Apocalypse How / Class 3b
Planetary-scale Extinction of the dominant Species on the planet, via natural
causes — things like ice ages, asteroid strikes, and (non-engineered) diseases or viruses.
Anime and Manga
- In the Read or Die OVA, the villain plans to play Beethoven's lost "Death Symphony" worldwide to wipe out the human race via induced suicide.
- In Rave Master, it's revealed that this happened to the world some time ago, and Lucia's ancestor used Star Memory to create a world where humanity never died out. Endless basically exists because this world shouldn't, and it's his job to destroy it. And the Raregrooves are Cosmic Playthings as a punishment for saying Screw Destiny.
- A.I. has every human die in an ice age; the "survivors" are robots who evolved into a new lifeform.
- In Eva by Peter Dickinson, just about everything is done by machines, various animal species have gone extinct, and humanity has basically gotten bored with living. So huge numbers of people just commit suicide, and the titular main character, who inhabits the body of a chimpanzee after an accident left her original body paralyzed, is left alone with the monkeys.
- In Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk is a short story called "Obsolete." In it, humans have discovered that souls that die on Earth appear on Venus, which is heaven. However, as long as people are still alive on Earth, souls will return to them. So the governments do the only logical thing to do in a Chuck Palahniuk novel and order everyone to commit suicide or be murdered so everyone gets to go to paradise. The protagonist are teenage Goth kids who rebel the only way left: not committing suicide.
- Frank Herbert's novel The White Plague reversed the usual pattern of wiping out males, using an engineered virus to wipe out most of the females on the planet, except for those who were isolated at the start of the outbreak.
- In Greg Egan's novel Diaspora, most humans have been voluntarily converted to software, beginning around 2065.
- In Vernor Vinge's Marooned In Realtime, we find that anyone not in stasis vanished circa 2204. Many hypotheses are raised, without resolution by the author.
- Towards the end of the 54-book Animorphs series, the Andalite military thinks that the only way to stop the Yeerk invasion of Earth is to release a quantum virus that will kill all humans on the planet.
- Dougal Dixon's After Man Handwaves the natural extinction of Homo sapiens, describing species which exist on Earth 50 million years later.
- The World Without Us is a thought experiment that theorizes about what would happen if all humans just vanished overnight, leaving everything else unaffected.
- The documentary series The Future is Wild proposes what life on Earth might look like if humanity is no longer a factor in 5 million, 100 million, and 200 million year increments. The lack of humanity is merely a MacGuffin; nothing is mentioned about how or why humanity might go. The Discovery Channel broadcast Bowdlerised it by saying mankind had simply abandoned the world, and was sending a probe every couple of eons to check on the Earth's progress.
- In The Lord of the Rings - for everything except humans (Ent, Hobbits, Orcs etc).
- Dan Simmons' Ilium duology has only a handful of "normal" humans left on Earth after the Final Fax, the rest having turned into Posthumans living on/in a a series of ring-shaped space stations orbiting Earth. If you're wondering what the Final Fax was, why there are any humans left, or who the Posthumans are...well, this is Ilium we're talking about.
- Kate Wilhelm's Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang shows the human race, as well as many/most animal species, dying off from a combination of disease, starvation, and infertility. A small group of humans and domesticated animals survive because of the development of cloning technology.
- Sharon Cameron's Rook is set a few generations after wandering magnetic poles and solar flares caused a technological apocalypse.
- The Outer Limits (1995):
- In the episode "Resurrection", humanity is extinct, but surviving androids create two new humans from preserved DNA as an Adam and Eve Plot to give us a second chance. Of course, "only one mating pair" equals Artistic License – Biology, but still satisfying, as it subverted the series's Mandatory Twist Ending.
- In another episode, aliens slingshot several people forward in time to an abandoned Earth. They discover that biological warfare rendered all human females infertile. Stuck in the future, the survivors mope about how humanity's still extinct (there are only five of them)... until they find one more piece of alien technology that proceeds to read their DNA, scramble it for maximum diversity, and create dozens of infants. Humanity gets another shot.
- The backstory of Deepwater Black is that the entire human population is wiped out by a deadly virus. The only thing they could do about it was to send out a ship to be piloted by clones and stocked with DNA of a large amount of people to leave Earth and apparently come back when the virus is all gone.
- While Life After People deliberately avoids stating how the Earth's population vanishes, the lack of corpses and the pristine condition of human structures at each episode's beginning implies that it wasn't our own doing: any Class 3a extinction achievable with present-day methods would've been a lot messier.
- In one Babylon 5 episode, the entire Markab race is wiped out by a deadly virus confined to their species, spread from their homeworld to all their colonies. This was due to their belief that the disease only befell those who acted dishonourably, and thus all of them refused to believe they had it - making any quarantine meaningless.
- Could actually be a Stealth Class 3a, as it's at least implied that the plague's role in taking out one of the few races with useful information on how to resist the Shadows, was not a coincidence.
- Subverted by Doctor Who (and the only category on this page that the show doesn't really fall into): the human race is explicitly stated, on several occasions (most recently "Utopia") to live to the end of the universe, come hell, high-water, or solar flare. Canonically, the is made uninhabitable at least once in the middle-future, but not so near to the present as to make ColonyShips and the like impossible.
- Cassandra in "The End of the World" is stated to be the "last living human" (and she promptly dies in "New Earth", the kind-of-sequel), but it's more Fantastic Racism and a screed against plastic surgery (as Cassandra is literally skin stretched into a frame).
- There are, of course, several examples in Doctor Who of nonhuman sentient races that have gone extinct by natural means. Humans in that Verse have also abandoned Earth for space in the wake of natural disasters, leaving us at least locally extinct there.
- In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Dear Doctor," Doctor Phlox discovers that the Valakians are dying not from a plague as they had thought, but a genetic deterioration. He extrapolates that the entire species will be extinct by the twenty-fourth century. Phlox and Captain Archer concur that they should not help the Valakians because it would "interfere with nature."
- Despite the violence of the setting, some planets that die in Warhammer 40,000 do so in relatively natural ways, such as being consumed by warp storms and more mundane types such as massive famine from climate change and random asteroids.
- The entire plot of Fragile Dreams, where almost all humans are dead as a result of the failure of the "Glass Cage Experiment," intended to make language unnecessary and eliminate conflict by giving humans the ability to empathize with others' thoughts and emotions. When it was first activated on a large scale, everyone went to sleep...and did not wake up. The Big Bad, Shin, now a ghost, is still trying to re-activate the experiment, which will eliminate any survivors.
- In The Talos Principle, all of humanity has been killed off by a million+ year old virus released from the melting permafrost of Siberia, due to global climate change. You are an AI whose purpose is to complete the trials set before you, defy Elohim, and become the start of the newest form of intelligent life to inhabit the earth.
- Winning a round of Plague Inc with any pathogen other than the nanovirus or bioweapon could qualify as this if you ascribe to the idea that geneticists aren't manipulating its DNA/RNA/protein folding as it infects and kills the human race.
- Resident Cloudcuckoolander Karl Pilkington of The Ricky Gervais Show thinks humanity will go this route because people will get so ugly that no one will want to have sex anymore.
- The backstory of Edict Zero Fis states that this happened to "Old Earth." The only humans to survive were the ones in spaceships en route to the planet that would come to be known as "Edict Zero."
- Extrapolating current demographic trends, humans might do this due to falling birth rates everywhere. Mind you it would take several centuries even at low rates, and demographics tend to not be reliably extrapolatable.
- There is no danger of this happening at all for the foreseeable future, the planets population is actually growing at such an alarming rate that there is a real concern that there will be too many people for the planet to support within the next century.
- Some areas are below the replacement rate, but it's worth remembering that that's just an average essentially stating that overall births are currently below overall deaths in those areas. Your population will shrink down to where births equal or exceed deaths again over time.
- The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT) professes that humanity should render itself extinct, not by violence, but by refusing to reproduce. Advocates admit that this goal is an ideal rather than any realistic expectation for the future, but still encourage people to refrain from breeding on environmental grounds.