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Genocide Survivor

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"At midnight tonight, the war is over. Tomorrow, you'll begin the process of looking for your families. In most cases, you won't find them. After six long years of murder, victims are being mourned throughout the world. We've survived."
Oskar Schindler, Schindler's List
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Genocide is one of the most horrific crimes that can be perpetrated, and surviving a genocide almost inevitably leaves deep scars, whether physical or mental. Apart from how traumatizing it can be to face a threat to your life, be driven from your home, and lose numerous loved ones, making it to the other side of genocide only comes with a new set of challenges. Survivors have had their lives radically altered and things can never go back to being the same.

Works centered on genocide survivors often show how that trauma affected them and the difficulty of moving on with their lives. The reactions of survivors to what they experienced may vary, but you can expect them to struggle with PTSD, Survivor Guilt, and other mental health issues.

Along with a loss of life, genocides often lead to a loss of knowledge, culture, and recorded history. Some survivors will try to preserve whatever remains of their heritage, while others may feel angst because they aren't able to. If You Can't Go Home Again is in play, that can also serve as a major source of angst.

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If the survivor eventually goes after the perpetrators, the result is Genocide Backfire. It may also be used as a setup for Nice Job Breaking It, Herod. If the survivors have descendants, those descendants may become a Racial Remnant. Compare War Refugees, which can overlap. Those guilty of Genocide from the Inside do not qualify as this trope.

This is distinct from Sole Survivor and Last of His Kind because a genocide survivor does not have to be only one from their background alive to still count. It is possible for numerous people to survive the same genocide. Some stories even involve multiple survivors dealing with their trauma together.

No Real Life Examples, Please!. There are so many people who have survived a genocide throughout history that trying to list them here wouldn't be practical. This only covers fictional genocides and fictionalized depictions of real genocides.

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Examples

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    Anime & Manga 

  • Dragon Ball:
    • Upon Goku’s reveal as a Saiyan, we learn that there are only 4 Saiyans left alive after their planet was destroyed by Frieza. This is taken down to two after Raditz and Nappa died; with Vegeta as the only other survivor. Further material would reveal Vegeta's brother survived too, alongside Paragus and Broly from Dragon Ball Super.
    • The Non Serial Movies also used Saiyans made for their films. Those being Turles/Tullece and the original incarnation of Broly.
    • Super's Goku Black arc ended with Zamasu's essence wiping out all the mortals of Trunks timelines save the Future Mai, the Future Zeno, and him. While his timeline's Zeno does erase that Zamasu, he likewise erases that timeline in the process with only the three of them the last remnants of that timeline.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: The Ishvalans are an ethno-religious group native to Ishval. After Ishval was annexed by Amestris, the Ishvalans were at odds with the rest of the population and it resulted in the Ishval Civil War. The Führer of Amestris ordered the State Alchemists to eradicate the Ishvalans. The survivors live as refugees scattered throughout the country. The most prominent among them is a man known only as Scar, who seeks revenge against the State Alchemists for the massacre.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Kurapika is the sole living member of the Kurta Clan, who were poached by the Phantom Troupe for their eyes, which turn scarlet when they are angered or scared, and stay that way when they die in this state. What makes this count as a genocide is that his clan has some features of a small ethnic group, such as their own traditional dress (which is part of Kurapika's pre-Costume Evolution outfit) and their own language. His main goal during the series is to retrieve his clan's eyes and seek revenge against the Troupe.
  • Naruto:
    • Itachi Uchiha murders every member of his own clan, save for his younger brother Sasuke. Sasuke's trauma and his desire to get revenge for the massacre drives pretty much his entire character arc. While Sasuke Uchiha has a complicated relationship with his Last of His Kind status, one thing that remained consistent is he indeed survived a systematic killing of his clan.
    • In the Land of Water, people with bloodline limits are hated and feared for their abilities, which results in regular purges of anyone thought to have one. Haku, an antagonist from early in the story, survived an attempt on his life by an angry mob that included his own father, because he had inherited a bloodline limit from his mother. Haku's mother was not so lucky.
  • In No. 6 Nezumi is the last of the Mao. No.6 massacred the Forest People, burned their settlement, and stole their land.
  • One Piece
    • Nico Robin is the only survivor of the island of Ohara, which was destroyed due to the island's scholars attempting to research the forbidden "Void Century", a period in history with no records the World Government is trying to keep hidden. When they found out what the Oharan scholars were doing, they summoned a Buster Call to obliterate everything and everyone on the island. Robin was the only survivor and more importantly had the ability to read the Poneglyphs that could reveal the truth of the Void Century. As such, the Government issued a false story claiming the Oharans were demons trying to revive the Ancient Weapons to destroy the world and placed a large bounty on Robin, forcing her to live the next 20+ years constantly on the run from everyone. The trauma from the event is the main driving force behind her actions in the Enies Lobby Saga.
    • Trafalgar Law's backstory had his hometown of Flevance massacred by neighboring countries due to a lie being spread about a skin disease called, "Amber Lead Syndrome", claiming that it was contagious. In reality, it was not contagious, it was a hereditary disease caused by generations of the kingdom's populace mining for the Amber Lead and turning it into various goods. The World Government and the kingdom's royalty were fully aware of how deadly amber lead was and that the disease was not contagious, but didn't reveal it to the public because of all the money they were making from trading amber lead goods. Once the symptoms became more and more noticeable, the royalty fled the country and abandoned the people, leaving them to fend for themselves as the neighboring countries quarantined the borders and then started killing the people to "contain the disease". This eventually culminated in the people grabbing weapons to fight back, only for the countries to invade and slaughter them under the obviously fake excuse of, "self-defense", ending with the entirety of Flevance being wiped out. Law only managed to survive by hiding under a pile of corpses that were being wheeled out of the country.

    Comic Books 
  • Gamora is the last member of the Zen Whoberian species. After her people were exterminated by the Universal Church of Truth, she was adopted by Thanos and trained as a deadly assassin.
  • Green Lantern: Atrocitus is the sole survivor of the Manhunter's massacre of Sector 666, there used to be four other survivors but he killed them and used their blood to help create the Red Lantern Corps.
  • Magneto is a Jewish man who survived The Holocaust when he was a boy. The experience of watching his entire family die and being sent to Auschwitz fundamentally shaped his personality, beliefs, and his reaction to the persecution of mutants. Magneto is more than willing to use deadly force to protect mutants because he's determined to make sure that what happened to the Jewish people in 1940s Europe never happens again.
  • Maus: Art's parents, Vladek and Anja, are Holocaust survivors. The book recounts their experiences during the Holocaust, as well as how it affected them afterward. His stepmother Mala is also a survivor, though the book doesn't go into as much detail about her story.
  • Rachel Summers is a survivor of an anti-mutant genocide that happened in a Bad Future.
  • In some versions of Superman's backstory, Krypton was deliberately destroyed by someone, making him and Supergirl examples of this. Being an infant at the time, he doesn't really have any memories of the event- but she does in some versions, and they're understandably unpleasant ones.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 revealed that Po was the sole survivor of an attack on his home village conducted by the main antagonist Lord Shen. It's revealed in the stinger and the third film Kung Fu Panda 3 that Po's biological father survived as well, and now leads a village of other pandas who also survived.
  • In The Mystery of the Third Planet, as well as the literary source, The Voyage of Alice, the villains attempt to kill a particular bird by exterminating its entire species. The bird they are after seems to be the only survivor.

    Films — Live Action 
  • The Dark Crystal: Jen and Kira survived the genocide of the Gelflings by the Skeksis; Jen because the Mystycs took him under their wing, Kira because her mother hid her before the garthims came, and she was later found and raised by Podlings.
  • Subverted in La Llorona when it’s revealed that Alma was killed by Enrique Monteverde himself during his genocide of the Mayans, and now her spirit has come back to haunt him.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Avengers: Infinity War opens with Thanos killing half the Asgardian refugees aboard the Grandmaster's spaceship, including Loki and Heimdall. Thor and Valkyrie are spared. In Avengers: Endgame, the survivors start a settlement called New Asgard, but due to Thor's depression over the events of the previous film, Valkyrie becomes the de facto leader.
    • Also in Avengers: Infinity War, it's revealed that Thanos executed half the population of Gamora's home planet, including her family, in the name of preserving "balance" and preventing an Overpopulation Crisis. He then adopted (or more accurately, kidnapped) her and raised her to be an assassin.
    • At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos uses the Infinity Gauntlet to destroy half of all life in the universe, a calamity known as the Decimation. The following film, Avengers: Endgame, follows the survivors as they try to cope with the horror of Thanos' actions and eventually come up with a plan to reverse the Decimation.
  • In The Monster Squad, the titular club meets the "Scary German Guy," an old man who lives in their neighborhood, who translates Van Helsing's journal for them and gives them advice about fighting monsters. When they ask if he's met monsters before, he wistfully says he has. The audience then sees a concentration camp serial number tattooed on his forearm.
  • Phoenix (2014) is about two Holocaust survivors, Nelly and Lene, who return to Berlin after Nelly has undergone facial reconstruction surgery. Nelly is looking for her husband, Johnny, to find out whether he betrayed her to the Nazis. Lene also commits suicide rather than going on living near the end, leaving Nelly alone.
  • The Pianist: The titular pianist is a Polish Jew called Szpilman and the movie tells the story of how he survives The Holocaust.
  • Star Trek: Generations: The villain is Dr. Tolian Soren, an El-Aurien scientist whose home planet was destroyed by the Borg. The majority of his species was wiped out, including his family, and the film chronicles his effort to escape into the Nexus where he'll be immortal and able to live out a fantasy where they never died.
  • Star Wars:
    • In A New Hope, the Empire uses the Death Star to blow up the planet of Alderaan, with Princess Leia being Forced to Watch as her home is instantaneously destroyed. The Expanded Universe goes into more detail about how this affected her. The comic Star Wars: Princess Leia goes over Leia's attempts to track down and protect any other surviving Alderaanians.
    • Obi-wan Kenobi and Yoda are among the only survivors of the Sith's attempt to wipe out the Jedi Order during the Clone Wars. They become hermits on different planets (Tatooine and Dagobah, respectively) until Luke Skywalker gets them both to train him as a Jedi. The expanded universe has since introduced several other survivors and focused on their lives trying to move on from the tragedy while avoiding discovery.

    Literature 
  • The people of Elatra in An Outcast in Another World assume that Rob is a Human that somehow survived The Scouring and The Cataclysm. They’re rightfully confused when he tells them that he’s from another world.
  • In The Belgariad, Taiba is the last surviving Marag. Her ancestors were almost completely wiped out when the greedy Tolnedrans invaded their realm hundreds of years earlier in an ill-conceived search for gold.
  • Devolution: Palomino is described as being one of the sole survivors of the Myanmar genocide by her adopted moms Carmen and Effie. This causes her to bond with Mostar, who survived the Croat-Bosnian War.
  • The Hunger Games: The Capitol destroys District 12 in retaliation for Katniss' actions, killing most of the population. Among the survivors are Katniss herself, her mother and sister, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, and a minor character named Delly. They and the other survivors all eventually go to District 13.
  • Real-life Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel wrote a trilogy of books — Night, Dawn, and Day — describing his experiences during and after The Holocaust, using different Author Avatars in each one to reflect on his thoughts on the subjectnote .
  • If This Is a Man tells how its author Primo Levi survived The Holocaust.
  • Number the Stars revolves around a family of Jews who were smuggled out of occupied Denmark and into neutral Sweden by their gentile friends before the Nazis got a hold of them.
  • In Briar Rose, Gemma was a Holocaust survivor who could only describe her experiences through Fairy Tale Motifs.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andromeda: Tyr's people, the Kodiak pride, were wiped out by the Drago-Kazov pride. Unfortunately for him, under Nietzschean morality, the fact that his people were wiped out only served as evidence that they, and by extension Tyr, were genetically inferior.
  • Beastmaster: Protagonist Dar is the last surviving member of his tribe and The Hero of the series. His childhood love is a member on her father’s side and also survived the initial purge, but is killed at the end of the first season.
  • Chernobyl: The fourth episode opens with a USSR soldier trying to force an elderly Ukrainian woman to evacuate due to the radiation. She states that because she has never been safe before, she sees no reason to leave her home now. She lists the Holodomor, a man-made famine in which millions of Ukrainians were starved to death by the Soviet government, among the horrors she has endured in her life. This reflects how little the Soviet government cares about the wellbeing of its average citizens, which is one of the show's major themes.
  • CSI: NY: In season 5's "Yahrzeit," Mac is shown a video of a woman recounting her days in a concentration camp, during which her niece's entire family had been executed. Later, he is sent a video of a man telling the story of his rescue by Mac's father from the camp in which he had been imprisoned. The episode ends with Mac visiting the woman to return a broach of her niece's that had been evidence in the Case of the Week.
  • Doctor Who: "Dalek" sees the Ninth Doctor come face to face with the title character, believed at the time to be the last in existence after the Doctor wiped out the entire Dalek army in the Time War.
  • Fate: The Winx Saga:
    • Played with in regards to Bloom. She survived the destruction of Aster Dell as a baby and sent to Earth as a changeling. While she's initially horrified upon hearing this, she changes her mind after learning her biological family wasn't actually from Aster Dell — the people of Aster Dell were blood witches who had kidnapped her.
    • Beatrix. She despises the teachers of Alfea for destroying her hometown, Aster Dell, when she was a baby and killing her entire family.
  • Mad Men: Michael Ginsberg is eventually revealed to have been born in a concentration camp during WWII. His later mental breakdown can possibly be linked to the mental trauma he suffered in his formative years.
  • The Mandalorian: Taking place after Return of the Jedi in the Star Wars universe, the series picks up with quite a few survivors of the Empire's attacks.
    • A citizen of Alderaan, Cara Dune was off-world at the time of her planet's destruction in A New Hope. She joined the Rebel Alliance and has a severe hatred of anything Imperial as a result of their actions.
    • The Child/Grogu was revealed to be one of the younglings from the Jedi Temple who somehow survived Order 66, as discussed by fellow survivor Ahsoka Tano.
    • The titular Mandalorian himself and his reclusive Mandalorian clan are survivors of an Imperial campaign of slaughter called the Great Purge of Mandalore. The Book of Boba Fett indicates that The Armorer, the leader of the clan, personally witnessed the "Night of a Thousand Tears" where troops scoured the planet's surface. The clan only survived due to being cloistered on the moon Concordia at the time.
  • Merlin (2008): Any practitioners of the Old Religion who survived Camelot's Great Purge count as this, including Gaius, Nimueh, and a significant number of the series's antagonists.
  • NUMB3RS: "Provenance" is about a Pissaro painting stolen from a small art gallery. An elderly Jewish Holocaust survivor named Erika Hellman and her grandson Joel are among the suspects because the former claims the painting belonged to her family before they were sent to the Nazi death camps. At the end, it turns out that the director of the art gallery stole it because he found out that it was a forgery, much to everybody else's surprise. Upon further investigation, it's discovered that Erika's father commissioned a Hungarian art forger to recreate the Pissaro and gave him the real one for safekeeping so the Nazis wouldn't be able to loot it. The episode ends with the real painting being discovered in a Hungarian police vault and it's sent over to Los Angeles so Don can give it to the Hellmans. Both are overjoyed at having one of their pre-Holocaust family heirlooms back.
  • The Pretender: Sydney and his brother survived Nazi camps. During the series, he even once met his former medical tormentor.
  • Stargate SG-1: On the planet Hanka, SG-1 finds a young girl named Cassandra, the only survivor of a population wiped out following the release of an engineered virus by the Goa'uld Nirrti. Initially, SG-1 thought they had brought the disease to the planet accidentally, but it comes to light that Cassandra was spared so Nirrti could use her as a living bomb to destroy the Earth stargate. They manage to foil the plot, Cassandra is eventually adopted by Dr. Fraiser, and she begins living on Earth.
  • Star Trek:
    • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Conscience of the King", Kirk is stated to be a survivor of a genocide on the planet Tarsus IV, where the Governor responded to a food shortage crisis by ordering thousands of citizens killed to ensure the rest could survive, using eugenics to decide who lived and died. Due to the nature of TV at the timenote , Kirk's status as a survivor of a genocide is never touched on elsewhere in the series.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation
      • The Borg, (cyborgs with a Hive Mind who turn you into one of them by "assimilating" you) tried to assimilate Guinan's whole species, but there were a few who survived un-assimilated, such as Guinan herself, and her immediate family.
      • "The Vengeance Factor" features the last surviving member of an alien clan on a lifelong mission to wipe out every last member of the clan that wiped hers out.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine started with the Bajorans being newly liberated after surviving the Cardassian occupation. Their recovery is a major theme of the series.
    • On Star Trek: Voyager, Neelix is one of the few survivors of a moon whose population was wiped out by a weapon of mass destruction.
  • Utopia: The chemically engineered Janus plot to make the entire population sterile in order to share resources more effectively exempts one set of people: the Romani people, Philip's own.

    Theater 
  • An American in Paris: Lise, in this adaptation, is revealed to be the daughter of Henri Baurel's Jewish butler. The Baurels risked their lives to shelter her during the Nazi occupation of France, making her feel beholden to Henri.
  • Discussed in Come From Away. During "Prayer", an elderly Newfoundlander approaches a stranded rabbi and tells him his story: His parents were Polish Jews who sent him to Canada before World War II started, and told him never to tell anyone of his heritage. He decides, in the wake of 9/11, that it is finally time to face that part of his past.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE: The entity known as Annona feeds by eating the dreams of others. One notable event was the Dreaming Plague where she fed on the dreams of the Iron Tribe, resulting in the tribe's descent into madness and eventually death. The plague caused neighboring tribes to shun any survivors in fear they may be carriers. One member, Telluris, suggested changing their armor colors in an attempt to disguise themselves and integrate with other tribes, but to no avail. When too few of the infected Iron Tribe members remained to pose a threat, the survivors emerged from hiding and separated in the hopes of finding a new life.

    Video Games 
  • Bioshock: Brigid Tenenbaum was sent during WW2 to Auschwitz and managed to survive by collaborating with Nazi doctors due to her being a Teen Genius at 16.
  • Darksiders: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are the last surviving Nephilim, an ancient race created by combining the essence of Angels and Demons. Angered over the fact they did not have a world of their own, the Nephilim waged war against all of creation. As the war dragged on, the four realized that the Nephilim rampage was destroying the balance of reality, thus they turned on their brethren and became servants of the Charred Council. In exchange for their service, the four were granted immense power and tasked with wiping out the Nephilim to preserve order. Afterwards the four would remain the enforcers of the Charred Council to help maintain the balance between Heaven and Hell before the time of the End War.
    • Darksiders II: It's revealed that one other Nephilim besides the four survived, the eldest and leader, Absalom. More specifically, Absalom was resurrected by a strange biomagic known simply as "Corruption". Now empowered by corruption, Absalom swears vengeance against the four that betrayed their kin and plans to use his newfound abilities to destroy the very balance the horsemen are sworn to protect by corrupting and destroying the "Tree of Life and Death" that connects all reality, along with the "Well of Souls" located within which controls the flow of life, death, and rebirth.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
    • Dedue is one of a handful of Duscur natives who survived a purge by the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus in response to their alleged involvement in the murder of their king. While Dedue has no love for Faerghus for annexing his country, he has sworn Undying Loyalty to Prince Dimitri, the only one to publicly stand up for him and his people.
    • Rhea, Seteth, and Flayn are a few of the last remaining survivors of the massacre of the Nabateans, a race of divine weredragons that has inhabited Fódlan since ancient times. Even though Rhea personally executed the main perpetrator, the psychological scars from the incident have stuck with her for over a millennium.
  • In Mass Effect 3, Javik is the sole surviving Prothean, having been put in stasis back when the Reapers wiped out his civilization.
  • In Megaman Star Force, Omega-Xis/Mega and the Satellite Admins are the only survivors of Planet AM.
  • Metal Gear Solid: One of the members of FOXHOUND and a major antagonist in the game is Sniper Wolf, a Kurdish woman who survived the Iraqi government's attempts to commit genocide against her people after the second Iraqi-Kurdish war.
  • Trails Series: Joshua Bright, the Liberl Arc's deuteragonist, is one of three survivors of the Hamel Incident, a massacre that was orchestrated by Georg Weissmann so that he can trigger the Hundred Days War. After that, Joshua is taken in by Georg and manipulated into being his pawn, joining Ouroboros in the process and becoming an Enforcer. The other two survivors of the massacre are Loewe (who is Joshua's rival Enforcer in Ouroboros) and Ash Carbide (who desires to assassinate the ones he sees as being responsible for the incident).

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • A hundred years before the start of the series, the Fire Nation wiped out the Air Nomads in hopes of killing Aang, the Avatar, in the process. Aang was the only survivor, ironically enough, because he was trapped in an iceberg the whole time and the Fire Nation never found him. The series delves into how much Aang struggles with being the Last of His Kind, such as when he visits the ruins of his former home and finds his father figure's remains or when he tries to stay true to the values of his culture even though his friends don't fully understand them.
    • After wiping out the Air Nomads, the Fire Nation launched a campaign to get rid of all the waterbenders in the Southern Water Tribe because the Avatar was expected to reincarnate as a waterbender. As a result, Katara is the only waterbender left in the entire South Pole. Throughout the first book, she struggles to learn waterbending on her own until she reaches the Northern Water Tribe and finds a teacher. In Book 3, she meets Hama, another waterbender from her tribe who had been captured many years ago but managed to escape and start a new life in the Fire Nation. They bond over their shared culture and Katara is excited to learn the traditional southern style of waterbending from Hama. That is, until she learns that Hama has been using bloodbending to kidnap and imprison random Fire Nation citizens as revenge for what happened to her.
  • Gargoyles:
    • The series begins with the main characters being the only survivors of a massacre that killed their clan. Then they awaken after a thousand years in hibernation to find that they were the last gargoyles on Earth (though it was later discovered that there were other gargoyle clans in the world).
    • The four pendant wearers of the Guatemalan gargoyle clan returned to their pyramid one day to find their clan had been destroyed.
    • Subverted with the Queen Florence Island gargoyles, who had the same story as the other destroyed clans, but it turned out to be a lie. There was never a gargoyle clan on Queen Florence Island, they were illusions conjured by a Trickster God.
    • Funnily enough the English Clan is a very successful version of this. It's mentioned in the "City Of Stone" trilogy that the English exterminated their gargoyles some time after the main cast was turned to stone. Then, while on their world tour, Goliath and company find Una, Leo, and later Griff living in England all the way back toward WW2, with a bookshop that has been in their clan for generations. The comic continuation from Slave Labor Graphics introduces two more English gargs, Stagheart and Constance, along with the reveal that the clan is MUCH larger than previously thought, possessing a castle and an abbey they use as their main nest with the bookshop just an outpost.
  • Star Wars: Rebels:
    • Kanan Jarrus is one of the few survivors of the Jedi purges, which affected him deeply. He changed his name and spent over a decade denying he had ever been a Jedi.
    • After The Empire bombed the hell out of Lasan, Zeb believed that he was the Last of His Kind. This changed when he encountered two fellow survivors who guided him to the true homeworld of the Lasat.
    • The Empire also genocided the Geonosians because they had knowledge of the Death Star, leaving one fellow referred to as Klik-Klak.

 
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Sozin's Final Words

In the final words of his will, Fire Lord Sozin mentioned how he spent the remainder of his life in vain searching for the Fire Nation's Greatest Threat.

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