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Thousand-Year Reign

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Kimiko: Why a thousand?
Master Fung: It is really 962 years, but a thousand sounds more ominous.

This is when someone boasts or predicts that a particular organization or accomplishment will endure for (at least) a certain amount of time, the prediction usually being wildly optimistic and incurring a high risk of Tempting Fate. 1,000 years is the gold standard when talking about empires and dynasties, but various big, round numbers may be conjured. The important thing is that this is about assuming the length beforehand, not how long it actually lasts.

Sometimes this assumption can be based on a prophecy that states the length of time. Of course, even if the prophecy is correct, that doesn't preclude the many ways there can be a Prophecy Twist. Perhaps the organization will last that long, but not in the way its creators intended. Say if the Evil Overlord founds it, but The Hero slays him, and rules instead. Or, at the end of the stated time, the downfall of the organization may be so catastrophic that it undoes any impact the organization would have left.


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    Film — Live-Action 
  • Referenced several times in Conspiracy (2001), which takes place at a time when the Nazis were absolutely convinced that they were moments away from victory.
    Neumann: Neumann, director of the Four-Year-Plan. Whom may I be speaking to?
    Klopfer: I speak for Martin Bormann, of the Thousand-Year-Plan.
  • Gladiator: This is how long Commodus wants his incestuous line to last, when he thinks he's won completely.
  • Star Wars: In Attack of the Clones, Palpatine references the thousand years of the Republic. In A New Hope, Obi-Wan refers to a thousand generations (approx. 25,000 years).note 

  • The Books of Ember: The City of Ember was designed to last exactly 200 years and no longer. Too bad that the note meant to inform the populace of this got lost.
  • Chung Kuo: The Seven T'ang boast of their reign having lasted three thousand years. However, the reader knows that history has been rewritten so that the Chung Kuo are an ancient Chinese empire that conquered Western Europe in the days ancient Rome, whereas it's actually just 200 years old.
  • The trope is mentioned in The Elenium when a reference is made to a historical figure creating an empire of a thousand years that barely outlived its founder.
  • Foundation Series: Hari Seldon, creator of psychohistory, a set of mathematical formulas that can predict human behaviour, anticipates that the Galactic Empire will collapse and leave the Milky Way in anarchy for thirty thousand years, an inversion of this trope's usual meaning. The Seldon Plan, developed through psychohistory, will shorten this interval to about one thousand years instead. It becomes popular knowledge in the galaxy that the Foundation of Terminus is undefeatable. The first book, Foundation, has also been published under the title The 1,000 Year Plan.
  • Left Behind: During Kingdom Come only glorifieds and naturals who have put their faith in Jesus Christ will be allowed to live to the end of the Millenium, while naturals who stay unbelievers by the time they reach 100 years of age will die and go to Hell. The Other Light faction has prepared for this contingency by passing down their teaching to the next generation of its converts so that the generation that gets to confront God and Jesus at the end of the Millennium will be assured victory when Satan is released. However, it didn't turn out as they hoped.
  • Mistborn: The Original Trilogy: The Lord Ruler calls his reign "The Final Empire", because he believes that the empire (and he himself) will last forever.

    Live-Action TV 


    Myths & Religion 
  • The Book of Revelation says that Jesus will reign with the Saints for 1,000 years, during which time Satan is bound, before dad Jehovah steps in. The nature of this reign and whether the time period is meant to be taken literally has been debated throughout the history of Christianity.

    Video Games 
  • Crusader Kings II: Entirely possible, since the Reaper's Due DLC officially added immortality to the game, allowing, given the length of the game, a reign of almost seven full centuries of lucky, and conversion to later games in the series allows a single ruler to run the nation for a full millennium or more. With timeline extending mods such as When the World Stopped Making Sense, this can even be accomplished without converting the save to a separate game.
  • Valkyria Chronicles III: Dahau declares that he will create a new homeland for the Darcsen people that will endure for a thousand years, even if it requires him to go down in history as a villain.

    Western Animation 
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Harmonic Convergence is a supernatural event that occurs once every 10,000 years, in which the spirits of harmony and chaos, Raava and Vaatu, must battle to determine which force will reign until the next Harmonic Convergence.
    • Later, when Kuvira takes Zaofu for her Earth Empire, banners are hanged which read "May Kuvira live for 10,000 years".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic begins with Twilight Sparkle reading an old legend that states that the stars would aid in the escape of the Nightmare Moon on the longest day of the 1000th year of her banishment, when she would bring about nighttime eternal. Princess Celestia reigned as sole sovereign during this entire time.
  • In the South Park episode "Woodland Critter Christmas", the The Antichrist is supposed to "bring a thousand years of darkness to the forest".
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: The Galra had rule over most of the known universe for over 10,000 years.
  • Xiaolin Showdown: Parodied. One episode revolves around them locking up their dragon Dojo for the day, because on that particular day he'll turn evil, grow two heads and devour all of the magical Shen Gong Wu items, leading to 1,000 years of darkness. The spoof comes from the time being more like 962, but 1,000 sounds more dramatic.

    Real Life 
  • Older Than Feudalism: 1,000 years was the prediction for how long The Roman Empire would reign made by Cicero, which is probably the Trope Codifier in the Western Hemisphere. (He wasn't entirely wrong. The Eastern Roman Empire lasted until 1453,note  and the Ottoman Emperor claimed the title of "Kaysar-i-Rum" "Caesar of Rome" until 1922.)
  • Ancient Chinese emperors tend to be greeted with "萬歲!" ("May you reign for 10,000 years") but most dynasties only last about 400 years or so. Other East Asian countries did the same.
    • There is a careful delineation with these acclamation, Empresses are acclaimed "A thousand years!" And sometimes, particularly powerful officials would be sarcastically greeted (not out loud, obviously) with "Nine thousand years!" Even after the Republic was proclaimed on 1911, such slogans were used for the Republic or various leaders such as Mao and Chiang. Today, this slogan is used at the Tienanmen gate in Beijing, as "[May the] People's Republic of China [last for] ten thousand years"; meanwhile, presidential speeches in Taiwan used, until 2016, to be closed with "[May] the Republic of China [live for] ten thousand years!", with pro-independence activists using their own versions.
    • "Tenno heika banzai" the Japanese battle cry that gives the phrase "banzai charge" means literally "[To the Emperor] ten thousand years!" Since the Emperor was understood to have a normal human lifetime, this wasn't meant literally. Today, the phrase is only shouted during the dissolution of the House of Representatives, and also as an acclamation at the enthronement of the Japanese Emperor.
    • The Korean equivalent is manse ("만세"), which also means "10,000 years", although, under Joseon, it was changed to cheonse ("천세") as a sign of deference to China. Today, it's used in North Korea for the leaderships: during the Korean War, while charging, North Koreans with Nodongs shouted "Long live the Great Leader, General Kim Il-sung" (위대한 수령 김일성장군 만세).
    • In Vietnam, vạn tuế is used in this capacity.
  • Adolf Hitler and Those Wacky Nazis invoked this trope by promising a thousand-year Reich. Berlin would be the new world capital of a greatly expanded "Germania". It lasted merely twelve.
    • Winston Churchill implied something similar in his "finest hour" speech when he proclaimed that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth lasts for a thousand years, people will say this was our finest hour.. The consesus for the final end of the British Empire was when Hong Kong, the last significant Imperial possession, was given back to the Chinese in 1999. The British Empire therefore dwindled and died in the 59 years following Chutchill's speech. note 
    • On September 1934, Hitler promised, during a Nuremberg rally, that Germany would not know another revolution in the next 1000 years...
  • The Holy Roman Empire was, at the time of founding, considered a continuation of The Roman Empire and the fourth and last "world monarchy" predicted by the Book of Daniel (after Babylon, Persia and Macedonia). It was believed that, since Rome was the last worldly empire, it would last literally until Judgement Day. (When it didn't, that's how the Fifth Monarchists became a thing during the English Civil War.)
  • In terms of a single Royal Family managing to pull off a Thousand Year Reign, one of the few examples is the Capetian Dynasty. Both of the current, as of 2023, King of Spain (Felipe VI) and Grand Duke of Luxembourg (Henri) are direct male-line descendants of Hugh Capet, who was himself crowned King of the Franks in 987. For more than a thousand years, they have almost continuously been sovereigns of something, with few interruptions.
    • Another example, and one that has managed to pull off a Thousand Year Reign of a single country, is the Yamato Dynasty, also known as The Imperial House of Japan. The first historically documented Emperor is Kinmei-tennō, who reigned in the mid-6th century, making this the oldest dynasty anywhere in the world. Traditionally, the first Emperor was Jinmu-tennō who started his reign in 660 BC; if true, then the Imperial House of Japan has achieved a genuine Thousand Year Reign twice.