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Watch the World Die
We can live beside the ocean
Linger far behind
Swim out past the breaker
Everclear, Santa Monica

It's The End of the World as We Know It. Civilization is officially collapsing all around us. In this kind of situation, a person has two options: They can barricade their doors, and protect their homestead, or they can take everyone they care about out of the cities, to a safe vantage point, from which to watch everything crumble into dust. This is about the people who take this second option.

Common from the 50s to the 80s due to the fear of nuclear annihilation. See While Rome Burns, which is about not caring the world is ending, while this is watching it from a safe vantage point. Also compare Face Death with Dignity, which this is on a world scale.

Examples

Music

Film
  • In the 1953 version of The War Of The Worlds, when it's clear nothing can stop the martians from destroying the cities, a lot of people can be seen camping out in the hills just outside Los Angeles.
  • Miracle Mile.
  • At the end of Fight Club, The Narrator and Marla watch as all the buildings around them collapse.
    Narrator: You met me at a very weird time of my life.
  • Happens at the end of On The Beach.

Live-Action TV
  • The Doctor Who New Series episode "The End of the World", the second episode with the Ninth Doctor, features the natural end of the world, and the Doctor, Rose, and the Face of Boe (among others) are here to watch.
    • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe short story "Mondas Passing" the two companions present during "The Tenth Planet" reunite in their own version of 1986 to passively watch the adventure from an outsider's POV.
    • Another Doctor Who example, The Tenth Doctor, Martha, her family (minus her brother) and Jack Harkness watch helplessly as The Master lays waste to the earth using the Toclafane, while Voodoo Child (not to be confused with Jimi Hendrix's song Voodoo Chile) plays in the background.
  • This is more or less the plot of The Walking Dead.
  • The Day After
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Subverted in "Our Man Bashir". Stalling for time to resolve the Holosuite/Transporter Mishap of the Week, Bashir facilitates the success of the holoprogram villain's plan, effectively destroying the virtual earth.

Western Animation
  • On at least one occasion, the Simpson family gathered on the roof in lawn chairs watching the destruction of Springfield after yet another wacky series of adventures. Marge wouldn't let Bart go loot with the others.
  • In the Futurama episode "The Late Philip J. Fry", Fry, Bender and Prof. Farnsworth watch the universe end in their time machine. And then they watch it begin all over again.
    • And end again. And begin again.

Literature
  • The Oblivion Society, which parodies it strangely enough.
  • The short story The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke. It ends with the main characters standing outside a monastery, watching as God turns off the universe and the stars go out one by one. Subverted in that there's not really a safe vantage point from which to watch the end of the universe.
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Also mentioned is its counterpart, the Big Bang Burger Bar, where you can go to watch the universe being born.

Manga and Anime
  • X1999 has a lot of this among the dragons of earth.

Tabletop Games
  • Uncertain if it is a common trope in other RPGs, but White Wolf goes on to detail how their worlds end.
    • The Old World of Darkness line had a battery of books about how the world Ascended To A Higher Planeof Existence/concluded / ceased to exist / got destroyed.
      • A scenario for Vampire: The Masquerade included a group of vampires hiding away from God's judgment to hold vigil and repent; even though the Player Characters might not leave the church they are stuck in, the fates of vampires the world over were written with detail.
      • A scenario for Mage: The Ascension included an illustration where a Nephandus, in a form a mountain tall with burning eyes, is breathing atomic fire on cities. The PCs were welcome to survive long enough to see how the victorious Nephandi and their Malfean masters tore holes in Reality and raped it to death. Depressing as it is, the book for MtA included other scenarios where the player factions won and ended the world for a better, more comfortable age.
    • A few scenarios in the Exalted line, where the Exalted might lose to the looming threats to Creation, detail (excruciatingly) how everything ends.
      • In Return of the Scarlet Empress, the conclusion of the Reclamation semi-metaplot, the PCs might choose to retreat from the final battle with the Ebon Dragon. The result is a universe where psychopathic hatred forms the core of physical reality, free will exists only to be broken and things exist so that they can suffer. The PCs, being god-kings, might survive and gather enough strength to survive or even fight back. Still, the scenery around them is hopelessly bleak.
      • One possible implication of Autochthon's return to Creation is that the Great Contagion infects the inhabitants of Autochthonia, accelerating Autochthon's sickness and killing him. A milder conclusion includes him becoming an undead Omnicidal Maniac. One other includes the First and Forsaken Lion — millennia-old, ghost-god warmonger — consuming weakened Autochthon and becoming the Onceborn. At least the Neverborn seeks to kill all things so that they come to eternal rest; the Onceborn kills billions at a time because it's fun. Again, the PCs could stop him, but tough luck.

Webcomics

Real Life
  • Some scientists predict that just right before the Sun is beginning to transform into a red giant, the last animals on Earth, expected to be spiders, centipedes, insects such as ants, beetles, and cockroaches, lizards, birds, and small mammals will all be driven back into the ocean as by then the continents will be once again too hot to support life.
  • The fact that humanity may eventually flee to another planet when the Earth might become uninhabitable in the future may probably count.

Villain WorldApocalyptic IndexThe World Is Always Doomed
Washtub ThrowPages Needing WicksWaterfall into the Abyss

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