open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- The Muten-Roshi of Dragon Ball lives on such an island. It's big enough to hold his small house, but that's it. Said house also manages to have running water and electricity.
- Desert Island Dick from The Topper was just a whole comic strip about this trope: one guy lives on a deserted island by himself and never escapes but never starves either. He is friends with the wildlife though. This trope has also been occasionally used in The Topper's better-known stablemates The Beano and The Dandy.
- MAD's Don Martin often used this trope in his comics. As does Frank Jacobs.
- Nero: Nero often strands on islands like these, where he meets strange creatures like mermaids or talking monkeys, who always disappear when the Deus ex Machina appears. When he tells them what he saw they refuse to believe him.
- Pirates of the Caribbean:
- Jack and Elizabeth in the first film are stranded on an island that looks like this, but is quite a bit larger.
- It also wasn't always deserted; rumrunners used it as a secret cache before the British navy cracked down on them.
- However, in the third film one of these islands (sans the palm tree) is used as a quick meeting place for the heroes and villains to negotiate.
- Jack and Elizabeth in the first film are stranded on an island that looks like this, but is quite a bit larger.
- At the very end of Superman Returns, Lex Luthor and Kitty are shown to be stranded on a Far Side Island because they ran out of fuel for the helicopter.
- Rincewind from the Discworld series enjoyed his time on one of these (between Eric and Interesting Times). It was boring and the Luggage kept itself entertained by fighting sharks.
- The narrator in Terry Pratchett's Nation points out that in the alternative universe world, a type of palm tree exists that poisons all other palms on its island, "making all those cartoons botanically accurate".
- John Sladek once wrote a short story lampooning cartoon stereotypes, and of course saved this one for last.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: Each book ends with the usual author/illustrator info, including a humorous self-portrait of Brett Helquist having something to do with the plot of the book. In The End, which takes place on a faraway island, Helquist draws a stereotypical portrayal of this trope.
- Played completely straight (and not for comedy, for once) in the Stephen King story Survivor Type. An unscrupulous, sociopathic surgeon is stranded on a tiny island with no supplies other than some water and a large amount of heroin he had been smuggling. A self-described "survivor type", he tries to keep himself alive first by catching seagulls, and after accidentally breaking his foot, cannibalizing parts of his own body. His last diary entries suggest he's eaten everything below his waist.
- While The Mysterious Island isn't an example, containing everything needed for resourceful castaways to build a successful colony, it becomes this after the volcano explodes, leaving all the humans stuck on a tiny rock barely big enough to hold all of them.
Live Action TV
- A sketch on The Muppet Show had Cloris Leachman stranded on an island with Sweetums. They are later joined by Doglion.
- In a rare example where neither occupant seem to care much, Sesame Street's Count von Count and Harry Belafonte are stranded on a tiny island. But as long as The Count has a plethora of coconuts, he's good to go, and Harry seems content to sing about him.
- New Zealand kids' show What Now? parodied this by having the cast marooned on a traffic island.
- Private Eye did one once complying with gender, race, religion and disability discrimination laws, the comic in question featuring a woman in a burhka and a wheelchair on a desert island reading a message in a bottle rendered entirely in As Long As It Looks Foreign script.
- Regularly featured in The New Yorker cartoons, such as one that has the palm tree replaced by a wind turbine and one castaway saying to another, "I miss the palm tree too, but at least we can have a refrigerator."
- Gahan Wilson did a bunch of tragic 'stock cartoons' for the National Lampoon, including a little desert island with a bleached skeleton on it.
- The Trope Namer is Gary Larson's The Far Side, which often includes these islands.
- Grin And Bear It features these a lot.
- Hägar the Horrible regularly gets stranded on these with Lucky Eddie.
- They're frequent in the work of Spanish cartoonist Forges, who prefers the two-character format.
- B.C.'s Peter ended up on one while trying to circumnavigate the Earth on a raft. He eventually noticed that he could walk home during low tide.
- Bizarro features many of the island's inhabitants◊ in a comic of its own.
- Super Mario Bros.
- There's a tiny island in the background of one section of Keelhaul Key in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. There's a palm tree there, and if you hit it with a hammer, a Coconut falls out for you to collect and exchange for the Chuckola Cola Flavio has on him, if that's where you are in the story. There's a pipe linking it to the main island for "easy" possible access.
- Super Mario Sunshine has a number of these, most notably one at the Hub Level with a castaway on it. It's also notable as part of what is probably the most frustrating sidequest of the game, with two different spins on Super Drowning Skills.
- Some perfect examples of Far Side islands (minus the weird colors) appear in the background to the side of the island with the crystal tower in King's Quest II: Romancing The Throne. Another Far Side island becomes an actual walkable terrain and part of the story in King's Quest IV: The Perils Of Rosella.
- Tales of Monkey Island has a few of these, especially in Episode 2. When Guybrush encounters one of these for the first time, he lampshades this with his remark "I didn't know tiny islands like this really existed." He also comments that he's glad he's not stranded there (he got there by sailing to it after choosing the destination from the ship's map) or else he'd have to worry about having something to read.
- In zOMG!, Sandblast and his Elite Mooks can only be battled by taking a canoe from Gold Beach to one of these.
- Not unusual in Minecraft ocean biomes.
- "Survival island" maps are based around these.
- At the end of 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue, Horace, Jasper and LePelt hide in a crate about to be shipped out, in an attempt to ditch Cruella DeVil. They end up on an island just like this...for some unexplained reason.
Horace: Boy, I sure hopes one of you brought sunscreen.
- Animated screensaver Johnny Castaway was set on one of these, featuring the titular shipwrecked character carrying out increasingly wackier plans to get off.
- Island Wars features tiny islands with a rotating cannon and few palm trees. Said palm trees act as your Video Game Lives, and your job in Invasion Mode is to defend said trees with your cannon. In the VS mode, one player uses a plane to attack their opponent's palm trees.
- One of these shows up in a few Homestar Runner cartoons:
Bubs: C'mon, people! C'mon, palm tree! I'm tryin'-ta-sell-a-baloney-sammich!
- One Strong Bad Email has a viewer asking Strong Bad what it would be like if he and Homestar were stranded on such an island. Strong Bad first mentioned the usual tropes for such a situation, but figured the reality would actually be more dull and unpleasant.
- In the cartoon "Weclome Back", Bubs remarks that he spend the month-and-a-half hiatus trying to sell baloney sandwiches "at the beach". Cut to Bubs by himself on a tiny island that's almost too small for his truck.
- In the email "the paper", we see a flashback of Strong Bad being saved by The Paper from a sinking version of one.
Strong Bad: Why is this island sinking?! I didn't even kill any end bosses!
- A Chinese animation called See Through revolves around two fighter pilots from opposing armies becoming friends and forming an Ambiguously Gay relationship on one such island after downing each other in the middle of combat.
- The Happy Tree Friends episode "Jumping the Shark" has this as the main plot. Somehow, their bus crashes onto a deserted island after falling off a cliff, followed by their subsequent attempts to escape.
- Used in the short Sluggy Freelance side story where Bun-bun gets sidetracked trying to get to Tijuana to set up a black market Viagra ring. Stoner Gilligan provides Bun-bun with company... for a short time.
- In Adventurers!, Karn and Ardam somehow wind up on one of these after the Big Bad accidentally causes The End of the World as We Know It. It turns out to be a movie set, somehow.
- Played with in this XKCD strip, which contrasts the drabness of the tiny desert island with the vibrant sea-scape just beneath the waves.
- Happens in The Noob in this comic (along with several ShoutOuts to The Bible).
- In Wapsi Square, Monica finds a small tropical island that more or less fits this description, to which she and the golem girls can poit for a bit of peace and quiet. Except that the last time Bud went there she found something else and the island got blown to bits.
- The KA Mics has a series featuring these.
- The Joker and Harley Quinn end up stranded on one after the Joker sinks Greenbeard's ship in Li'l Gotham #8. It turns out this was the one time Harley hadn't packed her escape balloon, because she needed to make room for all her shoes.
- One of these showed up on American Dad!. Originally it was a quite spacious desert island with many luxuries installed, until a tidal wave submerged something like 95% of the island underwater. Stan and Roger survive by eating mostly seagulls. They attempt to escape with a raft made from seagull carcasses which immediately sinks, but then discover that Rogers body is bouyant enough to function as a makeshift flotation device.
- One of these is seen regularly on Spongebob Squarepants as an establishing shot for the city Bikini Bottom. The cast even went there in the episode "Pressure".
- Sponge Out Of Water revealed that the island is actually much bigger than it looks. It has a dense jungle that's dwarfed by three giant palm trees.
- Showed up in an episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes. The only inhabitant was a weavil Lucius had imprisoned there.
- Taz-Mania: Taz and Wendal are stranded on one in "Taz-Manian Theatre".
- The Powerpuff Girls get sunburns in "Sun Scream" so the mere touch of the villains causes pain. When the bad guys later surrender, instead of taking them to jail, the girls strand the pair on an island to suffer the same fate.
- In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Schnitheads" Heffer joins a sausage cult, but is sentenced to Sauerkraut Fielding after tiring of sausage. Rocko and Filburt try to rescue their friend, but are caught. Just as the three are about to be punished, Really Really Big Man shows up disguised as The Most Supreme and Mighty King Of Wieners. He claims he will take his faithful servants home but instead drops them on a deserted island.
- In an animated Sesame Street sequence, the letters H, E, L, and P are stranded on an island and miss two opportunities to be rescued by being in the wrong order.
Man in blimp: I wonder what "PLEH" means...Other man in blimp: It doesn't mean anything to me!
- Rockall is perhaps the best real life example, although it is a single large rock jutting out of the North Atlantic, 162 miles away from the nearest landmass and sporting no palm trees. Most useful as a means to claim exclusive economic rights in the surrounding ocean, Rockall is normally uninhabited, but claimed by the UK, Ireland, Iceland and Denmark. Longest duration anyone has spent on the island is 42 days.
- Of course, many islands are extremely small, but most this size are within swimming distance of larger landmasses.
- Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas (part of Florida) is practically built on a Real Life version. It's closer to 100 meters wide rather than just one, but the public non-fort area which allows overnight camping would fit the bill. ETA: It's about fifty miles west of Key West, making it one of the most remote spots in the continental USA.
- There is a well-known research site leased by Sydney University near the Great Barrier Reef that doesn't quite fit this trope perfectly as it's 5.5 km across at its widest point, but it's named One Tree Island.
- A Cay is the term for a small, flat island that forms around coral reefs, when sediments pile up in one spot on the reef.
- Can be an exaggerated Truth in Television for many of the countless coral atolls scattered around the globe. Atolls form from the remains of old undersea volcanoes which result in a ring shaped series of coral islands around where the mountain previously emerged from the sea. A single Atoll can be comprised of many small islands, some remarkably similar to the trope in its most literal sense, but even where the islands are large they are still small by any land based means of comparison. For example in World War 2 thousands of soldiers would fight over strategic coral islands the size of a good sized city park.