Obi Wan: That boy is our last hope.
So, you are a writer, and you establish, for the purposes of building up drama and depth, that a character is the Last of His Kind
. However, this severely restricts the options available to you, especially if we have previously seen others of his kind, who are now, obviously, gone
Therefore, very often, at least for the heroic sort, it will eventually turn out that he's not
really the Last of His Kind
after all, and his fellows have either been secreted away or ascended to a higher plane of existence
. Unless this is revealed in the Grand Finale
or when the character is Put on a Bus
, this revelation will either prove a MacGuffin
(as the character will now be driven to actually find and reunite with his fellows
), or be conveniently removed by a Reset Button
(for example, these other survivors will be killed, or permanently sealed away in another dimension for their own protection, turning out to be a dream, Chuck Cunningham Syndrome
or whatnot), as being reunited with his people pretty much cancels out the character type. See Sailor Earth
for when a fanfiction writer creates this type of character.
Compare: The Chosen Many
, The Last Man Heard A Knock
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Michel in Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch is kept from realizing the existence of other Ancients by Fuku, the real Man Behind the Man (as opposed to the fake, the Great One), as they would spoil his delusions of turning the world into a flying fish-ridden Mordor.
- Bleach: The Quincy, Uryuu Ishida is supposed to be the Last of His Kind because the quincy power skipped a generation from grandfather to grandson due to his father turning his back on the quincy way. Then it's revealed his father is actually the official Last Quincy and he's not only got all his quincy power but he's fully mastered every known quincy technique that existed. That made Uryuu the last practicing quincy and his father the last master. Then it's revealed an entire organisation of quincies known as the Vandenreich survived in secret, but have abandoned the old ways. That makes Ryuuken the last quincy master of the old ways and Uryuu the last practitioner of the old ways. To make matters even more complicated, Ichigo Kurosaki's mother is revealed to have been a quincy, although the power Ichigo has inherited appears to be more Vandenreich than traditional.
- Death Note features an unusual mundane use of this trope. After L's death, Light assumes he now has free reign to be the God of the new world, as L was the only detective smart enough to outmaneuver him. Indeed, he was one step away from proving Light was Kira before his death. Light's plans are ultimately wrecked by the appearance of Mello and Near, who had been raised as L's potential successors, and who quickly deduce that Light is Kira because his increasingly complex plans could only possibly have been executed by the head of the Japanese Task Force.
- A better application of this trope would be the introduction of Misa, the second Kira.
- Averted in Dragon Ball Z if you ignore the non-canon movies. When the author says Goku, Raditz, Nappa and Vegeta are the last Saiyans, they really are, and no new ones pop up to replace the ones who are killed off.
- While it would hardly be shocking if others had survived in the same way Goku did (if one slipped through the cracks decades ago, why not two, or three, or fifty?), from the time the Saiyan race is introduced the manga has only 4 story arcs. None of them introduce new Saiyans (aside from Half-Human Hybrids), and then the series ends, leaving no possibility of the issue ever coming up.
- Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return! introduces Vegeta's younger brother, who comes to Earth seeking help against his enemies. If it sounds like a fanfic, he was sent to a distant planet for being unpardonably weak by Saiyan standards and Vegeta is more embarrassed by him than anything else. He's also a pretty nice guy, shorter than Vegeta, and married to a friendly humanoid-but-not-humanlike alien, which weirds Vegeta out. Oh, and the main cast are so ridiculously powerful post-Buu Saga that his enemies are a joke to them.
- Superman and the Kryptonians. This got to ridiculous levels in the Silver Age. Post Crisis, it became editorial policy that Superman must be the only Kryptonian, ever at all even for a moment. So we got Supergirl the Earth Angel, Superboy the human clone with grafted powers (because Kryptonians couldn't even be cloned) and Power Girl the Atlantean. They changed their minds.
- The Martian Manhunter was likewise the last Martian. However, it turns out that he was the last green Martian, and there's a race of Always Chaotic Evil white Martians that are very much alive. Go figure. Eventually they're all killed, except for the good aligned Miss Martian.
- Which has changed again in the new Martian Manhunter retooling. Not only are there other White Martians, but another Green Martian... and female. But she's evil.
- After another apparent retcon in Brightest Day, this is still the case. It's a different Green Martian. Who is also female. And insanely evil.
- Subverted in Y The Last Man. About ten issues in, it's revealed that two male astronauts avoided the Gendercide because they were in space at the time. A bare bones effort to ensure a safe landing ensued... but both male astronauts died on reentry. The only one to survive was their female cosmonaut partner... who was pregnant with the (male) baby of one of them.
- In the penultimate arc we find another survivor: Dr. Mann's father, who blames his cloning experiment and/or efforts to sabotage his daughter's for the disaster... and decides that the world would better off with the menfolk out of the way completely since his daughter(s) can continue his work.
- Elfquest does this with the Wolfriders, who believe they are the last of their kind. Imagine their surprise when they find out not only are there more tribes (three [later four] to be precise) but a High One survived as well.
- It's just as much of a surprise to the Gliders, one of the other tribes, when they discover there are elves out there who can still have children. Their leader, Winnowill, also discovers that she has a non-evil counterpart in Savah (of the first tribe the Wolfriders encounter).
- In Wavedancers, there is an inversion. Wavelet is an elf who was raised by humans, and does not know there are tribes of elves in this world. She is introduced in a side-plot after other elves discover her, rather than being treated as a protagonist.
- Lobo in his first own series "The Last Czarnian" has to discover that another Czarnian survived his genocide on his own race, and worse, it's his fourth grade math teacher (probably one -if not the one- member of his race he hated most). And he has to bring her to Vril Dox unharmed. However after his contract with Vril Dox is fulfilled he quickly fixes that mistake by snapping her neck.
- Cerebus did this with aardvarks. Cooler than it sounds.
- The trope name comes from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, where after Luke Skywalker is rushing off to an obvious trap Vader has set for him, Yoda cryptically dismisses Obi-Wan's suggestion that Luke was the last hope for the Jedi. The "another" is Leia, as implied in the ending to Empire Strikes Back and confirmed in Return of the Jedi. This is actually used to chilling effect in said scene since, if Luke is NOT the last hope, he no longer has Plot Armor.
- At the beginning of Ice Age 2, Manny the Mammoth is led to believe he's the last of the mammoths. Later, he finds a female mammoth who was living with her possum brothers (...), and at the end he found out a herd of mammoths, and had to make a Friend or Idol Decision about staying with them or his friends.
- The ending of the first Highlander film explicitly said that Connor MacLeod had won "The Prize" and was the last Immortal. Subsequent films (and the TV series) changed that.
- The ending of Gojira states that the titular monster cannot be the only member of his species, and that nuclear bomb testings will only bring about more. Cue the sequel....
- Later films in the series not only established there was more than one Godzilla, but that the appearance of Minya (Showa/Final Wars) and Junior (Heisei) implied a breeding population. There isn't just one Godzilla. There's an entire species.
- Hancock had the titular character suffer from amnesia only to be reminded once again, by saving her current husband, that he once had a wife who had the same powers he did.
- In King Ralph, the title character discovers he's not the only distant relative of the royal family still alive. His advisor, Sir Cedric is too. He had been offered the position first, but he turned it down.
- This was the premise for The Tigger Movie, in which Tigger thinks he's received a letter from another Tigger. It turns out that the letter was from Roo. The whole movie is an Aesop about the Power of Friendship.
- And has anyone else on this list declared "I'm the only one!" so triumphantly?
- Both protagonists of The Dark Crystal believed themselves to be the last of the gelfling race, then invoked this trope when they met.
- Dogma: Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born. The last of her and Joseph's descendants, though, is Bethany. She also developed uterine cancer and had a hysterectomy. At the end of the movie, God regrows her womb, with the new Last Scion in it.
- Subverted in The Chronicles of Riddick, in which Riddick is assumed to be the last Furyan. Turns out there's at least one more ... but he's been converted into a Necromonger, and commits suicide immediately after revealing his race.
- In Eragon, we are led to believe that Eragon and Gallbatorix are the only Dragon Riders left in the world, Gallbatorix having slaughtered every Rider and Dragon, with only two eggs and one dragonless Rider left in the world besides them. In Eldest, we find out that Gallbatorix missed one. The elf Oromis and his dragon Glaedr are crippled but alive, and become Eragon and Saphira's teachers. And at the end of the book, we find out that another of the eggs has hatched.
- The last egg (a green one) hatches in "Inheritance". In this universe, eggs wait to hatch until they sense the proximity of a worthy rider, and this egg hatches for Arya, who names him Fírnen.
- In Inheritance, it is also revealed that there is a sizeable stockpile of dragon eggs, created just before the fall of Vroengard, that can be used to bring back the dragon riders.
- The first book in the Deathgate Cycle makes Alfred out to be the last Sartan alive. Two books later we find out there are others. Many, many others, living on other worlds.
- A variation. Grand Admiral Thrawn died in The Thrawn Trilogy. He was far from the only one of his species - Chiss are isolationist but not endangered - but there's only one Thrawn. Luke and Mara found his clone floating, asleep or not yet alive, in a Spaarti cylinder underneath his hidden fortress in the Hand Of Thrawn duology. They sort-of-accidentally killed it while escaping. But the incredibly elaborate Chiss gambiting in Survivor's Quest has enough elements of Thrawn's style to cause Mara Jade to wonder if he had another clone. Timothy Zahn has said that he'd be interested in writing a book involving Thrawn's clone, who, unusually, would not mentally be Thrawn (while he'd have Thrawn's memories, he'd still know they were just copied memories) and would feel tremendous pressure to live up to the original*]].
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
- Arthur Dent discovers his entire planet has been rebuilt in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. Then he discovers a parallel version in Mostly Harmless. Then, once the Guide Mk2 has ensured that every parallel Earth in the Whole Sort Of General Mish-Mash has been destroyed, he discovers an Earth colony in And Another Thing....
- Trillian. Sure, Arthur runs into her only a few hours after the Earth is destroyed, but up till then he believed himself the Last of His Kind.
- Shelmerdine in Virginia Woolf's Orlando: A Biography.
- The protagonist of How Like a God thinks he's the only person in the world with Psychic Powers. Wandering a Mental World, he looks out into an ocean, filled with tadpoles that represent the minds of all the people in the world. Then he sees a whale.
- A prophecy in Percy Jackson and the Olympians refers to a child of one of the Big Three (Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades) under the age of sixteen that will decide the fate of the Gods. Due to the nature of the prophecy, after World War II the Three signed a pact not to have any more children, because those children were too powerful and warped the world. Percy is thought to be the necessary referent, since only he and Thalia had been born since the oath and Thalia pulled a Heroic Sacrifice several years ago. Then Thalia comes back to life, and then it turns out that yet another two have been trapped in a Lotus-Eater Machine since before the pact.
- Eventually Thalia chooses to stop aging right before her 16th birthday, the daughter of Hades is killed, and Nico is younger than Percy, so he doesn't qualify, so it refers to Percy after all.
- Possibly a subversion, in L B. Graham’s The Binding of the Blade series, everyone comes to believe that the main character, Joraiem, is a foretold prophet, the only one left on earth to manifest Allfather’s power once the current prophet dies. However, when Joraiem is murdered by a man who is in love with the woman Joraeim just married, it turns out that the prophecy is actually referring to his son, Benjiah.
- The Gargoyles. In the beginning of the series, it's implied they're the last. Then they find out the eggs from their Rookery were saved, and raised in Avalon. Then they find a bunch of other clans around the world that survived. Though given the Manhattan Clan rather limited world view, they weren't exactly exposed to other clans much less those half-way around the world. So as far as they were concerned, when their clan was destroyed, that was it.
- In The Venture Brothers, Dr. Venture has a dream in which his dead father warns him "There is another Venture!" in a spooky, dramatic voice. When asked why he said it like that, he answered "Don't ask me; it's your dream." It turns out he was right, the "other Venture" being the twin brother that Dr. Venture swallowed in the womb.
- Until Shrek Forever After, we assumed Shrek Fiona and their kids were the only ogres. Then, we find an entire race of ogres acting as La Résistance as Rumplestiltskin has taken over the world.
- Futurama has one not-so-straight example: Leela finds someone who seems to be part of the same alien race she thinks she's a part of, but turns out to be a shapeshifter who happened to have a thing for women who are the last of their kind. The whole situation was just an excuse for Actor Allusion.
- Better than that Leela isn't an alien, she's a mutant.
- One episode of the The Wild Thornberrys had a tortoise that was (almost) the Last of His Kind. Sadly Truth in Television, as he was based on a real tortoise called Lonesome George.