|“||I'm what's left or... maybe I'm all there ever was.||„|
|~ Xemnas to Roxas.|
The Elder Beings are a common archetype found in fiction and folklore regarding villains. Often, they are the survivors of an ancient race that existed prior to the current ruling class of deities or mortals. Normally embodying the dark and chaotic forces of pre-civilized society, Elder Beings are feared and demonized as agents of anarchy and ruin, often warring with gods and mortals. A common trait of Elder Beings is that they are imprisoned in some fashion, awaiting the day they can be unleashed upon the world again.
The concept of Elder Beings dates back at least to the Titans of Greek mythology. The Titans were a race of primordial giants who warred with the Olympians and ultimately lost. Many of the Titans were sent to Tartarus while others met more gruesome fates (such as Atlas having to hold the sky or the world on his back).
The works of H.P. Lovecraft popularized the idea of malevolent Elder Beings known as the "Great Old Ones" (with Cthulhu becoming his most famous example), though despite popular belief, Lovecraft's work is purely fictional and is not actually based on real-world mythology.
The pagan religions of ancient Ireland and Scotland believed in an Elder Race known as the Fomor, horrible and malevolent ogres who lived in the sea and fought with the Celtic gods for possession of Ireland (and possibly the world).
Even in the Christian Bible, there are tales of ancient beings, though none of them can out-date the all-powerful God of Abrahamic religion. Beings such as Behemoth, Leviathan, and Ziz can be seen as the closest the Bible has to Elder Beings, as they often embody the chaos that existed before God (in some texts) made the world (it may also symbolize Christianity's conquest of what were seen as barbaric pagan-religions at the time).
Examples of Elder Beings in Fiction
- Great Old Ones: Powerful deities who serve the Outer Gods. A famous example of this is Cthulhu.
- Outer Gods: All-powerful deities who truly rule the universe. Famous examples of these are Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth.
- Elder Gods (Marvel): were created by the Demiurge , and ruled Earth with total impunity, until the Elder Goddess Gaea created Atum to fight them off. Two malevolent Elder Gods still remain: Set, who wishes to kill mammals and return the Earth to dinosaur times, and Chthon, who creates dark magic.
- The Old Ones from the books of Anthony Horowitz, they are ancient evil demons "born with the Earth" which tried to take over the world at the dawn of humanity; yet humanity won and the Old Ones are imprisoned in Hell waiting their return.
- Old Gods: Pure evil deities who once ruled Azeroth with an iron fist until they were imprisoned by the Titans. Four Old Gods have been named so far - C'thun, Yogg-Saron, N'zoth, and Y'Shaarj.
- Unicron: In most of the many Transformers universes, Unicron is a primordial, immense, powerful, and god-like transformer of chaos and darkness, who caused chaos and destruction across the universe in its early times until he was defeated by his twin brother Primus.
- Those Who Sit Above In Shadow
- Leviathan (Supernatural): The Leviathans were God's first created beasts, created in primordial times before humans and angels, and were capable of destroying any of God's other creations. They were imprisoned in Purgatory when the Leviathans' destructive hunger threatened to destroy the rest of creation.
- Racnoss and Great Vampires: The Racnoss were originally a very powerful and hungry galactic empire in the ancient Dark Times of the universe, and the Great Vampires likewise were a very large and deadly plague across the young universe. Both these destructive races were eventually defeated and all but wiped out, though their respective leaders (the Empress of the Racnoss and the King Vampire respectively) survived and hid in slumber to the present waiting to be able to rise again.
- The Beast (Doctor Who): The Beast was originally an ancient and evil being and war with the Disciples of the Light before the universe existed, until the Beast was defeated and imprisoned in a complex mystical prison consisting of the planetoid Krop-Tor and the black hole K37 Gem-5.
- The First Evil: The First embodied all sin and evil in the multiverse, and it predated humans, demons and even the Old Ones.
- Anti-God: The Anti-God was an ancient, immortal and immensely powerful being who served as God's evil counterpart. He buried his offspring Satan on Earth 7 million years ago, before God imprisoned the Anti-God in an antimatter realm, where the Anti-God waited for millions of years for Satan to free him and bring him back to Earth to end the world.
- Weeping Angels: According to the Doctor, the Weeping Angels, deadly stone creatures and perfect predators, are an ancient race that are almost as old as the universe itself.
- Captain Hatch: This version of the Devil can be considered an Elder Being in that he predates humans and the three supernatural races on Earth he created (vampires, werewolves and ghosts respectively), and he was weakened and incapacitated almost a hundred years ago but seeks to regain his power and rise again, which is something to be feared by all humans and supernaturals due to the Devil's apocalyptic plans for the world.
- Great Old Ones (Doctor Who): Doctor Who's version of the Great Old Ones are powerful entities who originated from and dwelled in the universe that existed before the Big Bang; and the Old Ones that survived the Big Bang into the current universe originally had godlike powers, but they eventually lost this and were left disembodied gestalts wandering time and space in the current universe, seeking and attempting to regain or rebuild bodies and power for themselves.
- Carrionites and Hervoken: The Hervoken and Carrionites both existed at the dawn of the universe, but when the two races got into a war with each-other which threatened to break the universe down, the Eternals banished both races from the universe.
- Chronians: According to Eon, his people were originally immensely powerful godlike beings, but their abuse of their great powers ended in them being left expelled from the universe.
- Godcat: According to Godcat, there was once an empire of cats ruled by Godcat prior to men, but the men enslaved the cats, causing Godcat to grow a hatred for all humans.
- Celestials: Little is known about their past, but they are extra-dimensional hyperspace robot-Gods who have monitered and meddled with the universe for millions of years. They are more powerful than the gods of Earth (Odin, Rama, and Zeus working together could hardly even annoy Arishem) and have influenced the evolution of several planets, including Earth (some continuities suggest they created humantity and several other alien species)
- Superior Saturday: She is one of the first Denizens created by the Architect. However, she is under the pressure of Lord Sunday, who is the eldest son of the Architect.
- Elder Bairns: Ancient beings of massively varying size and form and unknown origin who feed on humans and are the overall secondary antagonists of the Blood-C anime. Their race has been shown to be capable of breeding with humans, and the actions of Fumito Nanahara breaking their covenant with humanity caused them to become a far more active and dangerous threat to humanity.
Examples of Elder Beings in Folklore
- Reptilians: According to some UFO-based legends, the aliens known as Reptilians were once the rulers of Earth prior to humanity and seek to repopulate it; this can be seen as a modern take on the "Elder Being" concept.
- Titans: Primordial giants of Greek mythology who ruled the universe prior to the Olympians and clashed with the gods as a result.
- Cronus: The father of the Olympian gods, technically one of the Titans but has special significance as he tried to devour his children to avoid being replaced.
- Jotan: The giants of Norse mythology were comparable to Elder Beings in the sense they warred continually with the Norse gods and often embodied ancient concepts.