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Place Before Time

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The beginning of the universe is usually seen the beginning of everything. In Speculative Fiction, that's not always the case. Sometimes the universe/multiverse we know is the most recently reality, and that another universe/multiverse existed before it did. This previous reality was usually destroyed, but some, usually if they're Another Dimension, still exist. Sometimes it's implied that when the current universe ends, a new one will come about.

Similar to Place Beyond Time in that it exists before our current universe, but time and/or life in some form still existed. While it might involve a Primordial Chaos, one does not strictly imply the other, as a Place Before Time can be just as orderly as the current universe. The inhabitants can range from eldritch abominations to having unique abilities due to following different laws of physics to being no different from the current life in the universe.

Not to be confused with The Land Before Time. See also Caused the Big Bang.


Comic Books

  • DC Comics occasionally hints at the idea of a universe before the main one.
  • Plays an important part of Galactus's backstory. He was originally a scientist called Galen from a dying universe, and ended up merging with the consciousness of that universe. He ended up living through the new Big Bang and emerged as the Planet Eater we all know. The Ultimates (2015) expands on this by revealing the current multiverse is the seventh (or eighth after Secret Wars (2015)) iteration, with Galactus' universe being sixth. The true Big Bad, the First Firmament, is the original reality and wants to re-establish himself as reality once more.


Live Action Series

  • Doctor Who: In "The Satan Pit", The Beast claims to have been sealed away by the Disciples of Light before the current universe exists, though the Doctor doesn't believe this.

Mythology And Religion

  • Aztec Mythology: The Five Suns creation story has it that there were four worlds before the current one, each with their own sun god. The previous suns and worlds were destroyed, and the current sun will end with an earthquake unless Human Sacrifice keeps it at bay.
  • Some interpretations of The Bible believe that God created Heaven before He created Earth/the physical realm, making Heaven a Place Before Time. Lucifer's rebellion usually takes place before Earth's creation or after the seventh day where God rests. Other interpretations view Heaven is a Place Beyond Time instead, much like God Himself.


  • In Homestuck, the beta kids' universe is created through events in the trolls' universe, so the former is a Place Beyond Time with respect to the latter and the trolls are able to send messages to the humans at any point in the humans' timeline.

Western Animation

  • Adventure Time: Similar to the Dark Tower, the Lich states that before time or even the nothingness preceding existence, reality was an endless expanse of monsters and other eldritch horrors. It's heavily implied he was one of these, and it's confirmed that Orgalorg/Gunther is a survivor of this era.
  • Futurama:
    • "The Day The Earth Stood Stupid": Nibbler reveals that he's a member of the ancient Nibblonian race, whose species emerged 17 years before the Big Bang. Their arch-enemy, the Brainspawn, showed up the millisecond after the Big Bang.
    • "The Beast with a Billion Backs": Yivo states that shklee was alone in shkler own electromatter universe for a trillion years, then heard the Big Bang occur. The tear in reality from time travel abuse allows proper contact with the main universe.
    • "The Late Phillip J. Fry": Professor Farnsworth invents a one-way time machine which he, Bender and Fry accidentally travel to the year 10,000, and plan on travelling to a point where a backwards-time machine is invented. When this fails and they decide to watch the end of the universe, it turns out that a new universe identical to the previous comes into being so they just keep going forward to their "present". This would make every episode set before it a Place Before Time (twice over, in fact) to every episode after, and that there was an identical universe before that.
  • Gravity Falls: Bill Cipher originates from a two-dimensional, Flatland-like universe over a trillion years ago and long before the main universe came to be. He ended up "liberating" it by burning it to the ground and has been hopping across realities ever since.

Real Life

  • One of the theories for how the Big Bang came to be, the Big Bounce theory, posits that the universe expands, eventually collapses in on itself and rebounds again in a cyclical model. If true, it means that there have been universes before the current one and after as well, in an infinite cycle. It is the happier alternative to the heat death of the universe.