Where is everyone, Hol? Holly:
They're dead, Dave. Lister:
Who is? Holly:
Everybody, Dave. Everybody's dead, Dave.
This is beyond the loss of a Red Shirt
, or even a Red Shirt Army
. Sometimes, to show that a situation is really, really dire, the main character and his friends have to look around and see
except themselves is dead.
Sure, life might be going on elsewhere. Greece was still populated when Odysseus lost his crew
. But for the person who survived, everyone is gone — they are alone. Maybe there really are no people left
and you are officially After the End
— the last group of survivors
. Have fun with a lifetime of isolation
When used to conclude a story, the idea is a tragic
ending, but still allows the main characters to move on to the next adventure and try harder next time. When used as a story setup, expect the Sole Survivor
to cope with Survivors Guilt
This trope can be an outcome of necessity to Bring News Back
, with the messenger alone surviving. A common subversion is that the whole event is part of some nefarious scheme to get a hero's cooperation, and no one is actually dead. Sometimes this is the prologue to a Ghost Ship
story. If the main characters themselves
start dying off, it's a Dwindling Party
. This is a common trope for slasher films, where having more than one character from the main cast make it to the ending credits is somewhat unusual.
See also: Ten Little Murder Victims
, Last of His Kind
, Dwindling Party
and Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending
. Compare and contrast: Total Party Kill
, Kill 'em All
, and Everybody Lives
. Compare Party Scattering
, where the same feeling of abandonment is invoked for each main character separately, but without any of them dying.
Since this is a Death Trope, expect spoilers
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Extreme example — Neon Genesis Evangelion where only two young teenagers are left in the world, with everyone else turned into Tang.
- Along with it's spiritual predecessor Space Runaway Ideon the whole cast and its namesake ship are killed off. The hero realizes that he is the last of their group shortly before dying himself.
- X: The Movie The movie literally ends in all the involved characters, except for the protagonist, Kamui, dying in some graphic, brutal way.
- Hellsing begins with Celes/Ceras/Seras Victoria's entire police unit being slaughtered by vampires. Technically, she gets killed by a vampire too, but...
- The only members of Hellsing alive after the Valentine brothers attack are Walter, Integra, and whoever was on vacation that day (Victoria and Alucard don't count). The next assault on Hellsing leaves only two alive (not counting Victoria).
- Berserk: At the end of the anime, almost the entire Band of the Hawk gets brutally slaughtered by demons in a manner that exemplifies numerous primal fears after their leader, Griffith, goes bad. The only ones to make it out of the Eclipse alive are Guts and Casca, and neither of them make it out whole, if you know what we're talking about. Enjoy knowing the endearing, Badass Normal minor characters while you can.
- Played as a joke/Shout-Out to Red Dwarf in CLANNAD. When Sunohara wakes up after falling asleep in class, Okazaki plays a prank and tells him that the world has ended; He is actually a hologram and Sunohara is the only person left on Earth. Naturally, Sunohara freaks out and asks whether this is true. Okazaki then admits he's lying; he's actually a cyborg. This serves to freak Sunohara out even more.
- Vexille does this soon after The Squad infiltrates hostile territory, with only the titular Action Girl apparently surviving the slaughter. It is later revealed that her lover The Captain also survives but he doesn't reappear until the end of the movie.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is infamous for frequently killing off protagonists near the end of each arc. It's especially prevalent at the end of the sixth arc where everyone on the entire planet, including all but one of the protagonists, who wasn't even the main focus of the story, and the Big Bad, have been killed off. Thankfully most of them get better.
- In Saikano, the main character is the only one left on the desolated Earth at the end.
- This is what happens in the Wham Episode number 6 of The Daughter of Twenty Faces to the Twenty-Faces' original team, with only Chiko herself surviving the massacre and the subsequent fireworks.
- Happens to Sousuke in Full Metal Panic! in episode 17. The events of that episode also parallel a part of his Back Story.
- Code Geass seems to start like this: Before the first episode is even finished, it seems that everyone who could have been a supporting character in the story is dead, and only in the subsequent episodes do you find out that C.C. and Suzaku both survived getting shot.
- This is the situation near the end of Sailor Moon, but (fast) everybody gets better at the end
- In Alien of Darkness, there is only one survivor.
- In the most recent arc of Katekyo Hitman Reborn! Tsuna and Co. are transported 10 years into the future where they are told many major supporting characters have been killed by a rival mafia group. Including all the arcobalenos (including Reborn), Yamamoto's father and even Tsuna himself note . Tsuna's parents, Vongola 9th boss, Shamal and Naito Longchamp are still MIA.
- In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Tatarigoroshi-hen and Yakusamashi-hen end like this. In both instances, the point-of-view character (Keiichi in the former and Satoko in the latter) is the sole survivor, and for similar reasons; they both fall off the same bridge into a river that carries them out of Hinamizawa. Although they survive it, they eventually die shortly thereafter.
- Also occurs at the start of the second series, subverting the happy ending of the first series with Rena being talked down by Keiichi. Turns out everyone was killed in a "gas leak" (yeah right) except for Rena, who happened to be out of town at the time. Unlike the previous example however, Rena really does survive the incident, and presumably leads the rest of her life out.
- Actually, in the sound novels, it's revealed in one of the TIPS that Keiichi survives, but he's completely mentally broken, thinking that he was the one who had caused the disaster. He spends the rest of his life in a mental asylum, until he died of a heart attack.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Scar initially believes himself to be the only survivor of the Ishval genocide.
- In later chapters of the manga it is revealed that Hohenheim was originally a slave in Xerxes, and when Father tricked the king into using the entire population of the country to create a philosopher's stone only the two of them survived.
- And in an even later chapter Father kills everyone in Amestris besides Ed, Al, Hohenheim, Izumi, Roy, May, Pride and Greedling. Of course, it happens at the end of a chapter in a series known for cliff-hangers, so not all of them stay dead.
- Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas. Nearing the end, with Aries Shion and Libra Dohko supporting each other thinking they are the only surviver after Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies. They aren't, but they may as well be.
- This is Sasuke's Back Story in Naruto. Every single member of his clan was killed by his Aloof Big Brother.
- Kakashi's Back Story is like this too. In relatively rapid succession, his mother, father, best friend, mentor, mentor's wife, and other teammate all die. It's apparently for this reason that he joined ANBU at age fourteen. Much later, when Sasuke half-threatens to kill someone important to Kakashi to make him feel his pain, Kakashi simply replies that everyone he cares about is already dead. Finding out that one of his loved ones isn't as dead as he thought (at least not physically) does not bring him any comfort.
- People die all the time in Dragon Ball, but it is taken to its most extreme near the end of the Buu Saga of Dragon Ball Z. After previously taking out most of the humans on Earth, then soon after a large chunk of the supporting cast, Kid Buu nearly finishes the job by taking out the Earth itself. By the time the final battle begins, Goku, Hercule/Mr. Satan and Baba (Oh, and Bee the dog) are the only residents of Earth left alive. Everyone gets better, of course (Earth included!)
- The Saiyans. The entire population, likely to be in the single-digit billions, is reduced to four eight, if you're going by the movies and specials in a matter of minutes. Going against Dragon Ball's usual 'death has no consequence' vibe, the Saiyans are Killed Off for Real.
- Filicia in Sora No Woto is the only survivor of her old unit. She's alright... most of the time.
- From the ninth Lupin III special, Lupin III Island Of Assassins: Everyone who wanted to leave the Tarantula is killed, including Broken Bird and potential Lupin love interest Elen. Only Lupin and his gang survive.
- The ending of the original Devilman manga. Everybody, and I mean everybody but Satan bites it.
- Being a Darker and Edgier-subversion-cum-Genre Deconstruction of the Magical Girl genre, Puella Magi Madoka Magica plays with this trope. This happens in pretty much all the other timelines - to the extent where the entire world has been killed off save Homura (and that damned Weasel Mascot, of course). The ending is a subversion: right before everybody ends up dead, Madoka hits the Reset Button, bringing Mami, Kyouko, and probably a lot of civilians Back from the Dead, but at the cost of being erased from existence.
- During the battle in the north in Claymore, which was really a purge of the troublesome warriors, out of the twenty-four claymores sent there only seven survived.
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! Tenth Anniversary Movie, Yugi experiences this as he is the only survivor after Paradox destroys Domino City.
- After lots of building up to the moment, in chapter 352 of Mahou Sensei Negima!, it is apparent that, while Asuna has been asleep protecting the Magic World, everyone she knew has died - even Negi, who supposedly has an immortal body, and Ayaka, who lived to the age of 115 to try to meet Asuna at the time she was supposed to wake up. However, it's sort of subverted a little bit, since Evangeline and Chao, of all people, appear to still be alive.
- There is the first episode of Ga-Rei -Zero- in which everyone who gets introduced promptly drops dead before the credits begins to roll.
- Happens to the team at the beginning of Go Lion- they return from a space mission only to find that humanity on Earth has wiped itself out due to a nuclear war, shortly before being captured by the Galra Empire. This fact was, of course, edited away when it was adapted into Voltron, with the footage used to imply something very different.
- The first The Transformers comic book starts its Un-Cancelled run (pictured above) with the bad guys victorious and the good guys reduced to one pacifistic medic and a bunch of scrap.
- Note that the above image has endlessly been parodied and imitated both within the official materials and fan-made works since.
- In Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead, the main character wakes in a hospital after being shot in a firefight — he's a cop — only to find the hospital apparently empty. Then he finds the zombies. The city is in much the same state. He does find survivors though, including his wife and son. Although it's not good news for the survivors either. It's a Zombie Apocalypse, so that's expected.
- Near the end of Maus, Art asks his father Vladek what happened to Art's paternal family after the war. Vladek then explains briefly what happened to each of them as far as he knows. All except one brother who now lives in Israel died in the Holocaust.
- Thorn, Gran'ma, and the Bones react as if they are in an Everybody's Dead situation after the Locust's volcano erupts about two thirds of the way through Bone, because they can't detect any other survivors. Lucius, the villagers, and the Veni-yan monks did survive, as well as most of the city of Athiea, and most everyone else who died came back when the ghost circles were destroyed at the end.
- In The Punisher MAX miniseries Born, Frank Castle's last Vietnam deployment ends with him as the sole survivor of Firebase Valley Forge, surrounded by the corpses of all his comrades and the hundreds of Vietcong who overran the base. The Vietcong directly around him have all been beaten to death with the butt of his gun. None of the soldiers who show up to "rescue" him are particularly surprised at what he eventually becomes.
- In The DCU mini-series Kingdom Come, viewpoint character Norman McKay has prophetic visions telling him that this will happen to Superman. In the end it happens exactly like that. Except instead of redshirts, it's an entire battlefield filled with most of the superhuman characters in the DC universe which gets hit with a nuke. There are survivors, thanks to Captain Marvel's Heroic Sacrifice, but most of them are dead, with Superman kneeling in the ashes, more or less unharmed but exceptionally angry. Kingdom Come is worth reading just for this — it's a rare time we've ever seen Supes in a true, unhindered, out-and-out homicidal rage.
- The premise of the original batch of Marvel Zombies stories. The intermittently intelligent zombies don't know what to do since they ate everyone. Then, in the sequel, they have the same problem AGAIN, after eating nearly everyone in the entire KNOWN UNIVERSE. Hank Pym: "I can't believe we ate the whole thing.".
- In the related Army of Darkness Versus Marvel Zombies, Ash fights through the zombie invasion from first bite to apocalyptic showdown. He's allowed access to Doctor Doom's dimension spanning machine and waits too long to make a choice of what dimensions. He ends up right back in a similar world of everyone's dead, except the super-powered zombies are now also werewolves.
- In Miracleman the eponymous character discovers that his nemesis has killed virtually every single person in London. During the fight to stop the carnage from spreading they kill everyone else in the city. The issue ends with Miracleman crying over the body of his enemy's innocent alternate personality and sitting on a pile of corpses.
- All of three or five characters survive in the end of 100 Bullets. Three if you count the ones who get away, five if you count Graves and Dizzy, both of whom are bleeding out, holding a gun to each other, and stuck in a burning building.
- The end of the Wildstorm series Stormwatch has almost the entire team of superheroes killed by Aliens
- Last One Standing contains a particularly heartbreaking moment when Twilight Sparkle suddenly realizes that she really is going to die, just like all her friends before her.
- In Stars Above, this is what happens in the future of the Madoka-verse, after the appearance of Vittoria.
- The Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha fanfic "Toward the World's End" invokes this. In fact, if you'll believe the author, it's based around it. In the first fic, "Lifetime Destiny" what may be the entire population of earth is wiped out. The only known survivors, under a eerie green sky, are the series protagonist Nanoha herself, and the fic's OC Protagonist, Arthur Kingston. Arthur manages to take Nanoha and himself to a deserted island, to spare Nanoha from having to see death and dead bodies everywhere as well, completely cutting them off.
- This happens again when Nanoha, Arthur and the others return in fic number 3: Mission Fail.
- According to the Author, the whole idea for the fic came from a dream that was this trope.
- In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, this is the result of Operation: Badlands Strike in episode 11. Everyone but Mega Man is badly injured or killed.
- In A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, the boy robot is frozen in stasis while the world wastes away and humanity becomes extinct. Eventually, highly advanced robots come and put the boy in an alternate reality, also giving him back his mother for a day before permanently shutting him down and storing his mind as a historical archive.
- In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dave Bowman finds out everybody but himself and Frank Poole is dead because HAL pulled the plug on the hibernation systems. Later HAL kills Frank Poole by cutting his lifeline during an EVA before Dave can shut him down. In the end, Dave gets zapped by the Monolith and turned into the Star Child. As far as Earth is concerned, until they find out otherwise in Two Thousand Ten The Year We Make Contact, literally everybody really is dead. The Red Dwarf premise, which is actually the Trope Namer as opposed to 2001, may be a Shout-Out to 2001.
- In the end of The Fall Roy kills off all of his characters with the exception of the masked bandit who he spares at the last minute.
- Similar to the above, the hero of 28 Days Later wakes up in a hospital bed to find that he's apparently the only person remaining in the whole of London. He isn't, but almost everyone else has been transformed by The Virus into enraged superhuman bloodthirsty almost-zombies (so not quite dead, but near-enough).
- Three Days Of The Condor plays this trope straight at the very beginning: the protagonist goes out of the office to get lunch and upon returning minutes later finds all of his co-workers, friends and love interest brutally murdered.
- The Battle of Yavin in A New Hope ended with all the on-screen rebel pilots except Han, Luke, Wedge and a Y-wing pilot dead, with all of the dead pilots having only been introduced so they could fight in the battle. However, the Expanded Universe continues to write more and more just-off-screen characters into the battle.
- Only two students out of the forty-two who make up the cast of Battle Royale survive the Program. And that's precisely one student more than was meant to survive and "win the game".
- In the original book the "winner" was not one of the two survivors.
- Sunshine : the movie's old website gushed about having each of the principle characters die.
- In Cold Prey, only Jannicke survives. The ending song is the alternative Trope Namer (All My Friends Are Dead).
- In Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Robin arrives from the crusades only to find his entire home destroyed and his family dead, his blinded servant the only survivor.
Robin Hood: Blinkin, listen to me. They've taken the castle!
Blinkin: I thought it felt a bit drafty. Cor, this never would have happened if your father was alive.
Robin Hood: He's dead?
Robin Hood: And my mother?
Blinkin: She died of pneumonia while... oh, you were away...
Robin Hood: My brothers?
Blinkin: They were all killed by the plague.
Robin Hood: My dog, Pogo?
Blinkin: Run over by a carriage.
Robin Hood: My goldfish, Goldie?
Blinkin: Eaten by the cat.
Robin Hood: (on the verge of tears) My cat?
Blinkin: Choked on the goldfish. Oh, it's good to be home, ain't it, Master Robin?
- Army of Darkness originally ended with Ash starting taking his magic potion, which he must take one drop of for each of the four centuries that he wishes to sleep, pauses to glance at a noise, and accidentally overdoses by one drop. When he wakes up, he's the last man on Earth looking over an apocalyptic wasteland screaming "No! I slept too long!". The Hollywood studio demanded a more kickass ending.
- From Dusk Till Dawn ends with only the main character and one girl surviving.
- The sequels tend to follow this formula, too.
- Russian film The Ninth Company ends with all characters but two main ones dead.
- Another Russian film, The Dawns Here Are Quiet (1972), takes place during World War II and follows an army sergeant in command of an Amazon Brigade made up of utterly incompetent volunteers. They try to stop a German diversion group and succeed at the cost of all of girls' lives (while the sergeant survives until twenty years after the war),
- Cassandra's Crossing.
- The Alien movies
- In Alien, Ripley and her cat are the only survivors; the alien kills the other six people on board.
- In, Aliens, Ripley, Newt, Cpl. Hicks and Bishop survive. The aliens completely demolish the squad of marines. At the beginning of Alien 3, we learn that Newt and Hicks are killed while in hypersleep, leaving only Ripley and Bishop.
- In Alien³, Morse is the only survivor. Ripley, impregnated by a facehugger in hypersleep, kills herself.
- Alien: Resurrection broke the trend; there are several survivors.
- Prometheus Only Dr. Shaw and David the android (who was never truly alive anyway) survive out of a crew of seventeen.
- The Quiet Earth: the quote says it all.
Zac Hobson, July 5th. One: there has been a malfunction in Project Flashlight with devastating results. Two: it seems I am the only person left on Earth.
- The Mexican Standoff in Reservoir Dogs ends up with everyone in the room dead or near dead except for heavily wounded Mr White, mortally wounded Mr Orange, and Mr. Pink who promptly makes off with the diamonds (and gets arrested). Immediately after, Mr. White shoots Mr. Orange through the head and is shot dead by the police. NOW everybody's dead, Mr. Pink.
- Ethan Hunt after the Prague mission in the first Mission: Impossible film. ("My team! My team is DEAD!")
- In Inglourious Basterds, Only three members of the original ensemble survive.
- At the end of The Eye, there is a huge gas tanker explosion, killing almost everyone in sight apart from Mun and Wah.
- The Last Starfighter features this exchange between protagonist Alex and his alien navigator Grig:
Grig: Death is a primitive concept. I prefer to think of them as battling evil. In another dimension.
Alex: Another dimension? How many are left?
Grig: Including yourself?
- Gettysburg has a memorable exchange between General Lee and Pickett after the famous charge by Pickett's division resulted in said division being massacred. (Note that it's also believed to have happened in Real Life).
Lee: General Pickett, sir. You must look to your division.
Pickett: General Lee... I have no division.
- There is a similar scene in When Trumpets Fade, a movie about the Battle of Hurtgen Forest in late 1944. A commanding officer asks his lieutenant, "What is the status of your platoon?" In reply, the shell-shocked lieutenant mutely hands his superior a pile of bloodied dog tags.
- In Revenge of the Sith, all of the (appearing onscreen) Jedi are killed except for Yoda and Obi-Wan.
- In The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible hacks into Syndrome's computer to discover that variations of the giant robot have killed off many former superheroes— perhaps all former superheroes except for Frozone, Elastigirl, and Mr. Incredible himself. Genocide makes for a fairly bleak subject in a family-friendly movie.
- In Disney's Mulan, the protagonists are journeying through a mountain pass to unite with the rest of the Chinese army, only to find that the army and the villagers they were protecting have all been slaughtered, including Lee Shang's father. Later, the same thing happens to the antagonists after a devastating avalanche kills all but six of the Huns.
- In Serenity, when the crew figures out that "Miranda" is a planet, the crew makes a perilous journey through reaver territory, to try to find out why Miranda is so important. When they finally land planet-side, they discover the long dead corpses of an entire planet's population. Of course there were once survivors, but they all turned into reavers.
- Earlier, in the same film, after The Operative has been outwitted by the crew of Serenity one more time, he proceeds to have everyone who has ever provided shelter to the crew killed, en masse, including any inconvenient bystanders and Shepard Book. This is what pushes Mal into going to Miranda to find out just what the Alliance is trying to hide.
- The Brest Fortress is a Russian film depicting the siege of the titular fortress. In the end, almost every character is dead, even Anya is told to be Executed by Germans, along with all other women and children, with the sole exception of the main character, who somehow escapes.
- In adaptations, this is a way of enforcing Minimalist Cast on a production that is normally chock full of Loads and Loads of Characters. For example, G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
- The fate of the entire "Odyssey" crew except for Julia. Bonus whammy points for this information being given to her by a clone of her own husband in Oblivion (2013).
- Both versions of The Ladykillers end with a sort of inversion of the title; the entire gang ends up dead while the old lady survives.
- Kainan's backstory in Outlander involves two separate instances of this trope. Kainan is a human warrior from a highly advanced civilisation far from Earth whose military colonised a planet after wiping out the indigenous population of Moorwen. One Moorwen survived and wiped out the entire colony, after which Kainan captured the dragon-like creature, only to crash land on Earth circa 709AD, setting it free amongst the Vikings.
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1:
- District 12 had 915 survivors out of ten thousand. The burned bodies of the dead are found along the main road.
- And again with the hospital in District 8. Katniss even says that there are no survivors.
- In The Odyssey, Odysseus's ship sank, and only he survived to spend seven years with Calypso.
- At the start of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, Earth is destroyed and Arthur Dent is thrown out into the universe. Quite literally.
- Eiji Yoshikawa's Musashi opens with one of these, the two main characters literally the only ones left after a battle. They even wake up to find themselves as such, too.
- Markus Zusak's The Book Thief ends with the entire street where Liesel lives with her foster family being bombed to rubble by the American planes. Everybody dies, except for Liesel, who happened to be lurking in the basement, reading a book; Alex Steiner, who was working for the German Army as a tailor; and Max, who was in a concentration camp at the time. The only things keeping this from being a Diabolus Ex Machina are that 1. The narrator is Death himself ("I do not wear a cloak with a hood unless it is chilly"), and 2. Since the prologue, the narrator has been informing the audience of how everyone is going to die. ("A fact about Rudy Steiner: he did not deserve to die the way that he did.") and 3. The bombings were plenty foreshadowed themselves. Saves this book from being thrown at the wall of many a reader's corner.
- In Catch-22- by the end of the book, nearly all of the Loads and Loads of Characters are dead. But because they only died one at a time and each chapter only focused on a few characters, this realization doesn't really hit the reader until the last chapter, where there's hardly any left.
- In Catch-22's sequel Closing Time, Yossarian and the chaplain are the sole survivors of a nuclear war that killed everybody on Earth. They then decide to commit passive suicide by leaving the bunker.
- The ending of Sometime Never: A Fable for Supermen is similar to Closing Time mentioned above, as the world gets nuke-washed and all the humans are dead, the Gremlins move to the surface but found out when there's no human alive, there is no imagination to keep them existing. They fade out.
- Happens three times in Terry Pratchett's Nation. A tidal wave kills everyone in Mau's village, leaving him sole survivor. A ship destroyed by the same wave leaves Daphne the one survivor (two, if you like parrots). Meanwhile, a plague has decimated England and wiped out (among others) the 137 people standing between Daphne's father and the crown.
- The Day of the Triffids is a classic post-apocalyptic novel by John Wyndham in which the narrator wakes up on a hospital bed, and realizes that a freak space phenomenon (later implied to have been a malfunctioning orbital weapon) has caused everyone to go blind. The only people unaffected are those like him who were asleep, sedated, or otherwise unable to look at the sky. The resulting collapse of civilization causes most of mankind to die like flies, and that's when the killer mutant plants show up.
- To be fair, the mutant killer plants were always there, just kept locked up and their dangerous stingers regularly docked.
- In the movie, this scene happens as well, and it comes across almost like 28 Days Later... except after that he finds one other person, and then they do find some other survivors. Unfortunately, they happen to be on board a plane, and, due to panic and a blind pilot, they go down in a fiery crash, children included. It's extremely disturbing compared to the rest of the fairly goofy film.
- John Wyndham books in general start with the end of the world (except Dave), and work their way up to a climax.
- The book The Road by Cormac McCarthy is about a father and son as they travel south during what is suspected to be a nuclear winter. The father and son are all they have left.
- Except not quite. The book is full of references to death-cults, sightings of and interactions with cannibals and their victims, an old man they share a meal and a fire with on the road, and a family of four who'd apparently been shadowing them, preparing to take the Boy in when the Father died from his illness.
- Z for Zachariah - the only survivor initially is the young girl in the mysteriously unaffected valley, writing her diary.
- Dragonlance has this. When Caramon goes forward in time, he find the entire world dead.
- The Pilo Family Circus ends with almost everyone in the circus being slaughtered by Kurt Pilo during his Villainous Breakdown; the only confirmed survivors are Steve, Shalice the Fortune Teller, Mugabo the Magician, Gonko the Clown, and Jamie.
- In "The Yarn of the 'Nancy Bell'" (the first of the Bab Ballads by W. S. Gilbert), the sole survivor of the Nancy Bell's crew describes what happened to the others.
- Nevil Shute's On the Beach describes the reactions of the remaining survivors of an all-out nuclear war that has already destroyed most of the population of Earth. The characters are mostly Australians who are waiting for the fallout to reach them, but they know that they're already doomed.
- At the end of The Chronicles of Narnia, Susan is the only character left alive. This isn't really a happy ending for her though if you think about it, since it ends focusing on the fact that her family and all friends of the family are now in heaven and she is, frankly, not.
- In Dean Koontz's Phantoms, two of the protagonists arrive to find their entire town wiped out by they don't at first know what.
- Stephen King's The Stand is about the survivors of a plague.
- King's Under the Dome. Only a handful survivors out of more than a thousand people trapped.
- In his short novel The Long Walk, only one out of the original one hundred contestants in the titular endurance competition survives. The others were all killed when they couldn't keep up the pace.
- The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novel Fallen Heroes. Odo and Quark accidentally shoot themselves three days into the future with an alien artefact to find the station in ruins and everyone dead. There are then a series of flashbacks showing just what happened - aliens attacked the station looking for the artefact, which wasn't there as it had been sent into the future...they end up putting everything right by figuring out how to time travel back into the past again.
- This is part of Willis Corto/ Armitage's backstory in Neuromancer. He was part of Operation Screaming Fist, a special-forces raid on a Russian base during The War. After being shot down, he and a few others managed to steal a helicopter and escape to Finland, only to be shot to pieces by the Finnish defense forces while they were trying to land. Corto was the only one to survive the escape. Automatic Jack, a central character in the short story Burning Chrome, was the only other survivor of the operation as a whole.
- The Brief History of the Dead starts with this for the entire world, as one last survivor is stranded somewhere in Antarctica. The world of the dead is a bit more crowded—they don't fade until everyone who remembers them is dead, so she's preserving her friends, her family, and even the checkout worker at the grocery store she used to shop at. Then she dies, and away they go.
- The Commander's Daughter by Y. Jakovlev is set during the siege of Brest Fortress. At the end, every named character is dead, except the heroine's mother (imprisoned by enemy) and the heroine herself, who makes an Unexplained Recovery, somehow surviving the whole mess (her prototypes also survived, but in-story this less explainable than in Real Life).
- Doomsday Book has two of its time travellers arrive after the Black Death has reached Oxfordshire. In some villages there was no-one left to bury the dead.
- Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men has almost the entire human race being wiped out in a nuclear holocaust with just 35 survivors. Their descendants eventually evolve into a new species of humans, which is promptly wiped out a bit later. This trend carries on, including the extinction of all life on Earth and then Venus (twice) until the 18th species of "men" is completely destroyed, along with the entire solar system, by a supernova a couple of billion years later.
- Catching Fire: "Katniss...There is no District 12."
- The post-apocalyptic adolescent novel The Lake at the End of the World subverts the trope at the beginning when a teenage boy shows up at a farm and claims to be from an underground settlement of a few hundred people. The family that takes him in assumes he's gone insane with loneliness, but naturally it turns out he's telling the truth.
- Terry Pratchett's Johnny and the Bomb explores the Real Life example of the pal's battalions in World War I, which were special units of the British Army consisting of men from a single town. In theory, this increased camaraderie, as people were fighting alongside friends and work colleagues. In practice, they were a fearsomely efficient way to wipe out the entire young male population of a town in a single stroke.
- This is the way The Secret Garden opens, oddly enough. Mary Lennox wakes up to find that her house is completely empty and silent. She is found a few minutes later by two soldiers, who proceed to tell her that her parents and everyone else in the household have died of cholera.
- Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake is mostly flashbacks from the point of view of apparently the only human survivor of a global pandemic. The last chapters — and the sequels — reveal that there are rather more survivors than he thinks.
- A rare midplot invocation in Idlewild as the characters suddenly realize how many of their friends/family are virtual and how empty the world actually is.
- In Awake In The Night Land all organic lifeforms of the Universe, except the humans, were killed by the time the book starts.
Live Action TV
- "Come Away Melinda" (various versions). Probably the closest thing to a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming you can get in a song about the last two survivors of nuclear armageddon.
- Happens to the main character of the French song "La tribu de Dana". He's a celtic warrior fighting alongside his brothers against an invader. When the enemy troops retreat, he can't figure out why until he looks down and sees that he's the only one of his tribe left standing.
- Galloglass's song Burden of Grief is told from the point of view of a knight who is awakening from a state of battle-enduced rage/insanity and realising that he's now alone on the battlefield.
- "Nautical Disaster" by The Tragically Hip recounts the disastrous Dieppe Raid of World War II where almost 4500 men, mostly Canadian infantry, die and only 10 survive.
- This is how the punk band The Exploding Hearts came to an end. Three out of the four band members were killed in an auto accident.
- The Dutch novelty song Dodenrit (roughly, "Sleigh ride of death") by Drs. P, about a Russian family (two adults, four children) in a troika on their way to Omsk, singing to pass the time as a pack of wolves begins to close in on them. One by one, the children are sacrificed to the wolves, then the wife, all of which is Played for Laughs ("How about Natasha?" "But she's doing so well in school!"). The final lines of the song have the narrator himself, while celebrating that he can see Omsk, slip and be devoured, observing that "Omsk is a lovely town, but just a little too remote."
- "32 Down On The Robert Mackenzie" by Paul Gross, featured in an episode of Due South of the same name, about a Great Lakes merchant ship with a crew of 32 men that ran aground and sank in a storm. The title comes from the last message sent by the ship. The song is about a shipwreck in the episode's backstory, but it was based on the Real Life sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald.
- And speaking of, "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald", by Gordon Lightfoot.
- The Les Savy Fav songs "Reformat" and "Reformat(Dramatic Reading), the latter a spoken piece in the style of a radio play, are about the captain of a diesel-powered submarine who pushes it beyond its capability and decides to use the crew's oxygen to power the sub long enough to surface. He kills anyone who tries to stop him and the rest die when the plan goes horribly wrong, leaving him the sole survivor. He is then executed by guillotine on live TV thanks to an obscure maritime law.
Mythology and Religion
- In Homer's The Odyssey, Odysseus survives a shipwreck while the entire crew dies, courtesy of divine retribution.
- The Indian epic Mahabharata has its final showdown in a massive battle involving almost 4 million warriors. At the end of the eighteenth day, the battle ends with only the five Pandava brothers and three of their warriors surviving, as well as the three last members of the opposing Kaurava army.
- In Peter Brook's theatrical (and later, television) adaptation; the sole survivor is Arjuna's son Abhimanyu's pregnant wife, Uttarā.
- The Bible:
- Genesis, Chapters 6 - 9: God kills all but Noah's family in a world-wide deluge:
- Genesis, Chapter 19: God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah; only Lot and his daughters are spared.
- It is also one possible reason suggested for why Lot's daughters got their father drunk and slept with him in order to get pregnant- there were no other obvious men left around to carry on the family line.
- Technically Lot's wife was spared for about five minutes, but when God says "don't look" and you look anyway, no one's going to have a lot of sympathy for you.
- Okay, if you really want to get technical here:
Gen 19:17 (NRSV):
"When they had brought them outside, theynote
said 'Flee for your life; do not look back or stop anywhere in the Plain; flee to the hills, or else you will be consumed.'" End quote. The speaker is an angel of the Lord.
- Ragnarök, the Norse equivalent of Armageddon, ends with all but six (or fewer) of the Norse pantheon dead, and with upwards of half the human population of the world massacred to boot. Everyone's dead, Baldr, indeed.
- In some versions all but two humans are killed.
- Older Than Dirt: In the Old Kingdom Egyptian Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor, the protagonist was the only survivor of his ship after a storm on the Red Sea. This is the oldest story about getting shipwrecked alone on an island.
- The legends related to King Arthur. Only 1-7 knights (it varies between various accounts) survive Arthur's final battle at Camlann. There are no survivors on the opposing side.
- Used in the print comic Garfield, in a Halloween storyline starting on October 23, 1989 where Garfield wakes up to find that Jon and Odie are gone. And his home has been abandoned for some time. Which can only mean...
- Spoofed in a Peanuts strip where Peppermint Patty, after napping in class, wakes up to find the room empty except for Marcie, who tells her the world came to an end and they are the only survivors. Patty looks out the window and asks "So why is the playground full of kids?" Marcy replies "Sorry, sir. When I saw you got an A on that quiz, I thought the world had come to an end." (Schulz said he intended the strip to make fun of preachers predicting the end of the world, and was surprised when no one wrote him to complain about it.)
- Used to bleak effect in a couple of scenarios from a Champions supplement dealing with alternate dimensions. In particular, in one the player characters arrive in their home city's counterpart in a world where Germany won WW2, developed nuclear weapons before anybody else did, and conquered the US. They run into and fight power armored patrols, get in touch with the local resistance, get sent to another city to speak with the real leaders there...then the Nazis, alarmed that there are still superpowered individuals despite all their heretofore effective-seeming efforts to exterminate them, drop a nuke on the city they just left. And then threaten to repeat that performance as necessary until the resistance surrenders for keeps...
- Implied in Paranoia — Friend Computer says everyone outside of Alpha Complex is dead!
- In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, all of the main characters die in the end except Horatio, who maybe contemplates suicide (peer pressure is powerful, you know), and Fortinbras, who arrives to pay his respects after returning from fighting the Poles.
- In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, the character Macduff, the only man who can oppose the titular Macbeth Because Destiny Says So, has just had his entire family and everyone else in his castle killed, unbeknownst to him. While in England to raise a rebel army, a Thane (Noble) by the name of Ross is telling him of these merciless killings. Macduff asks Ross for confirmation about his wife, children, and servants at least twice.
"Did you say all? O hell-kite! All? What, all my pretty chickens and their dam at one fell swoop?"
- Then there's Titus Andronicus, by the end of which 14 of the 17 named characters are dead. The only characters left standing at the end are Lucius, Marcus and Aaron, and the latter is about to be executed.
- In the one-act play At The Bottom Of Lake Missoula, the protagonist Pam is told by the dean of her school that a tornado has stuck her family's home.
Pam: "Who is it? Who's dead?!"
Dean: "All of them." [beat] "All of them."
- Something similar happens to the unfortunate Rina in The Dragon Doctors. The young lady is turned to stone for two thousand years and is devastated to learn everyone she's ever known is dead. Kili the shaman also went through a similar experience; as a kid, everyone but Kili in Kili's town was killed by a tsunami, leaving Kili to wander the beach looking for survivors and screaming at the sky when none were found.
- This is the likely ending of Homestuck - since four kids and their guardians are the only (presumed) living humans left.
- Also during the Bad Future, where John and Jade have been killed. Considering that the only two people left are Rose and Dave, it is likely that this particular line was actually uttered, off-screen.
- And what happens to the Troll race, leaving only their Empress (plus the players) alive.
- Uttered almost word-for-word by Dirk's auto-responder - so precisely that it's almost definitely a Shout-Out.
TT: Everybody's dead, Jake.
TT: Dirk's dead, Jake. Jane's dead. Roxy? She's dead, Jake. Everybody is dead, Jake.
- And again when John stumbles into the aftermath of an even larger massacre. Nearly all the protagonists are dead, and Terezi is breaking the news to him. Funnily enough, one of the dead characters is named Dave.
- In the first arc of The Order of the Stick, when Celia is turned back to normal (having been turned to stone by the villains), Nale (the leader of said villains, now captured by the heroes) informs her that she's been stone for a thousand years, and everyone she's known and loved are long dead! She blasts him when she finds out he's lying, but he still thinks it was "Worth It".
- In Ow, my sanity, Dave's whole dorm is killed in the summoning ritual, from spree killings to sacrifices.
- Pretty much every supporting character in the Sluggy Freelance story arcs "KITTEN" and "KITTEN II" is killed off or rendered catatonic. There's also the "GOFOTRON Champion of the Cosmos" arc, which ends with the entire Punyverse being blown up.
- Parodied on The Simpsons when Homer and Bart watch a movie entitled The Thing that Ate Everybody, which contains the following exchange;
Woman: "You mean, it ate Patrick?"
Man: "It ate everybody."
Woman: "What about Erika?"
Man, Homer and Bart: "It ate everybody!"
- In Transformers: Beast Machines, it seems like everyone's dead, but as the series progresses the planet's fate is revealed to be far more surreal: the entire populace of the planet has had their sparks (robot souls, essentialy) forcibly extracted and placed in containers.
- In the pilot episode of Futurama, Fry awakens in the future and realizes that his family, his co-workers and his girlfriend are all long since gone. After a moment of reflection... he lets out a jubilant "Yahoo!" Softened considerably by the fact that they weren't, so far as Fry knows, Killed Horribly; they're dead because of the natural human tendency not to live 1000+ years.
- And in the last movie, "Into the Wild Green Yonder", after yet another mass-death on Zapp Brannigan's ship, which only he and Kif survive.
Zapp: "How many men did we lose?"
Kif: "...All of them."
"Well, at least they won't have to mourn each other!"
Prof. Farnsworth: Everyone we ever knew died hundreds of years ago.
Bender: Everyone we ever knew? Eh, I never liked those guys.
- In Gargoyles, by the end of the episode "Future Tense" there are only two main characters left living. However, it was All Just a Dream.
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode "Same As It Never Was" a Bad Future tale set thirty years in the future, features the final battle between the turtles (and their surviving allies) and the Shredder, who has conquered the world. In the end, the only surviving cast members are resistance leader April O' Neil and present-day Donatello, who soon after is whisked away to another era.
- This is the situation Aang finds himself in when he wakes up from his 100-year sleep. All of his people, the Air Nomads, have been completely wiped out by the Fire Nation, and almost all of the friends he had in other nations died, if nothing else, of old age.
- Jake teases Finn with this at the end of an Adventure Time episode.
: Finn! Oh, my Glob, man, everyone's dead
, man! They're all burned!
There's barbecue'd bods EVERYWHERE! Finn
: WHAT??!!! Jake
: I was just kidding.
I saved them. Everyone's fine
, see? *points to group of alive and well Goblins*
- Similar to the Men in Tights parody, one story (framed as a country song setting in The Big Book of Urban Legends) starts with a sheriff telling his friend who just returned from a trip that his dog had died... because of eating too much horse flesh... due to the barn burning... because of the house fire... because of the candles at his mother-in-law's funeral... who died due to seeing his wife run off with another man...
Farmer: So I'm going to have to raise three children without their mother?!
Sheriff: Heck no, your kids all died in the fire!
- In 150 years, everyone you've ever known will be dead. So will you.
- Around 550 BC, Sparta got into a conflict with Argos which they decided to settle in the so-called Battle of the 300 Champions. Each side sent only its 300 finest soldiers to the fight, and the outcome was meant to decide the whole war. Only one Spartan and two Argive soldiers survived. The requirements of the fight called for one side to be entirely destroyed, and the fact that the one spartan lived came from one of the biggest Faileda Spot Check in Greek history. The Spartans loopholed their way out of that embarrassment and won the war anyways.
- Siege of Masada 73 AD.
- Remember The Alamo.
- The Battle of Little Bighorn. The five companies of the 7th Calvary led by Custer were so severely wiped out that the only American survivor of the battle was a horse.
- Pickett's Charge from Gettysburg, (as under films, above). The Confederates moved in on the Union position assuming the Union had stopped firing their cannons because they were overheated. They weren't. It was such a slaughter that the creek ran red with blood. For some units only a small handful of people showed up for roll call the next morning.
- When Pickett himself was ordered to reform his division after the charge, he responded with "There is no Division."
- The Battle of Stalingrad: 230,000 soldiers of the German 6th Army were trapped in the pocket of Stalingrad. Only 6,000 survived the battle and the labour camps to return to Germany after the war.
- The retreat from Kabul in 1842 is a strong contender for the worst military disaster in the history of the British Army. 4,500 troops and 12,000 civilians left the city on the 6th of January, intending to regroup with the garrison at Jalalabad. A week later, surgeon William Brydon rode into Jalalabad alone, suffering from a severe head wound. When asked about the rest of the army, Brydon replied, "I am the army." A few dozen captives and stragglers trickled in over the next days, but the vast majority of the column was annihilated by the Afghans.
- Archeology seems to suggest that there was a period around the last Ice Age where the entire human population got whittled down to only a few thousand people. You can just imagine the number of deaths involved.note
- On the morning of May 8, 1902, the city of Saint-Pierre on the French island of Martinique had a population of around 30,000 people. Then the nearby volcano Mount Pelée erupted and sent a pyroclastic flow into the city. When it was over, only two (possibly three) people survived. Interestingly, one of the survivors later survived two other instances in which pyroclastic flows from Mount Pelée killed nearly everyone but him; he died in 1936, from a fall.
- When the Bismarck fired on the Hood, one shell passed through seven decks and hit a powder magazine. Of the 1,500 sailors on board, three survived. Hood's escort, the Prince Of Wales, could do nothing but run.
- Similar "instant death" occurrences happened in World War One, notably at the Battle of Jutland, where three British battlecruisers suffered catastrophic magazine explosions from single hits.
- Jonestown, where Apocalypse Cult leader Jim Jones massacred over 700 of his followers in a ritual murder-suicide. Only a handful survived, in some cases by playing dead.
- This famous graph◊ of Napoleon's retreat from Russia illustrates just how few French soldiers made it home alive. The width of the brown line shows the number marching towards Moscow; the width of the black line shows how many men survived the retreat. "When the remnants of Napoleon's army crossed the Berezina River in November, only 27,000 fit soldiers remained; the Grand Armée had lost some 380,000 men dead and 100,000 captured."
"Wait a minute... are you trying to tell me everybody's dead
"Yes, they are, Ji--
I never should have let him on this page in the first place.