This is a plot where the remainders of a group, especially an entire race, must be protected from extinction. Occasionally, the final two actually do perish, but not before producing offspring who repopulate the species.
This, of course, ignores real population genetics, where a certain minimum number of genetically divergent (i.e. unrelated) individuals are needed in a gene pool to maintain a healthy genetic diversity over the generations. For humans it is an estimated 497 individuals (no joke) although 1,000+ is to be preferred. The general rule of thumb is the "50/500" guideline — that a population founded by 50 genetically diverse humans in isolation would last about 2,000 years before inbreeding did them in, while 500 or more stand a chance of lasting indefinitely so long as all of them reproduce and no major disasters wipe out a significant part of the gene pool during that time (although as with everything else involving genetics, this is a gross oversimplification and varies greatly with the conditions encountered). You usually won't find this in direct siblings. More casually, this results in the unspoken implication that said newly propagated species does not have a problem with incest. This rarely comes up.
In particularly anvilicious scenarios, the two survivors who rebirth their species will actually be named "Adam" and "Eve", or some fairly obvious variations on those names. This is sometimes called a Shaggy God Story.
Literary note: the "Adam and Eve" plot is mentioned (in a bad way) in many articles and books on writing science fiction stories. Apparently it was, for many years, one the most over-used twist endings in the badly written stories that make up the editors' mountainous "slush pile" of wasted efforts - in fact, many editors would reject stories with this twist on sight.
Usually found coupled with a New Eden; if some manner of vehicle or protective capsule is employed, this becomes an Ark or a City in a Bottle. Often the end result of Earth All Along. May overlap with Ancient Astronauts and/or lead to Advanced Ancient Humans. Related to Last of His Kind. Sister trope of Only You Can Repopulate My Race. Not to be confused with Coitus Ensues.
See also Babies Ever After.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
In Eureka Seven movie ending, Renton and Eureka became that very symbolic couple after Earth was flooded. Eureka was reborn relying on Renton's survival, memories and dreams, in a way similar to Eve being born from Adam's ribs.
In Megazone 23 Part I, the character Eve is introduced as a mysterious idol and Megazone is revealed to be a City in a Bottle. In Part 2, Eve explains that she has taken it upon herself to hand-pick a worthy remnant who will survive after the superweapon A.D.A.M. destroys the Megazone, and hopefully make it safely by ark to the regenerated Earth where they can begin repopulating it.
Subverted in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya: After Haruhi starts splitting off another dimension containing (at the moment) only Kyon and herself, Itsuki temporarily appears from the original world and jokes that Kyon and Haruhi could be the new Adam and Eve and populate the world (above). Kyon is not amused. They wouldn't have been alone for long, though.
Neon Genesis Evangelion puts a massively violent spin on the original tale of Adam and Eve, and at the conclusion of the last Evangelion movie, End of Evangelion, it's implied that Shinji and Asuka are left as the only two surviving humans on an utterly transformed and devastated Earth. The first thing Shinji does upon encountering Asuka is try to strangle her — hardly the sort of behavior conducive to the continuation of the species.
Most likely subverted, as it's said during the Instrumentality that the rest of the humans will join Shinji and Asuka in the new world if they wish it in their hearts.
Another parallel to the story: Rei was possibly alive after Instrumentality took place, making her the Lilith to Shinji's Adam.
Don't even get me started on the Eva's namesake and origin story.
The Gall Force: Eternal StoryOVA focuses around a crew of a space ship consisting of a One Gender Race named the Solonoids who are escaping pursuit from both their own military government and the Paranoids, an enemy alien race. One character character is absorbed into an alien gelatinous mass, she ends up becoming pregnant via a Face Full Of Alien Wingwong. She later, and rather quickly, gives birth to the first male. The boy and one girl end up being the last two survivors by the end, and go on to produce the entire human race.
Subverted in the manga Eden: It's an Endless World!, where, After the End, two teenagers, Ennoia and Hana, think they're the last people alive. They've both been thinking about the inevitable a lot. After a heartfelt discussion on the matter, they decide to stay in "our Eden", but Ennoia decides that they "don't have to live our lives according to mythology. And that means when we have kids, we don't have to name them 'Cain' or 'Abel', either." As it turns out, they aren't the last people alive, but they might as well be; Most of the remaining population, which is already ridiculously minuscule, has The Virus.
This makes up roughly the first third of the sixth volume of Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix manga, Nostalgia. And while the genetic difficulties are addressed, eventually the problem is resolved when the race of aliens capable of taking on any form send a representative on the behalf of the Phoenix. This crossbreeding creates a new species of half human, half moopie.
Seen in the last page of the Narutaru manga, with Shiina's daughter and Kuri's son, playing on the beach where the series started. It's unclear as to whether their mothers are still alive.
In the manga Beautiful People by Mitsukazu Mihara, only two people seem to have survived in Japan (and maybe the world) because they accidentally trapped themselves in a bunker for one week while civilization ended. The bomb just killed living beings on the outside without damaging other objects, so they can loot canned food and survive easily for a while. Hopes for them to re-populate the world are... low, as one is a gay man and the other is a lesbian woman... oops.
Completely averted in Dragon Ball where in Online, you find out that the last survivors of the Saiyajin race, Vegeta and Goku, were unable to rebuild the Saiyajin life through interbreeding with humans. Saiyajin are now extinct.
Played straight, though, in that somehow Fat Buu was able to produce an entire race of beings from just himself. And seeing as he was a creature created out of pure magic in the first place, that doesn't seem very unlikely. He probably just split into multiple pieces and let them become separate beings instead of reforming. Specifically, he read one of Mr. Satan's adult books, and through it wanted to experience love. So he ended up creating his wife (the aptly named Booby), and then hit her with a love beam, thus causing her to be impregnated with a child. And apparently over the span of a few centuries, this occurred so much it lead to the creation of an entire race. Majins must have a lot of free time on their hands.
Inverted in Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie, where Robotnik wants to cause the extinction of humanity, except for himself and Sara, so they can get married, have children, and live out their days on an empty planet. Sara responds by attacking Robotnik.
Yuji and Marlene in Blue Gender eventually find themselves in this role, even though they weren't the last remaining humans on Earth.
Which may be why marriage between cousins was legal in Silver Age Krypton as Kal-El creepily mentions to Kara once in a discussion that very lightly hits on this topic (they would be Adam and Eve if they weren't content with letting the species die with them).
Lampshaded on Post-IC Daxam. While the entire Daxamite race descends from Kryptonian explorers and the original, native Aboriginal Daxamite, the whole intermingling is summarized by a single, telltale meeting: a young, male Daxamite inviting a young, sexy Aboriginal Daxamite to join him in "their beutiful new home". Despite speaking nothing but the Language of Love, the couple, and by proxy their two races, elope in the current, Daxamite race.
A sinister twist on this plot is given in an EC Comics story about the aftermath of a nuclear war. The male protagonist spends the story searching for other life, wondering if there's anyone left, only to find a woman with whom he suspects he could repopulate the Earth. That is, until he learns that the woman is his sister. What happens next is left to the imagination.
There's one story in the short lived Weird Science comic series ("A New Beginning" from issue 22) where a man and a woman from the distant future end up becoming Adam and Eve after their time machine leaves them stranded in the past.
In one of the later ElfQuest stories, a small family of trolls find themselves stranded in a country where there are no other trolls. Flash forward a few thousand years and there are lots of trolls running around. Incest is hinted at but never stated outright.
For that matter, if we go by the story How Shall I Keep From Singing, it appears that all elves are descendant from a total of eight High Ones (and one wolf). The "no problem with inbreeding" can probably be explained with Recognition weeding out genetic defects.
One or two of the prose stories in the Blood of Ten Chiefs anthologies do name other High Ones that don't appear in How Shall I Keep From Singing, although the total population still wasn't very big.
Averted in Y: The Last Man: While Yorick wants to do this with his girlfriend Beth, it's pointed out that it would be impossible to do so with just two people. In the end, a combination of Adams, eves, and cloning help bring the human race back.
In a magazine cartoon that allows you to recreate the circumstances of the time (even if you know very little about the 60's) the two survivors of an atomic war are a black man and a black woman. The man is saying to the woman "I'm sure Senator Russell would be pleased that the last two people on Earth are not only Americans, but from Georgia!"
Rio, the other Adam and Eve-plotted film of 2010-11 is about a blue parrot who goes on a great journey to find the other last one of his kind.
The now-canceled Pixar animated film Newt, about the last male and female blue-footed newts on Earth forced to mate to continue the species, even though they don't quite like each other to begin with. It was cancelled to avoid Dueling Movies with the above two.
Subverted in Ice Age 2: Manny and Ellie think they are the last mammoths on Earth, when in fact a whole colony still exists (later seen in the film). However, the pool is probably very small, seeing as mammoths eventually did go extinct.
Jim Henson and Frank Oz's The Dark Crystal has Jen and Kira, who both thought they were the last Gelfling until they met the other. And since Gelflings can now live in peace after the Skeksis and Mystics join bodies, they obviously will end up repopulating the Gelfling species.
Star Trek IV The Voyage Home uses the animal version of this trope. This is a bit of a Double Subversion, as the animals actually do go extinct, but Time Travel rectifies the situation by bringing back the tropal two. Also, they aren't being brought forward to breed per se but to convince an alien probe not to destroy Earth. The novelization acknowledges that two (or three) individuals aren't enough to repopulate a species, so 23rd-century scientists are going to clone additional whales from cell samples preserved before the species was wiped out. (It's said that they couldn't have restored the species just by cloning, because humpback whales have enough learned behavior that they wouldn't be able to survive without someone to teach them.)
A rather disturbing variant occurs in 28 Days Later. It's left unclear whether the leader of surviving military members at the end of the film actually believes they can repopulate the Earth (or just Britain) with the two female survivors they have left, expects to capture more women, or simply decides to keep them to placate his unit while they wait for the end.
The more practical variant (about a dozen Adams and Eves) is brought up in The Matrix sequels when Neo learns that the true purpose of The One is to select 21 women and 7 men who will repopulate Zion after the machines destroy it. The machines know this will work since they're Dangerously Genre Savvy (oh, and because they've done it five times before).
Not to mention that unplugging humans out of the Matrix is their main means of increasing their numbers. Why wait for babies to grow up when there are billions of adults ready to harvest?
This was actually the initial plan in the original Planet of the Apes. It was scrapped when the only female crew member was killed in the crash landing.
In the 2001 remake, all humans on Ashlar (the name of the planet is given in comics) are descended from the crew of the crashed Oberon, which happened over 3000 years before. The ship doesn't look big enough to contain enough humans to sustain a population for that long, especially on a world populated by hostile insectoids and dinosaurs that even the well-organized simians have trouble dealing with.
The plot of the second Eddie MurphyDr Dolittle film revolves around saving a forest from a logging company by getting the native female of a species of bear on the verge of extinction to mate with the only male bear of the same species that could be found. When Dolittle earlier argues that having an endangered bear in the forest should be enough to protect it, he is told that since there is only the one, the species would die out anyway. By that rationale, even getting another bear to mate should be useless for protecting the forest, since there is no way a single mating pair would be viable for saving the species.
Knowingends with aliens/angels removing a number of child pairings from the doomed Earth in order to allow humanity to survive on another planet. Slightly subverted in that the angels/aliens actually understand genetics and so have taken far more than one 'breeding pair' but the idea is still there.
Star Quest II Aliens using humans to breed alien/human hybrid to preserve the former's species in some form. Problem: the only actually get one couple at the end, the others on the spce ship having been killed.
Will Ferguson's novel Happiness (tm) mentions this phenomenon from an editor's perspective.
A Damon Knight short story had two survivors of a biological war, one being an infirm pilot who barely survived the plague and the other being a nurse who had a natural immunity. The repopulating never happens, because she is a very moral woman and they're not married. (And where are they going to find a priest?) The pilot eventually dies, because he has an attack of the sickness in the one place she would never follow him: The men's bathroom.
Not With A Bang also directly addresses the incest issue - namely, the Adam finds his Eve so annoying he plans to leave her for their first daughter. On the other hand, the story never precludes the possibility that more successful Adam And Eve Plots happened.
Played in Animorphs, the book "The Change." There are several Adam and Eve references to Jara Hamee and Ket Halpak, the first two free Hork-Bajir since the Yeerks enslaved them.
Subverted in "The Silent Towns". A man wakes up to find that he's been left on Mars by accident after most of the Martian colony has gone back to Earth. He begins dialing phone numbers in a desperate attempt for human contact and manages get in touch with a woman, who he begins to fall in love with (based on their brief phone conversation). When they finally meet, he finds her obnoxious and decides he'd prefer a life of isolation.
The final story plays the trope fairly straight though, although it leaves it open whether or not "Adam and Eve" will actually meet up (and the human race will continue).
In Orson Scott Card's Homecoming series, sixteen people (only four of whom had no genetic connection to someone else in the group) from the planet Harmony were selected to return to Earth and re-establish the human population. It was established that since the Oversoul (the supercomputer that had been running the planet for millennia) had been running a breeding program for just this situation, any recessive traits that would pop up in such a closed population had been bred out of them (it was also revealed that Harmony was not the only such human-populated planet, nor was it the first to return to Earth).
There was a "short short story" that started to set up this trope in the style of the Twilight Zone episode mentioned above... then Adam was accidentally castrated.
Subverted in a completely different way from all of the above by Larry Niven's short story "What Can You Say About Chocolate Coated Manhole Covers?" The story begins with the main characters at a party having a fun conversation. They speculate on how the Adam and Eve legend could work in real life, purely as an intellectual exercise. They conclude, for the obvious reasons, that one pair could not populate an entire planet. They come up with an elaborate scheme based on Real Life stock breeding techniques, involving many pairs and small groups that are isolated from each other by geography. Then... an alien kidnaps the protagonists, strands them on a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri, and tells them that they've just figured out the aliens' secret plan for breeding an 'improved' form of human being.
Parodied in a Harlan Ellison short-short story, "The Voice in the Garden" where two humans who are sole survivors of some sort meet each other and decide to do this. The woman is of course named Eve, and the man... George.
In one of Michael Swanwick's "element" short-shorts, an experiment creates a new universe populated by one man and one woman. The man's name is Adam, so naturally the woman takes a new name... Jennifer.
In Meredith Ann Pierce's The Firebringer Trilogy, four hundred years before the books begin, the unicorns' princess and warleader sends four scouts out to seek verification of claims being made by wyverns who want to emigrate to the same territory as the unicorns. Quite some time after the scouts leave, one comes stumbling back with the news the four were sent to get, and notes that one of their companions died along the way. The other two were kept as hostages. Fast-forward four hundred years to the travels of Jan, the books' main character, and when he reaches that part of the world what does he find but a small, well-protected herd of unicorns who all look very much like the descendants of the last two scouts. And yes, the incest factor is acknowledged. There's also the implication that these unicorns wouldn't have survived to breed to these numbers if they hadn't had the protection of powerful dragons.
Xanth has numerous examples of this trope with novel types of crossbreeds. Typically, it starts with one crossbreed looking for another of his/her kind to mate with. Somehow, he/she finds one, and then a few books later their child goes on a similar quest.
Toyed with the the first novel. After doing research in Castle Roogna, Trent is the first person to realize that even though there are plenty of humans around, without fresh blood the omnipresence of magic will eventually lead to humanity's extinction. They will keep producing more crossbreeds, or just plain mutate from too much magic (Humphrey is implied to be on his way to becoming this). As inconvenient as the sporadic invasions from Mundania are, they provide fresh, non-magical genetic stock for humanity.
Averted in "Rescue Run", one of Anne McCaffrey's short stories, by the handful of colonists left alive on the Southern Continent of Pern. Convinced that all other humans have been wiped out by Threadfall, domineering jerkass Kimmer forces marriage on the sole remaining female in his group, then refuses to allow any further breeding due to the limited gene pool.
In The Magician's Nephew, Aslan appoints a London cabby and his wife to be Narnia's first king and queen, as well as its first (and only) human inhabitants. Incest issues are averted when their kids grow up to marry wood nymphs and other spirits. This eventually dilutes their bloodline to a point where, when the White Witch returns to conquer Narnia, there's apparently no one left in Narnia who's human enough to contest her claim. After a time, Aslan sends the Pevensie children to do so.
However, Narnia has a sister country in their ally of Archenland, which was fully populated by humans. Also, the subornate island nations, and the southern enemy nation of Calormene. There's not much explanation for how these people got there, though it might have been similar to how the Telmarenes showed up. C. S. Lewis didn't expect to write more than the first book, until popular demand had him go back and expand the world.
According to CS Lewis' official timeline for the history of Narnia, the first humans - as well as intermarrying with Narnian nymphs and dryads and stars and the like - also quickly spread out within a handful of generations to colonise the until-then mostly barren neighbouring lands of Archenland and Calormene. All the part-humans in those three lands could trace their heritage back to the very first humans to enter Narnia (Frank and his wife). The Telmarines, by contrast, were pirates shipwrecked on an island who accidentally crossed over to a land bordering Narnia, established themselves there as the Kingdom of Telmar, and invaded Narnia shortly after the Pevensies left at the end of TLTW&TW.
Another classic subversion is "Adam and No Eve" by Alfred Bester, in which the protagonist would be happy to fulfill the plot, but no woman is available. At the end of the story he drowns himself so that his bacteria will survive in the ocean and hopefully evolve into a new sentient species one day—needing no Adam and no Eve.
Stephen Baxter's The Time Ships: an expedition from an alternative Great Britain becomes stranded in the deep past after an attack from a time-traveling bomber from their enemies in their own time. They survive, and the protagonist gets to watch them rise from a tiny tribe to a space-traveling civilization as he travels in time, a sequence which is rather unpleasantly like watching mold conquer a petri dish.
Z For Zachariah: Anne imagines this with Mr Loomis since they are, or so she believes, the last survivors in America and possibly the whole world following a nuclear war. Turns out he was way ahead of her, leading to Attempted Rape and causing her to run away from him, which forms the catalyst for the ending of the book.
Olaf Stapledon's future history novel Last and First Men has at one point the entire mankind reduced to roughly a dozen individuals. They manage to repopulate the Earth with apparently no catastrophic effects from inbreeding. (Then again, the end result is a whole new species of humanity, albeit a better species in many ways.)
Is C. S. Lewis' Perelandra too obvious? It's another planet's version of Adam and Eve, but they still live in paradise and a world without sin or suffering.
A mild case occurs in Mikhail Akhmanov's Arrivals From The Dark series, where an alien race purchases a pair of eagles for their collection and releases them to roam on one of their preserve worlds (they live in orbital habitats). A century later, the eagles number in the hundreds and have adapted to the new world. This happens again, when another pair of eagles are taken from this world to a remote human colony on a world with a much harsher, colder climate. Despite this, the eagles once again increase their numbers and thrive.
Andrey Livadny's novel Ark is set aboard a Moon-sized (literally; it's actually the hollowed-out Moon with engines attached) Generation Ship sent a long time ago from Earth to find and collect alien life and put them in specially-adapted habitats. A catastrophe kills the command crew and forces the rest of the humans to live in one of the habitats, leaving the ship's AI to fly the damaged craft. Over time, the humans regress to near-Medieval state and forget their origins. At the end of the novel, the Ark crash-lands into the sea on a habitable world orbiting a yellow dwarf, and the first person out is an old shepherd named Noah. How the ship ended up in the past is not explained. It is also not clear what happened to the aliens on-board.
The post-apocalyptic story "Mecanoscript" ends with the creepy variant that the Adam-character dies, and the Eve-character wondering if she would live long enough to have her infant son grow up and have children with him, and a footnote stating that the entire story is a historical document.
With all the religious symbolism that shows up in Greg Egan's Permutation City, it's only fitting that it should end with Paul and Maria setting off together into their own newly-created universe.
In His Dark Materials Lyra and Will end up being this at the end to ensure that Dust continues to flow down and into the worlds. Phillip Pullman even goes further with it and creates a serpent out of Mary Malone and a garden of Eden type world.
In Bob Shaw's short story Call Me Dumbo, a family live in an isolated cottage, but it turns out that the parents were the sole survivors of a spaceship crash, and the mother was originally a man on whom the father performed a non-consensual sex change operation and suppressed his/her memory using drugs.
The ending of Invitation To The Game has the characters conclude that the eponymous Game's purpose is to train them as colonists for a new planet. However, they're True Companions with no romantic interest in each other... then they find another group, and realize several such groups have been placed on the new planet, close enough to form relatively accessible settlements, so there will be plenty of breeding material.
In Poul Anderson's After Doomsday, the women are well aware of the flaws of this reasoning; though they know that many people have survived, they are also aware that the men outnumber the women and make plans for polyandry so that every surviving woman will have children by several men.
A classic, and rather literal, example can be found in The Twilight Zone episode "Probe 7, Over and Out". An astronaut named Adam Cook crash lands on what appears to be a barren planet. Equipment failures keep him from radioing his homeworld, but he receives transmissions that indicate it has blown itself up in a nuclear war. While searching the planet, he comes across a woman, also stranded here. They can't communicate in words, but they make do by gestures and drawing in the sand. Eventually, it comes out that she's called the planet "Irth" and her name is... Eve Norda. It should be noted that Rod Serlingwielded an anvil as well as anyone in television. Although to be fair to the man, Probe 7 was in the the fifth season of a show in which Serling contributed 80% if not more of the writing. By his own admission, quoted in The Twilight Zone Companion, he was getting burned out, not knowing good writing from bad anymore and falling into his own cliches.
The episode "Two" had Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery as the (as far as we know) sole survivors — from opposite sides, no less — of a city-destroying war between two unnamed factions. Rod Serling's narration in the episode purposefully says that it could be set at any time during the past or future, and that "The signposts are in English so that we may read them more easily". There's also the fact that Elizabeth Montgomery's character speaks with a rather thick Lzherusskie accent...
The Outer Limitsrevival did this in a two-part story with the episodes "Double Helix" and "Origin of Species". The sample size was 8 students and one professor, and it is immediately pointed out that they could not possibly repopulate the planet alone. It's hand waved by the spaceship that took them into the future, which altered their genes to ensure maximum diversity and created hundreds of babies to further pad the gap. Subtly played with in the fact that both the professor and his son are exempt from being "Adams" due to a genetic disease (and are therefore vaporized), but live on as holograms to assist their friends.
The episode "Phobos Rising" also hints at this plot, with the Earth possibly destroyed and only two Mars colonies with a combined population of less than fifty as survivors. Unfortunately, accidents fueling Enforced Cold War paranoia ends up destroying both colonies with only a pair of defectors surviving. Subverted in the final few minutes, when the surviving pair on Mars receive a transmission from Earth, telling them that the Moon was accidentally destroyed and in the wake of the devastation on Earth, both sides have called a truce.
Several episodes feature the destruction of nearly all life on Earth. In fact, in one case, Parker is the only survivor of a plot by an alien conveniently nicknamed "Adam" and has to manually start the Sphere to backstep.
Doctor Who: The villain's plan in Timelash is essentially to cause this trope with his own planet — and he wants Peri to be his Eve.
Also part of Luke Rattigan's plan to take his group of genius students to another planet in recompense for selling Earth to the Sontarans - he's even drawn up a breeding schedule! Needless to say, the one girl in the group isn't too happy with the idea.
Played out in the finale of the 2000s Battlestar Galactica, wherein the Colonists become the distant ancestors of the modern human race, and Hera Agathon is played up as being the Mitochondrial Eve.
Done in an episode of Dinosaurs with unnaturally cute, little furball-type animals.
Truth in Television example: One episode of Hoarders came close to this trope, featuring a man with over 2000 fancy rats living free in his house. He'd accidentally allowed his one male and two female pet rats to escape, months earlier, and hadn't had the heart to let them starve or set traps, with inevitable consequences.
Another episode has the crew encounter a disembodied creature known as Sargon, who claims that the human Adam and Eve were explorers from his race. When the humans refute this claim by citing evolution, Spock admits that the Vulcan creation myth also fits Sargon's story.
An episode of Stargate Universe reveals that, thanks to a Timey Wimey Ball, an alternate version of the Destiny crew (minus Rush and Telford) got thrown 2000 years into the past and had to set up a settlement on planet Novus. When "our" Destiny crew encounters them, they're a formerly thriving civilization of millions, forced to abandon their planet when a black hole was detected approaching the system. There is no mention of any inbreeding, although it is possible the crew's descendants have figured out how to maintain genetic diversity, even though all of them are descended from a few dozen people.
In Stargate SG-1, the Alpha Site was intended to invoke this trope should an alien invasion overcome Earth's defenses. This was a real threat in the early seasons (they actually started moving personnel offworld in "The Serpent's Lair"), but the threat diminishes after Earth first gains Asgard military protection, then becomes a spacefaring power in its own right.
Mythology and Religion
The trope namer is The Bible which presents us with Adam and Eve. This story is present in the Bible, Torah and Koran, with the Koran including an early explanation of why people look so different: when the Earth was asked to give up some clay to form Man it refused, and the Angel of Death was sent out to collect clay "from all regions". There's almost a second instance of this after The Great Flood where humanity is reduced to eight people (Noah, his wife, Noah's three sons and their wives).
Subverted in Genesis, chapter 4. After killing his brother Abel, Cain moved east to the land of Nod, where he married and had at least one son, Enoch. Who was his wife? Where did she come from? The Bible does not say. Perhaps the author actually was aware of the concept of genetic diversity after all.
Actually, that one's pretty easy. The Bible is unclear how much time passed before Cain killed Abel, and it is clear that there were other children - both sons and daughters. Daughters are not tracked in the Bible unless they're very, very important. Sons are only tracked if they're relevant to the plot (Adam to Noah to Abraham to David to Jesus). Seth is not born till after Cain and mentioned as a replacement for Abel only because that's the bloodline to Noah. It's actually all there in the manual, if you can read it in Hebrew.
When the Aesir kill Ymir, all the giants drown in his blood except one couple, Begelmir and his wife, from whom all later giants are descended (Prose Edda).
The first humans are created by Odin and his two brothers as a couple, Ask and Embla. Suspiciously, their names begin with the same letters as Adam and Eve, which could be an allusion to the Book of Genesis (Poetic Edda, Prose Edda).
In Ragnarok, all humanity is destined to perish except a single couple, Lif and Lifthrasir, who will repopulate Earth (Poetic Edda, Prose Edda).
Somewhat averted in the Greek Mythology version of The Flood: one man and one woman are left, however they are asked by the gods to throw earth over their shoulders, and this earth turns into sufficient men and women to actually repopulate the world.
Mabinogion Branwen verch Llyr: The Britons invade Ireland and kill everybody except five pregnant women hiding in a cave. The five women bear five sons who repopulate the island. Hence the five provinces of Ireland.
In the BBC Radio DramaEarthsearch, the crew of the Challenger end the series by giving up the search for their long-lost home planet Earth, settling instead on the planet "Paradise", which they vow to make "their own Earth" — it's much like their Earth, except that it's two-thirds covered in saltwater oceans, has four seasons, and is the third planet from its sun. Cleverly, throughout the series they had dropped hints that "their Earth" was not the same planet as ours, but then covered them up with Expospeak: for example, the other planets of their solar system have different names from ours, but as soon as this is revealed, it is mentioned offhand that the planets had been renamed. Likewise, we are told that their Earth was the second planet from its sun, but we are told this by a computer which is speculating wildly based on inaccurate information. To keep the Shaggy God Story going, early in Earthsearch 2, the crew loads breeding pairs of animals into a shuttle to wait out a global flood.
From a sci-fi series called "X - 1" (X! Minus! One!): A scientist in Captain Ersatz-East Germany, along with his assistant Alan and beautiful daughter Ava have developed a way to shrink things to subatomic size and are planning to use it to smuggle aid and, eventually, people. Fascist government thugs break into the lab and Alan and Ava are forced to hide in the shrinking machine, which gets turned on either by accident, a plan by the scientist, or because the leader of the fascist thugs demanded a demonstration. Alan and Ava are briefly seen exploring the surface of a planet-sized electron, which they liken to a desert with the central atomic cluster as its sun (I know I fail physics forever and atoms aren't described that way anymore). When the scientist reverses the machine, to his surprise Alan and Ava are gone but a mysterious voice issues in their place, saying that they eventually populated the electron-planet and it was a peaceful and prosperous land for thousands of (atomic) years, and to make sure the peace lasted beyond their deaths they wrote a book of instructions for their descendants. The scientist is incredulous that Alan and Ava are both long-since dead and the parents of a peaceful race; unfortunately I can't recall the fascist thugs' reaction.
The adventure game Lost Eden features two main human characters — Adam and Eve, living in a world where dinosaurs rule over humans. At the end of the game, it is revealed the dinosaurs will go extinct and Adam and Eve will lead humans into an age where they are the dominant species.
Halo 3: A series of secret terminals give a backstory that really runs with this. Along with the fact that a small group of Forerunners were trapped on an obscure planet (Earth), they were in the process of indexing (i.e. naming) all of the animals, one of them builds a garden which is named Eden and in a description of this garden the trees are prominently mentioned. Also, the main antagonists in the games are the alien Covenant and a race of parasites called the Flood, to survive the invasion you must travel to a Forerunner installation called the Ark.
The good ending of Odin Sphere. After The End of the World as We Know It, Oswald and Gwendolyn are the only two humans left alive and presumably, the ones who repopulate the devastated planet. Well, Velvet and Cornelius survived it too, but they're not exactly human anymore.
Referenced in Half-Life 2 (one of the episodes, anyway) where the well-intentioned Dr. Kleiner mentions on the monitors previously used for Breencasts (and which are therefore presumably scattered strategically worldwide) that since the Combine suppression field that had been inhibiting pregnancies was now gone, that those so inclined might as well set about replenishing the human population. Alyx incredulously asks the question that was likely in every player's head at that moment: "Did he just tell everyone to... get busy?"
Radiant Silvergun where at the end it turns out that the first humans on Earth are the clones of last humans on Earth who were sent back in time for Reset Button.
Averted in Mass Effect: The last hundred or so surviving Protheans were put into stasis, but the genocide of the Protheans by the Reapers lasted centuries. In order to conserve energy, Vigil, the pseudo-AI watching over them, had to initiate a contingency program that would shut down stasis pods one-by-one, starting from the lowest ranking individuals upwards. By the time the genocide ended centuries later, only the top dozen Protheans remained, which, as Vigil pointed out, was far too few to repopulate the species.
Mass Effect 3 has the appropriately named Eve, the sole female krogan who has been cured of the genophage thanks to Maelon's experiments in Mass Effect 2. This makes her the prime candidate for starting the krogan's repopulation efforts.
Subverted in Fallout 3: the Overseer of Vault 101 refuses to let anyone out of the Vault because he thinks it's the last settlement of humans uncorrupted by the chaos outside, but it's possible to convince him otherwise by pointing out that the Vault doesn't have enough genetic diversity to survive.
Assassins Creed II shows a different interpretation of Adam and Eve. In the games' story, humanity originally began as a slave race created by a highly evolved and technologically advanced (possibly alien) race. If you find all the glyphs and unlock the hidden video, you see a 20 second clip of Adam and Eve parkouring their way through a factory and escaping. If you look above in the Mythology section you'll see this is closer to the Summarian Adam and Eve than the Biblical one.
In Chaos Rings and its prequel Chaos Rings Ω the entire purpose of the Ark is to set one up using the best possible Battle Coupleto breed humans capable of defeating an Eldritch Abomination. However, the genetic problems with this trope are addressed in the first game: in Ayuta's story, there's a bit where it's claimed that the First Couples are dropped off at an era with plenty of other humans for breeding.
In Titan A.E., when the hero and heroine find the eponymous ship, onboard are genetic samples for long-destroyed Earth's species. Also, in a way, they are a symbolic "Adam and Eve". However, they do not need to populate the new world, mankind has been scattered across the galaxy and thus, they only need to call humans to the new planet.
But who says that they won't anyway?
In Avatar The Last Airbender, it's stated that airbenders still existing is important both for the balance of the nations and so the next Avatar has someone to teach them, implying Aang would have to restore the Air Nomads with his descendants. This was lampshaded in a video at the San Diego ComicCon 2008. However, in The Legend of Korra, set 70 years later, we see even if only one parent is an airbender the children still can be: one of Aang's children with Katara (a waterbender) was an airbender, and three of his children with his non-bender wife are airbenders. (No word yet on if his youngest is one, he's only a baby after all.)
In the comics, after the Professor teleports Earth's population to the dinosaur age, minus Fry, Bender, Leela and Cubert, the Omicronians show up to salvage the uninhabited Earth, unless our heroes can display one hundred Earthlings, proving Earth still has people. This trope may have been Fry's idea, earning him a slap from Leela.
Fry: Okay, fine. Then YOU come up with another way for us to repopulate the planet.
Leela seems to attract this a lot. Of course, when the Adam in question is ZappBrannigan...
Adventure Time has a different take on the typical Adam and Eve plot, in the episode "You Made Me!". Lemongrab refers to his creator as "his Glob" (his God.) She spends the whole episode trying to figure out how to help him. At the end of the episode, Princess Bubblegum makes Lemongrab a clone of himself, so he won't be alone. The whole plot is reminiscent of God making Eve for Adam to prevent Adam from being the only one of his kind. The whole episode revolved around existential themes, and the idea of having "the perfect mate" who makes one feel whole. Whether or not the relationship between the two Lemongrabs was romantic or platonic/brotherly love is up to the viewer.
The very end of Ĉon Flux's series finale, End Sinister.
In the episode of Family Guy "Friends Without Benefits", Meg daydreams that she and a boy she's crushing on are the last two humans after the Earth is destroyed. The boy decides that they should repopulate. And the two of them start making out in their spaceship.
In Freefall, Flo laments that thirteen individuals do not provide enough genetic diversity for a species to survive, and her main objective in life is to ensure more (at least five hundred) are artificially created before it's too late.
Soldier: Well, we have to repopulate the facility at least. It's the only way we'll outlive them as a species.
Zoe: Is everybody here on Crazy-Stupid gas or something?
Soldier: This is no way to start a first date!
This is even funnier if you know that Zoe is the Greek version of the name Eve (they both mean "life").
In a Faans! story set After the End, Tim and cloned copies of his buddies are all that are left to repopulate the Earth. Much attempt is made for genetic diversity but the kids are naive and eventually a brother falls in love with his half-sister. Of course, Earth is just fine; "Tim" is as much a clone as the others, just with transferred memories.
In an abandoned The Order of the Stick storyline in the newest book, "Don't Split The Party", Elan tries to set up Lien and Hinjo to breed a new generation of paladins. Lien and Hinjo are understandably annoyed with this because A) Elan obviously does not understand how paladins are created, B) Hinjo outranks Lien and sees it as a breach in behavior, and C) Lien already has a boyfriend, one that isn't a spoon fed nobleman.
Plus, there were "many" paladins that were away from Azure City the day of the battle... but we don't hear about them much. And many paladins don't work for Azure City.
Educomix: When Jessica is in the Garden of Edam, she and Adam are the only humans in existence.
Cheetahs. From Wikipedia (with a Scientific American citation):
"The cheetah has unusually low genetic variability and a very low sperm count, which also suffers from low motility and deformed flagellae. Skin grafts between non-related cheetahs illustrate this point in that there is no rejection of the donor skin. It is thought that it went through a prolonged period of inbreeding following a genetic bottleneck during the last ice age."
The stereotypical hamster (the golden/Syrian) is actually endangered in the wild. Virtually every domesticated Hamster is descended from a single litter captured in the 1930s.
Genetic studies trace the native fruit flies of Hawaii to a single gravid female, which was probably blown there by a storm.
In some areas, humans. Although to my knowledge there was never a colony or town that came entirely from a single couple, there is what is called the "Founder Effect", where having a overly small gene pool increases hereditary traits, usually leading to a higher rate of certain diseases or disorders. For example:
For centuries, Martha's Vineyard had an abnormally large number of deaf people. This was because up until the 20th century there were rarely any outsiders (read: tourists) showing up, so it was rare for any new genes to be introduced into the pool.
Polydactyly (having more than 5 fingers) is more common in the Amish than elsewhere, for similar reasons (endogamy means small gene pool).
75-80% of Fundamentalist Mormons (not to be confused with the 'regular' Mormons) are related in some way to Joseph Smith or John Barlow. There is also an unusual amount of fumarase deficiency in Mormon populations, the result of Fundamentalists continuing to practice polygamy and endogamy.
In 1775, a giant typhoon hit the Micronesian Island of Pingelap. Only 20 people survived. One of them was a carrier for Achromatopsia — aka "total color blindness". Due to Achromatopsia being a recessive disorder, over time more and more islanders have inherited the gene, and thus also a greater number have inherited color blindness. Today, 10% of the population is completely color blind, and 30% more of the population carries the alleles that could cause their children to be color blind.
The modern day inhabitants of Pitcairn Island, all descendants of the Bounty Mutineers, are subject to a variety of genetic defects associated with several generations of inbreeding.
The CCR5-Delta 32 mutation is descended from Europeans during the time of the Black Death. It's theorized that those that had the mutation then were immune to the disease, thus after it passed, a significant number of Europeans left had the mutation. It's almost unknown in African and indigenous American populations, but about 10% of European-descended humans have the mutation. It would be unremarkable now, except that if you have two parents with the mutation, you have immunity to some strains of HIV, for now. (The Other Wiki has more under http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CCR5#HIV .)
5-alpha-reductase deficiency, a very rare genetic condition where a child is born with a female appearance but develops male genitalia at age 12, has a very high incidence rate in areas of the Dominican Republic, where nearly everyone with the condition is descended from a single colonist dating from the days of Columbus.
The high proportion of people suffering from Huntington's disease (a disease that is hereditary but doesn't have major negative effects until after reproductive age) in the Lake Maracaibo region of Venezuela is believed to be a result of one of the ten or so women who first immigrated there from Europe having the disease.
Geneticists have posited that all modern day Homo sapiens were descended from one woman dubbed as the Mitochondrial Eve who lived in Africa around 200,000 years ago. But this is really a subversion as all scientists are very certain that she is in no sense of the word comparable to the biblical Eve: she was not the first woman, she is simply the earliest woman to which geneticists can trace, and she just happen to be lucky enough that her daughters were able to produce an unbroken line of descendants to the present day while the offspring of her contemporaries died out in the interim.
"Died out", in this context, could mean "produced only male offspring for a generation", not actual extinction of the bloodline. As mitochondria are inherited solely through the female line, having sons doesn't do anything to preserve these organelles' genes.
In fact, the Y-Chromosomal Adam was dated to live 50,000 years after Eve.*
To quote Stephen Fry: "Obviously, this means that for 50,000 to 80,000 years, the human race ran on heavy to industrial-strength lesbianism."
The Toba catastrophe theory, called so after a volcanic eruption some 75,000 years ago, states that humans themselves suffered a severe population bottleneck (down to some two or ten thousand of humans on Earth) due to aforementioned volcano. Not exactly Adam and Eve Plot, but as close as we ever got.
There are some (hotly debated) theories that say after this eruption, for a short time there were as few as thirty some-odd breeding human females on the planet. Most estimates put the count as higher, but still considerably low.
This is touted as an actual newspaper headline, in the vein of the stuff sent in to The Tonight Show With Jay Leno for his "headlines" segment: Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over.note This is the kind of headline you'd find on Fark.com, actually
Biology classes introducing evolution use this trope to describe Malthusian population growth, explaining how a mated pair of sparrows (or whatever) could hypothetically produce enough descendents to cover the Earth within a shockingly short period of time.
Similar examples of a pregnant cat or dog producing thousands of descendents are used by animal welfare groups, to encourage spaying or neutering of pets.
This has happened with more than one endangered species. The California Condor was down to 22 birds by the time all birds left in the species were captured and taken to zoos. There are not quite 400 alive today, about half in the wild.
The population of Przewalski's Horse, the only truly wild horse in the world, is descended from nine horses held in captivity in 1945. 1500 horses are alive today in zoos and in the wild of Mongolia.