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
, or new ones have come into being somehow. 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
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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: Uryuu Ishida is introduced as the Last of His Kind until it's revealed his father is the official Last Quincy, a full master of every Quincy technique but refuses to use his power for mysterious reasons. Uryuu is therefore the last practicing Quincy, Ryuuken the last (retired) master. Then it's revealed the Vandenreich Quincies existed in secret and have abandoned the old ways. Uryuu is the last practitioner, and Ryuuken the last master, of the old ways. Then it's revealed Ichigo is half-Quincy because his mother was Ryuuken's cousin.
- 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.
- Interestingly, Goku is this in Dragon Ball Z. While working on a difficult job for Frieza, Raditz remembers that his long-lost brother was sent away to a distant planet before their home planet was destroyed, so he and the other two remaining Saiyans, Nappa and Prince Vegeta, decide to recruit him to help out. The series does stick to Goku, Vegeta, Raditz and Nappa as the only survivors, however, and besides some Half-Human Hybrid children, no other pure-blood Saiyans are introduced in the main series. Long-lost Saiyan survivors sent to backwater planets serve as a common character type in Dragon Ball fanfiction, though.
- Played straight later on in the form of Tarble, Vegeta's younger brother introduced in the OVA Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return! He was sent away because he lacked the Blood Knight tendencies of the other Saiyans, but comes to Earth to get his brother to help defeat some of Frieza's former minions. But aside from a brief mention in Battle of Gods, he hasn't been seen since.
- The Non-Serial Movies also introduce a few more Saiyans: Turles, Goku's evil Identical Stranger, Legendary Super Saiyan Broly, and his father Paragus, but they are generally considered non-canon.
- Likewise averted in Dragon Ball Online, a far-future video game sequel (sadly not likely to come to the US) made with story input from Akira Toriyama. Goku and Vegeta are unable to find enough Saiyan survivors to save their race (whether they are able to find ANY is unclear), but their descendants interbreed with humans to the point where a not-inconsiderable minority of humanity has some Saiyan blood.
- In Naruto, Sasuke is introduced at the last of the Uchiha clan, though toward the end of the Land of Waves Arc he reveals he has a brother, Itachi, who is presumably still alive somewhere. This is confirmed a few arcs later when Itachi shows up in person. In Part II, shortly before the two have their final showdown, it's revealed that their ancestor, Madara, is not only alive and well, but Itachi's mentor. However, Madara is ultimately revealed to be Obito Uchiha (another of their clansman) in disguise and the real Madara is eventually resurrected.
- While it hasn't been particularly significant to the plot so far, Kushina Uzumaki implies she may have been the last of her clan before her death, leaving her son, Naruto, as the sole remaining member.. Later, however, Kabuto reveals that Karin is also a member of the Uzumaki clan, as was Nagato, though he is dead by this point.
- 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. 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.
- In Passageways Harry believed that he and his mother were the last surviving magical descendants of the Eveningshade family, only to discover that a handful of survivors escaped the original massacre and had descendants of their own.
Films — Animated
- At the beginning of Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, 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.
- 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?
- By the end of Kung Fu Panda 2, everyone is led to believe that Po is the last remaining panda and the rest were all wiped out by Lord Shen. The Sequel Hook reveals that at least a dozen pandas survived the massacre, including Po's biological father.
- 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.
Films — Live-Action
- 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.
- 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 Godzilla (1954) 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.
- 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, named Greeni by fans) 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.
- 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 Death Gate 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 originalnote .
- 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.
- Doctor Who did this a few times.
- Every time you think the last surviving Daleks are all but gone, another one (four, one million) pop up from an Alternate Universe, an evil-sealing can, or somewhere else.
- In the third season of the new series, it was revealed that the Doctor himself was not the last of the Time Lords as he believed, as the Master also survived the Time War, unknown to him. The Master, being the Master, has since died, come back to life, and "died" again in less than three years.
- The fourth season introduced an Opposite-Sex Clone "daughter", although the Doctor was reluctant to consider her a "real" Time Lord. She's still alive, he just doesn't know it.
- In the 11th Doctor's second series, Doctor River Song was confirmed to be part-Time Lord.
- Taken Up to Eleven in "The Day of the Doctor" when its revealed that Gallifrey didn't blow up after all. The Doctor and his past/future incarnations simply moved it to another dimension, with all the Time Lords still on it.
- In the Stargate Verse, the original movie mentioned that Ra's race was dying, leading many to believe he was the Last of His Kind. In the series, this is apparently ignored: the Goa'uld are numerous, and are the dominant galactic power. This was partially reconciled with the movie later on, when it was established that the Goa'uld were indeed dying out at that time, desperately looking for a host species (which they found in the Tau'ri.) The nature of Ra's species was also changed (from The Greys to snake-like symbiotes), among the many retcons in the transition from the movie to the TV franchise.
- In Power Rangers S.P.D., the Sirian Anubis "Doggie" Cruger was thought to be the last of his kind after the Troobian Empire destroyed his home planet. At the end of the series, it's learned that his wife, Aisinya, was kept alive within the Troobian Emperor's personal chambers. The logic behind this has yet to pass a cursory examination.
- In Red Dwarf, Lister is believed to be the last human, with his companions being an evolved cat, a hologram, and an android. In the books and the series, an alternate universe version of Christine Kochanski is added to the cast (though how she arrived is very different between the two media.) He also loses the status as last human native to this universe in different ways:
- In the series, Kryten's repair nanites go a bit too far, rebuilding the entire crew of the Red Dwarf, including previously Put on a Bus cast member Rimmer (who didn't experience "our" Rimmer's adventures with them and had no qualms about double-crossing them.)
- In the Red Dwarf novel Last Human, Michael McGruder, the child of Rimmer's one night stand, arrives, having been in stasis a really, really long time.
- Angel was, for a long time, considered to be the only vampire with a soul, to the point where prophecies referring to the 'vampire with a soul' were assumed naturally to refer to Angel. But then Spike got his soul back.
Angel: Oh. That's great. Everyone's got a soul now...You know, I started it. The whole 'having a soul'. Before it was all the cool new thing...
- Earlier on, after a season and a half of opening every episode with "She is the Slayer. She alone will..." yada yada yada, Buffy meets Kendra.
Buffy: Okay, one more time. You're the who?!
Kendra: I'm the Slayer.
Buffy: Nice cover story. But here's a tip: you might wanna try it on someone who's not the real Slayer.
Kendra: You can't stop me! Even if you kill me, another Slayer will be sent to take my place.
Buffy: Could you stop with the Slayer thing? I'm the damn Slayer!
- Subverted at one point: Warren just wanted to join Andrew in quoting The Empire Strikes Back.
Andrew: That boy is our last hope.
Warren: No, there is another.
Andrew: Wait, really? Who's our last hope?
Warren: No, I was just going with it. It was a thing. He's our last hope.
- Arguably, a form of this occurred in Charmed with Pru's death, which broke the power of three - until the fourth sister, Paige, turned up.
- A version of this trope appears in both the old and new versions of Battlestar Galactica: the twist being that another battlestar has survived the genocide: the Pegasus.
- Also in the newer one, another Earth. Or something.
- The second battlestar is an example, but not the second Earth. The "Earth" that Adama spoke of right after the attack was the ruined Cylon world they found first. When they found another planet they could finally settle on, Adama and the crew named it Earth in deference to the prophesy, but it wasn't another Earth, it was just a reuse of the name.
- Smallville has Clark's cousin Kara show up. And then a Kryptonian army led by Colonel Zod.
- Steve Austin thought he was the first and only Bionic man ... until the second season when he ran into OSI's "failed experiment": Barney Miller, the Seven Million Dollar Man.
- In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, John Henry delivers the line, implying that Skynet is already starting to develop into a complex AI.
- Until season 4, Kilgarrah was the last dragon in the BBC's Merlin . But now another dragon, Aithusa, has been hatched.
- In one episode of The Invisible Man, an invisible man tries to kill the Official. Darien is accused of going rogue before Eberts suggests that Simon Cole, the first Invisible Man test subject, may have done it. Darien starts seeing the invisible Simon's heat signature everywhere he goes as he tries to clear his name. Averted. Simon is actually Dead All Along, shot by the Official when he went crazy. The invisibility gland was taken from Simon and transferred to Darien. Darien is merely being influenced by the dead Simon's memories which were somehow transferred along with the gland. Later, the villain Arnaud finds another invisibility gland and has it implanted in himself, though his has the downside of permanent invisibility.
- A version of this is done in House of Anubis where they discover Nina is not the only chosen person in the house, and there is in fact her Osirian, who is destined to protect her. It's Eddie.
- In Season 3 of Person of Interest it turns out that there is a second Machine, Samaritan. Unfortunately it ends up in the hands of Decima.
- The Toa Nuva from BIONICLE where implied to be the only Toa in existence during the first few arcs. Then Takanuva arrived, but he just seemed to be a standard Sixth Ranger type of character. Then Vakama chose to reveal that they are in fact, not the first Toa, and the series never looked back, introducing several new teams and lone operative Toa. Word of God has it that in their heyday, there were over 1000 Toa
- 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 Bros., 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.
- 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.
- Predaking spent the third season of Transformers Prime as the sole living Predacon. In the Grand Finale movie, he discovers that a few more have since been cloned, and makes it his goal to find and lead them.
- Finn the Human from Adventure Time was originally said to be the last human, but it's implied that Susan Strong is also one.
- It's also later revealed that Finn's father is alive.