Created By: MrInitialMan on June 23, 2012 Last Edited By: MrInitialMan on September 20, 2012
Troped

Unexpectedly Abandoned

Where is everyone?

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A character comes to a building, town, ship, or some setting expecting people to be there--but there isn't.

This comes in two flavours:
  1. The person expects people he recognizes to be there (If a meeting was arranged this is Stood Up).
  2. The person expects someone, anyone to be there.

This is not about the setting being abandoned--and sometimes the setting isn't (especially type one). This is about the person's reaction, and the reaction can range from annoyance to full-blown Oh Crap!.

See also The Aloner, Late to the Party and Slept Through the Apocalypse.

Definately overlaps with Ghost Town, Ghost City, and even Ghost Planet, but this trope is the "ghost" part coming as a surprise.

Examples

Comics
  • In a cartoon Moral Alternative to The Far Side, a group of students are shown playing a prank on their Sunday School teacher by hiding in the closet of a classroom, after writing "Rapture" on the chalkboard with the end of the word trailing up off the top of the chalkboard.

Film
  • In The Langoliers, most of the aircraft's passengers vanish, and the rest go through the plane, looking for the missing passengers.
  • The Alone in the Dark film has the final scene, in which Carnby and Aline wander into a city and find it abandoned. A helpful subtitle informs the viewer that the city was magically evacuated in a single night, Carnby's final narration contradicts that and declares humanity is being wiped out just like the Precursors.
  • The start of 28 Days Later. Jim awakens in a hospital and is bewildered to find the hospital--and later all of London--almost completely abandoned. Aside from the rage zombies.

Literature
  • In The Pearls of Lutra, Emperor Ublaz comes aboard the Waveworm, which had been sent to retrieve the titular pearls. His confusion turns to horror when he finds no-one aboard, but blood everywhere. The pirate crew and the moniters have killed each other and the kidnapped Abbot Durral, who was locked in his room and thus the last living person aboard the ship, had buried everyone at sea.
  • Dean Koontz's novel Phantoms. A woman and her sister return to their home town and find it almost completely empty of people. All that's left are the bodies of a few murdered victims.
  • In the Warrior Cats novel Dawn, Brambleclaw and Squirrelpaw return home, but the camp is entirely deserted, and they have no idea where the Clan is; there's no sign of a fight or anything. Their medicine cat, Cinderpelt, happens to come back to retrieve some herbs from her den, and she explains that the Clan has relocated to Sunningrocks because the humans' deforestation activities had come too close to the camp.
  • There's a Goosebumps story called Be Careful What You Wish For, where a girl gets three wishes from an old woman in exchange for helping her. Her second wish is for her rival to disappear. The next morning she wakes up to find that everyone has vanished apart from her (and the old woman).
  • An example of Type 1, in a story about a young boy during the Russian Revolution, the boy comes to his uncle's house, only to discover that strangers are living there. It turns out his uncle was taken away by the Bolsheviks.

Live-Action TV
  • The Twilight Zone TOS did this a few times.
    • The first episode, appropriately entitled "Where is Everybody". A man finds himself walking along a road. He comes across a diner and later a town: both are completely empty of people. The Twilight Zone Twist is that he's taking part in an experiment that has caused him to hallucinate.
    • "The Arrival". An airliner lands at an airfield. When the airfield personnel go to unload it, it's completely empty of people: no pilots, no passengers.
  • In a flashback to 2000 on My Name Is Earl Earl, Randy, Joy and Donny think that everyone in the world exceptfor them has been somehow destroyed by Y2K, but they're just at a New Year's Day parade.
  • The Prisoner TOS episode "Many Happy Returns". One morning Number Six wakes up and finds the entire Village deserted except for a cat.
  • In the Ripping Yarns episode "Escape from Stalag Luft 112B" Major Phipps works on elaborate plans of escape, while all the other prisoners try to talk him out of it. Then one day he wakes up and discovers himself alone. All the other prisoners have escaped. The German soldiers all guard him. and then, one morning the German Drill Sergeant Nasty breaks in to his barracks and demands to know what Phipps did with all the guards. They "escaped" too. And the commandant. Now Phipps can finally work on his escape plan in peace! He becomes the only man to ever not escape Stalag Luft 112B.
  • Supernatural: After receiving a distress call from Rufus in the episode "Good God, Y'All", Sam and Dean arrive at the location looking for the people in danger, only to find a town with signs of recent activity (an overturned car still playing music, blood spatters, signs of a struggle, etc.), but where the streets are strangely empty.

Music
  • In the Mighty Mighty Boss Tones' song "Where Did You Go?", a guy comes home and finds that the person he's singing to isn't home--and, apparently, isn't going to come home. The lyrics describe him waiting, wondering "Where did you go?" and finally leaving.

Video Games
  • At the beginning of Knights of the Old Republic II, you wake up on an abandoned mining facility. Save for an old woman who you find in the morgue and a man in a prison cell, the station is devoid of life. You must piece together what happened as you explore the station.
  • In BlazBlue, the NOL branch office is usually mysteriously empty when characters show up there in story mode.
  • A frequent trope in the Silent Hill series. Silent Hill is a resort town with scenic woods, a beautiful lake, and an amusement park. Its victims find themselves wandering alone through constant fog and frequent snow/ash fall.

Western Animation
  • On the SpongeBob SquarePants episode" Gone", SpongeBob wakes up to find all of Bikini Bottom deserted. Turns out there's an annual "Get Away From SpongeBob" day, but they got carried away and made it a week.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, episode "Bridle Gossip," Twilight and Spike head into town, only to find it deserted. Eventually they figure out that everyone is hiding because their newest neighbor, Zecora, scares them.
Community Feedback Replies: 40
  • June 23, 2012
    Arivne
    This often happens when you're Late To The Party or you Slept Through The Apocalypse.

    Film
    • Aliens. When the Marines arrive at the colony complex they find it apparently empty.

    Literature
    • Dean Koontz's novel Phantoms. A woman and her sister return to their home town and find it almost completely empty of people. All that's left are the bodies of a few murdered victims.

    Live Action TV
    • The Twilight Zone TOS did this a few times.
      • The first episode, appropriately entitled "Where is Everybody". A man finds himself walking along a road. He comes across a diner and later a town: both are completely empty of people. The Twilight Zone Twist is that he's taking part in an experiment that has caused him to hallucinate.
      • "The Arrival". An airliner lands at an airfield. When the airfield personnel go to unload it, it's completely empty of people: no pilots, no passengers.
  • June 23, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Needs A Better Name. Dialogue-like names are out. Mysteriously Deserted Setting?
  • June 23, 2012
    Earnest
  • June 23, 2012
    TonyG
    On the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode" Gone", SpongeBob wakes up to find all of Bikini Bottom deserted. Turns out there's an annual "Get Away From SpongeBob" day, but they got carried away and made it a week.
  • June 24, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In a flashback to 2000 on My Name Is Earl Earl, Randy, Joy and Donny think that everyone in the world exceptfor them has been somehow destroyed by Y 2 K, but they're just at a New Year's Day parade.
  • June 24, 2012
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
    • The Prisoner TOS episode "Many Happy Returns". One morning Number Six wakes up and finds the entire Village deserted except for a cat.
  • June 24, 2012
    Omeganian
    Tommy says that in the end of "Return of an Old Friend part 1"
  • June 24, 2012
    Dawnwing
    Literature:

    • In the Warrior Cats novel Dawn, Brambleclaw and Squirrelpaw return home, but the camp is entirely deserted, and they have no idea where the Clan is; there's no sign of a fight or anything. Their medicine cat, Cinderpelt, happens to come back to retrieve some herbs from her den, and she explains that the Clan has relocated to Sunningrocks because the humans' deforestation activities had come too close to the camp.
  • June 24, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    In the Ripping Yarns episode "Escape from Stalag Luft 112B" Major Phipps works on elaborate plans of escape, while all the other prisoners try to talk him out of it. Then one day he wakes up and discovers himself alone. All the other prisoners have escaped. The German soldiers all guard him. and then, one morning the German Drill Sergeant Nasty breaks in to his barracks and demands to know what Phipps did with all the guards. They "escaped" too. And the commandant. Now Phipps can finally work on his escape plan in peace! He becomes the only man to ever not escape Stalag Luft 112B.
  • June 28, 2012
    ElCheViva
    At the beginning of Knights of the Old Republic II, you wake up on an abandoned mining facility. Save for an old woman who you find in the morgue and a man in a prison cell, the station is devoid of life. You must piece together what happened as you explore the station.
  • June 28, 2012
    Rotpar
    The Alone In The Dark film has the final scene, in which Carnby and Aline wander into a city and find it abandoned. A helpful subtitle informs the viewer that the city was magically evacuated in a single night, Carnby's final narration contradicts that and declares humanity is being wiped out just like the Precursors.

    The start of Twenty Eight Days Later. Jim awakens in a hospital and finds London almost completely abandoned. Aside from the rage zombies.

    A frequent trope in the Silent Hill series. Silent Hill is a resort town with scenic woods, a beautiful lake, and an amusement park. Its victims find themselves wandering alone through constant fog and frequent snow/ash fall.
  • June 28, 2012
    Shnakepup
    This is already covered by various "Ghost [Location]" tropes, is it not? Ghost Town, Ghost City, and Ghost Planet?
  • June 28, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    ^I don't think so. Different emphasis on places vs. abandonedness.
  • June 30, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    No--in many cases, a Ghost Town, Ghost City, and Ghost Planet are expected to be deserted. This is when a setting is unexpectedly discovered to be deserted. There might be overlap--for example, if someone arrived in what he expected to be a bustling metropolis and discovered it was now a Ghost City, that would be a case of Where Is Everyone.
  • July 8, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Any more examples/title suggestions? Or does Where Is Everybody work? (I claim the Twilight Zone episode as the Trope Namer. *Nod*)
  • July 9, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    Mysteriously Abandoned Location. And no, Where Is Everybody ? is in violation of No New Stock Phrases.
  • July 9, 2012
    Rognik
    just to check: this is an in-universe reaction to a setting, and not a suspiciously empty location? Because I can easily see video game examples of settings which should have random sprites wandering about in a major city, but for some reason aren't there, and no one comments on it.
  • July 9, 2012
    Arivne
    ^ I agree that this is an In Universe reaction by characters.
  • July 9, 2012
    judgebeanhead
    • The villages in Minecraft were completely empty and pretty much useless until version 1.9.
  • July 9, 2012
    NimmerStill
    In Night Of The Comet, the protagonists emerge from a theater to find everyone gone.
  • July 10, 2012
    TBeholder
  • July 14, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Yes, this is an in-universe reaction to a setting where the protagonists expect to find a setting to be inhabited (or expect people they know to be there), but find that said inhabitants are missing.

    This could be a reaction to
    • Expecting people you know to be there, but don't show up. (Stood Up is a subtrope of this)
    • Expecting humans (or people of the character's race) to be there, but the area is inhabited by somethings else.
    • The place is simply empty--the characters are the only ones there.

    I took out the WALL-E example, as WALL-E never reacts to the planet being abandoned, nor does anyone else.
  • July 14, 2012
    foxley
    Happens at least twice in Doctor Who. In "Invasion of the Dinosaurs", the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane arrive in London to find the city strangely deserted, and in "The Android Invasion", the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane apparently arrive in the village outside UNIT HQ to find it completely devoid of people. In the first case the city has been evacuated because of the dinosaurs, and in the second, it turns not to be the real village but a facsimile constructed on an alien world to facilitate an invasion.
  • July 15, 2012
    NightNymph
    Supernatural: After receiving a distress call from Rufus in the episode "Good God, Y'all", Sam and Dean arrive at the location looking for the people in danger, only to find a town with signs of recent activity (an overturned car still playing music, blood spatters, sings of a struggle, etc.), but where the streets are apparently empty.
  • July 15, 2012
    LordCirce
    Unexpected Ghost Town seems like a good title to me.

  • July 15, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Unexpected Absence?
  • July 16, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Changed the name; I think it works.
  • July 16, 2012
    Arivne
    Unexpected Absence makes me think of a specific person not being present for an unknown reason.

    Either of Septimus Heap's suggested titles above (Mysteriously Abandoned Location and Mysteriously Deserted Setting) sound good.

    If you decide to start with "Unexpected": Use Unexpectedly instead of Mysteriously?
  • July 17, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Unexpectedly Abandoned? I guess that could work, and has Added Alliterative Appeal.
  • July 18, 2012
    NimmerStill
    This is No New Stock Phrases run amok. "Where Is Everyone?" is clearly a superior name for this trope. I think No New Stock Phrases should apply only to tropes that are *about* phrases, not those named by them.
  • July 19, 2012
    Arivne
    ^ @Nimmer Still: You'll have to take that up with Fast Eddie. He's specifically said in the past that he's not going to change his mind about this rule.
  • July 22, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Is Type 1 essentially Stood Up except by a group of people instead of one person?
  • July 22, 2012
    abk0100
    awfulname
  • July 22, 2012
    IsaacSapphire
    Can also be related to Caught Up in The Rapture, or the characters might think that anyway.

    In a cartoon Moral Alternative to The Far Side, a group of students are shown playing a prank on their Sunday School teacher by hiding in the closet of a classroom, after writing "Rapture" on the chalkboard with the end of the word trailing up off the top of the chalkboard.
  • July 22, 2012
    isk2837
    There's a Goosebumps story called Be Careful What You Wish For, where a girl gets three wishes from an old woman in exchange for helping her. Her second wish is for her rival to disappear. The next morning she wakes up to find that everyone has vanished apart from her (and the old woman).
  • July 22, 2012
    Bisected8
    • In Blaz Blue, the NOL branch office is usually mysteriously empty when characters show up there in story mode.
  • August 5, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    I think what we should do is expand Stood Up so it can accept anything under Type 1, and limit this to Type 2. I'll fix the title.
  • August 15, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    • Has added Stood Up to the Trope Repair Shop forum.
  • September 11, 2012
    NightNymph
    Resubmitting my above example - this time with helpful "*" as I think this still fits the current description (since the town actually did not turn out to be abandoned in the example - everyone was holed up in separate "camps" thinking the other camp were demons.)

    • Supernatural: After receiving a distress call from Rufus in the episode "Good God, Y'All", Sam and Dean arrive at the location looking for the people in danger, only to find a town with signs of recent activity (an overturned car still playing music, blood spatters, signs of a struggle, etc.), but where the streets are strangely empty.
  • September 17, 2012
    Acebrock
    • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, episode "Bridle Gossip," Twilight and Spike head into town, only to find it deserted. Eventually they figure out that everyone is hiding because their newest neighbor, Zecora, scares them.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=y73gi6knnyvur8q19kvzxxko&trope=UnexpectedlyAbandoned