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 The End of the World as We Know It or by genocide.
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. Firearms Are Revolutionary can be a major cause of an end to an age.
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.
To prevent knee-jerk reactions, real life examples must be five years or more before being added.
- 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 Age of Comic Books.
- 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.
- 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. At the end of the arc, when asked when this "Dark Age" ended, two characters agree it was Samaritan saving the space shuttle Challenger, beginning a new era of heroics.
- 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 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.
- 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 Golden Age is about the transition between the Golden Age of Comic-Books, and the end of World War II, with all the Justice Society and All-Star Squadron members inactive or retired, and the start of the Silver Age in the mid-50s.
- 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 comes 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.
- The Transformers (IDW):
- Transformers: Last Bot Standing: The series is set in the far future with Rodimus hiding out on a distant planet long after the rest of the Transformer race has died off. In addition to being a hypothetical "last story" for the Transformers franchise, the series is also the last Transformers series put out by IDW after a 15-year tenure.
- The story "The Death of Optimus Prime" (for once, it's not literal) brings an end to the Great War, which had loomed over the Autobots and Decepticons for several million years, especially the countless ones brought online to fight in it. The Transformers: Robots in Disguise and The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye are about what it means when the defining struggle of your species is technically over and nobody is quite sure what to do now or how to move on.
Fulcrum: But there's always been a war! That's like saying there's no more blue or - or the weather's stopped!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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). It's been seen from two different perspectives — first from Celestia's, 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.
- With Strings Attached: When the four first meet Grunnel, 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.
- Romance and the Fate of Equestria: 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.
- A New World (Iced Fairy) 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.
- 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 Touhou Eiyashou ~ 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 the Marvel Universe fanfiction FIRE! (DarkMark), 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.
- Near the end of Mastermind: Strategist for Hire, the League of Villains, with the help of a recently-defected Hawks, attacks the Hero Commission and exposes their corruption, leading to its collapse. Whilst Hero society had been suffering blows from them ever since All Might's death at the USJ, this ends up forcing it to restructure.
- 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.
- Code Prime: Fall of Britannia and Rise of the Decepticons (the two chapters that form the climax of R1) see the dissolution of the Holy Empire of Britannia, with the Decepticons moving in to take their place. Come R2, the last remnants of the Empire have been captured/killed off by the alien warlords, and all that remains of Britannia are the quasi-independent Euro-Britannia, and Marrybell's Glinda Knights (whom are in hiding).
- The Weaver Option: The finale of the "Black Crusade" arc sees the end of the age of Chaos Undivided. With Malal assuming the seat of Fourth Chaos God, Anarchy has returned and the age of Chaos Divided has begun.
- Extended Stay: The fanfic ends with Warden and Mistress leaving Superjail along with their youngest child to go live in the White House, but not before handing the reins of Superjail and Ultraprison over to the twins. Thus, their eras as wardens of Superjail and Ultraprison come to an end.
- 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.
- Monsters, Inc. centers around an energy crisis, with the source of energy being scaring of children. Henry J Waternoose initially attributes it to newer generations of scarers not being good enough, he finally accepts to Sullivan that times have changed and that means scaring isn't a good enough resource of energy anymore. This fuels his villainy through kidnapping children to extract screams from them for energy.
- 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.
- 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, and the genre was soon Condemned by History.
- 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 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.
- "That's What Friends Are For", originally written for the 1982 film Night Shift and performed by Rod Stewart, provided an example of this when it was covered in 1985 by Dionne and Friends, a one-off collaboration between Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder as a charity single for AIDS research. The Warwick version spent four weeks atop the Hot 100 and was Billboard's year-end #1 for 1986. Because of Wonder's involvement, it was the last US #1 for any artist who had topped the Hot 100 before the British Invasion (he had taken "Fingertips" to #1 as a 13-year-old in 1963).
- Music analyst Michaelangelo Matos considered Prince's 1987 album Sign '☮' the Times to be one for popular music in two senses. The first is that it marked the end of the phonograph record's status as the dominant medium for music distribution, being the last double-LP to achieve blockbuster-level sales; additionally, its fourth single, "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man", was the last of Prince's to not immediately receive a CD release. The second sense is that Sign '☮' the Times was the last commercially successful album from a black artist to predate hip-hop's emergence as the dominant genre in black music.
- Like Prince's Sign '☮' the Times, Dire Straits' 1985 blockbuster album Brothers in Arms was a send-off to the vinyl era that heralded the rise of the CD, being the first album to sell more copies on the format than on vinyl. The album had longer tracks on cassette and CD than vinyl, and was also digitally recorded, showing off the CD's greater sound quality and longer running time than the LP. The album's double-LP release in 2007 also heralded the beginning of the end of the CD era, the same year that the "vinyl revival" began.
- The Vaporwave genre as a whole likes to depict a grainy, consumerist, faux-nostalgia of The '80s and The '90s, and the unspoken rule is that the 9/11 attacks are the cutoff point for this era. To that end, the album News At 11 by 猫シ Corp. extends this to the very moments right before the terror attacks were announced on the morning of September 11, 2001, at the extreme end of the era.
- Radio Tapok's original song "Tsushima" mournfully describes the Baltic Fleet as "the last fleet of the emperor". Historically, the Russo-Japanese War cost Tsarist Russia almost her entire navy and was a massive blow to the nation's prestige, becoming one of the factors in the build-up to the Russian Revolution.
- Don Edwards' song "Coyotes" is about an old cowboy who is the last remnant of the Wild West as the modern industrial age is beginning.
Then he'd look off some place in the distance
At something only he could see
He'd say all that's left now of the old days
Those damned old coyotes and me
- 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.
- 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 Arthurian myths, depicting the fall of the King's forces to foreign invaders and the 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.
- Norse Mythology: Ragnarok is The End of the World as We Know It and "The End of the Time of the Gods" but life will continue after them and a new era, with new gods, will come about.
- Shane Douglas throwing down the NWA World's Heavyweight Championship is generally seen as the final nail in the coffin of the National Wrestling Alliance and the old territory system.
- The death of Giant Baba and the mass defection of the roster to Pro Wrestling NOAH was the end of All Japan Pro Wrestling as a major force in Wrestling.
- The Death of WCW marked the moment that wrestling in the West became an effective monopoly, with only one "major" national promotion leftnote .
- The resignation of Antonio Inoki from New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
- In July 2022, Vince McMahon, the man who had dominated professional wrestling in North America since The '80s, resigned as the CEO of WWE.
- 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 goddess to turn her back on them while they were in the middle of a war against invading barbarians.
- BattleTech: The Amaris Civil War and the Fall of the Star League, marked the end of humanity's golden age, and the start of two centuries of seemingly endless war between the Successor States. And thats just the tip of the iceberg...
- The attrition, technological decline and total warfare seen in the Succession Wars ended with the Clan Invasion, who brought with them technology that had either been forgotten since the Fall of the Star League or completely unheard of altogether.
- For the Clans themselves, both the Refusal War and the destruction of Clan Smoke Jaguar lead to the end of the Clans Warden/Crusader philosophical dichotomy.
- ComStar's decision to become a neutral, secular organization led to a schism, where its religious fundamentalist side split to form the Word of Blake.
- The Second Star League's disbandment not only led to the final extinction of mankind's dream of being united under a single benevolent banner, but the beginning of the Word of Blake's outstandingly violent "Jihad", which saw the return of both WMDs and the death of MechWarriors being seen as hi-tech knights in shining armor.
- During the Jihad, the Homeworld Clans saw their Invader brethren as being irrevocably "tainted" by the Inner Sphere's "barbarianism", leading to the Wars of Reaving that left four Clans destroyed and the two groups permanently estranged from another.
- Finally, the era of peace that endured since the end of the Jihad came to a screeching halt on "Gray Monday", when the entire HPG Network shut down simultaneously, mysteriously and indefinitely. Faster-than-light communication became impossible, with political boundaries changing dramatically as ancient enemies took advantage of the confusion and chaos. And thus begins the Dark Age...
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Additionally, the end of the age led to a proliferation of the arts.
- Nentir Vale 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.
- 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.
- The First Age itself took 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 game proper takes place during the Second Age, and specifically very shortly after the return of the Celestial Exalted — such as the ancient Solars — and after the machinations of the remnants of the Primordials begin to come into play. A concept emphasized on and off in official material is that, due to the sheer scale of plots that are only beginning to come into their final stages and the immense gravitas of the Exalted themselves, the period of the mortal and Terrestrial civilizations that marked the Second Age is itself coming to a close.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Warhammer: The End Times; 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.
- The British Railway Stories: As the story went on, it started dealing with the looming shadow of modernization and dieselization with increasing severity. The final episode is of Allen waiting to be scrapped in a siding.
- 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.
- Atop the Fourth Wall; Linkara's review of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is the last to feature cover art done by Dr. Crafty, ending a 12 year run as Dr. Crafty moves on to personal projects.
- 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.
- The 1967 cartoon The Bear That Wasn't (directed by Chuck Jones) was the final animated short that MGM ever distributed.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy:
- EENE 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 on November 8, 2009 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 in 2003, it was the last show to end that had premiered under that label.
- Histeria! was the final cartoon left airing out of the lot that Tom Ruegger created for Warner Bros. Animation during The Renaissance Age of Animation,note ending a partnership that lasted a decade.
- Justice League:
- The Martian Manhunter used this term almost verbatim on Lex Luthor in the first season of Justice League, when Lex Luthor is outwitted for the first time by the teamwork of the Justice League, something Superman can't do by himself. This marks the shift of Luthor's grudge from Superman to the entire Justice League, and also the increasing trend of supervillain team-ups since the existence of the Justice League made it tougher for the villains to act alone.
- 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.
- Looney Tunes:
- The cartoon We're in the Money (1933) was the final cartoon from Harman and Ising, as the duo would jump ship to MGM shortly afterwards after a dispute with Leon Schlesinger.
- Puss n' Booty (1943), the final Warner Bros. cartoon produced in black-and-white.
- Buckaroo Bugs (1944), the final cartoon produced by Leon Schlesinger before he sold the studio to Warner Bros.
- To Itch His Own (1958), the final cartoon scored by Carl Stalling before his retirement.
- The Jet Cage (1962), the final cartoon produced to have a score by Milt Franklyn (he died midway through production), with Bill Lava taking over until the series ended.
- False Hare (1964), the final golden age Bugs Bunny cartoon and the last one to use the rings in the intro.
- Señorella and the Glass Huarache (1964) (which, incidentally, came immediately after False Hare) was the final cartoon made at the original Termite Terrace before it shut down in 1963, the rest being made at De Patie Freleng Enterprises, Format Films, and Seven Arts.
- Daffy's Diner (1967), the final cartoon produced at De Patie Freleng Enterprises.
- See Ya Later Gladiator (1968), the final cartoon to have any of the original characters (in this case, Daffy and Speedy).
- Injun Trouble (1969), the 1000th Warner Bros. cartoon released, was the very last Looney Tunes short to be made by the original Warner Bros. studio, symbolically marking the end of the theatrical shorts era for the franchise.
- Father of the Bird (1997), the final cartoon in which any member of the original WB staff had any involvement (in this case, Chuck Jones as producer) and the final Looney Tunes production to be cel-animated.
- The Looney Tunes Show is the final Looney Tunes production to have any of the original voice cast (in this case, June Foray reprises her role as Granny).
- 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 (1998), I Am Weasel and the pilots for The Grim Adventures of Billy & 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. However, he did later return to write the Season 32 episode "Podcast News."
- Season 14's "Helter Shelter" was the final episode aired to be animated with cels before transitioning to digital ink and paint. Though it wasn't the final cel-animated episode produced; "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation", which aired 3 weeks earlier in the season, takes that honor.
- "You Kent Always Say What You Want" was the final episode to air before the release of The Simpsons Movie. Doubles as Milestone Celebration since it is also the 400th episode of the series.
- 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".
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- "Pranks a Lot" was the final pre-movie episode, and therefore the final episode from the original crew.
- The episode "SpongeBob You're Fired" symbolically marks the end of SpongeBob's Audience-Alienating Era, as in the next episode, "Lost in Bikini Bottom", Stephen Hillenburg would return as the executive producer of the show.
- The last episode to air when the series creator Stephen Hillenburg was alive was "Goons On The Moon", as he died from ALS the day after it premiered.
- The final episode that Hillenburg completely oversaw before his death was "Pineapple RV", according to Vincent Waller.
- Tom and Jerry:
- Tot Watchers (1958) is the final cartoon during the classic era to be directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. After this, the MGM cartoon studio shut down and the duo founded Hanna-Barbera.
- Carmen Get It (1962), the final cartoon directed by Gene Deitch.
- Purr-Chance to Dream (1967), the final cartoon produced by Chuck Jones and the final Tom and Jerry cartoon to be released during The Golden Age of Animation.
- The Karate Guard (2005), the final cartoon in which any of the original creators (in this case, Joseph Barbera, as William Hanna had died four years prior) worked on and the final short to be screened in theaters.
- Tex Avery has a few.
- The Heckling Hare (1941), the final Looney Tunes cartoon he directed and the one that directly contributed to his move to MGM due to a dispute between him and producer Leon Schlesinger. However, it was not the last one to be released; All This and Rabbit Stew (also from 1941) takes that honor.
- Cellbound (1955), the final cartoon he would direct during his time at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
- Also from 1955, Shhhhhh was the final cartoon he ever directed (and, by extension, the final cartoon he directed during his brief stint at the Walter Lantz cartoon studio). After this, he underwent a Creator Breakdown.
- His final creation before his death was The Kwicky Koala Show. He didn't live to see it premiere.
- Thomas the Tank Engine:
- "Thomas & The Missing Christmas Tre", the final episode to be narrated by Ringo Starr in the UK and US dubs.
- "Mind That Bike", the final episode to be narrated by George Carlin in the US dub.
- "Faulty Whistles", the final episode to be narrated by Alec Baldwin in the US dub.
- "Three Cheers for Thomas" ("Hooray for Thomas" in the US dub) is the final episode of the classic series as well as the final episode to feature the original crew.
- "Wash Behind Your Buffers" was the final episode to exclusively use live-action before switching to a CGI/model hybrid in Season 12. However, "The Great Discovery" is officially the final Thomas production to exclusively use models.
- "Best Friends" was the final episode to use a live-action model set before switching to CGI exclusively in Season 13. Its also the final episode of the New Series era.
- "The Christmas Tree Express" was the final episode to have the involvement of Sharon Miller, to be animated by Nitrogen Studios, to be narrated by Michael Angelis in the UK dub and Michael Branden in the UK dub respectively and of the series Seasonal Rot era.
- "Confused Coaches" was the final episode to be narrated by Mark Moraghan in the UK and US dubs respectively as well as the final episode to have the standard narration format as Thomas himself takes over as the narrator for the series in Season 22.
- "Thomas' Animal Friends" was the final episode of the original series before the reboot.