and nations may last a few millennia, and we think them old, but the truly old are so much older.
They were already old when all the nations we know were born, even those now vanished into history
. They can speak of Ancient Athens and Babylon as casually as we might have yesterday
, for to them those ancient cities are but recent memories
. They were there when brick was first laid on brick, over five thousand years ago. They may have watched the trilobites come, and go, with eyes older than the stars. They may even be older than time itself.
Contemplating such immense spans of time is like looking into an abyss, an inducement to vertigo, for they are more than we can grasp. Oh, we can talk about them easily enough, just more big numbers, but we can't intuit them. We all know what a second or a week feels like; a million years (or even ten thousand) is beyond all human experience. It is from this incomprehension that this trope draws its power, when done right, an evocation of incomprehensible age that appeals to our sense of wonder. Naturally, a Time Abyss must experience all the years they claim. It doesn't count if they skip over
or sleep through them
While a Time Abyss is normally a person — perhaps not technically human, but a person nonetheless — objects can also qualify
, everything from cities to coins. Imagine an alien monolith
that has been sitting on the moon for three billion years. Think about all it has seen; the slow dance of the continents, the long march of evolution, the sudden flowering of civilization. Think, and wonder.
Geographical features can't qualify, though. We expect the hills to be old as dirt. We do not expect people, or any of their works
, to be older than the hills.
Five thousand years or so is a decent estimate of the minimum
age needed to qualify for this trope, comfortably older than Ancient Greece or China, but in Science Fiction
a Time Abyss will typically be far older than that. Geological time scales are usually involved. In modern-day works of a religious bent (or not
), Adam and Eve (or Cain) are likely candidates.
or major Eldritch Abomination
is often a time abyss, as are Precursors
and Elves (depending on how much better the elves are
, many aren't old enough to follow this trope). These characters may decide that there's Nothing Left to Do but Die
because Who Wants to Live Forever?
. May even oscillate between Living Forever Is Awesome
and bored eternity.
Meta-trope of Living Relic
, where the being in question finds themselves the last survivor of their civilization, race, or even species long after their kind has become myth. Being a Time Abyss will often lead to a work's creator wanting to engage in some Exposition of Immortality
to show just how much they remember.
See Time Skip
for when a long time has passed between two events.
open/close all folders
- The 2000 Year Old Man: as titled, he wouldn't be old enough to qualify, but he claims his oldest memories are of living as a caveman. And he says he met Moses.
- Many Transformers in all incarnations are millions of years old. Some individuals are older than the entire human species.
- For an idea, in the Transformers Generation 1 cartoon, Optimus and Megatron had been battling each other for millions of years before arriving to Earth. There's also how Shockwave didn't change much during the four million years the Autobots and the Decepticons in the Ark were in stasis (well, except for being minus one hand).
- The Thirteen are considered old even by the standards of their species, including Vector Prime and The Fallen. The first creations of Primus, they were old before the war that's been going for millions of years got started. They don't even have faction insignias, since they pre-date their formations by eons (their toys notwithstanding).
- In Transformers Prime the Thirteen are said to have battled Unicron in ancient times. Unicron eventually became Earth by collecting debris as he drifted through space. In the canon novel Exodus, which takes place a few million years ago at most, Alpha Trion, one of the Thirteen, speaks to Optimus. In case you haven't figured it out that means Trion is at least five billion or so years old.
- Kup and Alpha Trion from Transformers Generation 1; Alpha Trion was around when the Quintessons were driven from Cybertron — about twelve million years ago. Kup could be anywhere from just as old to maybe "only" ten million years old; he's certainly older than Optimus Prime, who is at least nine million years old. Alpha Trion, in other media, was ret-conned into being one of the Thirteen, although this isn't easy to reconcile.
- The Quintessons themselves, or at least the ones who were personally around before they lost Cybertron (e.g. the three-face who built the Transorganic energy-leech) also qualify.
- ...And that's not counting all the resurrections.
- Starscream is so good at the trope he named that he betrayed time!
- Transformers: More than Meets the Eye states that Transformers actually can die of old age... it just takes a little under a billion years for it to happen. In fact they're so long-lived that, for many years, Cybertronians believed themselves to be biologically immortal, expressly because they'd never actually seen someone die of old age.
- Another continuity (Transformers Regeneration One) has the Transformers aging much faster after their universe is cut-off from Primus, the multiversal being that created the Transformers and influences every universe they appear in.
- X-Men villain Apocalypse was born in ancient Egypt and in various cartoons/comics boasts about things like how 20th/21st century superpowers/technology are no closer to besting him than Babylonian fire sticks were. "I am the rocks of the eternal shore; crash against me and be broken!"
Anime and Manga
- Ronnie Schiatto from Baccano! is implied to be this. Although he doesn't give an exact date, he does drop a mention that he's been around since ancient times.
- The Millenium Earl from D.Gray-Man is implied to be thousands of years old. He fought an as of yet unnamed hero wielding the Heart of Innocence during the Great Flood. He's the First of the Noah, and the only one who never reincarnated; moreover, while this made fans speculate that he was the biblical Noah, it's been recently implied that he's actually Adam.
- Dragon Ball Z
- The Kais. The youngest-looking of them is over five million years old and has not aged visibly in that time. Old Kai is roughly seventy-five million years old, according to Word of God.
- The wizard Babidi, considering his father was killed five million years ago. Unlike the Kais though, Babidi does look quite old.
- Gooyan, the true Big Bad in Futari Wa Pretty Cure Splash Star, is old enough to remember the universe before the Big Bang. He states that the silence was peaceful and that the cacophony of life is abhorrent to him. His entire goal is to remove all life from the universe and return to that nothingness.
- Guyver: Zoalords Archanfel and Waferdanos were born before the last Ice Age, making them at least three million years old. The aliens who created them had been tampering with life on Earth pretty much since it first appeared, a billion or so years ago.
- The Pillar Men from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure are an ancient race of vampiric superbeings, stated to have been around since before the dawn of mankind.
- Ajimu Najimi of Medaka Box is orders of magnitude older than the universe. Apparently it was quite boring before the Big Bang.
- Garterbelt is one in Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, being forced to relive all of Earth's history since the dinosaurs by God.
- The Observer of Time in RahXephon: Pluralitas Concentio. Ayato becomes the Observer at the end of the movie.
- It isn't clear how old Onashia is in Simoun (or how long she's ruled Simulacrum), but her personality definitely qualifies.
- The Choushin from Tenchi Muyo!. For an uncounted period of time they searched for a being greater than themselves. It's unknown how long they existed like that, assuming time even applies to that state, but they eventually created the entire multiverse of space and time and have been around ever since. And if that doesn't mean anything to you, then one of them created a physical body to exist in which she is still alive and kicking over twenty thousand years later.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, the Light of Ruin was a Cosmic Entity that has literally been around for eons.
- The living ruins under the town in Uzumaki. Older than sentient life, they exist to cause an Eternal Recurrence of madness and destruction. The story is just one cycle of their purpose.
- From Naruto we have the Biju. They were formed in the last days of Hagoromo Otutsuki's, the Rikudo Sennin's life. They are likely several thousand years old by the time of the Warring States period alone.
- Not only that, Hagoromo achieved a form of immortality when he 'died'. His chakra remained a sentient force and he could see through the lifetimes of his sons' chakra transmigrations for thousands of years until he met with Naruto and Sasuke and gave them half his power to fight Madara and later his mother, the even older Kaguya Otutsuki.
- And the toads of Myobokuzan are incredibly long lived. Fukasaku and Shima are eight hundred years old by the time Naruto meets them, and the Great Toad Sage is even older ( Originally revealed to be just one thousand years old, he's later retconned to be several thousand, given he lived at the time of Hagoromo and gave him the prophecy about Naruto.)
- Dwellers in The Algebraist are old enough, and patient enough, to have populated the entire galaxy. Without faster than light drives. Individuals are explicitly said to be billions of years old, which means that dwellers are essentially a first-generation society.
- The Chee are androids who came to Earth before human civilization and have since lived through most of human history. Erek, the one we see most often, casually mentions that he helped build the pyramids, among other things. (Though he just helped haul stones, an interesting subversion of the Ancient Astronauts theory.)
- The Ellimist, who was already millions of years old when Earth was just beginning to form.
- Circus of the Damned, the third Anita Blake novel, features a vampire named Mr. Oliver who claimed to be "older than time" which she took as hollow boasting until she realized he wasn't a human vampire, but a Homo erectus vampire. Due to the Sorting Algorithm of Evil, he went down far more easily than many enemies since then, making him rather disappointing in retrospect.
- Arthur C. Clarke:
- Jane Lindskold wrote the Athanor duology, where the title character of the first book, Changer, was literally one of the first two life forms on the planet, even before there were continents.
- Any and all demon-like entities in The Bartimaeus Trilogy. For example, Bartimaeus used to be best friends with Ptolemy, and at that point, he was about 3000 years old.
- The Disciples of Aldur and Torak in David Eddings's Belgariad and Malloreon. Polgara is the youngest coming in at a "mere" three thousand years old when the series begins. Belgarath himself is the oldest at seven thousand and shows no signs of dying any time soon. They don't generally act it, but they can be very casual in mentioning events that happened centuries previously in ways that other characters find disconcerting. The Prequel Belgarath the Sorcerer really hammers it home when you realise that he's almost as old as human civilization itself.
- Saetan, Andulvar, Mephis, Prothvar, Hekatah, and Cassandra from the Black Jewels series, all remember a cataclysmic war fifty thousand years ago, Cassandra more so than rest, as she is from a short-lived race among the Blood, meaning her natural lifespan should have been one fifty, at best, compared to the five thousand of the long lived races, never mind Geoffrey, Draca or Lorn, the first being from an ancient race long, long forgotten even fifty thousand years ago, the latter two being dragons who created the Blood in the first place.
- In Boundary's Fall, High Wizard Aemon (around five thousand) and Emperor Alwellyn of the elves (over six). In fact, Alwellyn is only the second Emperor the elves have ever had.
- Robin Goodfellow in Rob Thurman's Cal Leandros series casually mentions his encounters with famous historical and mythological figures, from Freud to Bacchus. He also mentions being around since before humans came out of the caves. Although he never comes out and says it, it is surmised that he is hundreds of thousands of years old.
- Codex Alera has Alera, basically the Anthropomorphic Personification of the country, who remembers the last few ice ages. "I have seen thousands of millions of years, Octavian."
- In Cosmicomics, Qfwfq recalls memories from before the Big Bang.
- Days of Solomon Gursky begins with a normal human discovering the secret of living on after death via nanites as a result of a tiny choice he makes. He ultimately lives until the end of the universe as an increasingly powerful post-human but regrets having lost his wife. At the end of the universe he and other galaxy-sized super-beings use the collapse of reality to create new simulations of the universe, letting him outlive his own universe. However, the new universe is one in which he makes the opposite choice and doesn't discover immortality.
- The Flowing Queen from the Dark Reflections Trilogy not only happens to be one of the old gods, who walked the Earth long before ancient Egypt, but also is stated to be older than any form of life in a sea.
- The Salaxalan ghost in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. He has been around literally since the beginning of life on Earth, which means that he literally spent two billion years surrounded by mud and "slimy things with legs". The time has driven him... a little bonkers.
- The dragons introduced in Diane Duane's The Door into Shadow can live to be thousands of years old and can remember clearly enough to calculate their ages by counting sunrises backwards. Furthermore, they also inherit the memories of their ancestors, although those memories tend to fade over a large number of generations as they're spread over a progressively larger number of descendants.
- Hugh Lofting's Dr. Doolittle encounters Mudface, the turtle who was a passenger on Noah's Ark in Dr. Doolittle's Post Office. In a posthumously published volume, Dr. Doolittle and the Secret Lake, we eventually get to hear the Mudface's story of the Great Flood which is alluded to, but not presented, in the earlier volume.
- The eponymous villain of the Warhammer spin-off novel Drachenfels (written by Kim Newman) has prolonged his life through dark magic for thousands of years, and can recall living through events that are now dismissed as superstitious myths. (And when he finally dies, his last thought is the realization that, despite this, his entire lifespan is still only an eyeblink in time.)
- In the Dragaera series, Sethra Lavode: a vampire sorceress at least a quarter-million years old, with enough power to make gods nervous. She's friends with Vlad and likes to have people over to dinner.
- The Dresden Files
- Nicodemus and Tessa are two humans who act as hosts to fallen angels. Tessa (who looks 14-ish) was sold as a slave in ancient Egypt, before she met Nicodemus (who was already immortal and old at that point) and he gave her a coin containing her Fallen Angel. Nicodemus's precise age is unknown, as he makes a point to destroy the church's records of him every few centuries, but he wears the rope Judas used to hang himself around his neck as a tie. The angels that inhabit them are even older. At one point, Lasciel mocks the idea of Harry trying to change her mind, pointing out that if she hasn't in the thousands of years since she fell, he certainly isn't going to make a difference. Additionally, she boasts of living through "infinite thousands" of years, which might as well be true if the White God of the series is the actual creator of the universe.
- Word of God implies that Demonreach predates the ice age. Cold Days gives the creation of The Well as around seventy-five thousand years ago (yet still simultaneously created a few thousand years after that, and after that, and after that), and it can be assumed that Demonreach came into being then or shortly (relatively) thereafter.
- The Red King is a textbook example. Humanity doesn't know how old he is, because they haven't had a written language that long.
- Mab is comfortably older than human civilization (Mother Winter is even older). The construct Archive (not its hosts, who expire) is also somewhere in the region of five millennia old. Then there are the various gods who are at least as old as their religions - so some of them will qualify. We also have the Old Ones, ancient Eldritch Abominations who have been banished from the world in ancient times - but are probably far older than that. In short, The Dresden Files is full of examples.
- J'osui C'reln Reyr, the "Creature Doomed to Live" in The Elric Saga novel The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, who disobeyed Arioch and was condemned to live until he returned, ten thousand years later.
- Mr. Turtle in An Exaltation of Larks by Robert Reed. Mr. Turtle is essentially a time traveler from the end of the universe where entropy has reached maximum and the underlying fabric of reality begins to break down - meaning he is at least a trillion years old. When the protagonist conjures up a number for his age (one hundred billion), Mr. Turtle simply laughs.
- Fate of the Jedi has Abeloth.
- Damon Julian of Fevre Dream is old even by vampire standards. It's impossible to say exactly how old, because he was born before vampires had language. At one point, his rival Joshua York argues that Damon isn't really evil, because deep down, part of him is still just a wild animal that can't imagine survival without killing weaker animals.
- The Great Ship universe features numerous characters that are tens or hundreds of thousands of years old - the vast majority of humanity are nigh-unkillable Transhumans. Quee Lee, a recurring character, was originally born on Earth eons ago - and was one of the first people to receive the immortality treatments and emergency genes. The short story Alone features a sentient robot which has been walking the hull of the Great Ship for so long that it no longer remembers its name, function, or origin.
- The short story "Grotto of the Dancing Deer" by Clifford D. Simak, has an immortal human who was at least twenty-thousand years old. He tells an archeologist friend that he has learned to survive by "being on the fringes, always an observer, never a participant."
- Luthe's teacher Goriolo in Robin Mc Kinley's The Hero and the Crown "could almost remember when the moon was hung in the sky." The heroine's late mother studied with Luthe. For calibration, Luthe remembers the previous active Great Dragon, "one hundred generations ago".
- Several beings and even races in Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy have lost count at several billion years old. While this may put them in the Precursor category, they are still around. One novel in particular deals with an Energy Being living in the magnetic fields of a gas giant that members of a Lost Colony call God. A scientist contacts the being and finds out that it is the oldest being in the galaxy and, possibly, the universe. The mindless Forerunners that were originally thought to be the oldest lifeforms in the universe were, in fact, this being's creations meant to carry it from its dying homeworld to other gas giants. The Forerunners also had rudimentary DNA, and many of them ended up dying on planets... starting biological life. So, yes, this being is God in this sense. Others, while younger, include the Evolgs, a race of Energy Beings, and the Emulotti, Human Aliens whom the Evolgs helped become like them to escape a race of Abusive Precursors known as the Shvergs. All this happened billions of years ago, and still-functional Emulotti/Evolg machinery has been found. This kinda puts the other, better known races, who have been around only three million years ago, into the category of "just happened."
- Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe he ends up thirty-seven times older than the universe due to incautious use of time travel. It starts when he's stuck on a planet from circa 1980 through the end of time.
"The first ten million years were the worst. And the second ten million, they were the worst, too. The third ten million I didn't enjoy at all. After that, I went into a bit of a decline."
- The Souls from The Host. They have been around for millennia and can live forever. They even spend up to centuries in hibernation when they are traveling in space. At one point, Wanderer, who has lost track of her own age she's been around so long, can only pinpoint an event as being "after the dinosaurs lived on Earth".
- The Hounds Of Tindalos from the eponymous story by Frank Belknap Long are from an age "before space and time". They can move casually through the angles of time, to hunt those humans who have travelled in time and devour them.
- A frequent theme in HP Lovecraft's stories, where the characters find themselves in awe and dread of what primordial secrets they learn about, and usually find at the end that something from those times still lives, or at least exists actively even if they're not alive in the usual sense.
- In At the Mountains of Madness, the city of the Elder Things had been continuously inhabited since the Earth was young, for billions of years.
- In "The Haunter in the Dark", the protagonist writes down the history of an ancient artifact after gazing into it. Said artifact was originally created on planet Yuggoth (AKA Pluto), and came into the possession of the aforementioned Elder Things on Earth billions of years ago. Later it was worshiped by a race of serpent-men in ancient Hyperborea, until it was lost for millions of years before being found by the first humans in Lemuria and millennia later again in ancient Egypt, where the eponymous Avatar of the god Nyarlathotep was given its familiar name, and was involved in the fall of an entire dynasty. A few thousand years later it was found in the ruins of a temple and brought to Providence, where an occult cult formed around it.
- Yog-Sothoth is the Gate. Yog-Sothoth is the Key. Time and space are one in Yog-Sothoth, for he is the All-in-One and the One-in-All. He knows and sees all that is, all that was and all that will be. He knows the answer to every question but only very brave or very foolish mortals would dare to ask him, for the price of ultimate knowledge is great indeed.
- All other Outer Gods and Great Old ones count too; while Yog-Sothoth is unique in existing in the past, present and future at the same time, all Outer Gods are impossibly ancient (older than all of space and time, in fact). Great Old Ones are millions or billions of years old too, although they have spent a portion of it in hibernation when the stars aren't right for them.
- Azathoth, seeing as he is the creator of the universe (not that he noticed it...)
- "The Shadow Out of Time" plays this to full effect by having the older-than-humanity scroll written in the narrator's own handwriting. While the scroll's writer time traveled, the scroll itself, and what remains of the Great Race's city (not very much, really) are still over 200 million years old, and are both expected to last at least as long into the future.
- The eponymous city in "The Nameless City".
- Casually exaggerated in "The Call of Cthulhu", in which the narration claims that Cthulhu is rising for the first time in vigintillions of years. Depending on whether it's in American or British notation, that's either Ten-to-the-63rd or Ten-to-the-120th years, or a vastly greater span of time than the duration of the known universe.
- Isaac Asimov
- R. Daneel Olivaw, AKA Eto Demerzel, AKA Chetter Hummin is 22,000 years old at the end of Foundation And Earth. Gaia, a living planet is also very old, but is younger than Daneel; its exact age is never specified.
- The short story The Last Answer (not to be confused with the vastly more famous The Last Question) features a timeless entity that says it has no beginning or end, and simply is. Notably, the entity itself is not entirely pleased with this; for this reason it has created the entire universe, from which it harvests minds that it forces to think - eternally - for a way of ending itself.
- Speaking of The Last Question, the AC. It has the memories of the first big AC on Earth. The story ends some unspecified (but extremely long) time after the heat death of the universe.
- In Larklight, it turns out that Art and Myrtle's mother is a member of a race known as Shapers, so-called because they play an important role in creating solar systems.
- Larry Niven
- Several of the Draco Tavern stories deal with this: "Cautionary Tale" has an alien over ten thousand years old on a fruitless search for immortality. "The Death Addict"'s danger-seeking alien doesn't have a specific age given, but he's afraid of living long enough to be "the last cluster of protons in the universe". The Chirpsithra have immense lifespans: one in "The Green Plague" is almost two billion - though relativistic Time Dilation makes her subjective age somewhat less - and visited Earth before its atmosphere had oxygen.
- In the last book of Larry Niven's Ringworld series, Ringworld's Children, the Protector Proserpina is around a million years old.
- For human characters, Douglas Hooker from "The Ethics of Madness" becomes Known Space's record-holder for this trope, once he's spent 120,000 years (give or take a few centuries) fleeing his nemesis's vessel in a one-man ramship.
- In The Last Rune series of books some of the Old Gods may have been around for long enough to fit this trope, but the dragons, who predate the creation of the universe, definitely qualify.
- The Arisians in the Lensman series. Some of them are two billion years old, and they are capable of plans spanning the entire run of human history.
- The Lord of the Rings
- Treebeard, who's said to be the oldest of all living things, and Tom Bombadil, who claims to be older than the Earth.
- Elrond has outlived every nation in the world, but he's still a kid compared to Glorfindel (well, kind of) and Galadriel, who is, in some materials, described as being older than the sun, though the sun is relatively young in the LotRverse.
- Círdan, described and only actually seen once, is the oldest Elf around and mentioned at the time of the War of the Ring. He was probably among the first to awaken of the elves around 20,000 years ago. He's old enough to have a long, white beard. Elves don't grow beards until their third cycle in life, each cycle takes a few millennia.
- Gandalf, Radagast, Saruman, and Sauron are actually just 2,000 year old, temporary forms of the Maiar (i.e Angels), all of whom entered Eä (the universe) at the beginning of time.
- The Witch-King is close to 5,000 years old, though he doesn't quite make it. He lasts 4800 years or so.
- Gandalf states that there exist creatures even older than Sauron, which can be reconciled with the above in at least two ways, but only with careful interpretation.
- The Silmarillion: Galadriel is indeed ancient, but one will be astonished when they discover that her parents Finarfin and Eärwen are apparently still alive in Valinor. Finarfin's mother Indis is presumably living there too, as well as Eärwen's father Olwë and his unnamed wife. All of them are at least 12,000 years old. So Galadriel not only has a living mother and father, but three living grandparents. Source material establishes that Elves nevernote die permanently from the world, and that their "underworld" is sort of a penalty box.
- It's also likely that Fëanor's widow Nerdanel still lives in Valinor, too. She's older than Finarfin and his wife, but still younger than Indis and Olwë.
- The Ainur (Valar and Maiar), as well as Ungoliant, are truly ageless, all of them being older than the physical planet. How much older, or even if that has any real meaning to such beings, is never elaborated on.
- In The Lorax, the titular creature is as old as time itself.
- Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont has a background story going back 300,000 years. And many of the gods and Ascendants were old even back then.
- Kallor, the High King, has notched up a hundred thousand years, without the benefit of Ascension even (long story short, he was cursed with immortality but not eternal youth for being such a genocidal bastard).
- The T'lan Imass, an extremely important race in the world's history, have each lived for over 300,000 years. They have passed this time hunting down and exterminating all remnants of the Jaghut, who had oppressed them in that distant past. Their racial history goes back into unknowable distances, until 300,000 years before the main story, when nearly all those who still survived took part in a necromantic ritual that made them all undead.
- Anomander Rake. He was the first son of the goddess that created existence. (Well, except for the warren of chaos and the eldritch abominations in it.) The Tiste Andii lived for at least thousands of years in their warren before they emerged into the normal world over 300000 years ago. They're so old they don't want to live any more. They just don't care.
- In Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, the Norn Queen is the oldest living thing on the planet, more than twice as old as her closest competition. Said competition is Amerasu, matriarch of the Sithi, who is millennia old and revered as an ancient even by a race of immortals. Exactly how old that makes the Norn Queen probably doesn't bear thinking about.
- Master Secundus Minutius Hora, the keeper of time from Momo by Michael Ende. His apparent age fluctuates wildly, but twice he's described as "old, not as an old man, but as a mountain".
- In The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson, the Great Redoubt is an incredibly ancient City in a Pyramid, with a history that "dealt not with odd thousands of years; but with very millions; aye, away back into what they of that Age conceived to be the early days of the earth, when the sun, maybe, still gloomed dully..."
- In the Parrish Plessis series, Brilliance is a Homo erectus, making her over a million years old. She was infected with The Corruption, but managed to suppress and harness it to gain eternal life.
- The Power of Five: The Librarian, and the Old Ones.
- Remy Chandler, a.k.a. Seraph Remiel, of the Remy Chandler Novels, remembers, among other things, the War in Heaven, watching Noah as he built the Ark, and a time when humans carried melee weapons around as naturally as modern people carry iPods and cell phones. His memories are interspersed with very recent recollections (less than fifty years at the outside) of his wife, his dog, and his friend, which lends the times when he does remember way back an air of authenticity.
- In Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space series:
- The Inhibitors, a race of genocidal machines dedicated to wiping out all civilizations they deem too advanced, are millions of years old, perhaps even older. Interestingly, their ultimate purpose will not be fulfilled for another three billion years.
- In the first novel, the "Sun Stealer" has been around for at least 900,000 years, Body Surfing from person to person.
- In The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, most of the Immortals are centuries old at the very least, but that's nothing compared to the beings that ruled the world before Humans: The Next Generation are thousands of years old, and are still adolescents compared to the Elders, who in turn were young compared to the Great Elders. The Archons are even older, the Ancients were around before them, and the oldest are the Earthlords, who are at least tens of millions of years old.
- A Song of Ice and Fire
- The Wall is said to have been built over 8000 years ago.
- The weirwoods don't die of old age; some might be around in Westeros from before the Age of Dawn (~12000 years).
- However, note that history is unreliable in-universe. Medieval Stasis appears in this world, and there are hints that there's a story-relevant reason for it. So the Wall and weirwoods *may* be as old as we're told, but maybe not.
- The Lilim in Stardust are described as being old enough to have noticed continental shift and oceanic movements. At one point, the youngest of them looks out over a petrified forest and recalls when it was a collection of seedlings.
- In War of the Dreaming by John C. Wright, this applies to Oberon and Titania, who were around long before humans, and are implied to have been there when life first evolved on earth.
- Jack Chalker's Well World has Nathan Brazil, who is as old as they come and then some, pull this one sometimes. He claims to have rebooted the Universe several times. But then, he also admits to being a very talented compulsive liar.
- A Wrinkle in Time
- Mrs Whatsit gives her age as some absurdly precise number in the billions of years (2,379,152,497 years, 8 months, and 3-days-old exactly). She is still far younger than Mrs Who and Mrs Which.
- The Black Thing is probably almost as old as time.
- Xeelee Sequence
- The Xeelee themselves are only 200 million years younger than the Universe itself. They created the Antixeelee made of Tachyons to take their seeds back in time to when Baryonic matter becomes stable enough for them to exist. They then spend the next 10 billion years building a great attractor to leave this existence. Some Xeelee have seen the entire universe from the beginning.
- A group of humans known as the "Jasofts" - Collaborators with the alien overlords who conquered Earth, who were given eternal life in return.
My name is Luru Parz. I was born in the year AD 5279, as humans once counted time. Now I have lived so long that such dates have no meaning. We have lost the years, lost them in orders of magnitude.
- Needful Things: Leeland Gaunt has been roaming the Earth for ages, playing his sick mind games with people all throughout history.
- Robert Silverberg's Across a Billion Years features archaeologists searching for artifacts of an ancient race which disappeared about that long ago. Throughout the novel, they first discover some sentient robots, and toward the end, the remnants of the race itself... a few thousand mindless husks on life support. It has been fifty thousand years since one died. Four million years since one was born.
- The last part of Frederik Pohl's novel The World at the End of Time, set at 10^37 years in the future, has the plasma-based entity Wan-To, who lives inside stars, precariously surviving in proton decay-produced energy and pondering to leave its dead star at its time to go to a black hole where he'll be able to live much longer before that finally decays too.Viktor Sorricaine, the main human protagonist of the novel, is faring much better.
- R. Scott Bakker's Second Apocalypse has the Nonmen, a race that was cursed with immortality, which their minds are not equipped to handle. After tens of thousands of years, they tend to suffer from The Fog of Ages and forget most of their lives. Those among them called Erratics can only remember something if it's associated with pain and suffering. They're driven to kill everything they love so that they can lock it in their minds.
- Babylon 5: Lorien and most, if not all, First Ones encapsulate this trope. Lorien most embodies it, however; he was the first sentient being...ever.
- In the Being Human episode "The War Child", Mr. Snow, the leader of the Old Ones, is old enough that every vampire currently undead descends from him. His actual age is never given, but he claims to have visited Egypt while it was ruled by the pharaohs and once "met the son of a carpenter" (implied to be Jesus Christ).
- Various beings in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel. There are demons who have been plotting and working towards various ends since before recorded history. One example is the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart of Wolfram and Hart. Minor demons during the time of Illyria, they have spent the intervening millennia developing a deep control over the mortal and hellish dimensions.
- The Daily Show and The Colbert Report both liked to jokingly identify John McCain as an unbelievably ancient entity — someone who has walked with Jesus, done cave paintings, and crawled out of the primordial seas. Lampshaded with the joke that "The only thing older than jokes about John McCain's age is... John McCain. "
- Several British satirical current affairs shows like Mock the Week, Have I Got News for You and The News Quiz made age jokes about Sir Menzies Campbell, especially during 2006-2007 when he was leader of the Liberal Democrats.
- Doctor Who
- The Great Face of Boe lives to be more than 5 billion years old.
- The Beast claims to be from before time, and even if that isn't true he is still so old that his language predates the Time Lords.
- Sutekh was imprisoned thousands of years ago, the war inspiring Egyptian mythology, and was active for thousands of years before that.
- The Fendahl might not qualify, considering that it has technically been dead for 12 million years.
- Jack Harkness, being immortal and effectively indestructible, is headed for this at some point. Assuming the line about him becoming the Face of Boe wasn't just a joke, he has a good few billion years left before running Out of Continues. He's currently over 2000 years old, having been Buried Alive for two millennia under Roman Cardiff.
- While the Doctor technically doesn't qualify, being only 1200ish (he says), he is often portrayed in this manner. His travels have allowed him to be there for a great deal of the history of many cultures, and after the loss of his own people, a lifetime of agonizing choices between 'horrible' and "more horrible", and seeing the cruelty of some to others, he feels old and tired. He's seen the heat death of the universe, and the first written words of all time were written to him. He's lived much more than characters who have lived much longer.
- The Time Lords are this as a culture. While merely long-lived as individuals, the sheer scope of their civilisation's history is staggering. We learn during the course of the series that they are "the oldest civilisation", have had "ten million years of absolute power", and "a billion years of history". They "practically invented" black holes and mastered teleportation "when the universe was less than half its present size". Their history is so long and filled with so many dubious events that even most modern Time Lords are not aware of much of it, and genuine historical events and artifacts are considered mere myths and legends even amongst themselves.
- The Weeping Angels are so ancient, even the Doctor doesn't have a clue what they are or where they come from. Even the Time Lords call them "the Weeping Angels of old".
- The Racnoss Queen fled and hid almost five billion years ago, and her ship is the core of planet Earth. No, the ship isn't hidden in the core; it is the actual, original core, around which the planet formed.
- The Great Vampires fought against the Time Lords during the early years of the universe, and the only known survivor hid in exo-space (albeit mostly dead) since then.
- When The House in "The Doctor's Wife" hijacks the TARDIS and goes adventuring, it casually mentions that it "should have done this half a million years ago."
- The Artifact in Eureka is dated to the previous universe. How they have managed to date something that is older than matter itself is unclear. Of course, considering that the theory of continuing Big Bangs and Big Crunches (i.e. the universe collapsing and re-expanding every so often) has been disproven by new evidence, this may no longer be the case.
- Methos in Highlander: The Series is 5,000 years old. He may even be much older as he claims to not remember the time before he took his first head. His ancientness is somehow even more disorienting because he seems like such a normal guy. He is also one of the four immortals who inspired the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" myth (Methos was Death). The episode where this is revealed shows that the other three are also still alive (until the end of the episode, that is).
- Stargate Verse
- Merlin/Myrddin in Stargate SG-1. Lived some 10,000 years ago, then "ascended" into an energy being, only to take back human form millennia later, living amidst humans, then going for suspended animation and sleeping there for a few hundred years more. When he transfers his memories to Daniel Jackson, Daniel notes that "he wasn't kidding about having lived many lifetimes".
- A lot of aliens in the series are extemely long lived. Many of the Goa'uld System Lords such as Ra and Apophis were running galaxy wide empires at least 5000 years ago, Asgard such as Thor and Loki inspired the idea for the Norse gods and live on through cloning and mind transfers, the original Replicators from the Pegasus galaxy were built to fight the Wraith over 10,000 years ago, many of those Wraith are also still around due to their own regenerative abilities, and many of the Ancients, notably the ones who Ascended have been around for 10,000 years minimum. In fact, a lot of Ancient technology also counts, including Atlantis, which is at least 1 million years old. The Stargates and Destiny are even older.
- Thanks to the cancellation of Stargate Universe, we'll never know what Rush meant when he said that the Destiny's mission involves finding a structure as old as the Universe itself.
- Star Trek
- The Immortal Flint from the Star Trek: The Original Series episode, Requiem For Methuselah.
- In the episode Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, Bele claims to have been chasing the political "criminal" Lokai for 50,000 years. He later discovers that in his absence, his people have annihilated each other in a genocidal race war.
- The Guardian of Forever, from "The City on the Edge of Forever." The reason it can serve as a Portal to the Past is because it was physically there for everything.
- The Borg Collective is once described as "thousands of centuries" old.
- The disembodied mind Sargon has existed for at least 500,000 years.
- The Q Continuum are a race of bodiless Energy Being creatures that evolved from a mortal race that existed shortly after the formation of the universe, some of the oldest members of the Q race are noted to be in the upwards of 10 billion years old or more. The principle Q with the most screen time in the series (portrayed by John De Lancie) that has a rivalry with Captain Picard, notes offhand that he had a romance with another Q that has been "on again and off again" for 5 billion years; making him at least that old, if not not more so.
- Death. With massive amounts of terror, Uncanny Valley, Cryptic Conversation, and all other manner of unsettling tropes. In his few appearances he has explained several times that he will persist throughout eternity, and is the only thing that could truly never die. He also claims that he's destined to be the one to eventually reap God as well.
Death: This is one little planet, in one tiny system, in a galaxy that's barely out of its diapers. I'm old, Dean. Very old. So I invite you to contemplate how insignificant I find you.
Dean: I gotta ask, how old are you?
Death: As old as God. Maybe older. Neither of us can remember anymore. Life, Death, chicken, egg.
- Angels are no slouches either. Castiel (one of the less important angels) remembers when the first fish crawled its way onto land. One of his older brothers, the Archangel Michael, told him not to step on it. "Big plans for that fish."
- The Leviathans were apparently one of God's first creations.
- Played for Laughs in Wizards of Waverly Place. Juliet is a vampire who is over 9500 years old, and Prof. Crumbs, the headmaster of Wiztech, considers it a compliment when Alex says he doesn't look a day over 800, and was an adult when the wheel was invented, making him nearly as old as Juliet.
- Prince of Fire in Lexx claims to have existed since the beginning of time. Which makes sense, since he's essentially Satan.
- In Power Rangers, aliens and other nonhumans tend to be longlived. The backstory of most series was either 10,000 years ago (MMPR, Jungle Fury) or 3,000 years ago (Lost Galaxy, Wild Force) and pretty much any major player outside the teenagers with attitudes will have been there for round one. And of course, being around thousands of years ago doesn't mean you are only that old. Zordon, the original mentor, is especially portrayed as being just so ancient he knows everything you could possibly need to know. However, the character who truly takes the (planet-sized birthday) cake is Power Rangers Operation Overdrive's Sentinel Knight. The five Plot Coupons are scattered across the world because the continents were one when he placed them on Earth. That places PROO's backstory over 250 million years ago. The villains were a Sealed Evil in a Can case, so not even Sentinel's oldest enemies qualify - they slept through all that time while he has been active.
- While even "young" vampires in True Blood are generally old by human standards, only a handful reach the ages required to qualify as a time abyss. From what we see of the handful who do, though including Russell Edgington on the low end, along with Warlow and Lilith as more dramatic examples, that's probably a very good thing.
- Nicholas Parsons is claimed to be as old as all time by both panelists on Just a Minute and other BBC Radio 4 programmes. On The Unbelievable Truth, someone claimed that there could be a parrot that was older than him, to which David Mitchell replied "Nicholas Parsons has always...been."
Religion and Mythology
- According to most major monotheistic religions in the world today, God is not technically one of these, because age is a foreign concept; time can only be an abyss to those that are bound by it. God wasn't created or born like humans are, He didn't have a beginning, He IS the beginning, everything is here because of Him therefore making Him the abyss rather than time. Titles like Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the one who was (existed since the beginning), who is (presently is), and who is yet to come (always will exist), the Great I Am are richly deserved.
- According to some philosophers, time itself is meaningless to God. He created time, and existed before... He existed when... well, explaining it is hard, though in one analogy God is like the author of a book. At what point does an author exist in his book's - his universe's - internal timeline? He can turn to the first page, or to the last page. He can write scenes out of order, go back and forth, and generally follow no continuity or causality.
"With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."
— 2 Peter 3:8, NIV translation
- In Hindu Mythology, reality and everything within it lasts as long as the lifetime of Brahma the creator. Brahma will live to be a hundred years old, except that a single day in his life is over four billion human years.
- Assuming he lived even so much as a hundred "days" Brahma would have by then lived for over 400 billion years. If we get into the years the number goes into astronomical proportions longer than the predicated life span of the universe. Entire universes could die and be reborn many times over before Brahma ever even reached "middle age", such concepts as "time" and "space" might very well collapse and become meaningless terms as the wear and tear of the eons go on.
- The Shiva Purana states that Vishnu ages one day in the time that it takes Brahma to grow old and die, and that Shiva, in turn, ages one day in the time that it takes Vishnu to grow old and die.
- Depending on religion and whether any given denomination thereof believes in and/or counts the afterlife a person's spirit may live as long the respective deity would, given a belief in a spirit's eternal qualities.
- Father Time.
- Semyon Nikolaev, The Archmage and a Trickster Mentor Extraordinaire from Age of Aquarius. We do not learn what exactly he is, presumably some kind of spirit that is permanently embodied, but his age is stated by Word of God to be 14000 or 15000 years.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Dragons are very much like this. They have about ten age categories, from wyrmling to great wyrm, which takes over a thousand years. Then they're just about fully grown and live a few more thousand years before old age starts to set in. And some of them can become truly immortal.
- Time Dragons, the most powerful of the epic dragons, are truly immortal. Able to travel in time at will, a Time Dragon could be tens of thousands of years old or ten minutes old, and still be a Great Wyrm in both cases thanks to how their age is tied to the time stream. They keep their lairs in places unimaginably distant in space and time, and rarely bother to even interact with gods.
- All Aboleths have genetic eidetic memory going back to before the dawn of the gods; they reproduce asexually and inherit the memories of their progenitor. Since they can live indefinitely, it is possible that there are ones still alive that were around before the creation of the current universe (and yes, their race really is that old).
- Most every planar ruler qualifies, guys like archdevils, demon lords, the Hebdomad, and the like. Such beings are immortal unless they are killed (which rarely happens, given how powerful they are) and some can trace their roots back eons, some to a time before mortals existed. And then there are beings like the Obyriths, the Baernaloths, and Zargon the Returner who ruled their respective planes before the current rulers took over.
- The Celestial Exalted themselves live for a long time, but only one of the currently existing crop actually meets the 5,000-year minimum age requirement for this trope: Chejop Kejak, head of the Bronze Faction of Sidereals. He has the distinction of having been born at the very start of the First Age, making him literally as old as history itself (anything that happened before the First Age is per definition pre-historic). These Celestial Exalted, however, are merely superlongevic demigods. The more powerful of the gods themselves are older still, having been made early in the process of the Creation of the universe, making them as old as the concepts they govern.
- The Primordials, and the various beings that were once Primordials (the Yozis and the Neverborn), who pre-date Creation and all of the concepts that make it up, since they're the ones who, well, Created everything. Among the Primordials, Oramus pre-dates even his own existence; to be more precise, he is the proto-type and represents the possibility of the existence of the Primordials, having known of himself and his siblings when they were merely dreams of their true selves. When Cytherea, the Divine Ignition, gave birth to herself and her Primordial siblings (arguably the first true event in the Exalted chronology), Oramus came into being and said, "I was waiting for you to awaken. I thought it should never happen."
- Numenera is set about one billion years into the future. The main feature of the game are artifacts from earlier periods which are based on technology that is like magic to the contemporary people, whose knowledge of history reaches back only for the last thousand years.
- The New World of Darkness: Certain spirits claim to have been spawned before recorded history, while a handful of Abyssal demons go back as far as Atlantis. The Cheiron Group's Board of Directors date back to at least ancient Greece, while the Strix were kicking around during ancient Rome (as well as some particularly ancient vampires, some of whom could conceivably stretch back further). Osiris has been hinted as still being around; if true, this would make him the single oldest living creature on the planet (inasmuch as Prometheans are alive). The Fae have been screwing with people for all of recorded history, and since the realms of the Kerberoi are largely immune to the ravages of time, it's practically impossible to know how old they are (prevailing wisdom is that they are all innumerably ancient). The Judges of Duat, Anpu and Ammut have been around at least since the time of Irem, almost six thousand years ago. It's conceivable, if improbable, that a mummy might have been active for the majority of that time as well. And the God-Machine may have brought human civilization and technology into being just so that it would have a means to modify its own processes and boost its Infrastructure.
- Old World of Darkness
- The Antediluvians of Vampire: The Masquerade—so named because they were the only vampires who survived the Biblical Flood. They aren't so much vampires as they are undead gods by the time of the modern age, and they can do truly mindbending things with their power. The Gangrel Antediluvian, for example, apparently earthmelded with the entire planet, and slowly sank deeper as time went on, gently rocked in her slumber by the Earth's core.
- Elimilech, a 4th generation Malkavian antitribu and Seraph of the Black Hand, whose embrace date was given as Ruth, 1:3. Because he's supposedly the husband of the Biblical Ruth, whose death is mentioned in that verse.
- The Triad of Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the Wyld, the Weaver and the Wyrm, are also this, being the physical manifestations of Chaos/Dynamism, Order/Stasis and Entropy/Destruction, respectively. In fact, the Wyrm actually spawned beings who are personifications of its thoughts and feelings, children by its standards, that are still old as time itself.
- The supplement Gehenna features an optional character that fits the trope even better than the traditional Antediluvians. A 3rd Generation vampire who serves Lilith, and is suggested to be the true clan founder of the Brujah, manages to escape being diablerized by displacing himself from time. However, something goes wrong and he is sent on the extremely slow path back to the present, living and being fully aware of over 100,000 years passing.
- The Elohim (an umbrella term for both angels and demons, though only the Fallen are present for the Time of Judgement) from Demon The Fallen may be the true Time Abysses of the oWoD: they have been around since the dawn of time and one of their Houses was in charge of creating time in the first place. You'd think that the endless years spent inside the Abyss, the absolutely empty prison of the Fallen, would count as suspended animation of sorts, but no: part of their punishment by God was that they remain fully aware of the void of the Abyss and of their own utter impotence until the end of time. No wonder they hold a grudge against the Big One Upstairs.
- Shadowrun has more than a few. Immortal Elves such as Harlequin all qualify, having been born in the Fourth World of Earthdawn, and lived through all five thousand years of the Fifth World to reach the Sixth, which began in 2012. All Great Dragons were born in the Second World - the Age of Dragons - which was separated from the Fourth by another five thousand year gap.
- Warhammer contains quite a few examples between the various elves, dwarves and daemons. The most notable are certainly the Slann, all of whom have been alive since WELL before the Coming of Chaos, an event which occurred over 7,000 years ago. Granted some of these have been in a near-comatose state of meditation since Chaos arrived, but not all have and some of the ones that haven't can rightly claim they were alive before Man existed. Nagash, the First Necromancer, could also possibly claim to be over 5000 years old.
- Warhammer 40,000
- Almost all Eldar are thousands of years old, some well over ten thousand (such as Eldrad, who was already a powerful psyker back in the early years of the Imperium), while the Phoenix Lords were around long enough to found ancient schools of war. Dark Eldar meanwhile are made of Immortality Immorality, and on average are even older than most Eldar.
- Many Chaos Space Marines are the original Traitor Marines, who rebelled against the Emperor in the Horus Heresy ten thousand years ago. However, they spend most of their time in the Eye of Terror, which due to an overlap with the Warp lacks anything resembling a linear time stream and proper causality, so the actual age of any individual is usually a mystery.
- The Immortal God Emperor of Mankind is approximately 50,000 years old, if his backstory is accurate, although he's spent ten thousand of them on life support.
- The Necrons fought and ultimately lost a war for control of the galaxy long before the dinosaurs died on Terra. While most of them where asleep for their sixty million+ years of self-inflicted sealing, some like Praetorians and Flayed Ones were awake the entire time.
- The C'Tan, masters of the Necrons, were literally the oldest beings in the universe, being not that much younger than the first stars. Were being the operative term, considering the Necrons Turned Against Their Masters and shattered them into pieces.
- The Chaos Gods are pure beings of the Warp, and thus time is literally and utterly meaningless to them. The Great Game, the perennial war between them fought for dominance of everything, has been going on for eternity and will continue for eternity, with none of them ever emerging the true victor. There's also some Timey-Wimey Ball with this, as the Warp was calm and uninhabited for much of the setting's history; Slaanesh for example came into being around the year 30000 and suddenly he'd always been there, and the Emperor was created by early humanity as a counter to birth of the others.
- The Swarmlord of the Tyranids has been around as long as the Tyranid race has, and has more autonomy than any other Tyranid, likely to the point of having a sort of consciousness of its own. Considering that they have attacked the Milky Way from multiple directions, it would follow that they are attacking from different galaxies, and as such have stripped multiple galaxies of all biological matter. Such a process would take eons, making the Swarmlord incredibly old. Seeing as the Swarmlord is reborn with all of its experiences, memories, and character whenever it is killed, it will continue to exist for as long as the Tyranid race does.
- ''MagicTheGathering: Both Nicol Bolas and Ugin are Elder Dragons. Ugin is described as unfathomably ancient, and Nicol Bolas is said to be over 25,000 years oldnote .
- The Eldrazi Titans also qualify, being alien gods formed before colored magic even existed. This means that they're older than Nicol Bolas, putting their age in the tens of thousands of years.
- Tren Krom, the resident Eldritch Abomination in BIONICLE, acts this way, what with his "I watched your universe be born" and all. Fridge Logic then kicks in, however, as even though Tren Krom is the oldest being in the Matoran Universe, that universe is actually a giant space-traveling robot, constructed many, many millennia ago. Its creators are still alive and has been waiting for its return, which makes them much older than Tren Krom. This goes for many other inhabitants both inside and outside the Matoran Universe as well: They are truly ancient by our standards, but their own feeling of age varies vastly.
- Draculaura, the Genki Girl Vegetarian Vampire from Monster High, reveals in her second diary that her "father" is not only not the Dracula we know,note but also was already an ancient vampire "by the time togas were first becoming fashionable." Pretty eerie and ominous stuff for a doll line rated ages 6+.
- The Silver Lady from Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, while considered incomprehensibly ancient even by the oldest of elves and dwarves, probably falls short of required minimum age by about a thousand years or so. Nashrudin, on the other hand, was considered to be the oldest living being at the times when a certain annoying Silver child was interrupting his works and he is still around at the time the game takes place.
- The Demi-Gods of Asura's Wrath are an entire race of these. 12,000 years old is basically a few months as far as aging is concerned, and there have been at least 127 emperors, all really old themselves, making the civilization even older then thought. Chakravartin is at least as old as the universe, and it is implied that this isn't the first he's created.
- Rachel Alucard started as "merely" Really 700 Years Old. Put together the Jigsaw Plot, though, and it's revealed that she's lived through, and remembers, every possible iteration of both Arcade Mode and Story Mode, with a full century passing between each. That puts her age at over 72,500 years. No wonder she seems bored.
- Hazama/Yuuki Terumi, the Big Bad Troll, who has lived though even more time loops than Rachel. It's even heavily implied that the Time Abyss he's been put through is the reason behind his batshit insane behavior; after the millionth or so loop he just couldn't take it anymore, snapped, and set out to put an end to the loops, once and for all.
- Chrono Trigger
- Lavos, whose life cycle was over 65 million years long, and that's only counting the amount of time since it landed. There's no telling how long it spent on its birth planet or how long it drifted through space before landing on ours.
- Queen Zeal probably also qualifies, at least in any time period other than her native one. By the time Lavos is due to rise, the Queen is 14,000 years old; she's probably gone more than a wee bit crazy from spending millennia locked up inside the Black Omen with—from the look of things—absolutely no one else to talk to. Note further that she had indeed achieved the immortality she sought; had the Lavos timeline played out, she would have eventually been the very last human—indeed, the very last ANYTHING on that world.
- Chrono Cross shows that Lavos can live in the Time Crash. Every time Chrono or Serge defeat Lavos, it just retreats there, picks a different timestream where it didn't die, and returns. How long has it spent in the Darkness Beyond Time, learning history from different time streams?
- It turns out that the Nu are also this, as in the DS remake one can be fought in the prehistoric era and shows up for round two in the Dark Ages.
- Which also explains why Spekkio's strongest form is a red Nu. "The stronger you are, the stronger I look", to paraphrase. He too is probably an example as he's the embodiment of magic... possibly.
- Spekkio lives in "The End of Time", some sort of vaguely-explained dimension that exists outside of time. So how old he is would be a matter of perspective. To him, time probably doesn't have much meaning.
- In Civilization, the player is this. They take control over a civilization back in the Neolithic and observes millennia of its history during their rule.
- Kane of Command & Conquer is revealed to be on earth since the dawn of humankind at least, guiding mankind from cavemen to where they are at the end of Tiberium Twilight.
- The Elder Scrolls
- The Daedra, thanks to their immortality. All of them with the exceptions of the new Sheogorath (aka the Champion of Cyrodil from Oblivion), who has "only" been around for a couple centuries, and possibly Malacath, who, according to myth, was an elven god that was mutated after being devoured by Boethiah have existed for ages past. Even the lesser Daedra have shades of this, which is why they don't particularly mind being "killed" (which just sends them back home to the Daedric realms to reform their bodies again) or sealed into weapons for a century or so. A century of waiting is nothing to a Daedroth.
- Akatosh, or Auri-El to the high elves, is said to be the first being to manifest out of the raw energy of the universe, his birth being the origin of TIME ITSELF. He is thus exactly as old as the universe, and much older than the world of mortals.
- The Elder Scrolls themselves, being a history of all time, even that which has yet to pass, written in a complex mind-searing form. Also, while each scroll is a definite object, any scroll that a sentient mind isn't keeping track of may or may not exist. This is why it was impossible to retain the scrolls after the Thieves' Guild may or may not have stolen one in Oblivion.
- In Oblivion's add-on, The Shivering Isles, you meet Dyus, keeper of all the knowledge Jyggalag's library held (which knew all the actions of all beings divine, mortal, and creature) prior to being being made immortal and imprisoned by Sheogorath when he destroyed the library. It's unknown how long he's been imprisoned, but given that Sheogorath was Jyggalag before being cursed by the other Daedra it's probably a good bet it's been a few thousand years.
- Gelebor and Vyrthur from the Skyrim add-on Dawnguard are the last two original, uncorrupted Snow Elves from the time of the war between their race and the immigrant Atmorans (who, in time, would become the Nords). The reason for Gelebor's longevity is presumably a special blessing from Auri-El, and Vyrthur is a vampire, one of the first in Nirn that wasn't directly converted by Molag Bal.
- Akron, the final boss of Epic Battle Fantasy 3, muses on this in his Boss Banter. He has lived for billions of years and no longer even remembers when or how he came into being. He remarks that he has been defeated, weakened, and imprisoned countless times, but ultimately, he endures while his enemies fall to the ravages of time.
- The four Ancients from Eternal Darkness are all millenia old at the least.
- Jack of Blades is one of three demon-like creatures from the Void and was old before the world was made.
- Scythe is hinted to be the original Archon, William Black, who lived in the time when mankind was young and forged the Sword of Aeons and ruled the Old Kingdom for millennia, and it still alive millennia after it fell.
- The Creator from Final Fantasy IV The After Years is implied to be several thousand, if not several million, years old. Old enough to conduct biology experiments on a macroevolutionary timescale.
- Final Fantasy VII
- Jenova crashed on the Planet some thousands of years ago. It saw/caused the extinction of an entire sentient race. It's implied life cycle is similar to Lavos from Chrono Trigger, as described earlier: going from planet to planet, wiping out all life, absorbing all the souls on the planet, and then moving on to a new world to absorb (with god knows how long spent in space in between).
- The WEAPONs, on a smaller scale. They were created when Jenova landed, and are biological weapons that protect the Planet's consciousness from any threat.
- Garland from Final Fantasy IX is at the very least 5000 years old, having started the process of assimilating the player's world of Gaia with his world of Terra that long ago through a ridiculously complex procedure too nonsensical to fully explain here, but it's never stated how long he lived before that. Ancient structures he built on Gaia can be explored as dungeons filled with Lost Technology. He's watched the growth of all the major civilizations on the planet. For example, he built the massive Iifa Tree and is responsible for the natural phenomenon called "Mist".
- The fal'Cie from Final Fantasy XIII have been around for thousands, if not millions of years, and it's very possible that the vast majority of them will live eternally until they are killed. No wonder they all want to die.
- The monitors, 343 Guilty Spark, and 2401 Penitent Tangent, were both built around the same time as the Halo rings themselves, which was over 100,000 years ago. Penitent Tangent was captured, and we don't see much of him, but we clearly see that the years have turned Guilty Spark into a narcissistic nutcase. Mendicant Bias was another AI made by the Forerunners, betrayed them, and sided with the Flood, much to his remorse. By the time the game takes place he is broken and fragmented, only appearing in certain terminals the player can activate and read.
- The Gravemind. It was around long before any of the AI, and fought against the original Forerunners. A huge lake on Installation 05 was implied to be specifically built to contain it (or perhaps it dug it out after everything was dead). The Forerunner Saga reveals that it might even be millions of years old, since Graveminds are technically one consciousness (the Flood), and the Primordial claimed to be the last Precursor, who are responsible for the existence of humans, Forerunners, and every other sentient race seen so far.
- The Precursors have been established to be millions of years old, but Silentium shattered all expectations: They have existed for over a Hundred. Billion. Years. Somehow, they are several times older than this universe.
- The Didact is 10,000 years old at the time of the Forerunner-Flood War, while his wife, the Librarian, is 11,000 and eternally young. Forerunners as a race usually live to be thousands of years old, thanks to the incredibly useful armor every one of them wears.
- While many of the more powerful vampires in the Legacy of Kain series measure their lifespan in millenia, the crowning glory has to go to the Elder God that helpfully resurrects and guides Raziel on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge in the Soul Reaper branch of the games. Considering that the Vampires and the humans fought for untold thousands of years, then Kain won the war and destroyed the Pillars of Nosgoth, and then the Vampires ruled for thousands of years after that before the first Soul Reaper game, it's something of a shock to realize that this tentacle-and-eyeball-laden entity has been guiding souls across the Wheel of Fate to their resurrections and/or final rest for all of it and longer. Until you find out in Defiance that it was all a big lie and he was eating said souls; he's pissed at the vampires because their souls are delicious but, being quasi-immortal, he can't eat them any more!
- Sentient A.I. Durandal from Marathon plans to survive the collapse of the universe and witness the big bang that creates the next one. He lives to the end, but chooses to stay.
- Mass Effect
- The true age of the Reapers is not known, but even the absolute minimum figures given are staggeringly high. Mass Effect 1 establishes they are part of a cycle that occurs every 50,000 years, Mass Effect 2 pushes that back to at least 37 million years (or rather, the lucky shot that killed a Reaper eventually impacted a planet 37 million years ago), and Mass Effect 3 confirms the existence of a Reaper corpse over a billion years old.
- The end of Mass Effect 3 reveals the Catalyst, an AI housed in the core of the Citadel. It was what masterminded the creation of the Reapers, so it at least as old as the oldest of them, probably more so.
- In the "Control" Ending, Shepard becomes a Time Abyss. "Eternal. Infinite. Immortal."
- The Prothean VI Vigil has been around for at least 50,000 years, most of those spent entirely alone. In Mass Effect 2, Shepard is informed that Vigil has shut itself down and all attempts to reactivate it have failed.
- The Thorian saw the rise and fall of the the Protheans more than 50,000 years ago, and is thought to be more than 100,000 years old.
- The Leviathans are the best example in the series, being the race that created the Catalyst.
- In Mother 3, Porky is this, due to having achieved immortality through repeated abuse of Time Travel. When you meet him, he's bedridden due to his insane age, and utterly bored with all of creation, but underneath that he's still the spoiled brat he always was. He says that even he doesn't know how old he is anymore. Might be 1,000 years, might be 10,000. Who knows? Truly exemplified in the ending, where he traps himself in the Absolutely Safe Capsule. You can't hurt him... Nothing can. Not even age. Forever and ever.
- Planescape: Torment's Player Character The Nameless One would have become this if only he wasn't cursed to forget everything upon each death. He has been around for millennia but has only the scraps he can recover during the game to prove it. His scars are another story altogether. Incidentally, the person who gave him that immortality is still around. As is the Big Bad, The Nameless One's mortality, who cannot die while he does and does remember everything The Nameless One has ever forgotten.
- Arceus is heavily implied to be the creator of the Pokemon universe, if not at least the God of Pokemon as it is the original Pokemon that came before all others. A special event in HeartGold and SoulSilver, where Arceus offers the player a choice of three legendary Pokemon (Dialga, Palkia, or Giratina), gives a glimpse of the sheer enormity of what it has lived through.
- Dialga, Palkia and Giratina themselves are an example. Dialga's Pokedex entry even states that time itself started to flow when it was born. By extension, the Lake trio (Uxie, Mespirit and Azelf) are also as old.
- Wartortle is said to live 10,000 years. Though not as extreme as Arceus, that's still a long time.
- Heatran might also be extremely ancient, as it was apparently born from lava that pooled at around the same time that the earth was first formed.
- It is noted in the Pokedex that Rayquaza has lived in the ozone layer for several hundred million years because it gets its energy from water particles and sunlight in the ozone layer, meaning that it doesn't ever need to go down on solid ground to survive. It is for this reason that its existence went into legend as it hardly ever left the sky. For perspective the reign of the dinosaurs was approximately 200 hundred million years on this Earth, Rayquaza is at the very least slightly over 3 times older than the existence of the dinosaurs.
- Kyogre and Groudon are mentioned as having produced entire seas and continents. If this is talking about the entire Earth then they are at least 4 billion years old, but if it is talking about the region of Hoenn then it could be at least a few million years. In Emerald the elders who have the orbs that are said to control Kyogre and Groudon don't ever specifically call those two or even Rayquaza by name, only claiming them to be super-ancient Pokemon, which is putting it lightly.
- Xerneas and Yveltal from X and Y are at least 3000 years old when the Great Offscreen War happened. How long they were in existence before that is unknown but they're said to be the embodiments of Life and Death in the Pokéverse.
- Primal Rage: All of the Virtuous and Destructive Gods are at least a million years old.
- Marduk from Sacrifice makes the claim of Time Abyss during his final appearance. His innate purpose, apparently, is to destroy all 'unworthy' aspects of creation (and he doesn't seem fussed about collateral damage), which would make him as old as existence itself.
- Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time reveals that Clockwerk, the Big Bad of the first game is much older than supposedly 3200 years old, having existed during the Ice Age.
- Sonic Unleashed has Light Gaia AKA Chip who is the same age as the Earth.
- The Zerg Overmind can legitimately claim to be ancient, but has some demerit points on his Time Abyss license since being killed off. Silly Dark Templar with the ability to kill off parts of the Zerg Hive Mind. (Of course, he got some of those points removed since it was revealed he intended to die).
- Samir Duran, in Brood War, certainly hints that he has existed probably as long as the Overmind and possibly longer still.
- Starcraft II Heart Of The Swarm introduces the Primal Zerg in general and Zurvan/The Ancient One in particular (Zurvan being older than the Overmind).
- Ratatosk and the Centurions in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World are implied to be somewhere around 10,000 years old (the age of the original World Tree of which Ratatosk is the spirit).
- Touhou usually settles with "merely" Really 700 Years Old characters, but there are a handful which are truly ancient. Most notable is Eirin, who routinely claims to infinitely old (relative to everyone else anyway) and was a mentor to some of the gods who took part in the Creation Myth of Japan. Her age is most likely measured in millions of years.
- Asgard the golem from Wild ARMs 3 gets sent back in time with a extremely simple learning program and comes back via The Slow Path having developed sentience in the meantime.
- World of Warcraft
- Loken, a Titan-appointed guardian evokes this trope by explaining that he has held watch over Azeroth for countless millenia and seen the rise and fall of civilisations, the birth and extinction of entire species.
- Nordrassil, the World Tree, in the Warcraft universe is at least ten thousand years old. So are some dragons and various godlike entities. Many night elves are as well, but many of them sleep through it, and the others don't have the gravitas you'd expect.
- Many Draenei remember their homeworld Argus, from where they fled over 25,000 years ago. Since it's implied that they spent much of their trip through the Nether in suspended animation, their exact age is hard to guess...but it's known that they lived on several worlds before ending up in Azeroth, so it'll still add to a very long time. Velen, their leader, is the only one that really looks old, so it could be that he spent less time in suspended animation, or that he was old even when they lived on Argus. The Lords of the Burning Legion, being originally members of the same race, are the same age too (and they've been active for the whole 25 millenia, too).
- Many Titan-constructed facilities can be found around Azeroth. Depending on the source the Titans either created Azeroth or shaped it into a life-supporting planet. In either case, the buildings are tends of thousands of years old at the very least, possibly several million years old. Some are very intact and still guarded by the Titan's constructs.
- The Old Gods, who supposedly inhabited Azeroth before the Titans came along.
- The Dragon Aspects aren't quite as old as the planet, though they aren't far from it. Nozdormu, however, lords over all of time. Until something "happens", he can also see every possible route time MIGHT take. At one point, he became trapped in time ('how long' is hard to say given the nature of the thing). Every moment of time. At once. Including all the infinite alternate routes. When Thrall finds him, he is awestruck to see his entire life at once played out with a different memory on a different single scale of the dragon's massive form.
- Xarantaur the Witness definitely fits the spirit of this trope, if not the letter. He was a historian from before the Sundering who, at the moment of his death, was taken up by the Guardians of Time and given immortality so that he might witness (hence the name) and record all of Azerothian history. Among his duties is comparing his own records against the records of society around him, so he'll know if someone has been messing up the timestream (again.)
- Wilhelm is exactly as old as the universe, as it is his job to rewind it to the beginning, along with himself, in order to prevent its eventual dissolution. Rather like a cosmic version of a Windows reinstall. By contrast, U-DO is claimed to have 'observed' multiple cycles of Wilhelm+ universe, but being in a different time stream, it's not clear whether it really qualifies as 'older'.
- It is implied that chaos was around during the birth of Christianity, and quite possibly even before that. Xenosaga is a bit over 5000 years into the future.
- Chuck Norris Facts: When God said "Let there be light", Chuck Norris said "Say please".
- By the end of Fine Structure, Anne Poole has lived for over 20,000 years. Mitch technically gets that far as well, through tricks like Brain Uploading and Body Surfing, but Anne takes The Slow Path and experiences the entire time — including over a century spent buried alive.
- The Abyss is an immortal Homo habilis from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe. He's kept most of his memories of the last million and a half years (though he's been alive for 2 million years... his memory of his early days is no longer so clear). He once gave a Hannibal Lecture in which he described the day he was nearly killed by a terror bird.
- On the online speculative evolution project A Scientific Fantasy, the dinosauroids (species normally don't count, but since the whole species is also a civilization, it counts) fired a laser to blow up the asteroid that caused the K-T extinction and had already been around for 10 million years.
- Whateley Universe
- Aunghadhail is a Sidhe queen so old she remembers the Earth before humans populated it. She and her family may have created the dinosaurs.
- In the latest Tennyo story, we learn the Star Stalker is eight billion years old and was constructed by one of the first civilizations in the universe.
- After Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, they sublet an apartment from Frank Lautenberg before finding a place of their own, according to his Jew Or Not Jew profile.
- Living things:
- In a way, life itself is a time abyss. The cells we are made of were split off from our parents' cells, and their cells came from their parents, and so on and so forth, back to the formation of life, 3.8 billion years ago. Gene sequences exist in every one of our cells that have remained unchanged since the earliest common ancestor to all life. The purest example of this is the common amoeba, which splits itself to reproduce rather than dying of old age. It changes over time, and obviously is composed of different individual molecules, but in a very real sense that first amoeba is still alive and wriggling two billion-odd years later. A new branch of SETI, Biological SETI, is currently examining our DNA for traces of messages left for us by aliens, on the assumption that, with its ability to self-replicate and self-repair, DNA is the only substance on which a message could be transcribed that could be preserved for millions, even billions, of years.
- The oldest known living thing on Earth is a single, giant patch of ''Posidonia Oceanic'' seagrass in the Mediterranean Sea. Studies show that it is most likely at least 100,000 years old.
- Many species of plants and microorganisms have extremely long or unlimited lifespans; possibly the most famous example is the bristlecone pine tree, individual specimens of which are presently alive in spite of having sprouted nearly five millennia ago. One of them was found to be 4,844 years old when cut down in 1964. (John Muir once commented that a shorter-lived Sequoia tree was "already centuries old when Jesus walked the Earth.") There are also some trees that live in clonal colonies; the stems are continually renewed while the root system endures. One such colony of Quaking Aspens has roots that are at least 80,000 years old.
- The immortal jellyfish is another example, using a kind of reverse aging. Hydras have a similar mechanism.
- The objective of the Clock of the Long Now, a clock that when finished is intended to last for 10,000 years keeping (nearly) perfect time.
- Many of the stone circles in Britain fit this trope, being almost/over five thousand years old, as does the Great Pyramid of Giza, which was constructed in ~2560 BC and incidentally held the record for the tallest man-made structure until Lincoln Cathedral was built in 1311- 3870 years later.
- If anything human-built counts, some sites (including a few cities surviving to the present day) in the Middle East are leading contenders.
- Göbekli Tepe is an pre-Neolithic religious complex in Turkey that dates from roughly 9600 BCE and was built by people who had not yet developed metal tools, pottery, the wheel, or agriculture. It is believed that the location's use as a religious centre goes even further back; all the way to 11,000 BCE.
- The city of Jericho is also a pre-Neolithic settlement first inhabitated around 10,000 BCE, and inhabitednote for all 12,000 years. To give an idea, the ice age ended around 10,000 years ago.
- Damascus was first settled at least 8000 — possibly even 11,000 — years ago during early Neolithic times, and has been in continuous use ever since. It is older than any modern or ancient civilization. Mark Twain referred to it as "a form of immortality."
- A show about the simple disappearance of all humans predicted that the last traces of human existence would be the man-made objects on the moon (lunar landers, US flag, etc.). Unless some outside force or object intervenes, they would remain on the moon forever. And the only human whose name will be left there (well, on the plaque on the Moon, anyway) is Richard Nixon. There's something ironic there.
- It was also predicted that if humans disappeared from Earth today, Mount Rushmore would still be intact millions of years later, waiting to be seen by the next intelligent species to evolve.
- Protons. According to one theory, they are ultimately stable, that is, live absolutely forever. According to another, they have a half-life that makes Brahma seem like a mayfly.
- Radioactive material, while not lasting forever, can last an incredibly long time. The two commonly found forms of uranium, uranium-235 and uranium-238, have a half-life of 703.8 million years and 4.468 billion years respectively. By the time a kilogram block of uranium-238 ceases to exist, the universe may as well have ended.
- Of course, radioactive material by definition doesn't last anywhere near as long as it would were it not radioactive. Consider protons again.
- Even after all the material in the Universe has decayed to its final state, the subatomic particles of which matter was once composed last effectively forever. It's recommended to take a look at this Timeline of the far future in The Other Wiki. You Cannot Grasp the True Form does not even start to define it: "Although listed in years for convenience, the numbers beyond this point are so vast that their digits would remain unchanged regardless of which conventional units they were listed in, be they nanoseconds or star lifespans."
- HD 140283 "Methuselah" is a star initially calculated to be older than the universe, literally older than time. It was later recalculated to be 14.4 billion years old, +-.8 billion years, which is only slightly better. Even if on the sprightly side of that range, it's very old.
- Deep Time
- The non-fiction history book Human Accomplishment by Charles Murray starts with a chapter intended to evoke the Time Abyss, by tracing back human society in 400-year chunks.
- This trope is part of why the Doomsday Clock is permanently affixed to 11:55 pm (the rest is implied to be the continued existence of nuclear warheads).