[[quoteright:350:[[http://deanreevesii.deviantart.com/art/An-Earth-Shattering-Experience-146786821 http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Astronaut.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:"Houston, YOU have a problem."]]

->''"It's nice to know that if we ever have a nuclear war, there will be three guys in space going, 'What was that noise?'"''
-->-- '''Robin Williams'''

Something [[ApocalypseHow really bad]] (AlienInvasion, TheVirus, {{Nanomachines}} etc.) happens to everybody on Earth, but the survivors have forgotten that for several years now, there have always been at least three humans not on Earth. This trope is a common way to have people survive an AfterTheEnd situation. It can sometimes involve experimental or accidental off-Earth time travel, where the astronauts are only gone for a brief moment, and pass right over Armageddon to come back to a ruined Earth. If something is explicitly said to affect "everyone on Earth", this may be a form of ProphecyTwist. Furthermore, in science fiction/superhero stories where Earth has been radically changed, the astronauts in space are usually unaffected and are a vital resource for the heroes to find a way to bring the planet back to normal.

This is more likely to be if the aftermath of the disaster is the main setting for the plot. One way or another, someone has to [[LateToTheTragedy miss the apocalyptic party]] or you're a bit stuffed for characters. Having the characters not be on the Earth at the time is one way to make this happen. Compare AfterTheEnd. To clarify, the trope is that people in space survive an AfterTheEnd situation. Other survivals of AfterTheEnd (such as a HomeworldEvacuation) are not a part of this trope.

Wondering about RealLife? The people onboard the International Space Station rely on constant resupply from Earth, so their prognosis for staying in space is grim. Air, water, food, all are shipped in. Over a longer term, space is a decidedly hostile environment, between higher radiation levels and the effects of zero-g. Realistically, the astronauts only have months to live. However, the station has lifeboats in the form of Russian Soyuz spacecraft, so they could (in theory) return to Earth. Other space missions could do so, as well. Without MissionControl, though, it is of course more dangerous, as no one can double check your reentry plan or monitor your approach. (and they might be stranded in the middle of the ocean, even if they make it down safely). It is physically possible for spacecraft to return to Earth safely, so astronauts might make it back. Assuming there's an Earth that can still support them, of course.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/BlueGender'' - Most of humanity lives in space after being driven there by the giant nigh-invulnerable bugs, though some scattered bands of humans still survive on the surface.
* ''Anime/ErgoProxy'' - The Creators [[spoiler:(the last of the human race) stay aboard the Boomerang Star while the Earth recovers to become livable again.]]
* Also happens in ''Manga/DragonBall'' when the Saiyan homeworld, Vegeta, is [[strike:[[IsThatWhatHeToldYou hit by a meteor]]]] [[EarthShatteringKaboom destroyed]] by [[EvilOverlord Freeza]] with only the 4 Saiyans off the planet at the time ([[TheHero Goku]] (Kakarot), Raditz, Nappa and [[TheRival Prince Vegeta]]) surviving.
** Some off-world Saiyans (notably, Goku and Raditz's father Bardock and his team) were specifically hunted down by Freeza's minions before he destroys their planet, but Vegeta is kept around because Freeza still considers him useful, and the rest probably because they were too weak to be relevant. (And Goku because Freeza didn't even know he existed.)
** If you count in movies/[=OVAs=], then you have Turlis, Brolly and his father Paragus, and Vegita's runt of a brother Tarble (who's 39 but looks 17, even by Saiyan standards) fitting the "missed out on" aspect of the trope, since all were thought to have either been lost, already wiped out, or not important enough to care about until they show up again. While all of the movies [[NonSerialMovie contradict manga/anime canon]] in other ways, the sheer number of Saiyans sent out to other planets makes it entirely plausible that a couple more might have slipped through the cracks of Frieza's purge.
* In ''Anime/CowboyBebop'', Earth has become a wasteland due to the "Gateway Incident." It is only barely getting back on its feet when the series begins. Fortunately for humanity, basically every other object in the solar system that's solid enough for people to stand on has already been colonized.
* In the anime ''FreedomProject'', Earth was permanently rendered uninhabitable by an abnormal climate shift. The only surviving humans were the ones living in Eden, a base built on the far side of the moon. The story starts 160 years later, where Takeru (TheHero) stumbles upon a capsule containing a picture of a brown-skinned girl, in a place not found anywhere in Eden...
* The protagonists of ''BeastKingGolion'' are astronauts who were on a mission in space while Earth civilization was destroyed by World War III.
* In ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'', an attempt is made to evacuate people from Earth so that they survive [[spoiler:the moon crashing into it]]. Unfortunately, [[spoiler:the Anti-Spiral fleet is waiting for them in space]], so they need rescuing by the heroes as much as everyone else does.
* In ''SuperDimensionFortressMacross'', [[spoiler:the crew of the ''Macross'' -- along with some Zentradi who turned good -- find themselves making up the majority of the Earth's population after the Zentradi main force destroys it]].
* In ''{{Xabungle}}'', we eventually learn that the Innocent are the descendents of some human space travelers who managed to miss out on whatever the hell happened to turn Earth into Zora.
* Manga/HighSchoolOfTheDead has two NASA astronauts running the International Space Station when the ZombieApocalypse takes place. The United States decides to try launching nukes as a last ditch effort. Most of them get shot down, but one detonates in the atmosphere and blankets Asia with an EMP. The astronauts wonder what is going on down there. [[SubvertedTrope The worst part about their situation is that they're well aware about the zombies, and it's very unlikely that NASA will ever be able to deliver supplies or recover them up there.]]
* Subverted in ''Manga/HellstarRemina'' as the Martian and Lunar colonies are the first to be destroyed as the PlanetEater approaches Earth.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''[[Franchise/MarvelUniverse Marvel Zombies]]'' - The Acolytes on Asteroid M are some of the only characters to escape infection.
* ''ComicBook/YTheLastMan'': In the third arc, three astronauts (actually, one of them is a cosmonaut) are returning to Earth from the International Space Station, and two of them are men who missed the {{Gendercide}}. [[spoiler: Their capsule crash lands in a field due to a malfunction (and a rocket launcher) and the two male astronauts inside die. Thankfully, the female astronaut is pregnant with a boy]].
* ''Doomsday 1'' (later reprinted as ''TheDoomsdaySquad'') - While a group is in orbit, someone sets off WorldWarIII which kills everyone on the planet, they wait for the nuclear stuff to dissipate and return to a ravaged Earth.
* Sorta used in the ''ComicBook/TwoThousandAD'' strip ''Shakara''. The world is destroyed at the start of the story and the only human left is an astronaut from the International Space Station. He is killed not long after.
* In the ''Franchise/{{Alien}}'' comic book continuity, Earth is overrun by Xenomorphs and the inhabitants of a space station and other colonists are the humans who survive.
* The prequel comic series to ''WesternAnimation/WallE'' has an astronaut return to Earth from some mission only to find everybody left. WALL•E helps him to try and find a way to the ''Axiom'' to reunite with his family.
* In ''ComicBook/HelOnEarth'', [[WellIntentionedExtremist H'el's]] backstory is explained as this. Before [[EarthShatteringKaboom Krypton was destroyed]], H'el was sent into space to find a way to save it. Years later, he lands on Earth; where he finds two other survivors: Franchise/{{Superman}} and ComicBook/{{Supergirl}}.
* In ''ComicBook/AllStarSuperman'', a pair of Kryptonian astronauts survived the destruction of their planet, and wind up coming to Earth to conquer it.
* The erotic French comic ''La Survivante'' (the [female] survivor) has all of mankind being mysteriously wiped out, except for a girl who was scuba diving and an astronaut (3 more astronauts are later revealed as having survived).
%% * ''ComicStrip/BuckRogers''
* The epinomous character in the Dutch/English series ''Storm'' by Don Lawrence is trapped inside the Great Red Spot on Jupiter and experiences a NegativeSpaceWedgie that traps him inside for what turns out to be centuries. When he returns to Earth, it has now regressed to an AfterTheEnd CrapsackWorld where his [[TheUnfrozenCavemanLawyer 20th century knowledge]] allows him to reboot civilisation making use of the LostTechnology scattered around.

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* In ''FanFic/WorldwarWarOfEquals'', The Race boarded the ISS and take all on board hostage two days before the invasion.

* ''Film/PlanetOfTheApes'': ''[[EarthAllAlong You blew it up!]] [[BeamMeUpScotty Damn you! Damn you all to]]'' '''''[[ItWasHisSled HELL!]]'''''
* The astronauts on the ISS in ''Film/TheDayAfterTomorrow'' survived just fine... they even comment on how clear the skies over North America and Europe look now that all those horrid pollution producing, Dennis Quaid ignoring humans are dead via floods, tornadoes, thunderstorms, and flash freezing.
* In the SciFiChannel original movie ''Film/AlienApocalypse'', Creator/BruceCampbell's astronaut character and his shipmates were in cold sleep for forty years, and [[ColdSleepColdFuture wake to a future]] where aliens have enslaved humanity.
* The inhabitants of a spaceship survive in ''Film/TheDoomsdayMachine'' (it was MST3K'd) when the titular device [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt destroys Earth]]; it turns out they were chosen specifically for an AdamAndEvePlot.
* The old 1985 B-movie ''Def-Con 4'' was slam-bang on this trope. It was AfterTheEnd, and the astronauts had to get back to Earth and then survive there.
* This is Hugo Drax's plan in ''Film/{{Moonraker}}'': to wipe out humanity on Earth with a nerve gas while a few selected individuals survive on his space station.
** The previous Film/JamesBond movie, ''Film/TheSpyWhoLovedMe'', featured the same idea, only with the survivors hiding in a submarine base instead of in space. Stromberg hadn't built his underwater city yet (his Atlantis base is just a grandiose lab/mansion). He plans to build his city AfterTheEnd, which many will clamour to be part of since after surviving the catastrophe of nuclear war, he offers them a fresh start in a new perfect society. His plan, like the one in ''Film/YouOnlyLiveTwice'' (which this is deliberately based on), generally assumes that nuclear war will ''not'' lead to the death of nearly every living thing on the planet, which was a disturbingly widespread idea at the time, as the broader environmental effects of nuclear weapons were seriously underestimated. Stromberg just thought civilization would be destroyed, not the whole world. He was right.
* In ''Film/TwoThousandTenTheYearWeMakeContact'' the joint Western/[[TheGreatPoliticsMessUp Soviet]] expedition to the derelict ''Discovery'' nearly faces this problem as political tensions back on Earth rapidly deteriorate toward WorldWarIII.
* ''WesternAnimation/WallE'' explains the lack of humans on a pollution-wrecked Earth with this. Of course, if the ''Axiom'' is the jewel of the spaceliner fleet... [[FridgeLogic aren't there others?]]
* After the destruction of the planet [[spoiler: Vulcan]] in ''Film/StarTrek XI'', Spock estimates there to be a few thousand survivors. All those people obviously [[CaptainObvious couldn't have been on their planet at the time it bit the dust]].
* ''Film/MoscowCassiopeia'' has a whole bunch of aliens that have been stuck in orbit for centuries, radioing for help. The ones seen are the descendants of the originals. It's implied that they ''could'' land but would be immediately taken and "improved" by the machines.
* The whole point of ''WesternAnimation/BattleForTerra'' is a GenerationShip that holds the last of humanity from a war between Earth and its Venusian and Martian colonies that resulted in mutual destruction. The ship is literally falling apart and the survivors desperately need a new planet to settle. Unfortunately, the one they pick is already populated.
* Ditto for ''Film/{{Pandorum}}'', which starts with a message from Earth that the ''Elysium'' holds the remains of humanity. Luckily, it's already bound for an Earth-like planet. Unfortunately, [[spoiler:one of the crewmembers goes nuts and causes a catastrophe]].
* The movie ''Film/{{Love}}'' by William Eubanks and the band Angels & Airwaves is mostly about this trope. One man is left in orbit on the ISS for 'years' after the apocalypse. The main trial for the astronaut isn't as much survival as much as it is surviving [[LastOfHisKind alone]]. He eventually risks returning to Earth [[spoiler: only to be picked up by a fully automated alien ship modified by humans to maintain detailed records of human experience.]]
* To the extent that ''Film/RobotMonster'' can be said to have a plot, part of it involves the handful of survivors of the human race on Earth trying to contact astronauts in space without drawing the attention of their diving-helmet-and-gorilla-suit robot invader.
* ''Film/{{Gravity}}'' is ''nothing'' but following the protagonists, mostly American astronauts, as they [[spoiler:try to]] survive the disaster, that for a change [[InvertedTrope happens in space and does not affect Earth]] (at least directly). The movie does explain what happens to other astronauts in the ISS and Chinese space station ''Tiangong'': they board their ejection capsules and return back to Earth as soon as their stations are damaged, and presumably all of them arrive alive and uninjured.

* ''Literature/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy'' - Trillian escapes Earth's destruction unknowingly with Zaphod while Arthur and Ford escape by hitchhiking at the last minute.
* Nobel Laureate Harry Martinson's ''Aniara''. An epoc of a space liner Aniara being accidentally ejected into the deep space and towards Vega (main star of constellation Lyra), just before Earth had been destroyed in a nuclear holocaust, and the despair of the inhabitants locked in their ship and watching everything slowly decaying and deteriorating.
* ''Literature/LucifersHammer'' has some US and Soviet astronauts in orbit unaffected. They land near the middle of the book. It's not a major part of the plot, though, as the other characters have mostly pulled themselves together without them.
* ''Literature/WorldWarZ'' The crew of the International Space Station are unaffected by the zombie plague and aid the resistance on Earth by keeping communications satellites functioning. They also find other astronauts, from a Chinese station, who killed each other. Upon returning to earth, they immediately become heroes. [[spoiler:Which entitles them to the best medication and treatment available as they die from radiation poisoning.]]
* Creator/ArthurCClarke:
** The short story "[[http://hermiene.net/short-stories/if_i_forget_thee.html If I Forget Thee, O Earth]]" involves the last humans living in a self-sustaining moon colony after a nuclear war leaves Earth uninhabitable.
** Another Clarke story had nuclear missile troops stationed in high earth orbit on Orion-type ships (this was seriously proposed by the Air Force, actually) witnessing a nuclear war taking place on Earth. The story reveals that they were the final step in an escalating arms race between the USA and the USSR; previously, each new weapon was soon countered when the other side devised a means of pre-emptively destroying it, until orbital stations were put beyond the reach of any Earth-based attack. When their secret orders for what to do in the case of a nuclear war were revealed, [[spoiler:it turns out that they and their weaponry were purely a deterrence. Instead of nuking the USA, they are to return to Earth and help rebuild]].
* In the novel ''Offworld'' by Robin Parrish, some astronauts return from a mission to Mars only to find that something has caused every man, woman and child on the planet to disappear.
* ''Time's Eye'', by Stephen Baxter and Creator/ArthurCClarke - the whole world becomes a temporal mess-up, and a trio of cosmonauts/astronauts on the ISS are part of the handful or survivors.
* Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Literature/HaveSpaceSuitWillTravel'' did have a part where the aliens threaten to destroy Earth and the hero does think about the Moon base and orbiting stations before deciding that they would be unlikely to last long, [[DeathByDespair from grief if nothing else]].
* In "Adam and No Eve" by Creator/AlfredBester, a scientist develops a prototype spaceship using a kind of atomic engine, and poo-poos his colleagues' fears that it will kill all life on Earth when he fires it up; it's fueled by iron, and they fear a chain reaction. He goes into orbit and returns to find that he's killed all life on earth. His solution is to part-instinctively make his way to the ocean and let the bacteria living in his gut start the evolution process all over again.
* In Creator/BenBova's ''Test Of Fire'', a massive solar flare wipes out humanity from New Zealand to Iceland. Russian missile command misreads this as an attack and nukes the US. A moonbase protected by the bulk of the Moon is the only spark of civilisation left to rebuild the world. (South and Central America are {{handwave}}d away.)
* Creator/VernorVinge:
** ''Literature/MaroonedInRealtime'' inverts this trope. It's about the few survivors of some event that removed the rest of humanity from Earth. Instead of surviving by being in space, the remnant are those who happened to be in impenetrable stasis fields known as "bobbles". (Although some of them were in bobbles ''in space'', doing long-range space exploration, and work as straight instances of the trope.)
** In ''Literature/AFireUponTheDeep'', the attack that destroys Sjandra Kei completely bypasses their hired defense fleet, leaving only the fleet's crews alive:
--->"The Aniara Fleet." That's what some of the crews of Commercial Security were calling themselves. Aniara was the ship of an old human myth, older than Nyjora, perhaps going back to the Tuvo-Norsk cooperatives in the asteroids of Earth's solar system. In the story, Aniara was a large ship launched into interstellar depths just before the death of its parent civilization. The crew watched the death agonies of the home system, and then over the following years — as their ship fell out and out into the endless dark — died themselves, their life-support systems slowly failing.
* The 1980's AfterTheEnd action series ''The Survivalist'' by Jerry Ahern has a number of shuttles launched as part of a doomsday scenario -- The Eden Project -- in case of nuclear war. The expedition goes into [[HumanPopsicle suspended animation]] and returns to Earth after the radiation levels have died down. Only to find the protagonist (who also went into suspended animation) staring at them through binoculars, saying "There goes the neighbourhood." As it turns out the old UsefulNotes/ColdWar enemies have all survived, so everyone just starts shooting from when they left off.
* Creator/RayBradbury's ''Literature/TheMartianChronicles'' involves colonists on Mars being the only ones to survive nuclear destruction of the Earth, but rather than returning, they stay to become the new Martians.
* Kind of used in Creator/LarryNiven's ''Fallen Angels'' - a radical environmentalist regime rules the Earth and the only people left with freedom and high technology are those living on a moon base or in an orbital habitat made by combining the Mir and (never fully built) Freedom space stations. However, as another ice age is fast descending upon the Earth, it looks like it could become a straight example. Funny detail: The ISS ''is'' basically Mir-2 merged with Space Station Freedom; module design and construction was well along for both stations before the merger...
* StephenBaxter's ''{{Titan}}'' has a group of astronauts journeying to the titular moon. This is the space program's last gasp before being shut down. Meanwhile, tensions escalate between the U.S. and China, culminating in China diverting an asteroid to threaten the U.S. with precision fragment strikes. [[spoiler: Unfortunately the Chinese screw it up, and when the asteroid hits Earth it wipes everyone out. The astronauts, knowing that they are the last people alive, release a jar of bacteria on Titan devised as a starter kit for life. Millions of years later, when the Sun begins to expand, those bacteria have evolved into a race of sentient beetle-like creatures.]]
* In Creator/JohnVarley's ''Literature/EightWorlds'' series, the invading aliens have knocked earthbound civilization back to the stone age, but they left the humans living in space alone.
* In ''Literature/SewerGasAndElectric'', a racist-engineered plague has wiped out [[spoiler: nearly]] every human being of black African descent. Several years later, a TV show is on the air (with an all-aborigine cast) about a surviving space colony of black separatists, whose residents don't dare return to Earth for fear the plague will kill them too.
* Eric S. Nylund's ''Signal to Noise'' deals with events that lead up to the destruction of all but a couple of dozen humans - due to the slowing of the earth's rotation. Some survivors are on a moon base, others are at an undisclosed location. And ''A Signal Shattered'' tells the story of protagonist Jack, one of the handful of survivors. It turns out that [[spoiler: an alien gave humans the devices that slowed the earth down specifically to give Jack the shared background with another alien... to convince the alien to give up his location.]]
* Syne Mitchell's ''End in Fire'' deals with crew of orbital solar power station trying to survive (and later get down to Earth due to supply problems) when US and China gone into nuclear war.
* Creator/PoulAnderson's ''Literature/AfterDoomsday'' features two human ships -- a viable population, actually, ''once they link up with each other'' -- discovering that Earth was destroyed while they were out of the Solar System. One of their first thoughts is to contact bases on the Moon and in space stations, who can tell them how it happened. It turns out the killers made a clean sweep and they've been blasted, too.
* Jeff Carlson's ''Literature/PlagueYearSeries'' plays with this trope: a character is specifically sent to the International Space Station as the apocalypse is occurring in order to escape [[ThePlague its effects]], since they are one of the few people left who can create a cure.
* This might be one of Stephen Baxter's signature tropes; it also shows up in the story "People Came from Earth".
* From [[Creator/AlastairReynolds Century Rain]], regarding the "[[GreyGoo Nanocaust]]" of 2077:
-->Some people made it through. They were the ones who'd already left the surface of the Earth, moving into space habitats and colonies. Primitive, ramshackle affairs, barely self-sufficient, but enough to keep them alive while they coped with the loss of the Earth, and the numbing psychic trauma of what had happened.
* ''Literature/MortalEngines'' briefly mentions space stations containing "frozen astronauts." This either means the bodies of astronauts which are frozen solid or astronauts put in [[HumanPopsicle cryogenic sleep]].
* The few offworld colonies and colony ships become this inthe SpiderRobinson[=/=]Creator/RobertAHeinlein collaboration ''Literature/VariableStar'' when something makes the Sun go nova halfway through the book.
* ''Literature/TheStrain'': Global Vampire attacks prevent NASA from retrieving the three astronauts on ISS. The American astronaut provides commentary on the state of the world from above while NASA provides exposition on the state of the rest of the world.
* In William C. Heine's ''The Last Canadian'', a NASA moon mission is on its way back when a pandemic wipes out most of the population of the Americas, including Ground Control. The Soviets [[DirtyCommies won't lift a finger to help]]. [[spoiler: It doesn't go so well for them]].
* Creator/NormanSpinrad's characters from ''Riding The Torch'' had left millennia ago the nuclear-war devastated Earth in [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin torchships]] ([[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bussard_ramjet Bussard ramjet]] powered spaceships able to collect matter for their fuel from thinly spread particles in the void of space) and they expand and renew their fleet continuously while flying to search planets which can be colonized. [[spoiler: They find out there has never been such planets beyond original Earth.]]
* In the German SF series ''{{Maddrax}}'', set centuries AfterTheEnd, the ISS is still in orbit and the (organic) {{phlebotinum}} that kept its air breathable is even still going -- but the crew didn't make it anyway [[spoiler:because the same phlebotinum turned out to be psychoactive and ultimately drove them mad to the point of killing each other]]. On the other hand, there's a small but pretty advanced Martian civilization of human descent courtesy of the crash-landed first manned expedition there, helped out by [[RagnarokProofing still-functional]] relics of the planet's long-gone original inhabitants.
* A non-human example in MikhailAkhmanov's ''ArrivalsFromTheDark''. The {{Backstory}} of the [[HumanAliens Faata]] reveals that their civilization has suffered a catastrophie event that wiped out all civilization. This event, known as the Eclipse, threw the Faata back to the Stone Age. After they managed to rebuild their civilization, they send out exploration ships to nearby stars. When the astronauts come back, they see the aftermath of the Second Eclipse. Determined to prevent the Third Eclipse, they radically restructure the very biology of their race and create a strictly-hierarchical society with themselves at the top and the degraded people on their homeworld as various servant [[HumanSubspecies subspecies]]. They become ruthless expansionists in their belief that only unlimited expansion will prevent another Eclipse.
* ''Down in the Dark'' by William Barton takes place after a failed asteroid intercept causes asteroid fragments to vaporize most of the Earth's surface, [[RacialRemnant leaving less than 2000 scientists and engineers]] scattered across the solar system with only one working interplanetary ship and no tech base to maintain their slowly failing equipment, with many [[DrivenToSuicide survivors killing themselves]] or going insane. The leaders on the largest base on the Moon plan to use a ''[[DeathWorld Venus]] lander'' to land on what remains of the Earth to try to salvage any machinery that survived the impact. [[spoiler: The story ends on a relatively positive note - the protagonist discovers StarfishAliens on Titan, who have the technology to maintain the survivor's tech base]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In ''Battlestar Galactica'', both the [[Series/BattlestarGalacticaClassic classic]] and [[Series/BattlestarGalacticaReimagined reimagined]] versions, most of the known survivors of the Colonial genocide are either crew members or passengers of various spaceships.
* ''Series/OdysseyFive'': The crew of the titular space shuttle see the Earth explode, and are [[SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong sent back in time to prevent it]].
** They were about to run out of air, when the alien arrived. So it was almost realistic.
* In an episode of ''Series/TheOuterLimits'', two opposing sides have moon bases. As tensions rise between the sides on Earth, suspicious actions rise tensions on the moon bases. Tensions rise to a peak on Earth, causing the two sides to annihilate each other. The last message expresses gratitude that the moon bases are intact. [[spoiler:Unfortunately, subverted as the moon bases destroyed each other]].
* In speculative documentaries like ''Series/LifeAfterPeople'', they'll sometimes talk about space stations but not any astronauts. The thought experiment is pretty much "What if all humans vanished tomorrow?" but they don't speculate how it would happen, so presumably it would affect the astronauts too.
* Carl Sagan's series ''Series/CosmosAPersonalVoyage'' has sort of a "dream sequence" thingy where Sagan comes back to Earth from traveling somewhere elsewhere in the Universe in his spaceship, and finds radio silence because everybody else died in a nuclear war.
* ''Franchise/TheFutureIsWild'' miniseries adaptation had all humans on Earth wiped out, but those in space surviving and their descendants sending the occasional probe back to EarthThatWas to see how the old neighborhood looks. [[SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale For two hundred million years]]. The original book just had the humans die off. This may have been a transatlantic difference: when shown in the UK, there wasn't any such FramingDevice.
* In a ResetButton episode of ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'', the crew of the NX-01 witnesses the destruction of Earth from their ship bridge's viewscreen. The evil aliens responsible for this are GenreSavvy enough to continue hunting down all off-world humans.
* This is the source of some major FridgeLogic behind the plot of ''Series/PowerRangersSPD''; the bad guys start off everything by wiping out the Sirian race (SixthRanger Doggie Cruger's race) supposedly by just destroying their home planet, leaving Doggie as the LastOfHisKind (until you find out [[spoiler:ThereIsAnother in the form of his thought-to-be-dead wife Aisynia]]). However, no mention of the baddies hunting down any Sirian colonies is made, and [[spoiler:Aisynia's survival]] makes a strong argument that they captured Sirians as prisoners of war/slaves. Unfortunately, this is never explored in either the series or the comic spin-off (which [[RetCon redid a lot of the events of the show's final episode]], anyway), meaning this trope creates an inverse InferredHolocaust for the series.
* In ''Series/DoctorWho'', this is the Doctor's justification for considering to fry the minds of everyone on Earth in "The Parting of the Ways" -- there will still be human colonies out there, and better a quick death than suffering at the hands of the Daleks.
* ''ComicStrip/BuckRogers'' experiences his "freak mishap" that sends his and his NASA spaceship out for a 500-year jog around the block, and conveniently misses the war that wrecks Earth. He comes back just as Earth is slowly rebuilding its society and helps them fend off new enemies and get their groove back.
* What little remains of the human race in ''Series/{{The 100}}'' is descended from astronauts who managed to avoid a nuclear Armageddon ninety-seven years earlier, due to being in various space stations at the time.
* The ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" applies this to an alien planet. The Enterprise picks up a fugitive from a racially-divided planet and later encounters a law enforcement official (of the other race) from the same planet. The law enforcement official brings the fugitive back to their planet on the Enterprise where they discover [[spoiler: the racial tensions of the planet erupted into a full blown race war which killed everyone else on the planet.]]

* The music video for Stuck In The Sound's [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52Gg9CqhbP8 Let's Go]] covers this.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' the apocalypse has happened, and every human still alive is either a genetic clone in Alpha Complex serving the Computer, or a primitive hunter-gatherer who lives Outside. Except for the [[spoiler:Australians]] who live on the Moon, very comfortably. They apparently try to send down a message once in a while to see if anyone's still alive.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}} Reign of Steel'', the [[AIIsACrapshoot Zoneminds]] who've enslaved humanity believe that Tranquility Base on the Moon has been destroyed. They're wrong.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Rifts}}'' has the ''Mutants in Orbit'' setting, which was written for another, somewhat similar, game, but has rules for adapting it to the Rifts setting. At the time of the [[ApocalypseHow Coming of the Rifts]], Earth had several populated satellites in Earth's orbit, as well as a Moon Base and a fledgling colony on Mars (though a mad scientist turned Mars into a world crawling with mutant BeePeople). The colonies were all just barely self-sufficient enough to survive being cut off from Earth, and banded together to place defenses around the planet to keep away all the strangeness they can faintly see going on down there. They survive through trade and mining the Asteroid Belt.
* In ''TabletopGame/EclipsePhase'', The Earth is destroyed by a nanite-fuled [[RobotWar robot apocalypse]] and most of humanity with it. All that remains are the people who are living on in orbital space stations and various colonies among the solar system, and the game is about these people and how they get on in the aftermath.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/BodyHarvest'' - Adam Drake and the scientists aboard the space station in 2016 are some of the last humans left alive after millennia of alien attackers chowing down on humanity, and only just barely manage to escape aboard an experimental time machine to prevent this.
* In ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsMX'' all the heroes manage to avoid being hit by the [[Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion Third Impact]] because they're on a far-off space colony (as in, a [[MobileSuitGundam Gundam-like]] colony).
* ''VideoGame/IHaveNoMouthAndIMustScream'' (the VideoGame version) involves the [[AIIsACrapshoot evil AI]] trying to ''find'' this last cache of humans hidden [[spoiler: on a moon base]] after everyone else on Earth except the protagonists have been eradicated.
* ''VideoGame/{{Ares}}'' begins with humanity's first interstellar expedition making FirstContact, after a decades-long voyage. Upon talking with these aliens, you learn that Earth is under new management since you left, owing to another, rather belligerent and powerful alien race. They're also unpopular with their neighbors, so you manage to wheedle some alien equipment out of them and retrofit the expedition to fight your way back to Earth and retake it.
* ''VideoGame/StarControl II'' has a broadly similar plot, except that you start the game off in a flying chunk of LostTechnology you've spent the last few years unearthing from the ruins of the {{Precursors}}. Also, most of the [[GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe Syreen]] who managed to survive the destruction of their own planet were members of the Syreen Space Patrol. They were also mostly female. Of the 10,000 or so survivors, only about 500 were male.
* ''VideoGame/MillenniumReturnToEarth'' is about a moon base whose inhabitants got to watch as an asteroid strike destroyed human life on Earth. They're now colonizing the solar system to try and fix things.
** Then you find out about a [[UsefulNotes/{{Mars}} Martian]] colony, which is hell-bent on destroying you for no reason in particular. The Martians are mutants, though.
** Also inverted at the end, after destroying the colony on Mars, you find out that [[spoiler:there's an entire Martian battlefleet heading your way]]. If it's your first playthrough, then this trope will be once again played straight, as your main base on the Moon will be destroyed, requiring re-population from outlying colonies. If not, then you can prepare.
* ''Planet's Edge'' is an RPG where an alien ship appears in Earth's orbit, is fired upon, and does ''something'' that cripples it but causes the planet to vanish. The moon's doing fine, but the moonbase is not self-sufficient, so off the heroes go to the stars with a salvaged hyperdrive.
* Horribly, horribly subverted by ''TwelveThirteen'': [[spoiler: a space station used to create clones for a [[WalkingTransplant different purpose altogether]] is saved when the human extinction event happens on Earth. The clones are retooled for exploration, but start dying of some sort of plague; the human scientists all either go insane, commit suicide, or are murdered when they discover that the world below is uninhabitable.]]
** In fact, the player doesn't even find out that this scenario is in place until very late in the game, [[spoiler: just after the very, very, ''very'' last hope for humanity is crushed. Unless you count a single human capable of surviving planetside but whose memory can't store more than a few day's worth of material as a result, who has had every possible candidate for guide or backer shot to death within the last 24 hours and who unthinkingly released a zombie apocalypse on what's left of the space station as "hope". But what's he going to ''do''?]]
* The basis of ''VideoGame/{{Homeworld}}''. You spend the first several missions testing the capabilities of your shiny new [[TheMothership Mothership]] before activating your Jump Drive for the first time. It isn't until after you finish your jump that you learn that [[spoiler:your ancestors signed a treaty promising never to use Hyperspace technology. Your civilization had long forgotten their previous AncientAstronauts origins. The Imperial Fleet your ancestors made a deal with has not.]]
* ''VideoGame/SidMeiersAlphaCentauri'' is sort of an example; by the time the colony ship reaches Chiron all contact with Earth has been lost, and the epilogues for the [[AssimilationPlot Transcendence]] endings include recolonization of Earth. It isn't made explicit what exactly happened, but it seems to be some combination of war and environmental collapse. Even if it's being metaphorical, [[GeniusLoci Planet]] seems to fear that it's let in what amounts to a new pathogen vector during its pre-[[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence ascendance]] "childhood." Given how [[VideoGameCrueltyPotential some gamers play]], that might not be so unreasonable.
-->You are the children of a dead planet, earthdeirdre, and this death we do not comprehend. We shall take you in, but may we ask this question--will we too catch the planetdeath disease?
** The intro actually shows multiple nuclear explosions, implying a nuclear war.
* ''VideoGame/RadiantSilvergun'' stars the only survivors of a planet-wide cataclysm that had occurred only a year prior. They had enough sense to stay off the surface after the fact, considering the entity that did it was still actively patrolling it. Unfortunately, they only had finite supplies to survive on, and the game picks up when that supply runs out.
* In the distant past of the ''VideoGame/{{X}}-Universe'', humanity was engaged in a [[HopelessWar fight for survival]] against the [[GreyGoo self-replicating]] terraformers it had created, which [[AIIsACrapshoot then went haywire]]. One Nathan R Gunne led a feint intended to trick the "terraformers" into leaving Sol, then destroying the [[PortalNetwork jumpgate]] [[LostColony behind them]]. Gunne survived the engagement, but his ship was disabled and crashed on a habitable planet. The surviving crew assumed the gambit had failed and they were the only remaining humans. They attempted to rebuild society, renaming themselves "Argon" in honor of their commander after his death. The Argon find out otherwise when Kyle Brennan, an [[PlanetTerra Earth State]] test pilot, [[BlindJump suffered a malfunction in his experimental jumpdrive]], stranding him in the X-Universe gate system in ''Videogame/XBeyondTheFrontier''.
* ''Videogame/AlienLegacy'' has multiple instances:
** The [[AllInTheManual backstory]] is that Earth is losing a war against AbsoluteXenophobe Centaurians and is sending out colony ships to remote systems with orders to maintain communication silence and assume Earth and all other ships are lost. You command one such ship, Calypso.
** The last messages indicate the destruction of the last Earth fleet and all off-planet installations and preparations for the LastStand. There are no survivors in the Solar system.
** The colony ship Tantalus was launched later, but [[LightspeedLeapfrog arrived some 21 years before Calypso]], though you see no traces of it. At least, [[LateToTheTragedy not at first]]. [[spoiler:Later it's revealed that colonists on habitable planets were [[DeathWorld killed by local animals]]. Created by the same xenophobic race who created Centaurians and remote-controlled from an automated seedship. For other planets see below.]]
** If you abandon colonies on Earth-like planets Gaia and Rhea, your people on other planets and orbital stations start to die slowly. Due to the damage done by [[HumanPopsicle cold sleep]] chemicals, Calypso passengers and crew now need some anti-toxins that can only be harvested on Earth-like planets. It is never mentioned whether Tantalus faced the same problem or if they used more advanced cryo-storage process.
** Later in the game you find ruined human colonies on most planets. Most of them survived destruction of colonies on Rhea and Gaia, tried to live on, to wait until Calypso arrival or to fly to meet Callypso, but everybody were DrivenToSuicide or got killed in seemingly random accidents. The last human died a year before your arrival. It is speculated that they could have survived if Tantalus wasn't dismantled, [[spoiler:and they didn't loose most of their fleet fighting the seedship. At least they managed to destroy the seedship defences.]]
** In the best game ending you get [[spoiler:[[FasterThanLightTravel FTL drive]], powerful alien allies, [[CursedWithAwesome near-immortality]], telepathy, "[[EverythingSensor transcendental radiation]]"]] and are ready to spread to other systems and take the war to Centaurians. Thus the trope is ultimately played straight.
* All of the Ronso in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'' were killed except for the ones not at their homeland. (Like the Blitzball Team)
* The final entry into the ''VideoGame/NaziZombies'' story for ''VideoGame/CallofDutyBlackOps'' culminates in the [[spoiler:destruction of the Earth by nukes filled with Element 115]], thanks to the combined efforts of [[BigGood Maxis]] and [[BadassCrew Takeo, Dempsey, Nikolai, and Samantha]] to stop [[BigBad Richtofen]]. However, in ''VideoGame/CallofDutyBlackOps2'', the story moves to the adventures of another group of survivors on the destroyed Earth, coping with the [[ZombieApocalypse aftermath]]; leaving us to wonder what happened to the four who got stranded on the Moon after the missiles hit.
* ''VideoGame/SaintsRowIV'' has the Boss and crew as the only free humans (of a few thousand, imprisoned in tanks) to survive the destruction of earth, as they had been abducted by the very aliens who destroyed the planet.
* The BadFuture of ''VideoGame/MissionCritical'' reveals that this will be the final solution of the [[UnitedNationsIsASuperPower UN]] in their losing war against the [[EnergyBeing ELFs]]. As the [=ELFs=] are destroying the last human fortresses on Earth (the colonies having been already destroyed), the UN leadership activates the Tal-Seto Collapser, a DoomsdayDevice that starts an irreversible process that will result in the complete destruction of all star systems in the [[HyperspaceLanes Tal-Seto network]]. A number of years prior to that, they sent a slower-than-light ship to a star system not on the network, ensuring that humanity will survive the collapse. When asked by the PlayerCharacter why the [=ELFs=] don't do the same, they reply that it is far too late for any STL ship launched now to reach a safe distance before the event. Their only hope is sending you back to before the game and altering the entire course of history.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In the [[http://everything2.com/title/Ed+stories Ed stories]] on EverythingTwo, the only things to survive in the Andromeda Galaxy were those making a hyperspace jump the instant things went wrong.
* [[http://everything2.com/index.pl?node=Valuable+Humans+in+Transit Valuable Humans in Transit]], also on E2, mentions extracting the plane travellers and spacemen along with the rest.
* ''Wiki/SCPFoundation'':** The only people who survive in the world accessed through [[http://scp-wiki.wikidot.com/scp-093 SCP-093]] are the higher ups who go into space. They're now waiting for the world to be purified.
** Most of the plans of XK End of the World Scenarios have the only survivors being on the Moon-base as an ''optimistic'' prospects.
* NineteenEightyThreeDoomsday includes an article on the plight of the two-man crew of the Soyuz T-9 mission.

* Happens big time in ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'', when Torg and Aylee visit another dimension. The entire face of the planet has been overrun by "wraiths." The only people left alive are those aboard space stations at the time. Luckily, that universe had a far more extensive space program than our own.
* The reader finds out that not all humans died when World War IV changed the world of the ''Webcomic/BladeOfToshubi''. There are four arks of humans in orbit waiting for the nano-virus to reach safe levels to return.
* Happens in [[http://pbfcomics.com/?cid=PBF034-Space_Disaster.jpg this]] ''Webcomic/ThePerryBibleFellowship'' comic.
* TGSA has a BlackComedy strip that follows this. [[http://www.tgsa-comic.com/view.php?page=2009-05-04]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' averts this. The [[RubberForeheadAliens trolls]]' home planet has been destroyed by meteors, but there are vast troll armies all around the galaxy. But an EldritchAbomination that happens to live on the homeworld is killed, and its dying scream sends out a [[BrownNote psychic shockwave]] that finishes the job.
** Would've been justified otherwise; the trolls can't reproduce without the help of a mother grub, all of which were killed when Alternia was destroyed.
** There is one exception. One troll, [[spoiler: [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen Her Imperious Condescension]], who is off in a spaceship conquering distant civilizations, survives the psychic attack due to being the only one with the same blood color as said eldritch abomination.]]
** Averted rather spectacularly with humanity too; [[spoiler: the newly prototyped Bec blows up Jade's meteor, which causes a massive explosion that eradicates basically EVERYTHING except some shells of structures.]]
** And in the Beta-Scratch universe, [[spoiler: If there were any astronauts, they would be long dead from said I.C. bitch's slow brain poisoning from the ridiculous levels of propaganda and nega-reform. Long story short, she took over Earth in this universe and ground it into EldritchAbomination feed because she hated HUMAN SEX.]]
* Averted in ''[[http://rtd.vitenka.com/Rtd1/ Rework the Dead]]'' the astronauts manning a KillSat ran out of oxygen a week after the ZombieApocalypse started and the horde swarms all the spaceports. Though there are some survivors still on the surface.
* In the ''Webcomic/{{Katamari}}'' webcomic, the [[AliensStealCattle Cow-Loving Aliens]] were actually away from their home planet like when disaster struck. Other survivors managed to escape into space, and they were gathering them up before coming across earth. [[spoiler:And since they're cow-like aliens, they got a little confused...]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'' episode "In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela" combines this with a twist on the classic Adam and Eve plot...but seems to forget its own canon that humans have colonized numerous other planets in the universe, such as Mars.
** Could lead to FridgeBrilliance when you take into account that Leela was dehydrated and gullible at the time and Zapp [[spoiler:actually rigged the whole thing to make it seem like they were Adam and Eve in a strange planet and their world was destroyed (truth is it was EarthAllAlong) so she could even think about having sex with him.]]
* In one ''WesternAnimation/SuperFriends'' episode, a villain managed to take over the world by turning it into a stone-age version of itself, but it didn't affect Skylab. Skylab's technology becomes pivotal in foiling the villain's plans.
* In the first season finale of ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'', Vandal Savage changes history by sending information to himself in the past, and the only people unaffected when the DelayedRippleEffect kicks in are a group of the Leaguers in Earth orbit. (Although it's not being out in space that protects them -- the ripple reaches them and keeps going -- they're all travelling in a bubble projected by Comicbook/GreenLantern's [[GreenLanternRing ring]], which protects them somehow.)
* The history series ''Once Upon A Time Man'' ends with a possible dystopic future of Earth that descends into environmental collapse, massive world hunger and is finally devastated by nuclear war. However, this time also has considerable advances in space travel to have off planet self-sustaining orbital settlements and while they regret having to wait for potentially generations before Earth is habitable again, they are happy enough in space in the meantime.
* ''WesternAnimation/HighlanderTheAnimatedSeries'' has two episodes where people who left Earth before the asteroid impact that devastated the world come back. In one a space station crew who were in cryosleep are thawed out, in another one of the immortals who decided to take off and explore the galaxy comes back.