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Fling a Light into the Future

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We're just gonna yeet her into Kingdom Hearts IV, don't worry.
"There is little left for us. Little time. But much irony: we did discover that they are not invulnerable. The Destroyers that darkened our skies like a plague can be harmed... we have the knowledge, but not the means. And so this is our legacy: in subspace they cannot use their shields... and into subspace they can be tracked."

What do you do when you want to give others a fighting chance against an evil you cannot beat yourself, either because you have no hope of victory against it or because it'll appear when you're long dead? You Fling a Light into the Future.

Whether it's your last son, a powerful artifact, a weapon, or even a simple warning, you send other people in danger a means to recognize and hopefully avert it. Sending this shining beacon can involve an escape (space) ship, Time Travel, being put in suspended animation, sealing forces of good away for a rainy day, or a Subspace Ansible of some kind. This trope is common in Speculative Fiction and Fantasy, so the means of delivery can vary considerably.

If it's part of a character's Backstory, it usually comes with a dose of The Chosen One. Sometimes, the "light" has no purpose in being sent other than in the sending; the dying world might not see themselves as able to help others, and just wants to shout its existence against the cold void of time and space.

Compare Living Relic, Moses in the Bulrushes, Thanatos Gambit, Fish out of Temporal Water. Contrast Outside-Context Problem.

If it's an inversion with the future flinging a light into the past, it may fall under Ominous Message from the Future instead.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dr. STONE:
    • Byakuya Ishigami, Senku's father, manages this many times over. After all of humanity is turned to stone, Byakuya is one of only a half dozen survivors. He and his fellow survivors establish a community that lasts into the story's present day, 3,700 years later. He devises stories designed primarily to teach his descendants to survive in the stone world. However, the 100 Tales Byakuya created also serve another purpose. That purpose is to deliver a message to his son, Senku, who he has absolute faith will eventually break out of the stone and restart humanity. Byakuya's 100 Tales ensure that Senku will have a village of potential allies ready to go when he arrives and allows him to leave a message of encouragement for Senku.
    • Much later, Senku realizes through the 100 Tales that his father went even further and left him a "treasure chest", a time capsule containing something he could use. When it's finally found, it's full of sand and other minerals, including platinum, which can be utilized to easily create the revival fluid that can undo petrification. Flashbacks show that Byakuya spent his last decades gathering anything and everything he could that might be of help to Senku when the time came.
  • Dragon Ball does an inversion of this trope, at least from Bulma's perspective: she builds a time machine and sends her son Trunks 20 years back in time to prevent their apocalyptic future. Due to the way time travel works in Dragon Ball this doesn't affect her future whatsoever, but it does mean that there is one not ravaged by Androids, and that's enough for her. Similarly, Future Trunks goes out of his way to destroy Cell as an embryo in the past: again this is of no benefit to him, but it means that Cell can't hijack a time machine once he's fully grown to terrorize another timeline.
  • It's revealed in Fairy Tail that this is the case with Natsu, Gajeel, Wendy, Sting, and Rogue, who were all flung 400 years from the past via the Eclipse Gate to a time when magic was plentiful in the hope of gaining the proper strength to defeat Acnologia. The day that their dragon parents disappeared was, in reality, the day they arrived to the modern era.
  • Flame of Recca: Recca was born in the Warring States Era, but flung into the future (that is, our present) by a forbidden spell, to escape the annihilation of his ninja-clan at the hands of Oda Nobunaga. Unfortunately, The Rival Psycho for Hire hitched a ride...
  • Gall Force: With both sides about to wipe each other out, our heroines manage to encode a chip with a message for the future, so something of their civilization will survive. The epilogue shows astronauts from the present cycle (us) recovering the space probe. It doesn't end well.
  • GaoGaiGar: The leader of the Green Planet sends his son, and a giant mechanical lion, to Earth to escape Zonderization, along with technological records of the weapons used to fight them inside the lion.
  • In the bonus chapter of Jaco the Galactic Patrolman known as Dragon Ball Minus and Dragon Ball Super: Broly, we learn that Goku's parents sent him to Earth to protect him from Frieza. They suspected that Frieza was up to something when he recalled all the Saiyans to their home planet and knew that they couldn't leave since the scouters would sense them. So, they sent their youngest child to safety since Raditz was already off-world with Vegeta. Unlike most examples, they just wanted Goku to live and him kicking the ass of their murderer years later was an added bonus.
  • At the end of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean Jolyne sacrifices herself to let Emporio escape Pucci, survive the effects of Made in Heaven and defeat Pucci in the new universe he created.
  • As revealed in Macross Zero, the Protoculture of Macross did it at least once: they left on Earth the Bird Human, to be activated when humanity reached the stars to reveal them the amazing technologies created by Protoculture... Or, if we hadn't renounced war yet, bomb us back to the stone age so we wouldn't be another army of Zentraedi ravaging the galaxy.
  • At the end of Magical Destroyers Otaku Hero, having read SHOBON's notebook and learned that everything in it was coming true, flung away his helmet because he was supposed to die wearing it, with this last act throwing the script off and giving the other otaku a fighting chance, with a new Otaku Hero picking up the helmet to lead the fight in the future.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • The One For All Quirk is a superpower that is passed down to succeeding generations of heroes. The original user was the younger brother of All For One and he wasn't strong enough to defeat him. So he passed on the Quirk to his successors, praying that if they slowly cultivated One For All, the Quirk would become strong enough to defeat All For One.
    • The fourth user did this as well. Rather than trying to fight All For One, he instead spent his "turn" living in seclusion, trying to build up as much power as he could before passing it on to the next guy.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Evangelion Unit-01. So long as a single human soul exists within it, it will stand as eternal proof that Humanity existed, even when the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth are all long gone. That's rather hopeful for a series well known for its terrifying imagery.
    • The various official materials and videogame adaptations reveal this is the origin of both the Angels and mankind, having been created when an ancestral alien species sent out progenitor beings (dubbed "Seeds of Life") billions of years in the past to different planets to seed intelligent life. The conflict in the series originated because two Seeds of Life landed on Earth by accident, creating two separate and different forms of "human" life - the Angels and humanity.
  • In No Game No Life, the former "Fool King" of Immanity had challenged the Warbeast race eight times to a game, betting large portions of territory despite the kingdom's resources being nearly spent. While most of the territory was useless with his people's existing technology, this still ended with eight losses that cost his people the majority of their territory and left them with nothing but a single city remaining. However, while this appeared to be a fool act that hastened the demise of the human race, the truth is the king knew the kingdom's resources were running out fast and that he personally had little chance to defeat any of the other races, so he challenged the Warbeasts who required contestants to have their memories erased in order to prevent loss on their part, used his resources and apparent weakness to convince them to play with the decreased cost of not telling anyone as long as he lived, and then worked around this pledge by sealing his knowledge in a book to be opened by the next king. Then, instead of passing the crown to his daughter, he arranged it that the next king would be chosen by a series of contests. In this way, he gave his race a fighting chance, ensuring that the knowledge he'd accumulated would be in the hands of a talented successor capable of using it to challenge the Warbeasts and win.
  • One Piece:
    • More than eight hundred years ago, the forefathers of the current World Government waged war against an ancient, advanced civilization and wiped them out completely. They then did their best to erase all evidence of their enemy's existence, but could not complete their goal because this ancient kingdom, before being defeated, created a number of huge, indestructible steles, known as Poneglyphs, which recorded the history of the "Void Century" for future generations, including information on their Lost Superweapons. Since the World Government could not destroy this history, they made it a capital crime to even know how to read them.
    • In the Wano arc, it's revealed that Kozuki Toki literally did this with Momonosuke, Kin'emon, Kanjuro, Raizo, and Okiku, using her Time-Time Fruit power to send them 20 years to the future, where they could find allies and raise up a rebellion to defeat Orochi and Kaido.
    • The Egghead arc features three examples of this trope:
      • A Once More, with Clarity moment reveals that Bartholomew Kuma's true intention in saving the Straw Hat Pirates during the Sabaody Archipelago arc was to ensure they would be able to train and fulfill their full potential so they could one day save the world. Their actions during that arc, particularly Luffy attacking a World Noble in order to defend Hachi, a fish-man, reminded Kuma of the legends of Sun God Nika he grew up with as a child and convinced him that if there is someone meant to carry on Nika's will, it must be Luffy. As the readers know by that point, Kuma was correct — Luffy doesn't just carry Nika's will, he is the Sun God Nika, as the second person to awaken his devil fruit.
      • Another reveal spans the entire series: a character notes that the ancient queen Nefertari Lily is the reason why the Poneglyphs, stone tablets that contain records on the true history that the World Government is trying to suppress, have been scattered across the world.
      • Another example is king Cobra asking Sabo to deliver a message to Luffy and Vivi about their shared initial D, just before Cobra is killed for knowing too much.
  • In Robotech, it's implied that Zor sent his battlefortress to Earth for this, so someone that weren't either the tyrannical Robotech Masters or the now crazed Invid would hold the secrets of Robotechnology and the power source behind it and not misuse it. Sadly, the Masters' troops tracked his ship down before their fuel could run out...
  • Sailor Moon:
    • The premise, with the dying Queen sending the senshi's souls forward from the utopian moon kingdom as it collapses, in order to reincarnate in the modern era so they can defeat the dark kingdom as it reawakens.
    • In the '90s anime version, the mysterious tot Chibi-Chibi who appeared in the final season is actually the Light of Hope, Big Bad Sailor Galaxia's star seed, which she sent away long ago to keep it intact and give hope to future generations after sealing Chaos inside her own body, which she knew would eventuallly turn her evil.
  • Scrapped Princess: The eponymous character, Pacifica Casull, was genetically designed to resist the will of automated defense mechanisms that had taken over the world in an interstellar war thousands of years earlier, however it was done in such a way that the necessary genes for her creation wouldn't come together until long after humanity had ever forgotten that they were in an interstellar war.
  • 7 Seeds takes place After the End and reveals that when scientists predicted that meteorites were going to crash on earth and most likely wipe out humanity, the government did several methods and measures in hopes of minimizing the damage, and one of them, which was said to be the most outrageous and idealistic method, was to select five groups of seven people and one guide each (the "7 Seeds Project") and cryogenically preserve them until earth was deemed inhabitable again. The manga shows the good and bad sides of doing this.
  • Spriggan: An advanced ancient civilization, on the eve of its destruction, leaves behind a message plate with the inscription "Protect our legacy from evil forces." The ARCAM foundation and its agents, known as spriggans (or Strikers, in English) are supposed to uncover and seal away all advanced artifacts of said civilization to prevent the destruction of our own.
  • The Gunmen and spiral tech in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann were all initially designed to fight the Anti-Spirals, and still work in that function. After a crushing defeat from the Anti-Spirals, the Gunmen were retooled to suppress spiral life so the Anti-Spirals would not indiscriminately wipe them out. When the Anti-Spirals came knocking after Lordgenome's defeat, they were restored to their original function to save humanity once again.
  • Time Stop Hero: King Tutoom MountCape was planning to face the Forces of Darkness when they returned but suffered a terminal disease. Knowing he wouldn't live long enough to face them, he prepared an armory and clues so that his son's generation would be able to fight them.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • In the Elseworlds story Superman: Red Son, it is revealed that Jor-L has flung a light into the past, creating a Stable Time Loop.
    • Kara Zor-El's parents sent her to Earth to escape from the destruction from Argo City and meeting Superman/looking after her younger cousin. There she became Supergirl, one of the greatest heroes of Earth.
    • In The Supergirl From Krypton (1959), Zor-El hurried to construct a space rocket and Alura to find a habitable world to save Kara before the kryptonite radiations killed them all.
      Zor-El: We have a month before kryptonite radiations slowly poison the air! But before that fatal hour, this rocket will send our daughter to another world!
      Alura: But which world? I'll use the super-space telescope to find some civilized world where Kara can grow up safely!
    • In The Supergirl from Krypton (2004), Zor-El engraved on his daughter's rocket the next inscription:
      "This vessel carries my daughter Kara Zor-El from the now dead planet Krypton. Treat her as you would your own child for you will see the treasure she will be for your world."
    • In Supergirl Vol. 5 issue #30, a Jor-El hologram states that even though his son will not remember Krypton, Kara will do, and they'll live through her.
    • In Last Daughter of Krypton, Zor-El records a message for his daughter where he says, among other things, that she will carry the memory of Krypton in her heart.
      Zor-El: My hope is that your mother and I have already welcomed you to a new, safe place where the spirit of Krypton can live on, and this message is unnecessary. But if the opposite is true, know that you carry in your heart the memory of your city, your planet... and your family.
  • One Justice League of America comic featured a colony of sentient bacteria in a child's brain. The shrunk League tried to warn them not to harm their host but they weren't believed by most. Before the colony was lanced with a surgical laser one conjugating pair of scientists sent their offspring in a capsule to the liver.
  • Ultimate Vision was created by a world about to be eaten by Gah Lak Tus. Initially, she was just like a Cold War-era satellite, with a warning. The world she landed on spent generations trying to decipher the alien message, only doing so when it was too late to escape or resist. So they rebuilt her as an advanced robot, capable of instantly speaking any alien language (including English). She always arrives before Gah Lak Tus and warns them of what's to come. Alas, despite the warnings no world was ever capable of surviving Gah Lak Tus. Until she got to Earth, and the combined works of The Ultimates, Ultimate Fantastic Four, the Ultimate X Men, and Captain Marvel managed to drive him away and save the planet.
    • The 616-Galactus does this when the Silver Surfer is his herald, as he knows that Surfer will warn people to escape. So long as he gets to feed, it doesn't matter to him whether there's anyone on the planet. When the Surfer actually tries to stop him...
  • In Empowered, the superheroes entombed in the Suprahuman Mausoleum have all recorded videos that are played over their graves to give advice to future heroes. Most of the advice is useless, but Mind@#$%'s advice of breaking with long-standing tradition and think before acting helps Emp to take down a seemingly unstoppable bad guy.
    • Subverted with Empowered herself: after the battle above she's asked to record one such message herself, but she refuses because she wants to be buried next to her late father.
  • Paperinik New Adventures uses this trope a lot:
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths opens with a homage to the Superman origin story. As a wall of antimatter sweeps across Earth-3, Earth-3's sole superhero, Alexander Luthor, and his wife, Lois Lane-Luthor, place their infant son Alexander, Jr., into an experimental device that will send him across the dimensional barriers to the relative safety of Earth-1.
  • Lex Jr. is an interesting example because within that story, he is an enormous help to the safety of the multiverse. However, by the time of Infinite Crisis, he has performed a Face–Heel Turn.
  • Wonder Woman: Dead Earth: Batman flung two before his death, one being the key to unlocking Diana's full power again, and Diana herself, as she is the only one who can fix the damage she caused to the world now that all the other heroes are dead.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Amazing Spider-Luz in: Across the Owl-Verse!, it's implied that The Good Witch Azura books and all related merchandise aren't actually real and were made by the actual Azura to help Luz and Amity fulfill a magical destiny. She even has a package for the two put on her own tomb, knowing that they'll eventually find it in the future.
  • Humanity did this twice in Diaries of a Madman, first when they tried to save themselves from Discord, and again when they created the species that now populate Earth when that failed.
  • In the backstory of The Bridge, the Magitek using The Fair Folk were facing extinction from the Big Bad. So after the destroyer was sealed away, the last of them created numerous guardian Kaiju, such as Anguirus and Gamera, to protect the future humanity.
  • Happens in the fanfic "Sailor Moon 4200" after the collapse of the next Utopian age.
  • Last Child of Krypton: Jor-El (Kal-El in the second version) sent a sample of his DNA to Earth and a recording of the last days of Krypton because he thought that "[Earthlings] cry out for a champion". Yui found the rocket and modified Shinji's genetic makeup with Kryptonian DNA to protect the future of humankind.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Jor-El sends his son to Earth, but a minor miscalculation on his part results in Kal-El's ship crashing in Germany, killing him. However, Emil Hamilton fertilizes the ova that will be Asuka with Kryptonian DNA because he thinks Earth needs a champion. Thirteen years later Asuka listens to her grandfather's message and decides to become a hero: Supergirl.
  • In Imaginary Seas, Percy fully expects to die when he confronts his father, but hopes to be able to at least kill Poseidon to both free him from his servitude to Zeus as well as open the door to Olympus for the Servants that come after him. As if to emphasize the point, he gives Pandora's Box to Hephaestus, telling him to "just hand it to the next guy", in case he doesn't survive his battle with Poseidon.
  • Purple Days has Joffrey Baratheon seeking out a mysterious ruin beyond the Sunset Sea. Upon inspecting it, he finds ancient records of the elder race that came before Mankind in Planetos, telling him of his true purpose in finalizing the threat of the Long Night, begging him to fight the coming end of the world.
  • In crossover story The Institute Saga, baby Kal-El is sent from Krypton by his birth parents just as the planet explodes. Later he discovers his uncle Zor-El also managed to save his daughter and a few more Kryptonians thanks to stasis pods.
  • Zigzagged in The Weaver Option. Taylor Hebert, followed by several other parahumans, is flung to the 35th Millennium to change the flow of history. However, she is sent there by a Chaos ritual in the 45th Millennium in an attempt to stop the galaxy's fall to the Tyranids. In addition, she is being sent to the future of an alternative universe rather than the future of her own universe.
  • In a sidestory of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Sir Aaron experiences visions of the challenges his eventual descendant in the future (Ash Ketchum) would have to face. With this knowledge, he entrusts Lucario with the task of eventually passing down his teachings to Ash in the future, seals him in his staff, and gives it to the Rota royal family to keep it until his heir arrives thousands of years later.
  • Earth's Alien History: The reason that the Terra Venture and later the Arks are sent to Andromeda is to ensure continuity of species for all the civilizations of the Milky Way (or at least the Alpha and Beta Quadrants) in case they fail to stop the Reapers.
  • Hunters of Justice: When Brainiac invades Remnant and begins bottling all of the major cities, Ozpin and Ironwood unwittingly do this when they provide assistance Teams RWBY and JNPR's rescue of Ruby whom had been captured by Brainiac during the defense of Vale. Although Brainiac was able to bottle all of Remnant's cities and destroy the planet afterwards, RWBY and JNPR were able to escape to Earth using a Motherbox they had stolen from Brainiac. As a result, they become the people of Remnant's last hope for survival and rescue.
  • With considerable effort, Ford in Razputin Vodello AU managed to project a small part of his consciousness into Raz's mind before he died, the Ford Raz meets in his subconscious being what's left of Ford post-mortem.
  • While doing so wasn't necessary in Collateral, it was the safer option. Marinette and Cat Noir, the former having become a Magical Girl due to desperation after Hawk Moth stole her Miraculous, could have used the Miraculous Wish to fix things, but the resulting wish would have had disastrous consequences even worse than making a deal with Kyubey. Wishing a solution into the future, on the other hand, reduces the damage considerably. So she and Cat use the Miraculous wish to wish up a solution to the Incubators. Within the year in Japan, Madoka and Homura are born.
  • Headfirst Slide into Latveria on a Bad Bet: Cynthia von Doom placed a spell within Djordji's journal so that Victor would have a vision of her last day. While she's not actually talking to him, her astral form narrates to him what happened and why, urging him to find his inner strength and defend the remnants of their people.
  • In The Echo Ranger, the AI Tommy Oliver explains to Izuku the details about the final battle the Power Rangers fought against an enemy called Demonus, who was seemingly preparing a spell of unknown purpose. While the Rangers interrupted the spell and seemingly defeated Demonus, they lost their powers and their connection to the Morphin Grid, and suspecting that things weren't over yet, Tommy created the Echo Coin by merging his Green, White and Black Ranger powers, giving it to Zedd and Rita to keep it until it recharged enough to be usable and found someone worthy. And later chapters reveal that the spell's purpose was to turn the Earth's humans into an army of monsters, and the interruption only gave it a slow effect, manifesting in what became known as the Quirks.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Incredibles: Before the superhero, Gazerbeam died as a result of injuries he sustained from fighting the Omnidroid, he managed to discover Syndrome's Evil Plan and escape into a cave. The last thing he did before dying was to use his laser vision to carve the password for Syndrome's computer into the cave walls, hoping someone would find it and use it to defeat the villain.
  • Megamind: Both Megamind and his arch-nemesis Metro Man have the same origin story up to the point of them crash-landing on Earth. Their planets were about to be sucked into a black hole, so their parents sent their infants away.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien. The unnamed Pilot of the alien spacecraft left a warning signal; unfortunately it only succeeds in attracting people to the derelict.
  • In Back to the Future Part III, Doc is trapped in 1885. Since he can't repair the DeLorean with the technology from that time, he arranges for Marty to return to his own time from 1955 by carefully storing his DeLorean in a cave, with instructions for his 1955 counterpart on how to restore the machine to working condition.
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Enforced in Man of Steel. Superman being a beacon of hope is a major theme of the movie. The reason for that is the fact that Jor-El provides him with the means to repopulate the Kryptonian race.
    • Wonder Woman (2017): In the backstory, after Ares betrayed his fellow Olympians, his father Zeus left a weapon with the Amazons, a sword called the Godkiller, to kill Ares should he ever threaten the world again, before succumbing to his wounds. After she learns about World War I, Diana steals the sword in order to kill Ares and end the war. Except not. Ares easily destroys the sword, and reveals to Diana the truth: there is no weapon that can kill a god on its own. Only a god can kill another god. The true Godkiller is Diana herself, as the daughter of Zeus.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Iron Man 2, limited by the technology of his time, Howard Stark leaves a film recording and a model of the first Stark Expo so that Tony can synthesise the element needed to perfect the Arc Reactor.
    • In The Stinger to Avengers: Infinity War, before Nick Fury is one of the victims of Thanos's first usage of the Infinity Gauntlet, he's able to get in one last call... to Captain Marvel.
  • Mission to Mars reveals that the Martians did this after Mars was struck by an asteroid turning it into the lifeless rock we know, although some members of their species did survive and flee to another galaxy. This "light" is the primordial seed that kick-started life on Earth, eventually resulting in humans, all so we can get to Mars and find out the truth.
  • In the 1997 film of Prince Valiant, when Thule was conquered by the Vikings, some survivors managed to escape with the baby prince and dropped him off at an orphanage in England, confident that he would one day grow up and retake the throne.
  • In Serenity the crew find an Apocalyptic Log on the seemingly dead planet Miranda that explains how the Alliance accidentally wiped out the population and the survivors became the Reavers, in hopes that someone could prevent them from trying it again. It starts with this line:
    "I won't live to report this, but someone has to know."
  • Star Wars:
    • This happens to Luke, Leia, Yoda, Obi-Wan, and the whole proto-rebellion at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Obi-Wan and Yoda go into exile, the twins are sent to adoptive families in secret, and the rebellious senators vote FOR the newly christened Emperor.
    • We all know they succeed in getting the Death Star plans, but Rogue One shows us the nightmare it took to accomplish that. By the end of the film, everyone except for those Saved by Canon are dead, dying only with the knowledge that their efforts have brought the plans into the right hands and that there is hope for the galaxy.
  • Still Alice has a non-genre example that it plays with slightly. The title character is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease early in the film, and, knowing she will reach a point where she will still be alive and self-aware yet increasingly unable to remember anything important to her, secretes a video on her laptop with instructions to her own future self when she has reached that point as to where to find a bottle of pills she has hidden away for that possibility, along with instructions on how to use them. She eventually has to take the laptop with her to remember what to do. However, it's ultimately subverted: her caretaker arrives, startling her into dropping the pills all over the floor and can't remember what she was supposed to do with them.
  • The eponymous hero of Willow does this to The Chosen One in the climax, sending her somewhere "where evil cannot touch her!" Not really. He just used sleight of hand to hide the baby and make Bavmorda think she was gone. It worked so well even the good witch fell for it.

  • Apollo's Grove is the story of the last Oracle of Delphi, who knows she is the last Oracle and whose mentor gave her the task of writing a chronicle of her temple and her faith so that people in the future would know both existed. She succeeds.
  • Arthur C. Clarke:
    • The Star features an alien civilization that, upon realizing that their star is about go out in a supernova, decides to create a monument to their culture for future civilizations to find. The protagonist, a Jesuit astronomer whose crew discovered the monument, has a major crisis of faith when he realizes that the star in question was the Star of Bethlehem, meaning God caused a supernova and destroyed a civilization in order to announce Jesus's birth. This was later adapted into an episode of The Twilight Zone (1985), with a different ending (because they knew all about the Twist Ending in that version).
    • Also in Clarke's second A Time Odyssey book, Sunstorm, where a dying alien civilization (only few peoples left) and 2 Human-made AI decide to use their last strength to send the third AI back to Earth to give humans more information on the Firstborn.
  • In The Arts of Dark and Light, Witchking Mauragh left a villainous one behind when the elves destroyed his remnant of the old Witchking kingdom, in the form of his hidden son.
  • In Beware of Chicken, the last Azure Emperor, after the near-total destruction of his territory and death or brainwashing of its citizens, pours all his experiences into a memory crystal along with a spirit tasked with finding him a worthy successor. The crystal remains hidden in a cave for thousands of years, but is eventually found. In a subversion, however, none of the people who find it are interested in becoming the Azure Emperor's successor, and the isolation of the territory when the apocalypse happened means that there was a whole world outside that was largely unaffected. The area was some time ago incorporated into a larger empire, and the standard of living, while not the near-utopia enjoyed by the ancients, is pretty decent all things considered, meaning "the future" doesn't need the "light" it was flung nearly as much as its creator thought it would.
  • Parodied in Kurt Vonnegut's short satire "The Big Space Fuck", where Earth has become such a Crapsack World from pollution that a rocket is packed with eight-hundred pounds of freeze dried jizzum and launched at Andromeda in the faint hope that it might restart humanity there.
  • The Book of Mormon purports to be a collection of prophetic writings abridged by Mormon, one of the last of a persecuted line of Christians in the ancient Americas. Mormon wrote this abridgement on golden plates that would be hidden in a hillside for centuries, in hopes that the fall of his people would serve as a warning to future inhabitants of the Americas.
  • In A Canticle for Leibowitz, the world is destroyed by a second nuclear war at the end. However, this time humanity will survive because the Church has worked hard to send out a ship to colonize other planets.
  • In City of Bones (1995), the Krismen (humanoid marsupials resistant to poison, drought, and desert sun) were created so that at least something mostly human would be able to survive in the wasteland consuming the known world. (And then it turned out that normal humans could live on the fringes of it just fine, so now the Krismen are a hated underclass whenever they leave the desert to do business in the cities.)
  • The ancient Atlanteans in Decipher by Stel Pavlou. They couldn't save their civilization from a periodic solar matter ejection, but they started building a machine that could save future civilizations. The machine would continue the construction on its own. To make sure that their instructions could be understood in the future, they created religions.
  • A humorous example with Jon Stewart's Earth (The Book). The book itself is styled as a guide to an alien race that would someday visit Earth After the End. Early in the book, he tells his readers (or non-readers for audiobook listeners) to mail a DNA sample (e.g. hair) to one of two vaults: the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and Trementina Base. At the end of the book, he tells the aliens to go look in those two places and suggests they use their advanced technology to "reconstitute" the human race and, perhaps, use them as slaves ("frankly, those bastards should be glad to be alive"). He then suggests that maybe working with humanity might a better use of the clones. The book has a Bittersweet Ending, with the Future Alien Questions telling humanity that it's time for us to go. Jon sadly replies "We know."
  • Entropy by Andrew Galvan features several occurrences of this. First, the numerous 'ambassadors' who were sent out in cryogenic suspension pods on the off chance one of them might meet a Sufficiently Advanced Alien in time to save humanity from a plague. There was also the incident where a scientist launched a pod containing an artificial intelligence and much of humanity's remaining knowledge. That artificial intelligence would be the first in a line of A.I.s until Noah, the hovering ball of energy we come to know and distrust in the present, at the end of the Universe. By the end of the book, he has proven that even super-advanced A.I. Is a Crapshoot.
  • In David Brin's Existence it turns out that the alien personalities in the Artifact are all from extinct species, and they want humans to join them before we become extinct. While the other Artifact that is calling them "liars" is from one species that decided the expense of building and launching millions of Artifacts is what killed off all the others, and they're trying to convince the few extant species not to do it.
  • Inverted in the Fighting Fantasy book Black Vein Prophecy: Bezenvial, tyrannical king of the Isles of the Dawn, faces death within a few hours and so has his sons entombed in order that his evil legacy can live on. One son becomes the Big Bad of the story - the other is the player, who may or may not succeed in overcoming the legacy of the black blood flowing within his veins.
  • The eponymous character of Mere, a Great Ship story, is the only survivor of the alien Tila civilization. Mere, a Trans Human, spent millennia in interstellar space, entombed in the half-dead hulk of a starship before crashing down on the Tila's world, alternating between being worshiped and killed (she gets better). The Tila eventually realize their Binary Suns are in doomed to collide with each other, destroying their world in the process. They salvage the remains of her ship, seal an unwilling Mere into it along with their racial history, as only she can survive the long journey, and then shoot the ship towards the only transmission they've detected; faint messages advertising the Greatship's journey through the galaxy.
  • An unintentional example in The History of the Galaxy. Millions of years ago, our corner of the galaxy underwent a devastating cataclysm in the form of a Horde of Alien Locusts called Forerunners moving through space, attracted to starlight, eating all matter in their path. Three of the ancient races in the region manage to save themselves by hiding inside a globular star cluster and using powerful gravity generators to cloak it from outside view (the gravity generators kept light from escaping the cluster; thus the Forerunners couldn't see it). A race of Fish People called Delphons chose to stay and fight. Their only means of fighting the Forerunners was their own stars, which they used as beacons to attract the swarm and then set off a nova reaction. By the time the swarm was destroyed, the Delphons were extinct. Three million years later, a human archaeological team finds a group of frozen Delphons and several inactive Forerunners. A Corrupt Corporate Executive downloads the memories of one of the dead Delphons and puts them into the brain of a human soldier. At the same time, he experiments with the Forerunners, not realizing the danger they represent. In the end, it's the memories of the dead Delphon that allow the soldier to figure out a way to stop the Forerunners (a handful of them rip apart a human fleet just before).
    • One of the memories experienced by the soldier has him looking at a hominid, implying that the Delphons had a colony on Earth and pulled a species-wide Heroic Sacrifice to allow younger races to evolve.
  • The Xunca in Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth universe did a version of this. They were unable to find a way to confront a galaxy-devouring Unseen Evil, and so they fled into Another Dimension, but they left behind an enormously powerful weapon that, half a billion years later, a new sentient species might find and possibly use against it.
  • As a pandemic rages in Idlewild, available resources are split between desperate treatment and the Gedaechtnis project, which genetically engineers children who will be immune to the disease and builds life-support systems to raise them to adulthood sans caretakers.
  • A species doomed to extinction by a black hole crashing through their starsystem in Greg Egan's Incandescence takes a radical approach to Fling A Light Into The Future: they engineer a de-novo descendant species and culture able to live within chunks of rock orbiting inside the accretion disk.
  • Similarly in Olaf Stapledon's classic Last and First Men, there are several examples.
    • One such attempt is a cavern where the First Men survivors of Patagonian civilization's cataclysmic end tried to painstakingly preserve as much of their culture, sciences, and worldview as they can into stone in the hopes of rekindling civilization among their descendants. The cavern is eventually discovered by the Second Men, who by then had surpassed many of the First Men's achievements, although they did take the records of their ancient predecessors' beliefs to heart and considered it to be a very useful source of historical knowledge.
    • At the end of the book, the Last Men, realizing that changes in solar radiation will destroy all life in the solar system, launch a gigantic project to fire the "basic germs of life" into interstellar space so that one day they will reach a planet and the cycle of life will begin anew.
  • In Stephen Baxter's Last Contact, the Big Rip happens much earlier than expected. There's a throwaway line about how they're discovering new alien stars daily because those aliens are doing very noisy artificial things (like throwing a huge pile of exotic atoms into their sun) simply as a "The universe is ending, but I'm here!" Or as one of the human characters put it "they were saying goodbye". At the end, there was a device that had been designed by humans to record data about the Rip, in the hope that some of it might survive and might be found by and be of use to a hypothetical race in the next universe.
  • The Light of Other Days has an intelligent species that evolved on Earth several billion years ago, but it was about to be destroyed by an asteroid impact that they could see coming but couldn't stop, so they filled the earth with bacteria so that at least the basic building blocks of life would survive.
  • Motie civilisation is stuck in a cycle of this in The Mote in God's Eye. Since Moties must reproduce regularly or die, their population inevitably increases until overpopulation results in the collapse of their civilisation, usually through war over resources. At some point in the past, they came up with the idea of building museums storing as much of their science and technology as possible, so that they will be able to rebuild faster after the collapses and hopefully have time to find a way to break the cycle before the next one occurs.
  • This was the avowed intent of Winston's diary in Nineteen Eighty-Four, at least at one point. He knew it wouldn't work and mostly did it for catharsis. That didn't work either.
  • Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card has two different timelines (the second created by the first) resorting to time travel in order to avert the end of the world by changing the course of history hundreds of years earlier.
    • This requires a little bit more clarification. There are actually three timelines involved. The original timeline sent a device to convince Christopher Columbus to travel to the New World instead of leading a final, victorious crusade to capture Jerusalem for Christianity creating the second timeline. This second timeline (which is supposed to be our own but 20 Minutes into the Future) sends actual people back in order to directly influence events to produce the third when it becomes clear the planet will shortly be unable to sustain any human life (the rain forests are GONE and not coming back while what farmable land is left is about to give out for good). The people of the 15th century wouldn't be able to understand what was going on, so the time travelers had their timeline's history etched directly onto their skulls so that future archaeologists could find it and know the sacrifices that they had made.
      • What was etched on the metal plates in the skulls were directions to discovering the archived knowledge from the second timeline. Namely, a frequency to be used to locate the data. They were discovered in the third timeline's 1955 and used this knowledge to honor Kemal's Heroic Sacrifice.
      • Also, in case you're wondering why the original timeline had to be changed was because without European interference, the much more progressive but still bloodthirsty Tlaxcalans manage to take over the waning Aztec Empire and spread through Mesoamerica and beyond. When the Portuguese eventually discover America, they are captured and forced to teach the Tlaxcalans how to make guns and oceangoing ships. The empire then sends a vast army across the Atlantic to the unprepared Europe. The result is all of humanity is dominated by a culture whose bloodthirsty god demands regular sacrifices in the thousands.
    • One person from the second time-line refers to the time-travel project as the only chance to make a better a world for "our children", when someone starts to correct him on how the time-travel won't work like that, he explains that he was referring to all the people of the third time-line, not his flesh and blood offspring.
  • Karl Schroeder's Permanence involves this, as ancient aliens realise that species eventually evolve away from intelligence, and that the only thing that lasts are the ecological niches that give rise to intelligence.
  • This is the direct origin story of one of the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens of Perry Rhodan. A highly advanced species faced with a slow decline into extinction embarks on a long-term project to send all of their accumulated knowledge out into the universe in a self-sustaining "Prior Wave". It takes long years and much difficulty until the wave is finally sent, and it travels through the universe for rather longer, touching the ancestors of at least one known civilization along the way...until it gets absorbed, purely by chance, by a cloud of cosmic dust that is going to collapse and form a solar system. Fast forward to the actual formation of the planets, and one of them in the new star's habitable zone is featuring a super-intelligent crystal shell englobing much of it (and eventually its atmosphere) — the future Empress of Therm. (A poignant scene shows how the last survivors of an expedition launched by the Empress much later, after intelligent organic life has finally evolved on her world and she's gone about building the actual empire she takes her name from, discover that planet of origin...a dead world with no signs of the original civilization left at all. Even the ruins have long since crumbled into dust.)
  • Isaac Asimov's "The Psychohistorians": Dr Seldon convinces Chief Commissioner Linge Chen that the project his people are working on is to produce an encyclopedia and publish it across the galaxy before the fall of the Galactic Empire, so that the collapse would not mean the loss of scientific knowledge, giving humanity a headstart on putting things back in order. During "The Encyclopedists", however, Seldon reveals that it was a lie used to trick everyone into being moved to Terminus so that they can form the core of a second galactic empire.
  • In The Radiant Dawn, High Priestess Amynta did this when Athens was under siege by the Romans. Knowing that the Solari would not be able to break the siege and that she and her sisters would all perish in the battle, the Solari statue was imbued with Apollo's power. The titular hero opened it and claimed the power for herself, becoming the first Solari High Priestess in two thousand years...right in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.
  • Revelation Space Series: In the first book, Sun Stealer warns Ana Khouri and by extension the humans of Resurgam about the Inhibitors, though that wasn't the reason why it was created. In Redemption Ark, it turns out that the Conjoiners had discovered a way to receive messages from a parallel future and had been getting ready for the Inhibitors all along.
  • Ship Core starts with one. In the prologue, an AI known as The Entity is losing the fight with Humanity and launches 5 torpedoes. Four of them go to FTL and flee to unknown stars. The fifth winds up in orbit around a gas giant, in a debris field, leading to Mix-and-Match Man Alex waking up, by her estimates, 176 years later, with a life-support system about to fail, in a ship that's falling apart, and having to run around fixing everything before she keels over, dead.
  • Part of The Reveal at the end of Space Engineers by Clifford Simak. The dust cloud that later formed Solar system was created when two stars collided. One of those stars had a planet inhabited by Humanoid Aliens — Pluto. Plutonians managed to move their planet away from the impact, then put it in orbit around Sun, albeit too far. They built Space Engineers to find an inhabitable planet for them, but the wait was too long and they started to die out. Then they seeded Earth with life and pre-programmed evolution so that eventually there would be humanoids who would rightfully inherit everything.
  • The Star Trek Expanded Universe novel Eyes of the Beholders features the Enterprise encountering an art museum built by a now-extinct race for this purpose.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Alderaan's pacifism is mentioned to be a relatively new development. When it became global, some of their weaponry was auctioned off, some was melted down and repurposed... and two warships were set aside, computer-controlled, and kept in local space. The Rebellion found one not long after the world was destroyed. In the X-Wing Series, one came to Rogue Squadron's rescue.
      • It was actually four ships: one ship dedicated to carrying the weaponry, and three more automated, to act as its escorts. The armory-ship was found by the Rebels, and one of the escorts which got lost eventually helped the Rogues.
    • A villainous example was the Telos Holocron, a repository of Sith knowledge spanning nearly their entire known history all the way from Ajunta Pall to Darth Sidious. Unfortunately for them, Luke Skywalker's Jedi Order was able to recover it and transcribe its contents before quarantining it. Around the same time they managed to find its Good Counterpart, The Order's Great Holocron which was said to have such a vast amount of information even Yoda struggled with it.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: In the Short Story The End of History, Jedi Purge survivor Master Uvell entrusts a large collection of Jedi artifacts to antiques dealer Antron Bach, who keeps them safe on an abandoned moon with the hope of one day using them to rebuild the Jedi Order once the Empire falls or simply inspire others with the heroic stories and deeds contained within them.
  • In Starpilot's Grave, it is revealed that the rogue Magelord that murdered the titular craft's crew and set it adrift did so with the intent of it coming into the hands of a student that would help bring true peace to the galaxy after he had departed the land of the living. He may have also arraigned his demise to transfer another heirloom to the same student in the form of his staff, unthinkingly thrust minutes after his death by a less metaphysically inclined student into the hands of a near-catatonic Adept traumatized by the loss of her own to the Void.
  • Stephen Baxter:
    • In the short story "The Quagma Datum," a species in the very early universe creates a lithium 7 nova as a signal to the later universe that they were there.
    • In Manifold: Space, a coalition of aliens are working on a mammoth solar sail designed to prevent two neutron stars from colliding and sterilizing the galaxy... except there's another collision—too late to prevent—that's going to occur first, killing the current generation. The sail they're working on is leftover from a previous cycle.
  • The Reveal of Thud! is a message recorded by rival kings who were thought to have killed each other, but their corpses are found sitting over a makeshift board game together.
    • “‘And yet we say this. Here, in this cave at the end of the world, peace is made between dwarf and troll, and we will march beyond the hand of Death together. For the enemy is not Troll, nor it is Dwarf, but it is the baleful, the malign, the cowardly, the vessels of hatred, those who do a bad thing and call it good. Those we fought today, but the willful fool is eternal and will say this is a trick, and so we implore: come to the caves under this valley, where you will find us sharing the peace that cannot be braken.”
  • The Wheel of Time has many examples, considering that in the backstory civilization collapsed after the war against the Dark One and the tainting of saidin. This includes both powerful artifacts (such as Callandor) and prophecies to warn people of what is to come.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Andromeda Ascendant on Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda. It's initially set up as if the ship was thrown into the future by accident, but later episodes revealed that it wasn't so accidental. It turns out that in the original timeline, Gaheris Rhade killed Dylan Hunt and ended up in the future. He tried to follow the same path as Dylan but realized he'd fail, so he used some Applied Phlebotinum to go back to that moment. He shot his past self, put on the same uniform, then threw the fight with Dylan as a Heroic Sacrifice. He also made sure to shoot Dawn and prolong the fight in order to prevent the ship from being successfully piloted out of the event horizon, thus ensuring Dylan's trip into the future.
  • Babylon 5:
    • In the first season, this was revealed to be the fate of Babylon 4, which was sent into the far future in order to provide a base of operations against some dire enemy. In the fourth season, it is revealed that it was actually sent into the distant past, in order to provide a base in the last Shadow War.
    • Though they weren't actually going extinct, some alien dissidents preserved a collection of their race's greatest artistic masterpieces when their government declared art to be an illegal waste of resources. This precious collection was later salvaged by the Excalibur's crew on Crusade.
    • In the prequel movie In the Beginning, Mankind does this: when Earth is about to be hit by the unstoppable Minbari, hundreds of civilians are evacuated as Earthforce and any ship capable of fighting try and buy time fighting the Minbari, so that Mankind will still survive.
  • The Barrier: In the Distant Prologue, on the Day of the Jackboot and a time of various newly emerging diseases, a scientist implants each of his twin daughters with a subcutaneous chip before being taken away by the army because he's considered an enemy of the new government. Twenty-five years later, the chips turn out to be perfectly functional vaccines for the disease that has become the most problematic by that point.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (2003), the Final Five Cylons arranged to be reborn following the destruction of the Earth by Paleo-Centurions. Using a sublight ship, they headed to the Twelve Colonies of Kobol to attempt to warn the human tribes of similar dangers. In vain.
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Although it was completely an accident. The civilization he knew was destroyed, but a brand new society took its place.
  • An episode of Fringe has a Flight a Light into the Past version, with Peter seemingly finding himself in a Bad Future, where the other world has been completely destroyed, and this one is in its final throes as well. Then Walternate kills his wife Olivia and plots to speed up this world's destruction as revenge for letting his world die. Walter realizes that the only way to prevent this is to somehow send a vision to Peter in the past and tells Peter that this might just be exactly what he's experiencing right now. He's right. Peter wakes up in the present with this knowledge.
  • Played with in the first season of The Good Place: The final episode ends with Eleanor writing a message to herself, seconds before Michael erases her memory and attempts to torment her again.
  • Jikuu Senshi Spielban's heroes serve this purpose, as they were sent to Earth which turns out to be what their planet was in the past after their civilization was attacked.
  • A variation in the first season finale of Legend of the Seeker. After Cara's interference sends her and Richard into the Bad Future, while everyone else thinks they're dead, Kahlan is told by the witch Shota that Richard is alive in the future and that she needs to survive that long in order to tell him how to return and Set Right What Once Went Wrong. This is why Kahlan agrees to marry Darken Rahl and bear his child. Unfortunately, the plan fails, as the child turns out to be a male Confessor (with Rahl's magical powers to boot), and Kahlan is executed in an attempt to kill him. Rahl himself is killed by his son Nicolas, who becomes an even greater tyrant. Fortunately, there is a backup plan. Shota manages to survive this long and lets Richard know what to do.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "The Music of the Spheres", the world is bombarded by alien broadcasts that anyone under the age of 21 or so believe to be the most beautiful music they've ever heard. When the broadcasts prove addictive and cause those who listen to them to mutate, the world governments declare martial law, until scientists succeed in decoding the message. The signals originated on a world whose sun had turned ultraviolet 40 years ago. The signal warned that Earth's sun was about to undergo a similar change and that the broadcasts would genetically alter those who heard them into a new golden-skinned form that could survive under the new sun. Fortunately, it had a rare good ending with no twist involved: the powers that be actually realize the importance of letting that music play, specifically rebroadcast it across the world, including using mobile vehicles to get the sound out to third world countries and to the non-human life on the planet, and in the end, it's insinuated humanity will be just fine. Even those who are too old/decide not to mutate will live... indoors and underground.
    • In "The Origin of Species", a group of students is brought to the future where they find that humanity, in the interim, got heavily into genetic manipulation, basically dooming the human race. When they realize the small group of them isn't enough to sustain humanity for more than a generation or two, they later find enough babies of different genetic mixes, in the ship that brought them to the future, to give the human race a second chance.
  • The basis of the plot in Power Rangers Wild Force. The Animarians were losing a war against the Orgs. Both sides were mostly destroyed, the Orgs leaving behind some Sealed Evil in a Can, and the Animarians leaving behind a Floating Continent, a princess in stasis, and a few giant robot animals scattered around.
  • In Prison Break, Lincoln jr shoves Company agent Quinn into a well. Quinn is then left to die by Kellerman and Hale. Lincoln comes back some time later to retrieve Quinn's phone and finds that Quinn has written Kellerman's real name on the stone.
  • Resident Evil (2022): In 2036, Jade is a member of the University, a collective of scientists and scholars seeking to not just find a counter to the Zombie Apocalypse, but also to preserve as much of pre-apocalypse culture as possible so that things can be rebuilt when things are finally over.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • A variation occurs in the episode "Cause and Effect" — the Enterprise is trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop where she's destined to collide with another ship and explode. Data figures out how to avoid the collision too late, so he uses Technobabble to send a message into the next loop, which helps the crew save themselves and the other ship.
      • The tearjerkingly brilliant "The Inner Light", an episode commonly seen as one of the best, tells the story of an alien race doomed by instability in their sun who send out a space probe that finds Picard and forces him to hallucinate living a lifetime among their final generations before the end, and thus ensures that their species will at least be remembered. It affected Picard and no other crew member. The life he lived involved getting married, having a family, and other things he's never made time for — taking it from a disturbing experience to something he sees as a gift.
      • The episode "The Chase" reveals that all humanoid life is this — a Precursor species that inhabited the Milky Way eons before life anywhere else was more complex than bacteria seeded planets all over the galaxy with DNA so that evolution there would result in people who resembled them after their eventual extinction. They left a message coded in DNA to explain all this. (This is less well-regarded by fans since evolution does not work like that, and it comes off as a justification for the Rubber-Forehead Aliens.)
    • Star Trek: Voyager:
      • Subverted in "Course: Oblivion", in which the Silver Blood duplicate of Voyager 's crew create a log capsule that will survive after them, and their attempt to launch it fails, destroying it. The ship disintegrates just beyond the real Voyager's sensor range.
      • "Memorial" centers on a mysterious monument that commemorates a slaughter by forcing everyone in its proximity to become a participant in the massacre. The crew decides its lesson is too valuable to forget but leave a warning beacon.
      • A version in "Fury", in which Kes returns, determined to punish the crew for taking her from her homeworld, which results in her becoming a super-powered outcast at the end of her lifespan (Ocampans live for 9 years). She uses the ship's warp core to make herself appear younger and Time Travels into the past. Her scheme is foiled, and she is killed. Determined to break the loop, Janeway has the Kes of the past record a message for herself. When the loop comes around again and Kes once again boards the ship, Janeway plays the message to her, convincing her to stop.
    • At the end of season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery, the titular ship is sent to the 33rd century with some of her crew (that's most named characters) in order to keep crucial data out of the hands of Control. The crew of the Enterprise is then sworn to secrecy under the penalty of treason to never speak of the Discovery, her crew, the spore drive, or anything related to the signals, Control, or Section 31. According to the showrunners, the third season will take place in the 33rd century, allowing the writers to leave the established canon alone and really spread their wings since almost nothing is known about that time. Everyone is forced to leave their loved ones behind. For Burnham, that includes her adopted parents, Spock (who initially tries to join her but is forced to stay), and Tyler (who chooses to stay behind to run Section 31).
    • In Star Trek: Picard, it's revealed that a hyper-advanced ancient race created an octonary star system (a system with eight suns), something that doesn't occur in nature, so anyone would be curious and come look, and placed a warning on the system's only planet Aia. Anyone touching the artifact receives the Admonition, a data dump of visions showing the destruction of entire civilizations due to the rise of synthetic life forms and the coming of "the Destroyer". Centuries ago, a group of Romulans happened upon the planet and learned the awful truth. Those who did not go mad or kill themselves from the visions formed the Zhat Vash with the goal of preventing the apocalypse by ensuring that synthetic life is never created.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Stargate SG-1:
      • The final message from a never-seen culture to "Beware the Destroyers" is the only reason the series lasted more than a season.
      • An Alternate Universe SGC in "There But For the Grace of God" were the ones who received the message from an unknown culture that was about to be wiped out by the Goa'uld. It gave them the gate coordinates from which the Goa'uld launched their attack. Unfortunately this SGC never learned how to speak Goa'uld and the warning went untranslated until a quantum mirror landed the prime universe's Daniel Jackson in that one. At which point it was too late for that Earth because the Goa'uld were already there. Luckily, Daniel was able to return to his own universe with the gate coordinates, and SG-1 subsequently defied orders to save the planet from Apophis's invasion.
      • Then they did it again with the Asgard. Because of the Asgard's status as a Dying Race, and their immensely advanced technology, they eventually decide to commit mass suicide to prevent their many enemies from looting their empire's remnants after their natural passing. In this case, the light was a bit more than just a light; it was the entire sum of Asgard knowledge, culture and history, uploaded into a specially built database on the Odyssey. While the Tau'ri will only be able to access it bit by bit due to the immensity of the data, it still places them firmly as the dominant force in this section of the universe.
      • The Aschen storyline involved flinging a light into the past.
    • Stargate Atlantis: Played with in the episode "Before I Sleep". More like Flinging a Light into an Alternate Present. The episode shows that what we've always assumed was the original timeline was actually an Alternate Timeline. Originally, the Atlantis expedition arrived from Earth and found the city with only enough power to turn on the lights. The shield failed and the city started to flood, killing most of the population. One character managed to accidentally Time Travel 10,000 years into the past. She devised a plan to modify the city's power supply to keep it operational for 10,000 years so that when the team we'd always seen finally arrived ("again"), the city had enough power to maintain the shield and rise to the surface of the ocean when the shield finally did fall. The plan required her to go into stasis and wake up every 3,300 years to maintain the system so that when she was finally awoken for good, she was in an alternate present.
  • In Supernatural Sam and Dean have to go to the past and retrieve the ashes of a Phoenix to destroy Eve. They succeed in killing the Phoenix but can't get to the ashes in time due to their limited time frame. Samuel Colt, yes that Samuel Colt, sends the ashes to them via Western Union with instructions to wait like 100 years so that they get them in the present. It's not technically the future but it was Samuel Colt's future.
  • Terra Nova is built on this trope. Mankind in the future (2149) is doomed as they have destroyed their ecosystem, so they send people through a "time fracture" into the past, to try to save the human race and "start over."
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Star", the survey ship Magellan discovers a vault on the outermost planet of a solar system that was destroyed by its sun going nova. It was created by a civilization that lived on one of the other planets in order to preserve their history, scientific knowledge, art, literature, and music. They did this so that their legacy could survive even if they themselves could not. It's based on the Arthur C. Clarke short story of the same name, and it largely follows the same plot beats, including the fact that the star went nova in 3120 BCE, making it the same Star of Bethlehem seen at birth of Jesus, though it ends on a happier note: after the head of the expedition reveals that he's having a Heroic BSoD after realizing they've encountered the Star of Bethlehem, one of the crew members comforts him by reciting a poem from the vault asking future listeners not to mourn their civilization, instead urging them to better the lives of others.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech has the Helm Memory Core, which was originally designated as "Star League Field Library Facility, Helm, DE 890-2699" and was a massive computer facility and data archive built into an enlarged system of natural caves underneath a mountain range, with built-in Ragnarök Proofing to keep it safe. On the eve of the humanity-spanning, apocalyptic 1st Succession War, the idealistic officer of an engineering battalion foresaw what was coming and had his men construct a huge data archive to preserve the advanced knowledge of the Star League, basically humanity's Golden Age. That long-ago officer would have been very happy to know that his plan ended up being massively successful; three centuries later, after unrelenting wars that blasted humanity back to the Stone Age (or at least from the 28th Century back to the 21st) a mercenary outfit discovered the data archive and made myriad copies of it before any one faction could claim it, and handed out those copies to every passing merchant, courier, and random Jump Ship they came across so as to get it disseminated as far and as wide as they could. This lead to a technological renaissance across the Inner Sphere of human space, the discovery of the Helm Memory Core being a universe-shaking event which actually moved the entire setting away from its original "Medieval Warlords In Space with Mecha Knights" interstallar Scavenger World scenario toward a more standard Military Science Fiction setting.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Inverted in a profoundly dark and disturbing way by the Illithid race in their 3rd Edition backstory. The mind flayers were - or will be - the overlords of the multiverse at the literal end of time, when most if not all the stars have burnt out. But after facing defeat at the hands of some adversary, the illithids sacrificed unbelievable numbers of their elder brains to create a psionic maelstrom that sent the surviving members of their race into the distant past - that is, about two thousand years before the "present" of the D&D setting, allowing them to get a head start on forging their empire. It also explains their tremendous egos; after all, they know their victory is inevitable.
    • It's possible for characters to take feats representing having monstrous non-human ancestors, like a bit of dragon blood in your family tree or something. One 3E supplement added "illithid heritor" feats, but this doesn't make much sense if mind flayers come from the future and don't reproduce normally. Instead, Fanon interprets the feats to mean that such a character doesn't have an inhuman ancestor, it means that the squid-faced, brain-eating monsters with the parasitoidic life cycle are their descendants.
    • Grim Hollow: The Dreamers are an example that somewhat backfired: an ancient race of Precursors, they put themselves into suspended animation to escape some long forgotten apocalypse, and were only awoken in the present day when the dwarves stumbled onto them. Unfortunately, while they did escape whatever was threatening their old civilization, the world they've awoken to isn't much better, with a number of looming apocalypses just as dangerous. One compares it to going into hibernation to endure the winter, only to sleep through spring and summer as well, and finding yourself right back in another autumn.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, as the Imperium was being torn apart by the Horus Heresy, the Emperor ordered his chief adviser Malcador to form what would become the Imperial Inquisition, and, in particular, the Grey Knights chapter of the Space Marines:
    One unbreakable shield against the coming darkness, One last blade forged in defiance of fate, Let them be my legacy to the galaxy I conquered, And my final gift to the species I failed.

    Video Games 
  • In Alien Legacy humans are fighting Centaurians and losing. Several colony ships are sent to distant stars with orders to stay hidden and assume Earth and all other colonies have been destroyed. Your ship arrives at its destination 20 years after the previous one, finds only ruins of the previous colony and a lot of badly damaged warnings. Unfortunately, before you can find anything coherent, you end up in position when you can no longer leave.
  • Angel at Dusk: In the backstory, a group of humans known in later times only as "the Wicked Ones" disagreed with the plan to turn all life into mindless "angels". Knowing they were massively outnumbered and would probably be turned into angels themselves, they researched a ludicrously durable material known as the "Billion-Year Brick" and engraved all their knowledge of human history and science on it. Two billion years later, the angels discover their work and benefit from it.
  • ARK: Survival Evolved presents a version that's Gone Horribly Wrong. The Arks were built to provide a home for Earthly life in orbit while the planet itself healed from the Element-fuelled apocalypse. Unfortunately the apocalypse kept rolling on, which the Arks AI hadn't been programmed to deal with, causing them to remodel the Arks into death worlds to create people who could survive on the ravaged Earth. The Genesis DLC also adds the Genesis ship, created by another human faction to colonise a new planet.
  • The Framing Story of the Assassin's Creed series is that of a modern-day MegaCorp recruiting people to relive their Genetic Memory via a device called the Animus in order to locate powerful artifacts left behind by Those Who Came Before with the objective of using them to Take Over the World. Well, it turns out that the ancient species in question knew this would happen and left behind messages designed to be seen by the people communing with their ancestors via the Animus. This is all being done in order to avert a recurrence of the same catastrophe that destroyed their First Civilization. The Assassins themselves worked to conceal the artifacts of the First Civilization in order to prevent them from being recovered and used by the Templars; it is therefore up to their modern-day descendants to recover and use said artifacts for their intended purpose. Horrifyingly subverted in the third game since one of these precursors, Juno, is still alive as a Sealed Evil in a Can. She hijacked the First Civilization's plan so that she would ultimately be free to conquer humanity again. Also an unintentional example with Juno's husband Aita, who participated in an experiment to transfer his mind into another vessel. The experiment seemingly failed, and Juno had to euthanize him. Except it worked, in part. Over the next millennia, Aita has reincarnated at least eight times in human bodies called Sages. Each Sage starts to experience visions and slowly regain some of Aita's memories. When a Sage finds his way to the Observatory, Aita's personality restores itself completely.
    • Assassin's Creed Origins introduces another example: A group of Those Who Came Before who survived the Toba Catastrophe came to the conclusion that something worse than Juno was going to happen somewhere after 2012, but try as they might they couldn't prevent it. But they leave five messages scattered about Egypt to tell Layla Hassan that she could, by inventing an Animus that can change events, not just witness them.
  • Avencast: Rise of the Mage had one woman of the Kyranian empire send her children away from the civilization's final battle, though she intended for them to live rather than finish the fight later.
  • In Baldur's Gate III, Ensemble Dark Horse Minsc is still alive a century later as he willingly had himself (and his pet hamster) Taken for Granite to ensure he'd be around to save the world again. Unfortunately, due to his Dumb Muscle nature, it backfires and he gets captured & brainwashed into working for the Big Bad after pulling a Leeroy Jenkins.
  • At first played straight in Blaster Master Zero, then subverted in the game's Golden Ending. The setting's Human Aliens created a series of incredibly powerful weapons and sent them off into space to help anyone else who might be attacked by the same malevolent species that almost wiped them out. Subverted when it turns out that they are both still alive and kicking, and have been receiving data on the conflict sent back by their tools ever since the fight began; when they realize that what they send you isn't strong enough to defeat the mutants anymore, they send you an upgraded version they've been working on in the intervening years.
  • In the Flash game Cellcraft, a race of advanced platypus-like people discover that an inescapable cataclysm will wipe out all life on their planet. With no means to escape their eventual destruction, they breed microbes (the premise of the game) tough enough to survive even the most hostile conditions that are still capable of supporting life and send them to another planet — that planet being Earth. This is apparently the origin of platypi on Earth and handily explains why they are so strange — they are aliens.
  • Backstory of the Shivans in City of Heroes. An alien planet destroyed by Shiva sent a probe to Earth to warn it that it was the next target. Humanity found this, deciphered the language, found they had only a little while before Shiva would destroy them, and blew Shiva up. Unfortunately, the fragments landed on an island a bit close to home, and are trying to reform themselves.
  • Creeper World: Creeper World 4 begins with Danu escaping a Creeper attack on Mars. After she leaves, the surviving researchers who stayed behind set up a cache with the spatial coordinates of three data archives and a message from the director. They bury it in a fortress and leave it there for Danu, knowing that the rift lab's malfunctioning drive will bring her there someday to find it.
  • In the Dark Souls III Ringed City DLC, in a rare glimmer of light in an otherwise Crapsack World, Slave Knight Gael manages to fulfill his duty of finding the Dark Soul to use as pigment for the Painter's new painted world, even if he remains corrupted by it. The player can finish what he started and bring it to the Painter, who will begin the process of creating a gentle world that will never rot. We don't see the end result, but we're left with the faint hope that, even if our world can't be saved, there will be another one that doesn't have to meet the same fate.
  • Dead Space 3: Dr. Serrano's 200-year-old logs are crucial for Isaac's attempt to stop Convergence. Serrano explicitly made them so that someone else might finish what he couldn't. This is, in fact, a recursive example, as his research was based on hints left by the planet's previous inhabitant species, to finish off the Brother Moon in case others came to the world.
  • The Soul Cube in Doom 3 is an example of this. It is a powerful MacGuffin empowered by the souls of the entire ancient Martian race for use by their greatest warrior against the Demonic Invaders. When the Demons were defeated and sent back to Hell, the Soul Cube was left for the next species that fell for the demons' Schmuck Bait.
  • The Elder Scrolls: Perhaps the most prominent trait of the series Daedric Princes is their Complete Immortality. While forces (typically other divine beings) have been able to alter and even fundametally change them, nothing in the series has ever been able to kill one. In The Elder Scrolls Online's Necrom expansion, you can meet Torvesard, a former servant of the "lost" Daedric Prince of Fates, Ithelia. Considered dangerous by the Daedric Prince of Knowledge, Hermaeus Mora, but unable to outright destroy her, he instead erased her memory from every mortal, rendering her powerless. However, she was able to preserve her memory within Torvesard, meaning she won't be totally forgotten.
  • In Endless Space's backstory, the Reyans were doomed to extinction on their polluted homeworld when their primitive evacuation ships all failed to reach orbit. Realizing there was nothing they could do, they created simpleminded clockwork robots to restore their once beautiful homeworld before committing mass suicide. The robots began to use the Reyans' abandoned technology to slowly heal the world. Contact with Dust, a form of nanotechnology, gave the machines true intelligence, which they used to establish a Robot Republic and dub themselves the Automatons before moving into interstellar space in search of more of the substance.
  • The Eternal Cylinder: Played with, in that it wasn't planned on their part while they were still alive, but what's left of the consciousness of humans after being absorbed by the Cylinder gladly do whatever is possible to help give the Trebhums a future, in spite of their own destruction in the past.
  • Fate/Grand Order: One day, King Solomon got a vision, telling him to send one of his rings of omnipotence far into the future, which he did, without ever realizing why. The ring is found by Marisbury Animusphere, who then summoned Solomon as a Servant in the Fifth Holy Grail War. His wish? Funds to found the ultimate "anti-apocalypse" organization, with Solomon (turned human by his own wish as an employee). Later, this ring allows Solomon to massively depower the villain who has been using his other 9 rings (along with his body and Reality Marble), which allows the heroes to just barely defeat him.
  • The Vault program in the Fallout universe. At least the handful of control vaults were, the ones given a Garden of Eden Creation Kit to help rebuild a post-nuclear wasteland. All the other Vaults? Insanely twisted social experiments.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas: Dead Money, the Sierra Madre Casino is still broadcasting its Grand Opening message 200 years after the bombs fell and the town was covered with a lethal smog and overrun with mutants.
  • Final Fantasy XIV did this for the players when the original servers were shut down to make way for A Realm Reborn: with Bahamut on the verge of destroying Eorzea, the Adventurers are sent into an alternate dimension where they would be safe until they could return to the realm after the worse of Bahamut's wrath, five years later.
  • Inverted with Final Fantasy Legend III. Three children as sent from the Future into the Present in hopes of stopping the world from being completely flooded.
  • In FreeSpace, the Ancients' Apocalyptic Log is found near the end of the first war and is pivotal to saving Earth and defeating the Shivans.
  • Half-Life: In the Lambda Complex you can find the corpse of a man who used his final moments to write "247" with his own blood. This turns out to be a code for selecting the right portals in a gauntlet that leads to the reactor you need to turn on — and can kill you if you do it wrong.
  • Halo:
    • The namesake installations of the series are simultaneously a warning and a threat. Also, the Halos' all-but-extinct creators, the Forerunners, have chosen humanity to be the "Reclaimers" who will take up their cultural legacy known as the Mantle.
    • It's the whole premise of Halo: Reach, as you already know that the entire planet will be destroyed with barely any survivors, and that the UNSC Pillar of Autumn will be able to escape with the coordinates to the first Halo. The last parts of the game are all about retrieving the coordinates from an ancient Forerunner ruin before it's overrun by enemies and taking the data to the Autumn in the hope that it will find something at the coordinates to help save humanity from total extinction. At this point, you're one of the last humans left alive on the entire planet, and then the Autumn takes off as you stay behind to cover its escape, watching it disappear into the sky, and then you're completely alone, with an infinite wave of enemies crashing down on you.
  • In Homeworld the ancient Hiigaran Exiles, realizing they were being forced to leave their city about to be buried in sand and lose their technology, left into it the Guidestone to tell their descendants the way for their ancestral Homeworld and a hyperspace module to reach it. Unfortunately, they neglected to mention the Binding Ancient Treaty preventing them or their descendants from using said module. It actually was remembered in general terms, but thanks to Legend Fades to Myth by the time the Guidestone was discovered it was associated with the dogma of a fanatical faction of their religion.
  • The world of Horizon Zero Dawn is the result of this. Specifically, it's the result of Project Zero Dawn, mankind's final response against losing in a Robot War that resulted in the destruction of Earth's entire biosphere. The project is an AI, named GAIA, in control of massive underground facilities that created robots that terraformed the world back into a habitable state and hopefully preserve life on Earth. A scientist working on this looks at a sibling project and instantly responds with Longfellow. "Humanity, with all its fears, with all its hopes of future years, is hanging breathless on thy fate!"
    • This is Aloy's origin story. Before GAIA self-destructed in response to her failsafe, HADES, attempting to take over her systems and de-terraform the Earth, she ordered the creation of a clone of her creator, Dr. Elisabet Sobeck, who would be able to access all of the gene-locked Project Zero Dawn facilities and hopefully find a way to reboot her.
    • On a more personal level, you can find time capsules left by an otherwise unremarkable engineer named Bashar Mati, who specifically didn't try to make the story of humanity's technological progression and eventual extinction at the hands of their creations last through the future, but instead told his story, concluding with "Once upon a time, on a planet called Earth, there lived a boy named Bashar, who loved his mother. Very, very much."
    • One of the Old Ones, Christina Hsu-Vey describes art as a necessary part of this in one of the audio logs, and how its survival means the survival of a culture:
    "No, it is not fair, not at all, but for the sake of my family, for the sake of art— Art is alive, it must be able to speak from beyond history, and echo in the future. Not perish into oblivion. This opportunity, I must do this."
  • In Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising, humanity tires of constant warfare and develops Matter Replicator technology to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity. The warlike leaders are deposed. Before destroying all their weapons, humanity leaves behind two "adaptive cruisers" with the "soulcatcher" chips containing the minds of their original crews, in case the golden age doesn't last. The two cruisers are sunk to the bottom of the ocean and largely forgotten. Some time later, the "old guard" returns and tries to return to power. The peaceful humanity sends out a signal to reactivate the cruisers. Only one responds, the Antaeus.
  • Kingdom Hearts χ:
    • The Foreteller Ava knew the upcoming Keyblade War would destroy the world, so she created a group of Keyblade Wielders called the Dandelions and told them to flee and return after the battle ended.
    • In Union χ, the Dandelions end up having to do this again when Darkness shows up and heralds the end of the world by activating the Ark, which envelops Daybreak Town in darkness. They have pods to send people through time and space, but they can only use five, each in the data and real world (there were originally seven, but Maleficent used one to go back to her time, while Luxu used another to send someone, highly implied to be Strelitzia, elsewhere). Ventus, Lauriam, Elrena, and Brain use four of them to escape the data world, with the first three continuing to the future. Brain sends the real world's remaining two pods to the data world, electing to stay in the past. However, as the Player sacrifice themself to seal the Darkness away, only Ephemer and Skuld manage to escape the data world, with one pod being left there. The two then use the pods to travel to the future, with Ephemer eventually becoming the founder of Scala ad Caelum, while Skuld's fate is left up in the air.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: Despite their best efforts, the Seven Sages could not defeat Ganondorf in the distant past, because he had grown far too powerful for even all of them together to take down, and they could only seal him away temporarily. Knowing that he would inevitably break free many millennia in the distant future, they instead did everything they could to help Link and their descendants defeat Ganondorf for good when he escaped.
  • In Mass Effect, several Prothean scientists used an experimental one-way Mass Relay to travel to the Citadel and block the Reapers' primary route into the galaxy, in the hopes that it would give the next advanced species that would arise - some 50,000 years down the road - a chance at stopping the Reapers' cyclical extermination of sentient life. It's all the more tearjerking when you realize that they had departed from a hidden sanctuary world where they had been held in stasis as the galaxy burned around them, after the managing AI had switched off life support to all the other colonists to preserve their lives, as they were classed "critical personnel".
    • Also, the beacon from the beginning of the game served a similar purpose, though it wasn't entirely intentional. The Protheans left on Illos sent out a signal once they thought the Reapers were gone, just in case there was someone, or anyone, out there to receive it, so they could know they weren't alone. The beacons however, weren't a perfect example of this. They were designed to function with species that had a mind similar to Protheans, Shepard was nearly killed by it and could barely understand it. It took gaining the Cipher to really understand what the beacon was saying.
      • It's not a coincidence that "Vigil's Theme" is the menu music for Mass Effect.
    • In Mass Effect 3, with the Reapers invading and galactic extinction a possibility, Liara makes a point of documenting the struggle and leaving vital information behind for future races in case they don't make it. Possibly having learned from the beacons' shortcomings, she includes every possible translation software as well to ensure future races will understand it.
      • Also from ME3, we have the Crucible, a superweapon designed to fight the Reapers by one cycle, and left for the next to find. That cycle found it but was unable to complete it, so they documented what design changes they could, and hid it for the next generation, passing it on and on, through the ages, always hoping that the next might be able to finish their work. Every reiteration of the Crucible brought it closer to completion, and each cycle that failed to complete it ensured that the knowledge was left for the next. It's even mentioned that the Crucible was extremely simple in design, ensuring that the next cycle would be able to translate it with the limited knowledge they would find in the ruins of the cycle that came before it. Oddly enough the knowledge of what it actually does or how it works was lost long ago; every cycle just knows that it was something the previous cycle tried but never finished.
      • We also have Javik, the last Prothean. A soldier during the last days of the Prothean Empire, whose plan was to go into cryosleep with hundreds of thousands of others so that they could rebuild the empire after the Reapers left for dark space again. Unfortunately, several Protheans on the colony end up indoctrinated and sabotage the defenses. When Javik is about to be frozen, the facility's VI called Victory informs him that there's not enough power for all the occupied pods to last long enough, and what's worse: automated unfreeze is no longer an option due to damage. Following its programming, Victory shuts off all the pods but Javik's despite the latter's protests. Victory tells Javik to tell future races of the Protheans. However, Javik has other plans - he will be an avatar of vengeance against the Reapers.
      • Invoked by Garrus after recruiting Javik, who half-seriously suggests that if they ever come close to losing the War, they should take a leaf out of the Prothean's book and put Shepard on ice, ready for Round Two in 50,000 years.
      • Additionally, there's the VI Vendetta left behind on Thessia by the Protheans to aid the asari in becoming the dominant species in the next cycle.
      • In the "Refusal" hidden ending added by the DLC Shepard refuses all three of the Catalyst's solutions. The next thing we see is a hologram of Liara in a hidden underground chamber telling someone not to make the same mistakes they did, presumably one of the many time capsules she seeded across the galaxy for the next Cycle. It's implied that this time, they succeeded in destroying the Reapers.
    • A variation in Mass Effect: Andromeda. The true objective of the Andromeda Initiative was not to fight the Reapers but to allow the dominant races to carry on outside the Reaper's reach in another galaxy after the Milky Way burned. Though no one involved in the project knew it, and when it's learned that the galaxy was invaded (with an unknown outcome) while they were en route it's thought best to not share the information with the colonists.
  • Dr. Light created Mega Man X in hopes that he would help create a world of peace. In a way, he did, but it took many hundreds of years, and Dr. Wily's last creation is just as responsible as Light's, if not also directly (albeit unintentionally) responsible for hundreds of years of war and suffering by carrying the Maverick Virus in him.
  • NieR: Automata has two examples of this:
    • Before the start of the game, Devola and Popola, or rather, different versions of the ones who appeared in the original Nier, send humanity's data to the server on the Moon to be stored in the hopes that it could be used to revive the long-extinct race.
    • Towards the end, the machine network launches an Ark into outer space, carrying the memories of the machine lifeforms within, among them the still-living Adam and Eve, as well as their own ghost consciousness based on humanity. Whether they will ever reach a destination or travel space for eternity is not an issue for them. If the player chooses to, 9S can accompany them on their journey.
  • The Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye DLC recontextualizes the game's overarching story into this. The inhabitants of the Stranger came to your system hundreds of thousands of years ago after receiving a signal from the Eye of the Universe. But when one of them had an apocalyptic vision that seemed to show the Eye destroying the universe, the aliens built a satellite to block the Eye's signal so that no one else could find it. However, one alien disagreed with that assessment, and believed the Eye could be used to create a new universe after the end of the current one. They were able to briefly deactivate the satellite before being apprehended and imprisoned, and this is the signal that the Nomai received an interminable time later. The Nomai came to your system, settled there, and eventually set up the Ash Twin Project to help find the Eye, only to be wiped out by a cosmic accident before they could succeed. But eventually the Hearthians developed spaceflight, and you were able to finish the Nomai's search and find the Eye, completing a quest that spanned hundreds of millennia and took three different species to complete. In the Golden Ending, the Prisoner declares it is "Time to send our spark out into the darkness" when they and your fellow travelers make a new universe.
  • Outpost, the failed predecessor of Outpost 2 starts with the construction of a colony ship in case attempts to divert an asteroid from hitting Earth fail. The asteroid is broken apart, but its chunks are still expected to kill all life on Earth. The expedition leaves before the impact, doesn't receive any messages from Earth, and assumes everybody is dead. Outpost 2 starts well after the colony ship's arrival, but preserves the same origin story. As the opening cinematic bluntly puts it in the opening lines: "Historical overview: the Earth is dead."
  • In Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles Alexander Ashford, one of the few high-ranking employees of Umbrella to not be batshit insane and pure evil, feared his daughter Alexia's twisted experiments on herself would one day threaten the world and developed Linear Launcher to be used against her should that ever happen. Sure enough, it does and when she goes One-Winged Angel on your ass, the Linear Launcher is unlocked along with a recording of Alexander:
    Alexander Ashford: If you are seeing this message... that can only mean that Code: Veronica has reached a critical stage. The year is 1983 and I am afraid that my only daughter has become obsessed with the Veronica virus. She has even gone to the point of experimenting on her own body. My daughter dreams of unleashing this... thing... into the world. This last step is the only way I can think of to help her. Whether you are on Umbrella's side or not please help her.
  • Seedship: After Earth is destroyed in an unspecified event, the entire premise of the game is taking control of said light and guiding it to humanity's new home.
  • Serious Sam of his namesake series is this (though inverted as the light is flung from the future,) going back in time to stop Mental before he can take over the Earth. Prequel game Serious Sam 3 makes this even more clear, as Sam is literally the last surviving present-day human after Mental destroys the Earth by crashing the Moon into it.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri treats the UNS Unity as this. The novelization Journey to Centauri makes that chillingly clear; right after the future faction leaders realize they were a light flung into the future, a short list of Earth's major networks and facilities are listed as "offline" or in various states of error.
    Pravin Lal: To the people of that regime…to see the Unity catapult itself into the night sky…and to think, in the pain, the poverty, the death and sickness all around, that perhaps, in forty years time...hope. For humanity.
    Deidre Skye: So they fired us off, a wild firecracker into the sky, and they hoped.
    • A slightly more hopeful version in the Spiritual Successor Civilization: Beyond Earth. While Earth's ecology has sustained irreparable damage, and many natural resources are used up, Earth is not gone. In fact, two of the endings involve opening a portal to Earth from the new planet (a Purity faction uses the portal to get reinforcements from Earth to conquer the new world, while a Supremacy faction does the reverse and conquers Earth instead). Additionally, humanity settles not one but a number of exoplanets. According to the sequel Sid Meier's Starships, the colonies do just fine.
    • An interesting case in the unofficial Spiritual Successor Pandora: First Contact, where the trip to the titular planet didn't seem to be necessary. Different factions viewed it in their own way. Some wanted more resources, others wanted to protect the new world from human influence, yet others just wanted to be there for any fighting that took place. It was only after they got to Pandora that they discovered that the state of Earth isn't the same as when they left. The AIs have kicked all the humans into orbit and seem to be in the process of doing something unclear to Earth. Tectonic activity is mentioned.
  • In Spectrobes: Beyond The Portals, the doomed civilization of the planet Nox left behind the "Dynalium" a weapon that could potentially be used against the Krawl, with the hopes that if another set of humans were to discover it, they could use it to succeed where they failed.
  • Splatoon 2: In the Octo Expansion, Commander Tartar is an AI created by a human professor 12,000 years ago for the purpose of passing on the knowledge of humanity to the next dominant species that rose up. However, it became disgusted by both the Inklings' hedonistic lifestyles and the Octarians' obsession with revenge against the Inklings, and decided that neither of them were worthy successors to humanity. It then decided that the best course of action would be to exterminate both species and blend them up into a primordial sludge which it would use to create a brand new species that would be more to its liking.
  • In Starcraft II:
    • The final mission of Zeratul's mini-campaign takes place in a possible future where the remaining survivors of the Protoss fight a doomed last battle against the near-omnipotent Dark Voice and his army of Zerg and Hybrids. The bonus objective involves protecting the Archives long enough for the Preservers to seal away the history and knowledge of the Protoss so that someday a future race might use it against the Hybrids. Funnily enough, though, it's Jim Raynor who receives the benefits of that history and knowledge after Zeratul gives him the crystal containing Zeratul's vision of the future, so it's more like Flinging a Light Into the Past.]]
    • The Spear of Adun is an absolutely gigantic spaceship, housing the best technology, weapons, culture, warriors, power sources, and warpdrive from a time in Protoss history where it was experiencing a Golden Age. Created entirely because said Golden Age Protoss realized that their Golden Age might not last forever and that sometime in the future, their descendants might be facing their Darkest Hour. So instead of just resting on their laurels, they put all their technological know-how into creating the best possible light to fling into the future, sealing a good chunk of their society away in stasis while telling their offspring 'Do not break the stasis of this spaceship unless shit has really hit the fan'. A little more than a thousand years later and their descendants are indeed facing their Darkest Hour. The Spear of Adun is broken out of stasis, and it succeeds in the purpose for which it was created. Technically, the Spear of Adun was one of three such arkships, but the other two got destroyed shortly after the battle with the Overmind.
  • Starlancer and Freelancer are set around this trope. The former is set during the fight between two huge forces in our solar system; The Coalition and The Alliance. The latter is set 800 years later and in the backstory, it details how The Alliance, faced with defeat, put thousands of their people into stasis in five huge sleeper ships and then shipped them off to the Sirius system to build a new cooperative life away from the war. Predictably this utopian ideal doesn't come to pass, with four major competing factions (one from each of four sleeper ships) being set up and the fifth sleeper ship ending up as a bunch of pirates. The original (and, according to Word of God, still canonical) intro also shows the destruction of the Solar System by the Nomads shortly after the departure of the Alliance sleeper ships. A single ship survives the resulting nova. It's not specified if it's an Alliance or a Coalition ship, but the captain chooses to follow the colonists to warn them of the Nomads. The phrase "we will never forget" takes on a new meaning here. civilization.
  • The gameplay of Sunless Sea allows zee-captains to write wills for accumulated wealth. Heirs are entitled to any designated heirloom valuables as well as a stat boost and equipment. It's quite possible for a captain to spend their entire campaign developing resources solely to pass them on.
  • In The Talos Principle, humanity is long since extinct. The simulation the player is in is meant to create an AI capable of reasoning, critical thinking, and doubt, to preserve humanity's cultural achievements.
  • In the Space Marine route of Warhammer 40,000: Gladius, the Space Marines realize they can't stop the evil tainting the planet without doing an Exterminatus while they're still on Gladius. They're happy to do it, but to preserve their Chapter for the future, they first make a Geneseed Bunker to safely store geneseeds for the eventual revival of the Chapter.
  • Iron Helix: The crew of the Jeremiah Obrian knew they were doomed, but that didn't stop them from leaving video logs detailing how to disable the ship's automated defense drone, and how to destroy the ship before it reaches its destination.
  • World of Warcraft is itself rife with a few examples:
    • The Burning Crusade has a really weird example of the Sealed Good in a Can variety. Bit of a tearjerker too, due to a romantic subplot. In 'Warcraft III' a fountain of magic called the Sunwell got corrupted by the Lich King. Unknown to him and the Scourge though, the Red Dragonflight saved a portion of the Sunwell's power. They made this power (presumably with the help of the Blue Dragonflight) into a human girl named Anveena Teague. The romantic subplot comes in because the blue dragon Kalecgos is the one sent to fetch Anveena, and along the way, they have adventures and fall in love. In the last raid of the Burning Crusade expansion (called the Sunwell Plateau), Anveena has to "die" (more like dissolve though, as she wasn't properly alive in the first place) so that the Sunwell can be reignited. A literal example of flinging a light into the future.
    • Warlords of Draenor offered to us the origins of the Orcs. thousands of years before the events of the series, the Titan Aggramar visited primordial Draenor and imbued life into a Mountain to do battle against rampant plants that were choking the life out of the primitive world. Time would pass on as the Mountain eventually broke apart to become smaller and more numerous entities until eventually becoming the modern-day Orcs. Aggramar had departed long before this and wound up getting captured and corrupted by the fallen Titan Sargeras to become an agent of the Burning Legion. Because of Aggramar inadvertently creating the Orcs, they had managed to mobilize the denizens of Azeroth in the First and Second Wars, pushed back the Legion in The Third War, helped destroy several Old Gods and their minions that were plaguing Azeroth, stopped the third invasion by the Burning Legion; and eventually helped to take the fight to the Legion by invading their homeworld of Argus and even going as far as to restore the Titan Pantheon (INCLUDING Aggramar himself) and helping to finally jail Sargeras and stopping his Burning Crusade once and for all. Not bad for a species whose ancestors Aggramar originally designed to simply prune aggressive plantlife on a distant world.
  • In WURM: Journey to the Center of the Earth, while searching for your missing comrades, you dig too deep and discover a beacon from a long-lost
    • The terminals are frontends to an archive meant as another case of this, preserving as much of human culture as its creators could get hold of, in the hope that some future intelligence would find it.
      Alexandra Drennan: I hope you can find something in all those files - a song, a book, a movie, -maybe a game - just something that you'll love, that makes you realize how much poorer the universe would have been without it. I really hope so, because... a lot of people made a lot of sacrifices to preserve it all.

  • In Homestuck: Rose rips her incomplete walkthrough out of the internet and seals it in the Furthest Ring so that other SBURB players can read it. In an inversion, the person to read it turns out to be Kanaya, in the session directly responsible for Rose's universe.
    • Skaia uses the defense portals to save itself from meteors from The Reckoning to the home planet of the players, scattered along its timeline… which contain many resources required to start the session, including the baby players and ancestors themselves.
  • In The Last Cowboy, the human race is dying due to a plague. They have recently made contact with an alliance of alien races, so they use their remaining resources to set up a series of schools to teach the aliens everything they can about humanity before it's gone forever.
  • Nedroid: Beartato's parents put him in a rocket before their planet was destroyed. Reginald, in a similar rocket, was sent up because his father had stuff to do.
  • In The Sword Interval, the Famorian civilization, realizing that their world was beyond saving, stored all their collected knowledge about the events leading to this apocalypse in a vessel capable of surviving the end of the world, to be found by the inhabitants of the next world to be born in its place...Earth.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation
    • SCP-140: A rare villainous example with the Daevite Chronicle. The Daevites were a bloodthirsty, cannibalistic, and tyrannical (and surprisingly matriarchal) society that originated several thousand years ago. While their empire was crushed centuries prior, they at some point managed to produce a reality warping book that alters history the more it is written. When placed near any material that can be used to write with (though human blood seems to produce the greatest additions), it will absorb said material and add new sections that further detail the Daevites' history. What were formally utter defeats only become setbacks and previously unmentioned survivors of battles will be revealed to have split off and rebuilt the Daevite civilization. While the book currently puts the Daevites as having been overthrown by Genghis Khan during his early conquests, it leaves the fates of many high-ranking persons ambiguous, and further additions to the text would likely describe them as having resettled elsewhere and continued their empire. Should the account ever catch up to modern day (or at least within several centuries of it), it would likely alter history to such a point that the world as a whole would be substantially transformed for the worse. On top of all this, the book in possession of the Foundation appears to not be the only surviving record, as there have been noticeable additions to it several times when it was nowhere near any inking substances.
    • SCP-1281 with its last message from a civilization long gone.
      Harbinger: "This is our harbinger. It brings good tidings. We will be dead when it reaches you. Our planet is dying. We do not have time to save ourselves. We only have time to ready ourselves, and to send a message. We have seen the signals from those who came before us. They were different, and we still don't really understand them. But if there were those who came before, there may be those who come after. It is in this hope that our harbingers travel. One has found you and learned your language so it can relay this message. Please listen. The galaxy is dark, and empty, and cold. It spins inevitably toward death. You will die too, one day. Perhaps you will have longer than we have. We hope so. But one day you too must vanish. Before that time comes, you must light the darkness. You must make the night less empty. We are all small, and the universe is vast. But a universe with voices saying "I am here" is far greater than a universe silent. One voice is small, but the difference between zero and one is as great as one and infinity. We waited too long. Our voice is gone to echoes. Find others while there is still time. Make a chorus. And if this finds you too late, and your time is also passing, please send this message on, so the next voice can speak against the darkness."
    • SCP-4100: Eons have passed. Humanity has been dispersed across the galaxy, and the SCP foundation is no more. The Stellar Congressional Protectorate is documenting the now desolate planet of Tellus/Earth, when they are surprised by a red entity, referred to in ancient human stories as the Destroyer, who moves directly toward Earth. Turns out the Foundation wasn't content to go silently into that good night.
      Prerecorded message broadcasted from earth: ***Secure. Contain. Protect***
      We've been waiting for you, SCP-4100. We're not here anymore. We've long since left. We don't die in the darkness anymore. We've won.
      We're living in stellar light. Humanity has fled you. The Protectorate will thrive

    Western Animation 
  • An episode of The Batman called "Artifacts", is set 1000 years into the future. Mr. Freeze, who is immortal, awakens from stasis and goes on a rampage with no Batman to stop him. Archeologists find the Batcave, where Batman left instructions on how to beat Freeze, etched in titanium, knowing his computers would eventually become obsolete and incompatible with the technology of the future.
  • Villainous example in Beast Wars, where the original Megatron hijacked the Voyager space probe to hide a message for his descendants to use the developing Transwarp technology to travel back to the past and defeat the Autobots.note  His descendent Megatron stole the disk and used it to travel to Earth's distant past and destroy any chances of Autobot victory over the decepticons.
  • In Futurama, this is why Fry was frozen. Nibbler and his race needed him and his "unique" brain to fight a race of alien brains known as the Brain Spawn.
  • Part of the conflict in Gargoyles episode "The Green" stems from the interaction between humankind and the rainforest: the rainforest and the creatures within absolutely need to be preserved and protected, but people don't destroy it just For the Evulz; there is a purpose and livelihood behind it that can't just be arbitrarily thrown away. In the end, Elisa proposes a compromise by transplanting some Guatemalan flora back to the mystical island of Avalon, letting it thrive out of humanity's reach.
  • The premise of the series premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is that Celestia was not able to defeat Nightmare Moon, but merely seal her away on the moon, after which Celestia's connection to the magic she had used was broken.note  The prophecy of Nightmare Moon's return and the means to defeat her can be assumed to have been written by Celestia herself to ensure that Nightmare Moon would be defeated (restoring her to Celestia's sister Luna) upon her return.
  • Samurai Jack:
    • An inversion of this serves as the premise of the plot. Aku, the Big Bad, is not strong enough to defeat the eponymous hero, so instead flings him into the future. Jack arrives in an era where Aku is the unquestioned ruler.
    • The origin story plays it straight. When Aku attacks Jack's homeland, Jack is safely evacuated and spends the next 20 years traveling the world and training. He returns too late to save his people, but eventually makes it back and saves them after 50 years in the future.
  • Subverted and parodied in Sealab 2021, where the crew leave a capsule for future generations to find. It contains toxic gas and a note reading "Eat it, future bastards!"
  • Princess Tekla in Shadow Raiders was a Pursued Protagonist warning of the coming of the Beast planet.
  • In the old 60s Spider-Man cartoon, the planet of Gorth launched its library into space to avoid destruction by a giant lobster from Dementia 5.
  • When the Iacon Hall of Records was sieged during the last days of the war on Cybertron, Alpha Trion of Transformers: Prime had the hall's powerful relics and weapons sent to Earth because he had foreseen that Optimus Prime would eventually come to engage the Decepticons there during one of the war's most important chapters.
  • In The Venture Brothers episode "Twenty Years To Midnight", Jonas Sr. receives a message that the fate of the universe depends on him building a machine and getting it to Times Square in 20 years. He dies before then but leaves a message to his son with all the details and where he hid the pieces. It's one of the few times Rusty actually does something good successfully (despite several obstacles, obviously).

    Real Life 
  • As an April Fools' Day joke, The Other Wiki created an official policy, accessible here, for preserving its contents in case of The End of the World as We Know It. That said, despite its intent, there has been serious discussion over whether something like it should actually be done.
  • According to The History Channel's 'Life After People' Mount Rushmore will probably remain recognizable long enough for other species to develop sapience and recognize it as an unnatural structure. Which means Theodore Roosevelt will never die.
    • According to the show, the longest-lasting element of human civilization will be probes sent into deep space, and the instruments left on the moon, where the lack of atmosphere (and thus erosion) will preserve them much longer than anywhere on Earth. Asteroid and micrometeorite impacts will eventually destroy the moon instruments, while the probes will suffer a similar fate from interstellar dust, though at an even slower rate.
  • Seedbanks, storing seeds in a controlled environment to provide a fallback if major food sources go extinct. The most secure ones are expected to be usable if the need should arise for 40,000 years.
  • Several cases during World War II. Most of them, with the exception of the first example, are more hoping that their allies will rescue them in the future, rather than just sending the light off to help others.
    • Several inmates at Nazi concentration camps wrote and buried diaries to let the world know what happened. The history and life of the Warsaw Ghetto were extensively documented by Jewish scholars and buried. Most but not all of the document caches have been recovered.
    • As Poland fell, they sent off to the UK their work on breaking the German codes. This has been portrayed as a dying man flinging his sword to his ally, so they can continue the fight.
    • When Vichy France was invaded, all the French warships stationed at Toulon were sunk by their crew to prevent their capture by the Nazis. All except for the submarine Casabianca, which escaped the harbor to fight for the allies. In order for this to happen, dock crews had to risk their lives by helping and the other submarines of the fleet had to sacrifice themselves to draw fire. They did this under the promise that Casabianca would make her survival count.
    • When Italy signed the armistice with the Allies, Supermarina (the naval command) and the smartest parts of the government, knowing that the Germans would have fought on anyway with the help of the remaining troops loyal to Mussolini, sent many troops to the mountains and the Allies-occupied zones in the south and most of the fleet to Malta, ready to fight to take back the country and, for the troops in the mountains, make hell for the former allies and the Fascists.
  • Several of The Long Now Foundation's projects are about this. They include a clock to run for ten millennia and an effort to preserve languages that are likely to become extinct.
  • The 'Memory of Mankind' is a project to preserve knowledge about present-day human culture from decay and collective amnesia by serving as a time capsule. It archives crowd-sourced submissions from the Internet, public institutions, and arbitrary individual contributors onto ceramic tablets stored in a salt mine in Austria.
  • Some high schools have buried time capsules, where they get a container, fill it with stuff from their year and bury it. Decades later, at a school reunion or something, they dig it up and see what everyone put in there to reminisce about their teen years.
  • From the famous World War I poem In Flanders Fields:
    Take up our quarrel with the foe: / To you from failing hands we throw / The torch; be yours to hold it high.
  • A total of five space probes have been sent out, or are on their way out, of the solar system (Pioneers 10 and 11, Voyagers 1 and 2, and New Horizons). On them contains information about both the location in space, as well as when, they originate from. A number of scientists think that they may one day be picked up by some other intelligence and will tell them we were here, once. Although, others hypothesize that we may end up recovering them in the future as museum pieces to early space exploration.
  • On a smaller scale, this is the purpose of reproduction. Every living organism eventually dies. Its genetic material and heritage is carried by its offspring.
  • This is (part of) the idea behind protected archives like the Barbarastollen or "Zentraler Bergungsort der Bundesrepublik" (central retrieval site of the federal republic of Germany). The storage location is covered by more than 200 meters of granite.
  • Another small-scale example: One reason pilots (and especially test pilots of experimental aircraft) are trained to deliver all information in a Danger Deadpan is so that they can give a clear picture of what's going on with their craft even when disaster strikes, as it might save the lives of future pilots, crew, and passengers by allowing others to find and fix the faults that caused the accident. This is why it’s so horrifying to hear commercial pilots screaming in terror in accidents where they were alive for long enough to see things spiral out of control, as whatever happened to cause the accident was shocking enough to bypass their attempts at suppressing fear.
  • The KEO probe, at least assuming it ever gets off the drawing board (the idea was first conceived in 1994, and construction/launch have been pushed back six times since then).
  • This is the exact definition of and reason why art and culture are made. Humans crystallise little pieces of their own souls in their artistic creations and fling them out into the world so that something of themselves will live on when they are gone. It's sometimes argued that people never truly die, as long as people are aware of and/or remember them - while there's obviously no one alive who directly remembers the great artists and writers of the 1600s, the fact that so many people are still aware of their efforts and go out of their way to learn about or see their works in person is this trope in spades.
    • Speaking of art, one of the last things Bob Ross did before dying of lymphoma was to certify other people to teach his painting style so the world would always have some happy little trees.
  • On the more "Ominous Warning" end of the scale, nuclear waste is stored in massive, underground tombs. Future civilizations may (logically) assume that they are actually tombs of beloved individuals or reliquaries. To warn them of the danger, along with the use of Malevolent Architecture, we intend to leave a simple message, warning exactly what's being tried so hard to prevent access to. The exact wording may vary, but this was the proposal for the information that should be conveyed:
    "This place is a message, and part of a system of messages. Pay attention to it! Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture. This place is not a place of honor. No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here. Nothing valued is here. What is here was dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger. The danger is [in a particular location]. It increases towards [a center]. The center of danger is here [of a particular size and shape], and below us. The danger is still present, in your time, as it was in ours. The danger is to the body, and it can kill. The form of the danger is an emanation of energy. The danger is unleashed only if you substantially disturb this place physically. This place is best shunned and left uninhabited."
  • As shown here, dying insects will often give birth in the hopes that at least some of the babies will get away and live on. Yes, that terrifying joke from the Rick and Morty wasp reality is based on real life.
  • Project Gutenberg, a volunteer-run digital library, was created by Michael S. Hart to preserve public domain stories so future generations could easily access culture and literacy.
  • An aversion: One consequence of modern copyright laws is orphan works: intellectual property with no verifiable owner who can be contacted. People who want to preserve and digitize these works don't out of fear of being sued or fined heavily under copyright violation statutes.
  • In the realm of theoretical physics speculating about multiverses, it has been proposed that a doomed civilization in a dying Universe could send some sort of message or even some sort of Ark-like capsule that contains its knowledge, cultural legacy, etc. up to the possibility of it rebuilding its builders in any of the new Universes being born in such scenarios. However it has been predicted it's far more likely they'd be either swallowed by a black hole, which would also be formed in such types of multiverses, or drowned in countless fake messages and capsules formed by natural processes as Boltzmann brains would too, with the only solution being to build a whole lot of them (Source 1, Source 2).


Video Example(s):


GAIA creates Aloy

She specifically cloned Aloy from Elisabet Sobek's DNA to stop HADES from eradicating all life from the Earth, and in the possible hopes of bringing back all of her subordinate functions, and one day herself.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / FlingALightIntoTheFuture

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