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Dying Race

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"A thousand years they have ruled. Yet now, there are only ten. A dying race, ruled by a dying Emperor, imprisoned within themselves, in a dying land."
"Their ways were the gentle ways of natural wizards. Yet now there are only ten. A dying race, numbly rehearsing the ancient ways in a blur of forgetfulness."

A race of sentient beings is past its prime. There are only a few of them left, and they're slowly dying out.


This may be for any of a number of reasons. It may be caused by Creative Sterility - or it may cause it. It could be the result of a Depopulation Bomb or Gendercide. Sometimes the race is almost immortal, and thus suffers from the Immortal Procreation Clause. The race may live in a time that's Just Before the End. They could be dying out because another race has Gotta Kill Them All; if humanity is the target, it's Kill All Humans.

Whatever the reason is, the dying out may be viewed as a tragedy, because someone appreciates the Uniqueness Value of the dying race and so regards them as an Endangered Species.

Sometimes the race will be trying to save themselves. This might lead to Only You Can Repopulate My Race. If they accept their fate, they may want to Fling a Light into the Future.

If the race is reduced to just a single individual, that is the Last of His Kind, not this trope. But then again maybe There Is Another, too. See also Humanity's Wake for when humanity is made extinct. Contrast Racial Remnant for when a race doesn't die out completely. Compare Adam and Eve Plot.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Animal X: Minato is working hard to propagate his dying race.
  • It's kind of implied in the Metroid manga that this is why the Chozo trained Samus to be a warrior when they adopted her.
  • The Shadow Angels in Genesis of Aquarion.
  • The Borrowers in The Borrower Arrietty.
  • This is something that worries the vampires in Karin. There are more vampires dying than there are children being born. The protagonist's parents are looked up to by younger couples since they have three children while most other parents only have one at most.
  • The Saiyans in Dragon Ball Z. There are only 8 pure-blooded Saiyans left (4 in the original manga) after Freeza destroys the planet Vegeta. It's turned around somewhat by the time of Dragon Ball Online, as most humans have some Saiyan blood in them at that point.
  • Princess Mononoke has a rare historical example with the Emishi, a Japanese ethnic group believed to be related to the Ainu, who by the start of the film have been nearly wiped out by the Yamato people (i.e. modern Japan's majority ethnic group). It's hinted that Ashitaka's village may be their very last, and with him (their last prince) gone, they don't expect to live much longer (in fact, the real life Emishi were already extinct long before the time period the movie takes place in).
  • As indicated by the translation of the title, humankind in Humanity Has Declined is gradually fading away, even if they still have a few good years ahead of them.
  • While vampires as a whole are not in any danger of dying out in Dance in the Vampire Bund, pureblood vampires have dwindled down to the point where there are only four left by the start of the series, only one of which is female. And since pureblood vampires can only conceive once over the course of their long lives, that means that they're only three generations away from inbreeding at most, and if Mina or any of her future heirs ever bear a son, their race dead-ends immediately.
  • In Toriko, the Herac horses are in decline. Despite their power and near-immortality, the Herac horses are no longer able to consume the food they need to reach maturity. The only adult Herac alive is the Horse King.
  • Humanity is this in Attack on Titan, with the titans having reduced most of humanity to a tiny fraction that is forced to live within three erected walls just to keep them from extinction. And with the Colossal Titan's invasion, it only continues to decline. Subverted when Grisha's journals reveal there's a thriving and technologically sophisticated human population outside the walls.
  • In Claymore, this is probably true for all types of youma. Toward the end of the manga, the organization is defeated, so that no more half-youma warriornesses can be created.
    • Without the organization, no new youma will be created, and the warriornesses have decided to have all the youma left, hunt and destroy.
    • Likewise, they also want to kill all the Awakened Beings who are still left.
      • The warriornesses can also be themselves awakened, but then they are probably quickly killed by the other warriornesses.
    • The "Abyss Feeders" have probably been killed during the plot of the manga all or almost all.
    • However, this applies only to the island where the plot took place. The organization on the continent can create more youma and half-youma warriors and warriornesses.
  • This is in Shiki for the vampires. The anime shows that a village full of vampires could only be created in the country, because humans in the big cities immediately burn the corpses. This makes it very unlikely that the surviving vampires can create a new colony of vampires.
  • In So I'm a Spider, So What? the Demons are approaching this point. Their population has always been smaller than that of Humans and their birth rate is in decline. After the last war they experienced a nation-wide famine because there weren't enough hands available to supply food. This is a result of their souls becoming too heavily damaged to reincarnate after dying.
  • The Olmecs in The Mysterious Cities of Gold are trying to stave off their demise by whatever means are necessary.

    Comic Books 
  • Both the White and Green Martians in The DCU are Dying Races. None still live on Mars and there's only one Green Martian (the Martian Manhunter) and a handful of White Martians (including Miss Martian) left (at least outside of the Phantom Zone). Technically, they aren't separate species, just separate races, so even if there were more White Martians left, the Martian species as a whole is dying out.
  • While Superman is no longer the Last of His Kind, Pre-Flashpoint there were so few Kryptonians left after the New Krypton storyline -Superman and his first cousins Supergirl and Power Girl- that the species as a whole was doomed.
    • Even in the Post-Crisis Man Of Steel years when the Last of His Kind trope was enforced by editorial demand, it still wasn't technically true, as the Phantom Zone contained quite a few kryptonian prisoners. However, they were unlikely to bother communicating with their captor, much less ever be released due to their crimes, making this true in practice.
  • At the beginning of the X-Men event Second Coming, the mutant species was declared to be this, as their lowered numbers (181 at the time) weren't sufficient for natural propagation. Averted in the aftermath of Avengers vs. X-Men, as the Phoenix's power has been used to restore the species. They are dying again in All-New, All-Different Marvel since the Terrigen Mists spread by Blackbolt's Terrigen Bomb are having adverse effects on many mutants.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage): Played for an absolute Tear Jerker in Sons Of The Silent Age. The Turtles, along with April and Casey Jones, find a dying fishlike humanoid creature on a riverbank who reveals she is the last female of her kind to April through telepathy. The last remaining four males briefly fight the Turtles until the female dies from the sickness she's gotten from a nearby power plant. The males carry her body back into waters, while the Turtles watch, both species doomed to extinction. The End.

    Fan Works 
  • Several characters in the Dead or Alive/Devil May Cry crossover fic Dead or Alive 4: The Devil Factor mention that, in comparison to fiends, full-fledged demons have become one on Earth since Sparda's time, with high-level ones being particularly rare.
  • The dragons of RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse. Ironically enough, this is actually because of their formidable natural advantages. All other races on Cissanthema, from ponies to minotaurs to tapirs, have to band together for mutual trade and protection. But dragons have no needs other than rocks to eat and a hoard, and by far the biggest threat to a mature dragon is another dragon. As a result of this, dragons have no civilization to speak of. They don't trust each other in the slightest, and since they don't trust each other they can't work together. The whelps are left to fend for themselves from birth, since no dragon would take in a whelp for fear he might steal some of the treasure. There are barely a few thousand dragons left in the world.
  • In A Tale of Two Rulers, Gerudo are extremely rare due to a Hylian genocide centuries ago. Ganondorf has never met another Gerudo aside from his mother, who died when he was a toddler.
  • Beyond the Outer Gate Lies...: The Angels are one of these, even the youngest among them is thousands of years old, because there have been no true new Angels born since the death of God, as the addition of ascended mortals aren't real Angels, and they can't procreate amongst themselves without becoming Fallen Angels due to Lust. While the Devils and the Fallen have low birth rates, they atleast have the ability which the Angels don't have, and their faction, led by the archangel Michael is desperatly trying to find a way. Dresden suggests to them that artifical insemination might provide the answer

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Trek (2009): The Vulcans become an endangered species when their homeworld is destroyed by a black hole. Their numbers are reduced down to a scale of thousands (from presumably at least a few billion)
  • In Children of Men, the human race is unable to reproduce as almost everyone is infertile.
  • The race of aliens in Dark City are this; it's the reason the city was built in the first place. It's not clear exactly what they're dying from, though, or how they expect the city to save them.
  • The Dark Crystal:
    • There are three dying races: The Skeksis, the Mystics, and the Gelflings. At the start of the movie there are only ten each of the Skeksis & Mystics left; and only one Gelfling. At the end of the movie both the Skeksis and the Mystics are gone. And only two known Gelflings are left to rebuild the world: Jen and Kira.
    • There's also Aughra, but there very well may only have been one of her ever anyways, and she's even more immortal than the Skekis and Mystics are.
  • In The Chronicles of Riddick, the titular character Riddick is a Furian. The leader of the Necromongers (aka the Big Bad) tried to exterminate the Furians because of a prophecy which foretold he would be destroyed by one.
  • In Galaxy Quest, it's revealed late in the movie that the Thermians' home world was destroyed by Sarris, and the reason that they recruited the main characters was to avert their species' extinction.
  • Eon from Ben 10: Race Against Time is trying to save his dying race by taking over Earth.
  • The Martians are described as a dying race in The War of the Worlds, this is the reason why they invade Earth, as their planet is unsuitable for life now.
  • So it is also for the alien hybrids in Species. Although they can cure injuries very quickly, they are very vulnerable to earthly bacteria and viruses.
  • Blood Of The Tribades: The priests of Bathor are convinced vampires are dying out, which they blame on the lesbianism among the women (they reproduce sexually). From what's shown in the film however, it seems more a result of their oppression killing or exiling most other vampires, with only a small number of vampire women ever actually shown as being lesbians. Of course, they won't blame themselves for it.

  • An alien race known as the Takoi in a Star Trek gamebook novel. The reader is given an option on risking himself to save them. It doesn't work.

  • "A Rose For Ecclesiastes": The Martians. As much existential as it is biological in this case; the Martians aren't even trying to avert their extinction, because they all believe in a prophecy that tells them how it's going to go. It turns out that the prophecy also tells them how they will be saved; their inaction wasn't because they'd given up but because they were waiting for the time specified in the prophecy.
  • The Lord of the Rings: By the time of the War of the Ring, most races are on their way out.
    • The Ageless Elves are dwindling thanks to huge losses over millennia of wars and cataclysms; more of the survivors are choosing to pass over the sea to the Undying Lands, and no new elves have been born in 2700 years. In the years after the series' end, all but a few sail west to the Undying Lands, with the stragglers slowly fading away into spirits.
    • Although the Ents are nearly immortal, the fact that all of their females have vanished means they can't reproduce, and therefore they're on a slow but inevitable road to extinction.
    • The might and power of the Dwarves has been lessened over time by their many wars (mainly with the Enemy but also with others) and the fall of their ancestral home, Moria. The fact that only a third of their population is female doesn't help with the population growth and many of the men will not marry, choosing instead to focus on their crafts. Furthermore, many of the women refuse to marry if they cannot have the man that they desire.
    • Goblins, orcs and trolls find themselves dying off in droves after the fall of Mordor, reduced to being monsters under beds and villains in fairytales and stories, never again to be the great threats they once were.
    • The last balrog and the last giant spider die and retreat from the world, respectively, in the course of the story, and the last of the Giant Flyers that the Riders use dies as well.
    • The Dragons have by and large died out before the story starts, most having been killed in wars against the Elves and Dwarves or slain by heroes over time. While various lesser worms and drakes endure in the north, by the time The Hobbit starts Smaug is the last of the true, great dragons left.
  • Thomas Burnett Swann used this in most of his novels for all the mythological creatures that were being displaced by encroaching humans.
  • Michael Moorcock has a few:
    • The people of Elric's race in The Elric Saga. The Melniboneans used to rule the world, but now they're just a remnant, trying to cling to scraps of their former glory.
    • And the Vadhagh in The Swords Trilogy (at first).
  • John Varley's Millennium. The future human race can't reproduce because their DNA has been damaged by pollution. This also appears in the Film of the Book, Millennium.
  • The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia. Mattie's quest is to save an ancient race.
  • The alien race that the AIs have contact with in Arthur C. Clarke's Sunstorm.
  • Discworld:
    • In an early book, one troll mentions that they're a dying race. This is not mentioned in later books.
    • It's suggested that vampires not wanting to become this trope is a major motivation for the foundation of the Uberwald Temperance League. With human technology and civilization on the ascent, they know it's their only chance.
  • The Sparrow: In Children of God, the Runa uprising against their Jana'ata overlords nearly wipes out the entire race. The only hope of survival is a "reservation" system which will allow the 1500 or so Jana'ata remaining to repopulate without having to rely on eating the Runa.
  • Inheritance Cycle: The dragons were almost completely exterminated by Galbatorix when he rose to power — by the time he was done, the once-prosperous species was down to three eggs and two males. Complicating this is the fact that the two dragons that hatch over the body of the trilogy find themselves on opposite sides of the war. In Inheritance, it's however revealed that a cache of dragon eggs was hidden away, given the species the chance of having a future again.
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth: The protagonist comes from a planet suffering a debilitating drought; about 300 of his kind are left, and he must establish himself on Earth as a businessman powerful enough to have a rescue ship constructed and launched to bring them to Earth, where they can blend in with humanity and thrive.
  • Earth's Children: The Neanderthals series are, of course, destined for extinction, although it's hinted that at least some of their hybrid offspring may interbreed with modern humans and so have descendants.
  • Harry Potter: The giants can be considered as such: wizards have killed many of them, and the few that are left have a tendency to fight each other to the death. They aren't built to be cooped up together, but don't have many options besides huddling together in the mountains.
  • The Star Trek Novel Verse portrays the Andorians as this. Their complex four-sex biology is failing them and their window of fertility has dropped to only four or five years. The Andorian culture has reorganized itself around Arranged Marriage for quads of young people who are genetically compatible. Unless their genome can be repaired, the Andorians face extinction within fifteen generations. Note that events in later stories — Star Trek: Destiny most notably — make the problem even worse.
  • Tales of Kolmar': Kantri are just starting to enter this phase in Song In The Silence''. Five thousand years ago the total population of sentient "greater" Kantri was cut in half and the remaining two hundred retreated to isolation on an island. In that time their numbers haven't rebuilt at all, in fact the opposite is true, though the dying is very slow. The species is just becoming collectively dispirited and there are fewer mated pairs and fewer births all the time; they live long, but not forever. Only a few of them recognize that it's happening in that book. In later books it's solved, and they manage to flourish.
  • Paradox: The Eldritch, the genetic modifications that gave them their longevity caused severe fertility problems, more than one child is uncommon and inbreeding is becoming an issue. But the thing is, many of the Pelted races of the Alliance had similar issues, and they've used their technology to alleviate the problem, it's just that most Eldritch are isolationist xenophobes.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire the magical races tend to be this. There are only a few dozen giants left, despite them having once inhabited most of Westeros and Essos, and their mammoths (whom they use for riding) are similarly rare, as are the unicorns, which survive only on the island of Skagos. Dire wolves are on their way out, too, although they will likely last longer than the rest. Special mention goes to:
    • Dragons, who are extinct at the beginning of the series. The last few that hatched were badly degenerated and barely the size of dogs, but there might be hope for them again after Daenerys manages to hatch three healthy specimens.
    • In A Dance with Dragons we find out that the Children of the Forest still exist, but have been slowly dying out over the course of centuries. By the books' time, one village is all that's left.
    • In A World of Ice and Fire, there's mention of the Hairy Men, a species of shaggy, stout humanoids that were once very widespread in western Essos, dominating the central grasslands and the western hills and islands, but were displaced over time by the advance of the humans, who drove them out of their kingdoms one after the other. It's hinted that the Ibbenese are all that remains of their race.
  • Codex Alera: The Vord Queens, and the Vord by extension, end the book series as a Dying Race. The primary Vord queen woken in the first book was forced to make all her daughters sterile because they inevitably turned on her due to her contamination. With her death in the final volume, the only one left in Canea is sterile and can't thus reproduce: once she dies the Vord are finished.
  • Uprooted: When Agnieszka is shoved into a heart-tree, it tells its history: she was once a tree-person. When the tree-people began fading and dying out, her sister tried marrying a human king to revitalize her people through their offspring, but she was betrayed and the tree-people decided to revert entirely to trees. The Wood sprang up from the queen's rage when some unwitting woodcutters came to the grove.
  • John Carter of Mars: While Barsoom is a dying world with most of their people struggling to survive, none are as doomed as the Lotharians of which only 1000 remain with no females and children among them. They live as recluses in the Torquas swamps and developed such advanced psychic powers to create life-like soldiers to defend them as well as extend their own lifespans. Their leader Tario attempted to use his powers to circumvent this problem by materializing a female in secret, though he had no success.
  • Second Apocalypse: The Nonmen suffered a gendercide and were cursed with immortality, so the race consists of ancient men who are being driven insane by The Fog of Ages and the inevitable doom of their race.
  • inThe Long Price Quartet:
    • The cities of the Khaiem depend totally on the powers of the andat to run their economies and defend them from attack. But since an andat which has been bound and then released can never again be bound in the same way, the power of the andat diminishes slightly with every lost binding. One character contrasts this with the Galts, whose technology grows more and more powerful each year, as new discoveries build on old.
    • Both the Khaiem and the Galts become this at the end of An Autumn War, when the andat Corrupting-The-Generative slips from control and sterilizes every Khaiate woman and every Galtish man.
  • The aufwaders in Robin Jarvis's Whitby Witches trilogy are under a curse which kills any female of their races who becomes pregnant, unless she takes a special herb to end the pregnancy. Even if the pregnancy is carried to term, both mother and baby will die shortly after the birth; the mother dissolves into a briny sludge (the curse causes its victim's blood to turn into salt water) while the baby crumbles to dust. As a result only a handful of mostly middle-aged and elderly aufwaders remain, Nelda (one of the main characters in the trilogy) being the only member of their race born since the laying of the curse to survive infancy.
  • Genome has the Taii, a Vestigial Empire that now only controls about a dozen worlds. It used to rule what is now controlled by the younger races before a mutually-destructive war with an equally-powerful empire. At this point, their culture is slowly dying, remembering their past glory. Their technology is now significantly behind the galactic standard (it's mentioned that their ancient planetoid-sized battleships are easily outmatched by a tiny human destroyer).
  • The Space Trilogy: All three races of Malacandra are destined to die off in the coming centuries, as their inhuman and animalistic form no longer belongs in a universe where their creator, Maleldil the Young, has taken human form.
  • Beautiful Losers: The A. tribe is a group of Indians with only thirteen remaining members.
  • New Jedi Order: Although the Yuuzhan Vong initially seem to be an awe-inspiringly powerful military juggernaut, it's gradually revealed that they're actually a decaying, decrepit civilization and merely The Remnant of a once-great empire. Locked in a downward spiral of stagnation and riven by internecine strife, they were briefly revitalized by finding a common enemy in the New Republic but, as the series goes on, the old problems start resurfacing again. By the end of the series, the Vong's rediscovery of their ancestral home and renunciation of their warlike ways seems to have given them a new, healthier lease on life.

    Live-Action TV  
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • The Asgard, who survive only through cloning, and have found that every new generation of clones suffer a slight degeneration. Then, after thousands of years of cloning, they decide to commit mass suicide instead of dying slowly and give all their knowledge and technology to humanity. However, a branch of the race, calling themselves Vanir, still exist in the Pegasus Galaxy, having managed to partly cure their degradation by performing experiments on humans. It's unknown how many Vanir are still alive, but it's likely they can't reproduce any more than their cousins in the Ida Galaxy could
    • The Tok'ra cannot reproduce. Their only symbiont queen has been killed so she cannot create a new symbiont. However, from time to time, some Goa'uld have joined the Tok'ra, perhaps one day a new queen is among them.
  • Quatermass and the Pit features a dying race of alien Ancient Astronauts who apparently attempted to genetically engineer humanity to become their successors.
  • Babylon 5 — Several examples:
    • The Minbari — fewer are born with each generation and the greatest of their souls are no longer found among them, for their souls are being reborn into humans (a large plot point in the series).
    • The Narn and the Centauri are both said to be dying races according to Kosh. However, this is more philosophical than literal — Kosh meant that both were trapped in a cycle of revenge and fixated on each other's deaths to their own detriment, and were therefore (from a Vorlon point of view) on the path to eventual destruction. Both the Narn and Centauri are in fact populous and relatively vital.
    • The Hyach are a more literal example; though there are still quite a few of them around, their genome is slowly collapsing due to having become dependent on a counterpart species that is no longer around because the Hyach killed them all.
    • And many of the "First Races" are dying races...
    • The Markab went from thriving race to virtually extinct over the course of a single episode, thanks to a plague that many of its victims refused to acknowledge having caught, as an old folk tale claimed that only the sinful could catch it.
  • Battlestar Galactica:
    • Humans themselves after the Cylon destruction of the Twelve Colonies, when there are only about 50,000 survivors who flee into deep space. It is eventually subverted tough by the end of the war.
    • Cylons play it straight after the resurrection hub is destroyed. They can't procreate with each other, and they can't transfer their essence into new bodies anymore. The last Cylons eventually interbreed with the last humans to form a new race.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • The pilot "The Cage" (and two-part episode "The Menagerie"). The Talosians are condemned to eventual extinction because their power of mental illusions acts like an addicting drug. They consider their dreams to be more important than reality, so they gave up travelling, building, and creating. They can't even repair the machines left by their ancestors.
      • "Return to Tomorrow" featured a race that had been all but destroyed in a massive war thousands of years ago, and by the time the episode occurred only three individuals had survived as disembodied consciousnesses preserved in storage devices.
      • The Scalosians in "Wink of an Eye"
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • The episode "Up the Long Ladder". The inhabitants of the planet Mariposa reproduce by cloning and are suffering from a disorder called replicative fading that occurs when DNA is cloned too many times. If not corrected, they won't be able to reproduce.
      • The episode "When the Bough Breaks": The inhabitants of the planet Aldea have become sterile as a side effect of their planetary cloaking device. The Aldeans decide to steal children from the Enterprise to carry on their civilization.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Changeling race is slowly dying, due to a synthetic plague engineered by Section 31 to bring about a Changeling genocide. In the series finale, Odo returns to the Great Link to cure his people of the Section 31 virus and avert the genocide.
    • Star Trek: Voyager gives us the Hirogen. Their obsession with Hunting the Most Dangerous Game has made them spread themselves too thin, with one of them worried that within a thousand years they'll go extinct.
  • Earth: Final Conflict: the Taelons are dying. As are their "cousins" the Jaridians. Both races are the result of an Atavus cult leader draining most of the race from their "core energy" and infusing his small group of followers with it. This group (augmented with Kimera DNA/energy) became the Taelons, while what's left of the Atavus became the Jaridians. No wonder the Jaridians hate the Taelons. By Season 5, both races are virtually gone. Only a single Taelon is left (another one is resurrected, before being converted into an Atavus and then killed), while the Jaridian homeworld is mentioned to have imploded (for some reason).
  • Farscape's Ancients, the ones who gave John the wormhole information.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In between the old and new series, the Doctor used "the Moment" to wipe out all the Time Lords, leaving just him, an Opposite-Sex Clone genetic anomaly that may or may not "count", a handful of part-human hybrids, and, at least for a time, his arch-enemy the Master. Following "The Day of the Doctor" and the events of series 9, however, the Time Lords have been returned to the universe.
    • In "The Leisure Hive", the Argolians are a dying race, having been afflicted by a Sterility Plague in the aftermath of their twenty minute war with the Foamasi.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic continuation, the Seed of Wonder was destroyed. Among other things, this meant that no more vampires could be created, instead the humans killed by vampires become a kind of zombie vampire. Finally, the Seed of Wonder is restored, and a new race of vampires emerges, much more powerful than the old race. Both the old race of the vampires and the zompires can no longer be created, but only the new race of the vampires.
  • Supernatural: By Season 13, the angels are this. No new angels have come into existence since God first created them all at the dawn of time, and between the Apocalypse, the Leviathans, the Fall, the Darkness, and all the infighting, their numbers have been significantly whittled down, to the point there's hardly any left. They're so desperate that they are willing to allow Lucifer to temporarily take over Heaven when he says he knows the secret of making more angels (he's lying). It's shown that Heaven itself is powered by angels and will eventually crumble if they die out, and they were hoping that bringing back an archangel, any of them, would solve that problem as well. In season 14, the angel Duma manages to convince Jack, the good-hearted demi-human son of Lucifer, to make more angels by transmuting human souls into grace. Castiel intervenes before he can produce more than a handful, however.

  • The Squonk in the Genesis song of the same name.
  • In the song Shadow of the Mithril Mountains of Dragonland, Duviel -the Elven queen- describes her race as a withering one

  • In the Cool Kids Table Harry Potter-themed game Hogwarts: The New Class, magical people have taken a huge hit to their population during the war against Voldemort. Now they need to bring their numbers back up through complex plans, such as reintroducing American muggle-borns to the community via time-travel.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Space 1889: The canals of Mars are slowly decaying and cannot be repaired, which will result in Mars becoming arid and basically uninhabitable again, destroying most native life including the three types of sentients. Canal Martians generally more or less accept this, which the Europeans, who believe in Progress and sometimes in social darwinism, find offensive or a sign of weakness.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Humanity. Their vast interstellar empire has devolved into a brutal theocratic dictatorship and is slowly shrinking and beset on all sides by aliens and monsters, all their best technology is slowly being forgotten, their Physical God Emperor is half-dead and being sustained by a life-support machine that is falling into disrepair and will eventually fail completely. They are still extremely powerful, with legions of fanatical soldiers, genetically-engineered Super Soldiers, Titans and legendary heroes capable of amazing feats. The human race is going down, but the sheer size of the Imperium means that it will take thousands of years for the end to come, and even then, they're more than capable of dragging their destroyers down with them.
    • The Craftworld Eldar are this trope traditionally as well. They suffered a calamity that destroyed their empire long ago, and now they exist as scattered remnants wandering space seeking purpose. Although the status of how far gone they are Depends On The Writer: Gav Thorpe, who did most of their older fluff, said that they're as low as a dozen Craftworlds with a dozen million each, whereas new writer Phil Kelly says that there are hundreds of Craftworlds with populations ranging from a few hundred million to almost a billion. Matt Ward (if you actually acknowledge him or anything he writes) seems to agree with Kelly, with his Craftworld Iyanden supplementary codex describing the troubled craftworld as "definitely rising from the ashes". The Eldar also suffer from low birth rates for various reasons: reluctance to do anything pleasurable since that might attract Slaanesh, gestation periods of several years, and a limited number of waystones to protect Eldar souls. Though with 8th Edition, some recent snippets of backstory hint that the Eldar may not be this trope after all... Which is not really a good thing for humanity, because it means a race of hyper-advanced, xenophobic nomads with a grudge may in fact be on the up.
    • Though it's not brought up too often, the Necrontyr are slowly but surely dying out. Since they were transformed into the robotic Necrons they cannot reproduce. Devourer reveals that a good number of Necrons are actually "false Necrons": artificial intelligences based on the minds of former generals and nobles of the necrontyr.
  • Warhammer:
    • The Elves are dying off due to the various catastrophes that have hit them over the millennia. Dark Elves, again, don't seem to have this problem (presumably they breed at least fast enough to make up the numbers lost from their sacrifices and constant warfare).
    • Dwarves are also dying, and have stayed in decline since the destruction of their greatest kingdoms, something not at all helped by their obsession with grudges that causes them to constantly go from one war to the next.
    • The Slann used to be a dying race in older editions. It was subsequently retconned to make the Lizardmen slightly less grimdark; however, the younger spawnings are orders of magnitude less powerful and thus the originals are still irreplaceable.
  • Elves and dryads from The Witcher: Game of Imagination suffer this fate due to human expansion and exploitation. It's easier to find a naturalized dryad (which is a well-disguised, brainwashed human girl) than an actual born one.
  • "Dying race" (by that exact name) is a racial disadvantage in GURPS Aliens: "For whatever reason, the race's death rate has exceeded the birth rate. If this trend isn't reversed, the race will be extinct in a few generations."
    • The Jarrel in GURPS Aliens have it. However, they are trying to recover and start growing again.
    • It was eliminated in 4e on charges of not actually being disadvantageous. You can still simulate it by taking other disadvantages, you'd just actually have to earn your points.
  • Stormbringer supplement Stormbringer Companion, adventure "The Crystal of Daerdaerdarth". Valyk's Island holds a race of creatures known as the Kay, who were created using sorcery by the Melnibonean wizard Earl Valyk thousands of years earlier. They're in decline because 80% of their breeding females die soon after birth.
  • Dwarves of the Forgotten Realms may or may not be this trope, depending on which products you credence. Some of the 2E products suggest that dwarf males may be marrying human women (and breeding true) as a counter to their own race's slow birth rate and scarcity of females.
  • In "B4: The Lost City", an early D&D adventure, the weird underground humans of Cynedicea are this trope.
  • The Doreen, Kraken and Scurrilans from 50 Fathoms. The Doreen habitats were destroyed by the recent apocalypse, the Kraken were hit hard by first said apocalypse and by the Big Bads later. There have never been more than 200 Scurrilans, and Scurrilans don't get along with anyone, even each other.
  • Exalted:
    • The Dragon-Kings (dinosaur-folk) have been dying for thousands of years now. Due to the way the Dragon-Kings reincarnate, they can't expand beyond the number of available souls, and that number has suffered enormous periodic drop offs throughout the history of Man. Even among those who remain, the devastation of their culture (and past life memories of their grief) means that the vast majority are never educated past the feral first stage of their life.
    • The Fair Folk are in a similar boat; the majority of them invaded Creation during the Balorian Crusade and were subsequently all but wiped out by the Realm Defense Grid, leaving scant millions remaining. This combined with how they "reproduce" slowly and their original home being occupied by a ravenous offshoot means they've largely fallen into melancholy.

  • Beast Wars: Uprising: The Builders of Cybertron, the remnants of the Autobots and Decepticons, who can't create any new 'bot without the Matrix (lost) or Vector Sigma (destroyed). While Cybertronians can still go on, Maximals and Predacons are a biologically different race created via different means. By the end of the Uprising, thanks to what's happened, it's acknowledged there's barely any Builders left at all.

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect:
    • The krogan, due to the "genophage", a biological weapon that reduces the number of live krogan births to a fraction of its normal level. This actually turns out to be carefully tuned to keep their population stabilized rather than to cause extinction; because krogan are from a Death World, they're Explosive Breeders and live around a thousand years (if nothing kills them first). This meant that their population exploded once removed from their natural environment — until the genophage leveled things out. Given that krogan are almost universally Blood Knights who are fond of We Have Reserves, their culture hasn't quite caught up with their new biology yet. Wrex at one point comments that the Genophage infected the krogan, but it isn't what's killing them. Their species is actually dying out because they haven't learned to adapt to their new way of life. If he's still alive in the second game, he's shown forcing a number of clans to work together, focus on breeding, and having basic infrastructure in an attempt to ensure his species survives.
      • This becomes a plot point in the second game, as Mordin's loyalty mission is rescuing a former colleague of his who is working to cure the genophage so that the krogan can breed again. Mordin reveals over the course of this mission that the krogan were adjusting to the genophage and their numbers were increasing again, so the salarians put the genophage on them again to control their numbers. The genophage causes only 1 in 1000 babies to be born alive. You do have the option to save the genophage's data at the end of the mission, though.
      • The third game makes curing the genophage a plot point. You can either do exactly that, or sabotage the effort. If both Wrex and Eve are alive, it's hinted that their stabilizing influence will keep the krogan from becoming a threat to the universe if you cure the genophage. If either or both are dead, then it's strongly suggested that the krogan Rebellions are going to start up again if you give them the cure.
      • A sideplot in the third game also reveals that most of the elcor were wiped out during the Reaper invasion. Too few made it out to provide a viable breeding pool.
    • The eealen race in the Andromeda galaxy is never encountered, but it's noted that their population was reduced to below the point of viability after they were conquered by the Kett Empire.
  • RuneScape.
    • The Mahjarrat is the perfect example, as there are only nine of them confirmed alive, and each one of them is "as powerful as one of your (human) armies".
      • It also doesn't help that for them to continue to survive in the world of Runescape, one of them must be sacrificed in a ritual every 500 years, meaning that even if no one manages to kill any of them, they'll still go extinct. It's just a matter of time.
      • And only one pure blooded female still exists, and she isn't interested in reproducing.
    • The Dragonkin, the race that created dragons, has only a few individuals remaining. They were based on the Skeksis from The Dark Crystal.
    • The plot of the quests "The Elder Kiln" and "The Brink Of Extinction" is the player saving the Tzhaar race from going extinct. The Tzhaar are a race of creature made of living volcanic rock that pass their memories to their offspring when they reproduce, but recently they have only been able to create Ga'al, which are Tzhaar born without memories, and without the ability to pass their memories to their offspring, they fear that their culture will die. In "The Elder Kiln" they want to try fusing the remains of a dead Tzhaar to a Ga'al to give it memories. This reveals the horrifying truth that dead tzhaar remain conscious and in agony when they die and are broken into pieces. In "The Brink Of Extinction" they still want to continue doing this despite being told this horrible truth, and the player has to find and solve the cause of their loss of their ability to pass on their memories. After the quest is over the player can confront the Tokhaar responsible for taking away the Tzhaar's ability to reproduce normally and he reveals that he was trying to force the Tzhaar to return to the Kiln in order to save them because the Tzhaar are growing weaker with every generation because the transference of memories to their offspring isn't perfect. The Tzhaar were never meant to reproduce or die at all, they are supposed to be melted down and reborn in the Kiln. creation of the Ga'al wasn't something he expected to happen So even though the player has saved the Tzhaar in the short term, they are still doomed in the long run if they don't return to the Kiln, which turns the end of the quest into a Downer Ending if the player finds out about this.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • The Forsaken are undead and thus incapable of reproducing. While they can reclaim some undead from the feral Scourge, for the most part their population is in constant decline. Recognizing this danger, Sylvanas has recruited the remaining Val'kyr to create new Forsaken soldiers out of their fallen enemies and allies. As of Legion, the Val'kyr are wiped out, leaving Sylvanas with no other way to create more Forsaken. They will die out, it's only a matter of time.
    • After the invasion of Quel'thalas by the Scourge, 90% of the High Elf population was wiped out. They've made some headway in recovering, but there's always some new disaster to cut into their already small numbers.
    • The Night Elves are no longer immortal after the destruction of the World Tree. However, with the sweeping changes and threats to Azeroth recently, their culture has changed from their static ways of druid sleep into a far more active one; becoming a dying race has them more active and powerful than ever before.
    • Dragons were immortal thanks to the blessing of the Titans, which was lost when they destroyed Deathwing. Not only did empowering the Dragon Soul weaken every dragonflight, it also rendered them sterile. The clutches of eggs laid before Deathwing's death are possibly the last generation that will ever be born. One of the most contentious achievements of the Legion expansion was awarded for killing all the remaining red whelplings.
  • Waking Mars exhibits this with the Sentients, a race of ancient Martian spaghetti-things that were forced into stasis underground by some ancient cataclysm that made Mars the Red Planet we know today.
  • In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the bestiary entries of various monsters state that their races are dying. The goblins were already slowly vanishing from the world before Gabriel started killing them in droves. The last Ogre also dies by Gabriel's hand. The only Dragon left in the world is a corpse animated by necromancy and Gabriel kills that too. He even kills the last Old God Pan. The Aghartians fell long ago to the Lycans, and Gabriel destroys the last remnants of their civilization the Titans as well as the last Aghartian Claudia thanks to Mind Control. By defeating the Lords of Shadow, Gabriel (seeing a pattern?) also breaks the power of the Lycans, Vampires, and Necromancers. He later helps those last three back to their feet.
  • Halo: The Prophets were already rapidly declining when the war with humanity started. The Covenant's Prophets all come from the gene pool of a single ship launched from their (allegedly) now-destroyed homeworld, meaning they have to be very careful to avoid inbreeding. Then High Charity, their major population center, was consumed by The Flood. According to their file on Waypoint, there are less than a thousand members of their species left in the whole galaxy.
  • As of Guild Wars 2 humanity is viewed as this by the other races of Tyria. Ascalon and Orr have been dead for centuries, Cantha has withdrawn into isolation, and Elona is enslaved by Palawa Joko, leaving only Kryta as a free human state. Many view them as overly conservative and tied down by their faith in silent gods. Humans, of course, disagree with this notion. All the same, developers have noted that every other race in the setting has been steadily expanding and growing despite their hardships. Humans, on the other hand, have been in a steady decline.
  • Dragon Age: The dwarves are stuck in a Hopeless War with the darkspawn that has already reduced a once-thriving kingdom to two city states. Worse, the entire population of one of these city states is Tainted. They'd be doing better if their own traditions didn't bar a chunk of the population from serving in the conventional military (or getting any kind of decent treatment). However, this is only a cultural case rather then a racial case, due to the thriving population of surface dwarves.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei IV, The Fair Folk. They are desperate to survive, and only barely manage to do so by recovering the Holy Grail (Dagda's Cauldron) from the Angels and summoning Lady Danu to help restore everyone. However, she has become Black Maria in order to protect them, and can no longer reclaim her old position. It falls to recurring ally Nozomi to accept the fate of becoming the new Lady Danu in order to save them from extinction.
  • The Banner Saga: The Varl were all created individually from clay by the god Hadrborg, and are all male thus cannot breed. This wasn't a problem, until the gods all killed each other .By the second game, the vast majority of varl in existence are probably marching with your caravan - only a few hundred, despite being excellent warriors with a lifespan of centuries. You can either contribute to their extinction, or attempt to save as many as you can.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: The echidna species, with Knuckles being the Last of His Kind.
  • Fallout 3:
    • The vault 87 Super Mutants were once a massive flesh-eating horde that prevented large civilization from forming in the capital wasteland due to their constant attacks. The FEV that created them also renders them sterile so they have to capture humans to make more of themselves however by the time the Lone Wanderer enters the wasteland they are running low on FEV which is revealed through their Enemy Chatter and they are sending groups to try and find more. By Fallout 4 it's heavily implied that they have been wiped out completely by the east coast Brotherhood of Steel.
    • Their Commonwealth cousins aren't fairing much better. Thanks to Virgil shutting down the Institutes FEV program, Commonwealth Super Mutants have no way to propagate, leaving them a dangerous but finite threat.
  • The Darksiders series features plenty of examples:
    • Humanity already died out due to the game taking place a century after the Apocalypse taken place. The second game revolves around Death's attempt to restore humanity back to life in order to exonerate his brother War which he succeeds at the end. The DLC also features a human character known as the Hunter, who reveals that pockets of survivors still remained but whether or not they are still around is unclear, and if not, he "hopes that their end was quick".
    • The Four Horsemen belong to an ancient Proud Warrior Race known as the Nephilim, whom they destroyed to save all of creation and left them as its sole survivors. There is a fifth survivor, Absolom, who survived his death and became the living embodiment of The Corruption and serves as the Big Bad of the second game
    • The Makers were another ancient race on the verge of extinction due to their Kingdom nearing the end of its life cycle with Corruption having overrun it and killing most of its members. Its implied that all it remains of their people are the seven inhabitants of the Tri-Stone sanctuary, Ulthane (who lives in exile on Earth) and the Mad Smith (who is implied to have turned himself into an undead construct).
  • Paladins:
    • The Stagalla are a race of stone humanoids who were created to serve the Paladins many years ago. Now there are very few left, with the only two known Stagalla being Inara and Terminus. While fighting the Magisrate, Terminus was killed and was later ressurected into the Magistrate obidient undead brute.
    • The Fae are a race of fairies who are sworn to protect nature. However, their short lifespans and war on the encroachment modern civilization has dwindled their numbers. While most of the Fae are regrouping to strengthen their population, a tenacious fairy named Willo has taken it upon herself to keep fighting.
  • Star Control Origins: The DLC reveals that this is true of the Scryve, the main antagonists. When they achieved biological immortality, they decided that they had become perfect as a lifeform, and any further evolution would be detrimental, so they sterilized themselves. Of course, they can still die due to accident or being murdered, which means it's inevitable that they will die out given enough time. The Scryve don't seem to care that much.

  • Irregular Webcomic!: The Martians, who are down to three living specimens — all apparently male. Also David Morgan-Mar. When he discovered that this page did not exist yet, he made it himself.
  • Vampire Cheerleaders: The mothmen had been hunted almost to the point of extinction by the Reptilians, who feared them for their ability to perceive the future. Which is why they abducted Stephanie and eventually persuaded her to help them repopulate their species. But the Reptilians found their homeworld and tried to wipe out what few remained. They succeed, forcing Stephanie and the few survivors with her to flee their planet's destruction.
  • Spacetrawler: The Harlzoids briefly show up in the backstory. They're finished off by food poisoning from an improperly-calibrated food synthesizer.
  • In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures it's stated that fewer and fewer Angels are being born, and this has caused much alarm in the Angel community.
  • Drowtales:
    • The dark elves have all but vanished by the time the story takes place, having been replaced by their children, the titular drow, who evolved to better survive in the Underworld. The ones that are left — and there aren't many — have largely given up hope of ever seeing the surface again. Conversely, drow are perfectly capable of having dark elven offspring if they give birth on the surface, but these children are more or less considered a separate race from the originals due to the millennium of time between the two generations, and are culturally far more similar to their drow parents. Drow and dark elves are functionally two morphs of a single species and each will exist at least in potential as long as the other does, but what little is left of the original Dark Elf culture is doomed.
    • The light elves fared a bit better, in that a single city-state survives in the far north in addition to a handful of elders among the leadership of the Kyorl'solenurn clan of drow.
    • The Beldrobbaen, a drow clan and more or less a nation onto itself, are in a similar state, having lost an entire generation of children during a demonic accident. Since then entire houses have died out and the clan is widely thought to be on its last legs. Their cousins from a neighboring city, the Balvhakara, have no such problems and demonstrate that this state of affairs is purely the result of bad luck and clinging to a tradition of turning the fathers of Val children into Driders that has greatly reduced the number of fertile male members of the clan.
    • Finally, the duergar (the dwarves) once ruled and inhabited most of the Underworld. Then the elven refugees and their drow descendants came along, conquered their lands and destroyed their nations. Nowdays, only a few dwarven communities exist in the fringes of the Underworld where the conditions are too harsh for even the drow. Many survive as slaves and servants living in drow cities, but these dwarves, called gnomes instead, are considered a separate race from the original, near-extinct dwarves.
  • Schlock Mercenary: The Bradicor. At some point in the past they invented a method of immortality. However, their brains were unable to cope with this and they ended up going insane. The majority of them uploaded themselves into a giant computer and ended up wiping themselves out in the "Identity Wars". A small number decided to remain corporeal and instead replaced their brain with an artificial one (based on the same technology as Schlock and the other amorphs). While some of this group are still around they are all millions of years old and don't have any kids (it's not clear if they can't reproduce or simply don't want to) so the race will eventually die out.

    Web Original 
  • In The Jenkinsverse, every spacefaring, intelligent civilization is eventually doomed to become a dying race, and nobody knows why.
  • The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids: The Wellsians in The Resurrection of the Wellsians are a version of H. G. Wells's Martians, whose civilization was already crumbling before they set their views on Earth. Only seven of them survive the Earth plague and escape to Venus, where they encounter the Cupids and scheme to restore their empire.
    "We are the Wellsians! We are the last embers of the Martian Empire! And now we shall rise again!"
  • Sagan 4: In the original version, sapient species evolved and were immediately wiped out by a mass extinction event 3 separate times.

    Western Animation 
  • The Manhattan Clan in Gargoyles awoke in the 20th Century convinced that they were the last of their kind. However, The World Tour Story Arc revealed that Gargoyles exist all around the world and are even prospering in some areas. Their own clan's next generation is also thriving on Avalon.
  • The antagonists of the first season of Ben 10: Alien Force, the Highbreed, were doomed to die out in a generation since their inbreeding (done to keep themselves "pure") robbed them of the ability to reproduce. Their entire campaign was a Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum. They figured that if they were going to go extinct, all of the other "inferior" races had to join them. All of this is past-tense, since Ben used the Omnitrix to save them once he discovered their problem.
  • The Gummi Bears in Adventures of the Gummi Bears, at first is thought that only seven of them remain and althoug other communities of Gummi Bears are discover latter on, they are more or less in the same numbers or less.

    Real Life 
  • Once a species declines too far, it may be declared "functionally extinct" as there are too few individuals to maintain a working gene pool. These remaining individuals are known as "endlings". A process called mutational meltdown can set in, whereby mutations accumulate and become widespread faster than natural selection can remove them from the population. As a result, more defects accumulate until the species is doomed to extinction.note 
  • The Parsis of India (Freddie Mercury's people) are the largest Zoroastrian population in the world, but they've been on the decline for decades due to their slow birth rate and their tradition of not marrying outside their community.
  • Sadly, Jews outside Israel tend to play this trope straight (except in certain European and Anglophone countries), for the same reasons as the Parsis.


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