Ymagyne, yf you wyll, a world wythout men.
That is the premise of Y: The Last Man, a Vertigo comic book. Written by Brian K. Vaughan (creator and original author for Runaways and Ex Machina), it tells the story of Yorick, a New York City escape artist who, along with his pet monkey Ampersand (&), somehow stayed alive while all other male mammals, from rats to giraffes to New York City Hall employees, suddenly died.
Being the Last of His Kind, or, in his case, sex, would be a good thing for an egotistical Lothario, but Yorick has in mind nothing but finding his Perfect Girlfriend, Beth, who was traveling in Australia on the day of the disaster. Complicating this quest, Washington DC is going through a war between Democratic senators and Republican widows, while the rest of the Eastern Seaboard is suffering from attacks by the Daughters of the Amazon, a female supremacy gang lead by Victoria, a charismatic but insane self-proclaimed chess prodigy.
In the rest of the world, Israel (having a considerable contingent of female troops) is now a belligerent military superpower while Australia (one of the few nations to use female submariners) rules the Pacific. Yorick's efforts at reuniting with Beth, finding the cause of the Gendercide and having himself and Ampersand cloned are repeatedly foiled as he, a scientist and a secret agent travel to California and beyond in a series of adventures which nicely subvert the standard After the End type of plot.
The comic, drawn in realistic western style by Pia Guerra and written by Brian K Vaughan, is famous for refusing to be an Author Tract even when its plot is just asking for it.
After a long-proposed film adaption of the series never came to fruition, it was announced in 2018 that FX ordered a television series based on it. Involved with the project are Ben Schnetzer as Yorick, Diane Lane as his mother Senator Jennifer Brown, Olivia Thirlby as his sister Hero Ashley Romans as Agent 355, and Diana Bang as Dr. Mann. The series was officially ordered in February 2019 and in summer 2020, it was announced to be moving to FXs sister streaming service Hulu. It is currently expected to release in 2021.
Help out with the character sheet.
This comic book contains examples of:
- Action Girl: 355, Hero and almost every other "action" character in the series.
- Action Survivor: Yorick starts the series with no combat or survival training at all and is frequently forced to rely on 355 for protection and Dr. Mann for explanations.
- A Date with Rosie Palms:
- Batteries for vibrators are suddenly a lot more valuable. And then, of course..P.J: Seriously, you've been the last cock on Earth for ages. How do you not bone one girl in that whole time?
Yorick: (holds up his hand)
- As a kid, 355 found out her family had been killed in a car crash immediately after one of these. It put her off masturbation for years.
- Batteries for vibrators are suddenly a lot more valuable. And then, of course..
- Aerosol Flamethrower: Yorick actually lampshades the real risk behind this; telling "Beth 2.0" that the can could explode if she lights the fumes.
- Air-Vent Passageway: Averted when Reality Ensues.355: You said we'd be able to use the air conditioning vents. They're six inches by four inches.
Yorick: Yeah, well, I overestimated the amount of... air this place might need...
- Alas, Poor Yorick: An obligatory trope given the protagonist's name.
- The scene happens with a random woman shopkeeper who refuses to sell her capuchin monkey to Toyota (who believes it is Ampersand). The capuchin is later shown in this pose with the unlucky shopkeeper's head.
- Yorick does actually hold a skull in the catacombs of Paris while contemplating that one cannot tell the difference between men and women with just bones (although in reality an anatomist can do just that).
- All Part of the Show: Inverted with the play in Japan. The teenage hecklers are a part of the performance.
- Alternate History: All but two male mammals, embryos, and even sperm die on July 17, 2002.
- Amazon Brigade: Every armed group/organization by default. The best example is probably the IDF special forces led by Alter; the actual Daughters of the Amazon are fairly disorganized and gang-like.
- Answer Cut: "What's long and hard and full of semen?" Next panel: A submarine.
- Apocalypse How: A large portion of the drama throughout the series is driven by the question of whether how severe an apocalypse it's going to be. At the very least, it's going to be a societal disruption (civilization is forced to undergo massive changes, but ultimately survives), and at worst it's going to be a slow-motion version of outright human extinction. The Distant Finale reveals that it is the former.
- Applied Phlebotinum: How Yorick survived the plague. Turns out it is handling his pet monkey's feces that saved him. How the monkey survived in the beginning? That is another question...
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Toyota. Not a guy, and not kung fu, but still.
- Artistic License Biology: Aside from the central concept itself being fictional, the story never really addresses the catastrophic environmental effect it would have if half of the mammals in the world died at once and the rest could not reproduce.
- Artistic License Linguistics: Yorick has an English degree, so he's prone to correcting people's grammar, but in doing so he repeats several common grammar myths, including not splitting infinitives and not ending sentences with prepositions. Neither of these are actual grammar rules, which someone with an English degree would know.
- Artistic License Medicine:
- Botulism, which the main character contracts, does not present with gastrointestinal bleeding. In fact, weakness is what characterises the disease. AND most importantly: there is no antidote!
- A lot of people (mostly main characters) recover from their wounds really quickly. Even considering that Dr. Mann is, well, a doctor, it shouldn't be that simple.
- In mental health: Yorick becomes a Death Seeker, so 355 stages an intervention. Yorick's "therapist" decides to kidnap Yorick. She drugs him, humiliates him, insults him, and threatens to rape him. Then she encourages him to commit suicide. Somehow, instead of giving Yorick more problems, this technique actually cures him of his death wish. He doesn't even suffer any psychological side-effects in the aftermath. To top it off, this technique was something which the Marquis de Sade came up with.
- Artistic License Religion: The Swiss Guard don't wear the multicolor, striped uniforms and halberds outside of ceremony. When they're actually performing security, they're equipped like any other modern security force.
- Badass Israeli: Alter and many of her troops. Because Israel has mandatory military service for all its women and allows women into combat roles, it's natural that Israel would become a disproportionately significant military power in Lady Land.
- Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: Inverted in that the woman Yorick spends the entire series looking for ends up falling for his sister after he breaks up with her.
- Bald Women: Most notably P.J.
- Bittersweet Ending: Humanity survives, but 355 has died, and Yorick is trapped in an unhappy marriage his whole life for the sake of humanity. He's forced to euthanize an aged Ampersand and spends decades mourning his loss by trying to clone a replacement. When we last see him, he's finally "escaped" his life.
- Blah Blah Blah: A flashback to 355's teen years shows her sitting, minding her own business while two guys talk like this in the background. Then one of them calls her the n-word and things get painful (for them).
- Blood from Every Orifice: How the men affected by the plague died, all choking and pouring blood from every orifice.
- Bodyguard Crush: 355 realizes pretty early in the series that she is developing some feelings for Yorick, but she realizes just as quickly that it is simply a minor infatuation that comes with protecting him around the clock for such a length of time. Then she and he fall in love for real.
- Bond One-Liner: Plenty are used, and subverted. In one story arc, when Dr. Matsumori is about to kill his daughter with an injection, he gets out "It's funny, the English word for mercy killing is..." and, well, suffice it to say he does not get to finish. 355 is more successful, though: "Yeah, I guess I got the short end of the stick..."
- Book-Ends: Yorick in a straitjacket, asking someone if they knew Elvis had a twin brother.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Hero falls under the influence of misandrist cult leader Victoria.
- Brick Joke:
- Yorick has a gas mask that he carried around for the entire series. He originally used it because he thought the gendercide was some kind of biological terrorist attack, but after he realized he was immune he still carried it around so he could cover his face to keep his masculine features hidden. In the penultimate issue of the series, it fulfilled its designed function by letting him shrug off gas grenades.
- In the Distant Finale: Yorick is bald, a possibility that Yorick angsted over earlier in the series.
- Yorick gets trapped in a pair of "unpickable" handcuffs. Much later in the series, he flashes back to a situation in which a magic shop owner is about to sell him keys to unlock the unpickable cuffs, but gets interrupted.
- But What About the Astronauts?: The worldwide gendercide did not reach two men aboard the International Space Station, and in the third book they were forced to return to Earth after their technology started breaking down.
- Cassandra Truth: While searching for Yorick, the Amazons pick up a Russian woman speaking bad English who says the men are in outer space. They dismiss her as a lunatic. She turns out to be Natalya trying to get help getting the only surviving male astronauts down from the International Space Station.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Yorick's "Fuck Communism" lighter (a reference to Preacher) does not go over well when discovered by Russians.
- The gun given to Yorick by 355, which he uses to shoot the militia girl.
- Also the "sex dummy" man in Tokyo, who is used to provide a distraction for their assault on the Yakuza, and then comes right around when the speakers in his mouth are used to reveal their boss's true nature.
- Chekhov's Skill: Yorick is immediately established to be an amateur escape artist. His skills come in handy after only a few pages, and repeatedly thereafter. It's all he's good for.
- Cool Big Sis: Hero clearly fills this role in Yorick's mind (making him especially bitter about her FaceHeel Turn) because he fails to realise just how screwed up she is.
- Cowgirl: Hero in a Dude Ranch outfit, but with very real sixguns. Yorick is also chased by a horseback posse, much to his delight.
- Coming-of-Age Story: Yorick, in spite of being 22 when the series starts.
- Continuity Nod: Waverly, the supermodel-turned graveyard-keeper, recognizes the President as one of the women who stole her truck once.
- Country Matters:
- The leader of the Amazons gets called the C-word by a girl she has taken prisoner and calmly explains the origins of the word and claims its origins do not justify how it has come to be used as the most offensive swear in the English language. Then, after the girl calls her a bitch, she orders Hero to "kill this whore".
- Thrown in as a Bilingual Bonus in the fight between 355 and Natalya.
- Crazy Survivalist: The Sons of Arizona (yes, they kept the name) seized control of a stretch of I-10 and remain convinced the federal government was behind the Gendercide. Bad place for a federal agent, a scientist, and Yorick to pass through.
- Christianity Is Catholic: It is mentioned that because of Gendercide the monotheistic religions have lost more than 90% of their clergy. Yorick seeks refuge in a Catholic church by feeling overwhelmed by a sin he committed, a sub-plot is about the search by nuns for the miraculous birth of a man, who can be appointed Pope and thus allow women to be ordained priests. It is mentioned in passing the existence of Protestant churches that have female priests and also the popularity of a pagan cult of the "Mother Goddess"
- Cruel Mercy: After killing Agent 355, Alter reveals to Yorick that her goal was to die like a warrior, killed by a man, and tries to provoke Yorick into shooting her. Yorick refuses.
- Death by Irony: Alter's parents believed in a superstition of never speaking her true name aloud in fear that the angel of death would be able to find her and take her life. Ironic because when Agent 355 reveals her real name to Yorick she is murdered seconds later by Alter herself. Alter reveals what her real name is Yedida shortly after this, explicitly asking the angel of death to take her, but doesn't get her wish.
- Death Seeker:
- Yorick turns out to be one, but he gets better.
- Alter reveals herself to be one in the very end, which was her motivation for her evil deeds all along.
- Also, 711. Upon being shot to death, she says, "Heh...thanks."
- Depopulation Bomb: Just shy of fifty percent of the population killed off with the initial Gendercide, and millions more from the resulting plane/car crashes, environmental disasters (Several Russian nuclear reactors have apparently gone critical without proper maintenance), food shortages, etc. It affects animals as well.
- Destructo-Nookie: Yorick and Beth when they finally reunite.
- Disc-One Final Boss: Victoria, the leader of the Amazons, looks like a main antagonist, but she gets killed early on. From thereafter, the Amazons are a substantially reduced threat. They are replaced by the IDF.
- Distant Finale: A sixty-year time skip. Yorick ends up a bitter old man, who does not even get along with his own daughter. Or his clones.
- Double-Meaning Title: A triple meaning: Y for Yorick, the Y (male) chromosome, and also as in 'Why is he the last man?', a recurring theme of the story.
- Downer Beginning: With the end of issue #1, every male mammal on Earth sans Yorick and Ampersand dies a horrific death, coughing up blood and choking to death.
- Dramatic Gun Cock: Most confrontations involving guns will have at least one of these.
- Dr. Jerk: Dr Allison Mann finds Yorick infuriating and has no qualms about venting her frustrations. However, she admits that she will miss Yorick when she chooses to stay in China while he and 355 continue to Paris.
- Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age:
- Amazons are so committed to emulating mythological Amazons that they wield bows and cut off a breast so as not to get in the way of their draw, just like the myths.
- Toyota only uses ancient ninja weapons.
- Empty Shell: Yorick as an old man, having lost 355, Dr. Mann, and Ampersand.
- The End of the World as We Know It: Society is shattered planetwide by definition, and the prospect of looming extinction does not help efforts to pull things together.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Ampersand is one of the most popular characters in the series.
- Extinct in the Future: A year and a half after the plague, Dr. Mann surmises that, given their lifespans, Pygmy Shrews have likely become extinct. Opossums and rats won't be too far behind. However, several years after that, a minor character sees some rats in an alley, despite the fact they should all be gone.
- Eye Scream:
- One of Epiphany's girls gets stabbed in the eye with a syringe.
- 355 hits one of the Sons of Arizona with a stick so hard, her eye falls out of her socket.
- Eyepatch of Power: Rose.
- FaceHeel Turn: Resulting in a rather unpleasant Family Reunion.
- Fan-Disliked Explanation: An Invoked Trope, when Yorick calls Doctor Mann's father's explanation for the gendercide "vaguely unsatisfying". The characters (and the comic) do not give that explanation any more weight than the other theories.
- Fanservice: It is a cast filled with women. What, do you expect them to make all of them ugly? Of course, Yorick has plenty of nude scenes too.
- Fashionable Asymmetry: The Amazons' habit of removing their left breast to signify membership.
- Fingore: At one point, Natalya snipes off the thumb of an IDF soldier.
- Gang of Hats: Taken to the extreme, with a ritual mastectomy as initiation.
- Gendercide: All male mammals get wiped out by a mysterious plague at the very beginning. A number of possible explanations were given throughout the course of the book, but none are definitive answers. The author has stated that one of the offered explanations is the correct one, but he refuses to specify which, and every wild theory is potentially correct.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Used, subverted and deconstructed ALL over the place. One volume is even called Girl on Girl.
- Goggles Do Something Unusual: Toyota's do.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: One of the Beths has a cool scar running across her face. And of course the Daughters of the Amazon have one that's (debatably) historically accurate for proud warrior women who were also accurate archers: voluntary mastectomies. But the Daughters remove the left breast while real Amazons supposedly removed the right.
- Gratuitous Ninja: The most "comic-booky" aspect of the story is the inclusion of a badass ninja who dresses and fights using all the classic weapons and methods.
- Honor Before Reason: The two surviving male astronauts shove the female astronaut out first when they crash, dying in the process, even though their lives are worth infinitely more than hers. The survivor even lampshades it. The fact that she was pregnant with one of their children apparently influenced them.
- I Call It "Vera": Natalya calls her rifle Rodya, after her husband.
- I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: In the first arc, a would-be hostage taker who's never held a gun before kills her hostage when her finger slips.
- Impossible Pickle Jar: In a play put on in-universe, the first scene has a woman's grief over her husband's death (along with the rest of the male gender) brought home to her when she has trouble opening a jar. It's lampshaded as a cliche, and having been something of a running joke between the two of them.
- The Immune: Yorick and Ampersand, who (for most of the series) are the only male mammals known to be immune to the plague.
- Incestuous Casting: In-Universe: Yorick and Hero were cast as Romeo and Juliet in high-school. They flipped a coin to see who would drop out; Yorick tried to use one of his two-headed coins, but Hero caught him - and dropped out anyway, in spite of how much she wanted to do it.
- Infant Immortality: Averted. All male children and infants died during the Gendercide. One of the first things Yorick saw after leaving his apartment was a crying woman at the bottom of the stairs with her premature stillborn son resting in her lap, with the umbilical cord still attached.
- Infodump: During the "Motherland" arc, someone dumps a huge amount of info on Dr. Mann and Yorick. The latter responds "Could you slow down? I wasn't this confused when I read Heretics of Dune!"
- Informed Flaw: Yorick mentions his thinning hairline and zits, but the artist never depicts this.
- Ironic Name: Yorick, was named for the famously posthumous Shakespearean character of the same name and his most interesting trait is that he doesn't die. Also, Hero spends a lot of time as an antagonist for a good reason.
- It Gets Easier: 355's character arc, to her dismay.
- I Will Find You: Yorick's primary motivation for most of the comic is finding his girlfriend, Beth.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Toyota and her katana easily defeat all other combatants, including 355 and her collapsible baton and Dr. Mann and her jian.
- Kick the Dog: More like Cut The Monkey. How do we know Toyota is truly villainous? When she starts cutting off bits of Ampersand's tail.
- Lady Land: It is anything but voluntary, neither disproportionally utopic or dystopic, and for the most part men are badly missed to the point where prostitution and sex slavery involving remotely acceptable stand-ins remain an ongoing concern.
- The Last Title: The title.
- Layman's Terms: When Dr. Mann figures out how Yorick survived, he wearily explains that his attempt at a baking soda volcano nearly blew off one of his testicles. "Can we dumb the technobabble down about a thousand percent?"
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
- Yorick and 355 discuss whether or not you can say "fuck" in a comic book.
- Cayce isn't impressed with crappy works of fiction using Shakespeare references to seem smarter.
- Yorick hopes that a situation won't be like one of those "To be continued" cliffhangers. The very next panel is emblazoned with "TO BE CONTINUED."
- Loving a Shadow: Yorick still intends to reunite and marry Beth in spite of being separated for longer than they'd been together.
- Made of Iron: The main characters are very hardy.
- Male Frontal Nudity: Yorick is forced to pose nude with a newspaper to prove that a man is still alive. His package is as modest as we've been led to believe.
- Man Bites Man: 355 is taught to do this by her mentor, whom she later kills by this method after the latter breaks her arms.
- Meaningful Name:
- Yorick's name starts with a Y, emphasizing his Y chromosome. He's also a joker, like his Shakespeare Namesake. It's also ironic that he's named after the most famous Posthumous Character in English literature, but is himself only notable for still being alive. His sister is named Hero, and she became an EMT. Yorick notes that he and his sister grew into their names.
- Dr. Mann is trying to clone a man through most of the story.
- The Medic: Dr. Mann, despite a background in biotechnology research, spends most of the comic in this role, much to her aggravation.
- Missed Him by That Much: Yorick and 355 are in Paris looking for Yorick's old girlfriend Beth DeVille. At the same time, Hero, the other Beth, Natalya, and Ciba are also in Paris looking for Yorick together. Yorick and 355 go into a pastry shop to get something to eat just before the other four women walk by the corner they were standing on.Hero: This is pointless.
Ciba: What are you talking about, Hero? Five minutes ago, you said that you could feel that Yorick was close.
Hero: That was just bullshit to keep you guys on the hunt, Ciba.
- Mixed Ancestry: Dr. Allison Mann is half Japanese and half Chinese.
- Motivational Lie: In the last volume, Alter attempts to keep the morale of her troops up with several of these. At least one of her soldiers sees them for lies, and Alter promptly kills her to keep it a secret.
- Naginatas Are Feminine: Granted, given the setting most weapons are going to be used by women, but given Toyota's Weapon of Choice is a pair of naginata, clearly she had training before the gendercide.
- Never Heard That One Before:
- No Name Given: 355 and Alter, until the second-to-last issue. Even when Yorick learns 355's name, we do not.
- Nightmare Dreams: Yorick has some shockers, usually featuring his girlfriend Beth. Even 355, the hard-as-nails secret agent, mentions that she would not like to live in his head for even a single night.
- Non-Action Guy: Oh, the irony. Eventually turns into an Action Survivor type.
- Not That There's Anything Wrong with That: Impressively, Yorick remembers to say this while 711 has him hanging from a ceiling in her dungeon.
- The Old Convict: It is discovered that the idyllic if somewhat secretive hamlet Yorick and company stumble across a few months after the gendercide is populated by inmates of the women's penitentiary just down the road that the remaining guards cut loose. The white-haired woman with a cane and fond memories of working munitions factories during World War II that was more or less running the place? Doing life for murder.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with all the Beths.Hero: "I'm sorry Beth, but Beth has a right to know about... Beth."Beth: "What?"Beth 2: "I know it would have probably been easier if I'd named her Betty or Elizabeth, but I've never gotten along with chicks who go by the variations, have you?"
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Inverted in the case of Alter, who is a Death Seeker that wants to be killed by Yorick, the last man, as she believes that dying at a man's hands is the only way to die a heroic death.
- Only You Can Repopulate My Race: Since Yorick is the last adult human male on the planet, he runs across this trope a few times.
- Overly Narrow Superlative: Hero compares being the highest-ranking woman in the Catholic Church to being the leggiest guy in the Rockettes.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Later on, Yorick does not even bother obscuring his face, probably due to the number of women who are trying to look like men anyway - they would think he's just a woman doing an exceptionally good job.
- Pirates: The Whale is supposedly crewed by pirates, and the captain embraces the classic stereotypes right down to the saber, but they're actually smugglers, not pirates.
- Post Apocalyptic Gasmask: An Invoked Trope to hide Yorick's identity. Given that Earth isn't a devastated wasteland, Yorick's justification for continuing to wear it over time becomes less plausible.
- Post-Apocalyptic Traffic Jam: Since the disaster consisted of all men in the world instantaneously dying at the same time, many cars that were on roads at the time found themselves without a driver. Multiple factors, such as panicked reactions and simply being stuck behind dead drivers, resulted in all other cars being abandoned as well.
- Pre Emptive Apology: After Yorick decides to give himself up to the Amazons, he apologizes to Sonia for the two times he kissed her. "Two times? But you only kissed me-"
- Prepositions Are Not to End Sentences With: Yorick, who has an English degree and should know better, trots this old grammar myth out:Yorick: I knew I wanted to keep living in any world that you were a part of. But that was hard to admit to myself, and not just because it ended with a preposition.
- Pretty Little Headshots: Agent 355's demise.
- Psycho Lesbian: The Daughters of the Amazon are frequently branded psycho lesbians by other women (they certainly are psycho, and loathe men, believing they're the source of all societal ills). Subverted in that a) we never actually see lesbian behavior among the Amazons and b) discreet lesbianism (especially with male impersonators) quickly then becomes the norm in a world deprived of men. One of the comic's few openly lesbian characters simply describes the Amazons as "nutters who cut off their norks".note
- Rape as Backstory: Yorick was raped by another boy as a child, which really screwed him up.
- The Reveal: M's identity is quite a doozy.
- Reckless Gun Usage: An untrained woman is holding a hostage at gunpoint, whom she kills by mistake when her finger slips.
- Red Herring: Dr. Ming is set up as the obvious candidate for Dr. M. She's established as having a very sharp personality as well as three facial moles that would make identifying an older version of her very convenient. It turns out that she's already dead.
- Riddle for the Ages: What caused the gendercide? During the story, several explanations are offered. According to Vaughan, one of them is correct, although he refuses to reveal which one.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: After the mass death of most members of her various Parliaments and senior civil servants, it appears that a great deal of political power in the Commonwealth nations has reverted by default to Queen Elizabeth II.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: It is specifically mentioned that the plague did not occur instantaneously, but traveled at the speed of light, a fact which is used to triangulate the origin of the plague using the exact moment the plague occurred according to "accounts". However, it only takes 67 milliseconds for light to go halfway around the earth, which is way too short to notice a significant time difference. However, this was said by M who might be considered a bit of a crackpot.
- Self-Deprecation: During one of the 'Fish & Bicycle troupe' interludes, one of them suggests giving the "last man" in their play a more Shakespearian name.Cayce: If there's one thing I hate, it's crappy works of fiction that try to sound important by stealing names from the Bard.
- Sexbot: Expensive "male" robots have been modified for prostitution use in Japan.
- Shown Their Work:
- Random characters will often start spouting statistics about how many women (pre-Plague) were involved in which professions in which parts of the world at the slightest provocation. The comic's hypothetical predictions also seemed to be rooted in present-day global politics.
- The Australian submarine crew are shown wielding Steyr AUG assault rifles, which is the standard issue for most Australian troops. A trivial fact that most people would have missed.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story:
- After Yorick finally reunites with Beth, she tells him that she was planning to break up with him before the plague hit. This immediately leads to Yorick breaking up with her.
- Even worse, Alter massacred her way through half the story's cast why? Because she wanted to die at the hands of a man. Who doesn't even bother killing her, after which the rest of the Israeli troops just let him go.
- Shipping Bed Death: Invoked (with reference to Moonlighting) and Defied by Yorick as the series came to a close.
- Shock Value Relationship: Dr. Mann is on the wrong end of this in her college days.
- Shout-Out: Yorick constantly makes reference to popular culture. One of the most notable is his possessing a lighter with "FUCK COMMUNISM" carved into it, a Preacher reference. When another character asks him why he has it he says that it was something he saw in a comic book.
- Show Within a Show: A recurring subplot involves a troupe of actresses trying through various media to inspire the survivors, first with a play about the last man on earth. Which Yorick half-heartedly pans. And then there's the issue devoted to the comic I Am Woman, devoted to a world in which all the women died, leaving one woman and her horse Earhart. Which Yorick AGAIN half-heartedly pans.
- Smart People Play Chess: Victoria, the cult leader of the Amazons, is a self-described chess genius who is always talking in chess metaphors.
- Spit Take: Referenced. After hearing something surprising from Rose and Dr. Mann, Yorick wishes that they had waited for him to take a drink so he could do this.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Yorick pulls this constantly, usually pissing off his bodyguard in the process. Toyota, on the other hand, favors the Smoke Out.
- Straw Feminist: The Daughters of the Amazon are a militant organization that not only says "Good riddance" in their attempts to deal with the situation, but actually work to ensure that the gendercide is complete.
- Submarine Pirates: 'The Whale' is attacked by an Australian Navy sub turned pirate... or so they claim.
- Suddenly Always Knew That: Dr. Mann suddenly reveals that she's an excellent fencer, but then gets immediately defeated by a ninja.
- Survivor Guilt: Every main character suffers this to some degree.
- Swallow the Key: Yorick does this trick as he is a trained escape artist, and he's taught it to his sister Hero, who uses a regurgitated key to escape prison.
- Stylistic Suck: The various works of the Fish & Bicycle troupe. They're trying to inspire women to stop pining after the old world and embrace their new Lady Land, but their output is an anvilicious Cliché Storm that doesn't quite get the message across.
- Take That!: One scene is probably intended as a Take That! against the Left Behind series. When the plague hits, the "other Beth" is on a plane whose pilot has just died. She needs to try to land the thing herself and radios the tower for help.Beth: ...The whole crew is dead. I think there's been some kind of attack.
Air Traffic Controller (with a resigned expression): It's not an attack, sister. This is the Rapture. God didn't choose us.
Air Traffic Controller: It happened to all the men down here, all the men in the planes, all the men in the world, probably. The Lord took them. I...I read a book about it once. We've been left behi—
Beth: This is germ warfare, not the End Times! Why would God take only men?
Air Traffic Controller: Because we're daughters of Eve! We created sin when we tempted Adam in the—
Beth: Listen to me, you dumb cunt! You will pull yourself together and help me land this plane, or me and the dozens of women I'm carrying will kick the shit out of you in Hell.
Air Traffic Controller: What's your current altitude, Flight 229?
- Theme Naming: Yorick and Hero, both minor characters in William Shakespeare plays. It's lampshaded by the Fish & Bicycle troupe.
- Title Drop: A few times (the "The Last Man" part, anyway). With an artistic version in one instance - during a Fish & Bicycle Troupe interlude, a woman morally outraged by their play "The Last Man" tears a poster for the show in half vertically, into the same Y shape used in the logo.
- To the Pain: Both Alter and Toyota do this; the first to encourage people to talk, the second because she is just plain sadistic.
- Too Dumb to Live: Yorick behaves this way in the first few volumes. He's not really too dumb to live, though. He's just trying to be.
- Took a Level in Badass: Yorick improves his combat skills under the tutelage of Agent 355. Also subverted in a sword fight scene in "Kimino Dragons".
- Tragic Keepsake: In the epilogue, 355's scarf serves as one for Yorick.
- True Companions: Yorick, 355, Dr. Mann, and later Rose. Plus the all-female group of Hero, Beth II, Natalya and Ciba.
- Unexpected Successor: Margaret Valentine, Secretary of Agriculture. Between the Gendercide and the chaos that ensued, she was suddenly President Of The United States.
- The Unreveal: 355's name. Repeatedly asked by Yorick, and never told until almost the end. She whispers it to him, and the reader does not get to know. However, the cover to issue 58 and the engraved tree in issue 60 offer strong hints.
- Unwanted Harem: Deconstructed. Yorick even explained it to a wrench-monkey girl sheltering him one night in Arizona: "I'd feel like a real scumbag, taking advantage of them just because they were lonely and I was the only possibility" were more or less his exact words.
- Vasquez Always Dies: Of the two main rivals for Yorick's affections, the Action Girl 355 dies.
- Villainous Breakdown: Of a sort; the opium smuggler Yorick befriends and falls for on the way to Australia initially defends her trade by reasoning that, since humanity's doomed anyway, she might as well help the few survivors achieve some sort of release from the misery this knowledge brings. Once she realizes that, through Yorick, there is hope after all, and that all she's done is contribute to people's misery further, it's too much for her to take.
- Walking the Earth: The series focuses on Yorick going from Big Applesauce to Gay Paree the long way.
- Weirdness Censor: Must be at work for Beth 2's sake. Aside from one storyline, the fact that she got pregnant and gave birth to a daughter several years after the Gendercide raises no suspicions among strangers — even though she travels thousands of miles with an infant girl towards the end of the series.
- Weird Currency: After the partial collapse of civilization, money in theory still has validity, however barter is often used, and on several occasions we see cans of canned food being used as money.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: A bit of a literal example. Rats are spotted in a trashcan several years after all the rats should have died out due to an inability to breed. We never find out why or if this has any wider implication. While a few male rats may have come into contact with Ampersand's fecal matter just as Yorick did, and thus been immunized, that's never confirmed.
- White-and-Grey Morality: The series is pretty scrupulous about showing that every character has a reasonable or at least understandable motive for their actions. Even the Amazons are implied to all be victims of rape and violence. Even the primary antagonist claims to be trying to ensure the security of her much-embattled nation and in reality is simply a broken-down Death Seeker.
- Who's on First?: Lampshaded on a couple of occasions. Yorick is disappointed that they couldn't get such an exchange going when they encounter a woman named You. Lampshaded when they pretend to be members of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
- Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Required in spades to accept the instant and near-total gendercide. The Mantra won't cut it here, since it's a core element that can't be ignored for the sake of the story.
- Women Are Wiser: Thoroughly demolished. With all but a single male human left on the planet, the surviving women are still just as capable of violence, selfishness, irrationality and war.
- Worth Living For: During Yorick's suicide intervention, 711 forces an epiphany on him that shows him what he finds worth living for. At the end of the series we find out that it was 355.
- Wrench Wench: P.J. is an auto mechanic, a suddenly-unusual-and-valuable talent.
- You No Take Candle and Eloquent in My Native Tongue: Natalya. 355's Russian is also patchy (though not half as bad as Natalya's English). During the epilogue, an offhand comment is made about Natalya's apparent mastery of the English language in the time since the main story.
- Your Costume Needs Work: Yorick would be a passable drag king with a little work, at least according to one prostitute he ran into.
Waldorf: Yeah? Like what?
Statler: Y: Was This Even Made?