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Humanity's Wake

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♫In the jungle, the urban jungle, the lion sleeps tonight♫

"Mankind, the very species which I've been chronicling from its terrestrial infancy to its domination of the galaxies, is extinct ... Why did they disappear? Perhaps it was a final, unimaginable war of annihilation, one that transcended the very meaning of conflict. Perhaps it was a gradual break-up of the united galaxies, and every race facing their private end slowly afterwards. Or perhaps, the wildest theories suggest, it was a mass migration to another plane of existence. A journey into somewhere, sometime, something else. But the bottom line is; we honestly don't know."
The Author, All Tomorrows

Humanity is extinct, leaving only legends behind.

Local residents Homo sapiens sapiens were reported dead in their home planet on Stardate 2814.7. The cause of death has not been confirmed. Police say they suspect a domestic dispute turned violent — as humanity was tragically prone to such things — but have not ruled out other possibilities such as homicide, patricide, foreign object collision or even a careless, self-inflicted accident such as poisoning or flooding. Meanwhile, an elderly species in the Vega system claims that humanity has ascended to a higher plane of existence. Whatever the case, our sources confirm that humanity is no longer active as a species, and in fact their home planet itself may no longer be habitable. There are unconfirmed rumors of a lone human survivor left to ponder their fate.

Humanity was born in The Time of Myths and made their home on the third planet in the Sol system, Orion Arm, Milky Way Galaxy. Growing up, they created various technological marvels and were an active participant in the galactic community; some even say the center of cosmic life. Humanity's former enemies, currently residing in a can, claim that their death was due to arrogance and overconfidence.

They will be remembered for their philanthropic work as Precursors, inventing several pieces of not-yet-Lost Technology, stopping several galactic warsnote  and being generally exceptional. However, their legacy is marred by allegations of neglect and even abuse towards others, as well as somewhat of a reputation for being frightening and difficult to interact with. Our reporter witnessed several young space-faring species in the Orion neighborhood daring each other to set foot in "Creepy Old Mannity's" Oort cloud. Regardless of the details, humanity will no doubt be remembered in books and stories for millennia to come, unless of course the ravages of time warp and erase all records.

Humanity is survived by approximately forty-two 'child' species including various mutants, uplifted animals, genetically-engineered subspecies and other assorted creations, all of whom are currently contesting the title of "Heirs of Humanity". It has also left behind sundry robots diligently continuing their tasks despite it no longer serving any purpose. Among these children, there are a wide range of feelings towards humanity's death. Some assure us they are overwhelmed with sadness and "will mourn for as long as we live". Others, including neighboring friendly aliens in the Omicron system, have pledged to give humanity a "second chance" by resurrecting and/or re-cloning them back into existence via undisclosed means. A few children plan to take up the family business and create their own civilization. Some, however, have expressed joy at the death of humanity and declared that they will thwart any resurrection plans. One interviewee, who wished to remain anonymous, told this publication that humanity was "a bunch of bastards" and that they plan to conduct a posthumous trial of the species' alleged crimes. Analysts are already speculating on whether any of these child species will avoid the many flaws which may have killed their parents.

The funeral reception will be held in the Galactic Core on Stardate 2815.3, and the burial will be in the Derelict Graveyard later that rotation. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Advanced Ancient Acropolis Repair Fund are requested.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Land of the Lustrous takes place long After the End. Humanity is extinct, evolving into three distinct species, thematically called the "Soul, Flesh, and Bone". The Gems are the "bone", immortal beings made of mineral who have symbiotic relationships with microorganisms to produce energy to move. The "flesh" is the Admirabilis, a race of intelligent slugs living in the sea who can transform into humanoid forms. Lastly, the "soul" is the Lunarians, mysterious beings who come from the moon to abduct the other two races. It's speculated that the "soul" want to become whole humans again. The "Ice Floes", pieces of ice and water that whisper to the Lustrous during the Winter, are revealed to be what's left of humanity's genetic data scattering into the ocean, hoping to be made human again.
    • Later plot revelations reveal that the Lunarians are literally the soul of humanity — specifically, the souls of the lowest scum of the old human race, unable to pass on to the afterlife because no living "true" humans remain to pray for them. Finding a way to do that is now their only objective, even though they know succeeding will obliterate the Gems and the Admirabilis alongside them.
  • Chiaki Konaka's Malice@Doll focuses on robot prostitutes in a future where humanity extinct. They still have to cruise looking for men because it's in their programming.
  • In Texhnolyze those living on the surface are little more than shades of humans who live without purpose. The underground Lux is thrust into slaughter and carnage in the last few episodes, with essentially everyone dead by the end as the city goes dark.

    Comic Books 
  • Apocrypha by John and Laura Lakey. Originally a 8 chapters series that appeared in Epic Illustrated No 25-26. Animals evolved among humankind ruins. The evolved civilization is fairly modern (although no advance tech such as computers are seen) and is slowly learning from the technology that humanity had left behind. Unfortunately, they are getting humanity's bad habits and may go down the same road to destruction.
  • Atavar takes place in a future where humanity is extinct, having left behind a race of robots called UOS. UOS is bent on wiping out all life in the galaxy. Nice going, humans.
  • This was the Mandatory Twist Ending of one EC Comics story ("The Arrival," ShockSuspenStories #8), which reveals that the survivors of a nuclear war on Earth who rebuilt a space-faring civilization on their planet and successfully establish First Contact with aliens are not humans but evolved rats.
  • Mighty Tiny by Ben Dunn, creator of Ninja High School. Humanity is extinct. Mice and rats had evolved into the dominant life forms and have created their own civilizations similar to pre-WWII Europe. Two countries, Mosputa and Ratvaria, are in control with an uneasy peace between them. Although there are usually plots that endangered that peace throughout the course of the series.
  • The 1980s Marvel limited series Starriors by Louise Simonson (based on a line of action figures) tells of a future age when Earth has been laid waste by solar flares. A group of humans tried to survive the disaster by going into suspended animation, leaving robots behind to tend and protect the world until it was safe to reawaken. However, they don't wake up on time. The robots gradually develop sentience, and their memories of man dim till humanity becomes the stuff of legend. When evidence is discovered that the legends may be true, a war breaks out between those who believe the humans should be found and revived, and those who believe they should be left to slumber forever.

    Fan Works 
  • Because of copious use of Schizo Tech and other arguably non-pony-friendly tools and equipment, it's a common Fandom-Specific Plot to depict My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic as taking place after Humanity's Wake.
    • Anthropology: Although long-extinct in Equestria, human society and inventions greatly influenced pony society — almost every tool and device used by ponies was first developed by humans, and consequently Equestrian society is filled with things that don't make sense for horses to use (such as round doorknobs, or string instruments almost impossible to play without fingers) that exist as holdovers from the previous human culture.
    • Friendship is Witchcraft: This might be the case , if the Show Within a Show Snowblind is accurate. The teacher mentions that "winter is the great equalizer" and that it killed off all the humans.
    • Paradise: Humans still existed during Celestia and Luna's foalhoods.
    • Ruin Value: Discord mentions human ruins like the Colosseum while remarking on the desolate beauty of the post-modern city that Celestia is scavenging through. This is foreshadowing for the Twist Ending, which reveals the whole story was actually a Stealth Prequel to the series, and that Luna, Celestia, and Discord are all Artifical Lifeforms created by humans.
    • The Last Human: A Tale of the Pre-Classical Era: A Fusion Fic with The Last Unicorn that inverts the premise: the titular human, upon discovering that he is indeed the last, sets out on a journey to discover what happened to the rest of them.
    • The Writing on the Wall is about Daring Do exploring an ancient structure which predates ponies by many thousands of years, using incredibly advanced masonry for such an ancient civilization, full of intimidating architecture clearly meant to scare away future explorers. Everyone makes the natural assumption that it must be a tomb, with the titular writing on the wall being a warning of a curse upon those who would defile the sanctity of the place. It isn't. It's a nuclear waste site.
  • In The Last Human, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fanfic, the Mutagen that has been used so copiously by villains and corporations alike has leaked into the groundwater, and all children, be it animal or human, born from this point on will be mutants. The story deals with Michelangelo's pondering on the fact that he and his fellow mutants will be the ones to inherit the Earth when humanity finally goes extinct.
  • Biomass Effect: Humanity as a species is extinct, but they live on as part of Blacklight's Hive Mind.

    Films — Animated 
  • 9: The world is a tombstone for humanity.
  • Rock and Rule depicts the humanoid descendants of dogs, cats, and rats (along with the occasional mutant) living atop and amongst the ruins of human civilization. They seem to have recreated a fairly accurate simulacrum of late '70s/early '80s North America.
  • Jay Ward, the creative director of Cars 3 believes that they're all robot cars that rebelled and wiped humanity out years ago.
  • In Wizards we were mostly wiped out in a war with the few survivors becoming mutants. Luckily The Magic Came Back and our true ancestors, elves and fairies reclaimed the Earth.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • All Tomorrows covers roughly a billion years of humanity's future descendants evolving into various new species and going through mass extinction after extinction, before finally revealing that the author is an alien paleontologist writing on humanity's fossil remains, with no idea what finally drove the clade to complete extinction.
  • In Angel Notes, the human race has genetic-engineered itself into around a hundred different sub-species that, collectively, refer to themselves as the human race. The main character is the final remaining true human being, and he dies at the end. This is not good for the human race, as only a true human can use the Black Barrel, one of the only effective weapons they had against the invading Eldritch Abominations that want to annihilate the remnants of humanity.
  • Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard: The Galaxy is populated by many species of Uplifted Animals but no humans. Once while the main character was serving in the Alliance Patrol his ship came across an ancient probe that projected a hologram of a human, the captain ordered the site vaporized and insisted that they discovered nothing. Eventually it turns out the founders of the Alliance couldn't stand sharing a universe with their creators and destroyed them, and all the records of their existence.
  • Brian Aldiss's short story But Who Can Replace A Man? The robots are overjoyed that humanity is wiped out and they are now free, but they end up nuking each other and in the end they come across one surviving human, whom their programming compels them to obey.
  • City by Clifford Simak is a fix-up whose component short stories start in the near future and continue until after humanity is extinct; the Framing Device consists of archival notes by uplifted dogs.
  • Cylinder van Troffa is about the process of humanity going extinct, but the Framing Device features filian archaeologists (descendants of Earth colonists in Tau Ceti system) who come to Earth over a thousand years afterwards to excavate the ancient cities.
  • Dougal Dixon has written two versions of this trope.
    • After Man: A Zoology of the Future: Humanity dies out for unspecified reasons after causing the extinction of most megafauna, down to canines and all but one feline. After fifty million years of evolution, the empty niches are filled by the descendants of either smaller animals like rabbits, rats, and mongooses, or by those of domesticated but adaptable animals such as pigs and goats.
    • Man After Man: An Anthropology of the Future: Humans speciate into dozens of varieties, some sapient but most not, first through the creation of nonsapient humans through genetic engineering in order to fill the niches left empty by the extinction of most animal life and later by natural selection of these posthumans.
  • Louise Searl's short story Sharazad, featured in The Dream Eaters And Other Stories, is set in a future where humans are extinct. In the time since their (self-inflicted) extinction, lions, hyenas and African wild dogs have become intelligent.
  • Earth (The Book) is addressed to a civilization that has discover the planet after humanity's unspecified demise. The book also provides instructions for humans to add their DNA to two storage locations: the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and the Trementina Base in New Mexico (built by Scientologists). At the end of the book, Stewart recommends that the aliens use the DNA to "reconstitute" humans, possibly as slaves.
  • Evolution: After human civilization is destroyed by a supervolcano, its last remnant are what eventually become super-advanced robots, virtually everything else fading into oblivion and nature, through normal evolution, takes over. New human species appear, diversifying into many niches as simply more animals in the environment, and the last of them is a small monkey-like creature that lives in symbiosis with trees in the searing-hot red plains of the future supercontinent.
  • The Future Is Wild describes many animal species that evolve long after humanity has left the planet and died out. In the last segment, a new type of tree-dwelling cephalopods show signs that they may develop a civilization of their own.
  • The short story "History Lessons" by Arthur C. Clarke is about alien lifeforms from Venus studying the few remaining artifacts of the human found on a frozen Earth. The one that confuses them the most is a short film portraying people behaving in a variety of strange ways, revealed at the end to be a Walt Disney cartoon.
  • Last and First Men has all of the "First Men" killed in an atomic holocaust 100,000 years from now. Save for thirty-five who mutate into the Second Men, starting a cycle of extinction and replacement that continues for two billion years and 16 more species until the Eighteenth Men die when the Sun goes supernova.
  • Many H. P. Lovecraft stories don't take place in such a setting but have the idea of humans as an insignificant blip in a universe of monsters about to be snuffed out. Mike Mignola's works also have visions of a future-earth where man is no more.
    • "The Shadow Out of Time" explicitly states that at least 14,000 years in the future humanity will die out and be replaced by a race of intelligent beetles (into whom the Great Race of Yith transfer their consciousnesses). Given what a nightmare universe the Cthulhu Mythos is, it's impressive we make it that far.
    • Lovecraft takes the theme in a different direction in "Memory", in which a demon and genie idly contemplate a number of apes who frolic in ancient ruins. The demon eventually remembers that the apes are the descendants of an older race called "man", the original builders of the ruins.
  • In The Monster, an expansionist alien race arrives on Earth to find everyone long dead. They study human artifacts and use their tech to revive some humans from their remains. One or two they end up killing afterwards, after they prove to be dangerous (apparently, humans have developed certain superpowers, including teleportation). They learn that humanity was destroyed by an "atomic storm" that passed through the Solar System. One of the revived humans manages to flee and proves to be impossible to kill. Deciding that sending a warning or traveling home would reveal to the human their tech and planet location, they choose to fly their ship into the sun. Moments before the end, one of the aliens realizes that the human has already learned all he needs, including revival and FTL tech, as well as the location of their planet. He's too late to stop the ship.
  • N. K. Jemisin's short story "On the Banks of the River Lex": A community of leftover Anthropomorphic Personifications have survived humanity's extinction and are squatting in the ruins of New York, pursuing new hobbies, keeping favourite bits of human culture alive, or just waiting to fade away for good. By the end, Death studies some unusually intelligent octopuses and wonders what it will be like to have tentacles.
  • In short story "Pots" by C. J. Cherryh a race of aliens comes across a space probe with Pioneer plaque on the board, after mankind is long gone from the Earth. They attempt to find remaining descendants of humanity, while spreading romantic legend about first space travelers across galaxy. They remake their whole social structure, with hibernation and cloning for top leaders and scientists, for this purpose. When group of archeologists finally finds something on third planet of small, yellow star it turns out humankind destroyed itself shortly after setting foot on the Moon.
  • In The Purple Cloud, the titular Fog of Doom wipes out nearly all human and animal life on Earth. As the years pass, the bodies rot away, the fields return to their natural state, and the towns become overgrown (at least the ones that Adam, the last man, hasn't destroyed out of boredom).
  • Re Body: Robots kill us all, revive a human head, and set out to destroy some uplifted animals we had created.
  • In Requiem, it is mentioned that once humanity finally managed to wipe itself out, two factions arose, each seeing itself as the true descendants of mankind: the robots and the mutants. The robots are animalistic tanks (elephant, gorilla, TRex...) while the mutants are hybrids and zombie-like things.
  • Charles Stross's Saturn's Children is a story about humanoid robots living in the wake of humanity's demise. Various factions have a vested interest in either reviving humanity or keeping them extinct, as the robots are still programmed to be absolutely obedient to humans — meaning a single living human could topple all of robotic civilization, and if that human could be raised to obey a robot, that robot would control all of robotic civilization.
  • Mark Twain's short story "Some Learned Fables for Good Old Boys and Girls" satirically depicts a mini-civilization of Talking Animals pompously investigating some human ruins and coming to completely wrong conclusions about everything. They do encounter a functioning train at one point, so it may be they are visiting a ghost town rather than the grave of all humanity; the point is never made clear.
  • A Ray Bradbury short story, "There Will Come Soft Rains" (named after a poem which also features the trope) is about a Smart House still running through its daily functions centuries after humanity wipes itself out in a global nuclear war.
    • When taken in the context of The Martian Chronicles where it's reprinted as part of the setting, the smart house has only been going through the motions for a few days at the most after World War III (it still has fresh bacon and eggs to make the uneaten breakfasts with, and the master's dog is still barely alive). Though humanity hasn't been wiped out completely, human civilization has essentially suffered the same fate as that of the Martians', dead and remembered only by those few survivors (Human or Martian) left.
  • In Sasya Fox's Theta nearly all the cast are Beast Men who live on several planets spread throughout the galaxy and were created by a race they call "The Ancients". Late in the novel the one alien character refers to the Ancients as "Man".
  • This is the central premise of The World Without Us. The book is a thought experiment by Alan Wiesman on how our infrastructure would crumble and fade if humanity were to disappear entirely.
  • The short story Written on the Wind by David Levine, has a federation of alien races trying to decipher a message coded into the fabric of the universe, which turns out to be from humanity who destroyed the universe through nanotechnology; before the end they were able to program the nanites to rebuild the universe and create new and more diverse life.
  • Roger Zelazny:
    • "The Stainless Steel Leech" from the story collection Last Defender of Camelot, in which humanity has died out, leaving behind a society of robots. They've adopted the behavior of humans for the most part, though developed strange superstitions. One of the robots developed a hardware problem and became a vampire of sorts, and while hiding from the rest came upon a human vampire, the last of its kind and slowly starving from lack of blood.
    • "For A Breath I Tarry" from the same collection has a similar setting, used as a retelling of Faust, though the tragic ending is averted by the creation of a new race of humans.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Aftermath: "Population Zero" is a speculative documentary that looks at what would happen to the earth if the human race suddenly disappeared.
    • Another Aftermath episode, "Red Giant/Swallowed by the Sun" features the human race (along with all other life on Earth) being cooked into extinction by the Sun (which, in this experiment, has had its aging into a red giant being sped up, skipping billions of years). Once humanity goes extinct, concrete structures and objects made of synthetic materials are the first to crumble. Stone structures like the Great Pyramids and Mount Rushmore last longer, but they eventually melt when Earth reaches 1,320 °C. Ultimately subverted, as some people escaped to the Solar System's outer planets, where temperatures have now reached habitable levels.
  • In the new series of Doctor Who episode, "The End of the World", which is set billions of the years in the future, Cassandra claims to be the last human. The sequel story ignored this and offered a Hand Wave to the effect that there are billions of mutants and hybrids (most of whom look exactly like H. sapiens) and she's just a racist. A latter story "Utopia" showed humans existing 100 trillion(!) years from now. (Humanity has come back into existence in the meantime, handwaved by the Doctor saying that even though humans did go through different evolutionary forms, they always seem to return to their basic form eventually.)
  • Life After People and explores what might happen to the world if the human race simply vanished today.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Resurrection", 12 years after every last human on Earth was wiped out in a biological war, the androids Martin and Alicia plan to recreate humanity using DNA samples which were preserved before the war.
    • In "Rite of Passage", the Vorak discovered Earth after humanity was wiped out and recreate the original inhabitants using DNA samples found on skeletons.
  • Red Dwarf takes place millions of yearsnote  after humanity's presumed extinction, apart from Lister who was in stasis for a very long time.
  • In Wayward Pines, after Ethan Burke makes it out of the titular town, he goes in the direction of Boise, Idaho, the nearest large city, but all he finds are overgrown ruins. They later find videos of scouts sent out to other parts of the country with views of other cities' ruins.

    Music 
  • Flight of the Conchords
    Finally, robotic beings rule the world
    The humans are dead.
  • "Fairy's Paradise" by CocoRosie is about how after humanity nukes itself out of existence, the fairies will frolic in the ruins of our civilization.
  • "A Return to the Sea" by Nightwish describes how mankind goes extinct, evolution taking control again and animals living in peace.
  • "Amused to Death" by Roger Waters describes alien anthropologists finding the remains of the human race huddled around a TV set. Though initially puzzled at what caused humanity's demise, they ultimately conclude that we destroyed ourselves after adopting a culture that embraced war as entertainment and destruction as a way of life.
    But on eliminating every other reason for our sad demise
    They logged the only explanation left
    This species has amused itself to death.
    Tabletop Games 
  • In the backstory of Hc Svnt Dracones the creation of bipedal and sentient animals known as "Vectors" set off a sequence of events that ended in a nuclear war between Mega Corps and traditional governments that sterilized Earth. During the war gene therapies designed to repair the mutations from radiation enabled humans to be transformed into Vectors and MarsCo offered those who took the procedure the chance to evacuate to Mars, while amping up production of other Vectors. Within a century unmodified humans were extinct.
  • In Pugmire humanity is gone, it's unspecified how, but the uplifted dogs of the Church of Man believe they ascended to a higher plane of existence. While some other uplifted animals think they're just dead. In any case Man's former client species have attained a Medieval European Fantasy state treating human Lost Technology as magic and mining plastic to use as currency.

    Video Games 
  • Biomutant takes place on a world where humanity is either extinct or otherwise left for the stars, leaving behind a planet ravaged by pollution and radiation that has given rise to new races of sentient animaloids.
  • Bug Fables offers this as a possibility for its setting. Humans, or "the Giants," have mysteriously vanished before the time bugs started gaining sapience and magic crystals began showing up. In-universe, some have speculated that they moved to another world, others that they were wiped out in "fires raining down from the sky." Regardless, several human objects are seen littering the setting (which is a backyard), and the one visible house has its windows ominously boarded up. The entire game is from the perspective of bugs who have no idea for certain who humans were and what happened to them, leaving it as a major mystery.
  • Creeper World 3 takes place five billion years in the future after the player wakes up from cryosleep. All that is left in the universe is the countless ruins of civilizations that rose up, then fell against the Creeper, an unstoppable Blob Monster.
  • Occurs in Horizon Zero Dawn through a mass extinction event. While humanity did "survive", they have been taken back to Tool/Bronze Age levels of technology mixed with robot dinosaurs and animals, and our history is known as the folly of the Old Ones. What makes it closer to this trope is that humanity did go totally extinct thanks to the Faro Plague that wiped out every life form on Earth. For a period of about 200 years humanity only existed as zygotes in cryogenic suspension that would be grown into a new civilization once life outside the Cradle vaults was habitable again.
  • The world of Inherit the Earth: The Quest for the Orb is a world where humanity has disappeared, leaving the Uplifted Animals wondering where their progenitors went.
  • Kirby and the Forgotten Land sees Kirby in the titular "forgotten land", a world with cities, cars, various pieces of infrastructure, and an entire amusement park...and yet not a single living soul, the entire land abandoned and reclaimed by the Beast Pack. In this case, however, it's an implied subversion, as not only did the inhabitants of the new world not die (they actually left the planet of their own accord), there are heavy hints they weren't even human to begin with (and in fact might've been the Ancients.
  • In the Eastern RPG Last Armageddon, demons have taken over the Earth since humanity became extinct.
  • Little Tail Bronx: The series takes place thousands of years after humanity went extinct following a global war and a premeditated extermination of their species that was done to protect all other life on the planet, with their replacement species being the anthropomorphic dog and cat races of Caninu and Felineko. Vague legends of ancient civilizations still persist in this new world, however, and a core plot element of the series is that the antagonists are often seeking what humanity left behind— usually Mechanical Abominations known as Titano-Machina that were used as weapons in their last war— in order to exploit them for their own self-serving ends. Interestingly, Solatorobo: Red the Hunter focuses on humanity's self-destructive nature as a major plot point: long-lived characters Elh and Béluga have seen the Caninu and Felineko exhibit violent tendencies of their own for centuries and worry if their own races are destined to destroy themselves in the same way that humanity did, and main antagonist Baion is an Artifical Human from the time of old humanity whose plan is to exterminate the "failures" of the new world for falling into these same trappings.
  • This happens in the "Refuse" ending added in the Extended Cut DLC for Mass Effect 3. If you refuse to fire the Crucible, the Reapers overwhelm the allied species of the galaxy and continue their cycle of extinction — but a later cycle of new species defeats the Reapers for good, remembering the story of the human Commander Shepard thanks to Liara's time capsules.
  • Occurs in the Time Skip between Mega Man ZX and Mega Man Legends. Humanity first managed to combine with reploids to become superior cyborgs, then created organic robots in the image of what humans used to be like as a servant race, then true humanity goes extinct, leaving the servant race behind to try and fend off the fail-safes that now think they've Turned Against Their Masters. The series MacGuffin of Legends is the last remaining sample of human DNA.
  • NieR: The events of the game ensure that the remnants of humanity will die out in a generation, as Gestalts can no longer prolong their descent to madness and Replicants cannot reproduce. A group of androids in the distant future of NieR: Automata attempt to fabricate a narrative that humanity survived afterwards somehow and are currently seeking refuge on the moon, but it's merely a front to give the androids morale during the ongoing Forever War.
  • Nintendo loves this trope.
    • PNF-404, the planet Pikmin is set on, is a future version of Earth where humanity is extinct.
    • Splatoon is set millennia after humans (and many land-dwelling animals, including all mammals) were wiped out due to rising sea levels and global conflict, with marine animals forming a society within what humanity left behind. While they are fully aware that humans were the previous dominant species, their knowledge about them is limited... which is ironic, considering that the Splatfests that the Inklings adore so much are based on them receiving ancient recordings of human conversations.
    • There are implications that the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team games take place after humans have either left the area or have gone extinct. Future Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games make it more vague, though in Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity discusses humans as being present in in-universe myths.
    • Shiver Star in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is a post-apocalyptic earth where humanity there is likely extinct with what remaining survivors (going by Ado's presence) being forced to live in space or other planets.
  • In Escape Velocity Nova, at least three of the storylines end with references to all of humanity ascending to a higher plane, although it happens millennia after the player's involvement ceases.
  • Primordia (2012) takes place in a world where humanity has been gone for so long that their robot creations have had time to build their own society and found a religion about "Man the All-Builder."
  • Rengoku: Statius in both games drops that there are no spectators, humanity have died out ages ago and the Purgatory remained automated. ADAMs are fighting for literally no reason, but can't go against the programming. In the second game Beatrice says she and Gram are the only "souls" left on the planet.
  • This is the backstory of The Talos Principle, although it takes a lot of digging by the player-character to find out. A virus released from permafrost by global warming infected the world before it could be identified, meaning the human race collectively had a few weeks to live. Some of them chose to spend that time creating a computer system that would serve primarily as a preserve of all human knowledge and culture, but also to try to eventually create an AI that would be advanced enough to appreciate these records. Decades later, the project is nearing completion, but the records are corrupted nearly to oblivion, leaving the AI to try to fit together the pieces. The Road to Gehenna DLC expands this by showing a community of A.I.s who spent their time trying to reverse-engineer human culture using the few tidbits of information available to them.
  • Tokyo Jungle has this as its entire premise. You play as a member of a variety of species, surviving in Tokyo after all humanity has vanished.
  • ULTRAKILL: When the game's Tag Line is "MANKIND IS DEAD. BLOOD IS FUEL. HELL IS FULL.", it's clear that humankind is long gone dead, especially since the game takes place after humanity's extinction and Killer Robots are all that are left of humankind. It's not clear what happened, but according to writings you find in Wrath it happened in a matter of minutes, so quickly that the River Styx became an ocean. The Testament at S-0 implied that the human race destroyed itself through the evils of its own free will, though the related ARG implies other forces stirred the pot to make sure they did.
  • Utawarerumono: It is implied that this is the real setting of the story. Humanity has either departed the planet or is plain old extinct. The half-human hybrids populating the planet are genetic creations of humanity.
    • The truth is far more sinister. Hakuoro turned the remaining humans (most have died in an implied cataclysmic war) into blob monsters, although to be fair they killed and dissected his wife and child first.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X: Humanity, as we know it, went extinct when the Earth was destroyed. The Lifehold, which is said to contain humans who are in stasis, actually contains a liquid pool of genetic material for creating new humans. The ending reveals that when the White Whale crash-landed on Mira, the computers containing humanity's collective memories was destroyed: as such, all that remains of humanity are the "mimeosomes", androids created in humanity's likeness.
  • By the time in which Stray (2022) takes place, humanity has died out completely, replaced by their robot creations who have adopted their customs and culture. In fact, the last human remaining — B-12 — had long since lost their organic body to the plague responsible for the extinction, only surviving by uploading their brain into the virtual network. Even then, by the time the Cat finds them, they've lost all memory of their former identity, believing themself to be their own robotic creation.

    Webcomics 
  • A fairly common background to Furry Comics, some notable examples:
    • Jack, where humans created furries and then were wiped out by the first furry, Jack.
    • In Furthia High humans turned themselves into furries at least a couple generations ago, Kale is the last known human.
    • Forest Hill takes place in a distant future resembling the 1990's. Humans disappeared in the distant past and took much of their technology with them and their creations now worship them.
  • In Our Shadow is set 50,000 years after humanity vanished from the Earth and every other species with something resembling hands has evolved sapience. Though primates other than lemurs are oddly absent. It eventually turns out the majority of humanity got bored with physical reality and migrated en masse to virtual reality, and the apes and monkeys did the same 35,000 years later. However, a minority of humans called the Adverse rejected VR and boarded a relativistic ship, returning at the end of the first part.
  • The segments with the Wandering Vagabond and crew in Homestuck, set in the desert wastes of Earth after it was scoured of life by the Reckoning.
  • Hue Are You within the first few panels, the last human on the planet dies and is confirmed dead. The second episode shows the world 100 years later and starts the plot.
  • Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life follows the adventures of a pair of robots living in a solar system where humanity has died out due to sheer disinterest in procreation.
  • Only Human, humanity has abandoned its organic bodies and has become a Mechanical Lifeform, called Automa.
  • The big reveal at the end of this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic is that the astronauts in the pictures are aliens landing on a barren dead earth and reading a monolith left behind by humanity describing how they gradually moved into virtual reality where the perception of time was greatly accelerated to the point that an instant could be stretched into eternity.
    Dear traveler: please don't think ill of us. We are the last generation. And we are immortal.
  • Skela And The Oddstrange takes place long after humanity has fallen, and the world has become inhabited by monster-like humanoids.
  • S.S.D.D.: Downplayed, Tessa and Kevin see a fossilized human skull in a museum, but it's implied that sapient apes simply never made it past the stone age in their universe, leaving other species to develop advanced technology.

    Web Original 
  • In the Chrysalis (Beaver Fur) short story on Reddit, humanity is killed off when invading aliens glass the surface of Earth with thermonuclear weapons, to make room for a resource mining operation. This process takes longer than the aliens anticipated, giving humanity enough time to create an AI successor. The team creating the AI debate how "human" it should be, versus how coldly ruthless it should be. They pair the sentient AI with a subsentient worker AI that manages all of humanity's remaining machines below the surface of the planet, allowing the new sentient AI to rebuild civilization... or build an intergalactic war machine of vengeance.
  • The Clockwork Raven features two children struggling to survive among the mostly useless remnants of an skyborne society so advanced it may as well have been a different planet. There are still humans left on the surface, but Karla and Kio want nothing more than to join them, depopulating the sky for good.
  • Day of the Barney Trilogy has Barney temporarily succeed in creating a society that, had it existed long enough, would have resulted in this. After the Great Act of Love, every adult and teenager hides from Barney and his followers while every human child has become Barney's Special Friend. Barney cares for them and makes sure they're well-fed and happy until they turn thirteen, at which point he murders the boys and takes the girls away so he can rape them and impregnate them with Loved Ones. Due to the allure of Barney and the inclusiveness of his group of Special Friends, as well as the combination of boys generally not being able to reproduce before reaching the age of thirteen as well as them (hopefully) not performing sexual activity with the girls, the full-blooded human race would have died off if Barney had reigned for long enough, with the Loved Ones as the last surviving remnant of humanity.
  • Technically averted in the Orion's Arm setting. True members of Homo sapiens sapiens still exist in large numbers, but they are rare in comparison to the overall population of humanity's descendants and are generally only found in baseline reserves.
  • In The Periodic Table Of Science Fiction, one of the stories features a miner who, waiting for a rescue ship and with nothing to do, uses the harvested ores to paint the surface of the asteroid he's stranded on. It eventually becomes acclaimed as an artistic masterpiece and a galactic cultural treasure by alien species long after the human race itself disappears.
  • RWBY uses a variation of this trope as a major twist in Volume 6. The world of Remnant has a Meaningful Name because it is what is left over after humanity challenged the Gods. Angered by their creations' defiance, the Gods wiped out humanity and abandoned the world, destroying a chunk of the Moon in the process. It is unknown how the current population of the world, Humans and Faunus, came into existence, but they are a mere shadow of the original humanity. Big Bad Salem is a Living Relic, the last of the original humanity and a being cursed with Immortality that led humanity in their rebellion. Big Good Ozpin is likewise a leftover from the original humanity, reincarnating into a new host whenever he dies.
  • SCP-4100 Future Imperfect is a file on Earth from the archive of Stellar Congressional Protectorate written millennia after the earth was abandoned due to an attack by a mysterious Behemoth-class entity. Humanity is currently extinct, but files recovered from the ancient earth heavily implies that the Stellar Congressional Protectorate was founded by the SCP Foundation.
  • The short film "Welcome to Earth" has alien visitors arriving to an uninhabitable Earth and watching videos at a museum dedicated to preserving humanity's knowledge for any future alien visitors. One of the visitors, still wearing his helmet, is particularly interested in one of the so-called "ambassadors", a group of 7 astronauts, sent out in experimental FTL-capable ships in order to find any aliens and ask for their help in saving humankind. One-by-one, the "ambassadors" died due to equipment failure or hull breaches. The "ambassador" of interest is the last to die, crash-landing on an icy world and freezing to death. The helmet finally comes off, revealing the face of the frozen "ambassador". Apparently, aliens found and revived him long after humanity went extinct, and he realizes he's too late to save his family.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: A lighthearted cartoon series where the existence of the last boy on Earth is rather surprising, after the great mushroom war and given that humans are considered extinct delicacies.
    • A good number of characters though are either partly human or used to be human. Also, with the arrival of Betty there is now at least one other full-blooded human in Ooo. Finn's Dad has been released from the cosmic prison he was held in, though he immediately ran off just to continue doing whatever he wants, and in the "Islands" arc Finn meets his mother and a whole colony of humans who survived the war.
  • Similar to the above, one episode of Justice League Unlimited had Superman catapulted into the future thousands of years by a so-called disintegration ray, where he discovered Vandal Savage had inadvertently wiped out the rest of humanity in one of his attempts at world domination. As the only sapient being on Earth, he went insane, grew Bored with Insanity, and then invited Superman home for dinner. "Like you've got anything better to do."
  • The Love, Death & Robots episode "Three Robots" sees a trio of robots touring a post-apocalyptic city and discussing human habits and objects.
  • The MGM cartoon Peace on Earth, and its Cinemascope remake Good Will to Men, feature a civilization of Talking Animals building their own towns after mankind wipes itself out through warfare.
  • There was an episode of Superfriends in which aliens find Earth devastated and lifeless. They search our records, find that one of the Legion of Doom's schemes had terrible unintended consequences, and used time travel to set things right without making their intervention too obvious.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): The Mutant Apocalypse trilogy is set in a Bad Future, causing by the Turtles failing to prevent the Mutagen Bomb from detonating and causing The End of the World as We Know It. 50 years later, the now much older Turtles (Raphael having become a warrior called the Red Stripe, Michelangelo having become a crazy hermit due to loneliness, Donatello having uploaded his mind into the robot Metalhead 2.0 to survive, and Leonardo having turned into an super-mutant full of rage due to being at the epicentre of the Mutagen Bomb, becoming the Wasteland Warlord Maximus Kong) and other mutants fight for survival in a desert wasteland. The Opening Narration confirms that no humans survived the apocalypse, having all died out or turned into mutants.
    Real Life 
  • A localized version that's more of an evacuation than extinction. In the wake of the Chernobyl disaster, humanity is pretty much mostly gone from the exclusion zone. The area has been and is being studied by scientists to figure out what does happen if humanity up and leaves from an area and never comes back. The creators of Life After People drew much of their inspiration from Chernobyl. So far, scientists have discovered that some of the local wildlife has actually adapted (somewhat) to the radiation. Blood samples from numerous species of birds have revealed they've developed a huge increase in antioxidants to fight off the free radicals that would prematurely age them to death. But though that aids their struggle, it's still a struggle: Reproductive success rates are way down, bird populations overall remain around 40% of pre-accident rates, and as many as 30% of male birds tested were sterile. About the only wildlife that appears to be doing better post-accident are the wolves, and perhaps most interestingly of all, wild horses. In the case of the horses, they were deliberately transported to the edges of the exclusion zone as a sort of nature reserve, and so far seem to be doing reasonably well.
    • Similar observations have been made of thriving wildlife in the De-Militarized Zone between North and South Korea, with the big difference being that there are land mines instead of nuclear radiation.
    • To a lesser extent, as the area has only been temporarily closed off and is swiftly being cleaned up, the areas of the Tohoku region surrounding the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant has offered opportunities for scientists to study how animals and plants behave in urban environments without human interference. One species studied are native wild boar, who seem to be getting up to a lot of mischief, smashing windows and being a general nuisance for construction and cleanup crews in their hunt for food, and interbreeding with domestic pigs left behind after people had to evacuate from farms in the surrounding area.
    • Likewise, the large impact and range areas of several current and former U.S. military bases function as important wildlife reservoirs, as the presence of unexploded ordnance prevents them from being used for anything else.
    • As well as the Zone Rouge, a strip of France so decimated by WW1 fighting it was declared uninhabitable, and which ranges from picturesque scenes of nature (albeit with oddly bumpy terrain and a proliferation of unexploded ordnance) to areas so polluted with chemical weapons and heavy metals that a century later they are still effectively wastelands.
    • There's a recent effort to install solar panels in the Exclusion Zone to make some use of the land. The best part is that the electrical infrastructure to deliver the generated power is already there, so all they have to do is connect the panels to the grid.

 
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Good Will to Men

An elderly mouse tells the story of how men destroyed themselves, and animals inherited the earth (and Christianity, strangely enough).

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