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Living Relic

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Fish out of Temporal Water? He's made it into delightful hors d'oeuvres.

Illyria: I've nowhere to go. My kingdom is long dead. Long dead. There's so much I don't understand. I've become overwhelmed. I'm unsure of my place.
Wesley: Your place is with the rest of your people: Dead and turned to ash.
Illyria: Perhaps... but I exist here. I must learn to walk in this world.

Cities, countries, even civilizations rise and fall through the ocean of time, becoming myths in the millennia that follow. All their triumphs and failures becoming little more than gravel and sand beneath our feet. There is one bright spot to this though, in the form of a surviving Living Relic. Somehow, a human, computer AI, robot, or immortal homunculus has managed to survive the destruction of their home and lived to tell the tale.

Though their existence can be due to a fluke of fate, they may represent an attempt to Fling a Light into the Future as a warning, guide, or defiant marker of their existence. All well and good, except the Living Relic is probably feeling like a Fish out of Temporal Water at the least, and has likely been suffering a case of Survivor's Guilt. Which can get gruesome if they've been alone, awake and immortal the whole time. Quite a few Living Relics are insane because of this and become an Outside-Context Problem, though a few may become sane from the boredom.

Their role in a story is likely that of giving exposition to heroes who are anywhere between months to thousands of years Late to the Tragedy. After they finish expositing, they might ask to be killed. Or join the adventuring party. Really, it's a toss up.

Rarely, the living relic has managed to join and live among normal human civilization (or an alien equivalent) and tries to live on, sometimes successfully hiding their origins. Despite the emphasis on immortal survivors of ancient civilizations, the Living Relic isn't always ancient or immortal. A derelict in space might have the Robot Buddy shut down and get started up again by the heroes thousands of years later, or a Human Popsicle can be woken up from a sleep inducing spindle. Sometimes, they might just be the last descendant of a group of survivors.

Sub-Trope to Time Abyss. See also End of an Age and Götterdämmerung for two frequent causes. Compare Living Memory.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • From Claymore, all Awakened Beings still alive from the first few generations of the Organization, especially the men. The first generation of warriors were mostly male, but male warriors had the tendency to lose control and awaken quickly, so further generations of warriors eventually became female only.
    • Some male Awakened Beings were not from the first generations; the organization kidnapped and transformed ordinary men into warriors since they awakened quickly and thus made good secret weapons.
  • End of Evangelion reveals in the penultimate scene that this was Unit 01's true purpose: since humans can't exist anywhere but Evas can, Yui reached the logical conclusion of uploading her soul into Unit 01 and become an everlasting monument. That she was used to fight Angels in the meantime is just a perk.
  • Hohenheim in Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • Hellsing: Alucard himself is a living relic who more often than not seamlessly references his age in dialog. And in many abridged series pulls it off while still acting like a kid playing with toys.
  • Miyu in My-Otome. She mostly keeps memories of the past to herself, though.
  • Inuyasha the Movie: Fire on the Mystic Island shows six half-demon children from the legendary Horai Island. This island is mentioned in ancient myths and legends, and was a home for humans and benevolent demons, who lived together in peace and harmony, and had many half-demons as children. The island had existed for hundreds or even thousands of years until four particularly powerful and evil demons conquered them and killed almost all their inhabitants. But the six children can be rescued by Inuyasha and his friends, and then live in a secret place on the mainland.
  • Karla from Record of Lodoss War is this. She hails from Kastuul, an ancient kingdom of sorcery which is implied to have once been the capital of Lodoss itself. A powerful sorceress in her own right, she survived the destruction of the magic city by infusing a mystic circlet with her soul, retaining all her memories and powers as the circlet possesses the bodies of numerous hosts over the subsequent 500 years.

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Teen Titans: Gnarrk was a time-displaced Neanderthal stranded in the present. Through love and telepathic communication, Lilith teaches him human language and customs.
    • Vandal Savage, an immortal caveman.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Captain America was frozen just before the end of World War II and was revived. As the years unfold and Comic-Book Time has to be applied, he seems like more and more of a relic. At first, he was revived in 1962, less than twenty years after the war ended. Since roughly ten years have supposedly passed, the unofficial retcon is that he was revived in The '90s, which would mean he was frozen for about sixty years. The Ultimate Marvel version of Cap was revived in the 2000s, which would be even more jarring for someone frozen during the war.
    • In the non-canonical Hulk: The End, Bruce Banner/The Hulk is the last sentient being on earth. Then Bruce dies of a heart attack while transforming, and Hulk is finally left... alone.
    • The Vision in the Ultimate Marvel universe was created millions of years ago by an alien race that saw Gah Lak Tus coming for them. She was sent out at first as just a time capsule to record the stories of Gah Lak Tus' billions of victims. After stopping on Earth, though, her mission changed to telling other people how to fight Gah Lak Tus.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Knuckles is referred to as this by a pangolin archaeologist who's studying the ruins on the Floating Island after the book's third reboot. She seemed to get along fairly well with him, enough that he trusts her to run the island's defenses in his absence. Sadly the book was canceled before she got much depth of character.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm:
    • Steve, as usual, qualifies as this — like Ultimate Cap and MCU Cap, he woke up in the 21st century. Bucky, arguably, also qualifies.
    • On a far grander scale, Selene qualifies too, dating back over 17,000 years to the Atlantean Empire.
    • The sequel reveals that Doctor Strange was actually Taliesin and is most probably the last survivor of Camelot, which fell 1500 years ago. He's still bitter about it. The only reason it's 'probably' is because there are persistent hints that his teacher, Merlin, is still around. It's taken up several notches, however, when you take into account his grand scale time travelling, and centuries spent living in other eras. At one point, he discusses his presence at the very beginning of Asgard and involvement in the War for the Dawn, noting that by that point, he was already thousands of years old.
  • Codex Equus: Emperor Golden Scepter is one. It's been stated in his entry that he is a living relic of Equus's long history, as he's an extremely ancient god and one of few surviving Alicorns who still lives in the outside world, unlike the rest who went into complete seclusion to rebuilt their ruined society. Because of his great memory and knowledge, he's often visited by Pony historians who treat him as a living source of history regarding the fabled/fallen Alicorn Civilization... though unfortunately, Golden Scepter has attracted some unsavory individuals as well, such as the Alicorn Ascendancy, whose members are eager to get their hooves on the ancient magic once practiced by the Alicorns so they could discover the secrets of Ascension, and mass-produce Alicorns for various reasons. Because of this, Golden Scepter is willing to collaborate with Celestia and Luna in investigating and flushing out the Alicorn Ascendancy, especially after learning what had been done to Crystal Prism.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Divine Jealousy and The Voice of Reason, Discord's Voice of Reason (aka G1 Wind Whistler was born over 6000 years ago. She's seen Pony civilization rise and fall and rise and fall and rise again, and is the last survivor of the original Ponies of Paradise Estate.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic Dominus Mundi : The King of Kings, it has been stated that the Eternal Queen is the last truly "living" remnant of the Atlantean Empire. However, she also predates its fall by millennia, and it isn't known how exactly she managed to escape death at the hands of Cloteias III, the Divine Sovereign of Atlantis.
  • In The Weaver Option Lelith Hesperax is revealed to be the last surviving Aeldari to have fought in the War in Heaven millions of years ago.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • As mentioned above the film versions of Captain America were frozen during the second world war and revived several decades later. For the 90's movie version, it was about sixty years. For the recent film version, it was seventy... ouch.
  • Leeloo in The Fifth Element is a "living weapon" whose existence is integral to averting The End of the World as We Know It. Despite an ability to absorb historical data and languages instantly, she's been in a sarcophagus for 5,000 years and thus has No Social Skills.
  • This was done in The Fountain, where a man who obtains some sort of immortality is the last man in existence and floats about in space all alone.
  • A case can be made for Godzilla himself, along with Rodan, Anguirus and a number of other Kaiju, as many were alive during prehistoric times, left in suspended animation through means unknown, and then heavily altered by radiation in many cases. Rodan is a straight example of this minus the radioactive mutation. Godzilla is both a living relic and a man made monster due to his mutation via the H-Bomb. If one considers King Ghidorah to have been around for a good few millennia, as hinted in his first appearance, he counts as well.
  • The elves in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. They were dying out as a long-forgotten race, prompting Prince Nuada to try to destroy humanity once and for all.
  • In the 2016 live-action remake of The Jungle Book, King Louie's species was changed from orangutan to Gigantopithecus, a pre-historic species of primate that was native to India. He is the last of his kind, hence why he is contemporary with the human Mogli.
  • "Old Man" in Logan's Run is a rare example of a Living Relic who is neither immortal nor was alive in the time before civilization collapsed. He's the son of some of the last humans to live and love naturally.
  • In The Man from Earth, John has lived for 14,000 years. He has long since learned to keep moving and adapting to the changing cultures, keeping his lifespan a secret, but he carries memories that stretch back before human civilization
  • Star Trek (2009): Spock Prime. Due to a special set of circumstances, he arrived from an alternate timeline and possesses unique knowledge of future events and technology. And he can't go back to the world he knew.
  • In The Time Machine (2002), Orlando Jones played the AI interface for a computer system containing the remaining human knowledge. After the time traveler jumps forward several centuries, the AI still recognizes him from his last encounter, mere minutes ago from the traveler's perspective.
  • The creatures in the Tremors franchise are explicitly identified as Pre-Cambrian lifeforms native to Earth. Fridge Logic aside, that would literally make them the oldest living species in prehistory, way older than even dinosaurs.
  • The Dark Crystal has Aughra, who is almost as old as the planet.

  • Belgarath and most of the other surviving Disciples of Aldur in The Belgariad. The only ones other than the Gods who were personally present at the Cracking of the World.
    • Even more so Althalus in The Redemption of Althalus. A similar backstory to Belgarath (young vagabond/thief taken in by a god and trained in magic for centuries), but where Belgarath is often involved with the world and seems to be more in touch with society than most of those living in it, Althalus was totally isolated and large parts of the later stages of the book involve him coming to grips with all the changes. It doesn't help that where the world of the Belgariad is in Medieval Stasis, Althalus' world has advanced from late bronze age to late medieval or even early The Renaissance while he's been out of it.
  • Peot, the Tar-Aiym Guardian from the Alan Dean Foster novel Bloodhype, was assigned by his race to the lonely task of guarding all civilization against the Vom, only to witness his people wiping themselves out in a cataclysmic interstellar war. Five hundred thousand years later, he awakens to find himself the Last of His Kind and facing a twilight struggle against the very same Vom. It's no wonder that, after the battle is finally won, he elects to commit suicide.
  • City of Bones by Martha Wells: One of the long-dead Ancients has survived in the liminal Place Beyond Time between the human world and the Inhabitants' dimension for a thousand years and has information about The Before Times that hadn't survived After the End.
  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian has a knack for often running into this trope, as does his Solomon Kane. Even Carter, the bed-ridden man with a memory of his past lives, recalls multiple cases witnessed by his various previous incarnations.
  • Inys, the last dragon in The Dagger and the Coin. He is very upset to wake up to realize that he is the last of his kind and that thousands of years have passed while he slumbered.
  • The Dark Reflections Trilogy has a few characters who remember the civilization of ancient Egypt, but the most prominent example may be The Flowing Queen herself, who lived in the age when gods walked the Earth. She was stated to be much older than any form of life in the sea, making her also a Time Abyss.
  • In Robin Jarvis' Deptford Mice trilogy, the Starwife reveals that she is the last of the black squirrels. They were known as the wisest and noblest of all the squirrel races, but were long ago separated by war and envy.
    "I have searched and searched but all traces of the black squirrels are gone. I think I am the last - our line shall end with me, and the dynasty of the Starwives also. I fear the silver acorn will not be worn by any when I have passed on."
  • Discworld series:
    • The golems. Almost no new ones have been made in centuries. Some extreme examples are Anghammarad in Going Postal and the Umnian golems in the sequel, Making Money. Anghammarad is 19,000 years old and is from a civilization that collapsed because he failed to deliver a vital message of warning. He plans to wait until the universe restarts and the same thing happens again (golems believe time is cyclical) so that he can be there and get it right the next time.
    • Not quite so extreme, but Cohen the Barbarian and his Silver Horde are a group of active Barbarian Heroes who've survived so long that they've become remnants of a barbaric past in a world grown more civilized. As a result, their values and behavior increasingly clash with those of the present day, and they're beginning to feel rather alienated.
  • Invoked in the Doctor Who novel The Last Dodo. The Museum of the Last Ones is a museum devoted to maintaining the very last specimen of every species in the universe before it goes extinct, keeping them alive in stasis so that technically, the species still exists. Then the Doctor arrives. Do the math.
  • In Dragonriders of Pern, the artificial intelligence Aivas is the last remaining relic of Pern's colonial history. After helping the people of Pern end the threat of Thread forever, it commits suicide so they won't become dependent on it.
  • In George R. Stewart's After the End novel Earth Abides, protagonist Isherwood Williams is one of the few people to survive a global pandemic that kills off almost all humans. By the end of the book, he has outlived all of the other survivors and lives among their descendants, who are nomadic hunter-gatherers much like the pre-Columbian American Indians. He is the last living human to remember the technological civilization destroyed by the plague, and for that reason, the final section of the book is titled "The Last American."
  • Human soldiers who survive their tours in The Forever War become this. Time dilation resulting from near lightspeed travel means that after just a handful of years fighting the Taurans, they return home to find that in the real-time centuries that have passed the culture that birthed them has collapsed and made way for a new and completely alien one.
  • Center (aka Sector Command and Control Unit AZ12 - b14 - c000 Mk. XIV), a supercomputer left over from an interstellar human civilization's collapse known as the Fall. It waited a thousand years before it was willing to take the chance of recruiting a human representative to act on its behalf, as the likelihood of success for previous attempts would have been very low. A recurring character in The General series by David Drake.
  • Any High Elf still in Middle-Earth in the Third Age of J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium fits this trope, but the prize has to go to Galadriel, who has lost her home multiple times by The Lord of the Rings, and used the power of her Ring to make Lothlórien itself a Living Relic, since as the ages pass on The Magic Goes Away, and in the end even she has to leave. However, the oldest Elf to be still living in Middle-Earth is actually Círdan, who is implied to have been one of the Elves that awoke at the beginning of time, and intends to stay in Middle-Earth making ships until the last Elf leaves.
  • Daetrin Haal of The Madness Season is one of these, as he is the only person old enough to remember what Earth was like before the Tyr invaded and subjugated humankind. His parents were also such, as they witnessed the fall of European civilization into the Dark Ages.
  • In Jack Chalker's Midnight at the Well of Souls, space freighter captain Nathan Brazil has undergone so many rejuvenations that he can no longer remember exactly how old he is, and one of his passengers suspects that he may be the oldest living human. The truth is far more startling. He is actually the last living member of the Markovian race — the Precursors who created the current universe after running out of things to do in the original one.
    • ...maybe. Later books give theories ranging from he's not a real Markovian but an avatar of the Well World computer itself, to the idea he predates the Markovians and is, in fact, God.
  • In the Jack London short story A Relic of the Pliocene, a hunter around the turn of the 20th century hunts down a surviving woolly mammoth in a remote part of Alaska, in revenge for it killing his sled dog and breaking his gun.
  • In the Revelation Space Series set in the 28th century, John Armstrong Brannigan is a relic from the past. Born at the turn of the millennium, he was one of the first men on Mars. He has survived the centuries through cryosleep, Time Dilation, and extensive cybernetic augmentation. His starship still contains relics from his youth, including a forgotten old NASA helmet. The only character that even approaches him in age is Nevil Clavain, born two hundred years later.
  • In another David Weber series, Safehold, Nimue/Merlin and Owl are the last of their kind, the "kind" being high-tech, sci-fi humans and AIs respectively. Merlin's goal is to bring humanity back to the space era.
  • H. Rider Haggard's She: Ayesha spends most of her time doing this to the main characters.
  • The German pulp hero Sun Koh. Sun Koh was a Prince of the lost continent of Atlantis who had mysteriously fallen from the sky over London in 1932 with no memory of his past. He had been sent because a new ice age was coming and his mission was to facilitate the re-emergence of the lost Continent and a re-establishment of Atlantean (that is ARYAN) dominance over the world.
  • Norna-Gest of the Old Norse "Tale of Norna-Gest" is a centuries-old immortal and the last remaining survivor of the fornaldar or age of heroes.
  • Antrax, the titular Big Bad of the second book of The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, is a sentient supercomputer left over from the technological age that preceded the Shannara 'verse.
  • The War Gods:
    • Wencit of Rum is this, having seen the Fall of Kontovar, and the only one with any appreciable book learning from the time period. He may or may not be a god in disguise.
    • The elves, being immortal, are probably this as well, but they appear to have a species-wide case of PTSD, and they've basically refused to talk to anyone since Kontovar fell.
  • In the Warrior Cats Super Edition Firestar's Quest, Firestar and Sandstorm are on a mission to rebuild SkyClan, which left the forest and subsequently split up years ago. They find Sky, the only remaining SkyClan descendant who has any knowledge of the Clan. His grandmother was born into the Clan, and he was named after the lost Clan and taught its traditions, and still tries to cling to them, despite younger area cats believing him crazy. He is able to teach them about SkyClan's life in the gorge.
  • The Forsaken from The Wheel of Time series can qualify as this, as they were sealed away from the world for 3,000 years. While they do use their archaic knowledge to bring back some long-lost magic, most of the time they just pine for the old days when things were so much more convenient. Also, the Green Man is the last of the Nym; artificial sentient constructs that helped plants grow before the Breaking of the World. He'd be more than happy to talk about the old days, if his memory wasn't so full of holes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Millennia past, Illyria from Angel was a Demonic God-Emperor whose essence was sealed into a casket after her death. Now funneled into a frail human form, she's always a bit baffled when people don't worship her. As a classicist, she tends to talk in platitudes about The Art of War.
  • Lorien in Babylon 5. He was the first living being to achieve sentience in the universe along with his race and was born immortal in a time before the universe invented things like life-cycles. All of his kind had died out or went beyond the rim of galaxy in the billions of intervening years. The one thing stopping him from being an Eldritch Abomination is that he also happens to be the kindest person you will ever meet.
  • Soldier Boy from The Boys (2019) is (publicly) the first Supe, and one of the last living people from the time of World War II and the Cold War. As with most characters on the show, though, he's a Deconstructed Character Archetype — much of the focus on him emphasizes not the virtues of the time (such as American Exceptionalism), but rather the negative aspects of his era, of which there are many. Among other things, Soldier Boy is misogynistic, transphobic, balantly racist, and wreaks of toxic masculinity. In short, while most living relics garner sympathy for being a Fish out of Temporal Water, Soldier Boy emphasizes why his values were left behind.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer there is the half-demon Whistler. He is even something special among the half-demons, because his non-demonic parent was not a human, but a kind of angel. He was also born in the Primordium Age, and was already thousands of years old at the time of the action.
    • This also applies to four particularly old vampires.
      • The Master, who was perhaps the oldest known vampire.
      • Kakistos, a vampire from ancient Greece.
      • San Sui, a vampire from ancient China.
      • And the Prince of Lies.
    • In the seventh season of the series, there is an ancient breed of vampires, named Turok-Han. They were probably the first vampires that were created, and play with this trope.
  • The Doctor in Doctor Who (from 2005 onwards, anyway), the last Time Lord (except when The Master makes his semi annual return from eternal death) with one massive case of Survivor's Guilt. Understandable, as he was the one to push the metaphorical button that ended the time war and destroyed Gallifrey.
    • In "The Hand of Fear", Eldrad was exiled and executed millions of years ago. After his resurrection, he forces the Doctor to transport him to his home world. The Doctor so; taking him to the planet Kastria in the present day. Once there, Eldrad discovers that all life on the planet dies out millennia ago.
    • Madame Vastra is a Silurian, a species of humanoid reptiles who inhabited Earth about 65 million years ago, but were forced into hibernation. Vastra was awakened by construction work in Victorian London, where she presently lives, working as a detective.
  • In Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger the Rangers themselves are living relics. There are also a few episodes revolving around a pair of living dinosaur eggs that the heroes have to preserve.
  • In the series Primeval always prehistoric animals come into modernity. Each of them is a living relic, at least for the time when it is in the modern age.
    • This, of course, is not the case for animals which coming from the future, such as the bat-like future predators.
  • Most everyone in Red Dwarf. Lister being the Human Popsicle, and Cat - the last member of a surviving population, sort of...
    • Some of Rimmer and Lister's personal possessions from "Marooned" (The Complete Works of Shakespeare, hand-carved wooden models of Napoleon and his army, etc.) may count as well. Most of Rimmer's get thrown into the fire by the end of the episode.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Ruk the android was the lone sentient survivor of his long-dead race when Dr. Corby crash-lands on his planet in the ep. "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"
    • Apollo in "Who Mourns for Adonais?" is the last of the Greek gods.
    • The three "Gamesters of Triskelion" are the only remnants of their kind.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager a backup copy of The Doctor becomes this to the two species of a planet centuries after Voyager's presence inadvertently triggered a long-gestating war. The Doctor contradicts the incomplete and revisionist vision of the incident which painted Voyager and him as monsters, bringing long-brewing racial tensions to a boil.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Irish legend has it that Oisín, the son of Fionn mac Cumhaill, was spirited away to Otherworld by a fairy princess and returned to Ireland after what he thought were three years, but in reality were three hundred years. Meanwhile, Ireland had become Christian, and Oisín ended up spending the rest of his life in St. Patrick's house. Oisín had a hard time fitting in with the modern times, particularly with Christian thinking and customs, and the endless arguments between Patrick and the crabby old Oisín were a popular subject for medieval Irish poets and storytellers. Many Irish mythological tales use Oisín's life with St. Patrick as a Framing Device, by letting Oisín relate events of his past to Patrick. In an alternate version of the same legend, Oisin shared his fate with another hero of the Fenian Cycle, Caílte mac Rónáin.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Aughra in The Dark Crystal is the only surviving witness to the breaking of the Crystal and the creation of the Mystics/Uru and Skeksis. This is stated more explicitly in the novelization than the film.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Blackstone Fortress (a game sharing the Warhammer 40,000 setting) has UR-025, the assumed last-functioning Man of Iron. Men of Iron were truly-sentient robot servants and soldiers who rebelled against humanity and partially caused the collapse of the previous galactic human civilization over 20,000 years before the events in Blackstone Fortress takes place. It's noted that UR-025 remembers various alien species who have died over the millennia, possibly meaning he has the last living memories of the Men of Iron and other alien life.
  • Mummy: The Curse casts the player characters, the Arisen, as this, the last living link (or rather, unliving link) to the Nameless Empire.
  • Pathfinder: The Iron Gods adventure path revolves around a millenia-old spaceship wreck, so naturally it has many of these. Some of the most prominent: an alien survivor of the crash who only recently awakened from stasis, an AI copy of an android who lived long before the Technic League came to power, and the ship's AI, who whiled away the ages growing ever smarter and omnicidally insane.

    Video Games 
  • Dark Souls has Dusk of Oolacile. You meet Dusk by rescuing her while she's trapped inside a giant crystal golem, which she must have been in for several hundred years. Her nation, Oolacile, is long gone, having once been located in The Lost Woods you find Dusk in.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition has a couple:
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Morrowind, you can meet the last living Dwemer. He was on another plane when the calamity that caused his people to vanish occurred and returned to find them gone. He caught the Corprus Disease shortly after and entered the care of Divayth Fyr in his Corprusarium. He unfortunately doesn't know why his people vanished, though if you bring him the right books, he can help you come up with a pretty good theory. Divayth Fyr himself might actually be older (he's 4000 years old and stated to be the oldest living mortal in Morrowind), but for the most part he just seems like a fairly normal Dunmer by Telvanni standards... except when he makes comments about remembering the Tribunal before they were gods.
    • In Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC, you can meet the last two Snow Elves who avoided the fate that befell the rest of their race. Unfortunately, one of them has become a vampire, and controls those of his race who did suffer the aforementioned horrible fate.
  • In Endless Ocean Blue World, you can find 3 extinct creatures, including one distinctively called "Living Fossil", but most notably, a plesiosaur.
  • The Fallout series has several characters that serve as living remnants of pre-nuclear war America. Besides a number of pre-war Ghouls, prominent examples include President Eden, Mr. House, ZAX and SKYNET, the Think Tank, and Professor Calvert, all of whom are either sentient computers or Brains in a Jar of one sort or another.
    • The Fallout 3 DLC Mothership Zeta has various human popsicles captured by the aliens over the centuries, including an Anchorage Reclamation medic, a Wild West cowboy and a samurai from Feudal Japan.
    • Fallout 4 The Protagonist, as one of the only survivors of Vault 111 by way of Human Popsicle, is a living relic, even lampshaded by Piper.
  • In MapleStory, Mercedes is a living, breathing elf. Not even the fairies have seen one, and his knowledge of the past is a treasure to any historian who meets him.
  • Played straight in Mass Effect. Late in the game, Shepherd encounters Vigil, a Prothean VI(dumb AI) that was tasked with control of the Conduit. It was the last voice of the Protheans and had waited 50,000 years to give one final warning.
    • The Rachni Queen encountered during the first game also counts. She remembers the fall of her race and was their last hope for survival. Her drones have been severed from her and driven insane; she remains the last hope of the Rachni, and you get to choose between letting her live (the Paragon option), and killing her to end her species for good (Renegade). As usual for this series, the Renegade option has no real gain, depriving you of an ally in Mass Effect 3.
    • In Mass Effect 3, the "From Ashes" DLC lets you thaw out Javik, the last surviving member of the Prothean race, as a party member.
      • The "Leviathan" DLC has you encounter the Leviathans, enormous creatures who are millions of years old and are responsible for the creation of the being that created Harbinger, the first Reaper.
  • The Oracle of Might and Magic VI is the last remaining sapient intelligence to remember the days before the Silence, and most importantly how the Silence happened, that lives on the planet Enroth on a permanent basis. It's only this on a planetary scale, however — the Ancients who built it are too busy to get in touch, but they are still around, just unavailable.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: The great dragon Nolalothcaragascint (usually shortened to Nolaloth) was bribed by Illefarn to destroy the King of Shadows. The King struck him down after a great battle. Illefarn transmuted his heart into crystal and bound his soul to it. Nolaloth has since been consulted by people seeking to defeat the King once and for all, first the Githyanki, then Ammon Jerro, and finally the Knight-Captain. It is the KC that Nolaloth finally asks to kill him by destroying his heart, a task complicated by the fact that the valley left by the mountain-sized dragon's crash is now populated by a pair of young black dragons.
  • The Weapons Master in Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure is one of these; the last Arkeyan, according to one of the story scrolls. (The second game, however, backtracks on this, establishing that the Arkeyans were Mechanical Lifeforms, meaning various Magitek robots in both games aren't just Arkeyan creations but full Arkeyans themselves.)
  • Elh and Béluga are the last two Paladins in Solatorobo. Their home was destroyed 300 years ago, and while they seem to fit in fairly well with present-day people (no mentions of ancient clothes or Ye Olde Butchered English, though Elh is capable of reading a little of the old runes when needed), they are definitely a little emotionally distant due to seeing so many generations grow up, grow old, and die while they remained unchanged. Baion also counts, as he woke up from suspended animation 350 years ago. While it's never stated how old he was before he was frozen, he was clearly frozen for a long time, as he's from before the Juno wiped out humanity and set the Floating Continents in the sky to give the new Caninu and Felineko a place to live while the surface of the Earth recovered from the human wars.
  • Sola vi Ryuvia from Sunrider was a warrior princess of the Holy Ryuvian Empire who was supposed to sacrifice her life to win a battle two thousand years before the present day. Somehow it didn’t take. When she’s found and brought out of stasis, she learns that the empire she nearly died to protect has long since crumbled and no one even remembers her or the battles she fought in, let alone whether they were important in the long run.
  • Samus in Metroid is this to the Chozo, an alien bird-like race that are mostly extinct.note  Although Samus is human, she was raised by the Chozo when her parents were killed by the space pirates. Samus's skills, ability to speak the Chozo language, and her adept use of Chozo technology (mainly from her Power Suit) basically makes her a living relic to a race she's not a native towards.

  • In The Dragon Doctors, Rina became one after being rescued from the trap Derek put her in.
  • Vog and his village from Schlock Mercenary are the last survivors of their species and culture, and the creators of carbosilicate amorphs. Each surviving individual is orders of magnitude older than the human species.

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • The Scarecrow and the Heart of Tarkon from Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers were sentient weapons crafted for a long-forgotten war. Once the Scarecrow wakes up, he looks for a way back to Tarkon to continue the feud. This trope also factored into "Ghost Station" where the titular Kill Sat and its remorseful AI are the only things up from an alien civilization that presumably blew itself to bits.
  • Adventure Time: "Gold Stars" heavily implies that The Lich is the only surviving member of a group of monsters that predated nonexistence.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has two for the price of one: Aang is the last Airbender, and his sky bison Appa is the last of his species, who were the original Airbenders. Aang's even referred to as a "Living relic" by Professor Zei in "The Library".
  • In the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: C.A.K.E.D.-F.I.V.E.", Numbuh 19th Century is the last surviving KND operative to have been at the Alamode, not to mention the fact that he is in all likelihood the only person from the 1800s to still be alive and physically a child, to boot. This is because he was frozen in time and thawed out in the present day.
  • Phillip J. Fry, one of the protagonists of Futurama is called a living fossil during a newscast. Ironically, after a few episodes, he adapts to and fits into future society better than some contemporaries. His ex-girlfriend who gets thawed out in a later episode fits the trope better, as she mostly screams in panic at anything unfamiliar.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The two princesses, Celestia and Luna. They're both well over 1000 years old and physical goddesses to boot. Celestia at least fits in quite well, while poor Luna is the Fish out of Temporal Water. Having been sealed away for a good millennium, she still thinks BELLOWING AT THE PONIES IN YE OLDE ENGLISH is the norm during her Day In The Lime Light episode.
    • The Pillars Of Equestria are an even more extreme example. Unlike the princesses who at least have some experience being long-lived relics, these fellas are just a group of regular ponies who were sealed in limbo for thousands of years and ultimately released. There's a few scenes of them wandering modern Equestria and marveling at how everything has changed, and an episode where Rockhoof struggles so hard to fit in he even considers being sealed away again.
  • The Xyber 9 from Xyber 9: New Dawn.

    Real Life 
  • The term "Living Fossil" is used to describe species that are ancient lineages that haven't changed much over millions of years and have survived a few extinction events. Usually they also have no close living relatives.
    • Ginkgo biloba, the plant, is the one remaining species of its entire phylum after multiple worldwide extinctions - a relict. It has no living relatives. The only stands of it in the "wild" are speculated to have been cultivated by Chinese monks, rather than surviving on their own. The tree is popular enough that many cultivars exist and are planted in cities and gardens all over the world (although mostly male trees are used for this purpose. Female trees produce fruit-like seeds that are used in Chinese food and medicine but smell bad to most people.) and they are surprisingly durable: They tolerate pollution, confined soil spaces and aren't really attacked by insects that much. They can even survive a nuclear blast, as six trees in Hiroshima can attest.
    • The coelacanth, an order of fish, is sometimes called a "living fossil" because its member species date back to before the time of the dinosaurs and have undergone very few changes. Sadly, due to What Measure Is a Non-Cute? and the fact that little is known about it, they're highly endangered. They are however considered very important scientifically, since their closest relatives happened to be the pioneers that gave rise to all land vertebrae, including human beings.
    • The Tuatara is a reptile that superficially resembles a lizard, but it belongs to its own order. Currently it's only found on a few islands off the coast of New Zealand. They take a very long time to mature: 10 to 20 years before they reach maturity, but have lifespans that rival tortoises.
    • Triops are small crustaceans that have survived for as long as 400 million years. Much of their body structure today is similar to their ancestral fossils. Their secret of having survived for so long is being able to lay many eggs that are able to lay dormant for years until conditions are right for them to hatch.
    • Several species of sharks have existed virtually unchanged for tens of millions of years, which makes sense considering the environments they live in generally don't change that much.
    • This may surprise you, but the cutest animal in the world, The Red Panda, is also considered a living fossil.
  • Species that are "functionally extinct," such as the poor Baiji, or Yangtze river dolphin. Their population has sunk so low, and sometimes so hard to find, that they cannot perpetuate themselves. Often, as with the Baiji, their habitant is hardly even recognizable anymore.
    • In the 1970's, after being decimated by whaling, (especially in the Antarctic), some thought that the blue whale had reached this state. Fortunately, there were more left alive than people thought, and their numbers are increasing.
  • Given how rapidly modern culture changes, anyone of or near 100 years of age can be this. For reference, Frank Buckles was the last living American military veteran that served in World War I. He was born in 1901, and he died in 2011, making him at least 110 years old. The action-adventure video game Red Dead Redemption takes place in 1911, from which one realizes that this man was ten years old and lived through the end of the Old West.