Follow TV Tropes


And Man Grew Proud

Go To

Sometimes, Pride Before a Fall occurs with one person. However, sometimes an entire civilization gets overcome by hubris, which means it got excessive pride or an arrogant level of self-confidence, and the society may weaken or even collapse. For example, a society with advanced technology may be so infatuated with innovative engineering that it destroys the environment. Perhaps the society, in its pride, waged destructive wars that eventually brought them ruin. Or maybe they tried to gain control of some powerful entity or substance that they could not possibly control and paid dearly for it. Such civilizations may crumble, leaving only ruined monuments they made out of pride and the society may be outlasted by them. The formerly towering civilization may decline and become a Soiled City on a Hill due to decadence and corruption. Regardless of what these civilizations leave behind (assuming there are any traces of them left), the reason for their downfall is the same: excessive pride and unwillingness to consider their limits.

Compare Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair, for when a proud civilization built countless towering monuments to its glory (statues, pyramids, etc) before its fall, Soiled City on a Hill, for one way a city can be destroyed due to hubris (among other reasons, such as complacency or corruption). If the memory of one of these civilizations fades into myth long after its fall, it can go From Cataclysm to Myth.


    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Superman: Depending on the Writer, reasons for the demise of Krypton and its society may include a rigid, sterile culture, overconfidence/complacency in Krypton's stability, and/or a sense of superiority/isolationism that stops them from expanding to other planets.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 

  • By the Waters of Babylon: John, after seeing how human civilization was destroyed, says it was due to them gaining power through knowledge so quickly it overrode their sense. This resulted in a cataclysmic war which killed most people and left the rest like his, surviving as simple foragers who long thought of those before as gods.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • A running theme in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien.
    • The Fall of Númenor: The Númenoreans literally tried to invade the land of Angels to forcibly steal immortality, and were repaid with divine retribution.
    • The Lord of the Rings: Gondor grew powerful for a time until arrogant kings wasted their strength on petty civil wars in prior centuries.
    • The Hobbit: The Dwarves of Erebor also grew so wealthy that they alienated many of their allies, so that when the dragon Smaug attacked them their neighbors weren't eager to face certain death to help the dwarf refugees.
  • Grasshopper Jungle: This seems to be the view of the main characters regarding the actions of Mc Keon Industries and their disregard for the possible consequences of creating an army of giant, bulletproof, fast-maturing, praying mantises.
  • The Lord of Bembibre: When Don Álvaro gloats that the Templars are too powerful to be defeated, the Abbot of Carracedo shows him the ruins of an erstwhile opulent Roman city and suggests him to ask those crumbled stones what happened to the great, powerful and arrogant Roman Empire.
    "Take a good look," said the monk, "take a good look at one of the great and many sepulchres enclosing the skeletons of that town of giants. They, too, in their pride and injustice turned against God, as your Templars have done. Go therefore, as I have gone amid the silence of the night, and ask these ruins about the greatness of their lords. The whistling of the wind and the howling of the wolf will not fail to give you an answer."
  • The Lost Fleet: Every ship named Invincible has a very short lifespan - by the standards of a fleet where it's almost unheard of for a ship to survive three years past its commissioning. Most sailors believe that the name is an affront to the living stars, although fleet engineers see this superstition as pointless, especially since no captain will have his or her ship be repaired with parts salvaged from an Invincible. Despite this, the fleet bureaucracy refuses to retire the name and keeps naming new ships Invincible as soon as one is destroyed. They get really annoyed when Geary and another admiral choose to christen a captured bear-cow superbattleship Invincible. Even that one is destroyed in Leviathan, but it serves as a distraction for the dark ships, giving Geary's fleet some much needed time.
  • Lumbanico, the Cubic Planet: The titular planet's ancient civilization was destroyed because of Lumbanicians burning polluting fuels without control to indulge their materialism and accumulate more wealth without regard for consequences. Eventually, said consequences materialzed in the Black Cloud which destroyed their cities and their environment. Seven hundred hundreds later, their descendants call that event "the Great Shame" and cannot understand how their ancestors could possibly be so stupid and arrogant.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: The leadership of the human race appears to have started to get delusions of grandeur as they began to expand into the galaxy with the help of the Centauri, and began to grow more expansionist and militant. After a successful war against a species called the Dilgar the human leadership believed they could handle anything that came their way. Then there was an unfortunate incident with a Minbari cruiser...

    Myths & Religion 
  • Book of Genesis: When Men became as arrogant to try to build a tower intended to reach Heaven, God put a stop to it and confused the language of man.

    Tabletop Games 
  • C°ntinuum: roleplaying in The Yet: Antedesertium is an entire time span of thousands of years where Africa is ruled by Narcissist kings of time and space, granting Schizo Tech to the population, and performing experiments on causality itself. Eventually, they come to look nothing like humans, and then their whole civilization collapses at Interregnum, a massive Temporal Paradox-laden no man's land, where time travelers instantly Frag out if they try to span. Interregnum caused a massive axial shift that left the Sahara a desert.

    Video Games 
  • Chrono Trigger features the Kingdom of Zeal from the era of Antiquity, 12,000 years before the founding of Guardia. They got pretty haughty — exiling those who couldn't use magic and thinking solar power was So Last Season — and it resulted in maybe 80% of the planet being flooded and all Enlightened Ones losing their magic with the exceptions of four temporally-consistent exceptions who were elsewhen at the moment, and the party (with two exceptions) who get their dormant magic abilities awakened by the Mr. Exposition that Foreshadows the kingdom's importance.
  • Crying Suns: The Empire became overdependent on its AI for anything not related to war or art; nobody had the sense to study these topics because they were too busy preening themselves as masters of the galaxy. When said AI mysteriously disappeared from all systems entirely, the galaxy collapsed into total anarchy as nobody could work the advanced machinery or even remember how to grow food.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: The lost civilization of Agartha, a technologically advanced nation millennia ago grew arrogant and waged war against the goddess Sothis, who paid them back by wiping out Agartha. Agartha continues to exist into the present day via the descendants of the survivors of the war, who live in a secret Underground City known as Shambhala, and Agarthan descendants (now known as "Those Who Slither in the Dark"), are still dedicated to their war of extermination against the goddess and her Children, having manipulated Nemesis and his Ten Elites into killing Sothis while she slumbered and slaughtering the Children of the Goddess in Zanado while forging their bones into weapons and drinking their blood to gain Crests. They also still possess a good chunk of their ancestors' advanced technology and know how to use them: besides living space, Shambhala is also host to a battery of long-range missile silos, and is heavily defended with electrical cannons and Humongous Mecha armed with massive swords that shoot out energy beams.
  • Star Warrior II: The Altian civilization was the most advanced known civilization, but they destroyed themselves with their own infighting, which was exacerbated with their military technology. Worse yet, their curiosity about the Deep caused them to make contact with the Cosmic Darkness, who is implied to be the true cause of their civil war.

    Western Animation 
  • Superman: The Animated Series shows one example of Krypton's destruction. In this case, it hinges on the highly technologically developed Kryptonians being overconfident in their planet-monitoring AI, Brainiac, firmly believing that he could not be wrong despite Jor-El's findings. As it turns out, Brainiac knows the planet is about to blow up, and calculated the Kryptonians would force him on a doomed quest to save the planet if he told the truth, so he lied through his interface and left Krypton to die.