In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy manages to save Dr. Jones Snr. by choosing the correct cup.

Obviously Donovan chose poorly and died instantly.

The Knight that has been guarding the cup of Christ, which if memory serves, is around 900 years old?

So, both Indy and Dr. Jones Snr. drink from the cup before it is lost but in the last instalment of Indiana Jones, you can see that Indy has aged, and unfortunately his father has passed on.

So, if they drank from the cup of eternal life, why has Indy aged and his father passed on?

Many thanks.

  • 2
    While I don't disagree with any of the above explanations, it does make for a bit of an anti-climatic ending, doesn't it? I mean to go through such a journey only for the prize/reward of everlasting life that has very restricting conditions attached to it.....doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.
    – user71253
    Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 10:10
  • 2
    If you believe it's the actual Grail, then the knight may have been there for 900 years, but the cup, at the time of the events of the movie, is about 1900 years old, amirite? Commented Sep 8, 2016 at 14:23

4 Answers 4


This is actually covered pretty nicely in the movie script;

Indy: I've heard this one as well. Two of these brothers walked out of the desert one hundred and fifty years after having found the Grail and began the long journey back to france. But only one of them made it. And before dying of extreme old age, he supposedly imparted his tale to a-to a franciscan friar, I think.

Donovan: Not "Supposedly," Doctor Jones.

Donovan produces an ancient leather-bound volume with very brittle pages. Indy views the manuscript with considerable interest.

Indy goes to the well and fills the earthenware jug with water, then pauses. Indy brings the jug to his lips and takes several large swallows. A strange sensation overcomes him, a feeling of peace and contentment... and we see his wounds begin to heal.

Knight: You have chosen wisely. But the Grail cannot pass beyond the great seal. That is the boundary and the price of immortality.

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It's pretty clear that drinking from the grail doesn't impart immortality per se (especially once one has left the confines of the cave) and given the infirmity of the eldest brother who can't even swing his sword, it seems pretty clear that the grail doesn't even impart youth and/or vitality beyond a certain point.

Grail Knight

  • 9
    Indeed. The script is pretty explicit that if you choose immortality, you have to stay on the right side of the great seal. Perhaps a rather more philosophical (not to say downright cheeky) question would be "Would I still lose my immortality if I dug a hole on the other side of the cave so I didn't have to cross the great seal to get out?" :-P
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 21:24
  • 5
    In the novelization at least, the reason the knight aged is because he did not drink from the Grail every day - he skipped some days because he couldn't bear it anymore, etc. Drinking every day and staying behind the seal was the requirement for immortality.
    – Shamshiel
    Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 19:01
  • 16
    @ Shamshiel. I've just had a look at the text of the novel; "The knight descended the rest of the stairs. “Many times my spirit faltered, and I could not bear to drink from the cup, so I aged, a year for every day I did not drink. But now at last, I am released to death with honor, for this brave knight-errant cometh to take my place.”"
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 20:07
  • 5
    What's more interesting is that just 20 seconds after upending the cup over his father's wound, you can clearly see that there's at least 100Ml of water still in the cup. Clearly it has magic refilling powers - moviemistakes.com/film652/continuity
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 20:45
  • 17
    @PrimalScientist - You're in a cave in the desert with the Cup of Christ and a living Knight from the Crusades, and you're wondering where the water comes from?
    – JohnP
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 14:51

There are 3 ways I think the Grail's Immortality would have worked based off the Knight's warning about taking it across the seal.

1. Immortality only within a fixed bounded field

The location of the grail is within a field in which while you remain in it after drinking from the grail you are immortal. So the moment you cross the seal the immortality voids.

The trap which causes the place to cave-in may just have been a reaction to those who tried to take the grail out of the field by either warning them with a tremor to bring the grail back before it becomes useless outside the field or it was the field becoming unstable because crossing the seal means leaving the field with the grail.

With this functionality the "Price of Immortality" is to forever remain in that cave.

2. Immortality only within a mobile bounded field

The Grail itself creates a field so after drinking from it, so long as you are near to the grail you can remain immortal, the seal trap would prevent the grail from being taken outside.

With this functionality the "Price of Immortality" is to forever remain by the Grail.

3. Immortality sustained from repeated use

The most likely way would be that one has to keep drinking from the grail to retain the immortality. This would explain the Knight's state (having only been drinking water for centuries) and how Indie and his father won't be Immortals; Indie took only 1 drink and his father only had it spilled onto his wound (which probably entered his blood stream). Exactly how long the Immortality lasts until another drink is needed or if the effects wear off quicker each time is unknown. Obviously like the previous one the seal trap is to prevent it from being taken to the outside world.

With this functionality the "Price of Immortality" is to forever have to drink from the Grail.

In all the above one could get around things by making the cave your home and having people bring you stuff every day so there is the possibility that the "Price of Immortality" also included curses to the body like being unable to eat normal food so long as you are immortal.

For Indie and his father to have used the cup and not show any signs of being cursed as well could be that immortality is rendered void instantly when the Grail was lost (one could assume it was destroyed after falling from such a height or being crushed by rocks), of course the reason why Indie's father just didn't die on the spot then was probably because he was dying from blood lose from his open wound which was closed as a sort of benefit from having gained an immortal body, destruction of the grail would just strip him of immortality not revert his body to a pre-immortal state (i.e. shot and bleeding).


Maybe it only had the healing effect in Dr. Jones Snr because he didn't really drink it directly. I also assume that maybe, through drinking out of the grail that one time, Indiana Jones could live slightly longer that he would have (maybe around 10-30 years)

  • 2
    maybe that explains the fridge.....
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 21:32

The grail can't leave the seal. That is why everything collapses when Elsa takes it out over the seal. That is also what the knight says.

Knight: You have chosen wisely. But the Grail cannot pass beyond the great seal. That is the boundary and the price of immortality.

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