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Older Is Better

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"We extol ancient things regardless of the modern."
Tacitus, Annales

The idea, especially in Fantasy settings, that older things are generally stronger or more effective. The swords, armor, magic etc. left behind by an old civilization are better than those made today. Many works of Science Fiction have Lost Technology that people can no longer replicate after a dark age. In general, anything that can be described as "ancient" will perform better than its newly-made counterparts, or even be capable of things that modern technology isn't, and our heroes will make suitably awed remarks about "ancient power". It's like society is regressing rather than inventing new technologies and improving on old ideas. In fact, the old stuff is so superior that it continues to outperform despite spending ten centuries half-buried in dirt in a cave.

This trope follows a standard fantasy motif that everything was grander and more perfect back in ancient times: gods roamed the Earth, heroes battled huge monsters with legendary weapons and armors that can survive centuries to be used again. And if our modern heroes are doing the same thing, then in the past, there must have been bigger heroes fighting tougher monsters with even more legendary weapons. One could also draw a connection to Cryptic Background Reference— it's a lot easier to portray a lost epic empire in your work's past, and its mere remnants in the present, than to have to put the whole thing front and centre.

Medieval Stasis helps explain/justify this trope: if technology is not advancing, then the best items of the past will be better than the run-of-the-mill stuff of today, and will hence outperform if they survive the years. Or perhaps the old tech was made by Precursors, who truly were leagues and bounds more advanced than modern folk. In Fantasy, one could also say that magical beings and artifacts become more powerful over time.

Older Is Better may also be depicted in stories set in more modern eras. The heroes may find that a vintage rifle or pistol is in some way superior to modern gear, often in accuracy or ruggedness. In some cases, the lower technology of an old weapon may render it less vulnerable to new countermeasures. As well, fictional characters may love vintage cars, stereos, cameras or other old items, perceiving that these items look cooler or perform better. When someone needs a special dish, Grandma's Recipe might outperform a modern recipe book.

Subtropes of this include:

The most common application of this trope in Real Life is the narrative of The Dark Ages, which were supposedly a time of squalor and ignorance after the fall of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, until The Renaissance kickstarted science again and re-learned technology that had been forgotten and disused for centuries. The truth is much more complicated, as there was actually much progress in the "dark' ages and old Rome was surpassed in some ways well before the Renaissance. However this idea was very popular for centuries, still shows up sometimes today and has contributed a lot towards the romantic notions of rediscovering superior wisdom of a bygone golden age.

In any case, this trope is certainly not true in the modern age, at least in terms of science & technology. Simply put, humanity is the most technologically advanced it's ever been and is replacing old technology faster than ever. However, in pseudosciences like astrology and some alternative medicines, this trope is still quite dominant: such-and-such ancient tradition/knowledge must be the best, otherwise it wouldn't have survived this long unchanged (the Lindy effect), therefore we can trust it the most! It's the same logic as with the Old Master: if a tool has lasted for centuries and is still usable, then it must be damn good. Compare with Appeal to Tradition, the logical fallacy that says Older is Better just because it's Older. Bad Martial Arts has a page debunking the idea.

Do not confuse with the Real Life nostalgia of They Don't Make Them Like They Used To and its extreme form, True Art Is Ancient. Stronger with Age is when a creature's biology causes it to get Better as it grows Older. Also compare with Rock Beats Laser and Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age. See also What a Piece of Junk in which one old item turns out to be superior, but there's no sweeping statement about age and quality. Contrast with The Workhorse, which is a piece of equipment so solid it's still in use despite its age.


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  • Health Hotline: Grandma is much older than Ellie, but after getting a knee brace, she's much faster.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Fairy Tail: Natsu happens to be a first-generation Dragon Slayer, but still manages to be just as powerful, if not more so, than successive generations. Then compare them to Achnologia, a former Dragon Slayer who is now a Dragon and an extremely ancient, extremely powerful being.
  • In the Lyrical Nanoha franchise, Lost Logia are ancient artefacts often capable of rending dimensions in two. Some of them are small enough to fit in the palm of a person's hand and require no outside power source or maintenance. So far nothing modern comes close to the destructive potential that the Lost Logia exhibit. Also Ancient Belkan fighting arts have an equipment advantage in the Unison Devices and Cartridge Loads that are not found in the modern Mid-Childan system. While Mid-Childan devices can be adapted without much difficulty to use the Ancient Belkan cartridge system, no one has the slightest idea how to make Unison Devices anymore (the only new one in the modern era was created by... a sentient lost superweapon from Ancient Belka).
  • The Mysterious Cities of Gold: All of the Lost Technology of the Mayincatec Precursors is far superior to what is produced now, even by the European nations. They have boats moved by solar-powered engines while Europe has not even discovered the steam engine yet. To say nothing of their solar powered airplane. Or their fusion reactor.
  • Averted for fun in the Slayers TV series, where an ancient golem awakens to crush the heroes and promptly breaks down from centuries of disuse.
  • Asura in Soul Eater is the first kishin to have ever formed, and is the strongest by far. Although there is some evidence he's also the only one who actually managed to evolve into a full kishin; the others are killed before they become too powerful.
    • Excalibur is the original demon weapon, and was used as the blueprint when the witch Arachne created all the others. He is by far the strongest, and anyone can wield him with ease. The only thing that prevents anyone from using him is his excruciatingly grating personality.
    • Although in Asura and in Excalibur's case, both are part of the "Great Old Ones". They are beings so powerful their sheer presence releases a form of madness, with others including Shinigami-sama himself. Furthermore, Asura is the child of Shinigami (born when he cast his fear away.) While it's unsure how well age plays into it, their unique status may add credence to this.
  • In Space Battleship Yamato (aka Star Blazers), the Earth Defense Force fleet is pretty much wiped out to the last ship, forcing them to deploy the 200 year old IJN Yamato. In season two, the EDF is building all new warships including the State of the Art Andromeda class, better than the Yamato in every way (including a double barreled Wave Motion Gun) ... until the Comet Empire hands them their asses.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann zigzags this with the ancient Ganmen and new Grapearl. In a one-on-one battle, Grapearls are indeed faster, more agile, and better-equipped, to the point that even highly-advanced Ganmen like Enkidu get wrecked by them. However, the main enemies in second half are the Mugann, the machines that Ganmen were originally designed to battle... meaning that Grapearls tend to die en masse even with the proper gear, whereas when the main characters restore and retool their old Ganmen, they find that wiping out whole hordes of Mugann is surprisingly easy.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the older the magic, the better. This is especially seen in the Waking the Dragons arc. Got 3000 year old magic? Too bad, my magic is 10,000 years old. Although ''how'' much better really depended on what the writers needed for any given episode, and the younger magic actually did manage to defy the older one on a few occasions.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man: The teacher that instructed Miles Morales and the other students to write diaries told them about a system to write them that is completely hack-proof: paper and pen.

    Fan Works 
  • Played with in Game Theory. While Alhazredian magic was incredibly complex and could work wonders, it was also very inefficient and slow to cast. The magic systems that followed it, while not capable of the miraculous achievements of Alhazred, were far more practical, especially in combat.
  • Child of the Storm toys with this, due to its heavily fantasy influenced background, but mostly subverts it. While there are incredibly powerful ancient weapons/spells/pieces of technology floating around, for instance, a lot of them are created by gods or separate Sufficiently Advanced Aliens (or in the case of Atlantis, a Magitek civilisation of Advanced Ancient Humans that was taught by gods - specifically, Asgard), that were incredibly advanced and powerful by modern human standards to begin with.
    • This is also briefly touched on in the sequel regarding Surtur, with it being noted that Asgard has advanced considerably since then, but many of the spells and weapons used back then were slowly forgotten or fell out of use because they weren't required in the intervening hundreds of millennia.
  • A major plot element in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Centuries ago, Merlin enacted a worldwide magical interdict that prevents wizards from passing down their knowledge of powerful spells through anything but direct teaching from master to student. One cannot learn how to perform powerful spells from a book. Thus, the most potent spells have slowly been lost over time, as their masters die without successfully passing down their knowledge. This makes powerful magical artifacts created in centuries past better than anything capable of being created in the present.
  • Played with in A Horse for the Force where Ranma's Training from Hell based on ancient Chinese Amazon techniques allows him to No-Sell blaster shots, however using more advanced technology like repulsors is far more effective than smashing someone with a boulder repeatedly.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Two examples.
    • Malcolm (Dr. Calico's actor) and Penny correspond with each other via letter in "The Wedding Reception." It's suggested this may be because of the latter's discomfort with more contemporary means of communication such as email.
    • In "The Blood Brother" and "The Ship," Penny is presented as a devotee of contemporary fluff pop groups like *NSYNC, Hanson, and Britney Spears. Thanks to nudges from her biology lab partner and an ex-boyfriend, she is shown in "The Ship," "The Walk," and "The Cameo" to have graduated to older but more substantial acts such as Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Elvis Costello, R.E.M., The Modern Lovers, and The Replacements.
  • In Opalescent, Oscar is of the belief that older technology is more durable and holds up better than newer technology, an opinion of which he demonstrates by carrying around a Polaroid camera, which somehow survived a flood of blob while his badge phone (a flip phone with advanced functions) did not. This is despite the fact that Odd Squad as an organization is very high-tech and has made advancements in technology since it was founded back in the cavemen times.
    Olive: How did that survive the flood if your own badge phone didn't?!
    Oscar: Psh, are you kidding? You've been out of the '90s too long. Modern phones will break if you so much as snap them in half, but everyone knows that older, clunkier technology is indestructible!
    Opal: I don't think that's how technology works, Oscar.
  • Old Missie from Patterns of the Past has this mindset. Her full nickname of "Old-Fashioned Ms. O" was given to her specifically because of her refusal to adapt to modern times, going all the way down to her clothes, which have the style that was popular back in the 1890s.


  • The Dark Tower: Just about everything in this world applies to this trope, thanks to the world "Moving On", from Roland's six-shooter pistols passed down for generations to the ancient technology scattered about that still works beyond the capabilities of anything newly made.
  • The Dresden Files explicitly applies this to necromancy. The older the corpse being re-animated, the more powerful the result. Harry uses this rule to get around the fact that non-human zombies are less powerful than ones made from humans by re-animating a corpse several orders of magnitude older than any possible human corpse. Zombie T-rex.
  • Harry Potter: The Elder Wandnote  is the best wand, and despite wandcraft having ostensibly advanced since its creation, several centuries ago, no wand made since can match it. Same for Harry's invisibility cloak which is both older and superior to all of its kind, even those made more recently. Their actual creator is unknown, however, legend states that they were made by Death himself, and given to Three Brothers (Dumbledore speculates that they were actually created by the Three Brothers themselves, and their power created the legend).
    • Interesting, because Harry Potter seems to generally avert the trope: Magic evolves like science does. New discoveries are made. This is evident with Broomsticks: newer broomsticks are better for example: The Nimbus 2001 is better than the Nimbus 2000, who are both outdone by the newer still Firebolt.
      • The Wolfsbane potion which allows a werewolf to keep their human mind during their monthly transformation is also a new invention, which is damn useful compared to the old method of dealing with werewolfism, which was "chain them up once a month and hope they don't break free."
      • Voldemort invents an unaided flight spell in the final book, something that was originally considered flat out impossible.
    • The protective charm Lily inadvertently invoked when she sacrificed herself to save Harry was old magic powerful enough to deflect even the Killing Curse, a curse that normally can't be blocked by magical means.
    • There is a theme that the witches and wizards of successive generations fail to live up to their predecessors. They had to look a generation back to find anyone capable of taking Voldemort in a duel and the best of Harry Potter's peers don't compare to the talents of their parents at similar ages. This trend starts with the murder, mind altering spells, scare tactics and discriminatory practice used by Lord Voldemort and associates, which prevented a lot of knowledge being passed down.
  • Journey to Chaos: By his own choice, the office of Ataidar's Royal Archiver has not been renovated in two thousand years. Henry Pupil is still reading by candle light and writting with link quills. He prefers the old-fashioned look.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium: Ancient Elven and Númenórean weapons are better than modern day Gondorian and Elven ones. The Silmarils were made by one of the most ancient elves, Fëanor, and nothing created since rivals their beauty. Likewise, the modern-day dwarves of the Lonely Mountain haven't managed to match the weapons and armour that were made by their ancestors, whose techniques were lost when Smaug killed them (they do mention having made advances in mining techniques in that time though).
  • Justified in The Lost Fleet, where Captain John "Black Jack" Geary finds out that, after the 100-year war with the Syndics, The Alliance ships aren't up to par with the ships in his time, even though their weapons are more powerful and defenses better. Thanks to the horrendous attrition rate of the war, ships are no longer built to last. In Geary's time, ships would be built with the expected life of 50-100 years. Now, any ship that manages to survive 3 years is barely going to hold together, as quality control is virtually nonexistent. Additionally, everyone is sick and tired of the war, and wartime economy cannot be sustained indefinitely. Thus, cost-cutting is rampant, as evidenced by the new Adroit-class battlecrusers that are worse than the previous battlecruiser design in every way. Attrition is also so bad that tactical training for new officers is almost nonexistent; they're just told to charge straight in and hope they win.
  • Moonflowers evokes this. Holy-water has a very small effect on the river-spirit Maidin, since he only complains that it makes his arm itch (but he's much friendlier than the Hunter and even helps with Christian baptisms). Alloys like steel and titanium are ineffective when fighting the Fair Folk, as Cold Iron is one of their traditional weaknesses. Later on, the Fianna use obsidian weaponry when trying to kill the Hunter in the Otherworld, because the Folk would smell too much Cold Iron on them. Not quite a cut-and-dry case of Older Is Better, as one of the main points is how strange and incomprehensible the Fair Folk are.

  • In The Night Angel Trilogy there's a whole list of these, including an ancient technique for forging swords and jewelry and everything ever made by Ezra the Mad. Justified in that the tomes that recorded Ezra's techniques were destroyed in the lead up to a dark age.
  • In The Last Unicorn, the unicorn (who is very old herself) speaks about the Red Bull this way.
    "He was too strong," she said, "too strong. There was no end to his strength, and no beginning. He is older than I."
  • In the ninth Captain Underpants book, George and Harold create a comic for their grandparents where the main message is that old people, especially grandparents, are awesome and shouldn't be taken for granted.
  • The Elder Empire: Whenever a human uses an object, they imbue it with "Intent," and the object works just a little better for its intended purpose. An axe might get better at cutting wood, a coat might get better at keeping its wearer warm. Therefore, objects that have been in use for centuries and have accumulated massive stores of Intent are far more powerful than newer ones that haven't had a chance to be used as much.
  • An Unattractive Vampire: The closer a vampire is to the original cursed victim, the stronger they are. Modern vampires, due to being the result of an experiment to see what happens when you keep siring vampires and watering down the curse, are barely superhuman in most respects—but on the other hand, they only have a couple of the traditional vampire weaknesses. Yulric, the Elder Vampyre of the title, doesn't even know how to create more vampires, because he's never cared to and no other vampyres he knows have ever cared to. When asked how vampires are made, he dodges the question and says "there are many ways." This is because Elder Vampyres are created through a variety of circumstances which all boil down to being "too evil to die." Despite their many weaknesses, they are overwhelmingly more powerful than modern vampires, and when combined with the fact that they were all sadistic murderers before they became immortal abominations, they're far more skilled in combat too. Six Elder Vampyres cut through sixty modern vampires like wheat.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Key to the initial Cylon victory in the Battlestar Galactica (2003) miniseries. During the original Human-Cylon War, the Cylons frequently used cyberattacks against human ships and installations, so the humans reverted back to older, particularly compartmentalized and un-networked, computing technology. It slowed down communication but it also meant any cyberthreats could be easily isolated. But by the time the series starts they've had 40 years of peace, and the newer ships in the fleet have abandoned the practice, making them easy pickings for Cylon ships that could hack them, shut them down, and then beat on them completely unopposed. Galactica and its older and theoretically obsolete complement of Vipers, however, date back to the first war and are immune, making them the only Colonial military ships to survive the invasion other than Galactica's sister ship Pegasus.
  • In Deadliest Warrior, the pre-Biblical Spartans were shown to outmatch enemies who wielded technology more than a thousands years more advanced than their own because of their incredibly deadly bronze-age shields.
  • Doctor Who: In "Father's Day", hiding in a really old building can keep the Reapers away from you for a while.
  • The Thunderbirds episode "Vault of Death" begins with Parker (a reformed safecracker), acompanied by Lady Penelope, trying to break into the Bank of England vault; after nearly two and a half hours he succeeds. It turns out that this is a security test to demonstrate the need to replace the old-fashioned vault a new ultra-modern high-tech one. Later, when a man is trapped in the new vault, Parker opens it in seconds with a hairpin. Seeing that the new vault can be cracked so easily, the bank decides to go back to the old one, as at least that one took him two and a half hours. Subverted when Parker tells Lady Penelope afterwards that he could have opened the old vault just as easily but he wanted to give his audience a good show (which of course he couldn't in a real emergency).

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Classical Mythology: Though the Olympians were the ruling pantheon, their youth made them pale in comparison to the older generations of gods. For example, to defeat the previous generation of gods, the Titans, they needed help from defecting Titans, the hecatonchires, and the elder cyclopes. And the gods who predated the Titans, known as the Protogenoi or Primordials, were even more powerful than the Titans. So much so that Zeus himself was afraid to get on the bad side of one.
  • Beowulf has many of the weapons, helmets, armours, standards and cups mentioned as prized heirlooms and passed around and down generations for a long time. It is suggested they were forged by Giants.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A standard trope in Dungeons & Dragons. If something is described as "Ancient", there is a 90% chance its better than its modern equivalent.
    • Played with in Forgotten Realms: After the Fall of Netheril the world's magic circuitry is broken. Alas, it's impossible to cast spells as powerful as Mavin's Worldweave or Proctiv's Seal Crystal Sphere (11 level). On the other hand? There's constant development — Netheril in his prime had nothing as efficient as Virus Charm or Sammaster's Spellcaster. Even magic items of relatively recent era of Myth Drannor are sometimes fabled and sometimes plain inferior (like protections exploding on overload).
      • Of course, Myth Drannor itself is "fabled" because humans ran in, got some of the old elven magical knowledge and began to rapidly develop on it, dragging elves along. Just as Planned, since the Coronal made this unpopular decision after observing a few Mage Fairs and coming to the conclusion that though he and a handful of others are more powerful, he wants the best human wizards to work with his folk, if and while possible.
    • Eberron breathes this trope: With many subsequent collapsing civilization, you can tell how powerful something is by how old the civilization that invented it is, going from modern to ancient: Modern Day < Dhakaani Empire < Giant Empire < Dragon / Demon War < Progenitor Dragons.
      • Oddly in other ways, Eberron averts the trope - new advances are constantly made - with several organizations such as guilds, universities and Dragonmarked Houses constantly doing R&D and rolling out new advances. The last 100 year of war in particular saw a gigantic advance in technology and magic. Generally the trope is averted within a given era, but played straight between eras. Justified in that giants were more powerful as a species than the humanoids and goblinoids that followed them, while the dragons and demons eclipsed even the giants. The Dhakaani goblinoids meanwhile had several thousand years of prosperity to innovate, while the modern human-dominated kingdom is still in its first millenia of existence.
  • A major element in the BattleTech and MechWarrior universe. Many of the equipment from the days of the Star League were well advanced for their time and were simply much better than the newer, watered-down equivalents of the much later eras to the point that any such equipment (Star League-era, of course) is highly coveted upon. Alas, with the Star League folded, the technology has been all but reduced to lost relics since most of the galaxy's technological and industrial bases ended up getting smashed during 300 years of civil war, losing them the ability to produce their highly advanced technology. Thus, newer mechs tend to be less capable in combat when paired up against similar mechs that were built hundreds of years earlier. Of course, if you HAVE such an old (but powerful) mech, you try to make sure it gets the best of maintenance so it will continue to be the best.
    • However, over the decades lost technology was recovered and relatively low-level warfare allowed the nations to rebuild; the late 3030s or 3040 often considered a tipping point where new mechs like the Hauptmann and Uriel are at least equal to their Star League predecessors, though it took over a decade for the revived tech to truly propagate. The Clans, who were unaffected by the Succession Wars, field mechs that are vastly superior to equipment from any era in the Inner Sphere.
  • Obviously very prominent in Warhammer 40,000 - not only They Don't Make Them Like They Used To - ancient magic weapons and eldar artifacts benefit from 'ancientness' as much as human technology.
    • Human technology is locked in stasis due to technology becoming a religion and 'discovery' effectively becoming archaeology - the only way an innovation will ever be approved by the high priests of the tech-cult is if it can be shown to have been an original part, or intended optional extra, of the base design. Trying to make something totally new is considered an appalling heresy.
      • Human civilization was also more powerful than the Imperium of Man is presently, at one point. Their leftover weapons are some of the most powerful tools the Imperium has at its disposal to this day, like skyscraper-tall Emperor-class titans, surface-to-space anti-spaceship defense lasers, and giant experimental mobile weapons platforms.
      • Additionally, there are some background texts in Forge World supplements that suggest the pan-galactic human civilization which preceded the Imperium of Man used the Baneblade tank designs which the Imperium calls "super-heavy battle tanks" as "light combat tanks," which should put in perspective just how physically large and powerful a true human-made super-heavy battle tank would be, if the aforementioned machine cult could ever find the designs.
      • One of the ultimate examples of this trope in the game is the fact that the Heavy Stubber, a capable and reliable heavy weapon often found gracing Imperial vehicles and emplacements and churned out of Forge Worlds by the millions out of their simplicity, ease of use and ability to pump out reasonably powerful More Dakka, is the Browning M2. A gun first designed in 1918 still finds use dozens of millennia later. Older Is Better indeed.
    • Eldar technology is similarly unable to improve a lot because they are, as a species, essentially all refugees and mostly unable to sustain their population, never mind their technological infrastructure. They do innovate though, but not often and only in terms of re-applying existing knowledge and not making new discoveries.
    • The Necrons basically are an Ancient Precursor race, only made into immortal, self-repairing robots and locked in stasis for 65Myr. They haven't improved their technology because it's already vastly superior to everyone else's and they are now unthinking automatons, for the most part.
    • Chaos avert this in that they are constantly coming up with new stuff or, rather, are prepared to let their gods change their old stuff in unpredictable ways (that usually involve lots of spikes as well) for them.
    • Dark Eldar avert this as well. Originally they used psychic technology and sorcery as much as their more mainstream cousins. But after the Fall, the Dark Eldar had to almost completely abandon all their ancient tech and re-invent much of it from the ground up using more mundane methods. But because they have a stable population and sufficient resources and infrastructure, they're able to support a researcher caste who've actually been creating new technology and not just updating old ones. In fact, some of their newer tech is so advanced as to be almost magical and the Dark Eldar actively go out to experiment and invent when they're not too busy going around torturing and enslaving.
    • The Tau, on the other hand, avert this entirely; as the naive upstart race they are constantly updating and upgrading their technology, seeking alliances with other species and generally acting entirely counter to the tone of the setting...unless you are foolish enough to get in their way. That said, a lot of their tech is inferior to the Imperium's, but the difference is they know how it works. An elite Astra Militarum weapons team relies on a techpriest to maintain their plasma gun and they're hosed if it breaks down; a T'au Pathfinder would never be allowed on the field without being able to field-strip his own rail rifle.
    • Also averted with da Orks. Most of their weapons technology lags well behind that of the other races of course, but they're astonishingly resourceful, constantly inventing ever crazier designs and incorporating other race's technology into their own, at times looting enemy vehicles and weaponry and "making it Orky". They cribbed teleporters and tractor beams off the Imperium only a few centuries ago and now, much to the Techpriest's chagrin, they can build them better than humanity can. Some reports from out of the Eastern Fringe imply they're even starting to get the hang of Tau technology.
  • This is a major element and theme throughout World of Darkness roleplaying games. Magic, monsters, heroes and spirits used to be greater in the old glory days. The game which relies on this trope most might be the Vampire games. Vampires being pretty much immortal have a lot of elders still alive and they benefit both from growing more powerful with age and from being just inherently more awesome because they were made in the olden days by vampires related closer to the first vampire. The supposed end of the world that may not be far off is predicted to be caused by the rise of all the most ancient and powerful vampires who are believed to be asleep.
  • The standard setting of Exalted is assumed to be the Second Age of Creation. Most of the best technology comes from the First Age. This is because the Solars, the most powerful of the Exalted, ruled Creation during the first age, and used their superhuman skills to create advanced Magitek wonders. After the weaker Dragon-Blooded killed the Solars and took control of Creation, they simply weren't able to keep up the kind of standards the Solars could. Because of the way reincarnation works in Exalted, a surprising number of young Solars get their best gear by raiding their own tombs, and many Second Age states, most notably the powerful city-state of Lookshy, have risen to power in whole or in part on how much First Age technology they've managed to scavenge and/or preserve.
  • Appears to be the case in Numenera, with a lot of high tech and/or magic left over in the remains of previous civilisations that can't be replicated, or often even understood, by people in the current time. However, it's somewhat subverted since there's no inherent reason for old things to be better, it's simply that civilisation has gone through several cycles of rise and fall, and the current one simply hasn't yet reached the heights of previous ones.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: Siberius, who owns a vast fortune, runs a second-hand antique shop to collect used objects to preserve the marks and memories of its owner, citing that the items and people become richer in experience and beauty as time goes on for them.
  • In Pokemon Scarlet, you meet prehistoric ancestors of present-day Pokemon, which are massively stronger than their descendants. (In the counterpart game Violet, you meet futuristic Pokemon instead so this trope doesn't apply.)
  • Assassin's Creed II and Brotherhood both feature this. Altair's centuries-old armor is better than all modern armor. Justified by it being made from a Precursor alloy. Ditto for Brutus' (as in Caesar's killer) armor, which is better than modern armor too, despite being even older. Similarly, Altair's sword and Brutus' dagger are better than their modern counterparts. And even in the Modern Era, the Pieces of Eden are the most powerful artifacts ever created - another example of ancient Precursor technology.
  • The win quotes for Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator 2nd have Bedman chastise Jam for believing in this trope.
    "Does it really matter that your kempo has existed for thousands of years? It seems quite anachronistic to associate the history of something with its effectiveness. I can trace back the history of modern humanity to about 200,000 years. If the length of history means anything, then your stone axe wielding brethren should be at the top of the food chain. I don't see anyone bragging about that..."
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Ancient Dwemer weapons and armor, despite their age, are still better than the majority of modern equivalents. Justified given the Ragnarök Proofing and Reality Warping that went into the items' creation. The Dwemer were said to alter the "Earth Bones," which were the parts of the Aedra that were used to create and define the laws of the world, in order to create their technologies, which have since been lost in the millennia since their mysterious disappearance. Skyrim's crafting system does allow for the "forging" and improving upon Dwemer gear using Dwemer metal, but it's implied that you're just melting down the already Ragnarok-Proofed metal and using it, not replicating exactly what the Dwemer did to create it initially.
    • While most games have some form of "Elven" equipment, Oblivion implies that it is actually the equipment of Cyrodiil's native Ayleids (Wild Elves) who, like the Dwemer, have been extinct as a unique race for thousands of years. It's a middle-tier light armor and weapon set, with only armors made of specifically rarer material, such as Glass, Ebony or Daedric Ebony, being better.
    • Skyrim's "ancient Nord" equipment plays with the trope. The Ancient Nord weapons that you find lying around in Nord burial mounds are weaker, heavier, and less valuable than even modern steel weapons. However, it is implied that weakness of the ancient Nord weapons and armor is because of decay from old age. If you complete the Companions' quest line, you gain access to techniques for reforging the ancient Nord weapons into brand spanking new (but otherwise identical) "Nord Hero" weapons and upgrading the ancient Nord armor, which makes them a viable late-game choice for equipment.
  • Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening has the Sentinel Armor Set, easily the best Massive Armor in the expansion. According to the lore, however, it belonged to the Grey Warden who killed the very first Archdemon over one thousand years ago.
    • Inverted in Dragon Age: Inquisition. You besiege an ancient fortress that turns out to be easier to break into because it was not built to withstand modern siege weapons.
  • In Diablo (and clones) all of the items with more obscure ancient names are for some reason better.
  • Runescape has a lot of equipment originating from thousands of years prior to the current year of the game and these are some of the best equipment available...usually. That said, this is justified as most of said equipment comes from the Third Age...which is also known as the God Wars. Since then, there not only hasn't been a global war that lasted five thousand years (in fact, both the Fourth and Fifth Ages combined were millennia shorter than that), but godly influence has been removed when the war was forcibly ended as a draw, meaning no new materials could be blessed by divine power until the Sixth Age.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, the pieces of the Antique Arms & Armory are the first pieces of equipment to hit the power ceiling, with each of them having 200 power. However, they also have drawback effects (most notably being Breakable Weapons) that make them Awesome, but Impractical. But then again, the stuff you can dig up at the bottom of the sea are all Infinity Plus One Swords, as are the pieces of the Legendary Regalia (old, powerful artifacts that have a connection to your class). So there are at least three examples here.
    • Parodied in the Slime Tube with 1950s clothing and toys that are nonetheless extremely powerful.
  • In Star Control II, the massive galaxy-dominating battleship was a repurposed artifact from The Precursors; most of the ultra-powerful devices are Precursor in origin.
  • In Sword of the Stars the player-buildable Asteroid Monitors introduced in Argos Naval Yard are inferior to the Randomly-encountered ones built by past Morrigi.
  • Chrono Trigger gear from 65,000,000 BC is better than most gear from the present, the middle ages, or even from the future. Though the game is not linear about this, following the storyline rather than specific timelines. That said, the trope Zig-Zags. For the most part, a lot of great gear can be found in the Atlantis equivalent era, which is in the future of 65,000,000 BC but the past relative to you, and some of the best gear can be made in the present once you acquire the appropriate materials, suggesting it's less that Older Is Better and more the past had better resources available.
  • Top-tier equipment (not just unique artifacts and relics) in the old Might and Magic setting (in particular on Enroth) tends towards the old, generally for one of three reasons: it was made with the help of the Heavenly Forge or otherwise by Ancient technology, it is so costly and complicated to make that most examples in existence are Ancestral, or it is made from materials no longer available, or at least very, very rare. Notably, however, it is made clear that technology and magic is being developed as the years pass, it's just that the above factors skews the perspective for the absolute top-tier equipment (and indeed there are a few cases of top-tier gear that are actually new).
  • In Shores of Hazeron, a 4X indie MMO, the galaxy was effectively ruled by the Toucans, a vast player-owned and populated empire, whose ships were beautifully designed and ridiculously powerful - they were one of the few empires with the resources to field Tech level 32 ships. When the Toucans collectively left, their ships became very valuable - players would plunder their abandoned planets and spacedocks to try and claim the ships and recover their design discs.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Defied with Wrex's ancestral armor in Mass Effect, which had been stolen from his family centuries ago. With all the trouble you go through to help him get it back, you'd probably expect it to be his best equipment. Instead, advancements in technology since it was originally made have rendered it completely obsolete, with Wrex himself even calling it "a piece of crap". He ends up keeping it anyway, but only for sentimental reasons.
    • In Mass Effect 3, the Prothean Particle Rifle will continuously fire until it overheats, at which point one has to wait until it cools down to fire, just like the guns in the first game. It seems the Protheans never thought of (or disliked) using disposable heat-sinks as ammo. It was explicitly stated to be a design chosen due to logistic problems.
  • In the Nasuverse, all things magical run on this principle. Servants from Fate/stay night gain strength with age and fame. Gilgamesh, being the oldest Heroic Spirit, uses this to compensate for being up against more famous Heroic spirits in both the Fourth Grail War and the Fifth Grail War. Not that he'd need it.
    • The boost his opponents get from being more popular, as Rin explains, is actually pretty insignificantnote , whereas being 1500 years older than any other spirit in the war is a gigantic boost to his power.
    • This also applies to Noble Phantasms which are based on a Plato's Idea of Form. In general, the older a Phantasm, and thus closer it is to the original conception. As a result an older Phantasm will defeat any similar Phantasm born from a newer iteration of the legend (e.g Gram, the Sword pulled from the Tree, of Norse Mythology is superior to Caliburn, the Sword in the Stone, of Arthurian lore). Gilgamesh possesses "prototypes"(Perfect Form) of all later Noble Phantasms, each one significantly stronger than its more well-known derivatives, with only a few exceptions.
    • This is actually a Nasuverse rule of magic in general. Creatures and magical artifacts also get stronger with age. A sufficiently aged magic sword can tear apart a modern mage's barrier simply by being drawn. A creature from the Age of the Gods, is so powerful they are consider on par with the Five True Magics. Older magus families are generally better magus families than newer ones; someone like Waver, whose family legacy is only two generations old, will never be as good as someone from a family whose legacy goes back much farther, like Rin's.
    • Subverted by Archer. He's technically the newest Heroic Spirit since he's from the future. While he's pretty weak stat-wise and would lose to the likes of Lancer or Saber in a straight-up physical confrontation, he's also arguably the most powerful Servant summoned in the Grail War since his "Noble Phantasm" is actually the ability to reproduce copies of various weapons he's seen throughout his life, including weapon-type Noble Phantasms with few exceptions. The nature of his powers also makes him the perfect counter to Gilgamesh.
    • Magic itself also follows this rule. Servant Caster, who lived in the Age of Gods (Ancient Greece), can use very powerful spells using few (and sometimes only one) word, while modern magic users need one minute to conjure magic of such power, it's no wonder that her "High-Speed Divine Words" skill is at A level. Even the exceptionally rare True Magic (which cannot be learned and only randomly crops up as the inherent trait of some lucky magus) can't compare to magic from the Age of Gods, as it tends to be extremely specialized whereas Caster can use her ancient magic for basically anything she pleases.
  • In Zork, one of the items you can find is an elvish sword "of great antiquity." Why does it glow when enemies are near, and still cut like the best blade you can find today? Because it's of great antiquity, that's why!
  • Fallout: After the nuclear war that almost wiped out civilization, pre-War technology (plasma rifles, power armor, and so forth) is highly sought-after and usually much better than what you'll find in the hands of raiders and psychos. But it's not the technology that's been lost so much as the means to produce it—hard to make power armor when you don't have access to anything more sophisticated than a hammer. When factions get large enough and powerful enough to build new technology, it's usually on par with the pre-War stuff in the cases of the NCR's industrial capacity by the time of New Vegas.
    • Usually. Fallout Tactics and Fallout 4 shows that the Brotherhood of Steel have the means to construct airships despite the state of post-War America but still rely on pre-War vehicles. The Institute zigzag this: they can and have made robots and synthetic humans that can pass off as normal people and even synthetic gorillas but the problem is that the robots are often more dim than pre-War robots and the laser pistols and rifles they are given are actually bigger and fire weaker shots than pre-War laser weapons, like those used by the Brotherhood of Steel.
    • Exaggerated in Fallout 3 where despite the presence of plasma weapons, miniguns, laser rifles and mini-nuke launchers, one of the best Small Guns is a lever-action rifle from the 1860's that belonged to Abraham Lincoln. It has high damage and is one of the few weapons in the game to have zero bullet spread, though the relative rarity of its .44 Magnum ammo makes it slightly impractical in the early game. Honorable mention goes to Ol' Painless, the unique hunting rifle, which similarly has zero spread despite being an old bolt-action rifle with no sights and rusty metal parts that would fall apart if it wasn't for duct-tape and prayers.
    • The Enclave avert it by making substantial use of technology that wasn't in production as of the Great War including certain Plasma weapons and their X-01 power armour. Even in the timeframe of the series they're making improvements, including the X-02 Tesla and X-03 Hellfire power armours.
  • Dragon Ball Online, it is said each generation of Majins is weaker than the last, the first one and its variations being a universal threat, the current ones being as weak as Nameks and hybrids. This being a Dragon Ball game, the inferior Majins can still increase their power through training, one of the first/second generation Majins can be sought out to help in the process.
  • In Ground Control II: Operation Exodus, as massive Terran Empire fleet is in orbit of the last free Northern Star Alliance planet, Morningstar Prime, with the remaining NSA cities and forces withstanding daily Orbital Bombardment and constant invasion attempts. Then NSA scientists discover the location of the CSS Astrid, a 300 hundred year old cruiser left over from the heyday of the Crayven Corporation (one of the galactic powers destroyed by the Empire centuries ago). The Astrid turns out to be large enough to evacuate much of the remaining population of Morningstar Prime, and her shields are strong enough to withstand the combined firepower of the Terran fleet for hours. One wonders what the ship could have done, if her weapons were still functional. It seems the outer colonies were not the only ones who underwent technological regression of those centuries.
  • Intentionally averted in Final Fantasy II. As this article reports, a programmer deliberately made Ultima, the legendary ancient magic, completely useless, saying that:
    "All of that legendary stuff, it dates back to an age that didn’t even have proper techniques. If you were to look at such things now in the present’s point-of-view, it would be natural that they look inferior. For this reason, it’s a given that Ultima’s abilities would be bad."
  • Fear & Hunger has the Old Gods be much stronger than the New Gods. This is notable in Ending A, where you bring the Young Girl to the location where she ascends to become the God of Fear and Hunger. She's notable in that despite being a New God who was only just born, she has power to rival the Old Gods.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the ancient Sheikah technology that is 10,000 years old is more advanced compared to the Medieval Stasis of everything else. Long ago, it had been deemed as a potential threat to the safety of Hyrule and further development was prohibited, but their technology remains scattered around the land.
    • And Sheikah technology turns out to be peanuts compared to Zonai tech in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which lets Link fuse power into his weapons and gives him access to rockets, cannons, lasers and the ability to construct full-on battle tanks and flying machines.
  • In the Trails Series, technology from the Ancient Zemurian civilization tends to be superior to that used by modern-day Zemurians. Artifacts produce much more powerful effects than orbments, and the Ancient Zemurians were capable of working with Zemurian Ore to a much higher degree, which means they produced much better weapons. This ends up being subverted, however, in the case of the lost Sept-Terrion of Mirage. The attempt to create a replacement in the modern day resulted in the Sept-Terrion of Zero, which was just as capable as the original and even had additional abilities.
  • Averted in Halo with the Arbiter's original armor which is the traditional armor worn by the Arbiters that came before him, making it ancient and extremely out of date. Unlike his comrades who can cloak almost indefinitely, his armor can only cloak for a few seconds and takes a long time to recharge. This is done intentionally by the Prophets since the purpose of the Arbiter is to get them killed in battle as they are often Elites who are capable and politically dangerous and pose a threat to the Prophets.
  • Cyberpunk 2077: Zigzagged with Rache Bartmoss' deck. A lot of netrunners are very keen to take a look at the legendary work of the man who destroyed the internet, but find most off the stuff on there disappointing, which is understandable, given that Bartmoss has been dead for decades and netrunning has moved on. However, some of Bartmoss' software works on basic princples that are very different from those that became mainstream, and suggest some very tantalizing ways to do things that no-one's thought of.

    Web Comics 
  • Played with in this Flintlocke cartoon:
    Kathrena: "Flintlocke, I don't know if this quest you found for the ultimate goblin engineered weapon is legitimate. It's written in crayon."
    Flintlocke: "ANCIENT crayon!"
  • Yehuda Moon & the Kickstand Cyclery The titular Yehuda Moon is a very traditional cyclist, to the point where he almost worships the Luddite-centric Lauderblumenthal Leaflet.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: At some point, the exploration crew stumbles upon some hints that a cure for The Plague may have been discovered Just Before the End, but failed to make it to any of the current remaining pockets of civilization. Upon hearing the news, Siv sums up what the trope looks like from the perspective of the people working on the newer version of the thing:
    Siv: Are you saying that anything they find would be better than what we currently have, since the last half a century of research has been an utter waste of time and my job has been pointless. [...] Because that would be correct.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Subverted quickly in "Your Father's Sword", also Deconstructed Trope for Ancestral Weapon: an old sword made with old technology just sucks.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: Hop Pop's outlook on life is very much based around traditional values, and thus many episodes often have his views clash with Anne's newer, more modern ways.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Zigzagged. The First Ones left behind ancient technology that can be used for horrific destruction on a scale that even the true leader of the Horde envies. However, the underlying systems for activating it are also ancient and his own technology has long since surpassed it, meaning that he can reverse-engineer a means of utilizing the weapon as soon as he gets control of it which makes him much more dangerous and difficult to stop.
  • Star Wars Rebels both plays it straight and averts it. The Rebellion often has to salvage pieces of Clone Wars-era technology to help gear up for their fight against the Empire. While vehicles such as the old Republic's AT-TE are hopelessly outmatched by their newer counterpart the AT-AT, Rex's old 1st generation clone trooper armor constantly shows itself superior to the newer stormtrooper armor.
  • Steven Universe
  • ThunderCats (1985):
    • In "Pumm-Ra", Mumm-Ra is poking around Cats Lair in disguise. He's trying to open the lock on a door, and muses, "Ah, a very ancient lock design, unknown on Third Earth for a thousand years. Unknown, that is, except to one who has lived for a thousand years!"
    • Mumm-Ra's transformation sequence implies that, despite being a thousand years old, he gets his powers from statues called the "Ancient Spirits of Evil" who are even older.

    Real Life 
  • Both averted in Real Life or Truth in Television depending on the technology involved. As technology has marched on, one of the most significant differences has been the change from human labor being cheap and materials being expensive to materials being cheap and human labor being expensive. When metal, fabrics and polymers were just this side of Unobtainium the consumer would not only want something that could last, but also something that could be easily repaired. When labourers were literally a dime a dozen and worked 18 hour shifts it was simple to provide all those little things that would ensure good quality. Today, technology has allowed materials like aluminum and plastics to replace (possibly) more durable wood and steel and replaced hand craftsmanship with cheap mass fabrication.
    • Is most often averted where new materials have allowed for massive increases in reliability or strength like solid state electronics or anything that goes into an automotive drivetrain.
    • Weapons, in particular, have changed over the years; prior to the late 1800s, handguns were 'hand-crafted', as it were, by well-practiced and highly-skilled gunsmiths. The major downside was that a gunslinger couldn't visit just any gunsmith to repair a broken weapon; the hand-manufactured parts were specific to the particular weapon being repaired, and wouldn't fit in another gun (often, they wouldn't even fit into a new gun made by the same gunsmith).
  • One of the reasons for the prevalence of this trope is the appearance of the "throw away culture" where new products are built with lesser durability or with a set "shelf life" in comparison to their older counterparts to stimulate consumption. This becomes a greater problem for the people of countries that are not from the First World for whom buying a car or a fridge is already a costly investment and would prefer reliability over novelty.
    • To elaborate, planned obsolescence is an idea that caught on (in the United States) in the thirties through fifties. The idea came about after several companies in the roaring twenties went belly up in the thirties (helping cause the depression) because their own reliable products killed any possibility of repeat business. Manufactures then wizened up and decided they didn't need to make products that last forever, only until they become unfashionable (which to be fair also made them affordable to more people). Thus its not rare to find some refrigerators from the early fifties still happily ticking away after decades of minimal maintenance while seeing fridges from the nineties doing the same is comparatively rare. However it should be noted this is starting to be subverted as the proliferation of used car dealerships and sites like e-bay assisting second hand sales has created a market for new reliable machines. Some manufacturers are starting to catch on, and have begun marketing their products on the basis that the buyer could recap a significant portion of their investment selling the product secondhand.
  • While normally it's expected for products to generally incrementally improve, sometimes the opposite happens. Though economic circumstances, the desire for greater returns, incompetence in management, internal drama, or low motivation can result in a product with substantially lower quality or quality assurance.
  • Wine and spirits improve with age, at least according to the connoisseurs who drink them. However, after enough time they become undrinkable. Wine will decay into vinegar (literally "sour wine").
  • According to many musicians, the sound produced by cord instruments takes on a noticeably different timbre if they were constructed a very long time ago. The aging of the wood changes the dampening profile of the resonating chamber. This is one reason Stradivarius violins are so sought-after: Not only was Antonio Stradivari a highly skilled craftsman, but his violins are now over three centuries old. Additionally, it is thought that Stradivari's primary source of material for his more famous violins may have been cold-preserved wood from ruins that were already at least hundreds of years old, making this a real-life Exaggerated Trope.
    • Analysis of Stradivarius violins' output has shown that the modern violins that most closely match the wave form and envelope of those ancient instruments are mass-produced student models. Modern artisan violins, held to be the finest currently produced, have very different outputs.
    • A double blind test revealed that the Stradivarius violins are not quite as superior to modern top-drawer violins.
  • Newer technology often depends on certain assumptions and can be ineffective or even useless outside of that context. This can result in having "obsolete" technology used in places where new technology fares poorly or kept around as a backup. See Rock Beats Laser.
    • The US military phased out pack animals in the 1950s, only to be reminded that wheels are poorly suited to the rugged terrain found in areas of Afghanistan. In 2004, the US Army printed Special Forces Use of Pack Animals, which "captures some of the expertise and techniques that have been lost...over the last 50 years."
      • The same happened back in WWII. Cavalry were among the Soviet troops who gave the Germans the most trouble in the early stages after control and logistics were lost. In the short term, they needed only machine gun / rifle ammo and food, and horses are good for bad terrain and can graze with zero logistical consideration in lush terrain. In comparison, Soviet heavy tanks were by far the most powerful of their time, but without directions and supply, got reduced to lonely light fortifications holding a tiny spot until they ran out of shells — at best.
    • Single engine propeller-driven ground attack/fighters are making a comeback, even with the United States Air Force. Although slower and lower-flying than jets, the prop planes have much more loiter capability, allowing them to hang around an area for hours and making them useful in dealing with insurgents or drug producers/smugglers. And a slower aircraft is easier to fire from accurately if your opponent has lacking ability to fire back at the easier target.
    • This is why spacecraft always use laughably outdated computer hardware and software for mission-critical systems. Familiarity and reliability become far more important than raw power when a computer is thousands or millions of miles away from the nearest technical support or where any kind of servicing would be completely impossible as on automated probes.
    • During the February 2014 Crimean takeover, Russian army forces switched almost entirely to using messengers instead of radio for communication. Western intelligence agencies were completely fooled and taken by surprise, as they had seen no increase in radio activity just before the invasion.
  • Some guitarists still prefer tube amplifiers over transistor amplifiers because of the (supposedly) warmer and more organic output of the tube amp.
    • This extends to audiophile equipment in general, solid-state and vacuum tube alike; a vintage amp or integrated receiver from the 1970s is generally considered better than most of the cost-reduced equipment from the 1980s and later, often with fully-discrete components as opposed to integrated circuits, and perfectly smooth, damped volume and tuner knobs. The particularly expensive stuff like McIntosh gear even held its value remarkably well over the decades, especially if serviced for components that tend to drift out of spec over time, such as electrolytic capacitors.
      • Ultimately a Zig-Zagged Trope in terms of peak audio performance; you can get equipment today that sonically blows away vintage equivalents, especially speakers, from a sheer fidelity standpoint, but Crack is Cheaper compared to just buying top-of-the-line equipment from the 1970s, even if the increasing awareness of vintage audio value has driven prices up for systems made in that period, particularly by brands like Marantz, Pioneer and Sansui.
  • The vinyl LP record is still preferred over Compact Discs and other digital musical formats by connoisseurs, although the Loudness War carries equal blame.
  • Hardware synthesizers, especially analog ones, are often perceived as superior to software; analog equipment, in particular, is often described as having sound that is described with measures like "warm", "fat", "organic", "full", and other wizardry which no original synth designer have ever thought about. Rule of Perception, applied to analog synthesizers with a lot of knobs to turn and to shape sound in real time, leads to some people outright refusing to believe that the modern top-tier analog modeling software synthesizers like Diva, controlled by a good MIDI controller with any amount of knobs imaginable, are able to easily surpass their instruments, especially if they paid good money for them - vintage analog synthesizers can be extremely expensive.
    • Digital synthesizers are also a good example of this trope: originally, in the 70-80's, when digital synthesis was invented, it was presented as a more precise and clean alternative to analog. Then the flaws of early digital synthesizers were found, namely, too sterile sound with less character than analog. Nowadays, Technology Marches On, and digital synthesis is able not to imitate analog synthesizers - ranging from cheap-sounding knockoffs to the sound that is even better than hardware - but also to improve the quality of digital synthesis as a whole, inventing new synthesizers (or improving the old ones) and pushing their possibilities to the skies with post-production and more resources to spend. Yet, by the Nostalgia Filter, some people tend not to notice this, complaining that digital synthesis is still all the same, like it's never been researched further, and by the same Rule of Perception, some people are still obsessed by the low-bitrate vintage digital synthesizers or new hardware models like Waldorf Blofeld.
  • Cathode Ray Tube displays may be bulky, heavy, incredibly power-inefficient and require some analog tweaking to get right, but they also do not have the viewing angle issues modern Liquid Crystal Displays do, as well as much deeper black levels (and improved static contrast as a result), much lower image persistence due to their strobing nature, practically zero input lag, higher refresh rates than the typical 60 Hz flat-panel (with the best examples topping out at 160 to 180 Hz at lower resolutions!), and unlike any other display technology, they do not have native resolutions or strictly square pixels. This makes the humble old CRT the ideal choice for any retro computer or gaming console made with its properties in mind.
    • Consider that a Sony GDM-FW900 monitor is still considered one of the best PC gaming monitors in existence even a decade and a half after its production, with people still willing to pay top dollar for a working one because it's also one of the few instances of a widescreen CRT monitor with the performance of a professional graphics display. Aside from space, power consumption, and the missing VGA output on modern graphics cards making it difficult to extract the most out of its performance (driving 1920x1200 at 95 Hz requires a fast RAMDAC beyond what a typical DisplayPort or HDMI to VGA adapter can offer), it is the closest to a "no compromise" display that one could ask for.
    • Also consider that for the above-stated reasons, the Super Smash Bros. Melee community insists on CRT displays for playing at a competitive level. The Fighting Game Community in general is more tolerant of modern flat-panel displays so long as the input lag is below 16ms (under one frame at a 60 Hz refresh rate), but some will still favor a CRT if given the choice.
    • Even for just watchinging TV, CRTs show that even in cases where the new is near universally considered better, sometimes there are a few advantages that the older technology possessed. For just watching videos, digital TV usually runs circles around analog TV. Digital is more compact, has an order of magnitude better resolutionnote , less artifacts in the picture, and are inherently easier to use with digital devices than analog. However, in two ways digital has worse viewing angles. Analog TVs inherently have to have a convex curve in order to work, which makes them easier to clearly watch from more areas of the room. Digital has a relatively narrow band of optimal viewing angle before glare gets nasty and it’s hard to see anything. Furthermore, it was common to mount analog TVs on lazy suzans and orient them as needed. This hasn't been as common on digital TVs since, counterintuitively, the lighter nature of the devices makes them easy to fall over and break. Nearly nobody who has a digital TV would trade theirs for an analog one for this advantage, but there was some questioning why convex digital TVs aren't made when manufacturers released digital concave screens.
  • Many photographers never use the full automatic mode when transitioning from film camera to digital. They achieve better results on manual modenote  - they are used to it and can use it to obtain best results. They also favor their extant old lenses, which are usually metal, glass and built to last, over more modern all-plastic lenses, which are lighter but less robust.
    • Full automatics usually are set to "discernible in most possible cases" which by definition is suboptimal for specific cases, so even an operator with small experience can do better. People who worked with a film camera tend to at least understand what aperture, shutter and focal depth do, even if the sensor is not the same. While people who come from cellphone cams / webcams and other "soapboxes" with pinprick aperture didn't see the differences obvious with any halfway good lenses and usually need a lot of experiments to "feel" the optics.
    • Vintage lenses are usually so well-built, and yet so affordable second-hand that it's not unheard for people to adapt them to modern digital camera bodies. This does require giving up the convenience of auto-focus, as that did not become commonplace until the late 1980s, but they can still hold their own in terms of optical quality. Manual-focus lenses also tend to have much better-built adjustment rings, with solid detents for aperture adjustment and focus rings that are smooth, damped, and easy to dial in just right.
  • People will often hold on to antiques for this very reason. Some feel that antiques are better made (older cars or refrigerators with all metal parts are more durable than modern plastic), look better (houses are built with brick or wooden logs to give it a more "rustic" feel), or more versatile (an old wind-up alarm clock or typewriter won't cause as much of a headache during a power outage.)
    • The quality or durability idea is in many cases completely mythical. As materials and precise manufacturing improve, something doing the same job may be able to keep doing it much longer with less maintenance. It wasn't until the 1980s that cars gained a 6th digit on their odometers because that was when they started regularly lasting past 100 000km/mi.
    • In other cases it may be perfectly justified. As an example, fully functional refrigerators from the 50's and 40's are still widely available due to what may be superior construction vs modern designs. While they may be less energy-efficient than the modern competition, it can be argued that the extra electricity costs are more than offset by not having to replace expensive parts (or entire units) on a regular basis.
      • The latter is one of the prime reasons for new models: governments requiring more energy efficiency for environmental reasons. Cars especially have constantly increasing mileage targets to meet with the amount of energy in a gallon of gasoline remaining the same. So cars have to get smaller and lighter (while still maintaining crash standards), requiring the use of less metal and rubber and more plastic parts.
    • In some cases this is an illusion caused by Survivorship Bias. Old, well maintained items may appear to indicate higher quality because they have been well maintained.
  • Modernist architecture is universally considered to be inferior to that of the past centuries because of practical problems the Modernist buildings tend to have: Modernist buildings often suffer from sick building syndrome, excessive molding, poor ventilation, mildew issues, water seeping in, heating issues, and also Modernist buildings tend to weather easily, because of "revolutionary" construction techniques and features like flat roofs with no eaves combined with cost-cutting. Especially Le Corbusier buildings tend to be Awesome, but Impractical. In Germany, Altbauten (pre-WWII buildings) are favoured over Neubauten (post-WWII buildings). Bilingual Bonus applies to the band name Einstürzende Neubauten.
    • Although taste is subjective, many think modern architecture and decor are cosmetically inferior to more traditional forms. A common critique is that modern decor does not blend well with non-modern elements or messes, so you will have to buy all modern furniture and always keep a tidy home. And, to many, the result is a cold, hard-edged, emotionless pile of contemptible trendiness. This is perhaps most notorious when you compare the amount of details and variations in the designs used for public buildings or monumental structures in the early years of the past century in comparison with the more simpler types of buildings of today.
    • Prior to the proliferation of computers in the late fifties and sixties, it was considerably cheaper to over engineer projects than it was to hire someone to do advanced calculations to save building material. As a result many older structures are ridiculously strong by modern standards. An often cited example is the comparison between Hoover Dam and the Three Gorges Dam. The Hoover Dam was built in the 30s without access to computers or the same technology as the later and used a more complicated design. It hasn't cracked yet. The Three Gorges Dam however was engineered to be built quickly and use as little concrete as was needed. As was expected, it formed several non-critical cracks even though its just a long pile of cement.
  • Older appliances tended to follow a Difficult, but Awesome mindset while newer top of the line ones are something of a Skillgate Character. Your grandparents drier operated on one motor controlled by a completely analog dials. It takes a lot of trial, error, and practice but they would have learned how to use it and gotten consistent results from it and expected it to last a life time. The modern drier however has several servos thrown in to articulate the drum, thermometers, multiple scales to detect weight distribution, humidity sensors, and a digital computer to control everything. It can deal with whatever mess you haphazardly throw in it pretty well, but after a few years or so something has probably started to fail and you won't get as good results when you try to learn what all those fancy settings actually do. While most users accept the convenience the modern option offers, there is a reason older generations can legitimately say theirs was better.
    • In a particularly notable (and a Real Life example of They Don't Make Them Like They Used To) example, the dryer's close cousin, the washing machine, has been hit very hard with the degrading production quality. Pretty much every single person who has used an older machine with an electromechanical timer will say they preferred the mechanics over the circuit boards in newer machines, and for good reason. Older machines were built to last - you can find machines that are on average 40 to 50 years old and still run almost perfectly with only minor fix ups, and there were cases of automatic washing machines dating back to 1937 (i.e. the very first automatic washers ever produced) that were in almost mint condition! Another big problem (besides the retirement of the mechanical timers) are the new ecology regulations - while they are (arguably) a smart proposal, the implementation of eco cycles ranges from decent to abysmal - the new spray nozzle systems that add water to the drum have been decried as faulty and absurdly disfunctional compared to the classic water pump systems, as people have stated that the nozzles simply don't wetten the clothes enough (y'know, the basic point of a washing machine?) and cause moulding which may result in various negative health effects.
  • Wood quality often works this way for many reasons. Primarily, it is because the older a tree is, the harder its wood usually is; olive trees, for example, can grow rather quickly under the right conditions, but the wood takes quite a bit longer to become usable. The second part of this is that, in modern times, tree farming has become a popular alternative to conventional logging. Trees grown this way are of species that grow quickly in nature, which is accelerated even more at a farm; this growth rate makes the wood fairly soft. Lastly, a lot of the best quality trees for wood have gone extinct or become prohibitively rare, or are protected. For example, it used to be common to use chestnut wood for everything in the US because it was plentiful, strong, and cosmetically appealing, however invasive beetles have now nearly obliterated American chestnut forests.
  • Hand tools for wood work such as axes, hand saws, chisels, hand drills, bar clamps, and bench planes tend to be of higher quality if they were made in the late 19th or early 20th century. These used to be marketed to professionals who were making huge numbers of houses, cabinets, and pieces of furniture, and they were willing to pay good prices for their tools to be sharp, accurate, easily adjustable, and durable. Then came the rising tide of electric drills, table saws, band saws, jointers, thickness planers, routers, etc. which greatly reduced demand for hand tools in the trades because they made work so much faster. A lot of companies went out of business, while a few giants like Stanley and Irwin decided to cut costs in order to stay in business, trading on their brand reputation from the past to sell hobbyists inferior versions of their old products. The role of thumb is that you shouldn’t buy a vintage hand plane made after the 1950s. Since then we’ve seen something of a hand tool renaissance, and modern companies like Lie-Nielsen and Veritas make new premium models that are in many ways even better than the originals thanks to modern steel and machining, but they are quite expensive and don’t have the same historical appeal. On one hand, people getting into the hobby will often be advised to hunt for deals on "fixer upper" antique tools that would work very well iF restored, and on the other hand you’ve got the collectors (mainly of planes) who will pay huge sums for rare antique models in good condition.
  • Frequently encountered in software. There can be numerous reasons behind this - featuritis could render a more recent version impractical compared to an earlier one that was deft and focused in its design, or perhaps the developers behind the original software moved on and the quality of future versions suffered as a result of their design philosophies clashing with that of new staff in charge of a project, or a drastic change in design direction makes transferring to a new version more of a hassle than it's worth, sometimes newest versions actually cut useful features because of perceived unpopularity...
    • For a well-known example, remember how many people stuck with XP when Vista was released, due to the latter's notoriously slow technical performance and Useful Uselessnote  Aero features. This repeated with the release of Windows 8.
    • There are communities known for a devoted preference to the Classic Apple Macintosh OS as opposed to the more modern, NeXTSTEP-derived Mac OS X/macOS, particularly those in need of a Digital Audio Workstation without the distractions and potential sources of latency that a preemptive multi-tasking OS would bring. It's for this exact reason that a late-model Quicksilver or Mirrored Drive Doors Power Mac G4 holds its value a lot better than the later Power Mac G5 - aside from the G5s being infamously prone to failure over the years, often a result of being ill-suited to dispersing the heat output of the PowerPC 970 G5, they cannot run the Classic Mac OS natively, and the Classic mode in OS X up through 10.4 Tiger (10.5 Leopard removed it) is not an adequate substitute.
    • An even more extreme case that blends into hardware choice is the Commodore Amiga user base, as they often equip their vintage Commodore-era Amigas with PowerPC accelerator cards, or sometimes pick out specific PowerPC boards (Macs need not apply), just for the sole purpose of running AmigaOS 4.1 as opposed to switching over to Windows, macOS or Linux like the rest of the world.
  • Retrofuturists and followers of the Raygun Gothic Styles. They prefer older depictions of the future for the campy character over comparatively dull and clinical modern technical visions.
  • When the M16 assault rifle was introduced during the Vietnam War, many soldiers preferred to use the older M14 battle rifle. While the M16's lighter direct-impingement gas system would require less frequent cleaning than the gas-piston in the M14, some severe admin errors caused A. the guns were manufactured with the wrong propellant note  causing even more fouling and B. army brass believing in manufacturer's claims of the M16 being "self-cleaning", so no cleaning kits were issued. Combined with humid, muddy jungle conditions, you have a very unreliable weapon. These teething problems weere rectified and the system further improved in subsequent versions, with the M16A1 being a significant improvement as the war progressed and the M16A4 serving as the Marine Corps' service rifle until 2015.
    • This occurred again when the Beretta 92F (as M9) replaced the M1911A1 as the standard side arm of the US military. Early Berettas suffered from a slide failure that could injure the shooter and damage the pistol (this was rectified in subsequent models with the 92FS). When the gun was taken into combat for Iraq and Afghanistan, there were was significant dissatisfaction about it's stopping power. In 2015 the US Army officially rejected continuation of the Beretta, and is now on course for another sidearm, eventually finding it in the 9x19mm SIG P320. In the spirit of this trope, there's talk of bringing back the M1911A1 using modern materials.
    • The M16 and the Beretta aren't the only firearms to fall afoul of this trope:
      • The German G36 has a serious problem with overheating (the rifle's plastic shell is reputed to become severely warped from firing two full magazines back-to-back in full-auto). By contrast, the battle rifle it replaced, the all-metal G3, didn't. Because of that, some German soldiers prefer their older G3s over the G36. Though the problem was eventually fixed, politicians naturally insisted on replacing the rifle.
    • During the Soviet-Afghan a lot of Soviet troops complained that their newer AK-74 wasn't as good as the older model, the infamous AKM (a simplified and slightly revamped version of the venerable AK-47). However testing proved that this was mostly due to a "grass is greener" mindset. The 74 is more accurate, easier to use, and lighter. A soldier simply remembers every time his gun jams in combat and rarely notices when an enemy's does.
  • In the civilian gun industry, a lot of countries have what's called the grandfather clause, where gun control legislation doesn't apply to any gun first sold before the legislation was enacted. This means a lot of older guns in circulation have nifty little features that can't be sold on modern guns.
  • Nuclear reactors still almost exclusively use analog controls and instruments, and the few that do use any digital systems always have analog back ups. Analog controls work without power and can't be hacked.
  • Harley-Davidson products are often derided as being technologically behind, though in truth the technology has developed frequently; the bike on the showroom floor today is not (depending on circumstances) the same bike your grandfather rode during the Second World War, which in turn was not the same bike that first sputtered to life in 1903. You may like new Japanese or European motorcycles for their modern appearance, but there is a reason there is no such culture built up around Honda as there is around Harley-Davidson. Many prefer older engines or models, convinced of their superiority despite all evidence to the contrary. One female rider was constantly harassed by her younger brother over her choice to ride a modern Harley powered by an Evo engine, while he still rode a Shovelhead-powered bike. One day she brought another Evo rider home, who averted the trope by stopping the tirade with a tale of how he had had to tow the Shovel-riding brother home with his Evo, after the Shovelhead had broken down...
  • After the Sony Pictures hack in 2014, the studio started switching back to fax machines for communications, as these were far more secure than email systems that could be hacked into.
  • Strangely enough, this is true for the Wright brothers' prototype airplane. The original version of their plane worked fine and the flight times could be improved with enough practice. On one of the anniversaries of the first flight, a replica was made of the plane and turned out to be completely unable to take to the sky. No one is quite sure why, but it probably means that the brothers left some important bit out of the blueprints.
  • A number of irrigation manufacturers, such as Rain Bird and Toro, still produce impact sprinklers despite gear driven heads having almost entirely taken over the market since the 1980s. The reason being that these older heads perform better in hard water (due to lack of gears) and can be fine-tuned to have near perfect coverage, so they are often used to solve brown spots in lawns with irregularly spaced heads.
    • Older style electro-mechanical irrigation timers (which have been entirely supplanted by digital ones) routinely sell online for hundreds of dollars. Rain Bird's RC series in particular have a reputation for being virtually indestructible, with 50-year-old units working as well today as they did when they were new.
  • Many filmmakers, particularly Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino, have extolled the superiority of large-format analog film to the digital 4K systems that are now prevalent. Anyone who has seen a Nolan production in IMAX 70mm can attest to this - it has an equivalent resolution of roughly 18K and a vastly expanded color and contrast palette.