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Born After the End

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For the end of the world was long ago,
And all we dwell to-day
As children of some second birth,
Like a strange people left on earth
After a judgment day.

These are the children who were born after the cataclysmic event that brought about The End of the World as We Know It. Sure, they might've heard the stories about the pre-apocalyptic times from their parents and/or others old enough to remember The Beforetimes. They might've even seen photographs or videos (depending on the nature of the cataclysmic event) from those times. However, they never got to experience those times firsthand. For them, After the End was the only life they've ever known.

For many adults, the presence of a new generation will inspire them to survive or even rebuild — the opposite of a Childless Dystopia. This could even be the result of a Birth-Death Juxtaposition or several. Due to the conditions of After the End, many parents might go a bit overboard in trying to keep this new generation safe. Quite naturally, this would create an ultimate generation gap between those old enough to remember life before the end and those born after, perhaps even resulting in an outright Kids Versus Adults war.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dr. STONE: Ishigami Village is entirely populated by people born after the petrification beam that turned all of humanity into stone and have never been petrified themselves. Accordingly, they have very little idea what society in the 2000s was like, even though everyone who has been revived retains their memories.
  • In the fourth Rebuild of Evangelion movie "3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time", Shinji Ikari meets Ryoji Kaji, a boy born after Shinji accidentally caused Third Impact. Despite living in a monster-filled world and having never met his birth parents, Ryoji is friendly and kind to Shinji and inadvertently contributes to Shinji's fight against his own nihilism.

    Comic Books 
  • Crossed: The +100 era stories are set in an era where people are accustomed to fighting the Crossed-infected hordes, use lots of Future Slang, and remember little about the past.
  • Just a Pilgrim: In the second volume, Maggy is the only child who has been born alive in the largest and best equipped known settlement in the post solar flare world. Her mother died giving birth to her and the rest of the community tends to shelter her.

    Fan Fiction 
  • The Second Try: Shinji and Asuka had a child named Aki about a year into their lives after Second Impact. A significant point of despair for the two is when they're yanked back in time, thinking she was stuck in the future alone. Aki would later be brought back to the past by Kaworu.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played with in Blast from the Past. The Webber family believes Adam is this because they've been living in their underground fallout shelter since the Cuban Missile Crisis, unaware that there wasn't actually a nuclear apocalypse aboveground.
  • The Book of Eli: The teenaged Solara asks Eli about the luxuries that people once casually discarded but now will commit murder over and has never before seen the book he is carrying ( the last surviving copy of the Bible). Even some Mooks for the Wasteland Warlord who are several years older than Solara have never seen or heard of a TV before and don't know how to read.
  • In Children of Men, a world without childbirth plunges the world into a fatalist dystopia, where the governments that haven't collapsed have become nightmarish Police States. However, at the end of the film, when Kee's child is born 18 years after the last childbirth, making them the youngest person in the world that we know of.
  • The third act of Noah is about how one of the women on the ark is pregnant despite God's attempt to wipe out humanity. Noah has to consider why God let this new child be brought into the world and whether He wants him to kill the child.
  • Love And Monsters shows a baby that was born in Joel's bunker. Joel's narration says that the baby will never know what they're missing from life before the Monster Apocalypse.
  • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome: Max meets a Cargo Cult tribe of feral kids at an oasis, many of whom were born after the plane crash that brought them there at the tail end of the apocalyptic wars. In the Novelization, it is implied that all of them were born after the apocalypse and the original child survivors of the crash, their parents, died while searching the desert for a potential savior.
  • Played for Drama in A Quiet Place: Evelyn is heavily pregnant (which is implied to be unplanned) and goes into labor while she's alone in the house (Lee and Marcus go out to do their usual business and Regan walks out of the house a bit after). She is forced to stay quiet despite her labor pains when one of the aliens that hunts by sound and nearly killed humanity enters the house.
  • Reign of Fire: After twenty years of hiding from dragons, there are lots of kids at the castle refuge who have such limited knowledge of the outside world that their leaders can claim to have invented everything in a skit heavily borrowing from The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Snowpiercer features an entire generation of children born aboard the train following the global freezing, known as "Train Babies." The oldest of them seen in the film, the seventeen-year-old Yona, is openly confused at the sight of dirt in the train's greenhouse and later reduced to giggling like a child at the sight of the aquarium car. Less pleasantly, Train Babies of all classes are subject to exploitation by the authorities: upper-class kids are taught to worship Wilford like a god, while tail-end kids are routinely abducted by the guards for unknown purposes. At the end of the film, it's revealed that they're being used as replacements for parts of the engine that no longer function.
  • Solarbabies: It has apparently been decades since most of drinking water was lost and wars ravaged the planet, as some of the main characters have been at the state-ran Orphanage of Fear since infancy.
  • Kyle Reese from Terminator was born a few years after Skynet's attack.
  • Played for Drama in Threads — whilst it's shown that there was a generation of children born after the world-ending nuclear attacks, with Ruth giving birth to Jane several months after them, they are affected by poor educational and living conditions, and are reduced to You No Take Candle-style speech. Even worse, the ending of the movie implies that the majority of the generation after them will be stillborn mutated infants, dooming the human race as a whole.

  • A Canticle for Leibowitz has a strange example where the mutated and comatose second head of a radiation-poisoned woman awakens after the world experiences a nuclear holocaust and the woman enters a coma. Most strangely of all, the head seems to have some sort of immunity to pain, a trait one character associates with saints like The Virgin Mary.
  • In Children of the Dust by British author Louise Lawrence, the children born after the nuclear war fall into two categories. Those born in government bunkers are unmutated as their parents have not been exposed to radiation, whereas those born in outside communities are all deformed in one way or another. Among the latter, a mutation which involves the child being born with white eyes with black pinprick pupils, a covering of white hair all over the body and Psychic Powers becomes dominant within a few decades. The book ends by suggesting that these people are destined to build a better world than the one that was destroyed.
  • The second half of Earth Abides deals with the protagonist trying to teach these children some of the old ways, only to learn they're more interested in returning to tribal days for now.
  • Main protagonists Rudi Mackenzie and Mathilda Arminger were born after The Change that happens in the first book of the Emberverse.
  • The Girl With All the Gifts: Melanie is a variant, being a sentient zombie child (not that she realizes this at first) born after the population of the U.K. was largely wiped out. She is being educated about the past while being kept prisoner for potential experiments by the military.
  • In the epilogue of Grasshopper Jungle, the protagonist Austin Szerba has a four-year-old son, Arek, by his girlfriend Shann Collins, stated to have been conceived during a sex scene in a bowling alley near the end of the book, and it is implied that the scene is the, or one of the first times the boy has been outside of the bunker he was raised in. Austin also mentions a daughter born to two of the other survivors, implied to be the same age as or younger than Arek.
  • The Host: One of the children in the colony of people hiding from Puppeteer Parasites was born inside their cavern refuge, and is described as a skittish boy who avoids the narrator.
  • The Night of the Triffids: The story follows one of the first generations of young adults born after almost everyone was blinded by a comet and most of the survivors died from starvation, disease, or Triffid attacks. The British characters have grown up in a Utopia of sorts, while the American ones are mistreated subjects of despotism.
  • The narrator of "A Pail of Air" by Fritz Leiber and his sister were both born in a Glacial Apocalypse after Earth was ripped away from the Sun.
  • The Boy who narrates The Road was born after the catastrophe that killed most people and plants.
  • The Scarlet Plague by Jack London is set sixty years after The Plague devastates the world. Only a few hundred humans remain alive, including James Smith, who regales his hunter-gatherer grandchildren with stories about the old world's technology, food, and society. Their primary reaction is skepticism.
  • Semiosis is a Generational Saga about a space colony that fled the Earth That Was and deliberately withheld most knowledge of Earth society to give their children a fresh start. The second generation ultimately rebels against the original colonists, finding them too conservative to live symbiotically with the local Plant Aliens, and subsequent generations have a complicated relationship with the founders' legacy.
    Sylvia: They had a dream. They wanted a new society, a better version of Earth. They thought they could make it with hardship, and the more hardship, the more they thought they had a new Earth here... They have their new society. It is us.
  • Sky Jumpers: About forty years after a war that resulted in a Depopulation Bomb, there are plenty of kids who have grown up in a farming community where science fair grade inventions are seen as wonderful and complex things that provide a boon to the community.
  • The Stand: In the final chapters, Frannie (who was pregnant when The Virus killed over 99% of humanity) gives birth. Her son is the first known baby who is born after the super flu and survives the delivery (two other babies were stillborn in an earlier chapter), revealing that the next unborn and yet-to-be-born generation will inherit their parents’ genetic disposition toward surviving the virus.
  • Station Eleven deals primarily in people who remember the old world, but there are still characters who don't remember, like Javeen's kids (who he names after his dead brother Frank). It's common for them to grill the survivors on the luxuries of modern life (such as airplanes, medicine, and cell phones) in disbelief, assuming that they're joking or lying. Clark mentions having a special relationship with Emmanuelle, the first child born in the airport.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5, we learn of Deke Shaw, a man born a few decades after the destruction of Earth in an alternate timeline, who would be either first or second generation of "earthless human" so to speak.
  • Jeremiah: Since all of the (initially known) survivors of The Virus had yet to hit puberty during the disaster, all of the second generation survivors (including guest character children of two main characters) were born after society collapsed (except for one youth whose mother was far enough in her pregnancy to give birth as everyone got sick) and are more self-sufficient and wary as a result. They aren't the focus of the show, but the ones in “Red Kiss” view Jeremiah and Kurdy as angels and the Villain of the Week as a vampire largely due to an arcade game in their community. The finale reveals that many, if not all, of the children born after the Big Death are displaying higher IQs than normal, which is suggested to be either evolutionary or a divine boon to compensate for the losses humanity has suffered.
  • The Last of Us (2023):
    • In the first episode Tess explains away the bruises on her face (given to her by Robert's goons) to Joel by claiming she got jumped by a couple of teenagers. Later she tells him the truth:
    Tess: C'mon, you know these guys were born after the outbreak. Never learned how to argue, they just start swinging. Fuckin' nineteen-year-old pieces of shit.
    • Ellie spent her entire young life inside the Boston Quarantine Zone and her schooling did not give her much information about life before the apocalypse. She never been inside a car and has no idea how seat belts work. She is in awe about the fact that Joel flew in an airplane.
    • In a Whole Episode Flashback to Ellie's time in the Boston QZ, her friend Riley takes her to an abandoned mall for a night of fun together. She's completely amazed by mundane things like escalators, carousels, and photo booths, and neither she nor Riley understand a pun about computers that they read in Ellie's new joke book.
  • The ideological conflict in Station Eleven is between the "post-pans", the children born after a devastating pandemic that eradicated over 90% of the population, and the adults who survived it. The post-pans and their leader the Prophet don't understand the attachment the adults have to the "Before".
  • Sweet Tooth: All children born after the 'Great Crumble', a cataclysmic disaster and virus that wrecked havoc on the world, were born as animal-human hybrids. Hybrids are looked upon with fear by most humans, unsure if they are the result or cause of the virus.
  • The Walking Dead Television Universe:
    • In Season 2 of The Walking Dead (2010), this is part of the reason Lori is trying to secretly abort her unborn child before she starts to show, because she dreads the idea of raising a child in the walker apocalypse.
    • Fear the Walking Dead:
      • At the start of Season 6, Morgan saves the life of a pregnant woman as she's going into labor with her daughter, whom she names after him as thanks. He and his partner Grace end up adopting baby Mo at the end of the season following her birth mother's death, and spend much of Season 7 facing the difficulties of raising an infant in a Zombie Apocalypse. By Season 8's Time Skip, a now adolescent Mo is shown to have adjusted to growing up in this environment with little knowledge of the pre-apocalyptic world (though having been kidnapped by PADRE and raised as an indoctrinated Child Soldier hasn't helped).
      • Season 8 also features Tracy Otto, who was born at some point during the Time Skip and thus only knows life in the post-apocalypse, with it at one point being mentioned that she's eager to see a truck (once a common sight) for the first time.
    • The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon: Laurent was born during the early days of the Zombie Apocalypse, and while raised by the nuns on matters such as history and philosophy, he's still ignorant about what life was actually like before the dead rose. He's also particularly eager to see the Eiffel Tower after he leaves the convent for the first time, being somewhat obsessed with it due to his sole picture of his mother showcasing it.

  • The German rap group K.I.Z. has a song named "Hurra, die Welt geht unter" ("Hooray, the world ends") that describes the happiness with the new situation after the system collapsed. The protagonists also tell about their children; in particular, how they are scared when one of the adults tells them about the pope, and how they have no understanding of money, therefore they don't get how Monopoly is supposed to work.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Eclipse Phase: Although the game is set a mere ten years after the end, there was a project — Futura Project — to bring up a bunch of kids in fully virtual environment, in sped-up time, as an experiment in rebuilding the population in shorter time than usual. For some reason, so many developed into psychos that there's now a blanket stigma against Futuras, although this is not really a result of the end itself but of some unknown faults in the process.


  • Transformers: Sometimes comes up throughout the franchise, especially if Cybertron, the Transformer homeworld, is completely abandoned due to no longer being able to support life.
    • Generation 1 continuity:
      • In the standalone storybook Battle Beneath The Ice, Hot Rod comments that he's never even seen Cybertron since he was one of the first Autobots built after both sides abandoned their dead homeworld. Earth is basically the only home he's ever known.
      • Implied in Transformers: Devastation when Bumblebee is awestruck to hear that the Colonnade of Cybertron holds copies of their entire culture. As one of the youngest Autobots, he has little to no personal experience of Cybertron's culture, which is why in The Transformers he and other Autobots latch onto human culture so readily.
    • Aligned continuity:

    Video Games 
  • The Bunker: main character John Edmunds is born in the eponymous government bunker at the very moment nuclear missiles begin to detonate across the United Kingdom. With the world outside too irradiated for anyone to leave, he spent his entire childhood knowing nothing but the world inside the bunker. For good measure, he was the only child in the facility and only tolerated because his mother was one of only two doctors in the entire bunker, so he had no friends apart from the improvised toys he was given. As an adult, John suffers from an obsession with rules and routine due to his upbringing and will follow all instructions to the letter — even warning the rest of the bunker via the Tannoy when he has to turn off main power despite being the only resident left alive.
  • Fallout: New Vegas: Supplementary materials reveal that your companion Lily Bowen was born in Vault 17 in 2078, 1 year after the bombs fell. She only saw the sun when she was 75 and was dragged by The Master's army out of the Vault to be turned into a Super Mutant.
    • The Sorrows from the Honest Hearts DLC are the descendants of a group of child refugees who escaped from a facility known as The Academy, and made their way to what had once been the Zion National Park in Utah, where survivalist Randall Clark assumed the role as their secret protector. By the dates of the journal entries Clark left behind, this happened decades after the apocalypse, making the children this trope, though exactly who their parents were and what they were running from is never made clear.
    • Most people count as this in Fallout as a whole, thanks to the apocalypse having been 84 years ago by the time of the first game and only getting further and further away from the War as the games go on. The exceptions are Ghouls and Super Mutants who were around before the War in the first place, Synths whose brains and memories are based on pre-war identities, the occasional Brain in a Jar and the Sole Survivor of 4 who was frozen just after the nukes dropped and accidentally left in the Vault for 210 years thanks to the experiment in question going awry.
  • Far Cry: New Dawn: Downplayed with Carmina Rye, who was born during the previous game shortly before the bombs dropped, but has no memories of the pre-apocalyptic United States as a result.
  • About halfway through Final Fantasy VI, the main villain Kefka brings about the end of the world, turning the World of Balance into the World of Ruin. He also attacks the town of Mobliz with a weapon called the Light of Judgement, leaving only children and a pair of teenagers, Duane and Katarin, as survivors. It's later revealed that Katarin is pregnant with Duane's child. She gives birth in the ending.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: When Aloy finally gains access to All Mother Mountain, she is able to explore one of the ELEUTHIA cradle facilities from which the new generation of humans was birthed after all life on Earth was wiped out. The plan was for the children born here to learn of their predecessors with educational courses in the APOLLO database. Unfortunately, Ted Faro deleted all APOLLO repositories (partially to destroy the knowledge of his own role in the end of life on Earth). Without that, the cradles were left with kindergarten-level information and as the children grew older, they became increasingly frustrated at being told the same things over and over again and that their automated caretakers were unable to adapt to their changing needs, especially as they entered adolescence. Eventually, the facilities ran out of supplies and the programs running it were forced to release their charges into the wild to take their chances. Their descendants eventually became the various tribes Aloy encounters in her travels. While Aloy was raised among one of these tribes, she is not descended from any of them, but is rather a clone of the scientist who created the automated system to bring life back to Earth after extinction.
  • The Last of Us: Taking place in the United States 20 years after an outbreak of a mind-altering fungus that destroyed human civilization, the plot centers on adult Joel and 14-year-old Ellie. Significantly, Ellie is the first-known human to be immune to the fungus, making her a valuable asset Joel needs to protect.
  • This trope is Discussed in Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light, where Artyom has to escort a child from a station overwhelmed by Mutants to his mother in the nearby safe station. He muses how the children are like a different species, able to cope with the horrors of the metro and remain functional, and that perhaps it is such a hardened generation that will be able to reclaim the world.
  • Shin Megami Tensei
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse: Nozomi, one of the party members, mentions that she was born a few years after the Firmament went up, so she shortly missed being able to see the sky — and witnessing the near extinction of humanity by the Angels versus Demons war. By the point the game starts, the Firmament has been covering Tokyo for over 25 years, and the protagonists are young teens.
    • Shin Megami Tensei V: Used as a subtle plot point. Eighteen years before the start of the game, Tokyo was destroyed, and God's last miracle was to recreate a false Tokyo in its place. This included everyone who was in Tokyo at the time; they're human, but in some ways less 'real' than the people born afterwards. That's why only people eighteen years or younger are born with the Knowledge that the gods covet.
  • In the second season of The Walking Dead (Telltale), the Zombie Apocalypse's survivors include Rebecca, a pregnant woman who gives birth at the end of the fourth episode, unfortunately dying a few days later from exhaustion, cold and lack of medical care (and since everyone who dies with an intact brain in this setting turns into a zombie, her undead form has to be put down before she eats her own child). Regardless of what ending the player ends up with, Clementine becomes a Parental Substitute of the baby, who is named Alvin Jr. after his (most likely) father, or A.J for short. While playing a minor role in season three, A.J becomes a much bigger part of season 4, the Series Finale, which puts a lot of focus on what kind of person a child raised in a post-apocalyptic world overrun with the undead would be like. For one thing, not big on table manners.

  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Downplayed. The story takes place after a disease called the rash illness decimated humanity aside from the Scandinavian countries, with those infected either dying painfully or transforming into grotesque abominations. The protagonists are part of the third generation born since the outbreak, with the remaining humans already slowly re-establishing civilization.

    Western Animation 
  • In Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, Avengers' villain Ultron takes over Earth and the Avengers are exterminated. Years into the future, Earth's only hope are the children of the deceased Avengers, raised by Iron Man in secrecy to protect them from Ultron.
  • Titan A.E.: After Cale and Akima get stranded on a drifter colony, where most humans that escaped Earth before the Drej destroyed it have come to live, they meet some kids who were born afterwards and have no memory of it at all, only the stories of their elders. This convinces Cale to continue on and locate the Titan, and the chance to give humanity a new home.
  • According to writer Chris Wyatt, all the rescue bots in Transformers: Rescue Bots Academy were born after the war (which left Cybertron a lifeless wasteland for eons before its revival).