What happens when you detonate a spherical metal honeycomb over a hundred miles wide just above the atmosphere of a habitable world? Regardless of specifics, the world won't remain habitable for long.
doesn't just find plot holes; it can make your typical happy ending into a Downer Ending
, and render even the most flawless moral victory into Black and Gray Morality
. How? By helping the viewer realize that the "survivors" at the end of the movie don't have a future. When authors use large and amazing technologies and world or even galaxy spanning threats, they run the risk of letting the excitement of Stuff Blowing Up
get the better of them and not think through how the survivors will make a living afterward, even though they can't help but celebrate as the Evil Tower of Ominousness
explodes with its master's demise
Y'see, Happily Ever After
implies there's arable land to farm, electricity and running water, and a semblance of civilization to go back to, as well at least several hundred to several thousand people surviving by the endnote
. A Zombie Apocalypse
, nuclear holocaust
, Colony Drop
, or anything that can cause The End of the World as We Know It
will have subtle and far reaching effects even if it's stopped
. And even if humanity does manage to survive (humans are clingy
bastards) there are bound to be massive casualties. And even if the work runs with the above scenarios and makes it about characters from a Terminally Dependent Society
surviving After the End
, the author may end up seriously overestimating their and their civilizations' chances of survival.
Cue the Moral Dissonance
if the heroes are primarily responsible
for this near disaster. The subversion of this trope is if the heroes fully realize the effects of their actions
... and choose to follow through anyway. Maybe they are amoral sociopaths
who do not care, maybe the Omniscient Morality License
makes it such that the ultimate consequences will be preferable to the status quo
, or maybe things are beyond the Godzilla Threshold
and so anything goes.
Keep in mind that this is an inferred
holocaust. If the work explicitly states that there's a horrible aftermath or if it ends on a cliffhanger (for example, depicting an undetected bomb about to explode), then it isn't an example of this trope. Also note that, despite the name, the "holocaust" doesn't have to involve massive death; it could be as simple as a criminal getting away because the writers didn't give the good guys enough evidence to convict
Contrast Inferred Survival
, and contrast No Endor Holocaust
for when this possibility is nixed by Word of God
of subsequent material. For more general plot points that are chilling when contemplated at length, see Fridge Horror
Ending Trope, so spoilers be ahead.
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Media in General
Anime and Manga
- Blue Gender. A few humans have survived Gaia's Vengeance, and they can all live in harmony with mother nature, free at last of technology! Then the Fridge Logic sets in - the only survivors will be physically strong people. If you're physically disabled, blind, deaf, have a terminal disease, etc. then you're hosed. Mother Nature hates you and you have no right to live.
- Turns into Moral Dissonance in Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0. Shinji rescues Rei, though as a result triggers the Third Impact. It takes a timely intervention with Kaworu to stop it.. 3.0. takes the "Inferred" out of it.
- Ergo Proxy, though already post-apocalyptic, just made it worse when the last known bastion of humanity fell since its patron Proxy abandoned it, as well as almost every Proxy burns to death. The only survivors are a Proxy, two cogito-infected autoreivs, and a person who is either another Proxy or sterile. However, this is considered good because the small populations of humanity who retreated from the planet a thousand years before begin to return due to the Earth finally recovering from the nuclear winter. Every character we knew that even survived will likely be slaughtered because none of them were meant to survive — Proxies were genetically altered to have a deathly reaction to UV rays and autoreivs were meant to destroy all the sterile humans and then themselves by way of the cogito virus.
- The Spriggan OVA ends with the destruction of the Big Bad's super weapon, the 'ARK" (yes, THAT ARK. It has Dinosaurs). We are shown the heroes emerging triumphant from underground, to be cheered and applauded by the team members on the surface of the mountain. All seems well. And then we zoom out to show the Earth which looks not a little battered, as well as completely reshaped, by the earlier destruction. Clearly the world will never be the same now.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has an inferred extinction: After humans retake the surface, they live (largely) at peace with the Beastmen. However, Beastmen can't reproduce and all of the existing ones were made in People Jars by Lordgenome. Since they're apparently not making any more Beastmen, they'll eventually all die out (except Viral, because he's immortal) unless Beastmen have access to the cloning technology that Lordgenome used in the first place.
- Really, the champions at this are the Dirty Pair. Anything they get involved with has a 50% chance of causing mass collateral damage, and it's probably not healthy to dwell on the numbers of deaths that can (indirectly or directly) be laid at Kei and Yuri's feet.
- Now and Then, Here and There. For all the inspirational music and pictures of the pretty archipelago the desert had become, there were inhabited villages and animals in that desert, and desert ecosystems are fragile in the best of times. The Great Flood just annihilated every living thing there, how do they expect an archipelago ecosystem to evolve from that? Even if the water seeps into the groundwater or evaporates, leaving the land water-rich but not a sea anymore, well, there's still that utter and complete destruction of everything to contend with. A possible explanation is that She only released the water to the south, since it's shown at the end of episode one (when the camera pans back while Shu's hanging from the fortress) that everything south of Hellywood is already gone.
- Dragon Ball Z:
- Killing the Omnicidal Maniac Emperor Freeza is very much understandable, but he is still Emperor Freeza of at least 79 planets. The short term result is the absence of a dictatorial tyrant; the ugly civil war created by the power-vacuum in his sudden absence (He probably kept hundreds of warlords from starting their own private wars) would kill billions if not trillions of innocent, decent alien lives.
- Buu destroyed two planets full of intelligent beings. Since one of those planets was not wished back into existence, then we have the Fridge Horror that the good people and animals on the planet died again if the wish accidentally included them.
- There's the time when everyone who Cell killed was resurrected. A lot of those were people living on islands that Cell destroyed. Unless the wish meant those islands were remade too, they likely drowned long before making land. Way to go, Yamcha, asking for wishes without thinking them first.
- Go Lion ends with the deaths of the Big Bad and his Dragons. Cue the ensuing war to take his place, and the billions of resulting deaths.
- A lot of Lolicon and Shotacon Hentai can end up this way if you know how damaging incest and pedophilia is to children.
- Macross: Do You Remember Love touches on this at the end. The Macross and the few Zentradi turncoats were able to beat the Boddol Zer fleet. However, Exsedol reminds Britai that there are over 1,000 fleets of the Boddol Zer and Lap Lamiz classes in the galaxy, each one numbering in the millions of ships. What is not stated is that, the power of culture notwithstanding, it would still be a long, hard, and impossibly uphill battle of attrition against possibly billions of ships. The Macross and Britai's Zentradi would have to win all of those battles. Just one of those other fleets has to win and it's game over. Later Macross series address this with the Macross Colonization Fleets: the civilization attempts to seed as many worlds as possible so that even if Earth was taken out by one of the other Zentran fleets, the human race would survive.
- Code Geass's final episode claims everyone in the world hates Lelouch and that with his death the cycle of hatred is broken. Before this, some people in the crowd talked about Emperor Lelouch killing entire families of those who speak up against him, but we never hear about exactly how much death and destruction was caused by Lelouch's purges. Either Emperor Lelouch had to actively oppress a considerable number of people within three months or at least enough to give the impression that his regime was serious about such threats. The previous Emperor, Lelouch's father, was a racist, self-proclaimed Social Darwinist who believed the other nations deserved their miserable treatment by being too weak to avoid being conquered by Britannia. Just what did Lelouch do to top that in only three months? The only thing that's sufficiently clear is he managed to control the entire world, instead of just about 1/3 of it like his father did.
- Halfway through ROD the TV, an extremely overzealous Self-Destruct Mechanism set off by a Nebulous Evil Organisation causes the entire city of Hong Kong to sink into the ocean. All the heroes survive, but it's hard to feel good about it when hundreds of thousands of innocent people presumably drowned. No dead bodies are shown, so maybe we're supposed to assume they all escaped somehow?
- Sailor Moon:
- The paintings of Thomas Kinkade, Painter of LightTM, usually show homes with a bright glow coming from within. But as this blog post points out:
"All of Kinkade’s structures seem consumed from within by raging infernos. What might be laughed off as artistic excess suddenly trickles icily down your spine when you realize that Kinkade’s rustic incinerators are operating at full tilt regardless of the time of day, prevailing weather conditions, and the particular season depicted in the painting!"
- The effect is compounded by many of Kinkade's regular motifs. Often, there are wild animals or livestock, but very few of the works have visible humans. Smoke rises from every buildings' every chimney, regardless of the season or time of day, and it tends to rise in high, thin columns, suggesting that the smoke is being generated by very hot fires. Along with the unnatural glow coming from buildings, Kinkade tended to use a somewhat surreal color pallet for the sky, which tended to give the paintings an ominous 'calm before the storm' or 'oncoming forest fire' vibe.
- In the fan-made Mega Man movie, when Mega Man destroys Wily's castle all is well and the city is saved... Except for the fact that giant hunks of metal are raining down on the city and are most likely striking people down where they stand.
- Averted in The Stalking Zuko Series, that is pointed out to the Gaang that when Aang teamed up with Ocean Spirit in the Siege of North, countless of Fire Nation soldiers drowned or froze to death and it was the most devastating loss in Fire Nation history. The Gaang find out that a lot of Fire Nation people knew someone or had a family member or friend die in the Siege.
Films — Animation
- Responsible for a few changes to the end of WALL•E. During the previews, audience members expressed depression at the end of the film; they'd left with the impression that humanity was screwed on returning to the polluted Earth. The animators added on a series of images to the credits that showed the human race repairing the ecological damage and regaining the skills they'd lost aboard the Axiom, ending with a beautiful landscape and a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming (hundreds of years later, the plant that WALL•E found has become a gigantic tree).
- The ending of Disney's Pocahontas is optimistic and hopeful for a peaceful future... until you remember how the battle for land and freedom between the Native American people and European settlers REALLY turned out. Or how badly the natives reacted to common diseases that the European settlers had long since been immune to.
- The Prince of Egypt (based on the Bible's Book of Exodus) depicts Moses after his exile being welcomed and accepted by Midianites and even marrying one (indeed, the Bible states that Moses' first wife was a Midianite), however those who have read Numbers 31:17-18 will know of the massacre of Midianites perpetrated by the Hebrews and commanded by none other than Moses himself. Even funnier is that the movie ends with Moses descending from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments; presumably the movie cuts out just before he reacts to that whole Golden Calf thing.
- Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker invoked this trope twice. First was in the beginning of the movie, where Batman was trying to stop the Jokerz from making off with advanced equipment. One of the pods smashed into a building causing an explosion, as well as another one with the equipment itself exploding. Realistically, people would have been killed from the explosion. The second is nearing the end of the movie, where Joker was using his hacked into defense satellite "toy's" laser to gun down Batman and pretty much kill anyone nearby, even demolishing a theater that was implied to be full of people (in the uncut version, the edited version made the building abandoned), and later activated it (albeit accidentally) to have it target his own lair. Realistically, people would have died even before Batman managed to stop him once and for all.
- The Bittersweet Ending of Toy Story 3 has the strong implication that although Woody and the gang got off lucky this time, there's no guarantee they'll be so fortunate next time their kid grows too old for them.
- In Beauty and the Beast Belle is implied to have become a Queen in France (not Queen of France), and seems to live happily ever after... Until you realize that the story takes place during the last years of Monarchial France... meaning the villagers who raided the castle earlier might have a second chance at doing so, and succeeding.
- Bebe's Kids ends with the baby (voiced by Tone-Lōc of all people!) causing a massive power outage across Las Vegas by pulling apart a giant cable on the ground. And in the ending the kids go back home to BeBe, who lives in the ghetto, who is at the very least an absentee parent. Leon has a shot, since he's not actually one of the kids, seems to be pretty decent, and his mother seems to give a damn about him but, seriously, everybody else is headed to juvie, if they're lucky. No parents, poor schooling, terrible diet, living in a bad neighborhood? Not exactly a recipe for success.
- In The Iron Giant, as Cracked so aptly postulated, what happens after the other members of his kind show up on Earth? Also, the Iron Giant only became benevolent due to having an accident that gave him amnesia. What happens if the nuke that exploded in his face ended up doing the opposite? Due to the fact he was self-repairing, he could have accidentally been restored back to his factory settings?
- Monsters University thanks to the knowledge of what will happen to the scaring industry at the end of the Monsters, Inc.. What will happen to all the monsters who built a life out of teaching how to scare?
- Kung Fu Panda 2 reveals that Po's home village was destroyed long ago in an attack by Lord Shen. It was already assumed that most of the villagers died as a result, but when you consider that this event was thought to have wiped out the entire panda species, it makes you wonder just how big the death toll really was...
- At the end of Aladdin and the King of Thieves, when Cassim discards the Hand of Midas by throwing it into the ocean, it accidentally hits the ship that was used by the remaining seven thieves who evaded capture by the Agrabah palace guards and were tricked by Saluk that Cassim sold the thieves out. The ship turns gold and sinks, and because the Vanishing Isle had submerged and would not rise until long after and there's no other land nearby, they must have drowned.
- In The Lorax, a forest ecosystem is destroyed and the animals in it displaced, but it's very unlikely that all of them survived, and indeed, we never find out what happened to them. The story is recounted many years later and they are unlikely to have lived that long anyway. A cut song, "Biggering" included the lyric "Who cares if some things are dying?!" and may have been cut to avoid directly addressing this trope.
Films — Live-Action
- District 9, even though the ending itself was bittersweet enough, with Wikus losing what remaining humanity he has left, there is the possibility that once Christopher returns to his home planet the other Prawns won't be too pleased to know what happens to the others who are still held captive. Given the kind of technology they have, the human race will not only be facing a possible alien invasion but also suffer a similar fate, or something much worse than what they put the captive Prawns through.
- Batman, Axis Chemical is blown up by Batman, destroying the source of Joker's smilex gas. While this is good, there must have been at least a hundred people, henchmen granted, inside the plant, and a massive chemical fire spewing out fumes. Not to mention Batman's cutting the lines to the Joker's balloons and letting them float away, which was lampshaded in MAD Magazine's parody of the movie:
But won't the loose balloons fly over another city, and poison other people? Battyman: That's their problem
- The Dark Knight Saga:
- In Batman Begins, Gordon says that "the Narrows is lost". That's an entire section of the city, albeit isolated from the rest of Gotham, consumed by the Scarecrow's fear toxin, including most of Gotham's available police force. The path the train took before it crashed probably wasn't too pretty either while Fox was mixing up a cure. Somehow, though, Batman and the remaining police apparently brought things back from the brink in time for The Dark Knight.
- Parts of The Dark Knight's viral marketing campaign focused on the aftermath of the city being exposed to the toxin in Begins. The results was a sudden increase of mental illness in the city because of the contaminated drinking water; this could explain why Gotham's got so many madmen for the Joker to recruit, and why Arkham's got a revolving door. But there's no indicator that the people infected by the toxin were permanently damaged by the toxin; Rachel was a special case, as she was given a "concentrated dose" as said by Scarecrow. Odds are, most of the people infected by the fear toxin were able to recover after a time when the water vaporizer was destroyed.
- In The Dark Knight Rises a city of 12 million people is taken hostage and cut off from the rest of the world. While food supplies are being brought in on the one remaining bridge, the logistics of fairly distributing them to a terrified populace without a police force almost certainly means rioting, anarchy, and mass starvation. It puts the eerily empty streets in a new light.
- During the climax, Batman destroys a skyscraper that's in his way, and during the battle a lot of other buildings are hit with explosives. Either it was an act of major desperation, or he felt confident no one was alive inside. Either way, that's a lot of deaths.
- In Its A Wonderful Life Pottersville has more excitement and a superior economic infrastructure. Bedford Falls only has a moderate manufacturing economy and no obvious places to find excitement. Once the factory closes down, Bedford Falls will suffer depression and unemployment. Pottersville has backup industries, such as the nightclubs, that can encourage outside investment.
- Pirates of the Caribbean:
- Dead Man's Chest: It's strongly implied this happened to most of the Pearl's crewmen, when Will Turner finds Cotton's parrot, and it squawks "Don't eat me!"
- On Stranger Tides: From Barbossa's account of the Pearl's capture, the audience can assume that Jack, Barbossa, Gibbs, and Jack the Monkey are the only survivors left of the Pearl's crew. Granted, Jack the Monkey was alive aboard the bottled Pearl, but he's immortal anyway. We also see Cotton's parrot, which might mean that the rest of the crew is still alive on it. Or that the parrot survived on its own.
- Soylent Green: Okay, so maybe for sake of argument, the secret does successfully get out, and the Soylent Corporation is shut down. But what are the common masses going to do? The Earth, for the most part is screwed ecologically, the only way to get a decent meal without paying for it is to steal or kill for it. The world is headed for anarchy, if it isn't already. Most likely though, the company's influence will keep the secret suppressed, only allowing it to survive in small rumors and urban legends amongst the people. The whole reason there was a secret was that the environmental damage is far worse than the public is aware (the oceans are dead not dying). Soylent Green is the only sustainable food source left, though unfortunately about as sustainable as a cat and rat farm.
- In the Steven Spielberg film A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, David is finally reunited with his adopted mother in a simulation of their home. However, humanity has been extinct for hundreds or thousands of years, David was only given one day with his mother before she died, and David's batteries probably ran down for good in the closing shot. However, depending on your point of view, this may actually have been a happy ending..
- In the remake of The Andromeda Strain, humanity in the future sends a sample of a Nanobot virus dead set on killing with humanity with (very roundabout) instructions on how to beat it and (presumably) to keep some o' that cure around for when it comes in the future. They stop the virus, but continue with the deep sea excavation that will cause the extinction of the only thing capable of stopping it, so the future is completely screwed because of us. This is not helped by the fact that a shadowy government organization kept a small sample of the Andromeda Strain, and it's even implied to have gotten loose since the message sent from the future referred to its storage code.
- Although not a "Holocaust" exactly, in Con Air, Garland Greene manages to survive the events of the film, and is last seen happily engaged in casino gaming. As we all know, demented, crazed serial killers, don't just "get better". Had the movie run just a bit longer, we might have gotten to see him convert Casino patrons into headgear.
- Dawn of the Dead and Land of the Dead have the remnants of humanity holed up and later get eaten, save for a handful of survivors. At least in the case of Land of the Dead the zombies were growing smarter, so maybe they'll evolve back to a human intelligence and live happy but smelly lives themselves.
- The original Night of the Living Dead is less explicit in its implication that the remainder of humanity is doomed at the hands and mouths of hoards of zombies, and more implicit that the remainder of humanity will destroy itself due to paranoia and mob rule. At the end of the film, Ben is the only survivor of his group. Upon trying to signal a posse of gun-toting zombie hunters, he's mistaken for a zombie, shot in the head and killed. The posse piles him up with other dead zombies, specifically laying him next to the first zombie seen in the movie. The implication is that this posse will shoot first, ask questions later, a rather hopeless situation for Ben and other surviving humans in his same position. There was also a mention of how the posse kept making their way into places heavily surrounded by zombies in order to find survivors, but never found any. Meaning that no one was able to tell the living from the dead and just kept shooting on sight.
- The Day After Tomorrow:
- The super-storm may be over, but the world's problems are just beginning. An entire hemisphere now buried under uninhabitable ice, major cities destroyed, some serious overcrowding and resources issues imminent for the refugees who fled south... The astronaut's hopeful line that "the air never looked so clear" demonstrates that the writers did not quite think this through.
- In the real world, it is likely the remaining American citizens and soldiers may face violence and/or persecution in Mexico given the resource issues and the sheer flood of refugees (and soldiers who could be seen as invaders) - and the fact that the United States is now near-powerless. The film tries to hand-wave this by saying the US President had forgiven Latin American debt in return for accepting refugees: surely the present global economic system would collapse with North America, Europe and Russia uninhabitable, and how can debts be owed to a country that no longer exists?
- Most of the Northern hemisphere is covered in ice and snow. White ice and snow. Which means huge albedo. Which means it will not warm up and melt note . In case of ice or snow passes 20 degrees circle of latitude, it means one thing - whole planet will freeze, because of huge albedo effect. Guess around which latitude Mexican border (the first patch of land not covered with ice) is. And even if that won't turn Earth into a snowball, it will destroy most of life on it thanks to huge climatic changes. Moreover, much - probably most - of the world's arable land is in the Northern Hemisphere, so even if millions or billions died there will still be a major effect on food supply for the survivors.
- At the end of the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) Klaatu sacrifices his physical form to stop the Gort nanobot cloud... by unleashing a massive EMP like pulse that covers the entire Earth. The last few minutes of the movie show entire cities shutting down... and the movie ends. Now, there are two ways to interpret this: the pulse shut down all electronics temporarily (maybe even shutting down all mechanical devices as shown by how Helen's simple mechanical watch no longer works after the blast), which would cause the death of hundreds of thousands of people (such as airplane passengers, people dependent on life support, people with pacemakers...) or it shut down all electronics on Earth permanently which would not only cause the aforementioned deaths but eventually lead to the further deaths of millions due to lack of heating, food spoilage, and the inevitable global mayhem. The implications and the actual effect of such an event are simply ignored due to the movie's abrupt end. The lack of global communications also means that those who knew what happened and why would be unable to warn everyone else why they needed to change. Thus creating the very likely possibility that Klaatu will come back and think we 'squandered' our second chance (when the warning was actually lost) and kill us all.
- The original The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) put more thought into this - when Klaatu shuts down the Earth's machines for a half-hour, hospitals and in-flight airplanes are specifically exempt. It's not perfect, though. Hope you didn't crash when your car shut down while driving the freeway, because you can't call 911 and the ambulances aren't working anyway.
- In Escape from L.A., Snake Plissken stops all electricity over Earth. Actually, it does not seem like anyone could really consider there to be any "winners" in that movie, unless you think that cutting the power was going to stop the worldnote from tearing itself apart. Though, given that Snake's action effectively terminated the United States as a functioning political entity, it's likely that those guards would have more reason to shoot the president instead of his daughter for getting them into their situation than her. A healthy young woman would have more value After the End of the world to come than a crackpot ex-president.
- Don't forget the original film, where Snake destroys the nuclear fusion tape, sabotaging the post-war conference between the United States, the Soviet Union and China. Just when you think this damns the world to another future war, the novelization, which gives a lot more background and character detail, subverts this neatly: said tape in question is what the slimeball US President is hoping to use as an ace in the hole to force the Soviet Union and China into doing what he wants. Plissken's destruction of the tape isn't going to cause another war: it's just going to ensure that the balance of power remains unchanged and business carries on as usual.
- Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer ends with Galactus (who in the film appears as a huge sentient cloud several times the size of Earth) exploding in a suitably impressive fashion, all while he was about halfway through munching on the Earth's core. Basically, it's the Independence Day mothership times a hundred, plus whatever damage you would expect from having huge, miles deep holes buried in the planet's crust.
- The Cult Classic Flash Gordon movie has Gordon stopping Ming from sending the moon crashing into earth. Gordon tracks how long this will take, using a Magic Countdown device, stopping the collision Just in Time. Even if that's enough to save the world, the moon's orbit is now royally screwed, and the Earth should have already been subject to catastrophic tidal effects. The opening sequence of the movie indicated Ming was playing with Earth's geological and meteorological events for fun, making it worse. The novelization stated that time moved differently on Earth and Mongo, so while Ming has been playing with Earth only quite recently, the effects had been happening for several years. This also implied that the Moon would still be safely away from Earth to maintain a stable orbit once Flash wins.
- In Killer Klowns from Outer Space, the eponymous man-eating clown-like aliens kill everyone in the town with the exception of five characters, three of whom only make it due to cases of Disney Death.
- Hellboy II has the fairies forced underground by humanity's expansion into their rightful territory. With the entire royal family dead and the Golden Army unusable, their civilisation will most likely be split by rival claimants to the throne, and the BPRD has lost its heroic members, so there's nothing standing in humanity's way to continue expanding, driving the fairies to extinction. And this is without taking into account that in the films, Humans Are the Real Monsters, to the point that when the forest god dies it creates a forest compared in the novelisation to Eden - which humans then pollute and destroy.
- In I Am Legend, a cure is found and delivered to a walled city housing some survivors. But considering the infectees' physical capabilities, how is that city wall going to stop them? And what good will the cure be if it requires that the infectees be captured alive, restrained, and packed in ice while it's administered? The opening narration says that The Virus killed 90% of humanity, with almost every survivor instead becoming a Dark Seeker (only 12 million of 600 million not killed by the virus were straight up immune). "Curing" them is logistically impossible. Also, what's the point? It's hard to imagine the surviving pockets of humanity wanting to mount a planet-wide kidnapping war just to end up with half a billion bed-ridden invalids. And after years of being a monster, what kind of lives can the cured have? The original (alternate?) ending would've implied all that; there the Dayseekers weren't mindless creatures but trying to rescue one of their own. Even with a cure, sheer numbers would've forced a coexistence, at best. According to the director's cut advertising, this was a controversial idea. This article addresses it pretty clearly.
- In Independence Day, the unmitigated and total victory over the aliens is wonderfully uplifting, until you realize that the aliens blew up all the major nations' capitals and several dozen of its primary cities in the days they went unopposed. Did we mention that, thanks to industrialization, around 90% of the developed world's population now live in cities? Also, the effects of a ship 1/4 the size of the moon blowing up (due to a nuclear explosion, no less) cannot be good. Especially not if the theory that the alien weapons were powered by antimatter is correct.
- Ip Man concludes the final fight with the speculators overpowering the Japanese guards to get to the wounded hero, then cuts to him being taken to safety and later to his real-life success. What happens to the Foshan townsfolk as a result of the most probable Japanese response is left unknown. The sequel shows the Japanese taking out their anger on one of Ip's allies, but the fate of the rest remains unknown.
- In Logans Run, all the people are forced to evacuate their city of Crystal Spires and Togas, when the Evil AI that ran it is defeated. Despite the evil, it was a beautiful and decadent Utopia where no one had wants or needed to know a valuable skill or trade. The downside was it killed them at 30. To put it plainly, these humans are entirely dependent on machines to provide and don't even know what the Sun is. The Sun! Saying 90% of the thousands of refugees died in the winter would be optimistic, as they knew nothing about wilderness survival and had only one senile elder human to teach them how to survive.
- In The Matrix Revolutions, as pointed out in this Cracked article. Neo wins! All people can be free from the Matrix if they want to leave! Yay!...Oh wait that means billions of people finding out their life is a total lie and they can choose to keep living knowing it's a lie. Or they can go die in a post apocalyptic wasteland. The Matrix Online has the Machines not objecting to the pre-existing freeing process - people are still offered the choice of red pill (freedom) or blue pill (this is a dream, nothing's unreal about the life you lead), but humans don't have to. There is simply no more war in the real world, so freed humans who would or previously would have lived in Zion before moving permanently to their hovercraft may choose to work for the Merovingian or the Machines themselves; the insinuation is that the real world is meaningless with the Machines' willingness to kill all the humans now gone, because the humans can't populate the surface, and the Machines still need live humans for the processing power of their brains. In the end, nobody can use the real world, but everyone needs the Matrix to keep running as usual.
- The fact that the workers and the capitalists reconcile at the end of Metropolis doesn't change the fact that the city is in ruins and all the machines it depended on were destroyed. Sure, Joh Fredersen knows how to build the city, but the man who took care of all the tech details just fell off the cathedral roof. Besides, where are all the workers supposed to live after their homes flooded out?
- In Plan 9 from Outer Space the alien Eros claims that the human race must be destroyed to prevent it developing the solaronite bomb, a weapon that will explode the atoms of sunlight, thereby destroying the entire universe. Since the aliens are defeated at the end, we must assume that either a) more of the aliens will arrive to complete the destruction of the Earth, or b) humans will develop the solaronite and destroy the universe. Either way we're screwed. Alternatively, that's not so much a research and logic failure as it is Eros not actually having any better understanding of what he's talking about than the movie's writers.
- Resident Evil: Extinction has the last known remnants of humanity flee to Alaska in a four seater helicopter (don't worry, it managed to carry all two dozen of them. It was made out of a Clown Car, you see). It's worth mentioning that the T-Virus has completely killed all other plant and animal life. So really, humanity is boned with or without the zombies. The last movie implies that the Umbrella Corporation is still active and functional, and could potentially save humanity if they would just pull their head out.
- At the climax of Small Soldiers, Chip Hazard hijacks the truck containing all the toys, and unleashes several hundred Commando Elite toys on our heroes. It's probably best that the movie didn't go into what most likely happened to all the Gorgonite toys that were in that truck. Also, at the end of the film, Gil Mars plans to manufacture more of them, add a few zeroes to the price and sell them to the military. "I know some rebels in Central America who will find them quite entertaining."
- Star Wars:
- A classic example is the destruction of the Death Star II in Return of the Jedi. Some fans claim the effects of a moon-sized ship being blown up in orbit around Endor's moon would have almost annihilated all life on the planet, supported by the Special Edition showing chunks of the Death Star II raining like hailstones. George Lucas stated that it didn't happen, with the result naming a trope. See this website for details.
- A canonical example is the Death Star holocaust, i.e. the rank-and-file Imperial troops, contractors, etc. that died when the rebellion blew up the first Death Star. In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the New Republic put the official number of deaths as 500,000, but the real number is more like 5 million, and the lowered estimate is pure propaganda.
- In The Time Machine (2002), the leader of the Morlocks says that there are many more Morlock colonies other than the one the hero blows up in the climax. Add to this the fact that it's made clear that You Can't Fight Fate and that the hero sees a future in which the Morlocks have conquered the Eloi and the only logical conclusion is that the other Morlocks will eventually kill him and all his friends.
- 28 Days Later closes with the revelation that the Rage virus didn't spread beyond Great Britain and the rest of the world is OK, but one is left wondering what effect the gruesome death of tens of millions of people, plus the full abandonment of one of the world's greatest economic and military powers (and a nuclear state to boot), would have on the global economy and political-military status quo. The picture gets grimmer in 28 Weeks Later, which ends with the infection crossing the English Channel into France.
- X2: X-Men United:
- William Stryker uses a Doomsday Device that would cause the death of every mutant in the world. Magneto, the only one outfitted with a protective helmet, stopped the device half way and turned it against humans. Everyone on earth suffered seizures, first a tiny minority all at once then the rest of the population all at once, within a few minutes. Commuters, pilots, swimmers, skydivers, people with heart conditions, everyone in a hospital... at least thousands of people must have died. The third movie not only ignores these events, they suggest that the relations between humans and mutants somehow got better! Plus, even if no one died, every mutant in the world just had painful, highly visible seizures in front of their normal human neighbors, and in turn was perfectly fine when every human had them. If Mystique's small scale Superpower Meltdown is any indication, some of them will also have very noticeably blown their cover and taken all ambiguity out of existence, and made themselves even bigger targets for hate crimes.
- Storm calls down four tornadoes to do away with some pursuing jet fighters tailing the Blackbird. It was a cool scene, but she could have caused quite a bit of damage to the New England countryside in the event that she was not careful and did not keep them in the air. The pilots bail out of the two F-16s she takes out, but who knows what they hit on the ground? Two out of control fighter planes, loaded with fuel and live weapons.
- Star Trek:
- In Star Trek The Motion Picture, V'Ger is seen to destroy objects as it stores them as information in it's memory. Inside V'Ger, Enterprise encounters several representations of things that have undergone this process. These representations include entire planets.
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is the only Trek film with no deaths...on-screen. As badly as the whale probe was wreaking havoc with Earth's biosphere—it was even in the process of evaporating the oceans—the probe probably killed thousands and caused years worth of climate change.
- In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the explosion on Praxis was powerful enough to pose serious risk to Excelsior as far away as the Federation side of the Neutral Zone. Hard to imagine what it did to Qo'noS, the capitol of the Klingon Empire and the planet that Praxis was in orbit of.
- The Star Trek reboot. Vulcan was the voice of peace and reason in the Federation. With it gone we should expect a much more violent history. This means less hippie-talk of peace and diplomacy, and more shooting bad guys. Furthermore, with many of the Federation's current best-and-brightest gone with the Vulcan Science Academy (and many more never to be born)... its technological future looks pretty grim. Unless Future!Spock intervenes pretty heavily and often, you have to wonder what will happen to the Federation when the Borg eventually stumble across it.
- There are also two new star-sized black holes in inhabited Federation space, one where Vulcan used to be and one near the solar system. Such radical shifts in local gravity is going to have major consequences.
- Star Trek Into Darkness: The crash of the Vengeance in downtown San Francisco must have caused a remarkably high number of civilian and military casualties.
- An establishing shot of Qo'noS shows that the above mentioned Praxis disaster happened decades earlier than it did in the prime universe (and the film suggests that, at least in this timeline, Section 31 was responsible for it). When Kirk leads an away team to Qo'noS' surface, several scenes show an abandoned city and industrial area that makes the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone look like Disneyland. It's not clear if the two events are connected, but clearly something very, very bad happened there.
- Live Free or Die Hard. Okay, folks, imagine you had basically shut down the country's entire infrastructure, including police and firefighter communications, programmed traffic lights to give contradictory instructions, and done your best to inspire a mass panic by transmitting nationwide a (faked) video of the White House blowing up. Merely shooting the bad guy is not going to clean all this up.
- Army of Darkness has this in both endings. In "I slept too long", his problem is pretty obvious, and in "Hail to the King", Deadites can still freely possess anyone, anywhere, and Ash is essentially doomed to live in a randomly zombifying world. The comics rolled with this.
- In Alien: Resurrection Ripley saves the day by crashing the xenomorph-filled ship into the Earth causing an impact blast hundreds of miles wide, most likely destroying the biosphere in the process. In the novelization (based on the original script) you learn that Earth was mostly screwed already, which is why one of the characters says, "Earth... what a shithole." The only people still on the planet are the ones that can't afford to leave for one of the colonies which may have some Unfortunate Implications of it own.
- In Alien vs. Predator our human survivor is left in the middle of Antarctica. Alone. Without a coat. In real life, she would've frozen to death before the credits rolled, but I guess we can just assume it happened afterward. Unless, and this is not shown, she quickly uses the vehicle nearby and finds her way to the boat that brought them there which is still afloat with a live crew to drive it.
- Spaceballs. Unless they somehow get decent leaders and some humanitarian aid, everyone on Planet Spaceball is apparently going to die of hypoxia. They're all assholes anyway.
- Blindness. How people survived the movie at all is a miracle in and of itself, several weeks without food or running water for at least the majority of the populace (in the novel, the female lead is the ONLY person to retain their sight). There are... surprisingly few corpses, considering how food production must have stopped entirely.
- Famously, The Sound of Music ends with the von Trapps heading off on foot to Switzerland, which they claim is "just over the mountains" from Salzburg. The problem is, it's not. Germany is though. That is of course considering whether or not they make it over the Alps in the first place, with no protection or supplies. Which is why the real von Trapp family escaped to Italy via train, then got to Switzerland from there. But that would've been too complicated for a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical.
- The heroic nuns who sabotaged the Nazis' vehicles... were probably treated to more than a slap on the wrist. Nazis, eh? Bastards.
- Surrogates: Somebody sets up a plot to destroy all the surrogates and kill the humans linked into them in the process. The hero manually engages the safety overrides on all the pods but at the last minute decides to have the weapon go off anyway, destroying the surrogates while leaving human beings intact. So one billion surrogates conducting business, operating machines, driving cars, etc, suddenly shut down and one billion atrophied shut-ins must now emerge to try to deal with the ensuing mayhem. The graphic novel at least plays the ending for ambiguity — sure, all the shut-ins are back out in the real world, but it's only a matter of time until someone redevelops the Surrogate technology. And the main character's wife kills herself because she can't stand the idea of being seen as-is.
- The RiffTrax for Æon Flux hangs a lampshade on the "back to nature" ending:
"Yes—leave your idyllic city life with its culture, lack of disease, and flush toilets. Go into the dank forest! Sharpen young ash branches, kill monkeys and eat their internal organs...learn to live without hygiene, without medicine, with no resistance to disease...enjoy you the fruits of cholera, dysentery, and as-of-yet unidentified stomach worms..."
- Predators ends with the two surviving main characters killing the final predator as the next 'game' begins. They mention how they're going to try and find another way off the planet they are on. Which is well and good, but if Crazy Laurence Fishburne is anything to go by, there will be another group of predators for that game, and they have absolutely no intention on letting them get off. And even if they find another ship and somehow get it to fly offworld, they better hope it has a map to Earth...
- Intentionally invoked in Apocalypto, the protagonist of the film manages to escape from his captors and from a grisly fate as a Human Sacrifice in a Mayan city, he is also reunited with his wife and children. The problem? The Spaniards have arrived to Yucatán, and we all know that in a few years they will overrun the entire peninsula, subjugating any people they encounter.
- At the end of The China Syndrome, the television broadcast from the nuclear reactor starts getting static, stronger and stronger, before the signal is lost. Cue Silent Credits.
- In Aliens in the Attic, Spark returns home after helping the kids prevent the invasion. But his two compatriots also return to their home planet. One would think that it wouldn't take long for the alien leaders to find out about Spark's betrayal, so that probably wasn't a happy reunion with his family.
- The source of much controversy surrounding the end of Apocalypse Now was, appropriately, the apparent apocalyptic fate of Kurtz's compound. Although Coppola explicitly said that he didn't mean that Kilgore called in an airstrike, the opening of the movie has been taken to be exactly that.
- Cracked published a particularly disturbing (but incredibly plausible) interpretation regarding the ending of the movie Big. Check it out yourself.
- True Grit (the 2010 version) in regards to Matt Damon's character LaBoeuf. His last appearance consists of him being left behind as Rooster rides off to get Mattie's snake bite treated. But the problem is that just a few moments ago he had suffered a horrible whack over the back of the head with a large rock, bad enough to knock him out cold, and at this point he is visibly bleeding from the mouth and his speech is slightly slurred. That, added with the length of time it takes for Rooster to get help for Mattie (it's night when they reach a doctor) it's entirely possible that LaBoeuf died of his head injuries before Rooster could get back. That's supported by Mattie's comment 25 years later that she never heard from Laboeuf again after the shootout, and the fact that this head injury did kill LaBoeuf in the original 1969 movie.
- Another character-specific example is found in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Cameron Frye is last seen resolving to, for the first time in his life, have it out with his domineering and emotionally distant father after accidentally totaling the latter's priceless Ferrari. This is the final step in his metamorphosis from a sad, shy hypochondriac to an assertive, confident adult, and it's awesome — but the facts remain thus: the Ferrari is beyond saving, and the elder Frye, who prioritizes his material wealth, especially the Ferrari, to the exclusion of everything and everyone else, will be home shortly. And if Cameron pre-Character Development was as deathly afraid of his father as he said he was, one can safely infer that his father has given him damn good reason to be. So despite his newfound strength and confidence, the ensuing confrontation very likely did not end well for him. Suffice it to say, many fanfics have been written depicting this scene, with varying outcomes.
- RoboCop 3: During the climax of the film, a self-destruct device is set off that Robocop and two other characters narrowly escape from by flying away on a jetpack. The implications of a thermo-failsafe device obliterating OCP's headquarters (the tallest and largest building in the the city) and causing an explosion that engulfed the entire surrounding area are never discussed or elaborated upon. Apparently, the viewer is supposed to be happy that Robo and his friends successfully stopped McDaggett and OCP from bulldozing Old Detroit, while ignoring that at least dozens of OCP employees (and presumably a large chunk of Detroit's downtown core) was just destroyed.
- Military-history experts agree that none of Kellys Heroes would have had much chance to spend any of the gold they stole. Kelly's group would have been shot at and/or arrested when they tried to move back across the American lines in a German truck, and Oddball's crew would've almost certainly gotten killed, leaving the scene in a defective Tiger while the General's forces are securing the area. Though given the era that the film was made it's a safe surmise that they deserted at the end.
- Drive: The main character drives off into the sunset after getting everyone who might go after Irene and Benicio. But, he's just been stabbed in the gut by a guy who killed his last target with a single quick slash. And now that the leaders of much of the LA mob are dead there's going to be a mad power struggle and, maybe, a war with the East Coast mob at the same time.
- The 1935 Errol Flynn movie Captain Blood ends with Flynn's character appointed the new governor of the English colony on Jamaica, based out Port Royal, by the new king, William III. The revolution that brought William to the throne took place in 1688. Port Royal was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1692.
- Death Proof ends with the heroines beating the crazed stunt driver to death - but makes no mention of what will happen when they come back from their test drive with major damage to the seller's car. And then there's the girl they left behind as collateral for the test drive, implying that she was a porn star...
- In the Brows Held High episode about Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, horrifying implications are pointed out about the penultimate scene, where Grenouille uses his perfect perfume to cause the crowd at his execution to forget about it and start screwing each other. One, people came with their families for the execution and the scene shows the amorous citizens grabbing the closest person to them. Wouldn't this mean many people would end up screwing their relatives? Second, executions back then were publicly open for all ages. Wouldn't this mean some people would end up screwing their children?
- A smaller-scale example that draws upon Real Life; the movie Boogie Nights, which chronicles the changing fortunes of a porn star based on John Holmes through the 1970s and 1980s, ends at some point in the early 1980s with the characters reunited and getting back to work. It seems like a happy ending, but this trope kicks in when you realize that it ends just before the outbreak of the HIV/AIDS crisis which, among other things, ravaged the porn industry as numerous performers were infected due to unsafe sex practices. Among them was John Holmes, who the main character is based on.
- Man of Steel:
- The battle in Smallville not only involves Supes and the other Kryptonians fighting in a populated town smashing through inhabited buildings with reckless abandon, but the US military fires missiles into the town, yet not a single civilian death is seen or mentioned.
- The final battle sequence involves General Zod's World Engine destroying a major chunk of Metropolis' core, and the ensuing evacuation shots show pieces of (and entire) buildings collapsing and falling on fleeing members of the populace. Likewise, the final fight between Clark and Zod results in at least one building's structural integrity weakening (due to Zod using his heat vision to incinerate the supporting columns), and a satellite crashing into the city. Yet, in the final scene (where Clark bikes to the Daily Planet), life has seemingly returned to normal and no civilian casualities of any kind are mentioned.
- An earlier Superman example, in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace: Superman moves the moon to create a total solar eclipse and de-power Nuclear Man. No mention of how this would have completely mucked up the tides and endangered countless lives. But then again, it's not the only thing the film casually overlooked (such as the ability to breath, even talk, in space...)
- Transcendence: How many millions of people died when the crash of the entire world's power networks shut down hospitals, stopped providing refrigeration for food, stopped helping regulate temperature in extreme regions, etc.?
- The Korean Film Snow Piercer invokes this trope two different ways. The eponomyous train is basically run on slave labor, by a corrupt engineer who won't hesitate to use children to power his supertrain. While the idea of revolting against the engineer and his staff is a good thing, it falls apart when the locomotive section is destroyed, causing the entire train to derail and crash. At this juncture, it really doesn't matter that the evil overlord and his henchmen were killed: with the entire world being a frozen wasteland, pretty much all of remaining humanity and life were contained on that one train. Two kids surviving the wreckage, in an environment that experienced mountain men have trouble with, doesn't seem inspiring. The sequence at the end, with the polar bear in the distance looking at the kids, was supposed to inspire hope for life. Only, polar bears are super predators, and known Man-Eaters. Even if the kids could somehow find food, and survive the terrain, there's a non negligible possibility that they were killed outright 2 minutes after the credits ran.
- Combined with some historical Foregone Conclusion and Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending in the period dramedy Ridicule. It's set in the court of Louis XVI shortly before the French Revolution, and the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue indicates that the hero and heroine (both low ranked nobility with a social conscience) are married and involved in philanthropic work in Revolutionary France. The film also indicates that the heroine's father has fled to England and is doing well there. No mention is made of the fates of the other characters, who were also aristocrats at court.
- In Dennis Lehane's novel The Given Day, Luther Laurence, a black man in 1919, goes through a lot of crap just so he can be reunited with his wife and a child he's never seen in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the most properous black community in America at the time. The problem the novel doesn't address? Tulsa's prosperity only lasts another couple years. Then shit really hits the fan.
- In the Chinese science-fiction story ''Barrage Jamming''/''Universal Jamming''/''Full-Band Interception'' by Liu Cixin, The Russians/Chinese (depending on the version you're reading) defeat NATO by ramming the SUN with a gigantic fusion-engine laden spaceship thereby creating a ridiculously huge EMP. NATO loses all communications and is defeated. Nobody seems to give a damn how to deal with the magnetic field of the earth and all the radiation afterwards. Though in some parts of the story, it is referred to as "history", so humanity must have survived somehow. Later, Liu Cixin remade parts of the story into Ball Lightning, to avoid the sun-ramming part.
- World War Z:
- Although the book ends on a hopeful note, it's also set up in such a way that one person not being careful enough could start the whole thing over again. But it's also set up in such a way as to indicate humanity has learned much from the experiences chronicled in the book, so it might not be such a horrible fight the next time.
- If you ignore the catastrophic environmental damage, collapse of many state governments, tension between those that are still around... Humanity has learned to fight off the zombies and many people have overcome their differences to work towards rebuilding, but there's the implication that it may be too little too late, especially considering the Holy Russian Empire's freely admitted ambitions of outbreeding and conquering the west.
- L. Ron Hubbard's Typewriter in the Sky has the main character falling into a story. When the story ends, that universe collapses and everyone dies except our protagonist, who returns to the "real world". We, however, know that it's just a story, so once the book ends his universe must be destroyed too.
- The Rapture, as depicted by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins in Left Behind, means the sudden disappearance of every premillennial dispensationalist Christian and every child in the world (including unborn children), and causes thousands to die in plane crashes. The authors, however, seem to have no idea of how devastating a catastrophe like this would be, and life returns to normal a few days later.
- The Christ Clone Trilogy is even worse. The Left Behind series has a kind of cartoonish logic to all the disasters and plagues due to the terrible writing of the twin authors. The author of the Christ Clone series can actually write, and all the disasters are lovingly detailed. You'll be having nightmares after reading it, trust me.
- The Gripping Hand, the long-awaited sequel to The Mote In Gods Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, has the Moties' disastrous breeding cycle fixed by a parasite spread by air-borne cysts. "Only Moties carrying the parasite will be allowed to leave the Mote system." All it takes is one unscrupulous physician to find a way to kill the "Crazy Eddie Worm" without killing the Motie hosts and bingo, the disaster for the entire galaxy envisioned in the first book is now inevitable. Or something else happening to make the parasite no longer viable in Moties. That doesn't even count the Moties that reached the brown dwarf system.
- In The Road by Cormac McCarthy, the protagonists are a man and his son, headed south through the ash covered ruins of America. They reach the southern United States, predictably finding it just as dead as the rest of the country. On top of this, the boy's father dies. The boy is found by 'the good guys' in what feels like a forced happy ending, but then you realize that there is no biosphere. Everything is dead. Eventually, everyone is going to starve to death, be eaten by cannibals, or die of some horrific lung disease. And that will be it.
- By the end of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, virtually all industrial facilities have been destroyed or abandoned to ruin, and virtually all oil wells and mines in the world have been abandoned as worthless when they weren't blown up by the heroes themselves, but it's OK because the evil collectivists have been deposed (and most of them aren't actually killed). And even having one productive copper mine makes up for all the rest that were blown up, because those were subject to taxation and therefore worthless. Sure, the heroic capitalists may have their Lost World up and running fine, but it is unlikely that their egoistic powers really enough to save the country from spiralling into mayhem and civil war? Even so, they weren't necessarily going to save the world from mayhem and civil war. Utopia Justifies the Means; they were waiting until they everything was screwed and civilization would have to be rebuilt from the ground up. If one suscribes to the theory that Anthem is the Atlas Shrugged world in the future, then there was indeed some sort of holocaust.
- In Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep, the happy ending involves the destruction of whole civilizations and the deaths of trillions upon trillions of people. Which leads one to wonder, how bad was the Blight anyway, if that was the better option?
- In Brigadoon, the eponymous Scottish village appears on earth for one day every hundred years. This seems fine until you realize that by the time one year has passed for the villagers, 36,500 years have passed on Earth! How many years will it be before the land the town inhabits is rolled over by an ice-age glacier, or flooded by the polar ice caps melting, or the Earth becomes uninhabitable in some other way? And this was supposed to keep the townspeople safe!
- The much-discussed appendix of 1984 is an inverted example: if no one can topple Ingsoc, it is curious that an in-universe document talks about them in the past tense. On face this could mean that they imploded under their own weight. However, Orwell once said that the appendix didn't necessarily mean Ingsoc and Oceania fell. There's also the theory that Airstrip One (aka Great Britain) is a North Korea-esque state, and the rest of the world is much the same as our world.
- In The Martian Chronicles, humanity is nearly completely wiped out by a nuclear war, and the last three or so stories in the anthology deal with its aftermath. In them, it is established that the number of survivors could be counted on one hand; of them, only two pairs were couples who later had children. The last story is meant to imply that the two families met up and intermarried, but even then, there is not enough genetic diversity for humanity to continue reproducing. In a few generations, the fertility of everyone will drop to zero due to genetic diseases and the negative effects of inbreeding.
- Twilight: Breaking Dawn ends with the Volturi admitting defeat and leaving the Cullens alone and Bella and Edward being left to have a happy marriage for eternity, with no one else wanting to shanghai members of the family or kill their daughter. They all apparently have forgotten that Aro touched Edward's hand during the climax, thus giving him access to all of Edward's thoughts and thus now has knowledge of all of the powers of the gathered vampires, including Bella, who was supposed to be the secret ace-in-the-hole. And the book insists that the Volturi would never give up trying to have their way. More generally, there are very few Vegetarian Vampires. There are probably millions of them in the world, feeding every night.
- By the end of Harry Potter Voldemort is killed, his clique is scattered or apprehended and the horde of unkillable, Invisible to Normals depression-inducing, soul-sucking demons they unleashed upon the world is... ... ... yeah, exactly. Sucks some of sacharine out of the distant epilogue, doesn't it?
- In the final book of the Artemis Fowl series, The Last Guardian, Opal Koboi's past self dies, which causes a paradox when everything she interacted with spontaneously explodes. This includes most of our technology. Obvious problems, such as planes falling from the sky, are addressed and forgotten about, but this would cause death and destruction on an unimaginable scale, even if they were "small" explosions (not even taking into account all the explosives like nuclear missiles), followed by panic and mass deaths from medical emergencies and starvation, and the collapse of human civilisation as we know it.
- The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress: Two words: impact winter. Suddenly, all that care taken to only Colony Drop on uninhabited areas seems just a little pointless.
- The Fairy Tale "Jack and the Beanstalk" ends with Jack chopping down the massive eponymous plant stem, causing the sky-dwelling giant to plummet to his death. And they all lived Happily Ever After. Until a few months later, when the stench of the giant's rotting corpse (not to mention the tons of decaying plant matter) renders the entire area unlivable and fraught with potential death from disease.
- Bulgakov's novels The Master and Margarita and Heart of a Dog both set in the early Soviet Russia before Stalin's Great Terror was started. And there is no way openly Anti-Soviet Professor Preobrazhensky from Heart of a Dog can survive the Stalin's purges. Likewise Ivan Bezdomny from The Master and Margarita (in fact, Ivan's character was based on poet Ivan Prubludny, who actually was executed in 1937).
Live Action TV
- The original Battlestar Galactica was essentially a show about some 50,000 people surviving after their home planets were wiped out. Despite this, by the end of The Pilot, the cast essentially ignored the genocide.
- In Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined), the realisation that there's no one left is brought crashing down on the survivors in all subsequent seasons (though the losses they all would have suffered in the initial attack are continually ignored). But in the ending of the series, the survivors (humans and friendly Cylons) end up on our Earth in the past and throw away all available technology and start over. The idea that this means plowing fields by hand, building houses by chopping down trees with stone axes, dying in childbirth, being killed by starvation and disease and wild animals, and losing all of their culture, while being completely unable to warn anyone about the cycle of history seems not to occur to anyone. Given that the finale implies the Colonials will be introducing language (presumably with writing) and farming but such things didn't show up for another 100,000 years, there is even more support for the idea that things didn't go very well. The fossils found in the Distant Finale indicate that even Hera died young.
- Every episode of Power Rangers becomes disturbing to watch when you see how many buildings are toppled by megazords and giant monsters. To be fair, the writers sometimes Hand Wave this by putting in abandoned places or quarries. Also, one has to wonder what the casualties were in such episodes like "Countdown to Destruction", where all of the Big Bads from the first six seasons decided to conquer Earth and some other planets. The whole city gets raided. Even a megazord gets toppled by a bunch of Mooks.
- Space: 1999 starts with the Moon being blasted out of Earth's orbit, and follows the inhabitants of the moonbase. How badly did Earth suffer from this? We find out via Negative Space Wedgie Subspace Ansible that humanity survives for several thousand years... but the planet did not. In one second season episode the Alphans make contact with Earth and discover that everybody is now living in domed cities because the planet's natural environment has been totally destroyed.
- In Burn Notice, Chaotic Good Michael Westen and his crew save people's lives from Drug Cartels, Street Gangs and many other kinds of nasty people, but he usually does this by scamming government employees, security guards and many innocent bystanders into giving him the information he needs, usually in the form of documents. Though rarely shown, one can assume that when their employers notice the documents missing these people will be fired and their lives possibly ruined. In a season 3 episode where his own mother Calls him out on this after she witnessed firsthand what her son has to do every day in order to save lives. Seems to be a B-plot point in Season 4, with several characters (notably Fiona) questioning Michael's adherence to his own principles. An example being an episode in which Fiona tells Michael off for being someone that only cares about the idea of people, but is increasingly disturbingly casual about not caring about actual, specific people he meets and even relies on.
- In the pilot, Michael heads off a bad guy by hijacking a stranger's car and crashing it into the bad guy's, with no air bags and with the stranger still inside. He walks away afterward and leaves the stranger to deal with the damage and possible serious injuries. Seriously, was there no other way to protect the kid?
- In Stargate SG-1, every time a System Lord is killed they are killing a sapient, innocent human being who never asked to be taken over by a slimy body-controlling snake. This is addressed a few times throughout the show, and eventually the Tok'ra find a way to extract the Go'auld without killing the host, but it is rarely used. However, said humans are usually quite insane after having been a meat puppet for centuries/millennia, and such unnaturally long life often leaves them incapable of surviving without the symbiote anyway. Apophis' host, when captured by the Tau'ri, would have died within days and even begged for death after all the suffering he had been through; chances are, most long time hosts would feel similarly.
- The original Stargate concludes with a bunch of innocent children (Ra's servants) getting nuked. (That part was averted in the novelization: the eldest of the kids gathers them all and they get off the ship in time.)
- Star Trek:
- Nearly every Borg that dies is an unwitting victim of The Virus. This is demonstrated in-universe as a very necessary evil.
- The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" ends with Scotty revealing that he beamed all the tribbles on the Enterprise into the engine room of the Klingons who served as the villains of the episode, "where they'll be no tribble at all." Knowing Klingons and their attitude towards tribbles, it might have been more humane if he had just beamed them into space. When Deep Space Nine revisited the episode Worf reveals that the tribbles escaped and ecologically devastated several planets. The Klingons eventually completely eradicated the species out of sheer necessity. This leads to another example, as the crew ends up bringing them back at the end of the episode.
- In a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, the Enterprise happens upon a planet in the grips of a pandemic. Another planet produces a cure for them, but Picard discovers that the "cure" is actually a highly-addictive drug. The episode ends with Picard refusing to help the aliens secure more of the drug, citing the Prime Directive as an excuse. His intention is to resolve the problem by having the aliens discover that they don't actually need the drug. But how many people in the throes of an excruciating withdrawal period committed suicide because they thought they were dying of plague, and what would happen to the economy and infrastructure of the world as all of its citizens start undergoing detox against their will simultaneously. Likewise they gloss over the fact that the supplying planet's entire economy was devoted to producing the drug, so they would undergo severe economic collapse as well. When the dust settles from all that, there's the question of how the "plague victim" planet will repay their "benefactors" when they find out the truth. Real humanitarian effort, there, Picard.
- In Star Trek: Enterprise, the infamous episode "Dear Doctor" where Phlox and Archer commit genocide, by letting the Valakian race die so that the Menk can evolve. Despite Phlox's assertion that the Menk are on the edge of an evolutionary breakthrough, it's only a theory he has (based on an absurd misunderstanding of evolution) and there is no certainty that it will actually occur. Since the Valakians take care of the Menk, it's possible they all starved to death.
- In Star Trek: Voyager, the Ocampa are completely reliant on the Caretaker's technology, who gives them 5 years of power for their city, upon realising he's dying. Given how in "Fury", set 5 years later, an older Kes shows up and she's incredibly pissed off, it's likely she returned home only to discover her race either died out or were enslaved by the Kazon.
- Any episode or movie where time is shown to be mutable. When something goes wrong in the past, the crew usually tries to fix it or make it better, however that leads to a couple of nagging questions, such as "how do they know they're in the wrong timeline", and "what counts as fixing the past?" Many times, the crew just assumes that the past was fixed and everything is OK because the keys to the Enterprise still work, and Earth is still the capital of the Federation. But despite all the major stuff looking OK, there's a good possibility that hundreds, thousands, millions, billions of people have ceased to exist in the interm, because someone took a second longer to die than they should have, because someone was later or earlier than they should have been, because someone who shouldn't have existed at all was somewhere, preventing something from happening. This just becomes Fridge Horror when you look at all of the contradictions in canon, and consider they're all explainable as being side effects of missions to change the past that didn't work out as well as the crew thought, and they didn't even know they had failed. Ultimately any time traveling ep becomes a case of Protagonist-Centered Morality, where everything is OK merely because it's OK for the 5 or 6 people with the most screen time.
- Demons most of the time inhabit innocent people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Winchesters pretty much always kill the person when fighting the demon (especially in the later seasons) even though using exorcism is a way (granted, a slower way) to extract the demon without hurting the person. This issue is brought up a few times in the show but with the demons being the show's disposable Mooks, they never dwell on it for long. However on occasions when the demons smoke out of their hosts to escape, the hosts drop lifelessly to the ground, implying that they were already dead.
- The Angels, who in the fifth and sixth seasons also start becoming disposable Mooks. Like the demons, when Angels die, they also generally take their human hosts with them. However, in this instance the human hosts gave the Angels their consent to inhabit their bodies in the first place.
- The Villains of the Week in the original Kamen Rider were civilians who had been brainwashed and transformed into Cyborgs by Shocker. Fridge Horror sets in when you realize that throughout the series, the heroes are arguably murdering dozens of innocent people who have no control over their actions.
- The BBC's Robin Hood ends with both Robin Hood and Maid Marian (and a couple of Merry Men) dead, and the remaining outlaws promising to fight on in his name and defeat Prince John. The show was cancelled after this, but since history tells us that in a few years time the prince becomes King John, they obviously failed utterly (and may well have been killed in the attempt).
- Doctor Who:
- In "The Dominators", the Dominators' plan to explode the planet into a radioactive mess as a fuel source is foiled. But the Dominators have been repeatedly sending messages to the main fleet to come that way. When the fleet arrives, will it sit back and take it? Especially against a Perfect Pacifist People?
- "The Time Warrior". So, the kitchen staff got out of Irongron's castle before it exploded...right?
- In "The Armageddon Factor", it's implied that the Atrians unknowingly managed to wipe out the Zeons very early on in the war, and that the subsequent conflict was engineered by the Shadow simply so that he wouldn't get bored waiting for the Doctor to arrive.
- Multiple episodes end with it being very unclear whether things won't just go back to normal after the Doctor leaves, or if he has actually improved anything at all. Became Ascended Fridge Horror in "Bad Wolf", which explicitly states the Doctor's actions in "The Long Game" made things many times worse.
- The climax of "Journey's End" has Earth dragged through space at phenomenal speeds, which is shown to cause such a large amount of shaking that characters have to take shelter to protect themselves from the wind and flying debris. What is essentially a world-wide earthquake would have caused widespread damage, killing thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people, and would be worse than normal given all the damage the Daleks did beforehand. Yet the only thing that Doctor comments on is that the disturbance will lead to a lot of rain. And despite all this the Earth-pulling is treated as a happy moment. That's not to mention the gravitational disturbances throughout the Solar System and the Moon getting back into place. The original script has the Doctor say they still have time before the system falls apart but this goes unmentioned.
- "The Lodger", made and set in 2010, mentions that the population of Earth is several hundred million less than the real life 2010 population. This leaves the conclusion that all the alien invasions the Whoniverse Earth has experienced have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions of people. (One possibility is that these people have been erased by the cracks, meaning that they're back at the end of the season. Still an inferred holocaust, albeit a temporary one.)
- In "Time Heist", the solar storm causes a literal holocaust as waves of fire wash over the surface of the planet. The bank patrons are last seen shouting in alarm, and Madame Karabraxos flees with what valuables she can grab, an act that suggests that even her most secure vault will eventually be destroyed by the flare.
- In "Kill the Moon", mention is made of horrendous destructive tides. The moon's increase in mass would have many other repercussions for the weather, plate tectonics, etc. But no specifics are given; the only report from the earth is that things are going "badly", but apparently the developed world still has electricity, even the parts along coastlines.
- "In The Forest of the Night":
- What happened to aeroplanes in flight when every runway in the world was suddenly taken over by the forest?
- If animals could escape from the zoos thanks to the trees, could prisoners escape from prison thanks to the trees?
- No way Nelson's Column is the only large structure to collapse from the growth of the trees. How many other such events occurred worldwide?
- The reason humankind initially tried to burn down the trees was to make room for essential services. With that stymied, there are no ambulances to deal with medical emergencies or accidents. No quick relief for fires or crimes.
- And what about the astronauts? Everybody on the space station probably got fried, unless it happened to be behind the earth at the time. (Is this why humans gave up on space travel by 2049?)
- Space Precinct is about Police Recycled IN SPACE!; on the planet Demeter, there are 3 races, Humans, Crocs and Blues, there are police from all 3 races and each criminal gang includes people from all 3 races. In that one episode, the Crime Of The Week was racism, so the Writers had to invent a 4th race of Space Jews for the criminals to be racist at. Police arrest the criminals, Happy Ending, but we never, ever see any Space Jews in any subsequent episodes.
- Not simply averted, but outright inverted by the Red Dwarf "Back To Earth" miniseries: though the heroes had spent the second part fearing that they, as fictional characters, would cease to exist when their series was cancelled in the "real" world, the very end explains that, though that "real world" had just been a hallucination, quantum mechanics caused it to have a real existence that would persist even once the gang woke, and, more, every world ever hallucinated, dreamt or imagined becomes entirely real as an alternate dimension, and goes on existing forever.
- At the end of War of the Worlds, the Blackwood team manages to make peace with the Morthren, after the last-second Retcon that the entire war had been orchestrated by a single madman. Everyone walks off optimistically into the sunset. However, civilization has mostly collapsed, crime and decay are rampant, the world is a polluted cesspit and the heroes are still homeless. The Morthren are in even worse shape, as their population numbers something near 20, and they've had extremely limited success at reproduction on Earth. Better yet, if you factor in the unresolved plot points from the first season, there's an entire Morthren invasion force that's set to arrive at the planet in three years. "Nice morning," indeed.
- Episode 3 of Walking with Dinosaurs has a Bittersweet Ending, in that a huge storm has demolished most of the island and killed many animals, but the giant Liopleurodon was among them, and he became food for a bunch of lucky Eustreptospondylus dinosaurs. The book version on the other hand goes on to mention that all the dinosaurs attracted by the food will destroy the local ecosystem by the time the Liopleurodon is gone (we see what riot a singly one can cause in the episode), and nothing short of another mega-storm (which would wreck the place even further) could drive the Eustreptospondylus away until then.
- One of Mystery Science Theater 3000's host segments for the episode Monster A-Go Go involves Joel and the Bots analyzing the Rupert Holmes song "Escape", better known as "The Piña Colada Song". The song revolves around a married man answering a personals ad for a date, only to find that his own wife is the date. The finale of the debate (in which they give the song's protagonists the names of Rick and Julie for the sake of argument) is Tom's interpretation of the finale.
Tom Servo: And although the song tries to paint a rosy picture of a relationship reborn, it is human nature that either Rick or Julie - maybe both, I don't know - would harbor at least a fragment of resentment that the other set out to cheat on him or her, which would unleash itself in fits of passive-aggressive behavior and bitter incrimination!
- Bleak Expectations:
- In the second episode St. Bastards is blown up, killing the tyrannical headmaster Jeremiah Hardthrasher... and by implication, all the students who were still inside at the time, and too starved and beaten to possibly escape. At no point do any of the characters consider this.
- In a later episode, Pip Bin capsizes a ship while it's crew are all on-board, and the narration confirms that no-one but Bin escapes alive. He never shows any remorse for killing them.
- The Dungeons & Dragons supplement "Elder Evils" is basically designed around this concept. Yes, all of the Big Bads can be defeated (or at least can be temporarily driven off), but their appearance irrevocably changes the world. Take Atropus, the World Born Dead, as an example: even if you manage to repel him, his presence has unleashed hordes of undead upon your world and killed off most of the living inhabitants. The awakening of Leviathan, a serpent so large it encircles the planet, has caused earthquakes and tsunamis that have decimated civilization. Yeah, you defeated the monster... but at what cost? Some of them, such as Father Llymic, specifically bring up the resultant epic-scale disaster.
- Even the best endings in the "Time of Judgement" supplements for the Old World of Darkness are usually a little horrifying.
- Only Wormwood, the canonical ending of Vampire: The Masquerade, is limited in its scope, and even then it would have a significant impact. (With all those ancient, powerful, influential vampires ashes in the wind, what happens when, say, the creature that had turned the CEO of Pentex into little more than a hand puppet abruptly vanishes? Still, Wormwood was clear that despite all the rationalizations, Vampires ARE A BAD THING. If nothing else, in the Crapsack World that is the Old World of Darkness, the loss of all Homo Nocturnis is only a benefit.)
- In just about every other possible ending for the other gamelines humanity is almost wiped out, and much of the planet lies in ruins. Most of the Time of Judgment scenarios for Werewolf: The Apocalypse ended with societal collapse and significant global bodycounts.
- For all the apocalyptic doom and gloom, one of the endings to Mage: The Ascension DID imply the end of life as we know it... but only because all of humanity had transcended mortality, awakened as mages, and combined once more into the One and recreated the universe from the beginning.
- RENT may have ended with a resurrected Mimi thanks to The Power of Rock, but that doesn't detract from the fact that the prognosis isn't good for the large HIV+ portion of the cast.
- In one episode of The Transformers they blow up Paradron, a planet recently populated by a pacifist race (who may or may not have completely evacuated everybody) just to keep the Decepticons from getting at its plentiful energon supplies. Aside from the Paradronian Sandstorm being sad, nobody seems to care.
- In Transformers Armada, for some magical reason all the discovered Mini-Con panels seem to be in deserted areas. None of them ever pop up under, say, an apartment building in the Bronx.
- Subverted in Transformers Animated, and used as a source of major angst for the well-meaning but clumsy Bulkhead every time somebody needs a cheap excuse for him to get depressed. The humans of Detroit seem to actually waver between welcoming the Autobots as heroes and fearing them for all the property damage they cause, and one episode shows the Autobots helping to rebuild a bridge they destroyed.
- Lampshaded in a G1 parody in Robot Chicken, where Optimus proudly states that only fifty humans were killed in the crossfire of their latest engagement, a new record.
- Beast Machines ends with the planet being reformatted into a techno-organic paradise, with everyone having an animal alt mode. One problem: not everyone would be happy with having an animal mode. Well, that and the massive upheaval that would occur now that Cybertron's covered with plantlife, among other things. A brilliant fan comic, Obsidian's Lament, deals with the fallout of the series and the discontent many feel about their new predicament.
- Ben 10:
- Ben 10: Alien Force. In "Grounded" they intentionally scuttle a ship full of refined nuclear bat guano right next to the pier.
- Ben 10: Omniverse has an even bigger one in "Hot Stretch", where a bunch of aliens, the Kraaho, use a nuclear device in an attempt to make Earth's climate raise so they can live here. By the end of the episode they are stopped, but the machine still was activated and caused a volcanic eruption in the middle of Bellwood (we see a driving car being engulfed by magma, so at least one person died for sure). It's really hard to swallow that nobody died in this, seeing how entire buildings were seen being consumed. To make it worst, the Kraaho aren't even punished for that.
- In a minor case, in Storm Hawks they show people being thrown out of airships constantly. Of course, they have parachutes, and are careful to show this... but they hardly ever show them being rescued. There are three given alternatives; either be unlucky enough to descend into the wastelands (a volcanic, monster filled floor to the Atmos), go into one of the deep gorges where atmospheric pressure grows great enough to crush ships, or drift on air currents until reaching a Terra (which has thus far only happened once to a main good guy).
- At the end of every episode of Megas XLR, the city is invariably in ruins due to giant robot fights, with everything completely fixed by the next episode. Of course, this is arguably the point of the series.
- This trope is why Timmy Turner from The Fairly OddParents always finishes his Snap Back Status Quo-restoring wishes with "and that everything was back to normal!"
- Thomas the Tank Engine. The Jerkass diesels really are going to take over, most of the steam trains in the world really are going to be scrapped, and in Real Life many of the actual class of engines on which the characters are based are completely extinct. However, some stories (particularly in the books) take place a good deal later than the 1950s, and some are even in this century. Sodor had a great degree of operating independence, and lacked the labor clashes that cemented Dieselisation on the British mainland. It is, in-universe, the one place to avoid it due to the Fat Controller having the authority to opt out as well as Sodor's economic prosperity.
- Superman: The Animated Series: Between the atmospheric detonation of a nuclear missile in the skies above Metropolis in "Bizzaro's World" and the meltdown of an offshore nuclear power plant in "Apokolips...Now!" a few months later, business for oncologists in that town is about to be very good, indeed.
- On The Boondocks, the world believes that a deadly fried chicken ingredient has been released on the masses everywhere that has the fast food chain responsible. It is stated that the world economy has been halted, and it is believed that everyone except prepared survivalists will die. It turns out the disease isn't fatal, and everything is back to normal by the next episode. The world economy shutting down for weeks should have had a much more lasting effect, even if we assume every character is cynical enough to just ignore the inevitable riot deaths during the believed pandemic.
- Generator Rex:
- A subtle and possibly intentional example of this in an otherwise unremarkable filler episode: a character comments that the population of Beijing is 15 million. Even compared to modern figures (Generator Rex takes place some time In the Future) that's 3 million low, and considering the backstory of the story...
- One episode involves an EVO who puts everything in the world to sleep, Holiday mentions they don't have much time before people start dropping dead from dehydration, but it never brings up people who were in the middle of doing potentially dangerous tasks such as driving (which is a bit jarring, considering the show doesn't shy away from the implications of civilian casualties).
- The series ends with Rex curing every Evo in the world. The end has a casual mention that there will still be nanites. Of course, this is because they weren't a hundred percent sure whether they were writing a season finale or a series finale. If it's the series finale, then we get a rather unhappy happy ending: if everyone's nanites are still there and active, then the thing that makes it such a Crapsack World - the fact that everyone is a ticking time bomb whose nanites can say "let's turn this person into a feral, rampaging monster whose appearance and powers would give Lovecraft nightmares" at any second - has not changed at all. We've basically reset to the day after the Nanite Event.
- In one episode Oberon puts almost everyone in Manhattan to sleep for several minutes, during which he also conjures a freezing rain storm. Yes, a couple of traffic accidents are shown when everyone falls asleep, but nobody calls him on it when he claims everyone will wake up just fine. Unless he put far more thought into his spell than it looked like (and judging by what he seems to think of the rights of anyone aside from his own kind, he probably didn't), then it's likely that between traffic accidents, interrupting dangerous tasks, or simply falling from precarious places, thousands of people died. And everything is back to normal by the next episode, as though nobody outside Manhattan even noticed.
- In "City of Stone", Demona turns all the New Yorkers into statues, and goes about smashing them (obviously killing them). We only get to see her kill a few people on screen, but she was strolling down the street, no doubt smashing more. We also know people flying helicopters or working heavy machinery aren't immune, because Fox was also turned to stone, and only the timely action of Xanatos prevented their chopper from crashing into the ground. Greg Weisman is well aware of this and confirms that many people died off-screen.
- Sym-Bionic Titan:
- An obscured recurring theme every time the Monster of the Week trashes the city. But not even Conveniently Empty Buildings can overshadow the gianormously huge crater left at the very heart of the city (see image above). Unless anybody who worked in the area had called it a day, then infrastructure damage would be the least of their worries. The unreliable news channel said the collateral was no less than 14 billion dollars in damage along with some shaken populace. Casualties were not even mentioned.
- Like in the Generator Rex episode mentioned above, the time where all of Human life on Earth was rendered unable to move for several days. Part of the initial problem was shown, where Octus walks down a street and passes a few crashed planes and helicopters.
- The Super Mario Bros. Super Show episode "Koop-zilla" apparently takes place in a fictional Japanese city called Sayonara. Because of a lab experiment gone wrong, Bowser actually transforms into the titular Koop-zilla and starts destroying the city, and as a result Mario also becomes a giant just so he can stop Bowser, causing the city to be destroyed even more. A later episode called "Karate Koopa" also takes place in Sayonara, except that instead of a large, technologically-advanced metropolis, it's now a small Japanese fishing village, and Bowser is now a samurai. And by the way, Sayonara means "goodbye" in Japanese.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- The two first episodes begin with Twilight Sparkle reading the story of the two princesses. The book merely says that the younger sister rebelled and threatened to bring eternal night, so the older sister banished her to the moon a thousand years ago. When Nightmare Moon returns, the ponies need to find the Elements of Harmony to defeat her. The last known location of the Elements is the old castle of the sisters, now a ruin, in middle of the Everfree Forest - where many strange creatures live, some of them gigantic, and nature follows different rules than in the rest of Equestria.
- The Hearth's Warming Eve play, which suggests the ponies fled their original home for Equestria due to monsters making it unlivable. There remains the question, what if some ponies stayed or got left behind?
- Discord, villain of the "Return of Harmony" two-parter, was said to rule Equestria before Celestia and Luna sealed him in stone. As shown in the two-parter, within hours of his escape he plunges Equestria into a World of Chaos in which time, gravity, causality and sanity are entirely optional. Speculating about what he did to the ponies when he ruled unopposed for who knows how long is rarely pleasant, and is the subject of much Dark Fic. Interestingly, the show doesn't shy away from implying this was indeed the case, as a stained glass window depicts him holding ponies over a pit of fire with puppet strings while agonized screams are audible in the background.
- In the season 4 finale, when Tirek drained the pegasi of their magic, depriving them of flight and presumably their cloudwalking ability as well, it is implied that the residents of Cloudsdale fell out of the sky to their doom.
- The Young Justice episode "Misplaced" has every single adult on the planet disappear (which isn't actually what happens, but the effect is the same). Even ignoring all those who were driving or flying or doing something else dangerous at the time, the situation is only fixed two or three days later, meaning millions of young children at the very least were left helpless for days.
- In the Avengers Assemble episode "Depth Charge", Atlantean soldiers flood New York, and the entire subway system is shown to be filled with water. Despite the sheer scale of this attack, not a single mention is ever made to any casualties, even though there had to be a lot of people in the subway when the flood waters hit. There's a throwaway line at the very beginning of the episode noting that the entire city had been evacuated. Exactly how they were able to get the entire city evacuated that quickly, especially for an event that's pretty common in their universe (originally it was a monster attack) is a story for another trope.
- In the Justice League Unlimited episode Panic in the Sky, the Watchtower is invaded by multiple teams of Ultimen clones, lead by Galatea, herself a Supergirl clone. Several scenes show Ultimen getting normal human Watchtower employees cornered, and preparing to kill them. The normal humans do fight back bravely, and we never see what happens to them, but it's very probable that they (along with numerous other humans offscreen) were flat out killed, as the Watchtower's security systems being down, and every single superhero who was on the station at the time was involved in a fight for their own lives, leaving said normals to fend for themselves against what effectively was an army of Kryptonian clones.
- While it is never said onscreen, the Edge of Beyond from ReBoot is most likely a system that was torn apart by the Web and its Web Creatures.
- In the Steven Universe episode "Ocean Gem", the water from all the world's oceans are magically taken to form a pillar reaching into outer-space. Although Steven does manage to fix this issue, it appears to have taken at least a day to do so; one can only imagine the effect that would have on the Earth's environment and economy.