Created By: Lihkan on April 1, 2013 Last Edited By: Arivne on August 1, 2014

Humanity Dies With The Earth

When Earth goes boom, Humanity is doomed and scatered in small numbers. Colonies? Whats that?

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Trope
The destruction of Earth is a very scary thing indeed, and many writers of sci-fi use it to establish feelings of desperation and the imminent end of humanity. After Earth is destroyed, humanity survives as only a few thousand refugees, scattered across the universe on almost derelict ships, or on stations/planets that belongs to other species where they live as second-class citizens. Maybe they have colonies, but they are weak and unable to function without their homeworld.

Sometimes, this is a problem because in many of these settings, humanity already has a star-spanning empire with many developed colonies. Losing of capital planet would certainly hit humanity hard, but wouldn't be the doom of the empire, much less the whole species.

More frequently humans (for some unspecified reason) don't seem to have established an empire or colonies at all, although they have the technology, wealth and power to do so or the colonies they have established are still heavily reliant on the home planet and not fully functioning, self sustaining colonies.

This trope should also count for examples where Earth is not destroyed, but such a threat is imminent, and the story makes quite clear that the destruction of Earth would be game over. It also counts for different planets or different species.


Examples

Film Animated
  • Titan A.E.. Trope codifier. Humanity had the resources to build ships that can CREATE a planet, and FTL drive that can travel quite fast and quite far. They also have big ships for lot of people. But to make few colonies? Oh goodness, let evil aliens catch us completely off guard, and almost wipe us out in one strike. Not to mention lack of planetary defense force.

Film Live Action
  • The J. J. Abrams Star Trek film did this to the Vulcans. Quite strange because in Enterprise, there was quite well established that Vulcans had colonies.

Live-Action TV
  • Star Trek: Enterprise has the version where Earth does not go boom. However, the Xindi are focused solely on destroying Earth, as if it would destroy the whole of humanity with one strike. Subverted in one episode showing the consequences of failing to stop the Xindi: humans had colonies that Xindi had to wipe out.

Video Games
  • Halo
    • Justified in the game timeline. By the time Earth is invaded by the Covenant, it's after 27 years of war during which they've been wiping out each human colony one by one. Earth is also a major manufacturing site for the fleet, so even if any other colonies are left they will quickly be overwhelmed without shipyards and supplies.
    • Averted in The Forerunner Saga. The Forerunners lost their homeworld to an astro-engineering accident long ago, but have since then recolonized to become a galaxy spanning empire.
  • If the uncut version of the intro cinematic with a destroyed Earth can be trusted, Freelancer is this. Its prequel Starlancer focuses solely on the Solar system, and after Nomads destroy it, the colony ships of the retreating Alliance are the only chance for the survival of humanity.

Community Feedback Replies: 34
  • April 1, 2013
    Larkmarn
    The Star Trek movie isn't really an example. They explicitly say that there are Vulcan colonies, but destruction of their planet still killed most of them.

    This is definitely related to But What About The Astronauts.

    • Justified in Halo as all major colonies have been destroyed by the Covenant, and Earth is the last major stronghold in existence.
  • April 1, 2013
    zarpaulus
    I've also noticed that a lot of the more mainstream sci-fi works don't have humanity even trying to colonize other planets until some disaster happens to earth.

    I suspect similar reasoning to the Good Republic Evil Empire trope. See the archived ykttw discussion for Settling the Frontier (originally Colonization).
  • April 1, 2013
    robinjohnson
    Even when we have space colonies, I'm pretty sure Earth blowing up will still be regarded as undesirable.
  • April 1, 2013
    BibsDibs
    I like the title, but it's a little too long.
  • April 1, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    Expanding on the Halo example.

    • Justified in Halo. By the time Earth is invaded by the Covenant, it's after 27 years of war during which they've been wiping out each human colony one by one. Earth is also a major manufacturing site for the fleet, so even if any other colonies are left they will quickly be overwhelmed without shipyards and supplies.
      • Averted in The Forerunner Saga. The Forerunners lost their homeworld to an astro-engineering accident long ago, but have since then recolonized to become a galaxy spanning empire.
  • April 2, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    The title just got worse. I couldn't imagine ever wanting to type that into a trope or work page. It's best to avoid punctuation in a title if at all possible. Relying on an equal sign just doesn't make much sense. And the period and second sentence need to go. Obviously, there are exceptions, as But What About The Astronauts shows. Titles need to be short, witty, and concise. Perhaps, Humanity Dies With The Earth, or No Planet No Species, or at the risk of snowcloning, Planet Existence Failure.

    Would the kryptons from Superman count?
  • April 2, 2013
    Lihkan
    Name changed, Humanity dies with Earth is realy better (though less sarcastic). As about Kryptons, most propably yes, though I am really blind in Superman verse outside the basics. If they had resources for spaceflight in big quantities, and the scourge that blow them up didnt have to destroy nothing more than Krypton itself to doom their species, then yes.
  • April 2, 2013
    StarSword
    Seconding Humanity Dies With The Earth

    @Tuckerscreator: Just for reference, as per Halo Glasslands there are still human colonies left by the time of Halo 3. They can thank the Cole Protocol for making finding them difficult for the Covenant to find. Glasslands mentions that some of the Insurrectionist-leaning colonies are questioning whether they still need the UNSC, what with the Covenant being in an Enemy Civil War and no longer a credible threat.

    TV:
    • Stargate SG 1:
      • Defied with the Alpha Site, an offworld base initially built by the SGC as a refuge for Earth's best and brightest in the event that Earth came under attack and the SGC wasn't able to fight them off. This gradually became less likely as the show went on and Earth first gained Asgard military protection, then began building its own space fleet to protect the planet.
      • Played straight with the Tollans in "Between Two Fires." Anubis' forces glass Tollana and destroy most if not all of the Tollan evacuation ships. It is not known if they had any colonies, and any survivors never tried to reestablish contact with Earth.
  • April 2, 2013
    StarSword
    Also, I don't think Titan AE is the Trope Codifier. The codifier is the example that creates a template followed by most later uses of the trope. Not every trope has one.
  • April 2, 2013
    StarSword
    And last but not least, I made a series of fixes to the draft (Example Indentation, namespaces, formatting, grammar, and spelling). Also, you can copy the wiki markup directly from people's comments by clicking the pencil.
  • April 2, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    @StarSword: Yeah, I know. It was pretty much treated as though there weren't any left, not for long, though. (Hood: "Earth is all we have left..." etc.)
  • April 2, 2013
    StarSword
    <OT>^He's right from a certain point of view (i.e. militarily). But I was just making conversation.
  • April 2, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • Averted multiple times in Doctor Who episodes that take place in the future. For example in The Parting of the Ways the Doctor is preparing a weapon that will destroy the invading Dalek fleet and wipe out all life on earth. When the Dalek Emperor reminds the usually fond of humanity Doctor of that last bit the Doctor replies that humanity has other colonies.
  • July 13, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • Alien version in Enders Game, the Formics effectively go extinct after Ender blows up their homeworld. Justified as all their Hive Queens had gone there except one pupa in anticipation of the counter-invasion.
  • July 13, 2013
    DAN004
    I'm kinda confused with the point of this trope. Please someone explain to me?
  • July 13, 2013
    arbiter099
    Does Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy count? It's the 1980s so obviously no human space colonies, the Earth gets destroyed and only 2 humans survive in space via, what else, hitchhiking through space. Until the sequels where some dolphins and alternate realities muck everything up
  • July 14, 2013
    Koveras
    • Space Runaway Ideon: The destruction of both Earth and the Buff Clan homeplanet by Ideon in the Grand Finale is treated as the end of both species, even though at least the Earth has been shown to have colonized other planets earlier.
    • In Mass Effect 3, the bulk of each species' military power is tied up defending their respective homeworlds (Earth for humans, Palaven for turians, Thessia for asari, etc.) from the Reapers, even though all of them have hundreds of colonies on other planets, which are left undefended.
  • July 29, 2014
    ayjazz
    Any love for this trope?
  • July 29, 2014
    bejjinks
    The trope has potential but needs clarity.

    Another thing about the Star Trek example is that, not only did they lose a significant number of their population, they lost a lot of their cultural heritage and their government. Which brings up a point about all the other examples.

    It would be like if France was wiped out, the French culture and government would also fall. Even though France has colonies and there are many French people in the rest of the world, they all still look to Paris for their government and culture.

    Unless humans truly became an intergalactic civilization it does make sense that destroying the Earth would deprive humanity of their culture and identity. No matter how many colonies there were, they'd fall into infighting and civil war. There would be no unity. The only surviving humanity would be in pockets and those pockets might go underground to hide from potential threats. So Titan A.E. does make sense in that way.

    This is still a trope though. It doesn't have to be Fridge Logic to be a trope. It just has to be a meaningful theme.

    How about Battlestar Galactica. They lose twelve planets and survive as only a few thousand refugees, traveling across the universe on almost derelict ships,
  • July 29, 2014
    eroock
    I was also reminded of Battlestar Galactica Reimagined
  • July 29, 2014
    bejjinks
    Actually both the original and re-imagined are examples. The original even more so because, even though both mention more than one planet, the original never does anything with any of the other planets. It's just Caprica. At least the re-imagined series specifically has refugees from all the twelve planets.
  • July 29, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Video Games
    • In Saints Row IV, the Zin destroy Earth. Since other planets haven't yet been colonized by humans, only those humans captured by the Zin are left alive.
  • July 29, 2014
    Omnicron13
    I remember this happened in the movie Pandorum. Earth was destroyed in some unforeseen catastrophe along with the humans on it. There were no formalized colonies at the time. This means the only humans left were the ones in stasis pods on a planetary expedition ship to colonize a new planet they were sent to.
  • July 29, 2014
    zarpaulus
    I think the title could be better as No Space Colonies or Single Planet Species.

    Comic Books
    • Discussed in Buck Godot Zap Gun For Hire, the human government gave the Winslow to the Gallimaufrey because they'd intercepted transmissions suggesting that Earth be destroyed so whoever it was could take the indestructible Winslow at their leisure. Humanity had several colonies and could survive the loss of Earth, as per their deal that would save them from extinction in exchange for safeguarding the dumb lizard, but Earth's destruction was unacceptable to the government. Too bad it turned out the "threat" was just a crackpot tabloid journalist whose editor rejected her "suggestion" outright.

    Literature
    • In Christopher Nuttall's Ark Royal trilogy humanity's governments focus on defending Sol System from their inscrutable alien assailants because none of their colonies have anywhere near the same industrial base. If Earth falls the colonies would be easy pickings. And New Russia, the most developed colony world, was one of the first losses in the war.
  • July 29, 2014
    DAN004
    So this is like "a colony is possible in universe and yet they don't do it for whatever reason"? Or maybe "a civilization who can build colonies still don't like their original planet to be destroyed"?
  • July 30, 2014
    SharleeD
    • In Babylon Five, the Battle of the Line was humanity's desperate attempt to protect the Earth from the Minbari, who'd already destroyed several colonies and were expected to wipe out the rest once humans' home planet had been devastated. Subverted when the Minbari surrendered.
  • July 30, 2014
    zarpaulus
    ^ **Played straight with the Dilgar, with one exception they became extinct when their star went supernova. Of course, the Earth Alliance and League of Non-Aligned Worlds had driven them off their colonies (apparently all captured from other species in the first place) and blockaded their home system shortly before.
  • July 30, 2014
    DAN004
    Please someone answer me... T.T
  • July 30, 2014
    Tallens
    So, going by the description, cases where humanity is just starting out as an interstellar race, so most of them are still on Earth, would not count?
  • July 30, 2014
    SKJAM
    • Apparently part of the Drakh plan in Crusade. A captured Drakh asks "And after Earth is dead? Who will you be then?"
  • July 30, 2014
    bejjinks
    I'm not in charge of this trope DAN004 but as far as I can tell, you're right on both questions. Both cases fit this trope.

    @ Tallens, No, they would not count although that does introduce some subjectivity to this trope. I think this trope is still trope-worthy despite the subjectivity because in most cases, it will be clear whether humanity is just starting out or has already established an interstellar presence.

    Edit: I fixed the description to make it less dependent on Fridge Logic. This trope works whether there is Fridge Logic or not.
  • July 30, 2014
    MorganWick
    Not Earth, but the destruction of Krypton is often played this way, with only one little baby in a rocket ship escaping its destruction. Except for Supergirl, all the criminals in the Phantom Zone, the entire city of Kandor... Some versions try to Hand Wave why seemingly every single Kryptonian was on the planet when it went boom.
  • July 31, 2014
    DAN004
  • August 1, 2014
    Arivne
    • Capitalized the title.
    • Added blank line(s) for readability.
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