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Death of the Old Gods

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"Tell the king; the fair wrought house has fallen
No shelter has Apollo, nor sacred laurel leaves
The fountains are now silent; the voice is stilled.
It is finished."
The last Oracle of Delphi to a representative of the Emperor Theodosius I

A common fantasy trope where the gods that once ruled the world are dying or fading away. Most commonly, this may take the form of polytheistic pagan gods are slowly giving way to a single unified Christian god (or the nearest fictional approximation), a titanomachy where an elder, primordial pantheon gives way to the new polytheistic deities, or perhaps of the old order giving way to no gods at all, which is not unheard of.

Normally their departure is a result of people no longer believing in them, although it's not unknown for them to simply lose interest in the affairs of mortals, or to die out for other reasons. In other cases, the interloper takes their place after beating or even killing their predecessors in a fight.

The fading gods and their worshipers are normally portrayed sympathetically, but there are normally underlying messages that their time is up and they should accept their fates. Modernized God is one way they can escape this fate.

Contrast Götterdämmerung, where the gods go out with a bang instead of a whimper. See also the trope just called The Old Gods, which is roughly for gods who went through either this or that trope in the backstory.


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    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics: The pantheons of Earth were forced to stop intervening in humanity's progress (overtly anyway) 1000 years ago by The Celestials, beings who guide evolution. Most people — including most deities — do not know this, only the leaders of each pantheon. Apparently, being a superhero doesn't count as "overtly intervening", given the examples of Thor and Hercules, and occasionally a few others.
  • DC Comics:
    • The Old Gods literally died in a huge war only to be replaced by New Gods; none of these were Earth gods, however.
      "There came a time when the Old Gods died! The brave died with the cunning! The noble perished, locked in battle with the unleashed evil! It was the last day for them! An ancient era was passing in fiery holocaust! The final moment came with the fatal release of the indescribable power — which tore the home of the Old Gods asunder — split it in great halves — and filled the universe with the blinding death-flash of its destruction! In the end there were two giant molten bodies, spinning slow and barren — clean of all that had gone before — adrift in the fading sounds of cosmic thunder... Silence closed upon what had happened — a long, deep silence — wrapped in massive darkness... it was this way for an age... THEN—THERE WAS NEW LIGHT!"
      • In the continuity of Earth 2, it's revealed that Mercury was the last of the Old Gods that had survived the war against Darkseid's forces in Apokolips, but was fatally injured in his escape. He met with and passed his Super Speed onto Jay Garrick.
    • Since the death of the New Gods in Final Crisis, and the foreshadowing that even newer gods will arise, the New Gods are now also old dead gods.
    • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): The Olympians' "game" has been restarted due to their fear of dying out due to lack of worshipers as their powers and reach fade away. In the end Gaia does die by fading away after using the last of her powers to imbue Diana with superpowers of her own and is an even older god than the Olympians.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm plays with this - like Marvel, the older pantheons were forced by the Celestials to step aside and not overtly interfere with human development, though here there is the caveat that this is until humanity grows up (which it is now doing, with references made to Thor's line from The Avengers about mankind being ready for a higher form of war). Like The Dresden Files, gods need at least some belief/awareness that they exist to have a foothold on Earth and exert their power there (which is used to explain the power disparity between Thor and Loki in the early MCU and their more comics derived versions here). Most of them are suggested not to care all that much. However, with the events of Book 1, which unleashed Chthon, the Elder God of Chaos, on the world, the rise of the Dark Phoenix, and the threat of Thanos, the collected pantheons are starting to pay attention again. In other words, the Old Gods Stepped Aside, but increasingly, the Old Gods Are Back. And they aren't alone...
  • Equestria: Across the Multiverse: This happens in the world visited during the Lighting the Darkness Arc. Queen Equinox, the local deity and Goddess of Light and Darkness, sacrificed herself to save the world from a meteor... and was gradually forgotten and faded into obscurity. This was a bad thing, as one of the villains she sealed away, a demon named Lord Yomi that her worshipers had previously kept performing rituals in her name to keep locked away, escaped, and no one remembers how to exploit Holy Burns Evil against them anymore. The end result is Yomi and his army easily conquering the world until the Mane Six arrive and reintroduce magic, as well as free Antiquity from Yomi's curse, who the rediscovers Equinox and CAN exploit Holy Burns Evil against them. Sunny Days and Moonlight eventually ascend and become the new gods in Equinox's place, destroying Yomi with the Mane Six's help.
  • While several of the old pantheons seem to be doing fine in Son of the Western Sea not all the gods have managed to survive the tests of time. Lir and Nuada have both Faded, and for the most part the Tuatha de Danann stay under the hills or in the Blessed Isles since the Olympians took over. The clurichaun states that it is even worse over in England where the Olympians were running around, with Robin Goodfellow not being heard from in centuries and possibly Fading entirely. The Berber gods of northern Africa are likewise mentioned to have mostly Faded, and the Mesopotamian gods have somehow been contained by a human society.
  • Hank's Orthodoxy: The main reason why Hank is abandoning Methodist/Protestant faith for Eastern Orthodoxy is his worry that Christianity in the United States is slowly dying.
  • Thousand Shinji: Several deities from Warhammer 40,000 sacrificed themselves to create the New Chaos Gods so that the C'Tan can be defeated.

    Films — Animation 
  • Beowulf (2007): Beowulf laments that his people have abandoned "the Gods of might and power for a crying martyr".
  • Constantine: City of Demons mentions that this happened to the Aztek gods except for Mictlantecuhtli, who survived by feeding on the deaths of animals at a slaughterhouse.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dragonslayer: This seems to be starting. Although a newly arrived Christian priest attempts to defeat the dragon using the power of God's word alone, King Casiodorus has still sent a team to fetch Ulrich, a well-known sorcerer, to defeat the dragon. With the loss of Galen's amulet, it's implied that a lot of (but not all of!) the old-school magic that once permeated the land is gone, clearing the way for Christianity's rise.
  • The Egyptian: The film draws parallels between Akhenaten's worship of the sun god Aten and later Judeo-Christian monotheism. The end of the film implies that even though the priests of Amon-Re were able to quash to new religion, it would come again in a different form. It's very interesting to watch this film back-to-back with The Ten Commandments (1956) for this reason.
  • In Excalibur, Merlin says to Morganna, who is trying to learn his secrets of sorcery, that many old ways are being lost because the One God (of Christianity) is driving out the many gods (of nature).
  • Wonder Woman: All of the Greek Pantheon sans Ares and Diana are dead. By the end, only Diana is left, which leaves room for the incoming New Gods in Justice League.
    • Speaking of Justice League:
      Steppenwolf: [to Diana] You have the blood of the Old Gods in you... The Old Gods died!
  • Mythica: Szorlok succeeds in destroying the gods prior to his death at Marek's hand. Teela believes they may reemerge someday though.

  • Neil Gaiman's American Gods is about a war between the Old Gods, who embody traditional myths and are running out of faith, and the New Gods, who embody things like television and the Internet and are rising in power but perhaps only as passing fads (like the railroad). The trope is played with in that the Current Gods are uninvolved and completely unchallenged by both groups, who are basically fighting over scraps.
  • The original Dragonlance trilogy actually subverts this. After the Cataclysm, a world-shattering disaster visited on the world by the gods as punishment for a variety of sins, humanity decides to find itself a new pantheon, and the dwarves and elves seem to be less interested in worship generally speaking. It's later revealed, however, that the old gods were around all along. It was people's loss of faith in them that made them believe the old gods had departed. And, interestingly, it winds up being the goddess of evil who becomes active again in the world first.
    • Then they left again, and some schmuck calling himself the One God showed up and started the War of Souls. Turns out the old gods didn't really leave, the world was stolen from them by said goddess of evil, who had disguised herself as the One God.
  • Dragon King Trilogy: Quentin, as an initiate at a temple of the old gods, seems mainly to learn less about the gods themselves and more about how the priests manipulate the people into thinking these gods are real, and reaping the benefits of the people's worship of said gods. The implication seems to be that if these older gods actually do exist, they are remarkably silent on all human affairs. Later on in the first book, a very familiar Christian-type God reveals himself to Quentin.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Although supernatural beings lurk under every bridge in the Dresdenverse, actual gods except Odin are conspicuous by their absence. It's implied in one side story that they're not dead, but have stepped aside voluntarily due to some kind of arrangement made roughly 2,000 years ago. Given the timing and the Christian God's obsession with human free will in this setting, there's plenty of room for fan theories there.
    • Changes reveals some of the Old Gods, specifically Mayincatec ones, to have actually been very powerful, very old vampires of the Red Court, called the Lords of Outer Night. However, from the same book there is indication - or at least speculation on Dresden's part - that the gods really did exist, and the Red Court leadership stole their names. Considering that Mayan mythology includes a god of blood, death, and sacrifice called Camazotz who greatly resembles a Red Court vampire, and is mentioned as having many children, this theory may have legs.
    • Cold Days reveals even more. Some entities can hold different mantles or masks as times changes. Odin may not worshipped much anymore, but he still gains much power from his role as Santa.
    • There are a whole bunch of ancient deities so dangerous to the world that an Ancient Tradition of Venatori has been struggling for centuries to erase every trace of their presence, thus preventing mortals from believing in them and allowing them to exist. This invoked example is appropriately known as the "Oblivion War". It is mentioned that the Gods do not actually die, however, they require mortal faith to connect to the mortal world-lack of it does not kill them, merely render them unable to touch the mortal plane. Although it does raise the question, if they can't interact with the world and its people unless people believe in them, then how could they inspire belief if they can't interact with people.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Faith of the Seven, which resembles the Catholic Church, has largely replaced the Old Gods, who were worshiped by the original inhabitants of the continent. The only worshipers left are up north, the Northerners and the tribes beyond the Wall, as well as a number of tribes in The Vale who never assimilated. Later in the series, the religion of R'hllor, a militant, monotheistic religion from the East, begins to take a foothold. The Iron Islands follows the Drowned God; they are the only ones to do so and this has resulted in their culture being very different from the rest of Westeros.
    • It's important to note that the Old Gods' faith was never organized, and lacks priests, temples, scriptures, and so on. This probably contributed to the faith's decline.
    • Ironically, the First Men originally had several named gods before the Pact with the Children. Part of the Pact was abandoning their "old gods" for the ones worshipped by the Children. The only regions where this didn't happen were the Iron Islands, the Frozen Shore, and the Sisters islands, all regions where weirwoods don't grow.
    • People outside the North don't seem to reject the existence of The Old Gods, as evidenced by saying like "by the old gods and the new." The current generation of the Starks worship both sets of gods. Later books reveal that there are some fundamentalists of the Faith of the Seven who see alternate religions like the Old Gods and the Drowned God as a threat (though they're more focused on the growing worship of R'hllor) and want to convert the whole continent.
    • A few regions had exclusive faiths that completely disappeared after the Andal invasion. These include the faiths of the Storm God (enemy of the Drowned God), the faiths of the Rhoynar (now worshipped only by a small group of Dornish called the Orphans of the Greenblood), and the gods of the Sisters Islands.
    • Essos is immeasurably more diverse, although there are also many extinct religions. Vaes Dothrak has a huge collection of god statues and icons from various cities they've looted over the centuries, many of which have no current worshippers. The Valyrians had their own religion, which went extinct along with their entire nation after the Doom of Valyria. The only evidence of their existence was the names of the three dragons that Aegon I and his sisters rode to conquer Westeros: Balerion, Vhagar, and Meraxes. They were named after ancient Valyrian gods.
  • Works of David Eddings:
    • In the backstory of the Belgariad, the gods willingly underwent this, trading in their Physical God forms for more incorporeal ones, so that they could leave room for the unifying god that was to come. Only Torak refused to accept the deal, remaining in the world and becoming the Big Bad.
    • The Elenium, the Elder Gods of Stryicum were overthrown by the Younger Gods. The details aren't given save that one of the elders, Azash, was castrated and trapped in a clay idol.
    • In The Dreamers, the two generations of gods, elder and younger, take turns running things.
  • Greek Gods and Heroes, by Robert Graves, concludes with a chapter titled "The Death of the Olympian Gods", in which, upon the death of the Emperor Julian, the three Fates advise Zeus that the reign of the Olympians has ended. Zeus destroys the Olympian palace with a thunderbolt and the gods retreat into obscurity. The full text of the chapter can be found here.
  • Stephen R. Lawhead does this in his Pendragon Cycle of Arthurian stories. In his version, the old Celtic gods (Lleu of the Long Hand being the only one consistently named) give way to the Christian God, albeit gently. It's implied by the titular Taliesin of the first book that the Christian God was always there above the Celtic deities, but was unknown and thus not truly worshiped directly. With the coming of Christianity into this post-Roman Britain, there is no further need for the older forms of religion. The druids and other followers of the older faith after the introduction of Christianity are portrayed rather negatively, with the implication that they're only in it for the power (real, mystical or perceived).
  • Most of Thomas Burnett Swann's fantasy novels are about the fading of the old magic, mythology and gods, though it's implied that some have survived in hiding.
  • Is part of the key reveal to Jean Ray's Malpertuis: the Greeks gods did exist, created out of the worship and belief of humans, but since their religion and civilisation ended they have been slowly dying and fading away. An old sorcerer managed to trap and enslave the last Greek gods still alive - by forcing them into human bodies and human identities. Or more accurately human-shaped balloons...
  • In the Merry Gentry series, the many of the Sidhe were worshiped as well-known pagan gods, but lost their worshipers to Christianity. This marked the beginning of their decline in power. It is explicitly stated that Sidhe draw power from such worship, and are therefore forbidden to set themselves up as gods as part of the treaty with Jefferson. Furthermore, the older Sidhe have referred to the Elder Gods and Firblogs, which implies that there may have been even Older Old Gods, that the Sidhe didn't just Put on a Bus to Another Dimension, but actually Killed Off for Real.
  • In The Long Dark Teatime Of The Soul, the Norse gods aren't dead, but lack of worship and recognition has made them destitute and lethargic. They don't bother much with Earth anymore, except for Odin who sells his power to shady advertising executives in exchange for a clean, quiet stay in a nursing home and Thor, who still occasionally shows up to do something heroic.
  • In And Another Thing..., Cthulhu applies for the job as a new world's god but he can't close the deal because nobody is currently worshiping him, since he's technically dead. He's not the only one seeking the position, either, so in this universe, Christianity was less "Death of the Old Gods" and more "Mass Unemployment of the Old Gods".
  • Roger Zelazny:
    • The end of Lord of Light has a Buddha analogue that replaces the Hindu gods, although the gods here are simply psychic posthumans with advanced technology (and the Buddha a rebel from their own number) rather than truly divine beings.
    • Inverted in Creatures of Light and Darkness, where the Egyptian Gods hold sway over a futuristic Standard Sci Fi Setting, and a mad, powerful creature, strongly implied to be Yaweh, is held captive to protect the universe.
  • Part of the backstory of Arcia Chronicles includes the Seven Lightbringers physically destroying all the Old Gods of Tarra. This returns to bite Tarra mightily in the ass nine thousand years later when the Lightbringers leave and a bunch of monsters show up to devour the now completely defenseless world.
  • In Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword, this has yet to happen to the Norse Gods, but the young hero met up with a satyr who recounts the fall of Olympus.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Shadows In The Moonlight", the sometimes animated statues were caused by a Physical God who appears gone now. (This is polytheist to polytheist situation.)
    "What gods?" he muttered.
    "The nameless, forgotten ones. Who knows? They have gone back into the still waters of the lakes, the quiet hearts of the hills, the gulfs beyond the stars. Gods are no more stable than men."
  • Howard also wrote a little known story titled The Grey God Passes which retells the Battle of Contarf, which is considered to mark the end of the Viking Age. The battle is revealed to be Gotterdammerung and marks the literal death of both Norse and Celtic pantheons.
  • The Mists of Avalon has this going on for most of the book, and being fought against tooth and nail by several main characters. Not that it has much effect in the long run.
    • It ends with Morganna realizing how arrogant she was to think her Gods would need her to save them, when the new religion Christianity is just another face for the same Divine being, albeit one which is less tolerant of other paths to the Divine
  • In the finale of Lawrence Watt-Evans' The Lords of Dûs series, it is revealed that the prophesied end of Time was simply referring to the death of the god of Time and all that he had personally created. As his main creations were the fourteen greater gods, the world was largely unaffected. With their passing, the lesser gods step forward to begin a new age.
  • The basis of the plot of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragonships series involves the old gods (a pantheon obviously inspired by, though not identical to, that of the Norse) getting their territory muscled in on by two sets of interlopers (the Gods of Raj and the Lord of the New Dawn, Aelon), and how that conflict spills over into the mortal world.
  • This is how the Book of Swords end. As humanity ceases to dream of the gods, they lose their power and fade from existence. As the last of them, Vulcan, dies, he senses the presence of some new power, or perhaps a returning old one, come to claim or reclaim the earth.
  • H. P. Lovecraft:
  • Apollo's Grove: A play dealing with the last Oracle of Delphi and the end of the old religion. The page quote serves as the emotional climax of the story.
  • In The Soldier Son, the worship of the Good God replaced the worship of the old gods in Gernia (of whom only Orandula, god of death and balances, is named in the text), although some still worship the old gods in secret. Contrary to popular belief, this has not weakened the old gods.
  • In Small Gods, the god Om is on the verge of succumbing to this trope, and reminisces about past rival gods he'd driven into extinction long ago. With his own survival on the line, their fate doesn't seem so funny anymore...
  • White as Snow: Subverted. While Christianity is spreading, even the priests dance in the woods with the pagans at full moon.
  • Garrett, P.I.: Two of the oldest pantheons in TunFaire, the Godoroth and Shayir, compete for control of the grungiest temple in the Dream Quarter in Petty Pewter Gods, without which their dwindling faiths will die off entirely.
  • Everworld has this in a weird way—mythological figures exist as Physical Gods, but they're currently being threatened by Ka Anor, an alien deity who eats other gods (and whose followers want to eventually kill everyone else). Both sides are also threatened by Senna, who has plans for godhood too. Furthermore, the pagan deities left our world right around the time Christianity was on the rise, so there's probably some kind of correlation.
  • In Krampus: The Yule Lord, Ragnarok has swept Yggdrasil and now the Æsir has now been killed off, the only surviving remnants include Odin's wolves and ravens, Baldr (who was destined to be freed from Hel and walk in the new world) and Krampus (who survived through some non-specified reason).
  • Harry Turtledove's Thessalonica is set in a Greece that has become Christian, but the beings the pagans believed in (satyrs, fauns, and nymphs, among others) can still be found in the back country. They were driven there by Christianity.
  • The inevitable theme of The Crocodile God, as it focuses on the Philippines. Haik is the sea-god of the Tagalog tribe, whose most common epithet is the story's title. Once loved and deeply respected, Spain's colonization was not kind to him and it's implied he has PTSD from growing steadily more isolated. Haik's Reincarnation Romance with the (currently) Filipino-American Mirasol has been stuck in a loop of trauma, ever since a Spaniard shot the pregnant Mirasol and caused the stillbirth of their whale-goddess daughter. Chapter 8 reveals that Haik thought the other gods were dead—meaning he'd ALREADY lost a lot of family members]] before his daughter's death finally pushed him over the Despair Event Horizon. Turns out he was wrong: The other gods are very much alive, have resurrected his daughter as a young woman, and are mobilizing in a gigantic ship to find HIM.
  • Jackelian Series: In The Court of the Air, the modern inhabitants of Jackels have long adhered to a godless, benign philosophy called Circlism, scorning the ancient deities of their ancestors. This isn't because they stopped believing that gods exist, but because those ancestral gods, the half-insect/half-Mayincatec Wildcaotyl, were complete and utter scumbags into enslavement, Human Sacrifice, and summoning up their own Cosmic Horror deities to destroy all reality.
  • Titan's Forest: In the distant past, the setting was ruled over by the Old Gods, immense beasts with the intellect of people. Many centuries ago, however, the Thirteen Gods arose and rebelled against their predecessors, striking them down and stealing their powers, and took over rule of the world.
  • The Winternight Trilogy takes place in medieval Russia as the figures of old Russian mythology are increasingly pushed aside by the Orthodox Church. Main character Vasilisa has the power to see both household and wild spirits, and grows up in the deep country, where those spirits are still given at least some belief. Later, as she travels elsewhere in Russia, she sees that the Church has almost wiped out belief in these figures, and as such they are rapidly fading from the world entirely.
  • Winds Of The Forelands: There is a monotheistic god, Ean, that's getting steadily increasing worship and the favor of most of the aristocracy, but the religion of the old gods isn't out of the fight yet.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica is all about this. The Cylons seek to replace the Greco-Roman gods of the colonies with their own vaguely Mormon God. At the end of the series it turns out that this God was the only real one and was secretly guiding all of the events, although He was never actually on the Cylons' side. A rare Sci-fi example.
  • Game of Thrones: The Faith of the Seven, brought to Westeros by the Andals, has largely replaced the old gods worshiped by the First Men and the Children of the Forest except in the North and beyond the Wall. Additionally, the monotheistic religion of the Lord of Light has recently taken root through the work of Melisandre of Asshai and Thoros of Myr.
  • An episode of Supernatural has two pagan gods eating humans around the Christmas season and one of them reflects on how Jesus is the big new thing.
    • "Hammer of the Gods" has a bunch of the "old gods" telling Sam and Dean to deal with Lucifer because they don't want the world to end when it's no longer theirs. By the end of the episode, most of them are dead. Like the earlier pagan gods, they seem to subsist on human flesh where once they subsisted on faith. Despite the fact that Ganesh and Kali are among their numbers, so apparently, India must've converted to Christianity at some point in the Supernatural-verse.
      • Mind you, the same happens to the Christian archangels with God leaving in the eleventh season.
  • The miniseries Merlin (1998) has Merlin attempting to defeat the old gods (and put an end to magic itself) by spreading Christianity.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess plays fast and loose with this. Early on, she runs into a monotheistic cult that seems to be analog of early Christians but later turns out to worship pure evil. Later, she is sent forwards in time a couple decades and sent on a quest by the the prophet Eli to wipe out all the remaining pagan gods.
    • She also ran into a Greek Expy Abraham before any of that and discovered it was the Ishmael Expy tricking him into sacrificing the Isaac Expy (using Bamboo Technology). While she's able to stop the ruse, she was busy fighting "Ishmael" and can't explain where the voice ordering "Abraham" to stop the sacrifice came from...
  • The Star Trek episode "Who Mourns For Adonais" has the Enterprise meeting Apollo, the last of the Greek gods (who were actually Sufficiently Advanced Aliens). Kirk pretty much tells him to stuff it, and then gets schizophrenic about if humanity has Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions as religion in general, or just moved on to Christianity.
  • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Worf explained that Klingon faiths do not have any gods. According to him, Ancient Klingons killed their gods because "they were more trouble than they were worth".
  • More or less the plot to Stargate SG-1 as over 10 seasons the Old Gods are all killed off. Aside from the fact that they weren't gods, just Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
  • The BBC version of the Arthurian legends, Merlin, can't seem to be able to make its mind up about the "Old Religion" (the pagan religion that existed before Christianity and, despite the show's claims, did not involve priestesses using a pygmy hydra to control peoples' minds): after three years of portraying these old ways as almost uniformly evil, Series 4 begins with the royal court of Camelot celebrating the feast of Samhain, briefly mentions Ostara and ends as they prepare to celebrate Beltane. All of which are fire festivals celebrated by the aforementioned "Old Religion". To confuse matters further, King Arthur (in this same series) "swears to God" at least twice. From what we got at the Samhain feast, the festivals aren't religious. While we live in a world where there's no proof of an afterlife, in their world the veil between the living world and the dead world growing thinner is a fact and if you sever it you can walk up to the veil and see it for yourself. It's less worshiping a god and more of an acknowledgement of a natural event, like a birthday or a harvest festival.
  • Kara's handler invokes this trope in Season 2 of Person of Interest, saying that the CIA was the vanguard of the Old Gods fighting in vain against the new gods who would eventually defeat them with cunning rather than strength.
  • In The Last Kingdom, the differences between the pagan beliefs of the Danes and the Christian beliefs of the Saxons is often a plot point, in particular Uhtred who refuses to convert to Christianity.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Ye Gods", Cupid tells Todd Ettinger that the gods and demigods of Classical Mythology did not go away after the fall of Ancient Greece and The Roman Empire. They continue to exist but take little interest in the affairs of mortals, considering that they no longer believe in them. However, some such as Bacchus live on Earth. Under the name Ed Bacchus, he owns a wine label called Olympus Wines.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Titanomachy, a war between the Titans (the first generation of gods, born from Ouranos and Gaia) and the first six Olympians — Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hestia, and Hades. Zeus eventually won the Titanomachy and displaced his father Kronos as King of Heaven. (This myth does not reflect any sort of anthropological reality; the Olympians are extremely old, and they were worshipped in some form in Mycenaean Greece.) Similar themes can be also found in Norse mythology, Semitic mythology and Hinduism.
    • Norse Mythology states that at ''Ragnarök'', most of the older generation of gods will somehow die, and most humans. Only a few are left to restart.
    • Another belief in Classical Mythology is that in the aftermath the Trojan War, the gods stopped interacting directly with mortals. The end result of this is that mortal generations would continue to be successively worse until the gods (as well as social structure) are completely discarded and their temples are left to which point the gods will destroy humanity and possibly start over.
  • Most modern re-tellings of Arthurian Legend have this going on at least in the background.
  • This is particularly notable in Irish Mythology. The mythology is largely based off of the pre-Christian religion, and was first written and documented by Irish monks (who stripped them of their religious connotations). Many of the tales were edited to foreshadow the coming of Christianity or include Christian characters specifically. For example in the tale of Clann Lir (*Children of Ler*) the children are freed from their curse after meeting a Christian monk who baptises them. They then die as Christians. Pre-Christian Irish mythology may have included this as well. The Book of Invasions details a series of tribes who attempted to settle or conquer Ireland one after another. Some of them, in particular the Fomorians and the Duatha de Danann, had godlike powers. The text was written by Christian monks who specifically denied their divine identities, but later scholars have suggested it might be a remnant of an ancient tradition about generations of gods fighting each other, possibly the pantheons of different ethnic groups.
  • Japanese Mythology has the progression of the ages, from the age of the unknowable divinities, to the age of the titans (Izanagi and Izanami), to the age of the gods (Amaterasu and her siblings), to the age of humans (the Japanese emperors). The gods aren't dead, they simply leave the runnings of things to their successors. However some clever writers have stated that Hoso-no-Kami, God of smallpox, is pretty much dead as there are only two known samples of smallpox left.
  • An apocryphal tale from The Roman Empire tells of a sudden outcry heard by some ship passengers: "Pan is dead! The great god Pan is dead!" The date? Just after Passover, AD 30 — one of the possible dates of the crucifixion of Jesus.
  • The last canto of The Kalevala, Marjatan poika (Son of Mary), where Ukko, the Finnish supreme god, has Christ crowned as the king of Finland and Karelia. Väinämöinen, representing the elder gods, understands his time is up, and leaves his music and poetry as the heirloom of Finns.
  • Even The Bible itself mentions this, in a sense. While the demonic host typically are not thought of as gods, in the bible it mentions them as being 'gods' with the lowercase "g". These go to a place made for them, which is practically a second death. The real "old" God still remains as God is considered a fabric for all existence.
  • In Talamancan mythology, the universe used to be inhabitated by the Sórbulu, who were ruled by Sórkula, when his grandchild was born, he tried to kill Him because he was afraid of losing his authority, but He escaped with the help of His mother and Áksula (the king of termites). Then, he grew up among the ants and went back to kill Sórkula for trying to kill Him when he was a baby.

  • Happens during season 3 of Dice Funk after Theodora destroys the barrier holding the wheel of aspects from shifting, allowing a new aspect to take hold upon the universe, Death Itself. This means that immortality and resurrection are no longer possible; even the gods themselves can die and immediately begin doing so from old age. By season 4, all gods are now gone.

  • The main idea behind John Milton's poem "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity."
  • In the canto "The Wraith of Odin", from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Saga of King Olaf (in Tales of a Wayside Inn, 1863), King Olaf, who is about to convert Norway to Christianity, is feasting when an grey-bearded and one-eyed old man in a cloak and hood appears at the gates "shivering" from the cold, and is invited by King Olaf to warm himself in the hall. The whole evening the stranger entertains the king with his extraordinary knowledge of old tales and poetry, but in the morning the man has mysteriously disappeared, even though he stayed in the same bedroom with the king, with the doors still locked from the inside. King Olaf immediately infers that the stranger was Odin, but instead of being frightened, he declares that Christianity is already victorious, because the stranger was the ghost (= wraith) of Odin:
    King Olaf crossed himself and said:
    "I know that Odin the Great is dead;
    Sure is the triumph of our Faith,
    The one-eyed stranger was his wraith."

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Pendragon the Christian religion is replacing the old nature gods of Britain.
  • Partially averted in Scion, where All Myths Are True and each newly risen pantheon gets the divine equivalent of a fruit basket from the old pantheons. The reality of the Abrahamic religions are left up to the Storyteller, but the Scion Companion mentions a certain "Sumerian storm God" becoming the One and only God of the Israeli pantheon, then Roman pantheon, and so on; recruiting various pagan Scions as angels and saints as Christianity and Islam spread across the globe. Most of the old gods don't really care about having worshipers, since Fate loves to screw with them via those links. As does the Order of Divine Glory, missionaries of the One God who use fatebinding to place agents in foreign pantheons. They're responsible for co-opting pagan rituals to fit in with a monotheist agenda, such as altering Christmas to replace the Winter Solstice. Also, having too high of a Legend Rating forces someone out of the physical universe, which could explain how the One God seems absent.
    • Some fans go for YHWH as being driven insane by three different religions and countless splinter versions of them all fighting over what he really wants. Jesus and the Saints locked him away for his safety and that of others. They would help him heal and recover but The End of the World as We Know It has put a damper on things.
    • Other fans have made stats for YHWH and Jesus as leaders of just another pantheon, albeit an extremely successful one. Fitting with this trope is that the Abrahamic pantheon outperforms of all others, so instead of an actual family, they constantly recruit scions (as angels or saints) to handle their vast hordes of worshippers.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Most of the old gods of the Eldar were eaten by Slaanesh, and only a few of them are left: Khaine escaped Slaanesh by shattering himself into hundreds of pieces and became part of the Infinity Circuits of the Craftworlds; Cegorach The Laughing God hid in the Webway; and Isha is now imprisoned by Nurgle, who uses her as a guinea pig to test his new plagues.
    • The whole theme of the awesome Graham McNeill short story The Last Church. It's about what is implied to be the last Christian church on Earth, run by an old and lonely priest. A mysterious stranger walks in and begins having a debate about religion and morality. (The figure believes that religion is evil and should be abolished by this "Emperor" guy, and the old priest argues that religion can do good and this "Emperor" guy really should stop forcing everybody to do what he says.) Here's the kicker: the stranger is the Emperor, and he's come to burn the church down with a band of twisted prototype Space Marines, but he offers the old priest a chance to recant his beliefs. The priest refuses, giving the Emperor a scathing speech pointing out his hypocrisy and coming failures, and then calmly walks into his burning church and perishes with his faith. As the Emperor and the marines walk away, they do so unaware that a clock on the wall has begun to ring its bell, one that was prophesized to only begin ringing when the end of humanity came...
  • In the Forgotten Realms, the gods of Netheril, such as Amauntor and Moander, were replaced by the current human pantheon following Netheril's fall.
    • Not really, but it is a convenient simplification (it's not an orderly process of old pantheon dies, new pantheon replaces them, more a gradual process where gods die and gods rise, and sometimes pantheons merge and the gods with the same portfolio have to fight it out for dominance. Also, Amaunator more gradually faded away than actually died, while Moander stuck around until fairly recently).
    • Jergal, the Netherilian God of Death note  only grew more and more powerful as time went on even after Netheril's fall, with much of Faerun caught in a kind of gloomy ennui because of his influence. A trio of powerful adventurers worked up the gall to challenge him and were stunned when he volunteered to abdicate his godhood willingly. He even stepped in when said adventurers were near to falling upon themselves over which of them would be the new god, equitably dividing his dominions between them and keeping only for himself the role of ensuring the orderly transition into death, basically becoming the patron of morticians and foe of all undead (not for any moralistic reasons, but because they mess with his meticulously planned system). Since then, he has dwindled in status to a demigod and served as the seneschal to a series of successive death gods who, because of either skewed priorities, disinterest, or bad judgment, have not done the job nearly as well as he, and though he has sworn to serve and is content with his diminished role, he is not at all pleased to see his former realm in, as he sees it, a state of continued chaos.
  • Eberron has a more historical version, due to its ambiguity over whether most of its gods even exist - the Sovereign Host has, in syncretic fashion, absorbed most of the "old gods" of other religions, save one goblinoid deity, who apparently had no place in the Sovereign Host's cosmology and who has been Unpersoned to the greatest degree possible. The Silver Flame religion believes this is going to happen, with the Flame's worship gradually taking over Khorvaire and supplanting the Sovereign Host, but Flame worship is only really dominant in Thrane and the other countries have been slow to convert, especially after some Thranic atrocities during the Last War.
  • In the Dark Sun setting, Athas has no actual gods. Pre-4e, the place never had deities period. In 4e, they all died fighting the primordials long ago, and most current residents that aren't even aware they ever existed.
  • In Birthright, the Old Gods perished during the battle at Mount Deismaar several millennia ago. The mortals who witnessed this gained a small fraction of their divine power, passing it onto their descendants in the form of bloodlines, an important game mechanic of the setting.
  • Microscope: This is an example metaplot item that can be part of the history that the player/storytellers create.
  • RuneQuest: Deep in the cosmogony of Glorantha (the game's main setting), the oldest gods are the primal Powers and Elements of the Celestial Court. In the Gods' War, these gods are displaced by more specialized ones, so (for example) the gods Light and Air are displaced by their descendants, Sun (Yelm) and Storm (Orlanth).
  • In Planescape, one can occasionally find the corpses of gods floating in the Astral Sea. The Githyanki city of Tu'Narath is even built atop one. Most have forgotten who these gods were and what they were gods of. For a more concrete example, there was a god named Aoskar who claimed dominion over portals. When he started intruding on the Lady of Pain's domain, the city of Sigil, she razed his temples, killed his worshippers, and his corpse was found in his domain later, impaled on blades reminiscent of those that symbolize the Lady.

    Video Games 
  • Cult of the Lamb: It's mentioned that there used to be more gods than just the Bishops, but they've all disappeared, and the Lamb continues this by killing them as well. By the end of the game the only deity left standing is the Lamb themself.
  • In Dragon Age the Old Gods of the Tevinter Imperium (AKA Dragons) were struck down by the Maker. Most of the world now worships the Maker and his prophet Andraste, and the Old Gods slumber beneath the Earth until they're awoken, one at a time, to lead the corrupted darkspawn in a Blight. Then the Grey Wardens finish them off for good.
    • This trope is played with in that worship of the Maker actually preceded the religion of the Old Gods. The Maker's prophet Andraste didn't introduce the concept of the Maker to Thedas so much as re-introduce it. At least that's what the Chantry claims.
    • The elves' gods were tricked by a being known as Fen'Harel that trapped both them and their mysterious enemies beyond the reach of their followers, presumably keeping them from helping the Elves when their ancient empire was destroyed. The third game explores this in depth; basically they were always false gods and the trap was the end to a devastating civil war which pretty much finished off their civilization. The real story overlaps with The Magic Goes Away.
  • The God of War series shows why Greek Gods don't exist anymore: Kratos kills them all.
    • God of War Ragnarök is (miraculously) far less destructive, but the top three Norse gods get their asses kicked. Kratos kills Heimdall, Thor is murdered by Odin, and then Odin's soul is fused to a marble, which gets smashed to bitsnote , banishing his soul to a permanent limbo.
  • In Breath of Fire II, the old animist dragon gods are being forgotten in favor of a new I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Catholicism! monotheistic religion which is really a Path of Inspiration serving an Evil God.
  • In the Shin Megami Tensei series, YHVH is the Big Bad, who intentionally tries to destroy all other gods so only he will be worshipped. However, YHVH is (according to Word of God) not the real cause behind this (his evil is a symptom, not the disease).
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, the pantheons of the old gods have all been forgotten, except for a few like the Cult of Geshtianna (because they have annual orgies), and the pacifistic Order of Halcyon. The greater populace is being swept up by the Panarii religion; a deliberate Christianity likeness centered around the teachings of a Jesus-figure elf called Nasrudin. Ironically the Christianity-like religion is secretly being run by the agents of its banished devil-figure, and was never supposed to be a religion anyway, whereas the Old Gods are still alive and able to give blessings (stat-boosts) to those who worship at their altars. There's even a side-quest involving a complex ritual of offerings that let the protagonist become a god themselves.
  • Happens in Touhou Project, magic is giving way to rationalism and thus the old gods give way to a whole new godless world. Suwako was prepared to accept it, but Kanako decided to fight this fate. On the other end of spectrum, the oni also accept that they have no place in the modern world, and retreated underground. Except Suika.
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow mentions this, that all the old physical gods and mythical beasts are slowly disappearing from the world. When Gabriel kills Pan in self defence during a test of his worthiness, the last of the gods has died. Ironically, Pan was an ally of capital-G God, so when Zobek's narration praises Gabriel for killing him, it foreshadows Zobek's true nature.
  • In the distant past of World of Warcraft the Titans came to Azeroth and defeated the Old Gods, binding those they could not kill (Yogg-Saron and 2 others) beneath the surface of the planet along with the remains of ones they did kill (Y'Shaarj and the Not Quite Dead C'Thun). After their defeat relatively weaker beings, such as Hakkar and Elune (and various demigods), came to power and have remained distant from mortal affairs. Despite being (supposedly) asleep and imprisoned, the Old Gods remain active and keep trying to escape. It is rumored (if "could not defeat" means "did not imprison") that N'Zoth is outright free.
  • Dark Souls: The Age of Fire is ending, and the ruling deities are about to go with it. Presumably, some other race of supreme beings will follow, just as the current gods followed the dragons that came before them. You get to choose to put the Age of Fire on magical life support by sacrificing yourself, or you can choose to let it end so that the Age of Dark can begin, which may or may not be better for humanity in the long run anyway.
    • By the third game, you get to see the consequences of this in action. Gwyn, Nito and the Witch of Izalith are barely remembered as old gods and no one knows what happened to Gwynevere. Of Gwyn's pantheon, only three gods remain. Gwyndolin is devoured by Aldrich and you're just too late to save him, the Nameless King is heavily implied to be Gwyn's firstborn, and you can fight him in a clash for the ages, and in the DLC we meet Gwyn's last child, Filianore, who doesn't even talk before a bright flash transports you forward in time until she's nothing but a dried husk. The final boss is the living embodiment of everyone who has ever Linked the Fire, including Gwyn himself, and when you defeat it, you get the sense that even if you Link the Fire yourself, there's very, very little time left. If you take the right steps, you can allow the last embers to fade, letting the old world finally meet its long-delayed end and hopefully allowing a new one to someday spark into life.
  • Unreformed pagans in Crusader Kings II are more easily converted by Abrahamic missionaries, have a harder time of winning converts of their own from those religions, and are very prone to splintering amongst themselves. If no single leader arises to reform a given pagan faith into an organized religion, it's quite likely that that faith will wither away under the pressure of holy wars and missionaries.
    • The Zoroastrians are in a similar boat. While it is an organized religion and doesn't have as many problems converting conquered provinces, the few tiny Zoroastrian nations left are two tiny counts and one duchy, surrounded by conquest happy pagans and infidel hating Muslims.
    • An Avatar mod have several religions that are significant in the earlier bookmarks (Shamanism, Fortune-Telling, Great Swamp, Eternal Flame, Followers of Kyoshi, etc) are greatly reduced or entirely eliminated in later ones and in The Hundred War bookmark is seeing Fire Spiritualism is quickly replacing by Fire Imperialism.
  • The backstory of the Nasuverse explains this is how the Age of Gods ended. Early in humanity's history, there were many gods born from the beliefs of humanity that certain natural phenomena were the acts or incarnations of gods. As humanity evolved and began to understand and master the world their belief in the gods weakened. By the time of the modern era, the Age of Gods has long since ended and the dominant supernatural authority is Gaia/Alaya. The gods still technically exist, but in a realm called the "Reverse Side of the World", almost completely cut off from modern humanity. It has been stated there are three key periods responsible for their decline and eventual vanishing from Earth.
    • Fate/Extella covers the first one. Around 12,000 BC, Sefar, the White Titan invaded Earth, killing numerous gods and cowing other pantheons until she is defeated by the wielder of "the holy sword forged from the core of the planet".
    • Gilgamesh was created by the ancient gods of Mesopotamia who foresaw this possible end. He was intended to act as a keystone binding the fates of God and man together. When he rebelled against that role and chose to rule humanity for his own reasons in 2200 BC, it marked the second key end as the "separation".
    • The final end of the gods where they had absolutely no way to make a comeback has been mentioned in Fate/Grand Order to be around 700 BC, but it has yet to be revealed what it actually entailed beyond it being called the "opportunity".
  • In Total War: Attila, every campaign is about the rise of Christianity and the decline of pagan faiths:
    • In the main campaign, Greco-Roman Paganism has been usurped by Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire, and it is very slowly but surely losing its following. Likewise, most of the Germanic tribes almost always abandon Germanic Paganism and adopt Christianity sooner or later. Celtic Paganism is likewise under threat in Britain, though with the Celtic kingdoms' corner position and Roman Britain on the verge of collapse, it has a much better chance of survival. Though this can be averted (The Romans can convert cities to Greco-Roman Paganism with Theaters, while the Germanic and Celtic tribes can conquer lands and build temples).
    • In The Last Roman, Greco-Roman Paganism is almost finished off and Germanic Paganism is not even present (all the Germanic tribes present had converted to Christianity by this point). And you can't even convert as Theaters no longer convert people to Greco-Roman Paganism.
    • In Age of Charlemagne, Greco-Roman Paganism and Celtic Paganism have both been completely eradicated. Germanic Paganism (now just called "paganism") is on the decline as the Frankish Kingdom invades Saxony and forces them to accept Christianity.
  • King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame allows players to decide whether this is played straight, subverted, or even inverted. The game's morality axis falls between Rightful vs Tyrant and Christianity vs The Old Faith. You can choose to follow either faith, deciding which reigns supreme. Alternate DLC campaigns further let you support the specifically pagan Welsh and the Saxons of Christendom, optionally having total conversion as a win condition.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Thalmor are deliberately trying to starve Talos of worship to unmake him. Talos (also known as Ysmir among the Nords) is a reasonably ancient and important god in the Nordic pantheon, but also is Tiber Septim, a member of the Nine Divines and effectively the embodiment of the Empirenote . However, Talos is also comprised of Zurin Arctus (a heroic Imperial battlemage from the 2nd Era) and Wulfharth, the legendary Nord king who restored the old Nord pantheon and also acted as mortal champion of Shor in life. In addition, Tiber Septim is considered the second reincarnation of Shor himself. The Stormcloaks, who war with the Empire and the Thalmor for the freedom to worship Talos, emphasize the Shor and Wulfharth aspects of him, and this could be argued to be upholding the tenets of the old Nord pantheon and worshipping the most important deity in it.
  • Path of Exile: The Old Gods are killed by the Exile. After The Beast is slain, they awaken from the Beast's curse to find that humanity 'slightly' worships them less or differently. In response they declare war on humanity and wreak havoc on Wraeclast and especially Oriath, which is eaten alive. One of the gods helps the Exile kill most of them by absorbing their Divinity after their physical forms are beaten into submission, the remainder Screw This, I'm Outta Here. And then they're replaced by the New Gods, former inter-dimensional adventurers who went Drunk with Power and absorbed enough power to become Physical God. Who are also killed.
  • Curse of the Dead Gods is a Rogue Like based on the premise of exploring the single Aztec temple where their gods still have power since Cortez destroyed their faith. They have just enough power left to 1) sustain The Horde of The Undead guading their treasure, and 2) curse any explorer searching for it. Of course, curses are subjective...
  • Salt and Sanctuary: Devara's Light is the oldest still-practiced religion in the world, but the game states that it has been slowly dying out over past few centuries, mostly due to being supplanted by the relatively new religion of The Three. The Death of the Old Gods is actively facilitated by the game's main antagonist, The Nameless God, who hijacked their worship. Even the The Three have devolved into zombified husks as a result of The Nameless God diverting their prayers to himself.
  • Cultist Simulator: In ancient times all but one of the Gods-From-Stone, the primordial Hours that predate mankind, were slain by the Gods-From-Blood and Gods-From-Flesh. The Flint was shattered by The Forge of Days, The Moth usurped The Wheel from within and stole its skin, The Grail drank The Tide, and two mortals arose to become The Mother of Ants and The Colonel after slaying The Seven Coils. The Egg Unhatching's exact fate is unclear, but it seems to have also died. The only one that survived was The Horned Axe, who was convinced not to pursue revenge, but only after a great deal of argument and compromise with the other Hours.

  • Tales of the Galli: Main plot relates to the beginnings of a power struggle within the Roman Empire between the pagan followers of the old Roman gods, and the Christians who desire to replace those those with their god and savior.
  • The Gods of Arr-Kelaan has a very unusual example. The old gods are gradually forced away from earth by the expansion of the universe but Hephaestus designed the Abrahamic faiths around a non-existent god so all the worship could be redirected to a big battery. They didn't so much remove the old gods as outlast them, most of the angels were originally one of the old gods. The planet of Arr-Kelaan qualifies too, but just barely. The Traveller gods do kick out the old gods, but the old gods are immigrants from Earth's universe who've barely held established religions longer than the Travellers.
  • In Sluggy Freelance (in "Holidays Wars"), there's a brief mention of the ancient Greek pantheon having existed in the past but apparently having somehow fallen, at least out of power. Zeus is said to have foreseen a time when he would no longer have the power to interfere and for that reason having created the Deus Ex Ovum to act as a magic Reset Button for certain matters. There are no signs of the pantheon being active in the present.
    • The Mohkadun arc introduced an entire pantheon of ancient gods opposed to the demon K'z'k, who is itself a destroyer god who destroys the universe in cycles, only for it to be created again. In modern Sluggy the gods of Mohkadun are all dead, transformed or amnesiac, and K'z'k has been splintered into tiny fragments of itself.
  • Unsounded: Ssaelism posits that Ssael killed the twin gods and transcended to godhood. Those being that have retained their sentience in the khert agree that the twin gods are dead, and that something has happened to Ssael. Senet Beasts and the Inak call all of the above "paper gods" and do not consider them worth worship, even though at least one Senet Beast once had a relationship with Ssael.
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic the final act ends with the death/banishment of Ranna, who devoured most of the other gods - enough to drain the world of magic.

    Web Original 
  • "And I Was Present at the Death of a God", a story in The Wanderer's Library wherein the god of Tasmanian Tigers begins to die along with the species. He Gets Better once his Thanatos Gambit pans out... seventy years later.
  • In Changelings the majority of Immortals are dependent on ambient magic to maintain their immortality, and magic comes and goes in multi-millennial cycles. The only "gods" left after the last cycle ended (around the fall of the Roman Empire) are a few who hibernated underground in areas of high tectonic activity, i.e. Thor was in Iceland, or shapeshifters with telomeres long enough to wait until the next cycle.
  • C0DA is the last work in a semi-official series of works by Michael Kirkbride. Several of the works in the series are Un-Installment Missing Episodes, including Dies irae which focuses on a catastrophe that ends with the deaths of the three "Good Daedra" in the Dunmeri religion — Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala. The details of the story are not known, but Secondhand Storytelling in the published works gives a general idea of what occurred.

    Web Videos 
  • Brocéliande: The main source of conflict between Brocéliande and Kaamelott is King Arthur introducing the One God religion to Britain, which the druids and witches oppose.