There was a time our lives and the world were new and full of wonder, when innocence and curiosity led people to explore, trust each other plainly, make amazing discoveries, invent amazing technologies, or simply make awe inspiring works of art.
And then it ended.
It can be because we, or the world we are born into, have grown up. It seems smaller by comparison, understandable; no longer mysterious, full of adventure and romance. Children can't grow up to be famous explorers if there are no new continents to explore (space or the deep sea floor being expensive future exceptions), and some works of art made with the expertise of long dead masters can never be truly replicated, whether sword or song. This is what the End Of An Age feels like: tragic, cynical and full of loss.
There are many plots and stories that evoke this trope to add the bitter in a Bittersweet Ending, or less commonly as something to be fought against in order to preserve the Age or at least the relics thereof.
- An Adventurer Archaeologist inspired by stories of The Time of Myths and other bygone wonders may make it their life's work to prove it existed, and the story becomes a quest for a MacGuffin or other unique relic of the time.
- If it's a Coming-of-Age Story, it can be children trying to live one last adventure before growing up because Growing Up Sucks, or even trying to grow up... only to discover they've lost something in the process.
- Or most heart-wrenching of all, destroying said Age or its relics to keep them out of dangerous hands, perhaps even having to do so simply to survive. This can be done by Kill Them All or End of the World as We Know It.
If magic is involved, it becomes a case of The Magic Goes Away. If it's technological, then Lost Technology. And if it's religious, see either Death of the Old Gods or Götterdämmerung. See also, Here There Were Dragons and Doing In the Wizard.
For the opposite where the age of wonders is just beginning, see Dawn of an Era. See also After the End and Humanity's Wake. Remnants of a past age may be kept in a Fantastic Nature Reserve. Supertrope of Twilight of the Old West and Soiled City on a Hill.
- In a broader sense certain comic books are said to bring about the end of an age, Kingdom Come for instance is often cited as the end of the dark ages of comics.
- Even more common is to describe The Night Gwen Stacy Died (Amazing Spider-Man #121) as the story that marked the end of the Silver Age and the beginning of the Bronze Age of comic books.
- Batman #400 is the last story of the pre-Crisis Batman, and ends with: "And so the night of resurrection nears its end, but when next he strides forth from this dark womb of bats... it all begins anew. 'Hello again. Beware... forever.'"
- Golden Age Batman's story ends with "Only Legends Live Forever", where an older, widowed Bruce Wayne dons the cape and cowl one last time to help the Justice Society of America stop Bill Jenson, a thief given magic powers. He defeats him, but dies doing so, and the story ends with his funeral. What makes it the end of an age, specifically for this version of Batman, is that unlike most continuities, the Legacy Character trope is defied; when Dick Grayson decides he'll take over as Batman, Helena Wayne (Bruce's daughter and the Huntress in this continuity) tells him not to, instead suggesting that he continue fighting crime but as his own man, since "only legends live forever - not the men who make them".
- Crisis on Infinite Earths is about the end of the multiverse and the birth of the universe. Several other comics came out at the same time dealing with each hero's personal End of an Age.
- Dracula vs. King Arthur ends with the Knights of the Round Table dead and Camelot in ruins after the war with Dracula. Arthur knew well before going into battle this was going to happen. And as a final request, rather then rebuilding the kingdom, that Excalibur and the Holy Grail be returned to the Lady of the Lake in hopes of his kingdom's subjects making their own future.
- In Earth 2, after Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman died fighting off the parademon invasion, the world considers the "Age of Wonders" to be over. Five years later, superheroes start to appear again.
- Gold Digger — magic and magic users still exist but the age of magic is over and most magical beings retreated to other realms some time ago.
- The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck has this as an overarching theme. As Scrooge travels and learns from everyone he meets throughout the latter part of the 19th century, he is a witness to the end of the Frontier-era. The age of the riverboats end as the railroads take their place, the cattle barons time come to an end as the Great Plains are divided up into homesteads, the great gold rushes are at an end, and the Twilight of the Old West finally occurs in 1890, as the frontier is officially closed, America has been settled, and the great names of yesteryear passes into legend. Finally, Scrooge becomes part of legend himself as he participates in the last gold rush in Klondike, finally striking it rich at the top of the world.
- One of the key themes at the heart of Batman: "The Long Halloween" is the mob and traditional criminals in general having to come to terms with their own increasing impotence as the age of flamboyant supercrime begins.
- This is also the idea behind the Malibuverse comics. The superheros were Human Popsicles from the last "golden age" of men. Or demons. By the way, we are the tenth generation, while they were the ninth.
- By the time The Just #1 begins, the legacies of famous superheroes have not seen any real battles since the previous generation had put an end to war and crime, instead living their lives as celebrities. However, after years of complacency, Earth-16's era of peace comes to an end with the rise of Alexis Luthor.
- Alan Moore's Superman story "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" is about the end of the Silver Age Superman legend and all the myth surrounding him.
- In Dungeon: The Early Years a knight asks if Hyacinthe will avenge his father's death by the traditional way (duel with the offended party one at a time), Hyacinthe says he will use the modern way (slit everyone's throat while they are sleeping). The knight goes away mourning the end of the romantic era and the chronologically this is the last book of Early years where all the other stories will take place in Dungeon Zenith, where barbarism rules and Hyacinthe becomes a bitter Dungeonkeeper who attracts adventurers to die in his castle.
- Astro City: The Dark Age tracks the effects of the end of the Silver Age on Astro City, as exemplified by the Silver Agent being put on trial and sentenced to death in a cynical ploy to distract the public from the failed Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal.
- The Code Geass fic The First Servant, which takes place after Zero Requiem, chronicles not only the end of one era but also the events leading the end of another. Which involves Empress Nunnally's death and the final downfall of the Britannian Empire.
- The 1983: Doomsday Stories has this trope as one of the overarching themes. The world as we know it ended in 1983, with the remaining Nations doing their best coping with the new one taking its place. On the other hand, it's also treated as a Dawn of an Era: humanity's rebuilding, Survivor-Nations are finding their place in the brave new world and the pre-Doomsday Nations are coming to terms with their ultimate fate.
- In the Pony POV Series, the G2 world is shown to have been a Golden Age of pony civilization, surpassing even the modern day of G4/FIM (according to Luna, the ponies of that period had even landed on the moon, technology that the FIM ponies do not have). We've so far seen from two different perspectives — first from Celestia, and then from the main seven G2 ponies — how this period came crashing down when Discord's brother Destruction basically nuked the planet back to the Dark Ages in order to prevent the G3 world from coming into existence, thereby preventing the errors of that period from causing universal collapse.
- When the four first meet Grunnel in With Strings Attached, he speaks longingly of the good old days when monsters and Tayhil roamed around and the skahs happily slaughtered them. But the skahs were too efficient and killed everything off, and for the last ten years Baravada has been in the grip of the Rusting: there's nothing for the skahs to do any more, no one is breeding (though Grunnel doesn't talk about that), even the populated places are falling apart, and the gods won't do anything about it. The four have to fake being sympathetic, as they are Actual Pacifists and disgusted by Grunnel's joyous descriptions of piles of bodies. And later, they are not at all happy about inadvertently providing the means to reverse the Rusting. Though they do manage to prevent that.
- The subject matter of Eugenesis deals with the end of war on Cybertron, but there's hell to pay first.
- Legend of the Goddesses shows Celestia and Luna's childhood in a village populated entirely by alicorns, and that alicorns possess a Battle Aura which surrounds them at all times. Four hundred years later, for no adequately explained reason, alicorn birth rates have dropped, the males of the race are gone altogether, and so they're integrating with the other pony races, while those who do live no longer have auras, not even Celestia and Luna themselves.
- Iced Fairy's A New World depicts a Gensokyo where Yukari has long since died. Without her to smuggle human meat from the other side of the barrier, human-youkai relations degrade to a far harsher balance than Reimu could ever have dreamed of, beginning a slow descent into oblivion. Ran and Keine fear this is the start of Gensokyo's death, but Maribel arrives with time to spare to prevent this and begin reversing the stagnating effects. As it turns out, Yukari successfully predicted her death and all ensuing events, and arranged her final trap to usher Gensokyo, Luna, and all of Earth, into the Dawn of an Era.
- In A Spark of Ice and Fire, Barristan Selmy and Jon Arryn believe this is the case with the arrival of Agatha Heterodyne. With her inventions of guns and engines (to name a few), Barristan fears that the time of knights and honourable battle is over. While Jon believes he is simply too old to see the new world the brilliant Spark will create.
- Fantasy of Utter Ridiculousness, which takes place after the events of Imperishable Night, has one in the form of Yuuka Kazami. Whereas Reimu, Marisa, and Alicethe other mainstays from the PC-98 erahave all undergone major changes in their lives since the events of Mystic Square, Yuuka is the only one still fully sporting her physical appearance* and attacks from the games in question, not using any patterns from Phantasmgoria of Flower View. Following her battle with Megas, she takes note of the increasing number of powerful figures that have been making themselves known and finally decides to get with the times, starting with her hair.
- In Everybody's Gotta Leave Sometime, the Peanuts gang have just found out that their creator is retiring, which entails the end of their eternal childhood. After their last get-together they'll part ways, perhaps forever, and from that moment on, they'll grow up and eventually join the adult world.
- It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door: The end of the old world was ushered in by the great war between the deer; as Lady Falalauria eventually reveals, they are responsible for magic being required to keep the world running in most areas outside bastions like the Everfree Forest.
Lady Falalauria: You ponies must manage nature because we deer broke it.
- By the end of Marvel Universe fanfiction Fire!, several heroes like Captain America are dead, and most of villains are dead or have been exiled to another planet. Most of surviving heroes -Spider-Man, the original X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Thor- decide retire or move out of New York and are succeeded by another generation of heroes.
- The Abridged Series as a concept has faced this in the lead up to the 2020s. Rewriting a long-running anime series as a parody is a demanding task that can be expected to take years to complete, so unless content creators can generate revenue per episode, they'll inevitably have to call it quits after a while. Factoring in copyright feuds leading to episodes being taken down and creator's personal issues causing Schedule Slip and it ultimately doesn't give audiences a reliable source of entertainment. By 2020, one of the longest-running series Dragon Ball Z Abridged was announced to be effectively over with any possible continuation to be done as web animation.
- Cars 3: The NASCAR-style stock racers like McQueen are quickly being sidelined by new GT3/Le Mans-style racers such as Jackson Storm.
- At the end of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the dragons depart en masse to the Hidden World to wait until humans are ready for them to return. Over the years, they fade to myth.
- This is a major theme in The Illusionist (2010) as nobody wants to see stage magicians anymore and nobody believes in magic.
- Kung Fu Panda 2 has this as a theme of the story as the advent of the cannon threatens to make kung fu irrelevant and useless in battle. However, Po averts this spectacularly by discovering an effective kung fu Catch and Return technique to defeat cannon fire, making kung fu still a vital skill in battle that can counter artillery. Furthermore, Po rather casually makes it clear that he can teach his friends this technique, which means it will be spreading throughout China in due time.
- The ending of Song of the Sea. Saorise regains her coat and sings her song, ushering all of Ireland's fair folk across the sea to Tír na nÓg. She also sacrifices her selkie coat to remain on Earth with her human family, taking with it the last remaining bond to the fairy world.
- America's Next Top Model:
- Cycle 18 featured many lasts for the series. It was the last time Vogue would feature a winner on their magazine. The last time Covergirl, which was with the show since Cycle 3, would award a cosmetics spread to the winner. And last but definitely not the least, this would be the last time that the two Jays (Alexander and Manuel) and Nigel Barker, at least all together, would be part of the show.
- Cycle 19 would be the last time all contestants were female until the reboot.
- The 21st cycle brought gender inclusion full circle: the highest-ranking female contestant would finish fourth. Three men would go on to battle it out for the title.
- The 24th cycle marks the end of age restrictions.
- Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda exists in a time where the great civilization known as the Commonwealth had fallen. Cynically, attempts to recreate it have so far simply resulted in corruption of power.
- Babylon 5 uses this lightly at the end of the Shadow War. While it emphasizes the new beginning for the younger races, there are mentions that with the passing of the Old Ones the universe has lost some of its mystery and wonder.
- Most of the Powers That Be, and even the demons in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, are tired, and of mixed blood with humans. The True Demons left long ago. Angel actually managed to interject a sense of sadness that this had happened with the character of Illyria, an Old One (the gods among the True Demons) in a Fish out of Temporal Water role.
- The last four seasons of Community is this in many ways:
- Season 3 was the final run of Dan Harmon's original tenure as showrunner and was the last full season.
- Season 4 was the protagonists' last year at the eponymous college as students and the last year the original main cast are complete.
- Season 5 saw the departure of two main characters and was the show's last year at NBC.
- The sixth and final season saw the remaining main characters leave one by one for various personal reasons, leaving only two by the end of the Grand Finale.
- Cranford chronicles the end of the agricultural age in England and the coming of the Industrial Revolution, as symbolised by the railroad. Elizabeth Gaskell, who wrote the three novels the TV series was based on, also wrote a nonfiction book about this transition, called The Last Generation in England; material from this was also used for the show.
- The last episode of Dinosaurs brings this theme home after suggestively dancing around it for most of the series.
Earl: Dinosaurs have been on this Earth for 150 millions years, and it's not like we're going to just... disappear.
- The final episode of Duck Dynasty, in which Si Robertson leaves Duck Commander to be a back-up singer for ZZ Top, was literally named after this trope.
- Game of Thrones:
- Season 3's Red Wedding saw the collapse of Houses Stark and Tully from power.
- The Season 4 finale saw the deaths of Joffrey Baratheon and Tywin Lannister, two of the show's major antagonists since the beginning.
- Season 5 saw the death of Stannis Baratheon, officially ending the House's original biological reign until Gendry's ascension in the final season.
- Season 6 saw the destruction of the Sept of Baelor, the extinction of Houses Bolton, Tyrell, and legally Baratheon, the last time the Wall and the Night's Watch would have prominent focus, and the last time Essos would be featured in the show. In a meta example, this was also the last season with ten episodes.
- Season 7 saw the extinctions of Houses Frey, Martell, Tarly, the first death of a dragon, and the destruction of the Wall.
- In the show's Grand Finale, the death of Daenerys, the exile of Jon Snow and the destruction of the Iron Throne all together represent the end of the Targaryen dynasty and most, if not all, of the influence Valyria had on the Seven Kingdoms.
- Law & Order
- Law & Order:
- The Season 5 finale saw the departure of Mike Logan in the cast, leaving Adam Schiff as the sole original cast member left.
- Schiff himself departed the series after the Season 10 finale, leaving Season 3 addition Lennie Briscoe as the senior-most cast member.
- The Season 14 finale saw the departure of Lennie Briscoe to be transplanted to Law & Order: Trial by Jury. This leaves Seasons 4 and 5 additions Anita Van Buren and Jack McCoy as the senior-most cast members for the duration of the series.
- Season 18 saw the departure of Ed Green, the most tenured detective in the parent series.
- The show's conclusion in general has left its very first Spin-Off, SVU, as the flagship program of the franchise (as CI also concluded the following year).
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
- The fourth episode of the fifth season saw the first departure of A.D.A Alexandra Cabot to the main cast since her introduction in the Season 2 premiere.
- The Season 9 finale saw the departures of A.D.A Casey Novak and Detective Chester Lake. Novak, who was immediately introduced after the aforementioned Cabot's departure, was the longest serving A.D.A in the entire Law & Order franchise to this very day.
- The Season 12 finale is what many believed to be the end of the "classic" SVU run. It featured the departures of three long-time main characters, specifically original cast member Elliot Stabler and Season 2 addition George Huang, the death of long-time (circa Season 3) Recurring Character Sister Peg, and the last appearances to date of the show's resident judges Lena Petrovsky and Elizabeth Donnelly.
- Season 15 saw the retirement of original cast members John Munch and Donald Cragen, leaving Olivia Benson as the sole original cast member left. Not only that, but their departures took away the show's remaining connections to both the parent series and Homicide: Life on the Street in which Cragen and Munch were respectively transplanted from.
- Season 19 saw the departure of A.D.A Rafael Barba. He was the second longest serving A.D.A in the franchise after the aforementioned Novak.
- The Season 20 finale. Not only did it featured the departure of the show's fifth A.D.A. Peter Stone, but it leads to the show officially outliving its parent series.
- Law & Order: Criminal Intent:
- The Season 5 finale saw the departures of three main characters, two of them being original cast members James Deakins and Ron Carver (the remaining one being Carolyn Barek, who only appeared that season).
- Season 9 saw the departures of remaining original cast members and the show's main Action Duo Alexandra Eames and Robert Goren as well as Da Chief since Season 6 Danny Ross. Eames and Goren would return in the following season, though.
- The show's conclusion in general, coupled with the parent series' own the year prior, has left SVU as the sole program of the franchise.
- Law & Order:
- The Season 2 finale saw the death of Caitlin Todd, the series' first major Character Death.
- The Season 5 finale saw the death of Da Chief Jennifer Shepard, the series' second major Character Death.
- The Season 8 finale saw the death of Mike Franks, The Hero Gibbs' mentor who's also a Recurring Character since Season 3. While not a main character, the show considered this as the third major Character Death.
- Season 11 saw the departure of Ziva David, a main character since Season 3 and the show's resident Action Girl.
- The Season 13 finale saw the departure of original cast member and The Lancer Anthony DiNozzo.
- Season 15 saw the departure of original cast member Abby Scuitto.
- Season 16 saw original cast member Ducky Mallard step down as The Team's Chief Medical Examiner and Passing the Torch to his longtime protege Jimmy Palmer.
- One Tree Hill:
- The Season 3 Wham Episode "With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept" is the series' Innocence Lost moment. It features a student carrying a gun at school and concluded with the series' first major Character Death.
- The Season 4 finale is the conclusion of the show's high school years.
- The Season 6 finale saw the departures of The Hero Lucas Scott and female lead Peyton Sawyer.
- Power Rangers
- The Season 3 finale of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was the last time the original suits were actively used as a team.
- The destruction of Zordon in the Power Rangers in Space finale symbolizes the end of the "classic" Power Rangers singular continuity saga.
- Power Rangers Wild Force was the final season of the original Saban era. It also features the final female Yellow Ranger who is actually male in the source material.
- Power Rangers RPM was the final Disney-produced season.
- Power Rangers Ninja Steel was the last season produced by Saban in the 2010's and it's toy merchandise were made by Bandai America before Hasbro brought the license from them in 2018.
- Revolution takes place 15 years after the Blackout stopped electricity from working and ended human civilization as we know it. The events of the series mark the end of the post-Blackout scavenger period where the desperate survivors tried to build a new life for themselves in a world without electricity. The young people coming of age barely remember the pre-Blackout world and new nations have formed on the ruins of the old USA.
- The typically much darker second series of each generation in Skins is pretty much this for the end of the age of teenage rebellion and innocence and the beginning of adulthood and responsibility. The Gen 1 finale rammed it home with the group's separation, while Gen 2 wove it through the series and addressed it on a more individual level.
- Sons of Anarchy has the SAMCRO chapter of the eponymous biker gang. Thanks to Clay Marrow's leadership, the chapter held and elite position in the south California criminal underworld. Due to their alliance with the IRA, the Sons had access to a vast gun-running network and had a profitable and stable business selling weapons to other gangs in the area. They controlled the town of Charming and staid of the radar of law enforcement. However, the original members of the club are getting old and Clay will soon have to retire from being President. As the club prepares itself for a transition of power, it becomes apparent that things are changing and the club will either have to change or crumble. Alliances in the criminal underworld start shifting and law enforcement takes an active look at the Sons. Jax tries to fix the situation but ends up making things worse. In the end Jax sacrifices everything to make sure that the club can survive the transition to the new era and have a new start under new leadership.
- The Federation in Star Trek is somewhat sickly by the end of Deep Space Nine. One of the villains in Star Trek: Insurrection even comments that the Borg and the Dominion attacked because they knew the Federation was decaying; however, this may just be the rantings of a Nietzsche Wannabe.
- Deep Space Nine ends on quite a strong End of an Age note for galactic politics in general. As of the final episode, following the end of the Dominion War, the Cardassian Union is crippled and depopulated and will never again be what it was, the Klingon Empire will have to spend years rebuilding its strength, the Dominion itself is fragmented and neutered, and the Ferengi Alliance is in the midst of huge political and social change. The only major galactic powers left relatively unscathed are The Federation (who will still have to rebuild), the Romulans and the Borg, but within a decade or so the Romulans lose their homeworld to a supernova and the Borg have their power greatly reduced in the finale of Voyager, seemingly leaving the Federation as the only real power by the time of Picard.
- Other episodes show that the Federation continues to expand and thrive centuries into the future, including having the Klingons join.
- Important to note Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda was intended originally to be a Star Trek Series set long after the fall of an even greater Federation than reached at the end of Deep Space Nine, where the Klingons took the places of the Nietzscheans. Explains a few things.
- Stargate SG-1: The Stargate system is a leftover from a much older galactic civilization. Most of the dominant alien races barely understand the technology they use, and the ones who do are dying or gone. This is a type 2, as Terran humanity is implied to have potential equal to or greater than the old powers, but things will probably still keep declining for a while. The advent of the Tau'ri (Terrans) brings about the downfall of the thousands-year reign of the Goa'uld "System Lords" (who arguably were a society already in decay but still held power over most of the galaxy).
- Season 6 (Amazon) was the last season before the introduction of the very first back from elimination twist that would occasionally appear in future installments.
- Season 7 (Pearl Islands) was the last season before the inaugural All-Stars season that would feature returning players from past seasons. It was also the last season where only two tribes competing at each other is the standard.
- Season 10 (Palau) was the last season before the introduction of the hidden immunity idol, which would become a staple in later seasons.
- Season 11 (Guatemala) was the last season before the introduction of the Exile Island twist that would become a staple in later seasons.
- Season 12 (Panama) was the last season to conclude with the standard final two contestants, a concept that would only be revisited a few times sincenote
- Upstairs Downstairs depicts, through the changes in the Bellamy household, Victorian England slowly yielding to modern Britain (with the Revival guiding the following household to the end of the pre-WWII and Cold War era). Downton Abbey does the same with the Crawley household.
- The Walking Dead:
- Season 2 featured three original cast member deaths, each with major impact; Sophia and Dale Horvath's deaths gave the notion that no one is really safe, while The Hero Rick Grimes being forced to kill his Evil Former Friend Shane Walsh causes the first major blow to his idealism and overall mental health.
- Season 3 featured the deaths of four original cast members; Theodore "T-Dog" Douglas, Lori Grimes, Merle Dixon, and Andrea.
- Season 4 saw the deaths of Season 2 addition and Team Dad Hershel Greene and Season 3 Big Bad The Governor during the fall of the protagonists' prison base which they resided in since the previous season.
- Season 5 featured the deaths of two long-time cast members; Season 2 addition Beth Greene and Season 3 addition Tyreese Williams.
- Season 7 featured the deaths of three long-time cast members; original cast member Glenn Rhee and Season 4 addition Abraham Ford who were both brutally executed in the season premiere, and Season 3 addition Sasha Williams who performs a Heroic Suicide in the Season Finale.
- Season 8 featured the departures of three original cast members; Morgan Jones was transplanted to the spin-off show while both Morales and Carl Grimes were killed-off in the first half.
- Season 9 also featured the departures of four long-time cast members; The Hero Rick Grimes and Season 2 addition Maggie Greene-Rhee both departed the show while Season 4 addition Tara Chambler and Season 5 addition Enid were killed-off in the season's penultimate episode.
- The murder of Stringer Bell and arrest of Avon Barksdale in The Wire marks a major changing point in the story arc. Mainly, it kickstarts the ascension of Marlo Stanfield's gang.
- The Blue Öyster Cult anthem Golden Age of Leather is about the last stand of old unrepentant Hell's Angels for whom the world has got too small, who choose to go out and die in a blaze of glory:
There passed from man to man/A wanton child, too dead to care,/ That each would find his pleasure as he might;/For that fantastic night was billed/As nothing less than the end of an age,/ A last crusade, a final outrage...
- Puff the Magic Dragon is about the end of childhood innocence and imagination, not pot.
- Ice-T's "Gotta Lotta Love" is about the Watts Truce ushering in an age of peace.
Woke up the other morning. I heard a rumor. They said the gang wars was over...
- The song "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles, which relates to the replacement of Radio as the national medium. In an interesting side note the music video was the first one to ever be played on MTV. In producer/composer Trevor Horn's own words, he felt that "an era was about to pass".
- Don Henley's "End of the Innocence" and "Boys of Summer".
- The Bruce Springsteen song The River is about a man who steadily has to give up his dreams and face the realities and responsibilities of life, with the eponymous river symbolic of those dreams.
But I remember us riding in my brother's car,/ Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir/ At night on them banks I'd lie awake and pull her close just to feel each breath she'd take./ Now those memories come back to haunt me/ They haunt me like a curse/ Is a dream a lie if it don't come true?/ Or is it something worse?
- Kurt Cobain's suicide is considered to have hastened the end of the Grunge era. (Generally speaking, 1996 was the last year of grunge.)
- The rise of Punk Rock was the beginning of the end of Progressive Rock.
- The Disco Demolition Night of 1979 ended disco's brief dominance in music that had been popularized with Saturday Night Fever, coinciding with Deader Than Disco.
- The biggest symbol of the rise of the "teenybopper", meaning a separate class of people defined by teenagers moving away from their parents' culture, was the time when Frank Sinatra became the very first musical teen idol. Ol' Blue Eyes was the first music star to elicit screams from moonstruck teenaged girls, copious copying from teen boys eager to mimic their new idol, and disgust from the older generation toward the skinny Italian who was causing all this commotion. Sinatra's rise to fame thus marked the end of the era where there were no defined generations, pop culturally speaking.
- The album Queen of the Wave depicts the downfall of Atlantis and the loss of their advanced knowledge, due to the Atlanteans' own corruption and the machinations of an evil wizard.
- Sabaton's song Shiroyama combines this with Last Stand to cover the fall of the samurai and the end of Japanese feudalism. The song itself is about the bravery of the last samurai in the face of the Curb-Stomp Battle they were on the receiving end of. The 500 Satsuma samurai are outnumbered 60:1 and armed with swords against Imperial guns - the fact that they even survive until dawn is impressive.
Imperial force defied, facing 500 samurai
Surrounded and outnumbered
60 to 1, the sword face the gun
It's the last stand of the samurai
Surrounded and outnumbered
Until the dawn they hold on
Only 40 are left at the end
None alive, none survive
- Shinedowns smash hit "Second Chance". It was a #1 hit on both rock formats and reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is also marks the final pop radio hit to ever originate from the Active Rock format. Since then, the only big pop radio hits to also chart on Active Rock were songs that got their start on the Alternative format.
- The Bible has several examples:
- The loss of a "Golden Age" in this case is the "fall of man", and being cursed with sin, suffering, and death.
- Both destructions of Jerusalem are this for the Jews.
- Similar to Ovid, the Book of Daniel compares the four ancient empires around the Mediterranean (which reigned over the Israelites) area to metals: Babylon is gold, Media is silver, Persia is bronze, and Greece/Macedonia is iron. (Some interpretations have it Babylon, Persia, Greece/Macedonia, and Rome.)
- According to some interpretations, inverted in Revelation, where the result of the Final Battle between God and Satan will result in the Dawn of an Era that restores humanity to its former glory.
- Dharmic religions (mainly, but not limited to, Hinduism and Buddhism) has the Wheel of Time, with ages beginning and ending in perpetuity like the seasons. An age typically come to an end due to evilness (World Half Full or goodness) of men have exceeded the threshold of that age. Sages usually see the current age as part of a long decline in morality, and claim that the old time was better, but the better time had to go because people lost righteousness and began to misrule the world. With the ending of the age of wisdom, people also lost superhuman powers, lifespan, and the capacity for morality.
- The Trojan War is often believed to be the event that put an end to the Heroic Age of Classical Mythology.
- The concluding Arthurial myths, depicting the fall of the King's forces to foreign invaders and disappearance of Merlin. Not very surprising, as they initially emerged as patriotic tales by Britons who were fighting the Anglo-Saxon invasion - and eventually lost, effectively The End of the World as We Know It for them.
- Just as much as Ragnarok was The End of the World as We Know It in Norse Mythology it is also described as "The End of the Time of the Gods" but we are assured that life will continue after them and a new era without them will come about.
- Open Blue's Back Story has the Iormunean Imperium, precursors (based on the Roman Empire) who were more or less the greatest civilization in the world... until they turned a blind eye to some heretics, causing their goddes to turn her back on them while they were in the middle of a war against invading barbarians.
- Naturally, this trope is seen in Dungeons & Dragons:
- Eberron featured the imperfect but relatively idyllic continent-spanning (in theory) Kingdom of Galifar, which allowed slow yet steady improvements in sapient rights, Magitek, concepts of justice, and educational standards... until finally an ascension dispute broke out and the five provinces collapsed into over a dozen warring states over the course of a hundred years. When the dust finally cleared, nationalism, distrust, and cynicism ran high. Many of Galifar's achievements remained, but not the optimistic outlook that allowed them in the first place. For those not paying attention, it's World War I in fantasy-land.
- In Forgotten Realms, ancient Netheril was a highly developed magocracy where even servants used minor magics, Magitek was used routinely and most main cities were made of mountaintops cut off, overturned and enchanted to float. When all magic across the world "turned off" for a short while, the empire fell — literally. The same event damaged the 'Weave' which supports all magic on Toril, so the goddess who guards it curtailed access to prevent more damage and the greatest spells of old Netheril just don't work anymore. Now even their minor artifacts are guarded jealously by new owners.
- Also, subverted by the epoch of Myth Dranor. It's known as a lost Golden Age (magical Renaissance and goodwill festival). But with all its wonders, it wasn't completely idyllic, nor was its technology absolutely superior — for example, some Myth Drannan magic items are vulnerable to explosive overload, while modern counterparts aren't. As well, the end of the age led to a proliferation of the arts.
- The default "Nentir Vale" setting of 4th Edition takes place 100 years after the collapse of Nerath, the last great human empire. Towns and villages are pretty much states unto themselves and there's no central government, so the heroes are usually all that stand between a community and the dangers of the wilderness. The history of the setting also has other collapsed empires, making the rise and fall of nations cyclical.
- The last book of the 3.5 edition was 'Elder Evils', which introduced various Elder Evils capable of wiping out whole campaign worlds-or at the very least, radically altering them. According to interviews, the idea was to give players the option of wiping out/changing their old campaign worlds to make one more compatible to the new system.
- Exalted is another Tabletop RPG example. The world had an incredibly advanced state of magical technology in the First Age, when the godlike Solars ruled over everything. Then their servants rebelled, replacing their system with the less-advanced Shogunate. Unable to maintain the Solars' technology, they've slowly lapsed into more and more primitive societies, aided by a massive plague and an invasion of the chaos beyond the boundaries of reality.
- Of course the First Age takes place directly after the Primordial War, which culminated in the Three Spheres Cataclysm, which retgoned nine-tenths of Creation right down to erasing existential concepts and possibilities. Those outside Creation at the time (Fair Folk, etc.) describe the High First Age as a "tiny, burnt-out remnant" of what Creation used to be.
- The exact principles behind the decline are detailed here.
- Besides, the present Second Age is basically Celestial Exalted - free. Which are, to remind, powers to topple gods and primordials. So by generating a Solar (or Lunar, Infernal and whatever else splat you fancy) for a campaign you are heralding the end of said Second Age, right here.
- Of course the First Age takes place directly after the Primordial War, which culminated in the Three Spheres Cataclysm, which retgoned nine-tenths of Creation right down to erasing existential concepts and possibilities. Those outside Creation at the time (Fair Folk, etc.) describe the High First Age as a "tiny, burnt-out remnant" of what Creation used to be.
- Gamma World D20, the Darker and Edgier version of the setting, has some feel of this. Humanity had advanced science to an incredible degree, with robotics, bio-tech, genetic engineering and nanotechnology not merely possible, but commercially available — that's right, you could create your own life-form in your living room, and do it legally. Then came the catastrophe, and, well, most people barely know how to build crossbows and forge swords, or maintain old-fashion slug-thrower type guns, never-mind create technology that manipulates matter on the atomic level, maintain robots with human (or greater) levels of intelligence, or design whole new lifeforms from scratch.
- In Magic: The Gathering, the Time Spiral block concluded with almost all of the original, godlike planeswalkers dying or becoming human to save The Multiverse, and more limited, mortal planeswalkers rising to take their place.
- Most of White Wolf's earlier RPG, the Old World of Darkness, had a sense of Gotterdammerung. For instance, Mage: The Ascension had a group of magi called The Technocracy using the power of belief to erase the fantastic from existence. Changeling: The Dreaming was probably the worst, though; the period of fae influence on the Earth was described in terms of seasons, from "Spring", when myth was vivid and the fae interacted fully with humans, to "Winter", when the Dreaming is mostly cut off from Earth and everything fantastical withers and dies. And most of the game takes place in Autumn...
- And now, in Mage: The Awakening, we have the fact that, in the time before history, there was a great civilization of all-powerful mages (Atlantis) who, through their hubris, brought about the creation of the Abyss (a great gulf of anti-reality between this world and the higher "Supernal" world), which led to the destruction of Atlantis, the scattering of mages, the loss of much magical lore and artifacts, and the general weakening of magic. Things have been getting worse ever since.
- Similarly, in Werewolf: The Forsaken the Uratha believe the Material World and the Spirit World used to be one, until the death of their great ancestor Father Wolf tore it apart. Despite not technically being a "paradise" (depending on who you ask), the general consensus seems to be that everyone's worse off for it.
- Vampire: The Requiem has its own example in the Camarilla, the vampiric government of the Roman Empire. It wasn't perfect, but it was the one time when there was an overreaching body of vampiric politics that oversaw the span of the "known world"... and it fell when Rome did, making modern vampiric politics almost entirely local with occasional feuds between covenants.
- Vampire: The Masquerade: Enoch, the First City, where vampires and humans coexisted.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse lore states that the Weaver, the Wyrm and the Wyld worked in harmony at one point until the Weaver ensnared the Wyrm and the latter went mad and hellbent on destroying the world from within.
- Demon: The Fallen: the titular Fallen know that they were better off before...erm, the Fall. To the best of their less-then-perfect memory, everyone else around was better off, too.
- Ironically, the fact that every other splat's having its Dark Age makes now the Golden Age for Hunters. They might not readily agree, but imagine them trying vampire hunt in Enoch or witch hunt in Atlantis, and you get the idea.
- Secrets of the Third Reich has this as a backdrop for the setting. Albeit the world is slowly turning more and more into this as World War II drags on and on.
- Shadowrun by FASA adapted the idea of different Worlds or Cycles from the Mayan calendar. The Sixth World started in 2011 with the renewed rise of magic (our own magicless world was the Fifth Age), but there had been previous ages, many thousands of years ago, where magic was far stronger, strong enough that everyone could do magic and Horrors from Another Dimension had broken through and walked the Earth. This was the setting of Earthdawn, another Tabletop RPG by FASA.
- Later, they expanded this concept into the future, with a new RPG set in the Eighth World.
- The End Times of Warhammer; the Old World was completely destroyed, with almost all the characters slain in the final battle against Chaos (with only a small spark recovered by Sigmar to create a new set of realms). Out of universe, Games Workshop used the End Times as a sendoff for Warhammer Fantasy, concluding the story to make way for Age of Sigmar. Fan reactions were mixed, to say the least.
- Warhammer 40,000 has the Dark (or Golden, if you ask the Adeptus Mechanicus) Age of Technology, when mankind first colonized other planets and created amazing technological advancements. Most of the fanciest stuff used by the Imperium are barely understood and often nearly irreplaceable relics of this time.
- The general underlying theme of humanity in 40k is that it is doomed to die a long, slow death from not only its own beliefs but also the vast hordes of unimaginably strong aliens, traitors and daemons. But that is very far away and right now has lots of explosions and chainsaws.
- For a specific point, the Horus Heresy killed the Emperor's dream of a unified, secular human empire, plunging the Imperium into the theocratic Crapsack World is is today.
- The Eldar are no better off — most of their greatest achievements came before the Fall. It's unclear in their case, however, how much this comes from loss of knowledge or lack of the resources required to put that knowledge to use. The Eldar are rather deep into this twilight. The only real consolation that the Eldar have is the growing strength of a new god to replace their dead pantheon, a god of the dead that grows stronger with each slain Eldar. Essentially, he will reach such great power when the last Eldar dies that he will be able to kill Slaanesh... but all the Eldar will still be dead.
- Witchcraft. The future iteration Armageddon deals with...well, Armageddon. Though instead of what everyone expected (The Old Gods vs. the Fallen Angels vs. The Heavenly Host with mortal and immortal creature caught between them), an Eldritch Abomination came in and waged war on everyone—and it's winning, forcing the groups to team up or die.
- A heartbreaking moment towards the end of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The main characters realize that as thrilling and exciting as their adventures and lifestyles were, they have to accept the fact that they're over and they need to move on. Or do they? The show ends on a high note.
[We] must accept the con is done,
But now and then you may recall,
the moments when you had it all.
You had the charm, you had the talent—
and by god, you had some fun.
It was a ball, it was a blast,
and it's a shame it couldn't last,
but every chapters got to end you must agree!
- Spring Awakening is this in spades.
- Richard Wagner's opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen chronicles the end of an age. In Das Rheingold Wotan is warned that a dark day is dawning for the gods. By the end of Siegfried, Wotan's power has been broken by the destruction of his spear and also the last of the giants is dead. In Götterdämmerung the gods are finally destroyed, the dwarf Alberich who made the ring of power can only appear in his son's dreams and the ring itself is cleansed by fire and returned to the Rhine from which it came. Humanity are left alone in the world to make their own fate free of the corruption of supernatural beings.
- Hair is considered the end-marker of the golden age of musicals that began with Oklahoma!.
- Puffin Forest: The end of Malikar Campaign. When the end of the Covenant War came, the gods withdrew from the world, divine magic faded, and gave way to the rise of Magitek and steampunk technologies. The players lived to see this, as they had been granted the Boon of Immortality.
- The end of Volume 3 of RWBY sees the destruction of main setting, death of main characters, a massive tonal shift in the narrative, and the reveal of the series' Big Bad which would lead to a major expansion of the series' mythology.
- The end of Bob and George was seen as the final death knell for the 2000s-era sprite comics. The fad had been dying out for years, with Screw These Comics, The Primer Chronicles, and more all ending only two or so years prior, but Bob and George ending was the last nail in the coffin.
- In Linburger, the Cyll were once were the typical fantasy elves, with long lives and high class. Unfortunately, some strange, catalclysmic event happened in the distant past, stripping the Cyll of their long lives, and now they live in slums with the other Demihuman races.
- In Yosh!, the magic in the world was sealed away in the distant past after the Magi abused it and were beaten down by a unique individual who was completely immune to magic. The story begins in a world that looks much like our own, a few years after some of the sealed magic was released, causing a world-spanning magical event. The results of that event include Cat Girls, Talking Animals, and Functional Magic, among other things.
- In the AlternateHistory.com timeline A More Personal Union, the conclusion of the Great War completely alters the course of European history, as the Hapsburgs lose control of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire, while the latter also loses its northern half to Denmark and Poland.
- The first two years of The Questport Chronicles take place in the millennia-old eponymous village. Then a jealous magician destroys the village, and the next two years of the Chronicles are concerned with the survivors searching for a new home.
- U Realms Live, with the death of the Sun Dragon Phanto, the once peaceful Realm where Elves and High Bears were immortal and could only feel emotional pain ended, and the six Children of the Sun Gods became the source of all the Magic in the Realm, from Light to Dark.
- YouTube's discontinuation of the annotation feature was this for The Annotated Series. Their last season, which was made between march 2017 (the month in which the discontinuation of the feature was annouced) and May 7 of the same year (the day said feature was scheduled to be removed) was even named "The End of an Era". They shall be dearly missed.
- Season 5 of Epic Rap Battles of History was the last original run of the show before their two-year hiatus and their last year with Maker Studios.
- Several seasons of React:
- Season 3 (2012) was the last year for several first season reactors, namely Emma, Sammie, Athena, and William.
- Season 4 (2013) was the last year Kids React featured kids who were born in The '90s.
- Season 6 (2015), for major reasons.
- It was the last year that a Kids React episode featured any of the inaugural cast or those who debuted in the first season on it.note Another note
- It was the last year that The Fine Brothers themselves did the regular hosting for the shows.
- Finally, it was the last year for several long-time and prominent reactors (at least for a while) such as the original Morgan (see first note), Riley, the male Shannon, and most notably Lia.note
- The period between late 2014-2017 (specifically the very end of Season 5 to Season 8) saw several of both inaugural and prominent cast members of Teens either leave the series altogether or graduate to Adults. "Teens React to Green Day" in particular features Ethan, the last remaining member of the inaugural Teens cast, do the latter. Several of the departed teens did eventually return for Adults, however.
- The period of 2017-2018 is where most of the second generation Kids cast started graduating to Teens.
- Season 10 (2019) is the last year Teens React will feature teens who were born in The '90s.
- To Boldly Flee discusses a lot how internet criticism is one day going to die, but in the end this is seen as cynical nonsense while "we're a family" wins out. However, with the #ChangeTheChannel scandal in April 2018 revealing the horrific backstage mistreatments of its contributors, many contributors left Channel Awesome and it may signify the end of the era about them being the biggest pool of critics in the internet.
- Adventure Time could be thought of as a sort of inversion; the Age that ended to become the world seen in the show is actually modern Earth. When the apocalypse happened, it apparently led to the introduction of several new species, magic, and adventure (making it seem the more wondrous of the two). But yet, episodes dealing with the setting's past give it a nostalgic and tragic feel. The end of one episode set 1000 years in the future reveals that the Candy Kingdom will share this fate.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy:
- Ed, Edd n' Eddy is notably the last Western animated series to use traditional cel animation, with the show only switching to digital ink-and-paint after its fourth season.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show was not only the end of the show itself, but also the unofficial end of Cartoon Network's Cartoon Cartoons brand. While the network had stopped using the branding for its original productions several years prior, it was the last show to end that had premiered under that label.
- The (final) cancellation of Justice League Unlimited marked the end of the DC Animated Universe that had been a staple of cartoon programming since 1992.
- The Legend of Korra:
- It's made clear in the second season that people are becoming increasingly less connected with the spirit world then they were in the original series, though the modernization of the setting has led to breakthroughs in technology, such as automobiles, radios, telephones, etc., making it somewhat bittersweet.
- The second season ends another era, with the spirit world no longer separated from the human world, and Korra's connection to the past Avatars being severed. Quite the change.
- Season 4 ends with Prince Wu dissolving the Earth Kingdom monarchy after centuries of rule (and misrule) by his family line, giving the people of the Earth Kingdom a reach choice in deciding how to govern themselves.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic marked the end of the My Little Pony franchise being marketed exclusively to young girls, due to the rise of the brony fandom, and this also caused several other merchandise-driven and child-oriented shows to evolve to allow for adults to derive just as much entertainment as kids. While the show is still a bit on the girly side, it's much more gender-neutral than its predecessor generations and still draws insane levels of engagement from its fandom's different age groups.
- Season 9 has Celestia and Luna abdicate the throne in favor of Twilight Sparkle, thereby ending their time as Equestria's rulers and protectors.
- In the Peter Pan & the Pirates episode "First Encounter", Peter said that when he cut off Hook's hand (illustrated by a Scream Discretion Shot), things in Neverland would never be the same again.
- The Powerpuff Girls, I Am Weasel and the pilots for The Grim Adventuresof Billy And Mandy and Whatever Happened to... Robot Jones? were the last cartoons produced under the Hanna-Barbera name. By the time the latter two shows went into full production, the Hanna-Barbera name would be mostly retired, and all future Cartoon Network shows would be produced under the Cartoon Network Studios name.
- The Simpsons:
- Season 5's "Cape Feare" was the last episode by the original Simpsons writing team (e.g. Sam Simon, David Stern, Jeff Martin, Jon Vitti, Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky), most of whom left the show afterwards.
- Spoofed in the Season 10 episode "D'oh-in' In The Wind", where a couple of hippies say that the 60s ended the day they sold their VW Bus — December 31, 1969.
- "Bart the Mother", also from Season 10, was the last Simpsons episode to use the production code "#F##", the last episode to feature Phil Hartman (playing Troy McClure, and a closing dedication for him), and also the last full-length Simpsons episode written by David S. Cohen (his last Simpsons work was the "Treehouse of Horror IX" story "Starship Poopers"), who became executive producer and head writer for Futurama and adopted the name "David X. Cohen" there.
- Season 14's "Helter Shelter" was the final episode aired to be animated with cels before transitioning to digital ink and paint.
- Season 20's "Lisa the Drama Queen" was the last episode to air in standard definition and feature the classic opening sequence used since season 2, before switching to high definition and introducing a brand new opening sequence.
- Most of Steven Universe takes place during what the Gem Homeworld dubs "Era 2", which begun with Rose Quartz shattering Pink Diamond. When it was revealed to the Homeworld Gems that Rose Quartz was actually Pink Diamond herself all along, the episode "Together Alone" officially marked the beginning of "Era 3".