Usually when there's a Zombie Apocalypse
, Alien Invasion
, or some type of pandemic. Thanks to The Virus
, or The Plague
, there will eventually be rumors that start to spread amongst survivors, and refugees about a "safe zone", or a "outpost" or something to that effect. After hearing this news of a possible refuge the desperate protagonists go on an arduous and harrowing pilgrimage to said place where there's hopefully food, shelter, and uninfected (and sane) humans.
Of course the protagonists eventually reach said destination only for them to find out the hope and soul crushing truth
. Truth being that the outpost/Safe Zone has been either overrun, abandoned and desolate (and probably has been for hours, days, weeks, or months), or maybe even a trap. Or worse, there never
was a outpost or safe zone to begin with, likely due to misinformation (or false hope). Could result in a Shoot the Shaggy Dog
moment, and or Downer Ending
Compare Room Full of Zombies
. Overlaps with Abandoned Area
and the cynical variants of The Promised Land
in some cases.
WARNING: LIKELY SPOILERS BELOW
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- The Road has boy and man heading south to get to warmer climate. Of course, this place doesn't exist.
- In Stephen King's Cell, the rumors about an area protected from the cell phone Zombie Apocalypse turn out to have been manufactured to lure and turn the remaining humans. The protagonists aren't dumb enough to believe it though; they're just forced to go there regardless.
- Not strictly this trope but in the same vein — Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell has safehouses kept by international agreement among the world's intelligence agencies where no-one is allowed to be harmed, including three luxurious 'retirement homes'. When the protagonists finally arrive at a retirement home it's revealed they've actually got a massive suicide rate, as their formally-ambitious residents can't cope with being cooped up in a Gilded Cage from which You Can Never Leave.
- World War Z was filled with stories and allusions to this trope.
- Cowslip's Warren in Watership Down. Traps and despair and lies, oh my.
- Ray Bradbury's short story "The Long Rain". A group of men is trapped on Venus. They journey in search of one of the human-built Sun Domes, where they can find shelter from the constant rain. The first one they find has been attacked and destroyed by the native Venusians, causing them to despair.
- In Dmitry Glukhovsky's Metro 2033, dwellers of Moscow Metro believe that Russian leaders survived the nuclear holocaust and are pulling the strings from their deep underground hideout Metro-2, somewhere below Kremlin. When the protagonists finally find the Metro-2, it is dead and empty, and right under Kremlin there's a giant man-eating gelly mutant.
- In the same vein as "The Long Rain," the protagonist-scientists of Joe Haldeman's novella Seasons are fleeing to their dome/research outpost (which is a continent away) after contact with their subjects of study, the near-human Plathys, goes horribly wrong.
- The Day of the Triffids has at least three of these, depending how you look at it. Only the fourth safe zone turns out to be really and truly safe.
- Utopia in the Doctor Who episode of the same name is revealed to have been this in the season finale "Last of the Time Lords".
- Battlestar Galactica
- Battlestar Galactica (Classic)
- Pilot episode "Saga of a Star World". The Colonial refugees reach the planet Carillon and find it to be a paradise, with plentiful food, fuel and gambling. It turns out that the native aliens capture humans as food for their larvae.
- Galactica 1980. The refugee fleet reaches Earth but discovers that its technology is too primitive to fight the Cylons, so the fleet has to leave in order to avoid drawing the Cylons' genocidal attention to the planet.
- In the Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) episode "Revelations," they finally find Earth! And it's a nuclear wasteland. Frak.
- The Walking Dead starts with Rick Grimes trying to reach Atlanta, only to find out that there's no one there.
- And again with the CDC.
- They do manage alright on Hershel's farm for a while, but even that was overrun with zombies eventually.
- The prison arguably fares much better until The Governor sends a truck full of zombies through the front gate. They do manage to hold it and seem to have a good and safe life by the start of season four until an epidemic breaks out, zombies start breaking through the fence, and the Governor returns with a tank.
- And then we have Terminus, a supposed "sanctuary for all". "Those who arrive, survive" as they say. Most of the cast finds themselves locked in a train car, and it is not-so-subtly implied that Terminus is actually run by cannibals who are simply luring other survivors in as a source of food.
- Left 4 Dead pulls this one over and over and over again. Most notable is Riverside in the first game.
- However, while endgame safe zones are no longer safe, they're usually still a valid evacuation point (Mercy hospital, the corn farm military outpost).
- It also seemingly averted with The Sacrifice, where it appears that the safe zone was real. At least one of them is anyway.
- Arguably every room in the game Shivers could be one. No matter where you go, there is the possibility of an Ixupi hiding somewhere nearby.
- Technically Fatal Frame always has this. Most gamers believe that an area with a save point will be safe. But if you stay in ANY room for too long....a ghost WILL find you. Pray that it's not the Wandering Monk.
- Your previously safe apartment in Silent Hill 4 becomes haunted by evil spirits in the game's second act.
- Resident Evil 2
- The RPD building is not a good safe zone at all. The building has overrun barricades and is crawling with zombies and lickers (And a insane police chief). The last survivor turns into a zombie right before your eyes.
- In one of the save rooms, opening the second door out of the room (opposite the one the player entered) results in a Room Full of Zombies.
- The safe point from Deadlight is this. It's basically a trap for Seattle militia rebels to round up people.
- Mass Effect
- The Citadel is an ancient, massive, heavily fortified space station protected by a fleet of warships, and serves as the seat of galactic government and civilization. The station is in fact a giant Mass Relay from which the Reapers intend to launch their invasion of the galaxy, and a smaller mass relay located inside allows the villain Saren to launch a ground assault and seize the station by surprise.
- On Noveria, the surviving researches and staff of the Peak 15 labs are holed up in a secured part of the complex, guarded by the lab's security staff. If you deal with the Rachni before visiting this part of the station, the security staff (secretly under Benezia's employ) attack you, and it is implied that they killed the researches and staff themselves.
- Mass Effect 3
- Sanctuary was claimed to be a place where people could wait out the Reaper invasion. The installation is ultimately revealed to be a Cerberus base using refugees in experiments to create controlled Husks. And then the Reapers show up.
- One or two background characters mention having their children relocated to Thessia, the homeworld of the Asari, which has yet to be attacked. The planet is rapidly overrun within a few hours near the end of the game.
- And of course, once again, The Citadel, which not only gets invaded by Cerberus, but later is attacked and seized by the Reapers during the Endgame.
- Parodied in the nuclear apocalypse episode of Family Guy: The Griffins' trek through the wastes brings them to an incongruous patch of fertile land, with plenty of food and clean water for everyone. Seems like paradise... except for Randy Newman. Just sits at his piano, 24 hours a day, singing. They move on.
- In Hey Arnold! episode "Longest Monday", Arnold and Gerald try to get home without suffering the school tradition of having the fifth graders shove them into trash cans. Along the way, they find a safety zone where victims of the tradition are aided, only for it to be discovered by the fifth graders.