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The Old Gods

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On one side we have Ymir, the first being. On the other side, we have the gods.

"You sing of the young gods easily
In the days when you are young;
But I go smelling yew and sods,
And I know there are gods behind the gods,
Gods that are best unsung."

It seems in almost every mythology or Fantasy Pantheon known to man, there are mentions of entities that came before and are often above the gods themselves. They're often seen as being older and greater than the gods because Older Is Better, although there can be beings that are older yet about even or weaker than the gods. They usually don't need prayer badly, so do not require humans to like them in any way.

These Old Gods are often some type of Anthropomorphic Personification or Eldritch Abomination. In fact, they usually are in most mythologies. They also have a large overlap with Precursors, for gods at least. They occasionally appear as the demons of a replacement religion, but compare Angels, Devils and Squid for the cases when their Eldritch-ness is played up instead. See also Our Titans Are Different, as "Titan" is often a word used to describe such a being.

Compare The Modern Gods, who either replace or intend on replacing them.

See Death of the Old Gods, for an explanation on why the older types may not be around any more.

If there's only one of them, see Top God. See also Divine Ranks.

When Gods Need Prayer Badly, expect these Gods to be the exception. After all, they usually existed before humanity, so why would their existence be dependent on them?

Please note: These characters don't literally have to be old looking gods, it's merely a common term for them that's used both on and off of this site.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Saint Beast, there was another set of gods led by Kronos before Zeus became the high god by destroying them (the implication being because they were Abusive Precursors).

    Comic Books 
  • New Gods opens with the declaration, "There came a time when the old gods died!" The very phrase "Fourth World" is because the New Gods are merely the most recent iteration of pantheons that have risen and fallen multiple times, and will themselves eventually die off to make way for a new pantheon. (Kirby's original intent was that the Old Gods were the Norse pantheon—the series was pitched as a followup to his work on The Mighty Thor, and it's fairly easy to read New Gods as a Stealth Sequel.)
  • There are many gods throughout the Marvel Universe, and they tend to live up to their names. Unfortunately for them, even they can't compare to the upper levels of the countless Cosmic Entities throughout the setting.
    • Marvel Cosmology is really loaded with this. Those Who Sit In The Shadows are this to Norse Gods. Elder Gods are this to all Earth Gods, Celestials Are This to Elder Gods and all gods worshiped by any race in the Universe and so-called Cube Beings (godlike beings that evolved from Cosmic Cubes) and their equals, Abstracts are this to everybody and Living Tribunal is this to Abstracts. Then we have beings like Primordial Gods, who are apparently older than Abstracts, Galactus who is older than them, coming from previous Universe and equal to Abstracts, several beings of various powers older than Galactus and Chaos King who is older than them all, being the previous Universe. Then we have bunch of beings like Shuma-Gorath, Dormammu, Stranger, Beyonder, and Nemesis who are hard to fit into cosmology, so in the end the only thing clear is that the One-Above-All is this to everybody.
  • The Sandman (1989): The Endless are older than any god, respected by all of them, personifications of the most fundamental concepts, but not gods per se, as gods require faith and the Endless don't. They also seem to be above nearly all godlike beings of the DC Universe, although in the right situations, other personified entities like the Kindly Ones, Lucifer, and some others have the power to contend their influence.

  • Fate of the Clans has Cú Chulainn who isn't only a demigod but is also one quarter Fomorian, monstrous gods of Ireland before the Tuatha Dé Danann.
  • Thousand Shinji: The Warhammer 40,000 side of this crossover gives us the C'Tan, gods that feed on the lifeforce of stars and are older than the more ancient lifeforms in the Galaxy, and the Chaos Gods, born from the emotions of sentient beings. The story happens because the followers of the C'Tan found a way to wipe out the followers of the Chaos Gods.
  • In Children of an Elder God, the Great Old Ones from the Cthulhu Mythos inhabited the Earth long before mankind… and the story begins because they're returning and want to reclaim their home.
  • In Ripples, the entity that Will/Van makes a deal with, A'lek'hol'an, is stated to be the last of Meridian's old gods.
  • The God Squad has the The First Gods, the four gods first created by Fausticorn. While all the gods, including Celestia and Luna, are stated to be so powerful that they could be considered Elder Gods The First Gods are the oldest and strongest and dwarf most of the ones that came after them (save the likes of Celestia, Luna, and Cadence, the last being the one closest to the First in fear-inducing power). They include:
    • Discord, God of Chaos (who already in the show is one of the most powerful beings but here it is exaggerated).
    • Zeena, Goddess of Earth, who casually threatens to seal ponies within the earth, trapped forever.
    • Fuzzy Thinker, God of the Winds, who in his youth was the original God of War and known as the bane of ponykind
    • Lord Tydal, God of the Sea and later God of Storms and God of War (having beaten his brother and taken the titles from him). He has more than once released a fraction of his power and turned into a titan that looks like the famous Old Ones.
  • In Pony POV Series there are the Elders, the Top Gods who are the parents of the rest of the Pantheon. They're implied to be so ancient that they've seen the universe be born and die multiple times, and plan out the next one to come when it dies. They are also The Omnipotent and so powerful even Discord fears them and they're so immense they can't manifest inside the mortal universe fully without destroying it by their sheer presence. Thankfully, all five are either benevolent or neutral in nature. They are:
    • Fauna Luster, the Goddess of Life, Beginnings, and Empathy. She's known as the Mother of All Things as every single soul is born from her. She is the Alicorn's domain, but could also be called Pre-Life. She's also Celestia and Luna's mother.
    • The Father of All Alicorns, the God of Existence, Wisdom, and Truth. He literally is Elysium, the resting place of all good souls. He's also Celestia and Luna's father and Fauna Luster's husband.
    • Havoc, the God of Mass Hysteria, Fear, and Survival Instinct. He literally is Tartarus, the resting place of all wicked souls. He's also Discord's father.
    • Entropy, the Goddess of Heat Death, Nothingness, and the End. She literally is Oblivion, the resting place of all those who have been erased from existence. She's also capable erasing anything from existence with but a word, and appears to be the most feared of the four due to her power and temperament. She's also Discord's mother.
    • Azerhorse, the God of the Unknown (or at least fear of it). He's unique as he's the Truly Single Parent of the Outer Concepts, a separate pantheon from the Alicorns and Draconequi's who's main purpose is to make sure mortals don't tamper in things beyond their capability to safely explore. He's also the sibling of one of the Draconequi Elders, as his offspring are their cousins.
    • Something even higher than the Elders that created the four main ones at least is alluded to, not referred to by name. However, she has no bearing on the story and never appears as a result, merely mentioned in passing by Havoc in a discussion by the Elders.

    Film - Live-Action 
  • The Cabin in the Woods: All that the events of the movie turn out to be a ritual to appease ancient gods that would destroy mankind were they to not receive some sort of sacrifice every year. The last scene of the movie includes a hand of one of those gods coming out of earth and smashing the titular cabin.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) establishes that in the Monsterverse, kaiju were the first gods, worshipped since the earliest Palaeolithic human civilizations and known in legends worldwide (for example, King Ghidorah is said to be the basis of serpent deities such as the Lernean Hydra, the Aži Dahāka, and the Zmey Gorynych). To drive this point home, they're referred to as Titans, and midway through the film a sunken city older than Ancient Egypt is discovered beneath the Atlantic, and carved upon a vast wall within it is Godzilla surrounded by human figures. Elsewhere in the franchise, the Iwi of Skull Island are keeping this tradition alive via their mutually beneficial relations with Kong.
  • While Wonder Woman (2017) established the Classical Mythology part of Wonder Woman's origin, Justice League (2017) revealed more backstory that involved an ancient invasion from Apokalips that was repelled using the combined forces of man, Amazons, Atlanteans and the Greek Gods themselves stepping in. The Greek Pantheon died off between then and the modern day, and when Steppenwolf returns and faces Wonder Woman he notes that she "has the blood of the Old Gods" before noting "they died." This is partially a play on words regarding the New Gods mythos, of which Steppenwolf, Apokalips and Darkseid belong to, while also hinting that the Justice League are descendants of the classical heroes (literally in the case of Wonder Woman and Aquaman).

  • In The Ballad of the White Horse, Ogier sings a song of ancient, unknowable gods that have existed long before the Norse gods, and seek to burn and rend all that exists, god and man alike.
  • The "Old Gods" from American Gods. There's mention of lost pantheons whose names (and followers) have been entirely forgotten. There's also the Land itself, something like the very first divine being humanity ever knew/created, who patiently regards the gods themselves as mayflies in much the same way they look at mortal humans
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Old Gods are nameless animistic beings that are still worshipped in the North, but have no church or religious tenets; it's implied that they may be the spirits of wargs whose mortal bodies died, living on within trees and animals. The Seven, a Crystal Dragon Jesus septinity, are a younger religion which came to Westeros thousands of years ago along with the Andal invasion and was codified as the official state faith by Aegon the Conqueror. There is some degree of syncretism between the two in Westeros, and people will often swear oaths "by the old gods and the new". Other religions exist as well in different parts of the world; the Lord Of Light, the Drowned God, the Many-Faced God, Mother Rhoyne...
  • David Eddings really likes this trope:
    • In The Belgariad, UL and the two opposing Destinies are much more powerful than the gods (the Destinies are exactly equal in power; how they stack up to UL isn't elaborated on).
    • The Dreamers has the original male and female creative powers embodied as the peasant couple Ara and Omago.
    • In The Elenium, The Elder Gods of Styricum are of the Eldritch Abomination variety, before they were overthrown and imprisoned by the Younger Gods in a Titanomachy-esque series of events. Azash was even castrated, Ouranos style.
  • In The Silmarillion, Ilúvatar, who created the world, is a God of Gods who effectively delegates running the world after creation to the Valar, analogous to polytheistic gods/goddesses (technically the highest choir of angels). Thereafter, he steps in only when the Númenóreans attack Valinor, at which point the world needs to be re-shaped to take the Blessed Realm outside the physical realm.
  • The Cthulhu Mythos' own unspeakable horrors fit the trope, being ancient nightmares that once roamed the world before they were imprisoned, but are destined to rise again when the stars are right. There is a brief mention of some "weak gods of earth" who live in the Dreamlands under the protection of Nyarlathothep.
  • The Faerie Queens in The Dresden Files are as good as gods, but the Faerie Mothers (formally, the Queens Who Were) are an order of magnitude stronger and far more ancient, though they seem to be pretty restricted in how they can use their power, and don't do much during their one appearance other than offer some cryptic advice. Case in point, in Cold Days Harry tries to summon Mother Winter and instead she drags him to her home.
  • Her Crown of Fire: Religion is almost an irrelevancy in Lotheria, with only a single god mentioned (Belatha). The few priests spend their time wandering the countryside, ministering at funerals or counselling the few remaining faithful, because there aren't enough of them to remain in established congregations.
  • In the Mithgar books, the Fates are said to be above the gods, and the Great Creator is above them. Whether or not any of these exist as discreet entities or just abstractions is left ambiguous.
  • The Dead Gods of Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melniboné stories "While the Gods Laugh" and "Dead Gods' Homecoming". The swords Stormbringer and Mournblade were originally created to destroy them. They chose to discorporate themselves long ago because they were afraid of being completely destroyed by the swords.
  • The Old Gods in the Arcia Chronicles, whose death at the hands of the invading Lightbringers ironically became their world's Start of Darkness.
  • Discworld:
    • The world has the ice giants who were sealed away by the gods and are supposed to return at the end of the world. Which they did, during the Apocralypse (essentially a mish-mash of multiple apocalypse scenarios).
    • The universe at large has the Old High Ones, so far above the gods that they view gods as being roughly the same thing as humans are. There are said to be eight, but the only one mentioned individually is Azrael, the Great Attractor and Death of Universes, who individual Deaths are mere manifestations of. He is something like galactic in size and has a clock that tells time what it is.
    • "Creators" are separate from gods, and obviously came before them because they were responsible for creating the world. They only barely qualify for the plural; the Discworld had a singular main creator, but the continent of Xxxx was created later by a different Creator. The Creators might certainly be more powerful than gods too since they could build the whole world, but they're clearly more "demiurge" (or "craftsman") than "supreme being". The dwarfs also have beliefs about a creator known as Tak, who seems more important in their view but has not actually been seen.
    • The Things from the Dungeon Dimensions, the basic Lovecraftian Eldritch Abominations in the setting, are according to The Foklore of Discworld likely old dark gods who were cast out by the Old High Ones. Now they are miserable disordered things that want to get back into the real universe. Some of these, like Bel-Shamharoth, are still there; though having no worshippers, he is said to be sustained as a god by the brief, horrified intensity of the belief of his victims.
    • As Discworld is a place where Gods Need Prayer Badly, it is often the case that "old gods do new jobs." In Hogfather, the first boogieman becomes the Tooth Fairy, and the Hogfather has evolved into his current form over many millennia.
  • In The Red Tent, the women in Jacob's family worship his God in public (or, more accurately, go through the motions of worshipping Jacob's God), but they worship the gods (and more specifically, goddesses) of their homeland in the privacy of the women's tents. They view Jacob's God as unnecessarily harsh, and think his customs of burning the choicest parts of a sacrificed animal and circumcision are strange. The Canaanite women (who more readily accept the customs of Jacob's family), particularly Simeon and Levi's wives Ialutu and Inbu, take a dim view of the rituals of the Red Tent, such as offering cakes and wine to Inanna and the Ritual of Opening, as they are not the done thing in Canaan.
  • In the Glory of the Defeated series by Lionel Suggs, the entire plot revolves around getting rid of the Old Gods, in order to replace them with New Gods.
  • The Unexplored-Class Materials of The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, who represent the fundamental laws of the universe that even gods must follow. For example, they are the reason that Cronus is fated to be killed by Zeus. They are all female, and each of them is associated with a particular color. The Red-Eyed Lady, Wicked Green Woman and Spirit of the Fluttering Yellow Gills are above most of the remaining Unexplored-Class, while the White Queen stands above even them. Unfortunately, the White Queen is also evil. Prior to the start of the series, she forced the other Unexplored-Class to submit to her, giving her complete authority over the entire universe.
  • N. K. Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy: The universe and all lesser godlings were created by the Three old gods who manifested from the Primordial Chaos of the Maelstrom. Nahadoth, firstborn god of change and chaos, created the universe's substance; Itempas, secondborn god of order and stability, imposed rules and structure; and Enefa, goddess of life and death, gave the universe meaning and ultimately created mortals.
  • In The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Addie's odyssey begins when she listens to a village wise-woman's speech about "the old gods" and prays to them for escape from an arranged marriage. Sadly, she fails to heed the wise-woman's warning to "never pray to the gods that answer after dark."
  • Ann Leckie's The Raven Tower: The difference between younger Physical Gods and the "Ancient Ones" who predate humanity isn't clear (even to the Ancient Ones), but they are much less reliant on worship for power, are much harder to kill (and to keep dead), and are rumored to be able to break the usual limits on divine Reality Warping. Other gods tend to be cautious and a bit afraid of them. The book's narrator, the Strength and Patience of the Hill, turns out to have been one all along, unknown to even itself until recently.
  • Old Gods exist in Threadbare with worshiping them being a common path for Cultists. For the most part, they never actually manifest in the world, but when the stars are right, and things get eldritch...
  • In The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, there are several successive generations of godlike beings. Youngest are the Next Generation (born after the fall of Danu Talis), actually younger than the human race (who were created when the island still existed), then are their parents, the Elders (containing many well-known figures of myth, like Bastet, Odin, Mars, and Quetzalcoatl). Older than the Elders are the Archons, of whom we only see two (Cernunnos and Coatlicue). The Ancients are older than them, and are implied to be related to the Elders, but are never seen. Oldest of all are the Earthlords, of whom only two (Isis and Osiris) are still alive by the time of the books.
  • Ryn, the main character of The One Who Eats Monsters, looks like a slightly underfed five-foot tall, sixteen-year old girl. She's actually the oldest "monster" in the world, and only the fact that her eyes of blue fire make humans instinctively fear her prevents her from being called a goddess. (In the story's setting, "monsters" are just gods that nobody will worship, basically.) She has existed, and hunted monsters both human and not, for all of history, as she's literally older than Time.
  • In The Daevabad Trilogy, Nahri and Ali encounter a couple of pre-Abrahamic marid who were once worshipped as gods by humans—Sobek, the crocodilian god of the Nile in Ancient Egypt, and Tiamat, the primordial sea goddess of Babylon. Ali is deeply unnerved by meeting beings who demanded Human Sacrifice and is privately relieved that his ancestors turned to Islam instead. Sobek does have a handful of worshippers still, even if his glory days are long past. Nahri's real mother was one of them. She sacrificed herself by goading her enemy into pushing her into the river and Sobek repaid the debt by disguising Nahri as a full human.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Buffyverse when Earth first formed it was ruled by powerful pure-breed demons known as the Old Ones. Their hold on Earth eventually weakened, with many leaving for other dimensions and the rest dying in war against one another or the newly emerging humans.
  • Supernatural: There are various pagan gods running around, most of whom are assholes. However, the Primordials are even older, preceding the creation of the universe itself.
    • God himself is both this and a God of Gods, as he actually created the other gods for his own amusement.
    • Death can't remember if he's this or not. According to Death, neither can God.
    • The season 10 finale reveals that the Darkness predates both God and possibly Death and could not be defeated even by God on his own.
    • Then Season 13 reveals that before God, the Darkness, or Death existed, there was the Empty, a sentient void which is now where angels and demons go to sleep eternally when they die.
  • Star Trek gives us the Klingon creation story. The gods created the first Klingon man, who complained that he was lonely, so they created a wife for him, who was superior to him in every way, including as a warrior (which he was jealous of)...but also more compassionate and humble. When they decided to put their differences aside and join forces, they were unstoppable. And they destroyed the gods that created them.
  • In American Horror Story: Roanoke, the witch Scáthach worships an unnamed pantheon of gods that predated Christianity. These gods are described as being cruel, dark and bloodthirsty, granting Scáthach and her disciple Thomasin "The Butcher" White dark powers for their worship and sacrifices, one such being a curse over the land that eventually became the Roanoke Estate, cursing all those who die there to be their ghostly servants, killing all of those who trespass during the Blood Moon as offerings.
  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor has battled against ultra-powerful cosmic beings from other dimensions; the Animus, the Celestial Toymaker, the Black Guardian, the Gods of Ragnarok, Fenric and others. Spin-off media imply that they are all part of a pantheon of Old Gods that existed before the current universe.
  • In The Magicians, The Old Gods are beings of thought and energy who created magic and the universe. They are primordial beings that gave birth to the Gods worshipped by civilizations across the Multiverse.

    Mythology, Religion, and Folklore 
  • There's the Titans in Classical Mythology, parents of the classic gods, who were overthrown by them.
    • Before even them, there were the Protogenoi.
      • While sometimes treated as one of the Protogenoi, in some Greek cosmogonies, Chaos is treated as the first god. It's also one of the closest things to an Eldritch Abomination found in classical mythology, representing formless matter and a sort of timeless, shapeless emptiness. While it's not atypical for natural things to have a divine personification in Classical Mythology, the idea of the primordial nothingness being alive just seems unwholesome.
  • Japanese Mythology: Izanagi and Izanami were created by Ame-no-minakanushi in order for them to create the Japanese islands and give birth to more gods (and mortals) to inhabit the world.
  • Norse Mythology had at least two or two-and-a-half categories of Old Gods, namely the Jotnar and the Vanir, and possibly the Alfar (Elves):
    • The Jotnar were descendants of Ymir, the ur-being, who co-existed with (and was kept fed by) a primeval cow named Auðumbla. Auðumbla licked on the salty ice of Niflheim and as the ice melted, a third being was freed: Búri, the first "true" god. Odin, Vili, and Ve (Búri's grandsons) later killed Ymir and created the world from his corpse (the Jotnar were almost exterminated by the flood of blood from the murder — only one couple remained to repopulate the race, making them technically younger than the race of gods). Following this event, Odin became the father and king of the New Gods, the Aesir. The Jotnar were expelled by the Aesir from the central regions of creation but remained puissant and renowned for their ancient wisdom, the main remaining category of Old Gods.
    • The Vanir (nature gods) and the Alfar: If any myths of the origin of the Vanir and Alfar ever existed they have since been lost. They ought to be descendants of either Borr, Búri's son and Odin's father, or of Vili and Ve, his brothers, to keep the origin myth consistent. The Vanir and the Aesir fought a war that ended in a truce. Following this truce the Vanir were relegated to Old Gods (except for a few, notably Freyr and Freyja, who were incorporated into the Aesir). Since most of the sources we have don't mention anything about them other than the war, their practice of seidr, and their home Vanaheim we hardly know anything about them. The Alfar faded into obscurity, only barely more divine than the mortal kindreds of dvergar (dwarfs) and humans. Though the vanir Frey and Freya remained prominent, as well as their father, the sea god Njord - all three living among the Aesir.
    • Odin himself is called "the old God".
  • Celtic Mythology has the Fomorians, a semi-divine race who lived in Ireland long before the Tuatha Dé Danann showed up. Several of the Tuatha Dé Danann were themselves descended from the Fomorians, most notable of which was Lugh the Long Handed.
    • The Fir Bolg were also this, although they were (eventually) not quite as hostile to the Tuatha Dé Danann as the Fomorians.
  • Tiamat and Apsu were the primal couple of Mesopotamian Mythology, ancestors of all the gods. They then turned on the gods and tried to wipe them out. The gods fought back and, under the leadership of Marduk, won. Marduk split Tiamat in two, made heaven and earth out of her body, and became king of the gods. At least in the Babylonian telling, which is the one that gets the most press because Babylon conquered everyone else. Did we mention that Marduk was also the particular patron deity of Babylon?
  • Quetzacoatl in Aztec Mythology is this in real life. He was already an established god by the time of the Olmec (which started out more than 1000 years before Hellenistic Greece), and was worshipped in some capacity by virtually every Mesoamerican culture up until the Aztec, even having his own pyramid in Teotihuacan.
  • On that note, the Mesoamerican rain gods known as Tlaloc in Aztec Mythology and Chaac by the Yucatec Maya can be traced to Olmec jaguar hybrids.
  • Similarly, Hun-Hunahpú from the Popol Vuh has been traced to the Classic Maya Maize God, whose earliest reliable appearance is on a set of murals at least 100 years before Christ.
  • In Chinese Mythology, the giant Pangu (or P'an-ku) is born in the primal chaos and sorts it out into heaven and earth. After a long life (18,000 years), he dies and, like the more violent Ymir and Tiamat, his body becomes the inventory of the world.
  • The Abrahamic God is this to all other religions according to the Bible, going so far as identifying gods worshipped by man as actually lower devils.
    • In some early early iterations of the Bible there are a few entities such as the Leviathan that seemed to already be on Earth before God created anything without a clear origin, though it's questionable if you can really call those "gods" or...something else.
    • 1 Corinthians 10:20 “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.”
  • Egyptian Mythology had the Ogdoad, an extremely ancient grouping of eight gods who personified abstract concepts, divided into couples: Nun/Naunet (Primordial Chaos), Kek/Kauket (darkness), Heh/Hauhet (infinity), and Amun/Amunet (invisibility). With the exception of Amun, who became the patron deity of Thebes and gradually merged with Ra as the Top God of the Egyptian pantheon, their roles were restricted to the Egyptian cosmogony, and they had no history of significant worship like the other deities.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The Forgotten Realms setting has a large number of pantheons containing various deities of different power levels. Above all of these pantheons, there is Ao, also known as the Overgod. On one occasion when a god stole the Tablet of Fate from him he responded by stripping ALL gods of most of their divine powers, forcing them into their avatar forms on the material plane until the Tablet was returned. And then of course, there's a being of light who even Ao answers to.
    • The Highgod and Chaos from Dragonlance.
    • Eberron has the three dragons - Siberys the Dragon Above, Khyber the Dragon Below and Eberron the Dragon Between - who became the three layers of the world at the beginning of time. While there are a few cults devoted to Khyber, the other two aren't directly worshipped much.
    • The Primordials in the 4th edition aren't necessarily stronger than the gods, but they certainly came before them.
    • Basic D&D Immortals rules. The Immortals are the BD&D equivalent of deities. The Old Ones are a group of extremely powerful beings who are as to the Immortals as the Immortals are to mortals. If someone becomes an Immortal and reaches the highest level of Immortality twice, they can join the Old Ones.
    • And then there are the Elder Evils, Eldritch Abominations that the Aboleths remember. How is this special? The Aboleths were already ancient when the gods came to be, and Elder Evils are/were older than anything the Aboleths can remember. They are not gods, but they are powerful enough to challenge them and pose a treat of world ending proportions. "Abomination" doesn't even begin to describe those horrid beings.
    • Similarly vestiges also fit this mold—they aren't necessarily older than gods (quite a few are fairly young), and they do not have the excessive power one would associate with a deity, but due to existing outside of time and space, they are essentially beyond the purview of divine beings, and are treated as untouchable, perhaps having always existed in some form.
    • Those most powerful gods? They'd be the "Uber Deities" even stronger than the mightiest Greater Deity and so far beyond the gods that while the Gods Need Prayer Badly, they can afford not to care about such things anymore.
      • Two such beings explicitly mentioned in D&D lore include the patron of the demigod Vecna from the Greyhawk setting, a being referred to only as The Serpent, and the enigmatic Lady of Pain from Planescape, who's mentioned as a "contemporary" of The Serpent, and responsible for the 3rd edition rules.
    • Then you have the dead gods floating about the astral plane, which are implied to be able to be restored to life somehow. Such as if people start worshipping them again, but there may be more to it than that.
  • Exalted: The Primordials, who are basically Greek Titans, but more awesome/terrible. The younger gods they created don't like them, and created the eponymous superhumans to do them in.
    • The Titans from the Scarred Lands D&D setting are basically the same thing, as are the Titans from Scion. White Wolf loves this trope, apparently.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
  • One of the possible Imperator types in Nobilis are the primordial "True Gods".
  • The Celestial Court in RuneQuest fits the bill. They were original gods of cosmic principles that created the younger gods and the races that would become mortal once the Time began. They were for the most part rather passive, focusing on obscure spiritual matters and paying little heed to the conflicts among the young gods that ultimately led to the destruction of them and their home when the Spike that bound the cosmic order together exploded under the onslaught of Chaos. It is believed, however, that the mysterious goddess above all other deities, Arachne Solara, may be the ghost of the world goddess Glorantha, one of the original Court.

  • The villainous Ortrud, in Lohengrin, is a worshipper of the "profaned gods" Wotan and Freya, and wishes to visit their vengeance on the Christian Germans who have forsaken them.

    Video Games 
  • In Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura you can find altars to the old pagan gods, who were worshiped before the rise of Panarii religion. Though almost forgotten in most places, it appears they are still powerful, as you can receive blessings from them.
  • Played with in Cookie Clicker: The elder gods are literal elders, as in old ladies... at first, at least. They start getting Lovecraftian when you piss them off.
  • The Dragon Age lore has this in spades, along with Death of the Old Gods and varying levels of The Magic Comes Back:
    • The entities specifically referred to as the Old Gods were seven dragons (or beings in the form of dragons) worshipped by the Tevinter Imperium, a human Magocracy that ruled most of Thedas for centuries. They were said to be cast down by the creator deity known as the Maker, and now reside in the Deep Roads below Thedas. When found by the darkspawn, the Old Gods rise in a corrupted form known as an Archdemon and lead the darkspawn to destroy Thedas in an event known as the Blight.
    • The Dalish elves revere a set of elven deities known as the Creators, who were once the gods of their ancestors. They were opposed by evil gods known as the Forgotten Ones. The Creators were said to be sealed in the Fade by a deity named the Dread Wolf, along with the Forgotten Ones. The events of Dragon Age: Inquisition reveal that the Creators did exist and were known as the Evanuris, but were simply powerful sorcerer-kings. The Dread Wolf did seal them away in the Fade, but only after they had killed one of their own and threatened to destroy the world.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has Anu and Padomay, the Anthropomorphic Personifications of "stasis/order/light" and "change/chaos/darkness", respectively. In the primary Creation Myth, their interplay in the great "void" of pre-creation led to "creation" itself. Creation, sometimes anthropomorphized as the female entity "Nir", favored Anu, which angered Padomay. Padomay killed Nir and the twelve worlds she gave birth to. Anu then wounded Padomay, presuming him dead. Anu salvaged the pieces of the twelve worlds to create one world: Nirn. Padomay returned and wounded Anu, seeking to destroy Nirn. Anu then pulled Padomay and himself outside of time, ending Padomay's threat to creation "forever". From the intermingling of their spilled blood came the "et'Ada", or "original spirits", who would go on to become either the Aedra or the Daedra depending on their actions during the creation of Mundus, the mortal plane. (Some myths state that the Aedra come from the mixed blood of Anu and Padomay, while the Daedra come purely from the blood of Padomay).
  • Both Fear & Hunger and its sequel speak of a pantheon of Old Gods, who created both the universe and its living beings, and are still worshipped to this day despite the rise of the New Gods. Even after they left the world, their traces are still infinitely more powerful than the New Gods that attempted to take their place.
  • Hydaelyn from Final Fantasy XIV, also called the Mothercrystal or "all made one", is a being implied to have created the worldm and is far more ancient and powerful than the modern pantheon of the Twelve; she also acts as The Chooser of the One, giving the Warrior of Light the power of the Echo. Despite this, not many people know about Her existance, and has no official religion based around Her. Her dark counterpart Zodiark is implied to be as ancient and as powerful as Her. Shadowbringers reveals this is only an half truth: Hydaelyn and Zodiark are the oldest and most powerful...of Primals, and the civilization that created them was even more ancient. Hydaleyn also didn't create the world, she divided it, before replacing Zodiark as the Will of the Planet.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword introduced more layers to the series pantheon: the Three Golden Goddesses introduced in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past are here called the Gods of Old while other less powerful divinities, like Hylia/Zelda and Demise, who seem to stand somewhere between the Golden Goddesses and the embodiments of natural powers (spirits, dragons, Deku trees, great fairies, etc...), are introduced.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • The Elder Gods supersede all other gods, but only show themselves to the champions of Mortal Kombat, typically lesser gods and conquerors.
    • In turn, said Elder Gods are afraid of the "One Being", who is prophesized to eat the Elder Gods if the balance maintained by Mortal Kombat is not upheld.
    • Mortal Kombat 11 introduces Kronika, the Titan of Time and mother of two Elder Gods, Cetrion and Shinnok. Whereas the Elder Gods have control of the cosmos, Titans have powers over the very laws of physics themselves. Mortal Kombat 1 clarifies that Titans are the title given to people who created and rule over timelines. This means that Liu Kang was considered a Titan when he became the Keeper of Time of the new timeline (although he voluntarily gave up the power, not wanting it to corrupt his mind as it did Kronika's). Liu Kang's last fight with Shang Tsung in 11 shattered the fabric of reality to the point that many new timelines have been created, including one where Shang Tsung rules over a Villain World as a Titan, one where Raiden became a Titan instead of Liu Kang, plus others ruled by deified versions of Kitana and Kung Lao.
  • Night in the Woods gives us the Black Goat, a creature "as black as the space between stars" that lives in a hole in a long-abandoned mine. Unless sated with human sacrifices, he will bring destruction upon the town.
  • In RuneScape:
    • For much of the game's history, Guthix appeared as this trope: a nature-oriented god of balance, who was unique among its peers in being sustained by the planet itself rather than by prayer, and who single-handedly banished the other gods from the world when they made a mess of things. It was later revealed that he was a former mortal who got a higher divine rank than the others for unknown reasons.
    • Zaros and Seren were of comparable power to Guthix and had the additional distinction of being the only gods created directly by an Elder God, though Zaros was assassinated and Seren shattered herself millennia before the game's timeline. They're both working to change that.
    • The trope is played straight by the Elder Gods, who created the planets, enjoy Complete Immortality unmatched by the lesser gods, and are coming back to consume Gielinor.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei's first two games, you're told that once, the gods and demons lived in a somewhat turbulent balance with humanity. It changed when a certain somebody got a few more followers and started to crush and demonize his opponents to add their power to his own, one by one. At the end, magic had been sealed, most gods had been destroyed or imprisoned in the Abyss, and the lone guy was in command of a vast religion, so he retreated to rule in the dark. If you didn't get it, the guy was The Big Man Upstairs, the Great Will, YHVH.
  • It's been referenced in the Silent Hill series.
    "The old gods have not left this place..."
  • Since the current World of Warcraft setting is littered with various gods and spirits, there are inevitably some that fill this role.
    • Most prominently there are the powerful Eldritch Abomination entities referred to in-game as the Old Gods. They once ruled the world, but are now imprisoned within it. Their efforts to escape and reclaim the world are a recurring plot point throughout the game.
    • In a more benevolent example, there are the Titans who imprisoned the Old Gods, filled the world with life, and empowered the Dragonflights to watch over Azeroth in their absence.
    • The Old Gods were eventually given their own old gods in the Void Lords, who were revealed to have sent the Old Gods into the universe to begin with in order to corrupt unborn titans and take over the universe with them.
    • The Jailer, an immensely powerful being imprisoned within the Maw, a rough equivalent to hell, was introduced by explaining that he is more ancient than even the titans, who were formed near the beginning of time.
    • And it turns out the Jailer is one of the Eternal Ones, a pantheon of death created by the enigmatic First Ones, who created the basic forces of the cosmos like the Light, Void and Death. Mind you, the Void and the Light used to be established as the most primordial forces that were behind the whole universe and the oldest of Old Gods.

  • In Rusty and Co., the amplified Python summons one over the fight and the castle. (Writer's comment: "It's a really obscure elder god… you probably never heard of it."
  • Sluggy Freelance has by now established several layers of this. The closest thing to a current pantheon would seem to be the Anthropomorphic Personifications of the various holidays. "Holiday Wars" hints in the backstory that the Greek pantheon was a kind of precursor to them that is no longer around for whatever reason. Later, it turns out probably the first pantheon were the physical gods of Mohkadun (it's implied that Santa Claus started his career there), but they were created by Protoazo the Creator, to fight her(?) equal opposite Kozoaku the Destroyer — and finally, these two primal beings were created by The One.
  • In Stand Still, Stay Silent, the Nordic and Finnish paganic pantheons are treated this way, having apparently returned after centuries of dwelling in obscurity. They've apparently gifted mankind with magic and ability to train cats, but it's still Ambiguous Situation.
  • Kubera has the Primeval Gods, which are actually a different order of being than the normal gods ("Astika") entirely. While the Astika can exist only as long as their jurisdiction does and die along with the universe, the Primeval Gods exist regardless of universe. Visnu, the Primeval God of preservation, can even retain his memories from previous universes.
  • In Aurora (2019), the world was formed from the remains of the Primordials, several gigantic space-faring beings who died in a fierce battle over the fate of the sun. Gods are a completely different, newer class of being who arise from ambient soul energy shaped by mortal perception.

    Web Original 
  • In the SCP Foundation universe, the Old Gods are a loose pantheon of eldritch deities. Members of this Lovecraftian pantheon include is the Scarlet King, Yaldabaoth, Mekhane, the Hanged King and several other deities.

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Old Gods, Elder Gods, Elder God