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Ragnarök Proofing

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Crane rated to hold 1.7 tons for 9.2 centuries.

"[It] Takes a Licking and keeps on Ticking"
Old Timex Wristwatch Slogan

It is, understandably, common in post-apocalyptic fiction to show the ruins of society. However, despite being set several decades, or even centuries or millennia After the End, the remains of the pre-cataclysm society are still in remarkably preserved condition. Buildings and objects may have a lot of dust and dirt on them, and vegetation is overgrown, but they haven't fallen apart due to neglect. Furthermore, any pre-cataclysm devices or vehicles that the characters find will work just fine.

If only one thing inexplicably survives, such as in a Time Travel or Earth All Along setting, it's known as The Constant.

This trope can be justified, in small doses, since there is an expensive way to render any metal rust-proof the same way that platinum is — one could assume that these relics have survived because of a similar process and the chemicals used in it are breaking down, allowing the relics to decay in places where the treatment faded first. This trope is also justified when dealing with advanced alien technology, as such technology may not necessarily decay as the same rate as modern Earth technology.

Societies with Ragnarok Proofing will allow a Scavenger World to exist, using Schizo Tech from many different time periods. Precursors frequently build like this — though usually the main effect is limited to the collective awe of upstart civilizations stumbling on their artifacts long after they became extinct or moved on.

The term Ragnarok (Ragnarök) originates from Norse Mythology where it means "Destiny of the Gods"; although in modern consciousness it's better known as "Twilight of the Gods" and associated with The End of the World as We Know It, largely due to a certain German composer by the name of Richard Wagner.

A subtrope of Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale, Older Is Better and/or They Don't Make Them Like They Used To. See also Durable Deathtrap, Apocalypse Not, Apocalyptic Logistics, In Working Order, Absurdly Dedicated Worker and Never Recycle a Building. See Indestructible Edible for the food version and Gasoline Lasts Forever for the fuel version.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita and the Galaxy Super-express has the titular express crashing on an abandoned mining planet, after having it's power source sabotaged by a possessed Ashton. But luckily for the heroes, the mining planet, despite being unused for decades, still have functioning facilities and a warehouse containing edible food. There's also a second, perfectly functioning express train hidden in one of the tunnels, which later comes in handy for the heroes to use for escaping.
  • 7 Seeds:
    • Downplayed with locations like the Ryugu Shelter or a nearby subway station. The former looks aged, but still has working electricity and speakers and is treated as decently sturdy. On the other hand, the smallest of errors can easily cause the entire structure to fall apart. And the latter's train looks pristine, but is so badly corroded and affected by prolonged contact with seawater that it crumbles like papermaché at the slightest touch.
    • Justified with the Fuji shelters and ship. They were purposefully designed to persevere for unknown times, so that the members of the 7 Seeds Project could make use of the supplies inside of them whenever they awoke. Downplayed with the Fuji ship. It overall still works perfectly, just not the parts where iron-eating bacteria has affected the machines.
    • Played with a hotel early on. The furniture is aged, rotted through and in no good condition. The organ still functions fine, beyond some minor tuning required.
  • Played straight and subverted in the Sankei Newspaper Astro Boy serial. When he travels back in time to the era of The Vietnam War he eventually shuts down due to the fuel he runs on not having been invented yet. He winds up at the bottom of the Mekong river and isn't found for decades, but a quick refill has him up and about again with no difficulty (though he was in a box at the time). When he runs out of fuel a second time due to its prohibitive cost, though, he falls down on a mountain and by the time his "birth" comes around again he is nothing more than a rusted-out shell.
  • The eponymous mecha of Cannon God Exaxxion lay buried on Earth for over 2000 years before being excavated by the hero's father. Perhaps justified, in that it was kept in a giant space-packing crate and the mech itself is practically indestructible.
  • Both played straight and subverted in ∀ Gundam. While Mobile Suits sealed in special "Mountain Cycle" chambers work more-or-less perfectly due to maintenance Nanomachines, other Lost Technology isn't so lucky. The titular Gundam's beam rifle it was uncovered with is degraded enough to burn itself out with one shot, and when Loran finds an armory, nearly every weapon crumbles to dust when he tries to pick it up, aside from the Hyper Hammer and that one breaks after being used only once.
    • Another reason why there aren't any other relics from the "Dark History" is because the Moonlight Butterfly destroyed everything else.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, the Gundam Barbatos is in perfect working condition even after not seeing combat for over 300 years. Subverted for other Gundam Frames — out of the 72, only 26 actually survived to the present day.
  • Played partially straight (but justified) in GaoGaiGar, when the missing ChoRyuJin is dug up after sixty-five million years, his body is completely fossilized, but his AIs are found to still be in working order. It turns out, however, that he had some serious Applied Phlebotinum they were using specifically to keep himself alive long enough to be found again.
  • The manga one-shot Hotel is a deliberate case. The main character is a robotically controlled, self-repairing structure designed to preserve the genetic data of Earth's creatures for billions of years after global warming has destroyed everything.
    • And when you consider the fact that the AI is not only increasingly self-aware but had managed to keep itself functioning for 27 million years, even as all its systems break down, it could also be a case of And I Must Scream.
    • The Noah Ark from the same manga is another example: an intelligent colony ship designed to carry all human knowledge as well as 140,000 samples of human DNA. By the time Noah reached its destination however, the DNA strands were lost, resulting in its evolved AI returning to Earth in the hopes of accessing the Hotel.
  • A significant plot point in King of Thorn, when the characters are trying to figure out how far in the future they are after waking up from suspended animation. The massive jungle of thorns that has overgrown the island indicates that thousands of years have passed until one character notices that the lights are still on and none of the bulbs have burned out...
  • In the penultimate scene of End of Evangelion, this trope is mentioned as the true reason why the Evas were created: a monument that will outlast the universe itself.
    Yui: Humans can only exist on this Earth, but the Evangelion will be able to exist forever, along with the human soul that dwells within it. When the Earth, the Moon and the Sun are all gone, Eva will exist so long as just one person remains. It will be lonely, but as long as one person still lives-
    Fuyutsuki: It will be eternal proof that mankind ever existed.
  • Humorously averted in Slayers. In her first appearance, Martina reactivates a war golem made by her ancestors during the last great Mazoku War, which took place 1,500 years previous. As she gloats over its immense power, the golem starts malfunctioning, due to the fact that its 1,500 years old and hasn't been maintained in at least 1,000.
  • Played straight in One Piece by the Poneglyphs, much to the chagrin of the World Government. The Poneglyphs are indestructible records of the true history of the world that the government wants to suppress. Since they can't destroy the Poneglyphs they settle for silencing anyone capable of reading them such as Nico Robin and Gold Roger.
  • The Protoculture of Macross may have disappeared almost 500,000 years ago, but many of their creations are still in good working order. Here's the known examples divided by series:
    • Super Dimension Fortress Macross has a Zentraedi mothership that is still in perfect working order, and a factory satellite that is breaking down... but only because of continuous attacks on it during the last half million years. The latter can still be repaired, and there are other satellites which, having suffered far fewer attacks, are in much better conditions.
    • Macross: Do You Remember Love? has the ruins of a Protoculture city with many of its technologies, including the antigravity systems, still working until the Meltrandi target the ruins with multiple heavy converging beam cannons.
    • Macross Zero has the Bird Human, a bird-like Humongous Mecha that, once activated and set to bomb humanity back into stone age, proves more than a match for dozens of sea-faring warships and attached planes, only suffering damage when the UN fires four reaction weapons at it.
    • Macross Frontier had an episode where Alto was attacked by a Vajra during a training exercise in an ancient battlefield. Since his Valkyrie was only equipped with "dummy" weapons at the time, he grabs a Zentradi beam weapon that's been drifting in space for seven thousand years and uses it to slay the Vajra. Afterwards his commanding officer chews him out for gambling on ancient tech, but Klan Klang (the resident Zentradi Proud Warrior Race Guy) defends Alto's judgement as sound, saying that Zentradi tech was made to last.
    • Macross Delta shows that many Protoculture ruins still have working water pipelines, and a decayed but still mostly working Protoculture battleship, far more powerful than both the warships they gave to their slave races and those developed by the NUNS, is discovered and activated.
  • Played straight in Girls' Last Tour. Chito and Yuuri wander through in a massive, crumbling city with multiple levels large enough to each support their own countless skyscrapers. Although centuries have passed and humans are nearly extinct, the city is still mostly holding together and a number of its systems still function fine, such as plumbing, lighting, and machinery used to mass-produce food. The girls even encounter functioning robots carrying out their original duties, an automated train, a derelict mecha with operational WMD's, and an AI that runs an elevator between two of the levels. In particular, the AI explains that since it can't terminate itself without human authorization, it would keep running until the city's "reserve power's reserve power's reserve power's reserve power" runs out.
  • Absolutely averted in Dr. STONE, in which a mysterious light turned every human on Earth to stone. When the protagonist Senku manages to de-petrify himself, over 3700 years have passed and the only man-made object that's still standing is the Great Buddha of Kamakura, a solid bronze statue. A few pages are spent explaining how resistant bronze is to corrosion; even considering that, it's falling apart. Later on Senku discovers that his astronaut father — who avoided petrification because he was on the International Space Station at the time — left him a "treasure chest" by sealing important objects in concrete inside a Soyuz descent module. Despite the capsule being made incredibly tough to withstand atmospheric re-entry, it still crumbles and falls apart as soon as someone touches it.
  • Justified Trope in Rebuild World. There are a number of factors that keep the ruins Akira explores for relics working. Firstly, many of them have automated repair systems from the impossibly advanced Old World civilization. Secondly, many of them are designed with force-fields to preserve them (Akira at one point ends up hauling a food shelf in as a relic due to it having such a feature). At one point, Akira goes through an abandoned building where everything he touches turns to dust, this is because of a certain type of monster, who had Energy Absorption to shield themselves, tarnishing it.
  • Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters. The landing party find the overgrown ruins of cities even though 20,000 years have passed since they left Earth. Then they realise that the structures are actually fungi which fossilized in the shape of the buildings they once covered.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: In issue 23 Wonder Woman, Etta Candy, Bobby Strong and Glamora Treat enter an ancient Egyptian tomb in remarkably good condition, including still functioning traps.
  • In the Blake and Mortimer story "The Time Trap", Mortimer is able to restart a 21st-century nuclear reactor in the 51st century after only a couple of weeks of work.
  • In Yoko Tsuno, all the technology the Vineans left on their home planet still works perfectly after two millions years and a solar cataclysm.

    Fan Works 
  • Antipodes: Even after a global cataclysm and 10,000 years of exposure to the elements, the ruins of the old world — even the wooden, thatched cottages of Ponyville — are nothing more than run down and somewhat broken up, and the Lost Technology is still mostly in working order.
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): In this Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) fanfiction, Alan Jonah and his paramilitary have taken up residence in an abandoned Monarch outpost in Russia. Despite being abandoned for decades, equipment in the outpost which still works includes a lazer containment field and chemical weapons that are believed to be a hundred years old. Jonah lampshades this in Chapter 2.
  • In Heart of the Forest, Applejack and Discord notice that the palace in Sungrove is in remarkably good condition for a place that's been abandoned for 800 years; even though parts of it have been ripped off, it shows no sign of age. They conclude that some kind of magic is preserving it. At the end, Applejack's vision of Hawthorn confirms this; the Emblem of Anqa hidden inside it is an element, and they'll do anything to preserve themselves.
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero the SOS Brigade uses a lost dimensional anchor created millions of years ago. It works perfectly fine.
  • Used to a degree in the 1983: Doomsday Stories. A number of places are described in varying stages of decay. Abandoned ruins and wasteland settings, naturally, suffer the worst of it though even the relatively unharmed areas such as the Alpine Confederation show signs of neglect. Though the flashbacks show at least one particular ruin in better condition.
  • Handwaved and justified in The Dark Past, a fanfic-of-a-fanfic of the Niklas and Friends "universe". The spaceship has been running on reducing power for millennia. The ship's electronics have survived so long because of running well under their usual power ratings.
  • In Fractured, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover and its sequel Origins, the trope is zig-zagged. As far as the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the trope is not in effect as many records have been lost over the millions of years that have passed since then. However, Eridian defenses that were set up to deal with the threat of Alien Invasion Flood seem to work just fine.
  • My Little Pony fanfic The Writing on the Wall deals with an example: Daring Do leads an archaeology expedition to a strangely intact and ominous-looking ancient tomb from a long-extinct culture predating ponies, inscribed with the namesake warning glyphs. It's actually a nuclear waste repository left by humans, see Real Life examples below. Since the ponies have no concept of such, they disregard the glyphs, are exposed to lethal amounts of radiation, and start dying horribly. Daring Do herself only lives long enough to add a warning in Equestrian to the wall and seal the place off again.
    • Daring does note that the tomb was built in the middle of a desert where it rains about twice a century, which is also one of the most geologically stable places on the continent.
  • Inky Future: Played with.
    • X and the Dr. Light Capsules are still working as good as ever when after 12000 years compared to the more realistic 100 years of X canon. It's suggested that X's capsule was running in minimum power and the other capsules only came online when X did, which is why Dr. Light's AI is still working just fine since it only just turned on.
    • Teleportation is functional since the teleport network satellites are still up and running due to lack of interference. The power issues are explained as using solar energy.
    • Averted with the Dr. Wily AI. It had been running for years assisting Tartar and eventually degraded to the point where it couldn't be recovered or backed up.

    Film — Animation 
  • Moana: After being left in a damp cave with no attempt at maintenance for at least several decades, none of the wooden boats Moana discovers (especially the small sailing craft she absconded with) should have been salvageable, let alone seaworthy, unless there was some manner of magic involved.
  • Tarzan: The treehouse put together by Tarzan's birth-parents is incredibly intact after nearly twenty years of neglect in a jungle climate. The dapper suit Tarzan finds there is even more so.
  • WALL•E plays this straight mostly.
    • The world that's been abandoned for 700 years is filled with rust and falling apart. The eponymous robot has only survived for so long by scavenging parts from other robots as they break down. However, even after 700 years, and all the believable wear and tear, there are a great many buildings still standing, ships operate enough to use their magnet, buildings are mostly intact, electronic billboards operate enough to give exposition, and most of the random gadgets that Wall-E finds are in perfect working condition, including an old VCR and VHS (maybe not perfect, but far better off than they should be after 700 years). Perhaps other robots programmed for repair are still going.
    • The Axiom even more so. Keep in mind that the starship is over 700 years old by the time the movie takes place. Yet it looks and functions almost just as it during its maiden launch. Probably helped that in addition to Buy N Large's "built-to-last" mentality, there's a network of robots and automated systems constantly maintaining the ship and even robots to repair other robots.
  • In the Ralph Bakshi film Wizards, Blackwolf finds a movie projector and propaganda films from Nazi Germany. The film is set two million years from now.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • A.I.: Artificial Intelligence: the main character David (a Ridiculously Human Robot made to be exactly like a real boy) ends up trapped underwater in a police hovercar/submarine, wishing to a statue that he could be a real boy. 2000 years later, he's run out of power and is revived by a literal Hand Wave from a Sufficiently Advanced Alien. Boy robot gets up and walks around, albeit clumsily. As an added bonus, the New York Skyline (circa 1999) is perfectly intact despite being submerged in water which then froze solid.
  • Averted in Back to the Future Part III. Although Doc Brown took some measures to ensure that the DeLorean would not suffer too much deterioration by storing it in a dry, dark cave for seventy years, it still needed to be restored to working condition: the time travel circuitry had to be changed out with vacuum tubes, while the original tires needed to be replaced with whitewall tires. How they got a 1985 vehicle to run on leaded gasoline from 1955 is another question entirely...
  • Battlefield Earth is one of the worst offenders. The Earth has been taken over by aliens for a thousand years, and the characters escape into the ruins of Denver, Colorado. Not only are all of the buildings still standing, but books are still readable, computers still work, and military jets that should have crumbled into dust centuries ago are completely operational. And they have perfectly working jet fuel, which has a shelf life of 40 years. And as if that weren't bad enough, the characters even encounter an abandoned shopping mall where frozen chickens can still be found in the supermarkets. This is a major divergence from the book, wherein civilization was pretty much completely gone, buildings crumbling, machines rusted to junk, books decayed to the point of falling apart.
  • Just about everything in The Book of Eli looks considerably worn out and battered 30 years after the "Flash".
  • The main character in Doomsday finds a Bentley that's been in a storage locker for twenty-seven years. It's in perfect condition with a full tank of petrol, and she has no problem using it to stage a Mad Max-style chase with the bad guys. This may be justifiable (after all, it had been locked away in a sealed underground bunker), but what can't be explained is how the denizens of post-apocalyptic Scotland have somehow managed to keep their own cars running for twenty-seven years, despite there being no oil on the Scottish mainland (it all comes from the North Sea).
  • Elysium: Judging by the the data thieves' ride and the cars along the street, no new cars have been manufactured on Earth for over 150 years. The land yachts shown on the street at one point would be considered in visibly good shape if they were found today, much less found in a slum after 150 years.
  • Future World (2018): The Warlord and his gang all ride motorcycles, with no sign of how they get fuel or keep them in operational states.
  • Largely averted in I Am Legend, which is set in New York City three years After the End. Despite the relatively short timeframe, there are already signs of decay in the seemingly empty metropolis: tunnels are flooded, plants are starting to grow in the streets, and outside of the protagonist's home, near everything has a hint of dust and grime. Which is a case of Truth in Television. New York City spends thousands of dollars a year on pumps to keep water out of the tunnels. And anyone in the city can tell you how much damage grass does to sidewalks.
  • Jurassic Park
    • Justified in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, when both the protagonists' and InGen's radios end up being destroyed so they decide to head for the communications centre in the island's interior to call for help. Despite the facility having been abandoned for several years, the power still works because they were designed to run self-sufficiently on geothermal energy and without the need for regular maintenance.
    • Downplayed in Jurassic World, wherein Zack and Gray stumble across the old visitor's center and administrative buildings of the original Jurassic Park. The buildings are largely intact, though weathered and overgrown as the jungle retakes them. They ultimately find a gas-powered Jeep in one of the garages, which requires some heavy fixing-up to get running, though the gasoline seems to be unaffected by the last twenty years.
  • The alien ship in Laserhawk crash-landed on Earth after being shot down 250 million years ago. Despite being damaged, it somehow remains intact until it is recovered by the US military in the 20th century. The ship still has power and is in full working condition.
  • Played completely straight in Logan's Run, where the city has been running completely without maintenance for at least 200 years. The main characters wander through several rooms of massive machinery which is merrily pumping away with no one looking after it. And this doesn't even get into the problems of how food was imported into the city and waste was exported from it.note 
  • In Man of Steel, a Kryptonian scout ship crash-lands on Earth and spends 18,000 years buried underneath the ice in the Arctic. But when Clark finds it all systems seem to be in working order.
  • Short-term variant: In Night of the Comet, despite the death-by-disintegration of nearly everyone on the planet, everything automated in Los Angeles — lawn sprinklers, pre-recorded radio broadcasts, traffic lights — keep right on activating on schedule, well after power outages should've resulted with no one to oversee city utilities.
  • Both justified and inverted in Pandorum. The colony ship Elysium was intentionally built to last the multiple-century flight to another star-system using minimal maintenance staff on rotating rounds of cryogenic sleep. It was also to arrive intact enough to likely serve as the base foundation for the new colony. The inversion and catalyst for the main plot is that the ship's engine and power core is breaking down far faster than it should. Only it turns out to not be an inversion; during the climactic confrontation the protagonists are shown that they've already arrived at their destination planet, and in fact crashed or set down and are at the bottom of the ocean. Exact numbers are sketchy or non-existent, but they estimate it must have been there several times longer than the ship was ever designed to remain operational, meaning it's likely lasted several thousand years.
  • Parallels has Polly insisting that the building is always the same, in every universe - including one where a suitcase nuke was detonated across the street. In that Earth, the building is apparently immune to rust, decay, moss, weather - unlike everything else nearby, which has clearly been through hell. Arguably justified, since apparently the Core World clearly has a lot invested in the thing. That said, the builders definitely could have sprung for a cleaning service on the inside.
  • Planet of the Apes (1968): The Statue of Liberty has held up surprisingly well for having survived a war and been half-buried in the sea air.
  • The remake of Planet of the Apes had a space station shot through a Negative Space Wedgie of the especially Magical variety. It wound up being abandoned for centuries, on an Earthlike planet's surface, with zero maintenance, and the computer and thrusters still worked immediately upon being activated. Although the main character specifically mentions it was designed to last forever, making this an Invoked Trope.
  • In Singularity, Despite the film being set 97 years after the robots rising and destroying most of humanity, the houses are fully functional, including working showers, the Polaroid camera still works, and the train rails they encounter are still straight and shiny.
  • Parodied in the Woody Allen comedy Sleeper. After 200 years, a VW Beetle is still in perfect working condition. Woody's character then remarks, "Wow, they really built these things, didn't they?"
  • Semi-averted in The Time Machine (2002) when Alexander Hartdegen finds the library from 2030, but in the year 802,701; the building itself is in ruins, but the artificial intelligence Librarian Vox 114 is still unbroken and semifunctional. Averted completely in the 1960 version. When the protagonist arrives in the future, he finds practically all traces of his own time gone entirely- the remnants of his time consist of a collection of books that crumble into dust as soon as he touches them. The only other remnants of any previous society are "talking rings" (presumably an advanced recording device from a future society, possibly intended as a time capsule or Apocalyptic Log in which case its preservation is somewhat understandable)
  • Waterworld is another major offender. It's been long enough for people to forget that there ever was dry land. The ruins of pre-cataclysm society have spent all this time underwater. Despite this, anyone the Mariner can just swim down to a former city and come back up with perfectly working artifacts. The "smokers" have completely operational jet skis and sea planes, and even large stashes of cigarettes, which have a shelf life of a few weeks.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: Back in the old days of Ancient Egypt, En Sabah Nur had built a technologically advanced pyramid powered by sunlight. The Egyptians betrayed him and sabotaged the pyramid, causing it to collapse. Apocalypse, in the middle of swapping bodies at the time, was protected by his Horsemen, but he was left in stasis. In the 1980s, the pyramid is discovered and it's still functional; channeling the energy of the sun revives Apocalypse.
  • Zombieland: It is some months since a zombie apocalypse has killed off almost the entire human race, but as the main characters go on their Road Trip Plot, almost every place they visit still has electricity. That includes Pacific Playland, the faux-Disneyland theme park where the climax occurs.

  • In Across a Billion Years by Robert Silverberg, the protagonist (who is a junior member of a mixed alien archaeological expedition) is off to a dig site containing artifacts of the High Ones, a race that existed over a billion years ago, give or take a hundred million years. All the technology found is in perfect working order including a large sphere that proves to be a holographic projector that sends them questing after the lost secrets of these ancient precursor beings. Think about that, the percentile error alone covers a span of geological time greater than from the death of the dinosaurs all the way to now, and all that stuff works perfectly, even advanced robots stored on asteroids in the depths of space. Even if something is 100.00 percent proof against rust, corrosion by oxygen, UV radiation, deterioration caused by plants taking root, and inedible, over that time scale you'd expect it to be engulfed in lava or hit by an asteroid.
  • Anthem: The house the protagonists find in the mountains is largely untouched by the centuries since the Unmentionable Times. Not only are the glass windows intact, but so are the previous owner's clothing and library.
  • The titular Aquila was an alien battlecruiser's lifepod which crashed on Earth thousands of years ago, where it was later found and used to explore the world by a Roman centurion. After that, it then spent another thousand years or so buried underground before being discovered by two boys - still in fully working order.
  • There are multiple Bolo stories about Bolos that had been lost for decades or even centuries and still being in repairable or sometimes immediately usable condition when some human found it and (often accidentally) turned it on. Still, what's a few centuries to something designed to shrug off multi-kiloton-per-second firepower? Especially given autonomous repair capability, multiple (and seemingly distributed) redundancy, and all the other goodies the later models get.
  • The Books of Ember:
    • The system to get out of Ember still works after all these years.
    • Averted with Ember itself, which was originally designed to function for 200 years and looks like it's literally about to fall apart. There's evidence suggesting, however, that things were starting to deteriorate even before then.
  • Generally averted in Boundary, most of the Bemmie bases and equipment are non-functional due to time, damage and vacuum welding. The one exception (a vault containing various artifacts) is justified as it was clearly built to survive for millennia as a record for anyone who came along later.
  • By the Waters of Babylon: John finds food from prior to the fall of the US which is still edible somehow. He also then enters a building while in the ruins of New York City which has intact books and other furnishings. With his father he'd already found books in other houses as well (from which they know how to read English). Given the state of things which he describes (the city is overgrown by plants, stone inscriptions worn away, not to mention it also suffering destruction from the war) this would not be realistic. Books rot, and food would have long since decayed (or been eaten by animals), even if kept in jars, since this implies that the fall was centuries before.
  • Arthur C. Clarke's Against the Fall of Night and The City and the Stars. The city of Diaspar was shielded and designed to be self-maintaining and to survive indefinitely long. It's a billion years old. The all-pervading computer system that runs the city creates clones of people, imbuing them with recorded knowledge and memories of their previous life. This is contrasted against the world outside Diaspar, which has decayed completely into desert; with the exception of the city of Lys, which is shielded by artificial mountains and maintained by the advanced abilities of its residents. The novel states that Diaspar is maintained by triple-redundant memory storage combined with matter converters. There are indications in the story that the technology that enables this is at least partly the product of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. Played even more straight with the Master's ship and the robot probe, which repair themselves using similar technology.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Black Colossus", one such building in the middle of ruins obviously has something keeping it like that.
    Any fool could see there was something unnatural about the structure; the winds and suns of three thousand years had lashed it, yet its gold and ivory rose bright and glistening as the day it was reared by nameless hands on the bank of the nameless river.
  • The Dark Tower books by Stephen King have technology of the Ancients that still exists and functions, for the most part. There are functioning oil derricks in Mejis, working robots near the Callah Bryn Sturgis, and Blaine the Mono. This might be justified, because the flow of time in Roland's world is said to be very inconsistent, as is distance and direction.
    • The robots and Blaine were designed with future tech that was supposed to run forever, so the fact that they're breaking down at all is proof that they weren't Ragnarok Proofed. We'll have to go with the funky flow of time thing for the derricks, though.
      • Flow of time and reality itself... pretty much all of existence is going completely loopy. That's what the heroes want to fix, after all.
  • Subverted in Deep Time, a divulgative book of astronomy, with the Voyager 2 probe. The book follows it into a Time Abyss that includes the deaths of both stars first and galaxies later, mentioning from time to time how space weathering is degrading the probe, until proton decay finally wipes out what remains of the spacecraft.
  • Vernor Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky features a planet whose sun only shines for 35 out of every 250 years. The inhabitants themselves can survive the dark in hibernation, but once their civilization develops to a certain level they have to start learning how to apocalypse-proof their technology.
  • Deathlands takes place in a post-Apocalyptic scavenger world so sometimes this is played straight or handwaved with Earth That Was futuristic technology which appears more durable than anything that existed in the real 2001. Lampshaded when the protagonists make use of the facilities of a Redoubt and muse that they've probably started a few cascade failures by using equipment that has lain dormant for years. This comes in handy for the occasional Plot-Driven Breakdown.
  • Digitesque: Humanity's robots maintain their ancient structures, but a thousand years is still a long time. Most of the ancient ruins are barely even recognizable as man-made at this point, with only a few pipes or foundations left. There are some sealed ruins, like the one Ada and Tanos find, that are still in perfect working condition.
  • Dragonriders of Pern had three abandoned town-sized colony ships orbiting without maintenance for two millennia or so, with Deflector Shields active, orbital corrections properly performed and antimatter containment stable (which, of course, makes two previous points even more important). Granted, those were slow-ships made to hold well for a few centuries, while the nearest repair facility is several light years away and most of the crew are human popsicles.
    • Also AIVAS, the AI system used as a knowledge store and administrator which has been abandoned and buried without power for the same length of time, but activates immediately and is fully functional as soon as humans return to the original landing site.
    • Played more sensibly with the rest of the original colonists artefacts though. Even having been put in storage specifically to last a long time (and survive a volcanic eruption), many computer and vehicle parts are little more than scrap, and some fuel has had its seals fail and gone bad. Still pretty good compared to current standards, but portrayed as rather more realistic than many examples here.
  • Played mostly straight in David Weber's Empire from the Ashes, when a conscious effort to preserve was made, thanks primarily to good AI, as well as rustproof alloys, stasis fields and occasionally the vacuum of space. Averted for installations abandoned in haste.
    • In Mutineers' Moon, the AI-run starship Dahak spent 50,000 years disguised as the Moon. Granted, fixing the damage inflicted by the mutiny took several hundred years, but the ship was fully combat ready after that. The spare parts and ships that spent those 50 millennia on Earth also stayed in perfect condition.
    • In The Armageddon Inheritance, there are plenty of devastated planets, with nothing but crumbling ruins and computer memory storage that was wiped out when the power failed. But Battle Fleet ships that were put on standby properly can be quickly restored (within weeks for planetoids). "Mother" and its orbital fortresses are fully functional, again thanks to a one-of-a-kind AI. Although nuclear/antimatter/warp warheads that weren't stored properly went off in the interim.
    • Heirs of Empire mentions quarantine systems (set to kill anybody approaching or leaving planets) run and maintained by AI over 40,000 years. Most of them no longer work, but a few still do, like on Pardal.
  • In Empire of the East by Fred Saberhagen, set thousands of years After the End, the heroes search for a magic metal elephant to help them in the war. The elephant turns out to be a mostly operational nuclear-powered battle tank from before the nuclear holocaust. The armament is dead and the chemical-protective gear crumbles when touched, but the controls still light up, the engine roars, and none of the drive mechanism is broken. This is rare enough on a tank that hasn't been maintained since last week.
  • Jack McDevitt's Eternity Road has this. The AI computer running the city of Chicago is still up and running many, many years after a plague kills off much of humanity. Also the automated security system of a bank.
    • Lampshaded in a poignant line when a character finds some rotten books and laments that the only thing the roadbuilders made that didn't stand up to time was plain old paper.
  • Averted in Evolution by Stephen Baxter. As the novel progresses further and further away beyond the extinction of the human species, there are increasingly few remains of their constructions and products at least on Earth.
  • James S.A. Corey both plays this straight and averts it in The Expanse series. The interstellar Ring network left behind by the protomolecule masters is mostly functional despite going unused for at least a few hundred million years. Further, when humans start traveling through the Rings they find well-preserved ruins and machinery on the first planet they settle on. Averted when the machinery starts (trying) to power up when it detects the presence of the humans, and it becomes clear that a billion years without maintenance takes a toll on functionality. A planetary defense mechanism starts melting the moon, and when a power generator starts coming online, it fails in an explosion that takes out most of a continent.
  • In Gathering Blue the indoor plumbing in the elders' housing still works despite the village not even knowing anything about modern technology. Apparently, it was still working hundreds of years later and still works without anyone fixing it. Even weirder is that they have hot water available on tap without electricity or any form of power.note 
  • The eponymous Great Ship - a vessel the size of Jupiter - spent untold billions of years in intergalactic space traveling at a third of the speed of light, with only "minor" damage to its exterior hull from asteroid impacts. The interior is completely unscathed, with its fusion reactors and lighting functioning perfectly. Justified by analysis of the hull revealing a complete absence of materials susceptible to radioactive decay, a hull made of extremely high-grade hyperfiber, and with the interiors being a completely sterile environment. However, the "minor" hull damage consisted of dozens of kilometer-wide impact craters, which required huge amounts of hyperfiber to mend.
  • Marvin from Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy. Thanks to Time Travel, his subjective age is 37 times the lifespan of the universe, and the diodes on his left side (which gave him a constant ache) were never replaced in all that time even though every other component was at least fifty times. Before that, he worked more than 576 billion years parking starships at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
  • In the Homecoming Saga by Orson Scott Card, the technology was all designed to be self-repairing even on the stuff doing the repairs, and last a very long time regardless... but it's been forty million years since this stuff was built. Naturally, some of it broke down anyway and characters are amazed that even more isn't broken.
  • In Illium and Olympos, civilization has been out of touch for long that most of the planet has basically been forgotten, yet a transcontinental gondola system still functions.
  • Laszlo Hadron and the Wargod's Tomb: Despite being two million years old, what few relics of the Sagittarian Empire survive their extinction are remarkably intact. This Self-Healing Phlebotinum gives the Wargod and its subordinate ships tremendous self-repair capabilities when it is revealed and launches its attack.
  • The Long Earth-saga's third book, The Long Mars, features a space elevator built on one of the countless iterations of the red planet that is otherwise all but lifeless. Everything else created by the civilisation that built the elevator has crumbled into nothing, but the cable alone still reaches into the sky, jutting from a featureless bit of bare ground at the bottom of a 20-mile deep shaft.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's works:
    • In "The Shadow Out of Time", the Great Race of Yith were said to have colonized the Earth about 200 million years ago. Yet, there are remarkably intact ruins of their colonies on Earth discovered by humans much later on, with the protagonist even uncovering Yithian books from a millions-of-years-old ruins in the Australian desert.
    • In At the Mountains of Madness, an entire Elder Thing city is found relatively intact in Antarctica, a billion years after they flourished, along with exceedingly well-preserved Elder Thing bodies. May be explained as the Elder Things and Yithians being very advanced aliens and possibly in possession of insanely durable materials construction and preservation technologies, but still....
    • At least in the case of the Elder Things, their city may have been founded billions of years ago, but it was only ultimately abandoned a mere 500,000 years in the past, which is certainly enough time for a solid stone structure to survive in favourable conditions. The story also features an aversion: all the sophisticated machinery that the Elder Things portray in their murals has crumbled into little more than dust over the millennia.
  • The Mote in God's Eye features a species who view the periodic rise and fall of civilisation as inevitable, and thus plan in advance for the next period of barbarism by providing instructive museums with Only Smart People May Pass tests to kickstart the next development of civilisation.
    • This was parodied in Terry Pratchett's The Dark Side of the Sun with the drosks, who "periodically build an advanced machine-level civilisation and then, for no apparent reason, carefully dismantle it and revert to barbarism".
  • In The Night Land, there are aircraft that would still be functional, if the air wasn't too thin to support them. They've remained in working order for hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of years.
  • Downplayed in Karl Schroeder's novel Permanence, the place known as Dis - a 500 x 400 km piece of woven fullerene. Three billion years old, the remains of an orbital ring, built by a species that built to last in everything they made. The builders only lasted eighty million years. Despite being swallowed by a sun for a time, records found inside are still readable.
  • The universe of Perry Rhodan where underground bases of the Imperium Lemuria are scattered in the Milky Way. Most of them are still functional despite the fall of Lemuria 50,000 years ago.
  • Discussed in Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space:
    Sylveste: It's my suspicion — no; not a suspicion, my conclusion — that the [900,000-year-gone] Amarantin eventually progressed to the point where they could achieve space travel.
    Sajaki: From what I gathered on the surface there's very little in the fossil record to substantiate that.
    Sylveste: But there wouldn't be, would there? Technological artifacts are inherently less durable than more primitive items. Pottery endures. Microcircuits crumble to dust.
    • Also played straight later, as several spacecraft and assorted other bits of Golden Age technology that survived the Melding Plague centuries earlier still functioning — even if left untended for arbitrarily long periods of time.
      • Not necessarily an example, due to the utilisation of nano-scale technology- it could just be the case that the space-craft etc themselves are infused with a nanotech 'housekeeping' contingent that constantly repairs them. After all, if you're taking a thousands of years journey across the galaxy in abeyance or reefersleep, you don't want the hull of the ship degrading from rust or metal fatigue let alone the ablative effects of interstellar travel.
  • Safehold: Terran Federation tech apparently reached this level, as it's still working after nine hundred years. The most visible examples include the main character, android Merlin, the Temple (basically a giant building with automatic light, door control and heating systems), and Rakurai, the Kill Sat which still works after almost a millennium in space (justified, as it was designed to ensure that no advanced technology would be developed on Safehold). Defied, though, with medicines (Merlin throws them away without checking) and AIs, who are said to go crazy from boredom after too long of a time.
  • The Saga of the Exiles has aircraft left in the Alps for a thousand or so years, since the Tanu and Firvulag first arrived on Earth.
  • Deliberately invoked in Spinneret, where the titular artifact has been not just preserved, but actively operating for at least 100,000 years, probably much longer. One of the scientists admits that the had been thinking of it as essentially a solid-state machine barely preserved through massive redundancy. When they find that one of several small, autonomous digging machines is still functional, he describes the hyper-survivable technology as "awesome and just a little bit creepy."
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Jedi often stored information in things called holocrons, which typically contained several AI personalities which could distribute information, or not, depending on if they felt people were worthy. These tended to last thousands of years, though some had limited batteries. Of course, they are seen as something special, imbued somehow with the Force.
    • Galaxy of Fear has a couple examples.
      • The penultimate book has a secret experimental cloning facility on Dantooine, abandoned long ago and staffed by ancient droids. It's unknown just how old it is, but thanks to statements from the natives, who don't keep dates, the characters assume it's thousands of years old. It still works perfectly. Presumably the droids maintained everything, and each other.
      • A Lost Colony is found in the last book, consisting of the malnourished and uneducated Children of a stranded survey group lost on Dagobah. The survey group's technology broke down as power ran out. The last thing to function was a datapad that was used as an Apocalyptic Log. The Children keep and revere it even though its power is out - maybe it's their care of it which kept it in good enough condition that the heroes can just swap new batteries in and play the contents. It's unknown how old it is, though - the wiki suggests forty years, but it's hard to say. The Parents mentioned seeing an "imp" that the heroes later identify as Yoda, and he'd only been there for twenty years.
    • Speaking of Dagobah, in The Thrawn Trilogy Luke heads back to the world five years after Return of the Jedi and finds that Yoda's hut has been overwhelmed and pretty much broken down until he barely recognizes it by the life in the swamp. He's surprised, but chastises himself, thinking that Tatooine is so dry that an abandoned structure will last forever, but it's different here. However, when he goes back into the cave he does find a still recognizable beckon call.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Magitek from The Beforetimes, such as the Oathgates, remains in working order thousands of years later, thanks to the magic bound up in it. In Dawnshard, the decoy Oathgate is identified as a fake because it looks broken and rusted.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Strata, an artificial world has survived for several thousand years, maintained by a sophisticated AI and an army of robots that have managed to keep it and themselves in working order, but they can't keep it up forever; eventually there will just be too many worn-out parts for them to replace. ("What do you do when the robot that repairs the robot-repairing robots breaks down?") The protagonists arrive just as things are reaching that point and the world is on the verge of final breakdown.
    • In fact, it is revealed in the end that they arrive because the world is on the verge of final breakdown and they've been brought there as a result of the central AI's desperate attempt to get outside help.
  • The Takers, an Indiana Jones-homage novel by Jerry Ahern, has an abandoned alien base with still-operable UFO's under the Antarctic ice. It also contains the dead bodies of an earlier Nazi expedition — as it turns out, the base's self defense system is also in full working order...
  • There's a moment in H.G. Wells' The Time Machine where one of the Eloi takes the Time Traveller to a 20th century library that's still (partially) standing after so many thousands of years. There's even books still on the shelves. However, Surprisingly Realistic Outcome when he picks up one of the books and it crumbles to dust in his hands. He proceeds to get very upset that all of the knowledge of his day has been lost to time.
  • Averted in Titan by Stephen Baxter. Near the end of the book, we get a glimpse of how the Voyager 1 probe disintegrates after five billion years of space weathering.note 
  • Tortall Universe: Mentioned in Song of the Lioness, when one character relates stories of the mysterious Old Ones; their society, existing millennia before the current human one, had a cultural fear of aging, and they treated everything they owned with something to keep it from decaying. The method was lost, but some of their artifacts did, in fact, survive.
  • The Tripods: On an Earth long occupied by conquering aliens, the heroes pass through an abandoned human city and find a working wristwatch and, more importantly to the plot, a box of functional grenades.
  • In George R. R. Martin's Tuf Voyaging, Tuf finds an EEC seed-ship which has been abandoned for over 1,000 years, which is somewhat functional as the original crew had shut it down for long term storage including automated repair robots, but which required significant repairs to make it fully operational. But things like air lock door seals and handles still worked perfectly even after a millennium.
  • The Ruins in Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle are structures left by a civilisation which fell centuries ago. While they do have some degradation, such as corridors blocked by rubble, much of their technology is still intact, including Drag-Rides, Abyss culture tanks and stasis chambers containing the survivors of said civilisation. Though this could be justified by the Ruins still being inhabited by Automata, who may help maintain them.
  • In David Brin's Uplift series, the technology of the alien Galactic civilization pretty much always does this. Aliens design their spaceships and equipment to last for thousands or millions of years, so it can be passed down to descendants or sold to buyers who expect it to keep its value. Some of the highest-tech items are rumored to be billions of years old (although this may be religious propaganda).
  • Negated very cleverly in Hugh Howey's Wool trilogy. The people who built the bunker knew that one day the survivors would need a big engine for a purpose they had to keep secret, and they also knew that there was no way to store a big engine long enough to be usable when they'd need it. So they installed a big engine of the required type to run the main power generator for the bunker, along with a huge quantity of spare parts and manuals. When the survivors need an engine, they just use that one, which has been impeccably maintained and with which they are completely familiar.
  • Larry Niven's A World Out of Time has high-tech devices, including a network of teleport booths, Flying Cars, automated house-manufacturing units, and medical technology still functioning after three million years. The setting does have temporal stasis technology, so may be Justified.
  • The Zombie Survival Guide takes a close examination at what life will be like if, say, the last living humans on Earth in a huge honking survival shelter decide to go out for a look after fifteen years of hiding.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100, set 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse, largely averts this trope, with new wilderness having almost completely replaced the old civilization's ruins. Underground bunkers seem to be the only places with reliably intact artifacts, and even then, the guns that the 100 find in one of these bunkers had to be stored in a special oil to keep them operational.
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century has a few, most notably a videocassette used as evidence against Buck during a treason trial. The tape is still playable and in remarkably good condition for having survived a nuclear war and 500 years of storage. In reality, videocassettes will demagnetize after 30-50 yearsnote  and the polyester tape itself would disintegrate after 200 years at most. This is assuming that one can find or build a functioning player (and given that archaeologists in this series mistook a hairdryer for 'an early-model hand laser' this seems extremely unlikely).
  • Doctor Who:
    • ''Doctor Who and the Silurians'': The Silurians have been in suspended animation for tens of millions of years, and other than losing their power source, their equipment seems to be perfectly functional.
    • "The Doctor's Daughter": The war between the humans and Hath has been going on for hundreds of generations, but the weapons, cloning machines and other technology that originated from before the war are still in incredibly good condition. Ultimately, it's a subversion, since "hundreds of generations" turns out to not actually be that long.
    • "The Witchfinders" averts the trope. The Doctor cites the extreme age of the alien biotech tree serving as the Morax prison, possibly billions of years, as the reason why Becka Savage was able to chop it down and breach the seal.
  • The History Channel show Life After People is an aversion. It shows just how little would actually survive.
  • Planet of the Apes is about two astronauts travelling around the titular planet (mainly just California) trying to locate ruins containing the working technology to get them back to their own time. Usually, the just end up getting involved in the locals' problems.
  • Power Rangers features this in spades. Alpha is not limber or possessing of sufficient dexterity to have kept the place running for 10,000 years. Dai Shi's palace also survived 10,000 years with no repair, and the haunts of the demons in Lightspeed Rescue made it for 3000 with no maintenance while all its inhabitants were trapped in a tomb, and while the Animarium displayed some decay, it was much too intact for having been uninhabited for 3,000 years. Even in the Power Rangers (2017) film, Zordon's ship and the Zords still work surprisingly well after being buried since the extinction of the dinosaurs.
    • To be fair, Alpha is known as Alpha 5, and is later on replaced by Alpha 6, so it probably wasn't him for 10,000 years. What remains of Alpha 4 can be seen in a box in one episode.
  • Primeval: In the Bad Future in Season 3, the post-apocalyptic city ruins. They're relatively intact and completley recognizable despite rust and limited overgrowth, suggesting it's no more than a few centuries after the Apocalypse How. More than that, the future ARC even has handheld devices and a non-portable computer which are still in working order, not to mention that the paint inside the building hasn't peeled off at all.
  • Red Dwarf has no end of functional artifacts and living creatures that seem to date back to around the time that Lister left the solar system, give or take a few centuries, including the eponymous ship itself. Given that the show takes place 3 million years after he left, it's amazing they still work so well.
    • According to the novel Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, the ship was originally used for extremely long periods of deep space exploration before being converted into a mining craft — the reason why it carries a stasis chamber to begin with. Also, "vacuum storage" is mentioned, indicating that the possessions of the crew were kept in stasis as well.
    • Of course, with Red Dwarf, minor details like continuity and the laws of physics are frequently discarded in favour of Rule of Cool and Rule of Funny.
    • Actually addressed in the show, for comic effect, Holly's IQ has degraded from 6000 to 6. And attempts to revert this do not go well.
  • The Shannara Chronicles has an episode where Amberle and Eretria fall into the 3,000 year-old ruins of a human high school that remains perfectly preserved. When Eretria wonders why it hasn't rotted into dust, Amberle explains that many such structures were buried when the age of man came to an end, keeping them sealed off from the elements. While this is a reasonable explanation for the school, it doesn't explain a shot of the ruined Space Needle, which is very much above ground.
  • This problem is mostly averted or justified in Stargate SG-1, where most of the alien sites the team visits are some combination of inhabited, in ruins, or made of Applied Phlebotinum by aliens so sufficiently advanced (the eponymous Stargates are the primary example) that building something that lasts for a million years is frankly almost plausible. However, there are a few times when it gets bizarre.
    • In "Moebius", Daniel takes what appears to be a small commercial camcorder on a time-travel 5000 years into the past. When the team screws up the timeline, he leaves the camcorder in a buried Goa'uld jar to be unearthed in the 21st Century. The Alternate History SG-1 watches the tape with little difficulty (Hammond says only that the battery needed to be recharged) and take the camera with them to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, then leave it buried again for the back-to-normal SG-1 to find, meaning this simple piece of home electronics has made a 10,000 year round-trip journey! These jars are made to last.
    • In the spinoff Stargate Atlantis, Atlantis has been abandoned for 10,000 years at the bottom of the sea with a shield covering it, but most of the things inside are in working order or at least intact, down to the dead plants. We do see several sections of the city that protruded outside the shield and were worse for wear, however, and in one episode we see a "sister city" of Atlantis that was left on a planet's surface without the protection of a shield. It's so overrun with vegetation and general decay that only the central tower is even recognizable. The city's weapon system is still functional, however.
    • In Stargate Universe the Ancient exploration ship Destiny was launched on an unmanned voyage long before Atlantis left Earth, perhaps more than a million years ago. When the protagonists arrive it's still travelling but is very much the worse for wear - the majority of its interior is sealed off to contain various hull breaches, its life support system is no longer able to extract carbon dioxide from the air (the filters are quite realistically choked with toxic black muck), and even the lights are dim or failing. Much of the series is driven by the protagonists struggling to get the ship working even halfway properly.
  • Star Trek pulled this off a few times.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • In "Contagion", they come across a perfectly functioning pan-galactic teleporter, which was built over 200,000 years ago... and the planet it was found on was an uninhabitable wasteland... which was made that way via orbital bombardment, around the same time.
      • In "Booby Trap", the crew boards a 1000 year old Promellian warship that still has air. Yes, the life support system, lights, power generator etc. have been in use constantly for 1000 years with no maintenance and not only have not completely broken down but are in good enough condition that the Enterprise crew feels safe beaming over with no spacesuits. Lampshaded by Picard remarking that the ship was built "for the generations" and it worked.
      • In the two-part episode "Time's Arrow" where Data's head is found to still be in working condition after about half a millennium underground, with a postmortem-programmed message still recorded and intact inside. Which was programmed using a steel file. Not only was the head still working, it was returned to service and seems none the worse for its advanced age, throughout the remainder of the series and movies!
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • In "The 37s", Voyager finds a 1937 pickup truck floating and intact. The truck itself surviving in space isn't as silly as it seems (though see Final Fantasy in the video game section below), but never mind that the fuel's still good: that there's fuel left in the tank at all, it having been in space for some time (even if it wasn't for the full 450 years), puts the entire thing into the realm of the ridonkulous.
      • In "Timeless", Harry and Chakotay are in a Bad Future where they were the sole survivors of Voyager after her experimental quantum slipstream drive malfunctioned mid-warp, sending the ship crash-landing onto an ice planet outside the Alpha Quadrant, killing everybody aboard. The crash destroyed the ship's power grid and compacted the six lowermost decks, and fifteen years on ice have frozen the bio-neural gel packs solid. But the consoles they can access work once Harry and Chakotay hook up some portable power cells to boot up the system, and Sickbay's holo-emitters still function.
    • In an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, Archer is transported to an abandoned Earth in the 31st century. There, he finds a library with books that are still readable.
  • The Men of Letters bunker in Supernatural still has working electricity and hot water, despite being abandoned from 1958 to 2013. This is commented on Sam, and Dean decides to apply the "if it ain't broke..." mentality to it. The magic that keeps the bunker (kind of) working is explained in Season 10.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Gamma World. Set in the post-apocalyptic ruins of a high-tech civilization, the rules explicitly say that enjoyment of the players and usefulness for the plot are the sole determining factors in whether any given artifact has survived decades or even centuries lying around unprotected in a irradiated mutant-infested wasteland. (A Hand Wave is of course always possible: the goodies can be locked away in nuke-proof buildings, and the exact amount of time since the apocalypse is left very vague.)
  • Sometimes averted, sometimes played straight with ancient human technology in Warhammer 40,000. Said Lost Technology has about a fifty-fifty chance of still being fully operational when discovered-but if it is operational, it's generally a safe bet that it's been corrupted by Chaos.
    • "Playing it straight" tends to include vehicles and wargear that have seen common or even frequent use in combat situations for 10,000 years or more, such as old suits of Power Armor. In some cases though, it's hinted that an item's owners are just hoarding the Lost Technology required to make new copies (like the last remaining Imperial jetbike).
    • The Eldar Craftworlds have literally survived their race's Ragnarok, and are still going strong millennia later. Although they do have the Eldar still around to maintain them.
    • Plenty of equipment (and people) with Chaos forces date back tens of thousands of years. Although unusual longevity is one of the least unusual things that can happen when dealing with a faction that doesn't care much for the laws of physics.
    • This is pretty standard for the 60-million-year-old Necrons and their technology, which is generally self-repairing. Some Tomb Worlds haven't proved entirely immune to the ravages of time though, which has caused their occupants to deteriorate over the course of their long sleep. For example, the Necrons of the Dynasty of the Severed were mind-wiped by radiation storms as they slept, causing them to re-awaken as mindless drones.
  • In Exalted, most First Age technology is self-maintaining, so even after hundreds of years of moldering in some forgotten ruin or other, they'll still work perfectly. Since Solars were the only ones who could obtain or create the materials and enchantments that make this possible, however, all Magitek made since the Usurpation requires periodic maintenance to remain operational.
  • Anything from GURPS Ultra-Tech that is made from Living Metal will last forever because the material will automatically repair any damage that it incurs.
  • BattleTech:
    • The 'Mechs that are jockeyed around circa 3025 are already possibly hundreds of years old, passed down from generation to generation of pilot families. And they still work. Often times better than the new stuff. Many fans believe some of the absurdly heavy tonnages and large size of various electronic equipment and weapons is specifically because they're built to last.
    • Also, presumably if you're planning to pass a Humongous Mecha off to you kids, you're going to keep it maintained. Same applies to Drop Ships, which you don't exactly want to be held together by rusty bolts if you're coming down into an atmosphere at Mach 3 inside a ship that is about as aerodynamic as the Sydney Opera House. Unmaintained and poorly maintained BattleTech technology tends to fail miserably when pushed into combat.
    • Canonically, it's a mixture of both. While 'Mechs and Drop Ships are very close to being lost technology by the late Succession Wars (and interstellar Jump Ships basically are), the knowledge to maintain them remains... which makes sense, since people without degrees in metallurgy, chemistry, or engineering commonly maintain things like guns and tanks and reactors. All those old 'Mechs are (usually) still maintained. On the other hand, the Terran Hegemony/Star League was so over-the-top in Ragnarok-proofing that SLDF Brian Caches, facilities, and even the occasional interstellar War Ship (and their contents) can be rediscovered and reactivated after being abandoned for a quarter of a millennium. The Periphery, and it's 'Mechs that are shambling piles of jury-rigs and bolted-on substitutions, shows what happens when Ragnarok-proofed military technology gets used frequently and can't be maintained up to spec.
    • One of the premier examples of Ragnarok Proofing is the automated Valkyrie factory in the Federated Suns. It was built by the Star League and has since become a Black Box: raw materials are dumped in one end of it, and complete battlemechs come out the other side. It's run for over three hundred years with no maintenance to speak of because following the collapse of the Star League there's been nobody who has any idea how it actually works. FedSuns engineers would like to try to switch it off to examine it and maybe see if they can replicate it or reprogram/retool it to produce something other than Valkyries, but they're afraid to do so on the justifiable grounds that they'd probably never be able to reactivate it.
  • An old Traveller supplement detailed the Darrians, a minor human (space-elvish) offshoot in the Spinward Marches which had destroyed its own advanced (TL16) civilization by accidentally triggering a solar flare and frying every microchip for parsecs. A few starships still remained operational from the ancient Darrian fleet; The expected number of modern Imperial Navy starships (TL15) to be usable after several hundred years of disuse and no maintenance was exactly 0.
  • Rifts only uses this a little. Though the physical ruins of some cities and towns still stand a few centuries After After the End, the chances of finding anything usable in them is pretty much nil. However, ever so often, a cache of military equipment from the previous age, specifically stated to be Ragnarok-Proofed, is found.
    • The fact that certain Golden Age structures and technology were built using "mega-damage" materials that were far superior to presently existing real world materials helps considerably. Even so, most surface structures from pre-Rifts times have been reduced to ruins, with surviving locations often being underground military-industrial installations designed to withstand a global war.
    • This has been partially subverted recently, as it's been revealed that many of those caches are much more recent, and were deliberately left for people to find.
    • Dinosaur Swamp has a table for finding old nuclear missile silos in what's left of Cape Canaveral, with the results essentially telling how well that silo was Ragnarok-Proofed. On a less serious note, Cinderella's Castle has been found from time to time in the Dinosaur-infested swamps of Florida. It seems to be the only thing left of the park, however.
  • d20 Apocalypse (the appropriately named post-apocalyptic supplement to d20 Modern) has charts for looting pre-apocalypse stuff out of the ruins of modern society, complete with rolls to determine how damaged any building is - and the longer you get from the apocalypse, the higher the minimum damage goes. You can still find working bits of modern technology if you roll well enough, though. The overall effect is somewhere between reality and the Fallout series. d20 Modern is meant to be "cinematic" roleplaying rather than devotedly realistic, though.
  • Downplayed in Rocket Age. Most ancient technology is not in perfect working condition, but has still managed to survive to the present day and may still be active.

  • BIONICLE's story toys with the concept. On the planet Bara Magna, pretty much every structure exposed to environmental forces has degraded into ruins over the last 100 000 years, and the locals possess no technology to keep them in shape. However when they literally pull their settlements together, those combine to form the frame of a Humongous Mecha that only needs a Power Source to become functional again. Also there's an even more ancient fortress in the Northern region, which still stands intact with all its traps operational. The excess of Phlebotinum in the BIONICLE universe lends this some justification, though.

    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed, Most of the technology created by the First Civilisation is in perfect condition after being lost and buried for 75,000 years. Justified, as the First Civilisation are shown to have been incredibly advanced, to the point of being beyond human comprehension.
  • In the post-Apocalyptic world of Sera in Gears of War, most things hadn't gotten this. Thus you'll fine beautifully dilapidated buildings, cities falling apart, etc. In the third game you find the ruins of a city hit by a Kill Sat bombardment...
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Justified when it comes to the creations of the Dwemer throughout the series, and most prominently displayed in Morrowind and Skyrim where Dwemer ruins are abundant. The Naytheistic Dwemer were known to bend the "Earth Bones," essentially the laws of nature and physics, in order to make their creations last. Even thousands of years after the race mysteriously disappeared, their Magitek machinery continues to crank away. This includes their numerous death traps and "Animunculi".
    • Lampshaded in Oblivion when random civilians remark that it's amazing that all the traps in the ancient Ayleid ruins still work after all this time.
  • Mostly averted in Journey (2012). The vast majority of the buildings encountered in the game are in a visible state of disrepair. The still-active war machines are the exception to this rule.
  • You can't swing a sword in Final Fantasy games without hitting a fully functional relic of a lost civilization:
    • Final Fantasy has the Sky Warriors, who built a fabulous Floating Castle (heavily implied to be a satellite in orbit), robots, and an Airship before being obliterated by the Fiends. The Castle was abandoned, the robots were left to fend for themselves in the ruins (one of them even fell from the sky and crashed near a waterfall) and the Airship was buried in a desert, and yet everything is in perfect working order by the time the Light Warriors need to use it.
    • The Ronka Ruins of Final Fantasy V, buried beneath the surface for thousands of years, work well enough to activate computerized defense systems and laser artillery when raised into the skies.
    • Final Fantasy VIII is a serial offender:
      • The Gardens were built by the Centra, an ancient civilization that was obliterated during the last Lunar Cry some 80 years prior. Though derelict by the time they're turned into SeeD schools, the technology that transforms them into flying, mobile stations works perfectly fine.
      • The Ruins of Centra qualify as well, with functioning elevators and other technology still in place after 80 years – worse still, while the Gardens were in other places of the world, said ruins lie in the area affected by the Lunar Cry. It might be partly justified, along with the aforementioned Gardens, as it's implied that Centran technology is Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane, maybe both combined.
      • There's also the appropriately named, fueled and functioning Ragnarok, which spent seventeen years drifting in space. In the Ragnarok's case, it makes some sense (space being a fairly safe environment for preservation) as the ship appeared to be in low-power mode and not using any oxygen thanks to the alien things running loose on the ship that didn't require it.
      • Even more impressive is the Lunatic Pandora, a massive, mountain-sized craft that was buried in the ocean for the better part of two decades but remained fully functional when it was recovered. Those Estharian engineers really know their craft.
      • And then there's the Deep Sea Research Center, a huge artificial island built upon the ruins of some ancient civilisation (predating Centra) that could give Lunatic Pandora a run for its money. The facility has been abandoned for an undisclosed amount of time to the point its entrance and top layer is completely overgrown with vegetation and in severe disrepair, yet the bottom layers, all consisting of huge glass walls isolating the ruins from the surrounding ocean, seem fine. There's not a single leak or broken glass in the massive cylindrical structure, and the machinery inside still operates and has enough steam power not only to allow the party to reach its bottom, but to launch excavations. All of this despite utter lack of mantainance in such a harsh environment as deep ocean.
    • The Al-Bhed tribe in Final Fantasy X is devoted entirely to salvaging Ancient Technology, but this often goes to ridiculous lengths. Case in point: Cid's airship, the Fahrenheit, was found embedded in rock, underwater, a thousand years after the fall of the civilization that originally built it. Not only is its interior in perfect condition (as Tidus and Rikku verify when they first salvage it), its weaponry is fully operational and Cid gets it airborne within a matter of days. Similarly, the Sin-level Vegnagun, sealed under Bevelle for a thousand years, is in perfect condition when Shuyin steals it.
    • The party in Final Fantasy XII have no objection to trusting their lives to teleporters and elevators from the days of the Galtean Alliance, even ones that have been left abandoned in shrines or tombs for centuries. The lift in the Sochen Cave Palace wobbles visibly while stopping, and that's about the long and the short of the risk involved.
    • When Lightning's party descends onto Gran Pulse in Final Fantasy XIII, they find that it runneth over with machinery built by the ancient Pulsian civilization that died out shortly after the War of Transgression 500 years ago. An especially jarring example is Shakti, Vanille's Robot Buddy who was abandoned by its owner during the War of Transgression and is still mostly intact (for but five missing parts) when the heroes find it. The durability of combat drones may be understandable, but that little useless thing?
    • The world of Final Fantasy XIV has gone through multiple apocalypses, and yet the relics of some past civilization have endured through one, several, or even all of these well enough to be salvaged and restored to working order, if they're not already fully operable the instant they're dug up:
      • While the cities of Amdapor and Mhach have mostly eroded into ruin in the last sixteen centuries since the Sixth Umbral Calamity, their advanced magical mechanisms, guardians, and dimensional portals, have survived those nations' wars, a world-ending deluge, nature reclaiming the sites with either massive fungi overgrowth or swamplands, and worse. There is also the Void Ark, a giant airship built by the Mhachi civilization, which is still cruising through the skies fifteen hundred years after that civilization fell, as well as the Mhachi floating city of Dun Scaith, still waiting in pristine condition for the occupants who never came.
      • Speaking of such ancient flood, the great vessel Nyunkrepf's Hope, a Magitek ark built by the selfsame scholar to save as many people as possible from the calamity, still sits in perfect condition atop a hill among the peaks of Gyr Abania, its hull unweathered by time and its mystical sigils still glowing as bright as the day it set sail.
      • The Allagan Empire, a massive, continents-spanning civilization from the Fourth Astral Era, had hyper-advanced science and technology in as many fields as one could care to mention—genetic engineering, cloning, space travel, artificial intelligence, robotics, aetherology, and even the workings of the soul and the secret to binding and enslaving Eikons—that is, summoned divine beings. These were augmented further by the discovery of Omega, an interstellar artificial intelligence whose own technology was so advanced the Allagan researchers could barely scratch the surface. So when the Fourth Umbral Calamity ended the Empire in a cataclysmic earthquake five thousand years ago, an incalculably vast amount of relics, weapons, cities, and research sites survived, merely emtombed within the earth and out of reach of man until the Seventh Calamity or the modern-day Garlean Empire brought them back to the surface.
      • Then there's Omega itself, a robotic AI tens of thousands of years old, and the absolute apex of its creators' technological prowess. After spending many thousand years traveling the stars in pursuit of its target, with no further contact or supplies from its home, it finally crashed into this planet and lay dormant for eons until ancient Allag reawakened it. Then it survived the Seventh Calamity taking place directly above it, and once released, it immediately restored and reconfigured itself to full operational capacity—that is to say, it was able to create interdimensional portals to the space between universes, create gods simply to have test subjects to do battle with, and ultimately transfer its consciousness at the last second into a toy body when the Warrior of Light finally destroyed its original chassis. And then, said toy body persisted with Omega's intellect for at least another two hundred years before beginning to show signs of deterioration.
      • And then, the great antecessor of them all, the Ancient civilization from the world before the Sundering. Although the catastrophe that befell the Ancients, aptly called the Final Days, indeed destroyed most of their great works, what little of it that survived endured not just the Sundering of the world that came soon after, but, by all modern standards, these remnants are essentially indestructible and impenetrable. Which shows not only how unattainable the Ancients' works are to the sundered civilizations, but also how terrifying the Final Days were if they could lay low such works.
  • Played straight in all the Breath of Fire games, but especially Breath of Fire III, where it's played to the hilt, where there's a whole town whose purpose is to comb through giant piles of ancient technology washed up from the ocean. Justified due to a Well-Intentioned Extremist demigoddess having a chokehold on the world's technology due to the massive damage it's done to the ecosystem in the past, turning a large part of the world into an uninhabitable desert that's threathening to engulf the rest of it: she regulates exactly what kind of technology is allowed to be salvaged by the people living in the still-thriving part of the world so that they won't accidentally or intentionally invent Weapons of Mass Destruction again.
  • Pikmin: The games all take place on a very distant future on what seems to be Earth After the End. And yet, the various objects the protagonists find throughout the series are as good as new. Electroc devices still are at full battery, metal objects are free of any rust despite having been at the mercy at the elements probably for centuries and te food items are still edible. There are also the Ravaged Rustworks in Hey! Pikmin, the map of which looks like a well-tended industrial park.
  • Xenogears embraces this trope with singular joy:
    • Although the Eldridge crashed into Earth tens of thousands of years ago, and broke up as it hit the surface, its individual systems (such as the security robots, laser turrets, and defense reflectors, and the computer systems needed to run them) work as if they had been built yesterday.
    • Additionally, there's the Gears themselves (giant mecha found buried beneath the surface), some of which come from the previous civilization, but the most powerful ones are much, much older than that and presumably come from the Eldridge itself.
    • The Yggdrasil vessels, including a sand-sub, a seaworthy version, and even a gigantic robot which had actually been built on because people thought it was a ruin.
    • The Eldridge-era Merkava and Excalibur-class ships.
    • Although it comes after the Eldridge incident, the Zeboim civilization is thousands of years old by the time the game takes place. It left behind an entire city, preserved for thousands of years, including a nanotechnology lab with a living Artificial Human made entirely out of nanites.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles: As the Spiritual Successor to Xenogears, the series does the same thing:
    • Xenoblade Chronicles: The Monado has existed since the beginning of the universe, untold eons ago. Pretty justified since it's not so much an actual sword, and more of the physical manifestation of the Bionis's will— and while the titanic being looks dead, the Bionis is still very much alive.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles X: The planet Mira has numerous ancient ruins of unspecified age, most notably the O'rrh Sim Castle that takes up a large portion of Cauldros. Of course, time is weird on Mira; you also encounter people who are either from the distant past or far future.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: There is a thriving industry built around salvaging bits of lost ancient technology from within the Cloud Sea. Late in the game, a trip beneath the clouds shows that the Titans have been circling over the ruined but still functional remains of a 20 Minutes into the Future city, and the World Tree they circle is a vegetation-covered Space Elevator that the city was built around millions of years ago and leads up to a Space Station in orbit, all of which is still in working order complete with various superweapons just waiting to be reactivated. The rest of the planet has had its proofing deliberately undone through Nanomachines to restore the Earth's health. That said, it seems that the elevator and station itself have automated systems, tied directly into The Conduit, that have been keeping things intact. When the Architect dies and the Conduit vanishes as a result, most of the whole thing starts crumbling in on itself nigh-instantly. Plus, one thing inside of the station that hasn't been proofed is Elysium, which without upkeep has degenerated into a lifeless desert.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Most of the environment is made up of locations from the first two games, mashed together seemingly at random. Most of them are perfectly recognizable even after hundreds if not thousands of years, complete with a few working elevators in ancient ruins. The fact that the entire point of the world is to be an "Endless Now" where nothing ever changes justifies most of it.
  • While Chrono Cross's Chronopolis is at least ten thousand years old, it can be argued that its AI caretaker took precautions to keep it in working order. The same cannot be said for Terra Tower, which was sealed under the sea for that same amount of time and whose defense mechanisms (of a more organic, rather than electronic, form of technology) were up to the task when freed.
  • Zig-Zagged in Chrono Trigger: on the one hand, the food stores in 2300 A.D. have all rotted because the systems designed to make it last a long time failed due to lack of maintenance, and Robo is non-functional (but repairable) when the party finds him. On the other hand, plenty of Killer Robots are still running around, perfectly functional... as long as you count Kill All Humans as a function, at least.
  • The final stage of Lost Land Adventure is set in a set of Babylonian ruins in the Middle Eastern desert, and it turns out the cannons in those ruins are still functioning. You can hijack one of them to blow up enemy golems, while avoiding other cannons fired at your direction.
  • One part of Metal Slug 3D has Marco fall into decently preserved ruins of an ancient alien civilization... 8 billion years old.
  • Justified in Halo. The eponymous rings (and various other megastructures built by the Forerunners) are in perfect working condition, but there's robots to upkeep everything, and factories that build robots, etc. Also, a lot of Forerunner construction utilized Hard Light holographically disguised as physical materials, which would almost certainly negate many things that factor into decaying structures (though the fact that the generators themselves still function perfectly is definitely an example of this trope). Most noticeable on Requiem: while some of the structures on the Halos (mentioned to not utilize Hard Light to as much a degree as other installations) have at least some physical signs of age (smudges, some discoloration), the mostly Hard Light structures of Requiem are as perfect and clean as the day they... appeared.
    • The Precursor artifacts in The Forerunner Saga (which include giant star system spanning cables) play this even more straightly, being virtually indestructible despite being millions of years old, with absolutely no visible maintenance system of any kind. This somehow has to do with the Precursors' ability to manipulate "neural physics" (basically Halo's version of the Force). As to why we don't see any Precursor artifacts in the "current" time, despite their apparent indestructibility? Well, the Halos were made to destroy neurological systems of any kind, and since Precursor tech is basically made of thought...
  • In Mega Man ZX Advent, you can find several artifacts from the original Mega Man series, despite the fact that at least 400 years have passed since then. Legends seems to play this straight with its underground ruins full of Lost Technology, but later we find out that while the infrastructure that maintains them is severely compromised, it's still there, just hidden from the common people. Then it turns out that the common people are Lost Technology themselves; a form of robot called a 'Carbon Unit', and the last actual, biological human died a very, very long time ago. We're talking Lost Technology capable of sexual reproduction here.
  • Mass Effect is littered with Prothean relics and buildings, despite the fact that the Protheans died many thousands of years ago.
    • Humans discovered the first prothean remains on Mars, which with its lack of plant or animal life, moisture, or tectonic activity, provided perfect conditions to preserve mechanical equipment under the sand for 50,000 years.
    • The Citadel was actually quite intentionally Ragnarok proofed, being equipped with millions of drones that keep it in working order during the times between occupation by other races.
    • Likewise, the Mass Relays have extremely advanced self-repair systems keeping them functioning for at least 50,000 years at a time. It is explicitly mentioned that one was caught in a supernova and was no worse for wear except that no one could find it again for a couple thousand years. Presumably the Relays are made from a material designed to last. They can also "quantum lock," becoming almost literally indestructible, when in extreme danger.
    • However the Prothean Megacity on Feros, and the Archives on Ilos, definitely do fit under the trope. On the former thin vertical spires several kilometers high are still standing, even after said 50,000 years of weather erosion and simple decay. On the later there are still functioning power sources, elevators, lighting, force fields and elaborate Virtual Intelligence terminals (slightly degraded). Visually, they appear like 20th century constructions that have been abandoned for only 10 to 20 years. Though Vigil does say he had to turn off everyone's stasis pods to keep the power on.
    • Which is again discussed in the From Ashes DLC mod for Mass Effect 3: apparently the only reason the Prothean pods failed on Ilos was lack of power. There's still one pod with a very-much-alive inhabitant in the Prothean bunker on Eden Prime.
    • In the second game, the krogan homeworld of Tuchanka was apparently bombed into ruins during the Krogan Rebellions around 1000 AD. By AD 2185 it is apparently still in the grips of a nuclear winter complete with constant sandstorm, yet many of the ruins are still intact enough that you can find a recognisable radar dish, pyramidal skyscraper or even an unexploded bomb with the casing intact.
      • Even before the Krogan Rebellions, their architecture was built with this in mind. In the second game it's mentioned that the hospitals are constructed like bunkers because injured krogan have a tendency to succumb to Blood Rage and destroy everything in their path.
    • In the third game, Shepard travels through an ancient krogan temple complex with underground ruins, which despite being abandoned millennia ago, have survived remarkably well and only have a minimal amount of structural damage. A side-mission on Tuchanka involves a ground-to-space cannon that hasn't seen use since the Rebellions. Cerberus gets it up and running pretty quickly, which works out for you once you kill them.
    • In one of the expanded endings of the third game, the Reapers win, but you see one of Liara's time capsules being activated during the next cycle, apparently none the worse for wear. Unlike the Protheans, Liara thought to make sure that people actually understood them, including a galactic Rosetta Stone in the design. Likewise, Liara made sure to seed the time capsules on numerous worlds so that all civilisations that might exist in the next Cycle would be able to find them.
    • One unexplained example are the cave paintings Shepard finds in the Leviathan DLC for the third game, which are heavily implied to have been painted before the Reapers ever started their extermination cycles. If true, this would make those paintings at least a billion years old. Very impressive stone-age paint to have lasted that long on a planetary surface, not to mention the rock should have long since eroded away.
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda has the Remnant tech, which has been left sitting around for about four hundred years, some in extreme weather conditions, and on the whole is working perfectly well (or at least well enough). Even though the disaster which drove the Remnant builders away was deliberately aimed at them. However, the disaster does seem to have scrubbed any useful or coherent information that can be gleamed from most of their systems, so Ryder and SAM's efforts to get it working is mostly just guess-work.
  • When you get to the sunken city of Thor in Tales of Phantasia, long since destroyed by a meteor impact, the shield around it is still working perfectly. So by extension, so are the automatic doors, the TV (and video game system) in the pub, an electronic lock and card reader, the security systems, and the main computer Oz. Justified in that the city's power comes from the Spirit of Light, Aska. After the city's been pulled up from underwater, you can free Aska and have her join you. The city systems still somehow work after that, though...
    • Technology made by the Quartz, ranging from a simple lever-operated door to an entire mobile fortress, works perfectly after 2000 years in Tales of Hearts.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: The forest planet of Kashyyyk contains a large machine, the Builder Forge, hidden within the depths of the Shadowlands. When activated, the machine's holographic interface claims that it was built 30,000 years ago, meaning it predates the Republic itself. Not only does the machine's computer still function, it analyzes the player and eventually determines that he or she is worthy of viewing its Star Map. Of course, it's only reasonable that the machine grant you access when you reconfigured it yourself five years ago as a Sith Lord.
  • Fallout series:
    • The first games have completely abandoned sewer systems that haven't collapsed fifty years after the last human could have walked through them.
    • Computers and other electronics are in perfect working order, even if at least one area, the Glow, was directly hit by a nuke. There's a slight excuse for the electromagnetic pulse from a nuke that would normally fry computers: because the game is set in an alternate universe, they still use vacuum tubes for computing, and while that may be slower, clunkier, and overall less efficient, they lack the vulnerability to electromagnetic pulses that modern transistor-based computers have.
    • Fallout 2 does play with this however: Vault 15 is nothing more than a New Khan hide out full of rust and tetanus with the generator barely functioning after a meager 80 years of being abandoned. The Chryslus Highwayman however works after 164 years of rusting in a nuclear desert after a full repair, living up to its slogan "Nothing can stop a Highwayman" (granted it could use some upgrades).
    • Fallout 3: The game is set 200 years after the War.
      • There are still freestanding wooden house support beams, identifiable cars (that explode), glass soda bottles that still have potable liquid in them, and a standing Washington monument.
      • The most grievous example? Abraham Lincoln's Henry Rifle from 1860, fully functional.
      • A justified example, the N99 10mm pistol was intentionally designed and tested to endure the harshest conditions for extended periods of time with no maintenance. It more than lived up to its standards.
      • There's edible left-over food. You don't want to know what's in the food that leaves it edible 200 years after a nuclear holocaust.
      • One of the most egregious examples is the presence of a functioning power grid. Seriously, every single intact computer you find, even those in half-demolished, completely abandoned buildings, still somehow has a working power source, and underground utility tunnels still have working (although very dim) lights. And at least one computer entry mentions the user having found buried power lines and tapped into the still-functioning portions of the power grid. The explanation behind this is that the U.S. buried a number of backup nuclear power generators, and they're still connected to what's left of the grid and running strong 200 years later.
      • Some of the power grid is restored with the use of car batteries, this is usually only found in human settlements. Where they get all of these fully functional batteries is another question.
      • In the Broken Steel DLC, there's a fully functional train from a largely destroyed secret subway system that connects from the remains of the U.S. Capitol Building and a sewer from the ruins of the White House to a nearby airbase that proves pivotal to the game's plot. For something that survived a war from over 200 years ago, it proved to be astonishingly resilient to rust and decay, and got even luckier when it completely avoided attempts at sabotage after the War.
    • Fallout: New Vegas tones much of this down, but not entirely:
      • There are several power plants that provide energy to the Mojave area that use ambient energy sources, such as the hydroelectric Hoover Dam and the solar Helios One. They're considered an invaluable strategic resource and are hotly contested by various organizations in the setting. This still doesn't explain how various long-abandoned buildings have power, though.
      • Most of the tech and items left in the wastes are either on the verge of breaking down permanently or (barely) held together by tape. The ones that aren't are usually those maintained and/or built by post-War factions like the NCR; the NCR's firepower in fact almost entirely avert this trope thanks to the Gun Runners mass-producing new firearms based on Pre-War schematics.
      • The NCR has access to functional pre-War US Army trucks, which they used to haul some of their troops and supplies from California to their bases in the Mojave.
    • Fallout 4:
      • The skyscrapers of Boston are somehow still standing after 210 years of neglect, complete with functional elevators. There are also many somewhat intact sections of elevated highways, some of which are used as settlements or raider/mercenary bases.
      • Zigzagged with the Glowing Sea. Everything on the surface has been completely wiped out, with a few ruins indicating where buildings used to be. However, some buildings were buried by mudslides triggered by the nuke's detonation, and the interiors of these locations are well preserved and unlooted. Justified in that the surface is an incredibly hostile environment and the native wildlife doesn't take kindly to visitors.
      • Most of the houses still have recognizable paint, wallpaper, and sometimes even Halloween decorations. The fridge in your own home has post-it notes which are still perfectly legible.
    • Across all games, everything also seems to be remarkably fireproof, for a postapocalyptic wasteland where all but the hardiest plants have whithered away, all the trees are dead, and the climate has been permanently set to sweltering summer desert heat, without rain. And people run around making campfires and using flamethrowers...
  • Used and abused in the The Legend of Zelda series, which not only takes place over a period of thousands of years, but already has ancient Magitech in the chronological beginning, which is still running perfectly by the chronological end, despite being used (and not at all maintained) fairly frequently throughout. The only justification is the Master Sword, which is shown in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to possess the ability to repair itself.
  • Done in Marathon 2: Durandal and Infinity (3rd game). The ruins of the S'pht civilization might look run down, but anything the player needs to use (Computer terminals, shield rechargers, doors, lifts, etc) works just fine. Lampshaded at least twice.
    Tycho: It's likely a quick and dirty patch into the durable S'pht hardware. These types of strongholds were build to outlast centuries of warfare.
    Pfhor computer terminal: The quality of the machinery is quite extraordinary, and most of the computer terminals are still functional even after two thousand years.
    • Justified, in that the S'pht have been so advanced for so long that prior to meeting the Pfhor couldn't conceive of non-cybernetic intelligence. They were originally created to serve as servants of the Jjaro, a race so advanced that they could warp entire planets instantly through space millions of years before the game's timeline.
  • The Nomai in Outer Wilds apparently built things to last. Despite vanishing over a quarter of a million years prior to the game, their structures, while frequently crumbling in places, are in remarkably good shape, and their technology still works fine. In particular, they built an elaborate project to lanch a probe from an orbital space station in a random direction to try and locate a mysterious artifact, then induce an artificial supernova in the sun in order to gather enough power to send the probe's findings back in time to before the launch. Their plan to cause an early supernova failed, but the rest of the system still works flawlessly, even after sitting unattended long enough for the sun to reach the end of its natural lifespan and go supernova on its own.
  • Wild ARMs - This trope inverted may actually justify the Word of God stating that all six games take place on the same very unlucky planet... just thousands upon thousands of years apart. After all, technology just doesn't last! You've still got facilities/bits of tech built thousands of years before game start in working order in 3.
  • Overplayed to the extreme in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). At one point in the game, Shadow and Rouge are forcibly sent to a post-apocalyptic future 200 years from the game's "present" complete with a city that is mostly intact only perpetually on fire. Conveniently, Sonic and his pals were sent to the same future in the same area by sheer coincidence, so they work together to form a portal back to the present. It works, but Shadow finds the guy who zapped him and Rouge to this hellhole in the first place, and misses the portal closing in an attempt to get answers from him. Rouge's solution? To put a Mineral MacGuffin in her robot friend E-123 Omega's glove compartment and put him on sleep mode for the next two hundred years so Shadow can find him in the future and use it to teleport back in time. Needless to say, he survives Armageddon unscathed and the plan works perfectly.
    • Probably justified, since they already know that the plan will work due to time shenanigans, as the game never really makes up its mind on how the time travel works. It's a minor plot hole in a game riddled with huge ones. Also, it's a Chaos Emerald, the series' go to MacGuffin for any given miracle required. It could probably not only stop itself from being destroyed, but also protect a sleep mode enabled Omega.
    • The same post-apocalyptic volcano city has working electricity, computers that are perfectly functional, and Sonic is even able to look up old news articles, implying one hell of a sysadmin is still devoted to doing their job.
  • Eternal Darkness features the Lost City of Ehn'gha, constructed by a long-dead race that inhabited the Earth before mankind showed up. It's remarkably intact, though its use as a Guardian colony may have something to do with that. Another "forbidden city" is slightly less intact but still standing strong after twenty centuries, and in fact one of the protagonists is forced by The Dragon to perform routine maintenance. The resident Tome of Eldritch Lore also manages to survive for longer than your average book would, but then again, it is protected by Magick.
  • A strangely appropriate trope for Ragnarok Online, where the Juperos Ruins and its machinations are still in surprisingly good shape.
  • Metro 2033 averts this: it's only been 20 years, but the subway system has taken a heavy toll. Considering how long the planned lifetime for these facilities is, decay can be attributed more to poor maintenance than to time alone. After entering the legendary D-6, intended to be the command center of the Russian government before the nuclear apocalypse, a casual lean on a railing causes it to fall off.
    Miller: Careful, damn it! Twenty years without maintenance is too much even for Soviet military structures! Everyone watch your step!
  • Pirates: Legend of the Black Buccaneer is set on an uncharted island with a centuries-old fortress in it's center, but the fort's cannons are still functionable. Which is great, because you'll need those cannons to blow up walls to create exits and take down a Giant Crab boss near the end of the game.
  • Portal 2 takes place several hundred years after the end of the first game, with the protagonist having been trapped in the Enrichment Center in cryogenic stasis. It initially looks like an aversion, as the place is rather thoroughly wrecked, but the portal gun still works as do many of the center's mechanisms. In particular, GLaDOS is still around, and once you restore power, she rapidly goes about repairing the facility. Less explicable is how the original Enrichment Center, four kilometers beneath the surface and abandoned before even the first game without the benefits of a caretaker AI, remains functional.
    • Aperture Science themselves seem to have prepared accordingly for this type of scenario.
      Announcer: Hello, and again, welcome to the Aperture Science Enrichment Center. We are currently experiencing technical difficulties due to circumstances of potentially apocalyptic significance beyond our control. However, thanks to emergency testing protocols, testing can continue. These pre-recorded messages will provide instructional and motivational support so that science can still be done, even in the event of environmental, social, economic, or structural collapse. The portal will open, and emergency testing will begin, in three. Two. One.
  • Shadow Guardian has a steampunk Mini-Mecha in the middle of some Antarctic ruins, after several centuries of dormancy, where it's somehow still functioning allowing you to kick ass and take on Novik's army of tanks. And later on it turns out Novik have obtained his own ancient mecha to face you as a boss.
  • The Xel'naga from StarCraft seem to have invested in some seriously heavy-duty Ragnarok Proofing. Despite being anywhere from several thousand to several million years old, their (frighteningly advanced) relics always seem to be in working order when they are inevitably dug up and reactivated.
  • Caves of Qud has this trope going on in full force with its many Lost Technology artifacts and Killer Robots, all still around after the world was ruined probably over a thousand years ago. But given one of the settings the game homages, that shouldn't be a surprise.
  • Go to pretty much any beach in World of Warcraft and you'll find some ruins left by the Highborne, before the world cracked open due to the hubris of Queen Azshara. That was ten thousand years ago and the ruins are still mostly standing, looking even better than Roman ruins are today.
    • One-upped by the Titans, which have been present on Azeroth geological ages ago. Any of their structures that haven't been damaged by the Shattering are still in pristine condition, with fully operational Magitek machinery. Justified as they have been maintained and defended by a veritable army of constructs, from clockwork beetles to Humongous Mecha, and more could be manufactured as needed at the Forge of Wills.
  • Most of the Magitek in Golden Sun is still fully functional, after untold centuries of worldwide neglect, decay, and World Sundering. At most, any stray Adept just needs to push a few dislodged circuits back into place to get the whole thing up and running again, even the Pointless Doomsday Devices that would probably have been easier to destroy outright than deactivate and lock down.
  • The underwater city of Rapture from BioShock is pretty battered and leaking at parts, with sections of it already on the verge of collapse. Yet much of it looks more or less as it did during the outbreak of its Civil War: the lights are still on, VA systems are (mostly) operational and everything's (barring some wet parts) in working order. Justified in that said mess only happened about a year before the player shows up. Fast-forward eight years to the events of the sequel and it's a different story: rust, moss and sea-crusted life are creeping more and more into what's left of the city that isn't swallowed up wholesale by the ocean. Which only serves to underline its ultimate fate as a symbol of hubris doomed to vanish beneath the sea forever.
  • Industria have you finding firearms, bullets and equipment in the titular city, all in working condition even though Industria was abandoned over two decades ago.
  • This is completely averted in The Last of Us. Many of the buildings are falling apart a mere 20 years after the Zombie Apocalypse (in fact in one of the earlier parts of the game you go through a building that's nearly sideways) and all of the surviving humans and soldiers have taken residence in sections of the city that haven't fallen apart.
  • Rage (2011) is set 106 years after an asteroid impact wiped out the bulk of life on earth. Working electronics, cars and rubber tires are common.
  • The Talos Principle is set inside a long-running computer program in a post-apocalyptic earth, whose goal is to have the robot running around and doing puzzles finally defy Elohim and bring about the end of the program. When you do, you are uploaded into a robotic body and find yourself in a large, overgrown building, implying that it's been decades since the program started running, and yet, there are only a few glitches here and there within the program.
    • This is pretty much an invocation; you can find texts indicating that lasting for far longer than previous supercomputers—up to centuries—is an explicit design goal for the computer the program runs on.
    • The amount of time that passed after the calamity is hinted to be extremely long. The very first, non-spoilery terminal in the game states that the last network connection was established 9,999 years ago. On one hand, this readout is surrounded by similarly random and glitched data. On the other, the terminal says that the vast archive was reduced from several petabytes to mere dozen gigabytes in the meantime. It's unlikely that such corruption (and timer "running out of bits") could occur in mere decades. The same message also hints that the AI programs took certain liberties with the data and invalidated what didn't serve their own purposes.
  • Considering it's been vacant for a few hundred years, the subterranean D'ni city from Uru has held up remarkably well. Granted, most of it was constructed of super-durable stone (nara), but the fabrics and paper items have remained intact and not decomposed from the nearby lake's moisture.
  • Nihilumbra: The turrets seem to apply at first, being so abandoned and yet still working. It comes full force in the City, which can still work without a hitch with a little yellow paint despite being abandoned who knows how long.
  • Dead Space 3: The ruins on Tau Volantis are at least 200 years old and covered in snow and ice, yet most are intact and machinery works like it was abandoned yesterday. Beneath that are ruins that were abandoned tens of thousands, if not millions of years ago
  • Terraria: The abandoned, ruined houses in The Underworld occasionally contain obsidian grandfather clocks which still tell perfect time.
  • In Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden, when the heroes are launched into the future, many of the scientists on the side of the heroes use the Mountain Cycles from Turn-A Gundam to protect their Mid-Season Upgrade machines so they have them. They, along with the Bad Future they ended up in, disappear after the heroes return from the future and prevent it.
  • In Star Trek Online, more of those pan-galactic teleporters are discovered beneath the surface of New Romulus, but they outfit a bit of modern tech to make sure it's all up and running. Too bad the race that used those gates are actually still alive and are willing to try to screw everyone over.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: About a millennium after the fall of civilization, the wilderness has caked over the skyscrapers and underground survival bases, but all the important stuff, like audio logs and A.I.s, still work. Even the army of killer robots was simply dug out of their hiding place and instantly put to work. Justified, as the total destruction of the biosphere meant there was no biosphere to erode the structures for centuries, while the system designed to restore life was given multiple layers of proofing to ensure it would work, up to and including a self-destruct biosphere failsafe in case the first few tries went horribly wrong.
    • It's a plot point in the sequel Horizon Forbidden West that the trope is subverted. The Tenakth based their religious practices off of partially-functioning holograms in a museum from the old world, but now they are starting to fail more frequently and they need to either find a way to restore them, or find a way to record their messages before they are gone completely.
  • Subnautica: The alien facilities are all in excellent condition despite most of them being underwater and unmanned for at least a thousand years. However, the player does see automated maintenance drones wandering around a few locations, which may explain why everything's still working.
  • Warframe: Orokin artifacts still work after being abandoned for centuries or millennia. In the Tennocon 2019 trailer, the girl prays in front of three statues which turn out to be actual warframes, left alone for so long that they have been covered in dirt and moss to the point that they look like they have been carved from stone. The Operator is still able to use transference to take control of them and fight back.
  • Relics of human civilization still exist in the setting of NieR: Automata, over ten thousand years after human extinction and centuries after a hostile alien invasion. Concrete buildings, though many have fallen and been taken over by vegetation, dominate the region. The most extreme example is the existence of twentieth-century books in relatively readable condition.
  • In Onimusha 3: Demon Siege you control Samanosuke Akechi, who's in 2004, and Jacques Blanc, who's instead stranded in 1582. At some points of the game you visit the same place with both in their respective timelines, and you have them cooperate so they can advance through the dungeons. The situation where you activate shutters in 1582 to lower water level in flooded passage and it stays that way withstanding hydrostatic pressure for more than 4 centuries is hard to imagine. On the other hand most of mechanics involve opening doors where it is not unreasonable to think that the doors would stay open even if locking mechanism has decayed.

  • In Adventurers!, temples are designed with thousand-year rustproofing.
  • Invoked then subverted in Schlock Mercenary with a robot designed to play mentor to a hunter-gatherer civilization.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent intially plays things relatively realistically by having only rooms that have remained closed for ninety years still contain books that don't turn to dust the second they get picked up. However, when the tank breaks down, Mikkel sends Emil and Lalli to grab a wheelbarrow, plastic jugs, sleeping bags and a tent in an abandoned department store that is shown to have gotten several large holes in its roof. The stuff Emil and Lalli pick up, aside from being a little dirty or outright having stuff growing on it, still seems in usable condition. Even later, Emil and Lalli get separated from the rest of the team and Emil ends up using materials salvaged from houses that were abandoned for the better part of a century to replace equipment they don't have.
  • Lampshaded in Starslip with Vorenote , a robot from the 21st century found sealed inside a water heater floating in deep space on the 35th:
    Vore: What Year Is This? How long was I in there?
    Vanderbeam: By our estimation, 1420 years.
    Vore: Man! The Japanese build things to last!
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes hangs a lampshade on this trope, with Silas (a ghost) surprised to see how well the ruins of his old home have held up.
  • Leaving the Cradle zig-zags this. Most ancient alien civilizations' legacy is ground to dust in a relatively short time, and on the timescales of tens of thousands of years, the only way to know something was even there is through a geological survey. But then there are the artifacts and buildings of the Ancients, that stood literally without a scratch and perfectly functional for billions of years.
  • Keychain of Creation: The elevator muzak in the several-hundred-year-old ruined manse still works perfectly. Apparently, political maneuvering among First-Age Solar musicians lead to a law requiring all music-storing artifacts to be completely indestructible.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers had the Heart of Tarkon, an ancient (benevolent!) Master Computer left behind after a massive war blew the planet back to the Bronze Age. It was awaked after many thousands of years when the planet needed its defenses. However, it was an alien technology, partly organic, and ran on Life Energy. It also may have been maintained by shamans who believed it to be the embodiment of the planet and a sacred place.
  • Averted in Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears. Although some of the technology left by the Great Gummies still works after an unknown period of neglect (possibly over 100+ years), some do need to be cleaned/repaired/refueled before they will work. Many episodes also show that Gummi Glen only continues to exist due to the Gummies continuing to care for it - disused quick tunnel tracks are seen to have collapsed, the books in an abandoned Gummi library are seen to have rotted away, etc.
  • In Adventure Time, the world of Ooo suffered a devastating war a thousand years ago, which set it in a post-apocalyptic fantasy era. However, practically everything from those days is still perfectly intact and usable. As an example, entire ruined cities have stood under the sea, completely recognizable, for about a hundred times as long as they should have. Perhaps most egregiously, a newspaper clipping from before the war can still be touched, read, its picture recognized, and even scribbled on without any issue.
  • Lampshaded then subverted in a season 3 episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender. An ancient, abandoned city is in pretty good shape, but then it turns out the inhabitants still live there, just in hiding. No proofing, just actual upkeep.
  • Partially justified and averted in "Artifacts", an episode of The Batman set 1000 years after Batman's death. All of the computers in the Batcave were entirely ruined. The suits were vacuum-sealed. The entire reason the cave stayed up was that it had braces made of titanium, which is famous for resistance to corrosion, that also had a message stored on them in binary since Batman knew the computers wouldn't keep working, and the largely intact Batmobile was presumably made of the same material.
  • Averted in the Ben 10 episode "Ultimate Weapon", where the Forever Knights discover the location of an Artifact of Doom and set out to retrieve it. However, upon removing it from its pedestal at the heart of an ancient Mayan temple, the artifact instantly crumbles into dust, much to the relief and amusement of our heroes.
  • Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. (Hand Waved in that humanity has been living in underground cities, and the Cadillacs are converted to run on dinosaur guano.)
  • Futurama
    • Old New York is in surprisingly well-preserved ruins a thousand years later under New New York when Fry, Leela and Bender go there to find Fry's lucky seven-leaf clover, or when Fry and Bender escape Leela's career chip needle. The mutants have been working there in the meantime. So there's that.
    • Parodied in "Luck of the Fryrish", when Fry's house looks ruined in the future, but the exterior is in an equally dire state in the 1990s and 2000s.
    • Bender's head spent a thousand years in a New Mexico desert without looking any worse for wear. As of Bender's Big Score, he's lived thousands and thousands of years. Partially justified, in that Bender is 40% titanium (see Batman entry above) and 40% dolomite (the tough black mineral that won't cop out when there's heat all about).
    • There's also the cryogenics lab where Fry and others throughout the series are frozen. It remains completely functional and undisturbed while the rest of New York appears to get destroyed several times. Justified in that the Nibblonians (specifically Nibbler) froze him on purpose and would be watching over him/protecting him so he can save the universe in the future.
  • Gravity Falls "Dipper and Mabel vs. The Future" features Dipper and Ford exploring a spaceship that crash-landed on Earth millions of years ago. Yet despite this, the control panel and security system still work perfectly after all this time (as well as a variety of other stuff that Ford likely scavenged out of the ship).
    Ford: This place would've been heavily guarded, but now everything's defunct. Go ahead, flip any switch. They've all been busted for millions of years.
  • The Justice League episode "Hereafter" has the JL's orbital Watchtower's communication system still functional after 75 years in a jungle without maintainance. Prior to that, it spent nearly thirty thousand years in Earth orbit before falling. Even Batman can't build 'em that good. Vandal Savage even lampshades how absurdly well it's held up. On the other hand, Metropolis is a pile of rubble, with the once giant skyscrapers barely above five stories high. This is what Savage has been REBUILDING over the last few decades.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Subverted. While most First Ones tech is working surprisingly well considering none of it has been maintained for a thousand years, it's definitely the worse for wear. In the second episode, the First Ones fortress nearly destroys itself when it senses intruders and tries to enter lockdown, the famous Sea Gate is on its last legs (though Adora is able to patch it up), and a First Ones computer core accidentally causes a machine-based Hate Plague because it is too corrupted by time.
  • Star Com The US Space Force: The Builder city featured in episode 4 is fully intact and functional despite being buried under the Martian sand for millions of years. The fact that at least one of the caretakers is still around justifies this.
  • Thundarr the Barbarian. It's very doubtful that the working machinery and the wrecked cars that everybody tosses around like footballs would be anything but dust in the year 3994. Same for all of the buildings which are ruined but still standing.
  • Transformers: Cyberverse: Transformers are absurdly old in this iteration of the franchise and their technology is built to be appropriately durable. Not only is Grimlock still pretty much fine after spending 65 million years buried, needing only a charge-up and a couple of memory-jogging videos to be right back to his old, unusually chummy self, the replica of the Ark's bridge he built back in the Cretaceous period is not only still working, once Grimlock smashes through the rock face in the way, the palmprint scanner still works. Nor is Grimlock's crown any less functional from being buried with him.
  • Transformers: Cybertron: The four ancient starships are still spaceworthy in spite of spending millennia: mostly buried (Hyperborea), completely buried (Ogygia), sitting with the lower decks in a lake (Lemuria), or lying at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean (Atlantis). Justified in that they have very good self repair systems that have been doing upkeep the whole time, and that they were built to be extremely tough in order to protect not only their crew and passengers, but also their Plot Coupon cargo (we're talking god power stuff here).
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: Downplayed Trope. While the Castle of Lions is in remarkably good condition several systems were not functioning correctly after 10,000 years, the least of which was the barrier crystals responsible for the particle barrier being out of alignment. The Alteans were a Higher-Tech Species after all.
    • Played Straight with the Lions. After 10,000 years they are still in perfect condition, despite several of them apparently having their particle barriers active the whole time.

    Real Life 
  • Currently, teams of scientists, linguists, and anthropologists are struggling to properly identify Nuclear Waste burial sites. It sounds simple at first... until you consider the half-life of some material will far outlive any facility or structure that contains it, the memory of what it was, or our descendants' ability to read the warnings on the labels, leaving us Neglectful Precursors to our own descendants. As an added twist, future archaeologists might successfully decode the labels, only to brush off our warnings as the superstitious ramblings of an ancient, underdeveloped culture. And if they aren't able to decode the precise meaning of the message, every scary formidable warning and barrier there will scream "there's something really valuable here!" Damn Interesting has an article on the process.
  • The Long Now Foundation intends to build a clock capable of keeping time for 10000 years. It will be accompanied by a large selection of high-tech cave paintings, ranging from schematics of the clock to a microprinted encyclopedia.
  • Egyptian tombs were also deliberate attempts at Ragnarök Proofing, as the ancient Egyptians believed the body had to remain intact forever for their afterlife to work properly. They didn't have all that much success, at least in the case of the Pharaohs, as the conspicuous and treasure-filled tombs tended to draw robbers. That being said, the mummies themselves, while they aren't exactly full-fleshed, still have some meat on their bones, which is almost achievement enough for any sort of organic material that old.
    • What's inside them may be (as a rule) long gone to looters... the pyramids themselves are a powerful example of this trope. The Great Pyramid is over four thousand years old and spent most of that time as the tallest structure on the planet. It lacks only its limestone facade from ancient times; much of which was deliberately removed a few centuries later, to use for building the houses, palaces, mosques, and other monuments of nearby Cairo (the great Citadel of Cairo built by Saladin is partly built with these blocks). Barring the destructive impulses of its creators the Great Pyramid will likely last on a geological timescale.
    • Ironically just dropping a body in the sand will preserve it very well as it will dry out and plenty of soft tissue (skin) will survive. Burying a body in a coffin in sand retains enough moisture to let the body rot leaving just bones (both types of actual remains can be seen in the British Museum). Thus the entire mummification process is an attempt to recreate (and improve) the effect of the very simplest form of burial.
  • We really don't build them the way the Romans used to. Almost all of the buildings in the ancient Roman city of Ostia Antica are over a thousand years old; most of them closer to two thousand years old. It's still safe to wander up to the top of millennia-old blocks of flats to look at the cityscape, while in Rome it's completely fine to walk through the forum and around the buildings that have survived centuries of conquest, city expansion and military squabbling. Pompeii and Herculaneum are similar examples, although they did have the advantage of being buried for most of that time. And some Roman roads are still in use today.
    • Best example: Roman aqueducts. Many are essentially functional after a couple millennium of being in service. Carrying one of the main causes of erosion no less.
    • Most buildings made of brick and stone are technically Ragnarök Proof. The best example are medieval houses and cathedrals that are several centuries old (some churches may be more than 1000 years old) and they are still in use. Despite weather, wars and natural disasters. In Central Europe, many 19th-century townhouses are in definitely better shape (despite lack of maintenance) than concrete housing projects built in the 1950s and '60s.
    • The biggest danger to Greek and Roman ruins is modern air pollution. Acid rain, ozone, and other pollutants are destroying them rapidly.
    • Perhaps the most impressive example is the Pantheon in Rome, which was revolutionary for its time and is still of a design that nobody today would insure, yet it's given constant use for 1500 years.
    • A lot of people don't realise that the Parthenon in Athens is not ruined thanks to the effects of time. It was accidentally blown up during the Greece-Ottoman civil war in the 19th Century: because someone had the bright idea to use it as a powder magazine. A stray lightning strike (or perhaps deliberate sabotage, nobody really knows) and the building ended up in roughly its modern appearance. Then the Brits came and stripped the murals off the façade. If not for human stupidity and colonialism, it would be basically intact. The rest of the buildings on the Acropolis, most of which are even older than the Parthenon (which is a whopping 2,500 years old), are mostly still intact.
    • Many islands in Japan's Ryukyu archipelago construct all structures and surface infrastructures out of reinforced concrete. The reason is the archipelago sits in what one could call "Typhoon alley", and will have as many as half a dozen typhoons per year easy with super typhoons (with wind gusts up to 250MPH) hitting once every few years. Aside from cleaning up greenery that had been strewn all over, business can essentially go on as usual the moment wind gusts drop to reasonable levels.
  • In the days before computers could tell you exactly how much cement was needed or bricks were required to do a job, the standard way of doing things was to overbuild (AKA throw as much stuff as possible in), unintentionally Ragnarök Proofing some things. Hoover Dam, for example, would likely stand for quite some time. Similarly, the Brooklyn Bridge was built in the 1870s to accommodate horse and buggy traffic, and now supports thousands of cars and trucks each day.
  • Windsor Castle is another excellent example, having been continuously used for almost 1,000 years right the way up to the present day, it's had plenty of additions made to it over the centuries by a multitude of monarchs. Having been never successfully stormed (or even attacked), it stands almost as an insult to anyone who's ever tried, or even thought of trying to take it down, and it will likely stay that way for centuries to come.
  • Albert Speer, chief architect famous for trying to present himself as the Only Sane Man in Hitler's inner circle, pioneered the concept of "ruin value". Taking a note from ancient Greek and Roman buildings, he argued that future Reich buildings and monuments should be built to last and from appropriate materials so that, when they eventually degraded, they would leave behind aesthetically pleasing ruins like the Colosseum and the Parthenon. Few of his designs were ever realized. His "Reich Chancellery" was demolished by the Red Army and its ruins were used to make a Soviet war memorial. "Ruin value" indeed.
    • Contrary to that, the buildings that were actually finished (and survived until now) are notorious for their haphazard and shoddy construction. Of course the short timespan of the Nazi rule didn't allow for projects that would take some decades to complete, so the things that were built were done so under serious time pressure (and Hitler's constant fiddling with details, so that plans had to be completely rewritten during construction). The best example might be the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg. The construction was constrained by the yearly party rally (at which the new buildings had to be "finished"), so a lot of shortcuts were taken. Still, most of the structures seen in photos and films are actually mock-ups, representing buildings to be built in the future. The majestic "Zeppelin grandstand" is anything but a solid building - for the most part, it is a hollow prop. Today it is so derelict that the city faces renovation costs of about 70 to 80 million euros, just to preserve it in its current state (otherwise it would have to be closed for the public due to safety concerns).
  • In 2012, a time capsule that had been entombed for 100 years was removed from the cornerstone of a GE building in Cleveland, OH. In addition to documents and photographs, it contained five light bulbs, at least one of which worked fine.
  • When firearms need to be stored for long periods of time, governments usually dip them in cosmoline to keep air and moisture from rusting steel parts. The Soviet Union did this with their Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifles, and because so many of the Model 1891/30 variants of the rifle survive today, they are sold to civilians for around $90 each in the United States.
    • One can also get Soviet surplus ammunition, usually from the 1960s or 1970s, but sometimes earlier. It's not uncommon to be at the range and realize that you're firing a weapon and ammunition with a combined age of well over 100 years.
    • Firearm survival has a lot to do with quality of steel construction, wood treatment and storage. Nitro Express rifles from the 1880s, if properly cared for, can fire just fine today. What makes the Mosin-Nagant so impressive is the fact it has been a cheap weapon from the start, and yet it performs like new... just like the AK-47s do.
    • In general, military equipment can to survive and function for sometimes ridiculous lengths of time without any maintenance or care, or sometimes even in environments that you'd think would disintegrate it utterly, due to deliberately sturdy designs that can withstand all manner of ill treatment. So often you have cases of Mauser K98 rifles that have bolts that still cycle after 60 years at the bottom of a muddy well, Soviet T-34 tanks whose running gear hasn't locked up and even have intact electrical systems and paint jobs after being pulled out of a bog half a century later,.
    • One notable exception to this is some US military hardware, particularly anything built since the end of the Cold War, largely as a consequence of the budget cuts. Military hardware is designed to be maintained by teams of mechanics. Many US trucks and arms are meant to be worked on by teams and given daily, weekly and monthly maintenance checks. If abandoned, or neglected, seals dry rot, fluids evaporate and parts rust. It's made worse that some pieces of US kit are COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) so they aren't made to the tougher military specs.
    • Both a Subverted Trope and played straight with Glacier Girl. She was a P-38 lost under the ice in Greenland. Found but unflyable, she was restored after lots of work.
    • Kee Bird is another example. She was a B-29 found to be flyable after 50 years on a frozen lake. Sadly a broken generator caught fire and Kee Bird went up in flames.
    • The ARMARC "Boneyard" is an aversion. Tucson Arizona was chosen as the massive storage area due to the dry climate and the hard soil. Many aircraft have returned to service or others scrapped. Even then, special procedures are taken to make sure the planes are preserved. Most involved removal of ordinance, batteries, fuel and oils.
  • Most industrial and transportation machinery has been designed for a industrial economy and therefore it relies on a steady stream of replacement parts, consumables and fuel to run.
    Even if there is a hidden fuel cache to power them After the End, acid batteries will die after 4-5 years at best, the essential timing belts will dry rot in mostly 5 years, tires will start to crack after 5-6 years and crumble altogether after 10-15 years if lucky. Hydraulic seals will last a few more years, but only if the machine was driven intermittently with fluids in the system. Making a bodywork immune to rust or protecting the machine underground from weather and violence remains useless.
    Steam Age and early 20th century machinery had been designed with lower performance expectations in mind during a less technically advanced time and it will last much better. Steam engines and "semi-Diesel" hot bulb engines can be restored with little effort after being buried (protected with grease) in earth or mud for 50-60 years.
  • The Weapons Cache Case. During the summer of 1944, the Finnish Army, fearing defeat and occupation by USSR, arranged a weapons caching project: small arms and mortars and their ammunition were hidden all around Finland, to enable quick mobilization of partisan war. The war ended on favorable terms, but before the caches were dismantled, the Communists became interested. Hence, many of the caches were left hidden. As it is almost 70 years now and most of the involved are dead, undismantled caches turn up every now and then. Usually the weapons are rusted or inoperable, but sometimes they appear in "fully greased and oiled and ready for use" condition.
  • Mount Rushmore, and the nearby Crazy Horse monument still in progress. They are in an area that is geologically stable and not prone to natural disaster. The granite facing erodes at a rate of roughly 1 inch per 10,000 years. Without maintenance, Rushmore should be distinguishable as a non-natural construct for over 1 million years, and will exist for an estimated 7.2 million years, and Crazy Horse possibly longer due to being larger. Indeed the only disaster likely to befall them is if the Yellowstone Supervolcano decided to erupt, which would probably just bury them and protect them from the elements.
  • It was once believed that the Germanic invaders of post-Roman Britain had some kind of superstitious horror of stone buildings, and deliberately trashed the Romano-British cities. Today it's reckoned that the towns were simply abandoned as law and order, government services and the cash economy broke down, and entropy, aided by country dwellers cannibalising the buildings for stone and metal, did the rest.
  • Çatalhöyük dates back to 7500 BC and yet still has remains still intact enough for us to reconstruct their culture, although much of it had to be dug up and restored. It's the best-preserved Neolithic site.
  • Many nuclear bunkers have been abandoned since at least the end of the Cold War and, more often than not, well before that and have managed to survive in an almost untouched state since then. When you think about it, these structures use many of the same techniques as underground tombs but with an even greater emphasis on keeping out air, only the whole thing is done by a much more advanced civilization.
    • Speaking of bunkers, even the conventional air-raid shelters in Germany had objections against being blown up after they were no longer needed with the end of WWII. Since that's the whole point of an air-raid shelter. Many are still standing.
  • The Japanese firm Hitachi has developed a prototype data storage device based on quartz glass that it believes could store data without degrading indefinitely- potentially millions of years or longer.
  • Stuff left in space will last a lot of time (if it's functional or not after that time is another different topic, and it will most definitely be heavily irradiated). The footprints left in the moondust by the Apollo astronauts alone are expected to last millions of years and those (robotic) spacecraft abandoned after their mission has ended may last longer, especially the ones that are leaving the Solar System as the Voyagers or the Pioneers that perhaps could endure billions of years.
  • Before the cathedral was finished, a wooden medieval crane was the most prominent landmark of Cologne. It was installed atop the south tower of the cathedral probably around 1350 and remained there after work on the Cathedral stopped. In 1868, they finally finished the south tower, so the crane had to go. Souvenirs and several chairs were made from its wood.
  • South of Oslo City, but inside the city limits, one important route of traffic rests on a medieval stone bridge — which, as it turns out, carries heavy trucks of the modern age with remarkable ease.
  • Zig-zagged with LED lights. Manufacturers like Philips and Cree tote that their emitters can last in constant use for several dozen thousands of hours, up to 100,000. That's more than five years of continuous lighting. There's a caveat, though: just because the emitter could last that longnote , all bets are off if the rest of the device will keep up as well; in fact, LED lamps often fail because the driver board the emitter needs to modulate the power input fries or oxidizes into uselessness, while the LED itself is mostly intact. Even in ideal working conditions, the LED will not be capable of producing a constant light output for that length of time: even with proper heatsinking and current regulation, an emitter will degrade to 50% of its rated output long before reaching its maximum theoretical lifespan.
  • It's actually entirely possible to do this for a lot of machines or structures but there just isn't a need to. Even with the idea of planned obsolescence, a lot of things just become obsolete before they stop functioning. Are you really going to pay extra for a computer that can last a thousand years when you are going to throw it out in four anyway?
  • Salt mines rent storage space to a number of organizations including governments, financial institutions, and movie studios where the natural conditions hundreds of feet below the earth's surface just happen to be perfect for the long-term preservation of documents and film stock.
  • The Earthquake Baroque and Pombaline architectures in the Philippines and Portugal were an early attempt at earthquake engineering. Earthquake Baroque relied on stout and thick structures and this shows in churches built using adobe in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era. This eventually was subverted when the 2013 Bohol earthquake struck Visayas, severely damaging if not reducing a number of Earthquake Baroque churches to rubble.
  • The Inca are regarded by many as amazing architects. Even though they're located in an earthquake-prone region, many Incan buildings not damaged by gold-hunting conquistadors have outlasted the Spanish ones that came later. In the most famous site, Macchu Pichu, for example, only the thatch roofs have rotted away; the rest of the stonework is still standing despite not even using mortar between the blocks.

Alternative Title(s): Ragnaroof Proofing, Ragnarok Proof