->''On those cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back.''

%%
%% NOT TO EDITORS: Moving YMMV entries back from the YMMV tab isn't OK. See WhatGoesWhereOnTheWiki.
%% Red dots in the preview indicate YMMV.
%%

A 1954 novel by Creator/RichardMatheson. Set [[AfterTheEnd after an outbreak of a viral plague]] that turns both living and dead into creatures resembling vampires, the plot follows LastOfHisKind Robert Neville. An immune scientist and survivor, Neville spends his days hunting vampires, scavenging and [[DyingAlone struggling with loneliness]], and the nights being taunted by undead vampires that keep swarming outside his house.

Essentially the UrExample of the ZombieApocalypse genre, though it predates that particular usage of the word "zombie" by 28 years or so, which was first used in ''Film/DawnOfTheDead''. It was adapted to film four different times:
* ''Film/TheLastManOnEarth'' (1964) -- starring Creator/VincentPrice.
* ''Film/TheOmegaMan'' (1971) -- starring Creator/CharltonHeston.
* ''Film/IAmLegend'' (2007) -- starring Creator/WillSmith.
* ''I Am Omega'' (2007) -- a {{mockbuster}} of the above by Creator/TheAsylum.

''None'' of these movies used the ending of the original novel: the first (starring Vincent Price) is the only one even close to rest of the story.
----
!!This novel provides examples of:

* ApocalypseHow: Around level 3 or 4, depending on how many types of animals aren't affected by the bacteria. [[spoiler:The revelation of coping partial vampires might push it back to level 2. Maybe]]
* BecomingTheMask: [[spoiler:Ruth]].
* CannotCrossRunningWater: Neville tests this by constructing a trough to run water from a garden hose in his yard. Cortman sees it and gleefully jumps back and forth over it.
* [[spoiler:DarkIsNotEvil]]
* {{Deconstruction}}: Not only is it the UrExample of the zombie apocalypse, but it also deconstructs the notion of the last human survivors. In this world, the monsters have become the norm, and the last human is simply a relic of the past.
* DoingInTheWizard: The mythological traits of vampirism are all defined as either caused by the ''vampirus'' bacillum, or as a psychological reaction to the infected's [[GenreSavvy realizing they've become a creature out of a pulp novel]]. On one occasion, Neville observes a vampire climbing a lamppost and jumping off, and presumes that the individual believed itself to be able to turn into a bat.
* DownerEnding: Neville, due to killing [[spoiler:partial vampires]], is about to be [[spoiler:executed. The spy he fell in love with gives him a suicide pill to end his misery.]]
* TheDreaded: Neville is this to the Vampires. [[spoiler: Even when captured, many are terrified just by the sight of him.]]
* {{Flashback}}s: This time showing how his wife succumbed to the infection, and forced to drive to a government bonfire to burn his dead daughter.
* GhostCity: Los Angeles.
* GoodAllAlong
* HeelRealisation: A rather poignant one [[spoiler:in the ending, as Neville realizes, with horror, why the people who came after him are about to execute them - he was killing vampires who were beginning to stave off the worst urges, and thus terrified the survivors - and civilization's last hope.]]
* HeWhoFightsMonsters: [[spoiler:Neville eventually discovers that some of the infected people have discovered a means of suppressing more dangerous effects of the vampire bacteria, and that many of the vampires he's been killing during his daytime hunts were innocent people. He's pretty much ''their'' monster of legend, thus the title.]]
* ImmuneToBullets: The dead vampires (ones not infected while alive) have this, due to their wounds healing instantaneously, whereas stakes (and other impalings) keep the wound open.
* LastOfHisKind: Neville is apparently the last uninfected human in the world, due to being TheImmune.
* NeonSignHideout: Played for drama for a change. Every vampire in LA knows where the last normal human in the city lives, so each dusk the vampires start flocking around Neville's house.
* OminousLatinChanting: Ominous classical music more like. Look up the full names to the music Neville plays to keep his mind off the vampires; ''Sc÷nberg Transfigured Night, The Year of the Plague, Bernstein Symphony No. 2 (The Age of Anxiety), Schubert Symphony No. 4 (Tragic)...'' Emphasis on ominous, as he uses the music to drown out the hell the vampires break loose outside his house every night.
* TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou: Neville seems to adopt this stance towards his vampirised neighbor, even if there isn't anyone else out there to defeat him. [[spoiler:When the partial vampires get to him first, Neville naturally doesn't take it very well]].
* OurVampiresAreDifferent: It's stated the vampires are dumb. Not zombie-dumb, but still idiots, running on instinct alone. Ben Cortman is an exception to this, and Neville latches on to finding out why to keep him sane. He finds:
** There are two distinct variations: those infected when alive, and those infected post-mortem.
** Almost all of the traditional wards against vampires are apparently psychological. Garlic may or may not be a sort of anti-placebo effect, though Neville notices vampires coughing and choking whenever they're hit with garlic powder. Neville further hypothesizes things like the cross and mirror to be a result of extreme self-loathing. The cross has no effect on his Jewish neighbor, but as soon as he gets out the Star of David and a Torah, Ben begins panicking and doing everything he can to get away from the symbols.
** The vampires may be believing their own pop culture. Neville witnesses one vampire leap off from a street light and hypothesizes he was trying to turn into a bat.
** Vampirism is caused by bacteria, and infects the living and dead. Living vampires are vulnerable to everything a human is vulnerable to, but dead vampires' lack of a heartbeat causes a vacuum that seals off any wound that isn't large (such as small arms fire). Hence why stakes are so effective: they force the wound open and bypasses the vampire's regeneration.
** Dead vampires crumble into dust when staked. Neville remembers talking to a black gravekeeper who talked about vacuum-preserved corpses - any introduction of air would cause the corpses to [[ScienceMarchesOn crumble into dust.]]
* SanitySlippage: Neville gets dangerously close to tossing himself to the vampires several times.
* StakingTheLovedOne: [[spoiler: In the book, Neville has to do this to his wife after she had already died from the plague and he buried her body because he couldn't bear to burn her like he had to do to his daughter. She then comes back as a vampire trying to kill him and he has to kill her all over again, this time presumably by staking]]
* SurvivorGuilt: To the point of suffering several [[HeroicBSOD breakdowns.]]
* ThereIsAnother: [[spoiler:Subverted. When Ruth comes along, it appears that Neville might not be the only unaffected person still alive...And then it turns out that Ruth is TheMole for the partial vampires sent to spy on his defenses. Any and all survivors succumbed to the disease, and only stave it off by way of medicine.]]
* TitleDrop: At the very end, no less. The meaning of the title is also intensely creepy; see HeWhoFightsMonsters above for details.
* TookALevelInBadass: After a modest TimeSkip, Neville goes from being a normal guy who happens to be immune to the vampire bacteria and copes with alcohol to a muscled vampire-slaying [[BadassBeard beard-toting]] badass. in that time he's killed numerous [[spoiler:partial]] vampires and figured out their weaknesses and origin. Though his social skills have gone out the window from so many years of not talking to anyone. He also starts going Jack Bauer on his neighbor, what with the chair and the Torah.
* VampireHunter: Guess who.
* VanHelsingHateCrimes: [[spoiler:Turns out Neville has been killing partially-infected vampires alongside fully-infected ones, and is hunted down and executed for this.]] Oops.
* YankTheDogsChain: When he comes across an apparently unaffected dog out in the sun, Neville practically gets taken over with CutenessProximity as he plans to win over the thing and keep it as a pet. [[spoiler: It doesn't end well.]]
* ZombieApocalypse: Pretty much the UrExample, despite being written fourteen years before [[NightOfTheLivingDead the modern pop culture zombie]] was introduced.
** It's been said that George Romero got his idea for ''Film/NightOfTheLivingDead'' after reading the book.

----