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Zorion: I am a time traveler from five centuries ago! I used a device to bring myself forward in time to see the wonders of your epoch! What progress has come to pass?

Nodwick: Virtually none... Magic has supplanted technology, and the secretive nature of its practitioners has resulted in most knowledge becoming lost. We're a feudal society, wars are common, and there's the monster problem. Plus, constant conflicts between the gods ensure that little philosophical progress is ever made.

Zorion: You people must drink a lot.

Nodwick: It helps ease the downward spiral, yeah.


Götterdämmerung - German for "Twilight of the Gods"

The term was popularized by Richard Wagner in his Der Ring Des Nibelungen opera cycle. This is a German translation of the Old Norse "Ragnarökkr" ("twilight of the gods"), which was itself a poetic alternate name for the Norse term Ragnarök: The "ragna" part (nominative: regin) means "gods" while "rök" means "fate" or "doom".

Ragnarok was the story of how most of the Aesir[1] and the greatest Jotuns died in a battle against each other. Similarly, this trope refers to when the gods or sufficiently advanced Precursors of a story (and possibly their enemies) either die (if they are mortal) or are Sealed In A Can (if they are immortal), usually in a large battle or some other sudden event.

Contrast Death of the Old Gods, where the gods are either slowly disappearing or losing popularity / being replaced over a period of time, essentially going out with a whisper instead of a bang. See also End of an Age / Dawn of an Era, which this trope may end up leading to.

Examples of Gotterdammerung include:

Anime & Manga

  • In the backstory of the Macross series, the entire galaxy was part of a Golden Age under the Protoculture Stellar Republic before a civil war destroyed them, leaving only their giant humanoid armies to roam the galaxy and continue fighting.

Comic Books


  • The galaxy of Niven's Known Space was once ruled by a foolish, simpleminded race of creatures whose only notable attribute was the ability to utterly dominate the minds of others. When the inevitable rebellion happened after thousands of years, their final, technologically amplified command was for everything advanced enough to receive their commands to commit suicide.
    • Not only that but it was set up so that it would go off every few million years after it first went off over a billion years ago just to spite any survivors who thought they got away. Over the billion-plus years the strength has decayed. Where once it would take out anything with a vertebra, now it only works on full sentients. The reason the species jump from around our level to a billion years dead is that this reoccurs again and again, wiping out any developed species...
  • In the Deep Space Nine novel Fallen Heroes, Dax, the member of a species comprising a small symbiote inside a standard humanoid, thinks of the Trill version of Ragnarok where a race of dumb giants and a race of smaller intelligent beings fought a war that ended with a single member of each surviving and mating to create the Trill race. There is endless speculation as to which was which gender.
  • Whilst it hasn't actually happened yet, the Discworld name for this is "The Teatime of The Gods".

Live Action TV

  • Xena: Warrior Princess featured Xena bringing on the Twilight by killing the Olympian Gods.
  • Between the old and new series of Doctor Who, an offscreen conflict called the Time War erased the Time Lords and the Daleks from the universe, as well as a horde of various Eldritch Abominations. It later turned out that several million Daleks survived in a prison ship called the Genesis Ark, however, that's still a fraction of the ten million ship fleet that fought the Time Lords.



  • In Norse Mythology, two people, Líf and Lífþrasir, will survive Ragnarök (the Norse version of the apocalypse, the final climactic battle of the gods with the giants and monsters which will end the world as we know it) and will presumably live on to create the next generation of humans after the fall of the gods.
    • Interestingly, this ending has strong parallels with the Judeo-Christian beginning. Enough so that Dark Age monks and missionaries were able to draw upon these connections in order to win converts, much in the same way that pagan deities often became associated with saints.
      • In fact it's close enough to the Abrahamic religions creation myth that some scholars believe that the whole idea of Ragnarök is manufactured or at least greatly exaggerated. Also Líf and Lífþrasir could very well have been added later, since our main source for information about the Norse Mythology comes from Christian authors... Or so I've been told.

Video Games

  • Final Fantasy XII sees the dominance of the world's gods broken. Though in this case the gods are cast in something of a dictatorial mold, so this is regarded more as a cause for celebration than melancholy.
  • The creators of the God of War series have said that the third installment will "explain why there are no more Greek myths." Given that Kratos has already killed Ares, Athena, Persephone, the Hydra, Typhon, Prometheus, Theseus, Icarus, destroyed the Colossus of Rhodes and killed the three Sisters of Fate and is hell-bent on taking down Zeus, they're off to a good start.
    • During III, Kratos kills Poseidon, Hades, Helios, Hermes, Hephaestus, Gaia, Cronos, Heracles, Hera, motherfucking ZEUS and probably also himself, and is directly or indirectly responsible for the death of Deadalus and Pandora, so he really is a one-man Götterdämmerung.
  • Metroid plays with this trope. The Chozo are a race of advanced bird-like beings who wield Lost Technology and left behind ruins that incorporated Organic Technology all over the galaxy. In fact, as stated in the Lore of the second two Prime games, each endangered/extinct civilization Samus Is a Girl visits (Tallon IV, Aether, Bryyo, Elysia) had some connections to the Chozo race, and they often left behind relics in the form of Power Suit Upgrades. Also mentioned in the Lore of the Prime series is the decline and/or extinction of the Chozo (hence the Gotterdammerung) at the hands of a mysterious "star-borne terror" revealed to be a Leviathan Seed, the source of all Phazon. All of the Malevolent Architecture/Foreboding Architecture Architecture and Lost Technology the Chozo left behind tend to be very important whenever Samus has a case of the Bag of Spilling.
  • Grandia II had a great war thought between ?Good? and ?Evil?. Evil eventually won but need a couple thousand years of rest. The remains of humanity thought good had won and built a whole religion around its technology and brain-washing control.
  • .hack, both in the game within a game and the game itself, if that makes sense.
    • In the third game of the G.U. series, Aura talking through Aina directly invokes "twilight of the gods." It is difficult to say whether she was being metaphorical, dramatic, or deadly serious.
  • The final level of the first Medal of Honor game is named after this.
  • The Halo universe, of course, had the highly advanced Forerunners, who were forced to activate their Halos and destroy themselves and all sentient life in the galaxy to starve out the Flood.
    • There's a great quote in Halo 2 from one of the Halo A Is that demonstrates the amount of time that passed:

  2401 Penitent Tangent: This installation has a successful utilization record of 1.2 trillion simulated and 1 actual.

  • Assassin's Creed has Those Who Came Before, a shadowy group mentioned in the first game that the Knight Templar claim that all human technology is reverse-engineered from. The second game reveals that they are a powerful race that once existed on Earth and created human in their own image. They were defeated however, when humans revolted against them and won because of their sheer advantage in numbers. Both factions were devastated, however in an apocalyptic event. Gods and goddesses in world religions are distorted memories of these people.
  • This is a cornerstone of the most fundamentalist elven religions in The Elder Scrolls. In The fundie basis of elven religion, it holds that reality is a prison that souls are trapped in by the trickster Lorkhan when he bound his fellow greater gods to form the Mundus, but was tricked in turn and killed. In more Man-based religions, it's held that the pre-creation divinity state was the prison, and the mundus is a proving ground in which to transcend beyond the original gods, with Lorkhan (or "Shor" as he's known to the most manliest race of men, the Nords) deliberately failing to do so himself in order for all else to "know how not to fail". In The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim,the Thalmor, a nazi analogue that seized power in Summerset Isle (the ancestral home of all elves), is attempting to unravel all of reality in some mad scheme to return to pre-creation divinity. How? Throughout all the previous games, several pillars holding reality together were destroyed or otherwise depowered (Numidium, Red Mountain, White-Gold Tower), and reality was basically being held together by reverence and worship in the first known person to have undergone such apotheosis: Talos. The Thalmor have banned worship of Talos to undo reality.
  • All highly advanced technology in the Panzer Dragoon universe was created long ago in the Ancient Age, and the war-wracked world left in its wake is only alive thanks to climate control systems which are finally disabled in Saga in "The Great Fall". In a variation, the Ancients, themselves, realized that what they were doing was wrong, and so they created a fail-safe that was programmed to undo what they had wrought.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In Justice League episode "Twilight of the Gods," Darkseid is kind-of killed, but ends up coming back in a later episode..

Real Life

  • Technically not an example of this trope, but Götterdämmerung is nowadays often used in association with the last days of Hitler's regime, with the Allies closing in on all sides and the Nazis making their last hopeless stand in Berlin, due to Hitler's love of Wagner and a certain amount of black humor. Needless to say, very few non-Nazis saw this period as the end of a Golden Age.
    • In a slight category deviation, this is the reason why the final level of the first Medal of Honor game is named after the trope.
  1. a tribe of the Norse gods, the other being the Vanir