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We have no beginning. We have no end. We are infinite. Millions of years after your civilization has been eradicated and forgotten, we will endure.
—Sovereign, Mass Effect
There are the old, and then there are the truly old. People usually die within a century or so. Cities and nations may last a few millennia, and we think them old, but the truly old are so much older.
They were already old when all the nations we know were born, even those now vanished into history. They can speak of Ancient Athens and Babylon as casually as we might have yesterday, for to them those ancient cities are but recent memories. They were there when brick was first laid on brick, over five thousand years ago. They may have watched the trilobites come, and go, with eyes older than the stars. They may even be older than time itself.
Contemplating such immense spans of time is like looking into an abyss, an inducement to vertigo, for they are more than we can grasp. Oh, we can talk about them easily enough, just more big numbers, but we can't intuit them. We all know what a second or a week feels like; a million years is beyond all human experience. It is from this incomprehension that this trope draws its power, when done right, an evocation of incomprehensible age that appeals to our sense of wonder.
While a Time Abyss is normally a person — perhaps not technically human, but a person nonetheless — objects can also qualify, everything from cities to coins. Imagine an alien monolith that has been sitting on the moon for three billion years. Think about all it has seen; the slow dance of the continents, the long march of evolution, the sudden flowering of civilization. Think, and wonder.
Geographical features can't qualify, though. We expect the hills to be old beyond measure. We do not expect people, or any of their works, to be older than the hills.
Naturally, a Time Abyss must experience all the years they claim. It doesn't count if they skip over them, sleep through them, or forget them. It is also important that they feel genuinely old, witness to more years than the human mind can grasp. If it feels like the writers just picked a random big number, they probably weren't aiming for this trope.
Mary Poppins, for example, is claimed to be as old as the Earth but, quite frankly, that just feels like boasting. Mary Poppins feels perpetually young. Tom Bombadil, on the other hand, is considered old even by the oldest immortals, and reminisces about seeing the first raindrops, long before the elves awoke. Tom is a true Time Abyss.
Five thousand years or so is a decent estimate of the minimum age needed to qualify for this trope, comfortably older than Ancient Greece or China, but in Science Fiction a Time Abyss will typically be far older than that. Geological time scales are usually involved. In modern-day works of a religious bent (or not), Adam and Eve (or Cain) are likely candidates.
A god or major Eldritch Abomination is often a time abyss, as are Precursors and Elves (depending on how much better the elves are, many aren't old enough to follow this trope). These characters may decide that there's Nothing Left to Do But Die because Who Wants to Live Forever?. May even oscillate between Living Forever Is Awesome and bored eternity.
Few of these characters look visibly old, until you see their eyes. Only then do you sense the weight of years behind their gaze, an experience which often leaves people reeling with temporal vertigo.
Meta-trope of Living Relic, where the being in question finds themselves the last survivor of their civilization, race, or even species long after their kind has become myth. Being a Time Abyss will often lead to a work's creator wanting to engage in some Exposition of Immortality to show just how much they remember.
Anime and Manga
- The Pillar Men from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure are an ancient race of vampiric superbeings, stated to have been around since before the dawn of mankind.
- It isn't clear how old Onashia is in Simoun (or how long she's ruled Simulacrum), but her personality definitely qualifies.
- The Choushin from Tenchi Muyo!. For an uncounted period of time they searched for a being greater than themselves. It's unknown how long they existed like that, assuming time even applies to that state, but they eventually created the entire multiverse of space and time and have been around ever since. And if that doesn't mean anything to you, then one of them created a physical body to exist in which is still alive and kicking over 20,000 years later.
- Archanfel and Waferdanos were born before the last Ice Age, making them at least 3 million years old. The aliens who created them had been tampering with life on Earth pretty much since it first appeared, a billion or so years ago.
- Ronnie Suchiart from Baccano is implied to be this. Although he doesn't give an exact date, he does drop a mention that he's been around since ancient times.
- Garterbelt is one in Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt, being forced to relive all of Earth's history since the dinosaurs by God.
- The Observer of Time in RahXephon: Pluralitas Concentio. Ayato becomes the Observer at the end of the movie.
- Gooyan, the true Big Bad in Pretty Cure Splash Star is old enough to remember the universe before the Big Bang. He states that the silence was peaceful and that the cacophany of life is abhorrent to him. His entire goal is to remove all life from the universe and return to that nothingness.
- The Kais of Dragon Ball easily fit this. The youngest-looking of them is over 5 million years old, and he has not aged visibly in that time. The wizard Babidi would also be somewhere around this age, considering his father was killed 5 million years ago. Unlike the Kais though, Babidi does look quite old.
- Ajimu Najimi of Medaka Box is orders of magnitude older than the universe. Apparently it was quite boring before the big bang.
- C.C. May or may not qualify. On one hand, she's only somewhere between 500 and 1000 years old, being around since the high point of the Age of Kings. However, it's implied that the Thought Elevators and C's World were the vestiges of a civilization long-past, possibly older than the dawn of civilization as we know it. Even ignoring the possibility of immortals in the Geass-verse that could be as old as that civilization, however, C.C.'s own personality definitely qualifies. Since she's still alive and travelling the earth at the end of the series, she could always become this as time goes on.
- The world of The Sandman is implied to have a handful of inhabitants that inspire the quote given above. For the most part, we are just assured that they're out there, somewhere. We do meet one or two of them, though. The Endless, Lucifer, and any other angel are said to be 10 billion years old, the figure Neil Gaiman used as the age of the universe (Though information revealed later in the comic seems to contradict this somewhat. Only Destiny is anywhere near the age of the universe, whereas the rest of them only came into existence when lifeforms complex enough to experience the concept they embody first evolved. The Angels & other mythical beings exist in a strange Schroedinger-esque state of being as old as time itself & having only existed for as long as humans believed in them — or put another way, they were already ancient when they came into existence). Thessaly, a human being (as opposed to cosmic spiritual entity) and powerful witch, sounds Neolithic when she describes her age in A Game of You. It's also mentioned in Seasons of Mist that the Judeo-Christian God is far above any reality, making the trope applicable to Him as well.
- Vandal Savage of the DC Universe is one of these, though you'd never know it just by looking at him. He began life as a caveman, and became immortal when exposed to a mysterious meteor. It was revealed during Final Crisis (in Final Crisis: Revelations) that Savage is Cain. Yes, that Cain. In an episode of Justice League, it was shown that he was still kicking 30,000 years after the end of the world, which, incidentally, he caused. He feels a little guilty about it, though. Also his arch-nemesis, the Resurrection Man. Or maybe not; originally, every time he died, he reincarnated as a baby. Thanks to some scientific experimentation on his current incarnation, he now straight-up resurrects - and survives in this incarnation up through the future of DC One Million.
- Immediately after the Big Bang, Galactus emerged in a sort of stasis as the universe evolved. The Watchers, and the various races the Elders of the Universe came from (among others), evolved and developed their societies during this time period. Then Galactus woke up, as a Watcher watched, and he was HUNGRY. Besides that, all indications are that Mr. Immortal is destined to be Galactus's equivalent in the next universe. His power is being completely incapable of dying (or rather, of staying dead). Not even the most powerful of omnipotent beings could kill him off for real, meaning that he will be this trope, whether he likes it or not. And he's a Joke Character.
- Marvel is full of this. Each member of the Elders of the Universe is the last survivor of a forgotten race from billions of years ago who fanatically pursues a personal obsession such as collecting, gaming or fighting. The Proemials were born as the Universe was created, the Elder Gods emerged before life first appeared on Earth, the Eternals are 1 million years old (created by the even more ancient Celestials), the various Gods are thousands to tens of thousands of years old, the Neanderthal Cole witnessed the sinking of Lemuria 20,000 years ago, the mutant Selene is 17,000 years old and Black Axe is almost 15,000. There is also the Forever Man, although he is usually unable to remember his past lives.
- The Guardians of The Universe in The DCU, source of Green Lantern's power. They were among the first sentient races to evolve, and are several billions years old. Additionally the other races that share ancestry with the Guardians, like the Zamorrans and the Controllers. Enemies of the Guardians, such as Larfleeze, Atrocitus, and the older Manhunters, also have ages in the billions. The Emotional Spectrum entities, born from the emotions of sentient life, are similarly old.
- The New Gods of the Fourth World and their predecessors, the Old Gods who predate the DC universe.
- The Jin En Mok in Lucifer predate the creation of the universe and want to escape it.
- Also The Silk Man, another survivor of a previous Creation, possibly the same one as the Jin En Mok, possibly not.
- Elf Quest has quite a few long-lived characters which have been around since the humans were still in their stone age (with later stories taking place in a medievalish period), but ignoring those that got there by skipping millennia still leaves some examples: Two-Edge must be pushing 20,000 years, was a legend in two troll kingdoms that have since crumbled, and had more or less secretly significant influence on the technological advancement of humankind. His mother, Winnowill saw her tribe of elves go from wild forest dwellers to civilised, was cut off from them and watched/played with humans for some 10,000 years. She was venerated as a goddess by two entirely separate human peoples. Timmain spent most of her time as a wolf, but probably still counts. When the immortal shapeshifting aliens that were the ancestors of elves were stranded on the World of Two Moons, she had lived through their space flight, which was long enough for the marmot and butterfly like animals they brought along to evolve into sentient humanoids. Before that, she was the last of her kind who remembered that they used to breed - which the immortals had given up due to overpopulation of their planet.
- Walker from Powers. He's at least old enough to have been part of a clan of missing links, and his DNA has continued to mutate and evolve over time so that he fits right in today. Perhaps fortunately, perhaps unfortunately, his memory only goes back a very limited time, maybe about a hundred years. Things towards the beginning of that span start fading and getting blurry, and eventually are replaced with new memories. Occasionally a catalyst can give him flashes of some long dormant memories, though.
- Depending on his identity, the Time Trapper is this. One possible past is Superboy Prime. All the incarnations show the Time Trapper was born at least during the 30th-31st century, but survived to operate at the end of time itself
- Doctor Strange foe Shuma Gorath and the other Many-Angled Ones were some of the first creatures to ever exist in the multiverse.
- The Life Entity in Blackest Night is the oldest being in existence. It triggered the birth of life in the first place. Nekron, the cosmic void's response to life, is the second oldest being in existence.
- In Luminosity, no one technically falls into this by power of present year minus year born/created/made. However, Aro is an exceptionally old vampire, and picks up the memories of anyone he touches, which has included many random people and a few vampires even older than he. By extension of memories, Elspeth, Addy, and Siobhan along with anyone else memory blasted also fall into this.
- Crowley's analouge's eyes in the Good Omens AU, The Sacred and the Profane
- In Top Dog, the roots of wizardry come from an ancient, powerfully magical civilization that existed on Earth about seventy thousand years ago. They created a race of Voluntary Shapeshifters to serve as shock troops in war, and, predictably enough, were destroyed by them. Those shapeshifters later became the Amerai, and the clan heads are still almost all original created Amerai, rather than newer born.
- In ELOZE, when speaking to the Sand Goddess, she laughs at the prospect of Ganon destroying the world.
"THIS MEANS NOTHING TO ME. I WAS FIRST. I SHALL BE LAST. THERE WILL BE ONLY DESERT. AS IT WAS IN THE BEGINNING I, CHAOS, WILL RULE."
- From Yukari Is Free, B-3-K claims to be over 400,000 years old, and that the alien force she heralds, the Cluster, are even older.
- In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic fanfiction Merely A Mare, Princess Luna casually mentions that she and her sister Celestia are more than four hundred million years old. Pinkie Pie, being Pinkie Pie, wonders how she'll ever fit that many candles on her birthday cake.
- In Star Wars, the Neti are a species of sentient shapeshifting tree, often Force-sensitive, that can live for upwards of four thousand years.
- John Oldman from The Man From Earth is just about 14,000 years old, according to his own count. From the same writer, see Star Trek's "Requiem for Methuselah" in Live-Action TV below.
- The Antareans in Cocoon. The first base they built here on Earth? It was Atlantis.
Walter: Every ten or eleven thousand years or so, I make a terrible mistake.
- Aeon, the Big Bad of Rudolph's Shiny New Year is a massive bird who, as his name suggests, is destined to live to one eon of age, the last year being the one in which the special takes place. To put that in perspective, a geological eon is roughly 500 million years, but spelled like his name it litterally means an eternity.
- The nameless monster from No Such Thing, played by Robert John Burke, gives a speech about how he was there "When you were young", referring to life on Earth itself, in which he mentions that the period of time before we evolved into fish (i.e. the precambrian era) was very boring for him.
- According to the Highlander expanded universe, The Kurgan was almost three thousand years old at the time of his death, having been born in 1005 BC.
- King Keshekhim Nedakh from Atlantis the Lost Empire is apparantly over 100,000 years old when he died in 1914 (the year the film's events took place). His daughter, on the other hand, is approximately their equivalent of a teenager despite being 8500 years old.
- The Jasofts in Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence-collaborators with alien overlords who conquered earth, who were given eternal life: "My name is Luru Parz. I was born in the year AD 5279, as humans once counted time. Now I have lived so long that such dates have no meaning. We have lost the years, lost them in orders of magnitude."
- The Xeelee themselves are only fractions of a second younger than the Universe itself. They created the Anti-Xeelee made of Tachyons to take their seeds back in time to when Baryonic matter becomes stable enough for them to exist. They then spend the next 15 billion years building a great attractor to leave this existence. Some Xeelee have seen the entire universe from the beginning.
- Any and all demon-like entities in The Bartimaeus Trilogy. For example, Bartimaeus used to be best friends with Ptolemy, and at that point, he was about 3000 years old.
- Many supernatural beings in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files. Nicodemus and Tessa are two humans who act as hosts to fallen angels. Tessa (who looks 14-ish) was sold as a slave in ancient Egypt, before she met Nicodemus (who was already immortal and old at that point) and he gave her a coin containing her Fallen Angel. Nicodemus' precise age is unknown, as he makes a point to destroy the church's records of him every few centuries, but he wears the rope Judas used to hang himself around his neck as a tie.
- And of course the angels that inhabit them are even older. At one point Lasciel mocks the idea of Harry trying to change her mind, pointing out that if she hasn't in the thousands of years since she fell, he certainly isn't going to make a difference. Additionally, she boasts of living through "infinite thousands" of years, which might as well be true if the White God of the series is the actual creator of the universe.
- A recent Word of God implies that Demonreach predates the ice age.
- The Red King is textbook example. Humanity doesn't know how old he is, because they haven't had a written language that long.
- Mab is also comfortably older than human civilization (Mother Winter is even older). The construct Archive (not its hosts, who expire) is also somewhere in the region of five millenia old. Then there are the various gods who are at least as old as their religions - so some of them will qualify. We also have the Old Ones, ancient Eldritch Abominations who have been banished from the world in ancient times - but are probably far older than that. In short, The Dresden Files is full of examples.
- Arthur C. Clarke's The City and the Stars, where Diaspar has survived a billion years.
- The dragons introduced in Diane Duane's The Door into Shadow can live to be thousands of years old and can remember clearly enough to calculate their ages by counting sunrises backwards. Furthermore, they also inherit the memories of their ancestors, although those memories tend to fade over a large number of generations as they're spread over a progressively larger number of descendants.
- In The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson, the Great Redoubt is an incredibly ancient City In A Pyramid, with a history that "dealt not with odd thousands of years; but with very millions; aye, away back into what they of that Age conceived to be the early days of the earth, when the sun, maybe, still gloomed dully..."
- A frequent theme in H.P. Lovecraft's stories, where the characters find themselves in awe and dread of what primordial secrets they learn about, and usually find at the end that something from those times still lives, or at least exists actively even if they're not alive in the usual sense.
- In At the Mountains of Madness, the city of the Elder Things had been continuously inhabited since the Earth was young, for billions of years.
- In "The Haunter in the Dark", the protagonist writes down the history of an ancient artifact after gazing into it. Said artifact was originally created on planet Yuggoth (AKA Pluto), and came into the possession of the aforementioned Elder Things on Earth billions of years ago. Later it was worshiped by a race of serpent-men in ancient Hyberborea, until it was lost for millions of years before being found again in ancient Egypt, where
thean Avatar of the god Nyarlathotep (AKA Eldritch Abomination Satan) that was sealed inside first possessed a human body. A few thousand years later it was found in the ruins of a temple and brought to Providence, where an occult Cult formed around it.
- Yog-Sothoth is the Gate. Yog-Sothoth is the Key. Time and space are one in Yog-Sothoth, for he is the All-in-One and the One-in-All. He knows and sees all that is, all that was and all that will be. He knows the answer to every question but only very brave or very foolish mortals would dare to ask him, for the price of ultimate knowledge is great indeed.
- All other Outer Gods and Great Old ones count too; while Yog-Sothoth is unique in existing in the past, present and future at the same time, all Outer Gods are impossibly ancient (older than all of space and time, in fact). Great Old Ones are millions or billions of years old too, although they have spent a portion of it in hibernation when the stars aren't right for them.
- There is also Azathoth who deserves mention, seeing as he is the creator of the UNIVERSE (not that he noticed it...)
- "The Shadow Out of Time" plays this to full effect by having the older-than-humanity scroll written in the narrator's own handwriting. While the scroll's writer time traveled, the scroll itself, and what remains of the Great Race's city (not very much, really) are still over 200 million years old, and are both expected to last at least as long into the future..
- In "The Nameless City", the city definitely qualifies.
- Luthe's teacher Goriolo in Robin McKinley's The Hero and The Crown "could almost remember when the moon was hung in the sky." The heroine's late mother studied with Luthe. For calibration, Luthe remembers the previous active Great Dragon, "one hundred generations ago".
- J'osui C'reln Reyr, the "Creature Doomed to Live" in the Elric novel The Sailor on the Seas of Fate, who disobeyed Arioch and was condemned to live until he returned, 10,000 years later.
- Discworld often uses this trope.
- In Going Postal, Anghammarad is a 19,000-year-old golem who finds work as a post officer. He expects to wait for the next universe (golems believe time goes in circles), so he will be able to deliver that one message he couldn't. As he says about "big green things with teeth". Bigger. Greener. More teeth. Quite appropriately, he is given the position of 'Extremely Senior Postman'.
- And he/it's a comparative newcomer compared to the Golems of Um in Making Money, none of whom are less than 20,000 years old (they don't speak the same common language, and that's at least 20,000 years old), and some may be as much as 60,000 years old.
- In Hogfather, the first Bogeyman reminisces about the days before men had fire and metal, when the continents were different. Anybody who lives in his realm will never die, simply fade away.
- In Going Postal, Anghammarad is a 19,000-year-old golem who finds work as a post officer. He expects to wait for the next universe (golems believe time goes in circles), so he will be able to deliver that one message he couldn't. As he says about "big green things with teeth". Bigger. Greener. More teeth. Quite appropriately, he is given the position of 'Extremely Senior Postman'.
"You don't die here. You just get old... listening to the laughter..."
- Similarly, the Elf king in Lords and Ladies dreams not just of such a time in the past that he witnessed personally and ruled over, but of the time to come when such will happen.
- The Anthropomorphic Personification of Time is described as old, not for humans, but old like darkness and stars.
- And then, of course, there is Death, who was there when the first lifeform died, and whose job it will be, at the end of the universe, to metaphorically put all the chairs on the tables and turn out the lights. Then there's his boss, Azrael, the Death of Universes, who can think on the answer to a question for long enough that a star can be born, live, die, and collapse into a black hole, and whose body parts are most easily measured in terms of the speed of light.
- According to Eric, Death won't just be there to metaphorically "close up shop" but he'll be there when the next universe starts up.
- Dios in Pyramids is, perhaps, the king of this trope. At first glance, he is merely middle-aged or elderly. It quickly becomes apparent that he has some kind of personal knowledge of the past 6,000 years of his country's history. At the end of the novel, it's shown that he is, more or less, a living Stable Time Loop and thus might have been alive for ETERNITY.
- Although, qualifier of not having forgot may exclude him since he seems to forget either each time he gets sent back or progressively as he passes.
- In The Last Continent, the Luggage spends so many millennia buried under the soils of XXXX that a layer of opal forms on its surface. While this could be a case of sleeping through the Time Abyss, it's awake and bored enough to be even more pissed than normal when someone finally digs it up.
- Similarly, in The Science of Discworld, the Luggage gets stuck in the earth on our world for a couple of geological periods.
- And perhaps the most and least obvious of them all in this setting is the Great A'tuin and the four elephants who stand on his back. How many millennia have they watched the play of stars and felt the feet of mortals walking upon their backs?
- JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings features Treebeard, who's said to be the oldest of all living things, and Tom Bombadil, who claims to be older than the earth.
- Elrond has outlived every nation in the world, but he's still a kid compared to Glorfindel (well, kind of) and Galadriel, who is, in some materials, described as being older than the sun, though the sun is relatively young in the LotRverse.
- Cirdan, described and only actually seen once, is the oldest Elf around and mentioned at the time of the War of the Ring. He was probably among the first to awaken of the elves around 20,000 years ago. He's old enough to have a long, white beard. Think about it.
- Gandalf, Radagast & Saruman of course are actually just 2,000 year old temporary forms of the Maiar (i.e Angels), all of whom entered Ea (the universe) at the beginning of time.
- Sauron is another Maia, and even the Witch-King is close to 5,000 years old, though he doesn't quite make it. He lasts 4800 years or so.
- The Malazan Book of the Fallen Verse by Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont has a background story going back 300,000 years. And many of the gods and Ascendants were old even back then. Kallor, the High King, has notched up a hundred thousand years without the benefit of ascension even (long story short he was cursed with immortality but not eternal youth for being such a genocidal bastard - he literally killed every single person in his empire because some gods were going to take it away from him).
- The T'lan Imass, an extremely important race in the world's history, have each lived for over 300,000 years. They have passed this time hunting down and exterminating all remnants of the Jaghut, who had oppressed them in that distant past. Their racial history goes back into unknowable distances, until 300,000 years before the main story, when nearly all those who still survived took part in a necromantic ritual that made them all undead.
- We also have Anomander Rake. He was the first son of the goddess that created existence. (Well, except for the warren of chaos and the eldritch abominations in it.) The Tiste Andii lived for at least thousands of years in their warren before they emerged into the normal world over 300 000 years ago. They're so old they don't want to live any more. They just don't care.
- Jack Chalker's Nathan Brazil, who is as old as they come and then some, pulls this one sometimes. He claims to have rebooted the Universe several times. But then, he also admits to being a very talented compulsive liar.
- Amerasu, the Sithi queen from the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn books is described as beautiful and youthful looking but strangely slow and careful in her movements, as if her bones were brittle. The hero, Simon, feels faint when he looks into her eyes. Despite immortality being natural for her race she is a case of Who Wants to Live Forever?.
- The Lilim in Stardust are described as being old enough to have noticed continental shift and oceanic movements. At one point, the youngest of them looks out over a petrified forest and recalls when it was a collection of seedlings.
- Circus Of The Damned, the third Anita Blake novel, features a vampire named Mr. Oliver who claimed to be "older than time" which she took as hollow boasting until she realized he wasn't a human vampire, but a Homo erectus vampire. Due to the Sorting Algorithm of Evil he went down far more easily than many enemies since then, making him rather disappointing in retrospect.
- The non-fiction history book Human Accomplishment by Charles Murray starts with a chapter intended to evoke the Time Abyss, by tracing back human society in 400-year chunks.
- The Chee in Animorphs are androids who came to Earth before human civilization and have since lived through most of human history. Erek, the one we see most often, casually mentions that he helped build the pyramids, among other things. (Though he just helped haul stones, an interesting subversion of the Ancient Astronauts theory.)
- There's also The Ellimist, who was already millions of years old when Earth was just beginning to form.
- The eponymous villain of the Warhammer Fantasy spin-off novel Drachenfels (written by Kim Newman) has prolonged his life through dark magic for thousands of years, and can recall living through events that are now dismissed as superstitious myths. (And when he finally dies, his last thought is the realization that, despite this, his entire lifespan is still only an eyeblink in time.)
- Remy Chandler, a.k.a. Seraph Remiel, of the Remy Chandler Novels, remembers, among other things, the War in Heaven, watching Noah as he built the Ark, and a time when humans carried melee weapons around as naturally as modern people carry iPods and cell phones. His memories are interspersed with very recent recollections(less than fifty years at the outside) of his wife, his dog, and his friend, which lends the times when he does remember way back an air of authenticity.
- Several of the Larry Niven Draco Tavern stories deal with this: "Cautionary Tale" has an alien over ten thousand years old on a fruitless search for immortality. "The Death Addict"'s danger-seeking alien doesn't have a specific age given, but he's afraid of living long enough to be "the last cluster of protons in the universe". The Chirpsithra have immense lifespans: one in "The Green Plague" is almost two billion - though relativistic Time Dilation makes her subjective age somewhat less - and visited Earth before its atmosphere had oxygen.
- In the last book of Larry Niven's Ring World series, Ringworld's Children, the Protector Proserpina is around a million years old.
- The Arisians in the Lensman series. Some of them are two billion years old, and they are capable of plans spanning the entire run of human history.
- R. Daneel Olivaw, AKA Eto Demerzel, AKA Chetter Hummin is 20,000 years old at the end of Isaac Asimov's Foundation And Earth. Gaia, a living planet is also very old, but is younger than Daneel; its exact age is never specified.
- Dwellers in The Algebraist are old enough, and patient enough, to have populated the entire galaxy. Without faster than light drives. Individuals are explicitly said to be billions of years old, which means that dwellers are essentially a first-generation society.
- Sethra Lavode. A vampire sorceress at least 250,000 years old, with enough power to make gods nervous. She's friends with Vlad and likes to have people over to dinner.
- The Disciples of Aldur and Torak in David Eddings's Belgariad and Mallorean. Polgara is the youngest coming in at a 'mere' 3,000 years old when the series begins. Belgarath himself is the oldest at 7,000 years and shows no signs of dying any time soon. They don't generally act it but they can be very casual in mentioning events that happened centuries previously in ways that other characters find disconcerting. The Prequel Belgarath the Sorcerer really hammers it home when you realise that he's almost as old as human civilization itself.
- With some guesstimation of the time for the proto-Ulgos to find their way to UL, and based on his interactions with them, it is possible to see him as in the fourth or fifth generation of humans since they were created. He is so close to having been around at the dawn of humanity that he can call his biography 'The History of the World' and not be exaggerating, a tribute not just to his age but to how active a life he has had. It is also implied in this book that between him and his brothers, they have made most of the scientific discoveries we have now on their own, because thousands of years of magically enhanced learning leads to some VERY intelligent old men, Beldin first among them - for at least half the history of civilization, his library was the greatest one on earth.
- The Salaxalan ghost in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. He has been around literally since the beginning of life on Earth, which means that he literally spent two billion years surrounded by mud and "slimy things with legs". The time has driven him... a little bonkers.
- In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Marvin the Paranoid Android ends up older than the universe due to incautious use of time travel. (37 times older than the universe to be more precise. LOTS of time travel.) It starts when he's stuck on a planet from circa 1980 through the end of time. Of course, arguably he was already old, weary and cynical when he was barely out of his styrofoam packaging.
"The first ten million years were the worst. And the second ten million, they were the worst, too. The third ten million I didn't enjoy at all. After that, I went into a bit of a decline."
- Some of the Minds and Drones in The Culture are said thousands of years old (the Culture builds to last) and though people generally live three of four hundred years, this is a choice. Even so, there much older things out there, such as the Sublimed and the elder civilizations. The airsphere in Look To Windwind picks up a body that's drifted though an entire orbit of the galaxy, and a "behemothaur" that knew them is still around.
- In The Cosmicomics, Qfwfq recalls memories from before the Big Bang.
- The Inhibitors from Revelation Space are millions of years old, perhaps even older, but their ultimate purpose will not be fulfilled until three billion years hence.
- Redemption Ark seems to imply that they've been around for about a billion years.
- The Codex Alera has Alera, basically the Anthropomorphic Personification of the country, who remembers the last few ice ages.
- Much farther back than that: "I have seen thousands of millions of years, Octavian."
- In A Wrinkle in Time, Mrs Whatsit gives her age as some absurdly precise number in the billions of years. She is far younger than Mrs Who and Mrs Which.
- The Black Thing is probably almost as old as time.
- After escaping Camazotz, Mr. Murry tells Calvin that the only reason they resisted being sucked into IT is that it had been many thousands of centuries since anyone had tried to resist IT. How did Mr. Murry learn that factoid?
- Perhaps Mr. Murry was informed as a means to make him give in, because obviously resistance was futile.
- Robin Goodfellow in Rob Thurman's Cal Leandros series casually mentions his encounters with famous historical and mythological figures, from Freud to Bacchus. He also mentions being around since before humans came out of the caves. Although he never comes out and says it, it is surmised that he is hundreds of thousands of years old.
- The Parrish Plessis series contains an example. Brilliance is a Homo erectus, making her over a million years old. She was infected with The Corruption, but managed to suppress and harness it to gain eternal life.
- Saetan, Andulvar, Mephis, Prothvar, Hekatah and Cassandra from the Black Jewels series, all remember a cataclysmic war 50,000 years ago, Cassandra more so than rest, as she is from a short-lived race among the Blood, meaning her natural lifespan should have been 150, at best, compared to the 5,000 of the long lived races, never mind Geoffrey, Draca or Lorn, the first being from an ancient race long, long forgotten even 50,000 years ago, the latter two being dragons who 'created' the Blood in the first place.
- Master Secundus Minutius Hora, the keeper of time from Momo by Michael Ende. His apparent age fluctuates wildly, but twice he's described in a way similar to the above Discworld example, as "old, not as an old man, but as a mountain".
- In The Last Rune series of books some of the Old Gods may have been around for long enough to fit this trope, but the dragons, who predate the creation of the universe, definitely qualify.
- In War of the Dreaming by John C. Wright, this applies to Oberon and Titania, who were around long before humans, and are implied to have been there when life first evolved on earth.
- The Wall in A Song of Ice and Fire is said to have been built over 8000 years ago.
- And the weirwoods don't die of old age; some might be around in Westeros from before the Age of Dawn (~12000 years).
- The Flowing Queen from the Dark Reflections Trilogy not only happens to be one of the old gods, who walked the Earth long before ancient Egypt, but also is stated to be older than any form of life in a sea.
- In The Lorax, the titular creature is as old as time itself.
- In Boundary's Fall, High Wizard Aemon (~5000) and Emperor Alwellyn of the elves (6000+) both fit this trope. In fact, Alwellyn is only the second Emperor the elves have ever had.
- The final part of Frederik Pohl's novel The World at the End of Time takes place in the very far future (10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years from now; not kidding, read the book), when all the stars of the Universe -except the ones ejected off the Milky Way by Five- have died and the unique energy source available to Wan-To is that provided by proton decay.
- Damon Julian of Fevre Dream is old even by vampire standards. It's impossible to say exactly how old, because he was born before vampires had language. At one point, his rival Joshua York argues that Damon isn't really evil, because deep down, part of him is still just a wild animal that can't imagine survival without killing weaker animals.
- Babylon 5: Lorien and most, if not all, First Ones encapsulate this trope.
- Doctor Who is absolutely full of this stuff:
- The Great Face of Boe lives to be more than 5 billion years old.
- The Beast claims to be from before time, and even if that isn't true it is still damn old.
- Sutekh was imprisoned thousands of years ago, the war inspiring Egyptian mythology, and was active for thousands of years before that.
- The Fendahl might not qualify, considering that it has technically been dead for 12 million years.
- Jack Harkness, being immortal and effectively indestructible, is headed for this at some point. Assuming the line about him becoming the Face of Boe wasn't just a joke, he has a good few billion years left before running Out of Continues.
- While a youthful 909 (he says), the Doctor himself is often portrayed in this manner. His travels have allowed him to be there for a great deal of the history of many cultures, and after the loss of his own people, a lifetime of agonizing choices between 'horrible' and 'more horrible', and seeing the cruelty of some to others, he sometimes feels old and tired and earned the name 'the Lonely God.' He's seen the heat death of the universe, and the first written words of all time were written to him. He's lived much more than characters who have lived much longer.
- The Time Lords could be considered this as a culture. Although long-lived as individuals the sheer scope of their civilisation's history is staggering. We learn during the course of the series that they are "the oldest civilisation", have had "ten million years of absolute power", and "a billion years of history". They "practically invented" black holes and mastered teleportation "when the universe was less than half its present size". Their history is so long and filled with so many dubious events that even most modern Time Lords are not aware of much of it, and genuine historical events and artefacts are considered mere myths and legends even amongst themselves.
- The Weeping Angels are so ancient, even the Doctor doesn't have a clue what they are or where they come from. Even the Time Lords call them "the Weeping Angels of old".
- The Racnoss Queen fled and hid almost five billion years ago, and her ship is the core of planet Earth. No, the ship isn't hidden in the core, it is the actual, original core, around which the planet formed.
- The Great Vampires fought against the Time Lords during the early years of the universe, and the only known survivor hid in exo-space (albeit mostly dead) since then.
- When The House in "The Doctor's Wife" hijacks the TARDIS and goes adventuring, it casually mentions that it "should have done this half a million years ago."
- The Immortal Flint from the Star Trek episode, Requiem For Methuselah. The writer later altered the treatment to become The Man From Earth.
- Then there's the Guardian of Forever, from "The City on the Edge of Forever." The reason it can serve as a Portal to the Past is because it was physically there for everything.
- Merlin/Myrddin in Stargate SG-1. Lived some 10,000 years ago, then "ascended" into an energy being, only to take back human form millennia later, living amidst humans, then going for suspended animation and sleeping there for a few hundred years more. When he transfers his memories to Daniel Jackson, Daniel notes that "he wasn't kidding about having lived many lifetimes".
- "Fire And Water" features an alien named Nem who spent the last four thousand years searching for his missing mate. When he ultimately learns from Daniel that she was killed by a Goa'uld, he is devastated.
- Methos in Highlander the Series is 5,000 years old. He may even be much older as he claims to not remember the time before he took his first head. His ancientness is somehow even more disorienting because he seems like such a normal guy.
- He is also one of the four immortals who inspired the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" myth. In fact, the episode where this is revealed shows that the other three are also still alive (until the end of the episode, that is).
- The Daily Show and The Colbert Report both liked to jokingly identify John McCain as an unbelievably ancient entity-- someone who has walked with Jesus, done cave paintings, and crawled out of the primordial seas. Lampshaded with the joke that "The only thing older than jokes about John McCain's age is... John McCain. "
- Death from Supernatural. With massive amounts of terror, Uncanny Valley, Cryptic Conversation, and all other manner of unsettling tropes. In his few appearances he has explained several times that he will persist throughout eternity, and is the only thing that could truly never die.
Death: This is one little planet, in one tiny system, in a galaxy that's barely out of it's diapers. I'm old, Dean. Very old. So I invite you to contemplate how insignificant I find you.
- Various beings in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel qualify as this. There are demons who have been plotting and working towards various ends since before recorded history.
- One example is the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart of Wolfram and Hart. Minor demons during the time of Illyria they have spent the intervening millennia developing a deep control over the mortal and hellish dimensions.
- Played for Laughs in Wizards of Waverly Place. Juliet is a vampire who is over 9500 years old, and Prof. Crumbs, the headmaster of Wiztech, considers it a compliment when Alex says he doesn't look a day over 800, and was an adult when the wheel was invented, making him nearly as old as Juliet.
- On Canadian teen sitcom Mr. Young, we don't know how old Mrs. Byrne is, but she certainly acts like one of these.
Echo: Mrs. Byrne, wearing furs is wrong!
- This music video of Barber's Adagio for Strings uses this trope by focusing on a tree while human buildings fade in and out around it.
- When the other characters travel into the far future to the End of the Universe in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Marvin the Paranoid Android waits it out for several billion years. Rejoining the heroes, Marvin goes back in time and, through various subsequent adventures, ends up older than the Universe itself. 37 times older, in fact.
- Nicholas Parsons is claimed to be as old as all time by both panellists on Just a Minute and other BBC Radio 4 programmes. On The Unbelievable Truth, someone claimed that there could be a parrot that was older than him, to which David Mitchell replied "Nicholas Parsons has always...been."
- Dragons, in Dungeons and Dragons, are very much like this. They have about ten age categories, from wyrmling to great wyrm, which takes over a thousand years. Then they're just about fully grown and live a few more thousand years before old age starts to set in. And some of them can become truly immortal.
- Time Dragons, the most powerful of the epic dragons, are truly immortal. Able to travel in time at will, a Time Dragon could be tens of thousands of years old or ten minutes old, and still be a Great Wyrm in both cases thanks to how their age is tied to the time stream. They keep their lairs in places unimaginably distant in space and time, and rarely bother to even interact with gods.
- All Aboleths have genetic eidetic memory going back to before the dawn of the gods (racial memory of sorts; they reproduce asexually and inherit the memories of their progenitor).
- The only thing that worries the Aboleths are the Mind Flayers because they can't remember their rise. One day, they were just there. Since their Overminds (or Elder Brains) are immortal and are around forleast a millennia to the present day. Which means it must be a bit of bitch when all that time ends with a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits killing you to steal your stuff...
- Quite a few beings in Warhammer 40000:
- Almost all Eldar are thousands of years old, some well over ten thousand (such as Eldrad, who was already a powerful psyker back in the early years of the Imperium), while the Phoenix Lords were around long enough to found ancient schools of war. Dark Eldar meanwhile are made of Immortality Immorality, and on average are even older than most Eldar.
- Many Chaos Space Marines are the original Traitor Marines, who rebelled against the Emperor in the Horus Heresy ten thousand years ago. However, they spend most of their time in the Eye of Terror, which due to an overlap with the Warp lacks anything resembling a linear time stream and proper causality, so the actual age of any individual is usually a mystery.
- The Immortal God-Emperor of Mankind is approximately 50,000 years old, if his backstory is accurate, although he's spent ten thousand of them on life support.
- The Necrons fought and ultimately lost a war for control of the galaxy long before the dinosaurs died on Terra. While most of them where asleep for their sixty million+ years of self-inflicted sealing, some like Praetorians and Flayed Ones were awake the entire time.
- The C'Tan, masters of the Necrons, were literally the oldest beings in the universe, being not that much younger than the first stars. Were being the operative term, considering the Necrons Turned Against Their Masters and shattered them into pieces.
- The Chaos Gods are pure beings of the Warp, and thus time is literally and utterly meaningless to them. The Great Game, the perennial war between them fought for dominance of everything, has been going on for eternity and will continue for eternity, with none of them ever emerging the true victor.
- The Swarmlord of the Tyranids has been around as long as the Tyranid race has, and has more autonomy than any other Tyranid, likely to the point of having a sort of consciousness of its own. Considering that they have attacked the Milky Way from multiple directions, it would follow that they are attacking from different galaxies, and as such have stripped multiple galaxies of all biological matter. Such a process would take eons, making the Swarmlord incredibly old. Seeing as the Swarmlord is reborn with all of its experiences, memories, and character whenever it is killed, it will continue to exist for as long as the Tyranid race does.
- The Antediluvians of Vampire: The Masquerade--so named because they were the only vampires who survived the Biblical Flood--in the Old World of Darkness certainly count. They aren't so much vampires as they are undead gods by the time of the modern age, and they can do truly mindbending things with their power. The Gangrel Antediluvian, for example, apparently earthmelded with the entire planet, and slowly sank deeper as time went on, gently rocked in her slumber by the Earth's core.
- The Triad of Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the Wyld, the Weaver and the Wyrm, are also this, being the physical manifestations of Chaos/Dynamism, Order/Stasis and Entropy/Destruction, respectively. In fact, the Wyrm actually spawned beings who are personifications of its thoughts and feelings, children by its standards, that are still old as time itself.
- The supplement Gehenna features an optional character that fits the trope even better than the traditional Antediluvians. A 3rd Generation vampire who serves Lilith, and is suggested to be the true clan founder of the Brujah, manages to escape being diablerized by displacing himself from time. However, something goes wrong and he is sent on the extremely slow path back to the present, living and being fully aware of over 100,000 years passing.
- The Elohim (an umbrella term for both angels and demons, though only the Fallen are present for the Time of Judgement) from Demon: The Fallen may be the true Time Abysses of the oWoD: they have been around since the dawn of time and in fact, one of their Houses was in charge of creating time in the first place. You'd think that the endless years spent inside the Abyss, the absolutely empty prison of the Fallen, would count as suspended animation of sorts, but no: part of their punishment by God was that they remain fully aware of the void of the Abyss and of their own utter impotence until the end of time. No wonder they hold a grudge against the Big One Upstairs.
- In V:TM, Elimilech, a 4th generation Malkavian antitribu and Seraph of the Black Hand, whose embrace date was given as Ruth, 1:3. Because he's supposedly the husband of the Biblical Ruth, whose death is mentioned in that verse.
- New World of Darkness continues the trend. Certain spirits claim to have been spawned before recorded history, while a handful of Abyssal demons go back as far as Atlantis. The Cheiron Group's Board of Directors date back to at least ancient Greece, while the Strix were kicking around during ancient Rome (as well as some particularly ancient vampires, some of whom could concievably stretch back further). Osiris has been hinted at still being around; if true, this would make him the single oldest living creature on the planet (inasmuch as Prometheans are alive). The Fae have been screwing with people for all of recorded history, and since the realms of the Kerberoi are largely immune to the ravages of time, it's practically impossible to know how old they are (prevailing wisdom is that they are all innumerably ancient).
- In Exalted, there are several extensions of this trope. The Celestial Exalted themselves live for a long time, but only one of the currently existing crop actually meets the 5,000-year minimum age requirement for this trope: Chejop Kejak, head of the Bronze Faction of Sidereals. He has the distinction of having been born at the very start of the First Age, making him literally as old as history itself (anything that happened before the First Age is per definition pre-historic). These Celestial Exalted, however, are merely superlongevic demigods. The more powerful of the gods themselves are older still, having been made early in the process of the Creation of the universe, making them as old as the concepts they govern. Finally, there are the Primordials, and the various beings that were once Primordials (the Yozis and the Neverborn), who pre-date Creation and all of the concepts that make it up, since they're the ones who, well, Created everything.
- And among the Primordials, Oramus pre-dates even his own existence; or, to be more precise, he is the proto-type and represents the possibility of the existence of the Primordials, having known of himself and his siblings when they were merely dreams of their true selves. When Cytherea, the Divine Ignition, gave birth to herself and her Primordial siblings (arguably the first true event in the Exalted chronology), Oramus came into being and said, "I was waiting for you to awaken. I thought it should never happen."
- Warhammer contains quite a few examples between the various elves, dwarves and daemons. The most notable are certainly the Slann, all of whom have been alive since WELL before the Coming of Chaos, an event which occurred over 7,000 years ago. Granted some of these have been in a near-comatose state of meditation since Chaos arrived, but not all have and some of the ones that haven't can rightly claim they were alive before Man existed.
- Nagash, the First Necromancer, could also possibly claim to be over 5000 years old.
- Semyon Nikolaev, The Archmage and a Trickster Mentor Extraordinaire from Age of Aquarius. We do not learn what exactly he is, presumably some kind of spirit that is permanently embodied, like Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, but his age is stated by Word of God to be 14000 or 15000 years.
- Draculaura, the Genki Girl Vegetarian Vampire from Monster High, reveals in her second diary that her "father" is not only not the Dracula we know, but also was already an ancient vampire "by the time togas were first becoming fashionable." Pretty eerie and ominous stuff for a doll line rated ages 6+.
- Tren Krom, the resident Cthulhu-like being in Bionicle, acts this way, what with his "I watched your universe be born" and all. Fridge Logic then kicks in, however, as even though Tren Krom is the oldest being in the Matoran Universe, that universe is actually a giant space-traveling robot, constructed many, many millennia ago. Its creators are still alive and has been waiting for its return, which makes them much older than Tren Krom. Apart from acting like the wise scientists they are, these "Great Beings" bear no real signs of old age. This goes for many other inhabitants both inside and outside the Matoran Universe as well: They are truly ancient by our standards, but their own feeling of age varies vastly.
- Planescape: Torment's Player Character The Nameless One would have become this if only he wasn't cursed to forget everything upon each death. He has been around for millennia but has only the scraps he can recover during the game to prove it. His scars are another story altogether.
- The person who gave him that immortality is still around, incidentally, and qualifies. As does the Big Bad, The Nameless One's mortality, who cannot die while he does and does remember everything The Nameless One has ever forgotten.
- Chrono Trigger
- Lavos, whose life cycle was over 65 million years long.
- Queen Zeal probably also qualifies, at least in any time period other than her native one. By the time Lavos is due to rise, the Queen is 14,000 years old; she's probably gone more than a wee bit crazy from spending millennia locked up inside the Black Omen with--from the look of things--absolutely no one else to talk to. Note further that she had indeed achieved the immortality she sought; had the Lavos timeline played out, she would have eventually been the very last human--indeed, the very last ANYTHING on that world.
- It turns out that the Nu (those blue grapefruit looking monsters sometimes seen working for humans) are also this, as in the DS remake one fought in the prehistoric era and is back to fight in the Dark Ages. In fact, it is implied that "Nu" is the original form of all life, and that all living creatures will eventually evolve back to "Nu".
- Which also explains why Spekkio's strongest form is a red Nu. "The stronger you are, the stronger I look", to paraphrase. He too is probably an example as he's the embodiment of magic... possibly.
- Spekkio lives in "The End of Time", some sort of vaguely-explained dimension that exists outside of time. So how old he is would be a matter of perspective. To him, time probably doesn't have much meaning.
- The Zerg Overmind can legitimately claim to be ancient, but has some demerit points on his Time Abyss license since being killed off. Silly Dark Templar with the ability to kill off parts of the Zerg Hive Mind. (Of course, he got some of those points removed since it was revealed he intended to die.
- Samir Duran, in Brood War, certainly hints that he has existed probably as long as the Overmind and possibly longer still.
- World of Warcraft
- Loken, a Titan-appointed guardian evokes this trope by explaining that he has held watch over Azeroth for countless millenia and seen the rise and fall of civilisations, the birth and extinction of entire species.
- Nordrassil, the World Tree, in the Warcraft universe is at least ten thousand years old. So are some dragons and various godlike entities. Many night elves are as well, but many of them sleep through it, and the others don't have the gravitas you'd expect.
- Elves still count. Druids don't simply sleep - they watch over the Emerald Dream.
- Many Draenei remember their homeworld Argus, from where they fled over 25,000 years ago. Since it's implied that they spent much of their trip through the Nether in suspended animation, their exact age is hard to guess...but it's known that they lived on several worlds before ending up in Azeroth, so it'll still add to a very long time. Velen, their leader, is the only one that really looks old, so it could be that he spent less time in suspended animation, or that he was old even when they lived on Argus. The Lords of the Burning Legion, being originally members of the same race, are the same age too (and they've been active for the whole 25 millenia, too).
- Many Titan-constructed facilities can be found around Azeroth. Depending on the source the Titans either created Azeroth or shaped it into a life-supporting planet. In either case, the buildings are tends of thousands of years old at the very least, possibly several million years old. Some are very intact and still guarded by the Titan's constructs.
- Majordomo Executus yells: Behold Ragnaros the Firelord! He who was ancient when the World was young!
- The Old Gods, who supposedly inhabited Azeroth before the Titans came along.
- Several characters in Fable.
- Jack of Blades is one of three demon-like creatures from 'the Void' and was old before the world was made.
- Scythe is hinted to be the original Archon, William Black, who lived in the time when mankind was young and forged the Sword of Aeons and ruled the Old Kingdom for millennia, and it still alive millennia after it fell.
- Theresa is at least 500 years old, and may well be immortal. Also, the Creeper and the Shadow Court are probably this.
- Ratatosk and the Centurions in Tales of Symphonia Dawn of the New World are implied to be somewhere around 10,000 years old (the age of the original World Tree of which Ratatosk is the spirit).
- Touhou usually settles with "merely" Really Seven Hundred Years Old characters, but there are a handful which are truly ancient. Namely, Eirin was instrumental in the founding of Lunarian civilisation back in the time of myths, and Physical Gods Kanako and Suwako ruled empires when beings like them lived openly amongst humans.
- Asgard the golem from Wild Arms 3 gets sent back in time with a extremely simple learning program and comes back via The Slow Path having developed sentience in the meantime.
- Halo has a few; most of them are AI. The monitors, 343 Guilty Spark, and 2401 Penitent Tangent, were both built around the same time as the Halo rings themselves, which was over 100,000 years ago. Penitent Tangent was captured, and we don't see much of him, but we clearly see that the years have turned Guilty Spark into a narcissistic nutcase. Mendicant Bias was another AI made by the Forerunner, betrayed them, and sided with the Flood, much to his remorse. By the time the game takes place he is broken and fragmented, only appearing in certain terminals the player can activate and read.
- Sentient A.I. Durandal (From Marathon) plans to survive the collapse of the universe and witness the big bang that creates the next one. He lives to the end, but chooses to stay.
- Mass Effect
- The true age of the Reapers is not known, but even the absolute minimum figures given are staggeringly high. Their initial appearance establishes they are part of a cycle that occurs every 50,000 years, Mass Effect 2 pushes that back to at least 37 million years (or rather, the lucky shot that killed a Reaper eventually impacted a planet 37 million years ago), and Mass Effect 3 confirms that the Leviathan of Dis, which is more than one billion years old, was a Reaper.
- Mass Effect 3 reveals the Catalyst, an AI housed in the core of the Citadel. It was what masterminded the creation of the Reapers, so it at least as old as the oldest of them, probably more so.
- The Prothean VI Vigil has been around for at least 50,000 years, most of those spent entirely alone. In Mass Effect 2, Shepard is informed that Vigil has shut itself down and all attempts to reactivate it have failed. Does that mean it's gone for good? Only time will tell...
- Wilhelm is exactly as old as the Xenosaga universe, as it is his job to rewind it to the beginning, along with himself, in order to prevent its eventual dissolution. Rather like a cosmic version of a Windows reinstall. By contrast, U-DO is claimed to have 'observed' multiple cycles of Wilhelm+ universe, but being in a different time stream, it's not clear whether it really qualifies as 'older'.
- In Mother 3, Porky is this, due to having achieved immortality through repeated abuse of Time Travel. When you meet him, he's bedridden due to his insane age, and utterly bored with all of creation, but underneath that he's still the spoiled brat he always was. He says that even he doesn't know how old he is anymore. Might be 1,000 years, might be 10,000. Who knows?
- Marduk from Sacrifice makes the claim of Time Abyss during his final appearance. His innate purpose, apparently, is to destroy all 'unworthy' aspects of creation (and he doesn't seem fussed about collateral damage), which would make him as old as existence itself.
- Rachel Alucard of Blaz Blue started as "merely" Really Seven Hundred Years Old. Put together the Jigsaw Puzzle Plot, though, and it's revealed that she's lived through, and remembers, every possible iteration of both Arcade Mode and Story Mode, with a full century passing between each. That puts her age at over 72,500 years. No wonder she seems bored.
- Yuuki Terumi, the Big Bad Complete Monster Troll, who has lived though even more time loops than Rachel. It's even heavily implied that the Time Abyss he's been put through is the reason behind his batshit insane behavior; after the millionth or so loop he just couldn't take it anymore, snapped, and set out to put an end to the loops, once and for all.
- The four Ancients from Eternal Darkness, matching the game's H.P. Lovecraft-ish nature, are all millenia old at the least.
- The Creator from Final Fantasy IV the After Years is implied to be several thousand, if not several million, years old. Old enough to conduct biology experiments on a macroevolutionary timescale.
- Final Fantasy VII
- Jenova crashed on the Planet millions of years ago, and was discovered several layers down in the geological strata. It's so old, it saw the extinction of an entire sentient race. And that's on this planet, it lives by going from planet to planet doing this kind of thing.
- The WEAPONs, on a smaller scale. They were created when Jenova landed, and are biological weapons that protect the Planet's consciousness from any threat.
- Garland from Final Fantasy IX is at the very least 5000 years old, having started the process of assimilating the player's world of Gaia with his world of Terra that long ago through a ridiculously complex procedure too nonsensical to fully explain here, but it's never stated how long he lived before that. Ancient structures he built on Gaia can be explored as dungeons filled with Lost Technology. He's watched the growth of all the major civilizations on the planet. For example, he built the massive Iifa Tree and is responsible for the natural phenomena called "Mist".
- The fal'Cie from Final Fantasy XIII have been around for thousands, if not millions of years, and it's very possible that the vast majority of them will live eternally until they are killed. No wonder they all want to die.
- Akron the final boss of Epic Battle Fantasy 3 muses on this in his Boss Banter. He has lived for billions of years and no longer even remembers when or how he came into being. He remarks that he has been defeated, weakened, and imprisoned countless times, but ultimately, he endures while his enemies fall to the ravages of time.
- Kane of Command and Conquer is revealed to be on earth since the dawn of humankind at least, guiding mankind from cavemen to where they are at the end of Tiberium Twilight.
- In Pokémon, Arceus is heavily implied to be the creator of the Pokemon universe, if not at least the God of Pokemon as it is the original Pokemon that came before all others. A special event in HeartGold and SoulSilver, where Arceus offers the player a choice of three legendary Pokemon (Dialga, Palkia, or Giratina), gives a glimpse of the sheer enormity of what it has lived through.
- Wartortle is said to live 10,000 years. Though not as extreme as Arceus, that's still a long time.
- It is noted in the Pokedex that Rayquaza has lived in the ozone layer for several hundred million years because it gets its energy from water particles and sunlight in the ozone layer, meaning that it doesn't ever need to go down on solid ground to survive. It is for this reason that its existence went into legend as it hardly ever left the sky.
- Kyorge and Groudon are mentioned as having produced entire seas and continents. If this is talking about the entire Earth then they are at least 4 billion years old, but if it is talking about the region of Hoenn then it could be at least a few million years. In Emerald the elders who have the orbs that are said to control Kyorge and Groudon don't ever specifically call those two or even Rayquaza by name, only claiming them to be super-ancient Pokemon, which is putting it lightly.
- The Daedra in The Elder Scrolls, thanks to their immortality. All of them with the exceptions of the new Sheogorath (aka the Champion of Cyrodil from Oblivion) who has "only" been around for a couple centuries and possibly Malacath who according to myth was a hero mutated by Molag Bal have existed for ages past. Even the lesser Daedra have shades of this, which is why they don't particularly mind being "killed" (which just sends them back home to the Daedric realms to reform their bodies again) or sealed into weapons for a century or so. A century of waiting is nothing to a Daedra.
- Akatosh, or Auri-El to the high elves, is said to be the first being to manifest out of the raw energy of the universe, his birth being the origin of TIME ITSELF. He is thus exactly as old as the universe, and much older than the world of mortals. The Elder Scrolls themselves also count, being a history of all time, even that which has yet to pass, written in a complex mind-searing form. Also, while each scroll is a definite object any scroll that a sentient mind isnt keeping track of may or may not exist. This is why it was impossible to inventory the scrolls after the Thieves Guild may or may not have stolen one in Oblivion.
- Sarda (and to a lesser extent, Lich), in 8-bit Theater. Sarda was present at the birth of the universe, and due to the presence of White Mage was forced to wait several billion years for planetary formation to give him a reasonably pleasant place to live. By the time of the comic, he is quite mad (in every sense of the word). Lich notes at one point the shortsightedness of living races by the fact that they "build [their] cities right where glaciers will come screaming through in 200,000 years".
- Anything having to do with the dragon or Nemesite civilizations in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob.
- In the Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire universe, it's said that the Winslow has existed since the Big Bang, and will continue to exist long after the universe ends.
- It's also said that there are other objects like the Winslow, leftovers from previous universes that have somehow become eternal and indestructible. The Winslow is special by being the only sentient one, however.
- While they first appeared in Mind Mistress, the Sisters of Twilight admitted, that they were witnessing born of the Elder Gods. And they were already really old those days.
- The First Guardians are as old as their respective planets. Becquerel, Jade's pet Guardian, arrived on Earth from a meteor in the Devonian period, 413 million years ago.
- There's also Lord English, who exists outside of time, and has lived through every universe, ever.
- Aranea has been dead for so long time has lost meaning to her.
- The Bradicor in Schlock Mercenary tend to be... Rather long lived.
Fobottr Tenant: Are you claiming that your people have been on the surface for over ten million years?
- Then there's this little gem:
Vog: Conversion between my time scale and your own standard Earth years isn't hard, but there are a lot of zeroes. Rounding may introduce as much as a one percent margin of error.
- It is strongly hinted that Carbosilicate Amorphs, the species of the titular Schlock, are naturally evolved, self-motile ofshoots of the incredibly durable data storage mediums the Bradicor store their brains in. This means that Schlock and his kin are effectively immortal, and gives you an idea of just how long the Bradicor have been around.
- Jin of Wapsi Square seems to qualify. Not only does she predate most of earths known civilizations, but she has lived even longer than it seems due to a Groundhog Day Loop. The 1450 years before 2012 have repeated 56 times, and she is the only one that remembers. It is starting to get to her.
- In Bird Boy, Bali stumbles on evidence of long, long, long ago. Mythic time, in fact.
- Several members of the cast of Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: Even though most Cubi "only" live about three thousand years, clan leaders live much longer, with Cyra the youngest at about 7,000, Fa'lina 9,288, and the oldest about 75,000. The Fae and Dragons are even older, with a (now-deleted) secret cast page putting Mab at over 400,000 and the Dragon exemplar from the Demonology page listed as over 57,000 and said to be "fairly young." To many of these people, Being civilization seems like something of an ephemeral fad. Fa'lina, in particular, seems completely unchanged since a sidestory set in the seventeenth century, in contrast to the much younger Kria, Aaryanna, and Abel; even Mink, whose age is unknown, seems to have become obsessed with 20th-century technology in the interim.
- Wandering Eye of Gunnerkrigg Court existed since the formation of earth. She had already lived an inconceivably long time before human history ever began.
- By the end of Fine Structure, Anne Poole has lived for over 20,000 years. Mitch technically gets that far as well, through tricks like Brain Uploading and Body Surfing, but Anne takes The Slow Path and experiences the entire time — including over a century spent buried alive.
- The Abyss is an immortal Homo habilis from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe. He's kept most of his memories of the last million and a half years (though he's been alive for 2 million years... his memory of his early days is no longer so clear). He once gave a Hannibal Lecture in which he described the day he was nearly killed by a terror bird.
- Aunghadhail, in the Whateley Universe. She's a Sidhe queen so old she remembers the earth before humans populated it. She and her family may have created the dinosaurs.
- On the online speculative evolution project A Scientific Fantasy, the dinosauroids (species normally don't count, but since the whole species is also a civilization, it counts) fired a laser to blow up the asteroid that caused the K-T extinction and had already been around for 10 million years.
- The Nibblonians from Futurama were already seventeen years old by the time of the Big Bang while their nemeses, the Brainspawn, came to existence a few milliseconds after it.
- "In the time it would take to pronounce one letter of my true name, a trillion cosmoses would flare into existence and sink into eternal night."
- Bender has recently become this in "Bender's Big Score." The scammer aliens, after brainwashing him, got him to go back in time to steal them every valuable item in history. Keep in mind that the time travel he's using is one-way, Bender is searching for them one at a time, and is perfectly happy waiting it out with previous versions of himself. It's unclear how much time it took for him, but given the hundreds of Benders we see at the end, his minimum age would be a million years. And given the What If Holiday special showed he could last half a billion years, Bender's life has just begun.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- The Avatar Spirit. It's the spirit of the Earth, after all, so it existed even before it started manifesting itself as Avatars.
- The Lion Turtle. It's All There in the Manual that he and his species are as old as the earth itself, and therefore, as old as the Avatar Spirit. Unfortunately, he's the Last of His Kind, meaning we don't get to see what his species was like.
- The German short film Das Rad (The Wheel) focuses on the lives of two anthropomorphic stone heaps. They witness the (exponential) rise of mankind and its sudden fall. In ten minutes.
- Used for laughs in The Simpsons with Mr Burns, who reveals his birthplace to be Pangaea. Of course, this is just another example of the show's Negative Continuity.
- One of the bad guys from Season 5 of Teen Titans was a highly skilled military general - who had been around for nearly every single battle in recorded history. At one point he quotes Sun Tzu, then mentions that he was an excellent pupil.
- Discord from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic was sealed in stone more than a thousand years ago, and offhandedly mentions being around for several eons. As the spirit of chaos and disharmony, he could easily be very old.
- Princesses Celestia and Luna don't have a definite age, but it's rather telling that both of them react to Luna being sealed in the moon for a thousand years with far less concern than a being of a more reasonable age would. Indeed, Luna herself is more distressed with being a Fish Out of Temporal Water than the sealing itself.
- Qilby of Wakfu, being one of the original Eliatropes, has gone through an endless cycle of death and rebirth for thousands of years. But unlike the others, he also retains the memories of his past lives.
Religion and Mythology
- According to most major monotheistic religions in the world today, God is not technically one of these, because age is a foreign concept; He is not bound by time, time is not an abyss to Him, in fact it is quite the opposite as He created time. He didn't have a beginning, He IS the beginning, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the one who was (existed since the beginning), who is (presently exists), and who is yet to come (always will exist), the Great I AM of history.
- According to some philosophers, time itself is meaningless to God. He created time, and existed before... He existed when... well, explaining it is hard, though in one analogy God is like the author of a book. At what point does an author exist in his book's - his universe's - internal timeline? He can turn to the first page, or to the last page. He can write scenes out of order, go back and forth, and generally follow no continuity or causality.
"With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."
—2 Peter 3:8, NIV translation
- In Hindu Mythology, reality and everything within it lasts as long as the lifetime of Brahma the creator. Brahma will live to be a hundred years old, except that a single day in his life is over four billion human years.
- Many Transformers in all incarnations are millions of years old. Some individuals are older than the entire human species.
- For an idea, in the Transformers Generation 1 cartoon, Optimus and Megatron had been battling each other for millions of years before arriving to Earth. There's also how Shockwave didn't change much during the four million years the Autobots and the Decepticons in the Ark were in stasis (well, except for being minus one hand).
- The 13 original Transformers are considered old even by the standards of their species, including Vector Prime and The Fallen. The first thirteen creations of their god, Primus, they were old before the war that's been going for millions of years got started. They don't even have Autobot or Decepticon logos, being so much older than the faction split. (In the toys, they do, of course. The actual shows/movies/comics, no.)
- In Transformers Prime the original 13 are said to have battled Unicron in ancient times. Unicron eventually became Earth by collecting debris as he drifted through space. In the canon novel Exodus, which takes place a few million years ago at most, Alpha Trion, one of the 13, speaks to Optimus. In case you haven't figured it out that means Trion is at least five billion or so years old.
- Kup and Alpha Trion from Transformers Generation 1; Alpha Trion was around when the Quintessons were driven from Cybertron — about twelve million years ago. Kup could be anywhere from just as old to maybe "only" ten million years old; he's certainly older than Optimus Prime, who is at least nine million years old. Alpha Trion, in other media, was ret-conned into being one of the 13, although this isn't easy to reconcile.)
- ...And that's not counting all the resurrections.
- Starscream is so good at the trope he named that he betrayed time!
- X-Men villain Apocalypse was born in ancient Egypt and in various cartoons/comics boasts about things like how 20th/21st century superpowers/technology are no closer to besting him than Babylonian fire sticks were. "I am the rocks of the eternal shore, crash against me and be broken!"
- Many species of plants and microorganisms have extremely long or unlimited lifespans; possibly the most famous example is the bristlecone pine tree, individual specimens of which are presently alive in spite of having sprouted nearly five millennia ago. One of them was found to be 4,844 years old when cut down in 1964. (John Muir once commented that a shorter-lived Sequoia tree was "already centuries old when Jesus walked the Earth.")There are also some trees that live in clonal colonies; the stems are continually renewed while the root system endures. One such colony of Quaking Aspens has roots that are at least 80,000 years old. And the common amoeba is effectively immortal, since it splits itself to reproduce, with no individual actually ever dying of old age. They've changed over time, and obviously are composed of different individual molecules, but in a very real sense that first amoeba is still alive and wriggling two billion-odd years later.
- The immortal jellyfish is another example, using a kind of reverse aging.
- Hydras have a similar mechanism.
- The objective of the Clock of the Long Now, a clock that when finished is intended to last for 10,000 years keeping (nearly) perfect time.
- Many of the stone circles in Britain fit this trope, being almost/over five thousand years old.
- If anything human-built counts, the city of Damascus is the leading contender. It was first settled at least 8000 years ago (possibly 11000), and has been in continuous use ever since. It is older than any modern or ancient civilization. (Founding dates are late stone-age.) Mark Twain referred to it as "a form of immortality."
- The city of Jericho is also a prehistoric settlement built around 9000 BC, and continuously inhabited for all 11,000 years. To give an idea, the ice age ended around 8000 BC.
- The Gobekli Tepe temple complex in Turkey out does both of the above, being between 11,000 and 12,000 years old.
- A show about the simple dissapearance of all humans predicted that the last traces of human existence would be the man-made objects on the moon (lunar landers, US flag, etc.). Unless some outside force or object intervenes, they would remain on the moon forever.
- And the only human whose name will be left there (well, on the plaque on the Moon, anyway) is Richard Nixon. There's something ironic there.
- The city of Jericho is also a prehistoric settlement built around 9000 BC, and continuously inhabited for all 11,000 years. To give an idea, the ice age ended around 8000 BC.
- Protons. According to one theory, they are ultimately stable, that is, live absolutely forever. According to another, they have a lifespan that makes Brahma seem like a mayfly.
- Bruce Forsyth is said to be so old that Father Time himself is envious of his mighty age. Indeed, he was already middle-aged when Time began.
- The Stoker character was a con-man upstart vampire renting Draculaura's father's castle who decided to steal his identity and use it to terrorize mortals until he met some Laser-Guided Karma.
- This would make him a minimum of 200 million years old.