The Elders of the Universe are powerful extraterrestrial beings who are among the oldest sentient beings in all the cosmos. The individuals who comprise the Elders are members of a number of the first intelligent humanoid races to evolve in the universe. These races lived in the first galaxies to form in the wake of the "Big Bang", the event that began the universe. The Elder's races achieved an extraordinarily high level of civilization before they died out. The individuals comprising the Elders are the last survivors of their respective races, each Elder having found a means of achieving virtual immortality, as well as mastering advanced technology that made it possible for them to leave their home planets. Not only have each of the Elders survived the deaths of their respective races, each of them have even survived the deaths of their home galaxies, and have lived on while newer galaxies such as the Milky Way Galaxy have formed.
Realizing that they are linked by being the sole survivors of the first era of this universe's history, the Elders have come to regard each other figuratively as brothers. However, in actuality, each of the known Elders belongs to a different race, and none is biologically related to any of the others (except for the Collector and his late daughter Carina).
Each of the Elders have spent their eons-long life engaged in highly individual pursuits and pastimes. Long ago, the various Elders discovered that if they did not choose an all-encompassing pastime to pursue, they would lose their will to live thus surrendering their immortality. The Collector's wife Mattani lived for billions of years before succumbing to apathy. Some Elders have chosen to develop their full physical and mental potentials, thus becoming extremely powerful beings. Others have not and rely on technology to perform various feats. It is not known precisely how many Elders there are in the universe.