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Ancient Evil

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"Why have you disturbed our sleep; awakened us from our ancient slumber? You will die! Like the others before you, one by one, we will take you."
A Deadite possessing Cheryl Williams, The Evil Dead (1981)

In general terms, this trope is about some sort of evil force or being that has been around for an extreme length of time — hundreds or thousands of years at the minimum, and potentially predates humanity — or even life/earth/the universe itself.

Alternatively, it can be about a particular ancient civilization that was (or still is) deeply evil.

In most cases, the extreme age of the being/force/civilization is portrayed as emphasizing how evil it is (either because of the association of living very long and mental deterioration or how such evil can survive the changes of time).

A Sealed Evil in a Can is often an Ancient Evil, but Ancient Evils are not necessarily sealed; they may just be lurking. Or waiting... Occasionally, they may be already dead, but the villain of the present time brings them to the current timeline, either via Time Travel, unsealing, or resurrection.

Descriptions and examples of the various forms of Ancient Evil:

  • Some sort of utterly ancient "force of evil", that is as old as the earth, and maybe as old as or older than the universe, and possibly universal in influence. Either Eldritch Abomination, God of Evil, or Satan (or equivalent). It is effectively the source of much or all evil among humans, either by tempting or leading them astray, or through some sort of mental corruption.
  • A pre-human sapient species. The earth belonged to them once, and they hate us for usurping it. Maybe they want it back, or perhaps just to harm us out of jealousy. Often they are forced by violent human ancestors figuratively or literally underground, earning them the name Ultraterrestrials.
  • An ancient (and long-extinct) civilization. Possibly caused its own extinction due to its evil (or the evil it unleashed). Typically had a society based on demon summoning, worship of dark gods, etc. May be presented as being evil because it was so ancient. By the time the main storyline goes, this civilization is mostly being talked over, and either being Greater-Scope Villain or the source of the current villain's evil.
  • Related to the above, an ancient and still existing civilization that has either been reduced to a backwater empire or has long since migrated away. Again, may be presented as being evil because it is so old — either because it is a survivor from a time when every civilization was evil, or because it has been corrupted over time (a form of Immortality Immorality as applied to cultures). May have a hand on an Ancient Conspiracy and maintains a Masquerade, but they may sometimes go openly.
  • A very powerful Evil Sorcerer from ancient times who, because Wizards Live Longer, survives the ravages of time and is still being influential. This type is prone to Regularly Scheduled Evil.

Subtrope of Trouble from the Past. See also Evil Old Folks. Compare Abusive Precursors and Immortality Immorality.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Black Clover:
    • The House of Grinberryall has been guarding two ancient demons who were once phenomenally strong young royals whose hatred for each other turned them into demons. The Dark Triad unleashes one on the Spade Kingdom Resistance which fights Mereoleona, while the other is sent to attack the Clover Kingdom, unable to be stopped by the Magic Knights, Julius, and Damnatio until Asta appears to save the kingdom.
    • The three Rulers of the Underworld (Lucifero, Beelzebub, and Astaroth) are basically this, with all three being the strongest supreme Devils residing in the lowest level of the Tree of Qliphoth whose presence likely predates for no less than multiple centuries.
  • In Bleach, Yhwach is one, he is the Soul King's son, the progenitor of the Quincies, fought Yamamoto in the past over 1000 years ago, and was indirectly responsible for the Gotei 13 being what it is in the present day.
  • Chainsaw Man
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Majin Buu in Dragon Ball Z is one, having existed for millions in reality, billions of years before the start of the series. Double Subverted when he tries to be good, only for bastardry by humans to unleash his dark side again.
    • Dragon Ball Super introduces Moro, a prisoner of the Galactic Patrol. He has been imprisoned for ten million years, and is incredibly evil to the point of wiping out all life on 320 planets before being defeated.
  • Gintama: The immortal that would come to be known as Utsuro has existed for at least 500 years, but it's not until the death of Shouyo Yoshida that he becomes evil and tries to destroy the Earth in order to finally die.
  • The Pillar Men from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure are powerful vampiric beings that have lived for thousands of years and feed on humans by absorbing them within their bodies. They're strong, incredibly intelligent, Immune to Bullets and can also shift their bodies at will, their only weaknesses are sunlight and Hamon (which harnesses the power of sunlight itself), and even then the Hamon has to be powerful enough to pierce through their thick skins. They're called 'Pillar Men' because of their preferred method of hibernating, it being turning into a stone-like material and sticking to a pillar deep underground. They're also the last remaining members of an ancient humanoid species that lived in South America. Kars, the leader, betrayed them all thousands of years prior of Part 2 and turned himself into a Pillar Man, and proceeded to slaughter his entire species.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen:
    • Kenjaku qualifies as one himself, being at least a millenium old and having spent the better part of his existence scheming to see humanity achieve the next step in its evolution, consequences be damned. He also has a menagerie of abilities, in the form of ancient Cursed Spirits absorbed through Geto's Technique.
    • Ryomen Sukuna was born over a thousand years ago, and no one, not even Gojo, has been able to destroy his remains. He differentiates himself entirely from Cursed Spirits when he talks to Jougo, and it is eventually revealed that he was once a living sorcerer who reincarnated into the present with Kenjaku's assistance.
  • In Kill la Kill, the Original Life Fiber is a massive parasitic organism that actually predates human life.
  • Naruto has the original Tailed Beast, also known as the Juubi (Ten-Tails). It was originally a benign, very old and powerful World Tree who simply existed until Princess Kaguya ate one of its fruits, becoming the first human with the power of chakra, in order to stop the neverending wars of the humans. Said tree was not amused and turned into the Ten-Tails, terrorizing all humans until Kaguya's son, the Sage of Six Paths, sealed it within his body, and later split off its power into 9 creatures (who became the 9 Tailed Beasts) while creating the moon to bury its body beyond the Earth. In modern times, it is successfully revived through the efforts of the Akatsuki and gets sealed in their leader Tobi (who was later revealed to be Obito Uchiha), gaining its tremendous power. Or, at least, that's what everyone thought it was. In reality, the World Tree was ultimately just that — a tree. The Ten-Tails came about when Kaguya became jealous of the power her sons inherited from her and merged with the tree to become the demon of legend and take it back, subsequently being sealed in the process, but not before she created Black Zetsu, who spent the next several thousands of years engineering the history of shinobi in order to revive her and erasing nearly all traces of her existence and records of her rule in order to prevent anyone from trying to stop her unsealing. So there is an ancient evil at work — just not the one everyone thought it was.
    • In Boruto is revealed that a lot more Otsutsuki are being alive, having their eyes set up on Earth.
  • Parodied in Ranma ½ with Happosai, whose introduction in the manga makes him seem like some horrible, ancient evil that's been sealed away for centuries. He, of course, turns out to be just a Dirty Old Man that Genma and Soun locked up several decades earlier.
  • Toriko has Neo who was born a simple creature from another universe before becoming a great scourge after devouring all life in it’s home universe before traveling to another universe and temporarily disappeared. Neo would later re-emerge becoming the Appetite Demon of Acacia. However after both it and Acacia’s defeat, Neo was reduced to it’s original form and has a Heel–Face Turn after Toriko gave Neo both some food and what it always wanted… acceptance.

    Comic Books 
  • Darkseid, The DCU's extremely powerful God of Tyranny, has been around for a very long time. He bedevils the heroes of the twenty-first century, he'll fight the Legion of Super-Heroes one thousand years later in The Great Darkness Saga, and he'll endure for As Long as There Is Evil.
  • Hellboy: The Ogdru Jahad are monstrous entities created by the first spirits to exist, which was long before humanity existed. They're in cocoons in space, but Hellboy's right hand is the key to releasing them to bring about the end of the world (though not if Hellboy has anything to say about it).
  • Merd the Oppressor from the Judge Dredd comic books seemed to have been eaten by the giant magical toad Sagbelly, from which Judge Dredd extracted some oracle spice. However, Merd's ghost appeared briefly with a warning: "It takes ten thousand years to learn to use oracle spice correctly, and even then it is dangerous. Look what happened to me." Among Merd's horrors was culling villagers to feed Sagbelly.
  • Lands of Arran: Lah'Saa is an ancient evil sorcerer who was defeated millennia ago but has returned to conquer the world.
  • In Runaways, the Gibborim date back to the time of the Book of Genesis.
  • Played with in Seven Soldiers with the Sheeda; while they've been plundering the Earth for hundreds of thousands of years, they are actually time-travelers from one million years into our future.
  • Venom has Knull, who’s the creator of the Symbiotes and a primordial deity that’s billions of years old, roaming the cosmos and devouring entire civilizations. Grendel, a symbiote-dragon under his control, terrorized Earth during the early medieval period; attacking the Danes and fighting Thor before being sealed away.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Ghidorah, like in Godzilla canon. On top of its points from MonsterVerse canon, Ghidorah has been destroying entire worlds for billions of years before it arrived on Earth in ancient times, most likely making Ghidorah older than all the Earth-born Titans and the physical planet itself.
  • Child of the Storm has a few: Gravemoss, who's about fifteen hundred years old, the Darkhold which is indescribably ancient, its author, whose vintage is somewhere in the billions and there is mention of the Dark Elves (though they are believed to be largely extinct).
    • The Disir are in the region of ten thousand years old.
    • Thanos is also implied to have been around for billions of years.
    • Selene is noted as having already been old when Atlantis fell some 17,000 years ago.
    • Surtur, the original Dark Phoenix, rampaged across the universe roughly a million years ago, and has been sealed away ever since. An Elder Wyrm which served him and has been slumbering since his defeat emerges during the First Task of the Triwizard Tournament.
    • Apocalypse was born circa 6000 BC, though he's been left as a Not Quite Dead Sealed Evil in a Can for most of the time since.
  • A Different Lesson: In this Kung Fu Panda fanfiction, Heian Chao reveals that he's been plotting to ascend to power for roughly 900 years, unnaturally extending his lifespan for all that time via chi manipulation.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: The sequel Diplomat at Large mentions Squirk, the gigantic and monstrous octopus who once ruled what is now Aquastria; he's been locked in a prison for thousands of years since being defeated by the merlions.
    • The final arc of the fourth story, The Diplomat's Life, features a different one: The Umbrum Forces (or "Shadow Pony Sect"), a mix of dark magic made into mostly solid beings and flesh-and-blood ponies who turned themselves into nebulous clouds of darkness, all in the shape of ponies. It's eventually revealed that they used to be servants of Grogar, who created the first kind and inspired ponies who were already corrupt into becoming the latter kind, and that while he was being sealed under the Yaket Range by Gusty the Great, the Alpha of the Packlands was busy sealing the Umbrum away near what would later become the Crystal Empire.
    • Rabia, one of the Umbrum who became known as the Pony of Shadows after tricking Stygian into becoming his host and seizing control of his body, then got sealed in Limbo by the six ponies who became the Pillars of Equestria, also qualifies.
  • The Seventh Doctor's tendency to fight these is parodied in the This Time Round story "Like Water For Adric", where the Doctor's companions complain that if he finds so much as a cockroach in the loo, he calls it 'Ancient Eeeevil!'. The Doctor protests that cockroaches are ancient.
  • Hope for the Heartless (set after The Black Cauldron) has Arawn, the Death Lord of Annuvin. He was an evil overlord and the former master of the Horned King who sought the Black Cauldron in order to use it to Take Over the World. Now he's a spirit trapped inside said Cauldron. While it's not stated exactly how long he existed before his imprisonment, it's known that he plagued the mankind at least centuries before his former apprentice came into existence. Note that the Horned King is over a thousand years old himself.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim has Norlock, the vampire who allies with Zim. An exact age is never given, but he claims to have known Caligula, and states at one point that when he was human he built pyramids for a living.
  • Eclypse from Power Of Moonlight. Whatever the mysterious evil black stuff is, it seems to have been around for much, much longer than cats have.
  • Hellsister Trilogy has Darkseid — the God of Tyranny who has been plaguing the galaxy for millennia — and the Source of Evil, which is as old as sentient life itself.
  • A Knight's Tale as Inquisitor: Heavily implied with the Elder One, given that they are said to know and wield magic from before the First Blight.
  • A Force of Four's real Big Bad is the Amazons' ancient enemy Mars, who is older than mankind.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Forgotten Worlds has the Horned King, who was defeated by Yen Sid years prior, returns and is spreading the Heartless' reach.

    Film — Animated 
  • BoBoiBoy Movie 2: Retak'ka is more than a century old since he was imprisoned for 100 years by Hang Kasa, and has an old Malay accent to fit that (despite being an alien). However, he hasn't physically gotten older unlike Hang Kasa because his aging stalled while he was frozen in crystal all that time.
  • The Loc-Nar from Ivan Reitman's Heavy Metal describes itself as "the sum of all evil. My influence spans all times, all dimensions, all galaxies." Although it is ultimately destroyed in the film's climax, the closing narration implies that a new Taarakian is born to protect the universe; presumably, evil will return and coalesce into another Artifact of Doom.
  • Kai from Kung Fu Panda 3, who was sealed in the Spirit Realm before the creation of kung fu itself, only breaking out five hundred years later. Being the Ancient Evil actually kind of pisses him off, since it means that nobody knows who he is anymore.

    Film — Live Action 
  • An ancient Egyptian princess from the 1980 film The Awakening was so evil that her father, the Pharaoh, had her Sealed Evil in a Can in an unmarked tomb, and erased almost all traces of her existence. The evil princess takes possession of an archaeologist's daughter once he opens the hidden tomb.
  • DC Extended Universe
    • The Enchantress in Suicide Squad (2016) is an over 6000-years old extra-dimensional entity revered as a goddess in South America before going in hibernation and waking in modern times to find out humans have forgotten her.
    • Apokoliptian New God Steppenwolf (and by extension, his master Darkseid) in Justice League (2017) are possibly even more ancient than Enchantress, having tried to conquer Earth during The Time of Myths, but he was beaten back by a proto-Justice League made up of humans, Amazons, Atlanteans, Olympian Gods and Green Lanterns. For the next millenia, Steppenwolf would live in exile and wait for the right time to return to Earth and complete his conquest so he can regain his lost glory.
    • In Zack Snyder's Justice League, it was Darkseid who led the New Gods' invasion of Earth and not Steppenwolf. Diana/Wonder Woman goes to a crypt beneath a Greek temple and finds an ancient mural fresco of said war.
  • Godzilla and Gamera are both ancient monsters who are awoken one day and go on a rampage. In some movies they are depicted as good, however. King Ghidorah, who played this role in the Showa era Godzilla films and reprised the role in the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy's final installment, returned to play this trope completely and terrifyingly straight in the 2019 film Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019).
  • Jeepers Creepers 3: After looking into the Creeper's mind through its severed hand, Tashtego discovers that the Creeper has been around feeding on humans and hibernating for millennia.
  • In Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Ivan Ooze was a feared evil being that fought Zordon and Dulcea, and was imprisoned for 6000 years until Lord Zedd freed him.
  • Snow White & the Huntsman: Queen Ravenna is an ancient sorcerer who has been keeping herself (and her brother Finn) alive and young by devouring other's lifeforce. As she reveals towards the end, she's lived at least twenty human lives (making her over 1400) and destroyed countless kingdoms.
  • The Dark Elves, and especially their leader Malekith, in Thor: The Dark World have existed since before the creation of the universe and aimed to destroy all worlds to bring back everything to the state of the dark void.
  • The Djinn from Wishmaster is an immortal wish-granting Jackass Genie who has been alive since the birth of the universe. Notably, he has no problem whatsoever adjusting to the modern world.

  • In Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates, an ancient Egyptian sorcerer who has held on long after the use of magic decayed into evil.
  • The Arts of Dark and Light: The Watchers. They are immortal beings who long predate civilization, loosely based on late Jewish speculations about fallen angels, and manipulate international politics in order to secretly steer the mortal states in certain directions as part of a grand occult design.
  • In The Belgariad, Big Bad Torak is so ancient that not only did he and his brothers precede the great disaster that split the known world into two continents, but he in fact caused the disaster.
  • The Humanx Commonwealth novel Bloodhype. The Vom is a giant amoeba-like creature that devours all life on whatever planet it's on. It's at least 500,000 years old (and probably much older).
  • The very nature of The Camp Half-Blood Series makes most baddies ancient.
    • The Big Bad of Percy Jackson and the Olympians is Kronos, the ancient Titan who was imprisoned in Tartarus prison for over four thousand years. His plan is to tempt demigods so he can return to the earth once more.
    • Even older than Kronos is Gaia, the Big Bad of The Heroes of Olympus, who is a primordial goddess of the Earth itself and is the mother of Kronos. Just as bad as her son.
    • The Trials of Apollo: Tiumvirate Holdings is made up of divinized Roman GodEmperors. While younger than the other two, 1,900 years is still pretty ancient.
  • The Chaos Cycle: The main villain Velizar/Abaddon has existed since prehistoric times. He linked his essence with the prehistoric community of Hollow (later called Black Hollow) and used it to manipulate the townsfolk into murdering young girls by preying on their fear of the Dreamwalker.
  • Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Lord Foul is older than the Land. He was trapped in it by its Creator. His Raver servants are also very old.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos is basically made of this due to the prevalence of different flavors of Eldritch Abomination and Abusive Precursors. Mythos races of terrestrial origin and the Serpent People can be hundreds of millions of years old (Deep Ones began worshipping Cthulhu 350 MYA during the Carboniferous, the first Serpent People civilization arose 275 MYA during the Permian, Chaugnar Faugn created the Miri Nigri 370 MYA...) Which is nothing much, really, since Lovecraft believed in an eternal universe, and he could throw around numbers like vigintillion ("After vigintillions of years great Cthulhu was loose again, and ravening for delight.")
  • In the Dark Wing series, the Vuhls have been around since at least as far back as the days of Qu'u, a legendary Zor hero who lived thousands of years ago.
  • The Dragon Egg Princess: Powerful fairy Luzee terrorized the human and magical worlds centuries ago before being sealed away beneath Mount Jiri. In the present, she seeks to return to conquer both worlds.
  • In Dragon's Winter the evil mage Ankoku was defeated and imprisoned in ancient times, but he sleeps until Tenjiro wakes him and enlists his help in destroying his brother, Karadur.
  • Dust Devils: Big Bad Adam Price is noted to be an ancient monster who has walked the Earth for thousands of years, possibly even more, and has been feeding off of and terrorising humanity since then.
  • The entire structure of The Federation in Lone Huntress is a reaction to the Fey, an alien species bent on conquest through nefarious schemes involving the fostering of tyrannical regimes of target species, then eliminating and supplanting the highest echelons of those regimes. In essence, the only way to ensure security against the Fey is by protecting liberty, rather than curtailing it.
  • The Lord of the Rings. Melkor/Morgoth, Sauron, the Balrogs, Ungoliant, Saruman... just about all of the extremely evil and powerful beings in Middle-Earth were also thousands of years old, some of them dating back to the creation of the world.
  • Paraiso Street: The Golden, an immortal Dimension Lord, who centuries ago tore a hole between the worlds of the living and the dead. Despite this, it is implied that there are evils in the lowest layers of Ptiamuzcuaro, land of the dead, even more ancient.
  • The Un-man from Perelandra uses his nigh-eternal existence to make the young Queen of Venus believe he has wisdom outside of his knowledge (shared with his fellow Earthlings) on how to kill, corrupt, tempt, violate, and haunt innocents who have yet to hate the universe as much as he does.
  • Phantoms: The Big Bad is a gigantic amorphous creature that's older than humanity, and possibly as old as life on Earth.
  • The driving force behind the Second Apocalypse by R. Scott Bakker is the Consult, a group of powerful sorcerers and generals who allied with an Always Chaotic Evil race of Magitek-wielding aliens. Together, they're attempting to resurrect their Eldritch Abomination No-God, Mog-Pharau. The Consult was responsible for the Apocalypse four thousand years before the events of the series, but by the present day, everyone except for the Mandate school of sorcerers is convinced that they no longer exist, if they ever existed at all. Interestingly Downplayed in the first trilogy, as they are mostly a Greater-Scope Villain only tangentially connected to the main plot of the Holy War, but played very straight in the second trilogy.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: the Others. When the first of the First Men, eight thousand years ago, set foot on Westeros, the Others were already there, waiting for new victims. They might be even older than that, given that the Children of the Forest, another very ancient race, carried obsidian weapons that are their Kryptonite.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the Dark One is said to have been bound "at the moment of Creation"; taken literally, it predates the universe (but since it strictly speaking exists outside of time entirely, that's a somewhat wonky call to make). Its chief servants, the Forsaken, clock in at a "mere" three millennia and change, but still qualify as well.
  • Zones of Thought: The Big Bad of A Fire Upon the Deep is the Blight, an Eldritch Abomination implied to be a kind of sentient computer virus that is capable of running on both mechanical and organic platforms — i.e., any sentient creature. Humans inadvertently boot up an ancient database that has hosted the dormant Blight for at least a few tens of billions of years, and it immediately begins to spread out over the galaxy-wide computer network, infecting both computers and sentient creatures.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Illyria, from Angel. Probably the rest of the Old Ones too, but he/she was the king.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The Master is one of the few vampires old enough to have totally lost all human features, making him several centuries old.
    • Glory. Nobody knows her real name because she predates the invention of written language.
    • The aptly named First Evil.
  • Doctor Who features this a lot, with the Doctor stopping the reemergence of evils on all levels of the scale. Plus, in the expanded canon of the novels and audio stories the ancient Gallifreyans were a race of monster-slayers who tamed the chaotic early universe.
  • Game of Thrones: The White Walkers have reawakened for the first time in 8,000 years. The first member of their race, who was turned into the Night King, was among the first human settlers on the continent.
    • House of the Dragon alludes to them with the prophecy of the "Song of Ice and Fire". Essentially, Aegon the Conqueror foresaw that great threat coming from the North and made it his dynasty's duty to hold a strong realm to counter it.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys had Dahak claim to have seen the formation of the Earth. He also battled the Titans for control of the planet; he failed, but it left the Titans too weak to fight off the Olympians (whose rule is said to have lasted an untold thousands of years).
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Morgoth, Sauron, the Balrog, Adar, are all extremely old and evil beings, with the first three existing before Arda.
    • Morgoth preceeds everyone on the list, and he fought the Elves for centuries in the first Age.
    • Sauron was Morgoth's right hand, but since the War of Wrath, his existence turned into a myth even for the Elves.
    • Adar is a corrupted Elf from Beleriand, which got destroyed centuries ago at the end of the First Age.
  • Midnight Mass (2021): Monsignor Pruitt found the vampiric "Angel" in some ancient ruins in the desert outside Damascus, where it had apparently rested for centuries.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Wolf in the Fold". The Emotion Eater Energy Being that was Jack the Ripper is at least 500 years old. It is described as being "ancient" so it may be even older.
  • Supernatural: Many of the more high-level monsters are quite old:
    • The vast majority of demons. Ruby is from the 14th century and Crowley is from the 16th, and it's implied that they're young by demon standards, as they're the only known demons young enough to remember having once been human. Ruby herself was recruited by the much older demon Astaroth. The oldest of them, Lilith the First and the Princes and Knights, were recruited by Lucifer himself.
    • The Archangels all predate humanity, and "The Man Who Would Be King" reveals they were there when the first land-dwelling vertebrates evolved. The Season 10 finale implies they predate the Universe itself. All other evil angels also predate humanity, though they are younger than the Universe.
    • War, Famine, and Pestilence are implied to be as old as the concepts they personify. Meanwhile, their brother Death is so old that he can't even remember if he preceded God himself, but is a subversion on the other end since he's more impartial about the Apocalypse and doesn't take any glee in destroying humanity.
    • Eve, the Mother of All Monsters, predates Angels, Humans and Demons and was implied to be related in some way to the Leviathans.
    • The Leviathans are ravenous primordial monsters who were the first of God's creations and predate both Angels and the invention of souls. Death explains that God sealed them away out of fear that they would "chomp the entire petri dish".
    • Rowena the witch is Crowley's mother, making her over 500 years old.
    • The Darkness aka Amara predates Creation itself, and is so powerful that it took God and his Archangels to even seal it away. She predates Death, being unfamiliar with the concept. Also, since she's a Cosmic Keystone, killing either her or letting her kill God would be... unwise.
    • The Empty beats all of them, as it's the embodiment of the mindless Primordial Chaos that God and Amara spawned from. Although, while it tries to torture Castiel into obedience, it's so alien that concepts like "evil" barely apply to it.
  • Ultra Series: Many of the foes faced by the Ultras are ancient in nature, usually being sealed away long before their respective series started and reawakened in that present to fight the heroes.
    • Ultraman Tiga: In this series, the majority of the foes are ancient Kaiju that have been dormant on Earth for a long time, notably the kaiju Golza and Melba are referred to as "Ultra-Ancient" monsters and are implied to be servants of the series' Big Bad, Ghathanothoa who is a million-years-old Eldritch Abomination. The movie, Ultraman Tiga: The Final Odyssey features the Dark Giants, evil Ultras (Who were Tiga's companions and friends when he was Tiga Dark, an evil Ultra) who the titular Ultra sealed away 30 million years before and reawaken after their statues were discovered by an expedition and seek revenge on Tiga.
    • Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga: Being a Spiritual Successor/Pseudo-Remake of Ultraman Tiga, Trigger features many ancient foes of the titular hero reawakening in the present, most notably new versions of the Dark Giants who serve as the main antagonists of the series.
  • From Tetsujin Tiger Seven by P Productions, the villains are monsters from the ancient Mu Empire.

  • "Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey's Head" by Gorillaz from Demon Days (Album) is a Spoken Word track, read by Dennis Hopper about an ancient mountain called Monkey whom the villagers below the foot of the mountain know and fear. In the end it destroys everybody and everything.
  • "Night on Bald Mountain" by Modest Mussorgsky, a composition about a huge mountain where a witches sabbath takes place at night. In Fantasia this is made more clear by having the top of the mountain actually be Tchernobog the demon god, folded behind his wings, sleeping all day, but awakening at night and summoning all demons, ghosts, witches and other creepy things to appear inside the mountain for a devilish feast. It is implied that this has been going on since the dawn of time.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Countless examples from Greek mythology: some of the Titans and Protogenoi certainly qualify. Although one might imagine Tartarus, the personification of Greek Hell (as opposed to the Underworld which was where morally neutral souls went) seems from the description to be an ancient evil, but in actuality, he was quite content to serve as a jailer for whichever dynasty of deities was in charge at the moment. Erebus and Nyx, the personifications of darkness and night don't count since they were rather harmless in the grand scheme of things, but some of their offspring may be considered ancient evils because they were unleashed from Pandora's box given to her by Zeus to inflict misery on humankind.
  • Japanese Mythology: some of the Youkai are actually either animals (like the two-tailed cat or the Kitsune) or items (such as umbrellas or combs) who have lived/neglected for long enough and gains spirits of their own, and most of the time, becoming malevolent.
    • Izanami, a Japanese creation deity might count, because she died giving birth to the spirit of fire, and went to Yomi, a shadowy place underground, where she took on the appearance of a rotten corpse, and after being rejected by her former husband Izanagi, she vowed to take thousands of human souls with her to the grave in revenge.
  • Christianity and The Bible: Satan and his host of demons were created before humanity (well, created as angels). This makes them at the absolute very least 6,000 years old - and in all that time from Adam and Eve till today they have been tempting humanity to commit evil.

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    Tabletop Games 
  • The "pre-human sentient species" thing is played up to eleven with Aboleths from Dungeons & Dragons. They are an evil species that predates creation itself. And they can live indefinitely, meaning there might be some that were still around before the creation of the multiverse.
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Curse of the Chthonians, adventure "The Curse of Chaugnar Faugn". The title Cthulhu Mythos deity is stated to be at least a billion years old. Of course, everything else in the Mythos to which this can be applied (i.e. almost everything nonhuman) can also be found in the game.
  • The Zendikar block of Magic: The Gathering features the Planet-Eating Eldritch Abomination Eldrazi Titans as its Big Bads. Aside from the whole Planet-Eating thing, their main schtick is that, despite being living things, they are colorless, because they predate the colors of magic. For reference, In-Universe, the colors of magic are practically a law of nature; the Eldrazi are basically older than physics.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has no shortage of these, with the youngest Chaos god being ten thousand years old. The other three achieved sentience during the Renaissance, Middle Ages and Mesopotamian eras respectively, while the Orks were created approximately sixty million years before humans existed, but the eldest entities in the universe are the C'tan.
  • Warhammer Fantasy has many of its major antagonists fall under this category, with most having predated the empire and some even humanity itself. Prominent examples include the Chaos Gods and their various Daemons, Malekith and Morathi, and Nagash. Then of course there are the Dragon Ogres, who predate even the coming of the Old Ones.

    Video Games 
  • In After Armageddon Gaiden the main villain Ra Mu is a member of an ancient civilization who was sealed away after trying to take over the world, and is now back to destroy it.
  • Bound by Blades has the Ilcyon, a maleovalent force who corrupts the minds of the citizens of Ashymr. It was unleashed during Ashmyr's warring past due to being drawn by the bloodshed, and after a few decades of harmony, the Ilcyon returns, this time trying to conquer the land during an era of peace.
  • Chrono Trigger
    • Lavos, an ancient being who came to Earth millions of years ago, and who (in the Original Future) will cause The End of the World as We Know It, was responsible for the death of an entire intelligent species, will consume almost all life on Earth and then send its children to other worlds to do the same (implying that it was born the same way).
    • Also the Rust Tyranno which had been waiting for more than 65 million years for a rematch.
  • Dark Souls has Manus, a Primordial Human who, in the past, transformed into a horrible ape-like beast and destroyed and corrupted the Township of Oolacile. By the time of the beginning of the game, however, Manus is long dead... because you travel back to the past and kill him. Dark Souls II complicates this even further, with the reveal that the Big Bad is Manus' 'daughter'/soul fragment, and the DLC reveal there were even more Children of Dark than her; even post-humously, the corruption and malice that Manus represents lasts millenias after the events of Oolacile.
  • The oldest evil in the Diablo universe was Tathamet, the original Prime Evil, which was destroyed by Anu, the original god of the cosmos. The Burning Hells and the demons were spawned from Tathamet's remains, and the Seven Great Evils which would threaten creation were born from each of Tathamet's seven heads, while Anu's remains would form the Crystal Arch, from which the High Heavens and the angels sprung.
  • Common in the Dragon Age series.
  • Final Fantasy
    • The Cloud of Darkness from Final Fantasy III is a primordial being that has taken physical form due to the imbalance of of light and darkness caused by Xande when he stopped time. She was also manipulating Xande to carry out her goals to plunge the world into nothingness.
    • Exdeath from Final Fantasy V is a demonic being born from the evil souls sealed inside a great magical tree 500 years ago, over the years the tree became sentient and Exdeath was born, after his birth, he began to seek the power of the void to plot the downfall of mankind.
    • Jenova from Final Fantasy VII, is an ancient being who came to gaia thousands of years ago, and who almost caused The End of the World as We Know It, consumed almost all of the Ancient Cetra, plans to consume all the energy in the planet and then depart to another planet to do it again.
    • As revealed in Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers, the Ascians are remnants of a civilization that predates reality as it is presently known, hailing from a world that would be destroyed in an event known as the "Sundering" which led to the creation of The Multiverse and the world of Hydaelyn. The Ascians are also shown to zig-zag this trope: the few "Unsundered" Ascians whose souls remained intact after the destruction of their world are Well-Intentioned Extremists who really want to restore their world, even if it would mean the death and destruction of the newly-created multiverse. What we see of the ancient Ascian civilization shows them to be a race of Benevolent Precursors who were well-learned and interested primarily in academic pursuits. The other present-day Ascians, on the other hand — the ones who are "sundered" — tend to be Ax-Crazy Omnicidal Maniacs.
  • Kingdom Hearts has the 13 living Darknesses from Union X, they’re as old as the Master of Masters and maybe even older; and considering he's older than Daybreak Town itself, that makes them the closest Kingdom Hearts has to a primordial evil. As for their fate, 7 of them are currently inhabiting The Master of Masters, and his Apprentices, 5 of them were supposed to inhabit the Union Leaders but 4 are permanently trapped in the data Daybreak Town prison, the twelfth one, is heavily implied to have become known as Vanitas, and the last one was said to be destroyed when Daybreak Town collapsed.
  • The King of Fighters
    • Orochi has existed for millennia as a creation of the Earth, and is disgusted by humans for ruining the world, so he aimed to Kill All Humans. He was sealed by the ancestors of Kyo, Iori and Chizuru long ago. Nowadays (that is, KOF '97) he was unsealed again by the Hakkeshu (Orochi's followers) and Kyo, Iori and Chizuru have to seal him again.
    • There's also Those From The Past, a group of villains lead by Saiki who time-traveled from the distant past and aims to take the power of Orochi for their own purposes.
  • League of Legends: Fiddlesticks' rework turned it into this. Even by the standards of other characters in the game, Fiddlesticks is ancient — the developers describe it as 'a demon before demons'. That's why it has a strange name — monsters like Aatrox and Tahm Kench are well-remembered and referred to by their real names, while Fiddlesticks is so Shrouded in Myth that it's only known in old wives' tales and scary campfire stories. Except it's real, and it rips people's souls out.
  • The Legend of Zelda has Ganondorf, an Evil Sorcerer who (depending on which side of the split timeline) has been sealed away for hundreds of years at a time, only to be released and either sealed again or killed. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword reveals that Ganondorf (or Ganon, as the case may be) is the corporeal form of the "curse of Demise", who is the true Ancient Evil in the series. An otherworldly being whose death in Skyward Sword laid a curse on all those who would descend from the Link and Zelda of that game (so those possessing the spirit of the Hero and the bloodline of Hylia, respectively). Ganondorf's malice towards Link, Zelda, and the kingdom of Hyrule is that debt being paid. By the time of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which takes place more than 10,000 years after the previous game, Ganon has degenerated into an Almighty Idiot that is Made of Evil, while his origins as a Gerudo man are barely remembered, with the one Gerudo character who does bring it up considering it a disgrace to her people's honor. And then in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Ganondorf's mummified corpse is found below Hyrule castle, sealed there millenia ago by the first king of Hyrule, Rauru. When the corpse reanimates, things very quickly go From Bad to Worse.
  • The Reapers of Mass Effect, massive highly advanced machines that were created over a billion years ago and now "harvest" all space-faring civilizations every 50,000 years.
  • The true main antagonists of the Nazi Zombies saga are revealed to be the Apothicons, a splinter race of ancient Keepers whose goal is to corrupt and destroy the universe and all its dimensions and then devour it. They send Element 115 into each dimension in order to carve a path to an apocalypse, or send their emissary the Shadow Man to speed things along. Origins alludes to them by referring to them as this trope, and the following maps gradually build up their presence until their true role in the story is revealed in Revelations.
  • The Creators in Neverwinter Nights, who deliberately became a Sealed Evil in a Can in order to escape an ice age.
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: The Shadow Queen was sealed away 1,000 years prior to the events of the game and is trying to be resurrected.
  • Dark Falz (AKA: Dark Force), the recurring Big Bad of the Phantasy Star series, is depicted as an evil entity that has existed since antiquity. In the original Master System/Genesis tetralogy, it was an entity that would awaken every one thousand years to wreak havoc on the Algol System with Phantasy Star IV revealing Dark Falz to be but an extension of an even older and more powerful entity, the Profound Darkness.)
  • Pokémon has Eternatus, who arrived on the planet in a meteor 20,000 years ago in Galar. 3,000 years ago it caused The Darkest Day, engulfing Galar in darkness until Zacian and Zamazanta sealed it.
  • Mental, the Big Bad of the Serious Sam series, is an immortal alien Evil Overlord who has been conquering or wiping out intelligent species across the universe for eons. His latest victims were the Sirians, a race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens that visited and were worshipped as gods by the ancient Egyptians, then went dormant on their homeworld before continuing his sweep of the galaxy. Humanity found their technology and their warnings (which were of course ignored) and started colonizing the stars... only to end up awakening him, becoming his next target.
  • The Big Bad of the first Shadowman, Legion, is known to be so ancient that it practically made all the prophecies about its own return after it was sealed off. It also manages to gather some of history's finest serial killers under his thrall.
  • In the Siren Games, the Big Bad for the first game/New Translation remake consisted of Datatsushi/Kaiko, alien beings that landed on Earth in the 600s that were responsible for the events in Hanuda while in Siren 2, Mother and Otoshigo were responsible for the events in Yamijima Island.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog has a number of examples.
    • Sonic Adventure has Chaos, a legendary monster that wiped out a great civilization centures ago, although it's subverted in that he's not evil, just really angry and vengeful.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) has Iblis, who destroyed the world during Sonic's time and led to the post-apocalyptic future Silver hails from, still lingering around by then.
    • Dark Gaia from Sonic Unleashed, is a being that has existed since the Earth's formation and whose sole purpose is to end all life in the planet.
    • Sonic Frontiers introduces The End, an Eldritch Abomination that destroyed the homeworld of the Ancients, Chaos' ancestors. The Ancients fled to Earth with the Chaos Emeralds and managed to seal away The End inside their Cyberspace when it followed them, making it the franchise's Greater-Scope Villain. Eggman notes that the Ancients' remaining structures on Starfall Islands predate most known civilizations.
  • The Big Bad of Tales of Symphonia is revealed to be One Character With Two Aliases: Yggdrasil, the leader of the evil organization Cruxis, is actually Mithos, the legendary hero who ended the war which more or less marks the beginning of recorded history. Yuan and Kratos Aurion are also just as ancient — they were his party members back then — but significantly less evil.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Salem, the Big Bad, has worked from the shadows for over a thousand years towards her efforts of wiping out humanity and claiming the four Relics. This claim is backed by Professor Ozpin, who's fought her nearly that entire time. For failing in his first attempt to defeat her, the gods cursed him with a form of reincarnation so that he would eventually succeed. Except that is all a lie: they are actually husband and wife, and while she was always selfish and impetuous, and was later turned utterly evil by exposure to the Pools of Destruction, Ozpin has been getting weaker over time while she has not.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • The Bloodwolf of The Adventures of Puss in Boots is a being summoned from the Netherworld that describes himself as being the source of all fear and older than the world.
  • Adventure Time:
    • Ice King is over a thousand years old. He's more insane than actually evil, though.
    • The Lich dates back at least to The Great Mushroom War which happened a millennium prior to the series. "Evergreen" implies that he's over 65 million years old, and "Gold Stars" reveals that he predates non-existence (or at least is old enough to know of beings that did).
    • "Orgalorg" reveals that The Ice King's pet penguin Gunther is actually an evil god named Orgalorg. How old he is is unspecified, but at the time of his banishment, Earth was still an inhospitable planet.
  • Downplayed in The Amazing World of Gumball. Miss Simian is over 2 million years old, but she's not actually evil, just a Jerkass.
  • The Big Bad of Class of the Titans is Cronus, God of Time. He was locked away in Tartarus prison for 4,000 years and escaped in the present day to overthrow the gods.
  • Final Space: The Titans are the "pre-human sapient species" type (although they didn't start out evil), and the Titans' master Invictus is the "force of evil" type. After Invictus corrupted the Titans to wreak destruction upon the early universe, the Arachnitects walled both Invictus and its servants off from the universe within Final Space, where they've remained for eons, itching to return to the universe and finish what they started.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures has the title hero fight against demons that are ancient, immortal and varying among each other.
    • Shendu ruled over Asia with an iron grip until he was turned into a statue and ripped off of his powers nine centuries ago. Much longer before that, he and his seven Demon Sorcerer siblings ruled over the entire Earth before they were all sealed in the Netherworld (with Shendu managing to escape through unmentioned means).
    • Tarakudo, Lord of all Oni and King of all Shadowkhan, ravaged the ancient Japan with his nine Oni generals who each commanded a vast Shadowkhan army, until they were imprisoned in Oni Masks and/or separate dimensions. This evil faction is implied to be older than the Demon Sorcerers are, given the fact that Shendu controlled one of the Shadowkhan armies through one of the Oni Masks in his statue form.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: All the Heinouses, apart from Beezy. In one episode, Jimmy asks Lucius Heinous VII, the youngest of them, how long it took him to grow his horns. Lucius answers that it took 400 years. And in another episode, when Lucius is made fun of for his age, he defends himself by saying he's "just barely seven hundred".
  • Justice League: The New Frontier: The Center, the main enemy, is a mix of this and Gaia's Vengeance, as it has made several attempts to stop man's evolutionary progress after they managed to evolve to a point that they could pose a serious threat to the Earth.
  • The Legend of Korra has Vaatu, a being who represents all darkness and evil, and has been around since the beginning of time.
  • My Little Pony:
    • My Little Pony 'n Friends:
      • The sea monster Squirk is so ancient — somewhere in the millennia range, although Pluma doesn't recall the actual number — that Dream Valley was part of the ocean when he ruled over it. Unlike most examples, he didn't become a Sealed Evil in a Can but instead waited for time and old age to catch up with his archenemy and make him easy prey for him.
      • The dark wizard Grogar was imprisoned in the Realm of Darkness 500 years ago, and has since been gathering his strength in order to return to the world and conquer it.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The show's major villains are almost always this trope. The most common backstory for them is that an ancient magical being was sealed away in the ancient past due to the threat it posed, but breaks free during the show and needs to be dealt with again.
      • Nightmare Moon was once Princess Luna, an alicorn who moved the moon, but who became embittered by jealousy for her sister and became a villain who wanted to bring about The Night That Never Ends. She was stopped by her sister and sealed inside the moon, but returns in the show's pilot after a thousand years of exile.
      • Discord was an ancient being of chaos, who ruled over Equestria and made everypony's existence miserable, until Luna and Celestia were able to seal him.
      • King Sombra enslaved the citizens of the Crystal Empire a thousand years ago. He was never killed, though he was turned into a Living Shadow and sealed in the arctic ice.
      • Lord Tirek first assaulted Equestria centuries ago in order to steal all its magic, before his brother betrayed him to the ponies, who locked him away in Tartarus.
      • Grogar takes the "ancient" to its full extreme: His rule of the world came so long before the three tribes of ponies united to form modern Equestria (which itself was before the time of even Celestia and Luna) that Tirek and Sombra themselves only knew of him as a myth when they were young over a thousand years ago.
  • Ōban Star-Racers: Canaletto ruled as the previous Avatar, plunging the galaxy into ten-thousand years of darkness and refusing to relinquish the power to a successor when his time was up. Even after Satis defeated him and became the current Avatar, Canaletto somehow survived and remained trapped in the Temple of Ōban for the entirety of Satis' reign, quietly plotting his revenge. This makes Canaletto well over twenty-thousand years old by the time the series starts, and very few people are even aware that he exists.
  • Aku from Samurai Jack. In one episode which showed his Backstory, he is shown fighting Jack's world's gods before the world began. This was aeons before he gained sentience and was instead just a mindless Eldritch Abomination.
  • Mr. Burns on The Simpsons can be one Depending on the Writer. Usually he's only 104 years old, but one throwaway gag had his age as an unspecified 4-digit numbernote , and another revealed that he was born in Pangaea, making him over 200 million years old.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "Beyond the Farthest Star''. The magnetic Energy Being has been trapped on an alien starship in orbit around a black hole for three hundred million years.
  • In ThunderCats (1985), Mumm-Ra calls upon the "Ancient Spirits of Evil" to give him the power to transform.
  • Transformers has Unicron, In most continuities Unicron is the ultimate evil that has existed since the creation of the universe and seeks to destroy life across the universe.
  • Young Justice (2010): Vandal Savage, the immortal leader of the Light, has literally been around since the Stone Age. Although he's partly a Well-Intentioned Extremist who committed some genuine heroics in the name of his peoples in ancient times, he also engineered a lot of truly reprehensible stuff for the perceived greater good even back then. In the present time, Vandal's plans to elevate Earth into becoming a galactic superpower involve a pact with Apokolips and destabilizing the world through numerous means, and he's at one point acknowledged by the heroes as a Fallen Hero.

    Real Life 
  • Proposals for the message meant to be sent to future generations who might stumble upon nuclear waste sites thousands of years in the future draw heavily on this trope.
  • Many diseases which haunt our species today were around before the Homo genus evolved. One such example is Malaria, a disease that affected Australopthecines as severely as it impacts modern humans.


Video Example(s):



Beast reads hieroglyphics which tell the story of the mutant supervillain Apocalypse.

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Main / AncientEvil

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