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Lost Colony

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A human colony on another planet experiences a disaster which destroys its communications or space travel capability, and for some reason the rest of humanity never checks up on that colony with which it suddenly lost all contact. In some cases, the colony may still have comms, but Earth has faced a calamity or apocalypse, so there's no one answering at Mission Control.

Alternatively, a spaceship having nothing to do with colonization is forced to make an emergency landing on a habitable planet in an uncharted star system, and for some reason, they never get rescued.

Either way, the colony must try to survive without any resupplying or new information from Earth. The first generations may continue to use the advanced technology, but over the generations, their descendants' politics, economics and culture regress to match their pre-Industrial Revolution technology level. Over time, the descendants may also forget that their ancestors ever came from another planet, making the story at first glance seem to be set in a pure fantasy world. Oftentimes whatever remains of the old technology will be mistaken for magic by the colonists' descendants. Sometimes there is genuine supernatural magic happening, or something that can pass for it, and all advanced technology has been lost. And sometimes the old technology and genuine magic are used side by side.

In some cases, a colony leader or faction may intentionally destroy the communications gear or sabotage the space vessels to ensure that there is no rescue, and keep the colony isolated. Maybe they think advanced tech is evil. Maybe they are part of La Résistance and they fear a reprisal if Earth vessels find them.

And of course, it's always popular to reveal that Earth was really a lost colony and that Humanity Came from Space, though genetic evidence that humans and other Earth organisms are biologically related, all the way back to the first bacteria, has made this increasingly hard to sustain. Of course, the theory of panspermia, that the first bacteria were dropped on Earth from space, still enables a scientifically plausible "Lost Colony" in a far more general sense.

These worlds are a popular venue for Planetary Romances.

Less commonly, a Lost Colony can occur in an isolated region of Earth, such as a hidden valley, rainforest, or shipwrecked on an uncharted island. The lost people may thrive in their isolated paradise, struggle to eke out an existence, or Go Mad from the Isolation.

Compare with After the End and Space Amish. Contrast Transplanted Humans. Usually comes after Settling the Frontier.

Has nothing to do with the eponymous level.

WARNING: These examples necessarily contain spoilers.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Earl in My-Otome, while otherwise fitting this trope, at least remembers that the people and the Lost Technology came from Earth.
  • Trigun: Project Seeds was a fleet of Generation Ships looking for a new planet after Earth got used up. They originally planned to pass over Gunsmoke, as it was only barely habitable, but unfortunately one of the sapient genetically-engineered beings they were using as a power source chose that time to strike against humanity, causing the ships to crash on the planet's surface. The tiny percentage that survived were forced to cannibalize their ships to create viable habitats, and by story's present date, over a hundred years later, very few signs of the original ships or their technological advancements remain.
  • It's unclear whether Simoun is set on a Lost Colony populated by genetically altered humans, or whether they're humanoid aliens on their homeworld After the End.
  • Last Exile is set on Prester, which is actually an artificial planet built to be a perfect colony for humans. Unfortunately, the Guild who oversees the system got lazy, causing the climate to become unbalanced, and in turn sparking intercontinental warfare.
  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross reveals that Earth itself is a lost colony of the Protoculture. Accounts vary as to why Earth was forgotten and why humanity (a genetically-engineered offshoot of the Protoculture) was left there, some saying it was a long-term colonization plan and others saying humanity was an experiment, though subsequent Macross series have revealed that the Protoculture left a wide variety of offshoot species across the entire Milky Way. Since the Protoculture are long dead, though, their original plans seem to be largely moot.
  • Rakuin No Monshou is set on a colony where most of the technology brought from Earth either degraded over time or was expended while subjugating the natives.
  • Earth in Tenchi Muyo! is a colony of Jurai, officially known as Colony World 0315. This is an odd mix as the colony's existence is known but Jurai has left it alone aside from maintaining contact with a few governments.
  • Knights of Sidonia: The series ends with the crew of the Sidonia establishing a colony on the seventh planet of the Lem star system, before the Sidonia launches once again in search of more worlds to settle.
  • Eureka Seven is set on a such a colony, with Earth being little more than a legend. It later turns out that the colonists somehow got turned around and landed right back on Earth. They just don't realize it because the Scub Coral have created a shell around the planet, and the colonists formed a civilization on that shell.

    Comic Books 
  • Action Comics: Superman discovers an offshoot of Kryptonians known as Phaelosians on Warworld, the descendants of a Cult Colony who were exiled from Krypton thousands of years ago. They were enslaved by Mongul two generations ago and are forced to fight in the gladiator pits on Warworld. He eventually manages to overthrown Mongul, free them and find them a new homeworld, but he and Lois adopt a pair of orphan twins who become recurring supporting characters.
  • The Titanian Eternals of the Marvel Universe were an offshoot of the Eternals of Earth (a Human Subspecies engineered by the Celestials) who left the planet in the aftermath of a civil war hundreds of thousands of years ago and settled on Saturn's moon Titan. The most infamous member of the race is the Mad Titan Thanos. Meaning Thanos is technically human.
  • The Transformers: Windblade has its protagonist hail from Caminus, an ancient Transformer colony cut off from Cybertron from millennia. The sequel miniseries introduced more Transformer colonies, including Velocitron note , Devisiun note  Eukaris note  and Carcer/Tempo, note .
  • Star Trek: Early Voyages: In the two-part story "Cloak and Dagger", while searching for the missing survey ship the U.S.S Cortez, the Enterprise discovers a lost colony of violent, passionate Vulcans on the barren planetoid Darien 224. Their ancestors crash-landed on the planetoid 2,000 years earlier and founded the colony, known as the Last-of-all-Cities. They live as the ancient Vulcans did prior to the Time of Awakening when Surak convinced his people to embrace logic and suppress their emotions. There are two mutually antagonistic groups in the colony. The main group, led by the Matriarch T'Kell, seek to rejoin the galactic community and conquer Vulcan in order to return the planet to its ancient roots. The rogue group, led by Commander Tagok, seek to maintain their isolation from the rest of the galaxy. Tagok captured the Cortez and butchered most of its crew. For her part, T'Kell rescued its captain John Stone and the surviving crewmembers as she thought that they would prove useful. She intended to use the Enterprise to achieve her plans of conquest. Spock believes that the Vulcans of Darien 224 have the potential to be even more dangerous to the Federation than the Klingons and the Tholians.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Diana encounters a previously unknown and hidden colony of Amazons living in the Amazon Rainforest who split with the Amazons of Paradise Island long ago.

  • In The Swarm of War, the first story arc takes place on a planet ruled by the descendants of a crashed warship's crew. It is mentioned a couple of times that they have conquered some locals.
  • The War of the Masters: The colonists that originally settled Moab III were supposed to end up in the Alpha Centauri system, but fell through a wormhole that landed them in an uninhabited system on the Klingon border 150 years earlier than they left. With their ship too damaged to continue, they eked out a living on a Death World in the habitable zone for a few hundred years until the Federation found them.
  • In The Bridge, the Mysterians are rewritten as Xilian refugees who took a mining vessel into space to escape King Ghidorah attacking their homeworld centuries ago. Lost in space until the 1950s, the ran out of fuel and landed on Earth, where after an initial scuffle, they integrated into human society over the decades and even had children with humans. While reverse engineering brought humanity's technology level up, it is still far below what the Mysterians came from. When the Xilians attacked the world in 2004, they found the Mysterians and considered the Planet Earth a lost colony of the old Xilian Empire; using it as justification for their attempted conquest.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A briefly-glimpsed note in Outlander mentions that Earth is an abandoned seed colony of hero Kainan's people. This doesn't really have any effect on the plot other than to explain how an advanced spacecraft ended up in Viking Age Norway and why its crew were Human Aliens.

  • Margolia from Alex Benedict. The founder said he was going to travel so far away that not even God would be able to find them; and since no one heard from the colony over the next nine thousand years, he apparently succeeded.
  • Interestingly, Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony does not contain a traditional lost colony. In fact, the "colony" has forgotten magic in favour of technology, and possesses full knowledge of the outside world though it is later revealed that the colony's leader made up most of his stories about it so the other inhabitants would be easier to manipulate.
  • The setting of Mercedes Lackey's Bardic Voices books is implied to be a lost colony for at least one of the non-human species, the technologically advanced Deliambrens, and After the End for everyone else.
  • A variation in Blindfold. Atlas is not technically lost, but since neither Faster-Than-Light Travel nor Subspace Ansible is possible in this 'verse (or, at least, hasn't been discovered yet), it's pretty much isolated from Earth and left to its own devices. The only news from the homeworld comes in the form of a rare ship that arrives with new settlers. The first ship (after the original colony ship) was full of prisoners, who assimilated into the population, the second ship was a warship that unsuccessfully attempted to subjugate Atlas under the boot of a tyrannical government back on Earth, and the third ship was fully of pilgrims who claimed that Earth has been destroyed because it was full of sinners (naturally, few believed them). At the time the novel takes place, a fourth ship is on the way.
  • In Cała prawda o planecie Ksi by Janusz Zajdel a colony was not as much lost as snatched by terrorists. The protagonist's mission is to find out what happened to it.
  • Erna in the Coldfire Trilogy is a colony from Earth, which they do know but are much too far from to take advantage of. In the third book, we learn that it's also a colony of an unnamed alien race. Also, the original colony has its own Lost Colony, although that was founded in a more low-tech manner (putting lots of people on ocean-going vessels). It turns out that this colony has been actively staying lost by killing the expeditions sent to re-establish contact with it.
  • Donald Kingsbury's Courtship Rite takes place on a lost colony so hostile to human life that over the centuries, times of famine have made cannibalism socially acceptable to varying degrees.
  • Keithland in The Cycle of Fire was founded when a ship was forced down on an uncharted world. All post-medieval technology was deliberately abandoned so their escaped alien prisoners wouldn't try to capture it.
  • Darkover by Marion Zimmer Bradley is born from the settlement by a lost ship from Earth.
  • Parodied in Dave Barry Slept Here, which has Sir Walter Raleigh going to Virginia, founding a colony there, and then losing it out of carelessness.
    "Think!" his friends would say. "Where did you see it last?" But it was no use, and this particular colony is still missing today. Sometimes you see its picture on milk cartons.
  • Harry Harrison
    • There are several examples in The Stainless Steel Rat series. Makes sense, considering it occurs at a time when a collapsed Empire is being reassembled. The Grey Men who are the villains in several novels turn out to come from such a colony; their ancestors assumed they'd been abandoned deliberately on a Death World and so future generations were brought up to seek revenge.
    • The second and third Deathworld novels are set on lost colonies that have reverted to more primitive societies.
  • There are few hints that Dragaera is a Lost Colony. If true, the colonists had landed at least 150,000 years before the start of the story, with all trace of the old technology long gone, making the use of the trope nothing more than a bit of flavoring.
  • Dragonriders of Pern: The series is set on a Lost Colony, with the original colonists having used what remained of their technology to genetically engineer the telepathic, teleporting dragons which guard the world from the bicentennial rain of alien parasites. It should be noted here that the rest of humanity DID send a ship to check it out, which found a small group who convinced the crew that everyone else had perished. The captain of the ship then quarantined Pern's system because of the Thread. Also, Pern was intended from the start to be cut off from the rest of Humanity. the Pern colonists wanted to get away from the politics and war suffusing the rest of the Galaxy, and live a simple agrarian life with limited technology. Thread turned life on Pern into a struggle for survival, and caused them to lose the little bit of technology they intended to keep. The loss of knowledge of life before Pern was gradual; a book set in the Second Pass (roughly 150 years after the colonists arrived) mentions that computers still exist, but are becoming less practical as power and repairs get harder to come by. A book set in the Fourth Pass shows that the idea of Man coming to Pern from space is a one of two competing hypotheses rather than a plain historical fact, and by the Ninth Pass (when the "main" series takes place, 2500 years after Landing), even said ideas are completely forgotten.
  • Due to the prevalence of Psychic Powers, some of the Dune sequels are largely concerned with finding ways to block Psychic Powers, so that colonies CAN be lost. Of course, the colonies later come back and start a war, but...
  • Part of the backstory of the Ea Cycle is that the planet Ea is a lost colony of the magitech-using "Star People". Ea later turns out to be Earth in the far future.
  • In Eater-Of-Bone, set in the Great Ship universe, a colony ship was catastrophically damaged and flung off of its trajectory, sending it towards one of the lone stars at the periphery of the Milky Way. The nigh-immortal Trans Human colonists are forced to settle on a world which is extremely metal-poor (particularly in salts and iron), making any kind of machinery precious beyond belief and every drop of blood lost a tragedy. One character laments that there's metal in the world, but so far below the ground that it is unreachable to the damaged machinery of the starship. The colonists cooperated with each other for a short time, but the strains of resource shortages fractured them into dozens of small groups, who often fight each other for resources. "Eater-of-bone" isn't meaningless, either, because even bone and marrow hold the metals required for metabolism.
  • C. J. Cherryh's Forty Thousand in Gehenna has Gehenna. A planet colonized by the Union in secret (even from most of the Union government) in Alliance space, so that when the Alliance attempted to colonize 60 years later they'd find an entrenched population of Union citizens. In the ensuing diplomatic fiasco the planet is left to live under medieval conditions for centuries.
    • And Cherryh did it again in her Shared Universe Merovingen Nights books where the setting is Merovin, a former Union colony that was abandoned to an alien species, the Sharrh. There was an evacuation, but some of the colonists hid from it and somehow survived the planetary bombardment the Sharrh performed to ensure no human presence remained. The Sharrh haven't tried to colonize Merovin themselves, so the descendants of those recalcitrant colonists are still there at a medieval stage of technology, cut off from the rest of human civilization.
  • L. Sprague de Camp's The Great Fetish is set on the distant planet Kforri (K-40), a world in the Mesozoic stage of evolution colonized by humans generations before, their technology lost as the result of a mutiny before landing (or crashing). The established religions of the roughly Bronze Age-technology, Medieval European-culture nations that have developed all embrace the doctrine of Evolution, which states that mankind arose from lesser native forms, while the emergent scientists have brought forth the heretical concept of Descensionism, maintaining that the lack of creatures similar to humanity indicates their ancestors came from elsewhere. Hilarity ensues when the protagonist (a schoolteacher with Conanesque thews) runs afoul of the church by espousing the latter.
  • Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen takes place in a lost time colony in which humans have spent the last five millennia coexisting with dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period. They're a pretty weird bunch.
  • In Ursula K. Le Guin's Hainish sequence, Earth (and probably Gethen, too) were lost colonies of the oldest known inhabited world, Hain. Both may have started off as rather ethically suspect experiments, although the Hainish are very ethical these days. It's subtly implied that all the inhabited worlds may be Hainish in origin.
  • The History of the Galaxy:
    • Happens a lot. After the discovery of the Hypersphere anomaly, hundreds of colony ships were sent out to colonize other worlds. Many got lost due to the poorly-understood nature of the anomaly and lack of navigation equipment that works in another dimention. Throughout the series, many lost colonies are being rediscovered, many of which have regressed to barbarism and forgotten their origins. One short story details a demonstration of a new type of Space Fighter that involves dropping a cluster bomb onto a planet thought to be devoid of life. However, during the demonstration, a sensor on the planetary surface detects the presence of a human child, making the testers realize what a horrible mistake they've made. Luckily, a daring pilot manages to save the colony.
    • The First Galactic War started when the corrupt government of the overpopulated Earth decided to look outside the Solar System for habitable worlds to offload extra people. They sent scount ships, which returned with disturbing news. Nearly all nearby star systems already had colonies from ships sent centuries before. Realizing the colonists would object to an influx of unwanted rabble from Earth, Earth's president decides to launch a pre-emptive strike in order to put the upstart colonies in their place. What follows is a 30-year war that Earth eventually loses.
    • Word of God is that over 7000 colony ships left Earth in the 50-year period following the invention of the hyperdrive. Only a few hundred have been re-discovered.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Humanity comes from a ship whose inhabitants thought they were to be a colony...their people were just annoyed with them and sent them off to an unknown fate. Things happened.
  • Michael Cobley's Space Opera series Humanity's Fire (or the initial trilogy, at least) is based on this concept. As shown in the Distant Prologue, humanity was facing defeat and subsequent extinction in a Bug War that was devastating the solar system. In a desperate attempt to ensure survival of the species before Earth itself was overrun, several FTL sleeper ships containing cross-cultural selections of the global population were built and launched. Of the proposed fifteen, only three were completed in time. The series proper is kicked off when the planet one of those ships landed on is rediscovered in the border area between several alien Galactic Superpowers, starting a diplomatic and military crisis. The fates of the other two are revealed and become relevant as the series goes on.
  • Niven's The Integral Trees series has a lost colony without a planet: they live in a torus of gas that encircles a dwarf star, where the closest thing to solid ground is the enormous, kilometers-long Trees.
  • In Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone by Greg Keyes, a part of the American colony of Virginia appears to be the ancestors of some of the characters.
  • Larry Niven's Known Space: In Protector, Earth is actually a Lost Colony of a species called the Pak, who start life as a larval form (unintelligent hominids) and, in their thirties, are irresistibly drawn to eat a certain tuber which is host to a virus that transforms them into ageless, hyper-intelligent killing machines (Protectors of their descendants). The colony failed because the tuber can't incubate the virus in soil deficient in thallium oxide (a later Protector finds that the virus will grow in a sweet potato), and the humans developed intelligence on their own. One Pak comes looking for the lost colony, kidnaps a human and turns him into a Protector, who is even smarter than the original variety (and acts very different). Eventually we learn that the Ringworld was built by Pak.
  • S. M. Stirling's The Lords of Creation series features Venus and Mars as homes to lost colonies of both Homo sapiens and Neanderthals (the two worlds having been terraformed and seeded by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens millions of years before).
  • The Louis L'Amour short story "No Rest for the Wicked" mentions the Lost Village Diggings, a famous settlement formed when a group of Spanish priests, soldiers, and their Native Guides were chased into an isolated valley by the Apache early in the colonization of Southern North America. They built a village, mined gold, and often married members of other local tribes, but spent hundreds of years isolated from the outside world, with villagers who tried to leave typically being killed by Apaches (a couple made it through and revealed the existence of the place, but one couldn’t find his way back and the other was killed by a rattlesnake while trying to guide a search party to the village). During the story, a Con Man claims that all the villagers died and he has found their gold mine, but the local lawman knows he is lying due to having been born in the real village, which was abandoned under peaceful circumstances at a point when there weren’t enough Apaches left in the region to impede the exodus.
  • In The Pillars of Reality Dematr is itself a lost colony, originally colonized as Demeter. The end of the first series results in widespread knowledge. The Second series deals with what happens when it's no longer lost.
  • Has happened at least twice, and very likely at least three times, to the planet on which Saga of Recluce is set. Something about the planet acts like a magnet towards spaceships which have undergone malfunctioning hyperspace jumps.
  • Semiosis is a Generational Saga about a colony on the planet Pax. The founders deliberately cut themselves of from the Earth That Was and avoid teaching their descendants anything about Earth other than technological knowledge, so later generations treat Pax as their homeworld and have at most a vague curiosity about Earth.
  • The world of Shadow by Dave Duncan. Not necessarily lost, but has no contacts with other planets, reverted to feudalism and a bicycle is the most complex device they can make. The planet is tidally locked and the only habitable area is a former island arc and a continental slope in a dried ocean, which means very steep mountains. The only reliable fast transport are the local giant "eagles", which led to formation of military aristocracy of people small enough to ride them.
  • In Spartan Planet by A. Bertram Chandler, the lost colony is founded by a raging misogynist. Again, reproduction is artificial. As in ancient Sparta, babies with birth defects are left in the wilderness to die; here, lack of male parts is considered a defect.
    • A fairly common occurrence in Chandler's novels; in his Verse FTL travel used to be accomplished by "gaussjammers" which were vulnerable to space magnetic storms, which could throw them severely off course and force them to land at the nearest possible planet with a permanently disabled spaceship (such storms would also wreck their power plants and they would have to limp to a refuge on emergency diesel power.) As a result, any gaussjammer could find itself forced to found a lost colony and they all carried rudimentary equipment for founding a colony in case of such an emergency. By the time of the novels, however, the gaussjammers have been replaced by the far more reliable (though not without its quirks) Mannschenn Drive (timejammers, as they're sometimes called).
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's The Stars Are Cold Toys duology, Earth and the Geometers' homeworld are revealed to be lost colonies of humans from the galactic core. Ditto for most of the Conclave races.
  • In Elena Senyavskaya's Star Wanderer, the first vision tells of a far-away world called Sevir settled by humans 300 years before the events described. However, shortly after the arrival of the colonists, all transmissions stopped. Sending another expedition was too expensive, and the colonists were written off as lost. However, they survived. Sevir is a bleak, dry world with a poisonous fauna and a green star. The colonists managed to survive and have even thrived. They themselves cut off all contact with Earth in order to save on energy but have always been afraid of someone from Earth arriving to claim their world. As such, they have formed the Silver Squadron and puts the Admiral in charge in order to protect them from the "evil Thors" (as they call Earthlings due to the symbol of the Earth Star Fleet being black lightning). For their part, Earth only wants to trade with Sevir and invite it to join the Galactic Union made up of Earth and twelve other settled worlds. Any encounters by the Star Fleet and the Silver Squadron have always ended bloody. Eventually, though, a young Sevir boy crash-lands on an uninhabited planet and is picked up by an Earth ship. He learns that Earthlings are not evil and that they have no intention of conquering Sevir. He realizes that the Admiral has been keeping himself in power through fearmongering. He returns home and is summoned to meet the Admiral. Before the Admiral can order his execution, the boy knocks him out and uses the Admiral's communication override to reveal the truth to his people before the Admiral's guards kill him.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Adumar, in the X-Wing Series, has elements of this. Their technology collapsed, then was rebuilt, they re-developed spaceflight and were rediscovered by mainstream galactic society before Starfighters of Adumar. They hold to some social customs that the rest of the galaxy finds weird, like still having many drastically different countries.
    • The Children in Galaxy of Fear are like a very small scale of this. Their parents crashed on Dagobah and died when the oldest of the Children was seven. They were malnourished and poorly educated, having no concept of places beyond the swamp, so came off as some kind of weird tribe which revered a parent's Apocalyptic Log.
  • Francis Carsac's Terre en fuite (Fleeing Earth) reveals that, at some point in the future, human civilization will be destroyed by a new Ice Age. After the Ice Age, the Second Civilization (slightly more evolved) will rebuild and make great strides in science and technology. Then they will be conquered by a race called Drums, only to be defeated by a biological weapon released by La Résistance. Their "space magnet" technology allows spaceships to reach 80% of the speed of light in short order, and humanity makes use of it to explore and settle other planets and planetoids in the Solar System. Then hyperdrive is discovered that is an extension of the space magnet technology. Colony ships are sent out, but only one manages to come back, revealing that the technology is horribly flawed. When a ship in hyperspace reaches the midpoint between two stars, it encounters a "gravity barrier" that throws it wildly off-course. The ship that returned found itself outside the galaxy after the first jump and only managed to return on the third try. Some time later, a scientist figures out that the Sun will emit an enormous solar flare that will fry anything in the inner system. The Second Civilization builds enormous space magnets on Earth and Venus in order to move the planets behind Jupiter to ride out the flare and then put them back. However, the Sun will no longer be able to support life after the flare, so the plan is amended to move the planets to another system. After reaching Alpha Centauri (it takes many years on sublight), they find it already inhabited by descendants of one of one the lost ships. They aren't blaming Earth humans for abandoning them but don't want them as neighbors. Many years later, the planets arrive to another system and find yet another Lost Colony, who are actively fighting them. These colonists claim that Earth lied to their ancestors, deliberately sending them into space knowing about the Blind Jump nature of hyperspace. It turns out that a race of aliens with Psychic Powers employs More than Mind Control to keep the human colonists as slaves. After defeating (and freeing) them, the planets are put in proper orbits in the Goldilocks Zone.
  • George R. R. Martin's stories in the "Thousand Worlds" universe take place (for the most part) after the Double War against two alien races, the Hrangans and the Fyndii. The devastating war threw a lot of the human colonies back to a pre-industrial or even pre-feudal level of technology, with some of them rediscovering space travel and others remaining lost. This dark period was known as the Interregnum.
    • "Bitterblooms" takes place on one of the primitive Interregnum planets. In it, the heroine comes upon a self-proclaimed "witch" living in an ancient starship who seems to take her to distant worlds.
    • "In the House of the Worm" is another story in the same vein, in which a race of humans lives in underground dwellings carved by enormous worms, on a planet orbiting a dying sun. At some point, the protagonist comes across some high-tech gadgets left behind by a faction of ancient biological engineers.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Time Enough for Love, brief mention is made of the discovery of a Lost Colony... founded by the surviving characters of Orphans of the Sky.
  • In David Brin's Uplift series, it is hotly debated whether humanity (uniquely among living peoples) developed intelligence independently or was created by some folk that abandoned the job incomplete. The second trilogy take place largely on Jijo, a planet hosting lost colonies of almost a dozen species, including humans.
  • In Thomas More's Utopia (the original utopia, written back in the days when unknown lands were on undiscovered continents instead of undiscovered planets), the eponymous island nation is apparently a lost Ancient Greek colony. This makes the trope Older Than Steam.
  • In Virgin Planet by Poul Anderson, a shipload of women goes off course and, by necessity, founds a parthenogenetic society. Generations later, a male scout lands and is denounced as a monster, partly because he threatens the power of those who control the reproductive technology.
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • Barrayar was a Lost Colony at a point of its history when the wormhole leading to it suddenly closed. However at the time when the series takes place, it's already been rediscovered through another route for three generations. It does still bear the barbaric mark of that time, however.
    • Alpha Colony, one of America's first attempts at space colonization by using sublight drives, was forgotten after a world war brought other concerns into play. When the war was over and wormhole technology had been discovered, a path was found to Alpha Colony, where all of the colonists had died out.
  • Christopher Stasheff's Warlock of Gramarye series:
    • Gramarye, a colony founded by the Society for Creative Anachronism. In this case the loss of technology was deliberate.
    • Considering that the government of Earth became isolationist around the time Gramarye was settled, it is not surprising that they were not found for a long time. This same isolationist policy cut off all of earths colonies from the technological goods of the homeworld, leading many of them to lose all tech. They were not exactly lost colonies, since earth knew where they were in most cases, but it was practically the same thing. Although there were a few that earth had lost the paperwork for, come to think of it.
    • Before he settled down on Gramarye, the protagonist's job was to search out lost colonies and steer them towards democracy; in the Wizard sequel series, his son takes up the job.
  • David Weber likes this trope.
    • Empire from the Ashes:
      • Earth was settled over 50,000 years ago after a mutiny rendered a picket starship inoperable and armed mutineers took everything high-tech away from loyalists. The 1st novel, Mutineers' Moon, deals with overthrowing the mutineers, who still secretly rule Earth. By the way, other life on Earth is related to humans because it was seeded with life by the same aliens who seeded the real human homeworld. Neanderthals and other primates evolved in parallel and are not closely related to humans.
      • The 3rd novel, Heirs of Empire, introduces another lost colony — Pardal. When the rest of the Fourth Empire was wiped out by a bio-weapon accident, Pardal survived, but outlawed science and technology. It still managed to progress from stone age to flintlock guns — in 45,000 years.
    • Honor Harrington has multiple planets, including Sanctuary aka Bolthole, lost since PD 45 for almost 1900 years before the PRH rediscovers it.
    • Safehold takes place on a deliberately lost colony, intended as a place where humanity could rebuild and advance far enough to destroy the xenocidal Gbaba the next time they fought. A pity that the administrator in charge of the project, along with his right-hand woman, were megalomaniacs who decided to adopt a God Guise...
  • Donald Westlake wrote a series of humorous short stories about the small starship Hopeful, crewed by a Ragtag Bunch of Misfitsnote  and given the task of contacting the colonies in an entire sector — many of which had become Planets of Hats. From the prologue of the very first story:
    Nearly 500 years before, a clerical error had erased from the computer's memory more than 1000 colonies, all in Sector F.U.B.A.R.3.
    For half a millennium, those colonies, young and struggling when last heard from, had had no contact with the rest of Humanity. The Galactic Patrol Interstellar Ship Hopeful, Captain Gregory Standforth commanding, was at once dispatched to reestablish contact with the Thousand Lost Colonies and return them to the bosom of Mankind.
  • The Worthing Saga concerns a Lost Colony, odd due to the fact that the Colony actually (re)discovers the rest of the human race before being found themselves due to their development of Psychic Powers.
  • Vernor Vinge's Zones of Thought novels touch on Lost Colonies a great deal - in A Deepness in the Sky in particular, due to technological limitations and no Faster-Than-Light Travel, colonies tend to self-destruct on a regular basis.
  • This is a common problem in Lucifer's Star by C.T. Phipps. After the Great Galactic Dark Age where the central government of the galaxy collapsed and Casual Interstellar Travel was no longer possible. Most of these colonies died out but a large number survived to become unique cultures.
  • The Murderbot Diaries. Colonies established by the Corporate Rim have had their founding companies go bankrupt, or fall to hostile takeovers (that's literally hostile in some cases) causing the data on their location to be lost or destroyed. The colonists usually die if the terraforming is too cheap or not fully established. Preservation was founded after a spaceship captain insisted on rescuing colonists who'd been left to die and settling them on another world, and this altruism has become the foundation of their society. Sometimes datamining is able to retrieve the locations of these lost colonies which corporations then seek to exploit as much of the machinery is already in place—too bad about the descendents of any colonists who might be making use of it. The university that Perihelion works for likes to put a spanner in the works by finding (or, it's implied, forging) documents that prove the legal rights were signed over to the colonists before they were cut off.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with in Babylon 5, where the rather human-looking Centauri originally claimed that Earth was a lost colony. When called on it, they excused it as a clerical error. "We thought your world was Beta 9, actually it was Beta 12." The truth was discovered when Humans got their hands on medical data regarding the Centauri and discovered that despite outward appearances, Centauri physiology is very different from Human physiology. According to the Psi Corps Trilogy, the humans were pretty skeptical of the claim to begin with, but decided not to press the issue while the Centauri were willing to do business with the humans and advance their technology base.
    • Played straight with most of Earth space: Earth lies in the middle of what used to be the rimward marches of the Centauri Republic at their peak, and is surrounded by worlds the Centauri abandoned during a devastating civil war and didn't bother to retake before humanity claimed them. This is how the Centauri came up with the claim that Earth was a lost colony: not only it was plausible, it had already happened with other worlds.
    • Also played straight with the Sh'lassen, only mentioned in the show but revealed in the Expanded Universe to be a group of humans who favored a feudal political system so procured a few spaceships with faulty jump drives and left, and found and settled another abandoned Centauri world, living in isolation for decades (and colonizing a nearby world) before being discovered.
    • The expanded universe states that some Dilgar survive on one such colony, far away from the races the Dilgar tried to drive into extinction and preparing to launch another attack in the far future. Another group of Dilgar lives on another such colony hidden inside Earth Alliance space, and have progressively adopted human customs preparing for the day they will be able to rejoin the wider galaxy in peace.
  • Used in spades in both Battlestar Galactica series. The Twelve Colonies are lost colonies of Kobol. The Colonists spend much of the series looking for Earth, Kobol's other lost colony.
  • Doctor Who: "The Face of Evil" features a lost colony of humans who were manipulated over generations by rogue AI Xoannon into becoming two enemy tribes; the Sevateem (a corruption of "survey team") and the Tesh ("technicians"). Leela, a Sevateem warrior, became the Doctor's companion for a time.
  • Firefly: The entire setting is technically one of these, although it doesn't really come up except as background worldbuilding. Every character is descended from people who fled impending environmental catastrophe on Earth That Was aboard Generation Ships and/or Sleeper Starships. What happened to the people left behind, or to any colony ships that were heading for other star systems, is anyone's guess in or out of universe.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Most planets of the week in Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis are like this, populated by humans seeded by either the Ancients or their successors as dominant galactic powers, the Goa'uld and Wraith.
    • Atlantis itself was almost a lost colony during the first season as they were completely cut off from earth.
    • In Stargate Universe some members of the expedition attempted to start one of these. Unfortunately they all (rather depressingly realistically) died from accidents or exposure.
    • And "now" an alternate timeline version of the Destiny crew founded an entire civilization two thousand years ago, which advanced to the point where they began using the stargates and slowships to colonize other planets. Unfortunately the colonies were then cut off when a supervolcano destroyed their homeworld and drones attacked their stargates, becoming lost colonies of a lost colony.
  • A couple Star Trek episodes featured the re-discovery of a Lost Colony or two.
    • The Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Terra Nova" has the crew visiting one that was mysteriously lost; at the time, Earth didn't have fast enough ships to check up on it, and they didn't ask the Vulcans for some reason.note  A natural disaster occurred, but the colonists assumed it was a revenge attack from Earth after they separated; only the children survived living a primitive life in caves shielded from the radiation. They believe themselves to be aliens, and that humans attacked them all those years ago, so are mistrustful when the Enterprise crew turn up.
    • Star Trek: Discovery has the titular ship discovering a planet populated by the descendants of a hundred or so humans, rescued by a mysterious angelic figure at the height of World War III from a church. Without any technological base, they have reverted to an agrarian lifestyle. Unable to figure out which religion adequately explains what happened, they have chosen to create an Interfaith Smoothie out of all major Earth religions. Most think that Earth destroyed itself during the war and that they are the last humans in existence. Some believe differently. Since they were taken from Earth without a ship and aren't even close to being warp-capable, Pike insists on keeping to the Prime Directive at any cost.
    • The Romulans started out as this, being Vulcans that rejected Surak's reform and left (or were forced out) to make their own world somewhere else.


    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Humongous Mecha roleplaying game Mekton, the default campaign setting is a planet called Algol, which turns out to be a Lost Colony of the interstellar Space Opera society presented in the worldbook Mekton Empire.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The setting has these in abundance, sometimes simply because the massive bureaucracy that governs the Imperium loses records of worlds due to filing errors. In other cases, lost colonies that wound up on particularly challenging worlds are rediscovered and left in their primitive state because their inhabitants make such good soldiers, with the Imperium only occasionally popping in to recruit a company or two for the Imperial Guard. Others, such as Fenris, serve as Space Marine homeworlds, the recruits only learning of the existence of the wider galaxy after joining the Chapter.
    • This was the case pre-imperium as well, after catastrophes such as the Robot War that ended the Dark Age of Technology, and the massive disturbance of Warp routes in the centuries preceding Slaanesh's birth. The Emperor revealed himself to mankind afterwards to end the Age of Strife, and launched the Great Crusade to unite all human-controlled worlds once again, by force when necessary.
    • Moreover, it used to be implied rather heavily that the Warhammer setting was an example of a world that had been cut off from Imperium contact, with hints that Sigmar and Bel'hakor were the two missing Primarchs. GW have subsequently moved away from this attitude however, treating the two game settings as being completely independent and leaving the fate of the Primarchs as a Riddle for the Ages by design.
  • Deadlands: Lost Colony is, rather unsurprisingly, based on this trope - but with the notable difference that the colony has only been "lost" for a decade or so, because Earth had a slight apocalypse.
  • The source of the "barbarians" in Fading Suns.
  • In Eclipse Phase the Pandora Gates occasionally malfunction and cut off a planet for years. In one case the colonists formed a Hive Mind in the five years it took to re-establish contact.
  • This was used in the Star Fleet Universe as a way to insert a small bastion of humans in a section of space outside the main Federation region by causing a colony planet (with sun and all) to be transported about 30 degrees around the edge of the galaxy. Later joined by a Klingon penal planet (and the task force trying to restore order there).
  • Inverted in Star Realms. The Machine Cult started off as colonies caught behind an alien invasion and was cut off from the rest of human space. To survive, these world began to rapidly develop their technology.
  • The Cynidecians in the Dungeons & Dragons module The Lost City.
  • In BattleTech, systems without a hyperpulse generator aren't even shown on most ComStar maps. When the Succession Wars broke out, the three centuries of technological decline forced many colonies had to be abandoned, or outright died off from lack of shipments of vital technology or resources. During the Succession Wars, the various Great Houses competed in Archaeological Arms Races to find old Star League technology caches on abandoned worlds or hidden in uninhabited systems.
  • Empire of the Petal Throne's world Tékumel was colonized and Terraformed by a far-future spacefaring human civilization, then thrown into chaos when an unexpected Negative Space Wedgie shunted it and the entire Nu Ophiuchi star system into an isolated Pocket Dimension. After millennia of cultural drift, uprisings by the planet's native species, and the emergence of Sufficiently Advanced Alien "Gods" and "Demons", their origins are remembered only in priceless technological artifacts.
  • The main setting of the Blue Planet RPG is a planet named "Poseidon" that used to be one of these — the Earth used a stable wormhole discovered at the edge of the Solar System to travel to it, however Earth suffered a genetically engineered crop blight that killed half the population and couldn't afford to send supplies or colonists for decades. The result of this period without contact was that the original colonists created their own society, and the conflict is now of the original natives that don't like either colonist group, the older colonists that want to defend what they built, and the new arrivals that are mostly members of the new Earth governments and mega-corporations.
  • The Cepheus powered space opera game Clement Sector takes place in one of these. In 2200, humanity discovers a wormhole to the other side of the galaxy and a region full of planets much more habitable than the star systems near Earth. 131 years later, the wormhole suddenly collapses, leaving the various colonies on their own.

    Video Games 
  • X-Universe:
    • The Argon Federation was formed after one Nathan R. Gunne lured the nigh-unstoppable malfunctioning Terraformer fleet away from Earth through its Jump Gate before destroying it behind his ship. Gunne's ship crash-lands on a habitable planet and the crew sets about rebuilding civilization while removing all references to Earth, as they think their gambit failed and the Earth was destroyed. Over seven hundred years go by before the Earth State is reunited with the Argon Federation in X3: Reunion, though it doesn't go well; Earth's paranoia about Argon AI research causes them to get involved in a Space Cold War that soon turns into a Guilt-Free Extermination War after the Argon blow up Earth's Torus Aeternal following the uncovering of an extensive Terran spy network in Argon space.
    • The Free State of Aldrin is also a lost Terran colony, presumed destroyed when the Terraformers went rogue and the jump gates went haywire. It is reconnected in X3: Terran Conflict, and is the only system which has non-corrupted Terraformers.
    • Both the Teladi and the Split are also cut off from their homeworlds by jump gates rearranging themselves. The Teladi rediscover their homeworld in X2: The Threat (which integrates peacefully with the space society they've built), while the Split are unsure if their original homeworld even exists anymore... or, for that matter, if it even existed at all.
    • At the end of X3: Albion Prelude, the entire jumpgate network is shut down, leaving individual star systems completely cut off from each other, and resulting in dozens upon dozens of new Lost Colonies (though they keep in touch, slowly, via near-lightspeed messenger drones). In X:Rebirth and X4, centuries later, a few jumpgates are reactivated and the colonies begin opening travel and trade with each other again.
  • In the original Homeworld the lost colonies of the Hiigarans are an important plot point:
    • Kharak, the starting point for the player's fleet, is inhabited by the Kushan, who, true to this trope, have long forgotten their origin, relegated to religious myth and a few fringe scientific theories (if ones backed by DNA analysis) and believe themselves native until the rediscovery of Khar-toba, the long-abandoned landing site that still houses the original colony ship and inside the Guidestone (that has a map back to Hiigara) and a hyperdrive module. Thus the Kushan started building the Mothership, in part to find their ancestral homeworld and in part to escape before climate change makes the planet uninhabitable... But the launch of the Mothership causes a sudden attack from the Taiidan Empire that wipes out all life from the planet, forcing the Mothership to retrieve the few survivors in crio sleep capsules and travel to Hiigara to establish a colony.
    • During the voyage to Hiigara the Kushan meet the Kadeshi, who are eventually revealed to descend from the Hiigarans like the Kushan when a ship of the same type as the Khar-toba is discovered. Differently from the Kushan they remember where they came from and why, and their hostility comes from the fact they're terrified the Taiidan will track them down and wipe them out, and thus kill everyone who passes in their territory to avoid them bringing back news of their existence.
    • Eventually the Bentusi reveals the Hiigarans' full history: they had lost a war with the ancient Taiidan and had been exiled from their homeworld in a number of sublight transports, also being forbidden from ever using hyperspace technology ever again. The Kushan descend from the crews of four ships (one of which carried the Guidestone and the hyperspace module), while the Kadeshi descend from the crew of a ship that broke down along the way. The tale also hint there may be other colonies established from the crews of other ships that broke down during the voyage, but this is never touched upon in the following games.
    • The RPG states that most known sapient life in the Homeworld galaxy is human, including Hiigarans, Taiidan, and Turanic Raiders, however nobody knows humanity came to exist on so many planets. Hypotheses include the possibility that they're all lost colonies, or Transplanted Humans used as slaves by Precursors, or that the Progenitors were human and their descendants got knocked back to the stone age, or even simple convergent evolution.
  • Xenogears:
    • A select few in the world are aware of this; others, not so much. It was an accident to begin with, set ten thousand years prior to the start of the actual story, where mankind's creation crash-landed on the planet and respawned humanity through a fabricated "mother" entity. Furthermore, Xenosaga, the game's "spiritual" prequel, implies that the planet depicted at the end of the third game is the actual planet that Xenogears takes place on—though if they were to make a formal attempt to validate this (through sequels or otherwise), it would involve a fairly heavy retcon.
    • Other interpretations state that the planet in both the ending of Xenosaga and beginning of Xenogears is in fact Earth, which was lost to mankind in in 2510 AD. Mind you, in both cases humanity is in the far flung future. Xenosaga as a series ends in 7020 AD. whilst Xenogears starts in 17,230 AD if the math is right. Either way, you have a ultra civilization dealing with "just still getting there."
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X takes place on a Lost Colony called Mira, which was established when a colony ship from Earth crash-landed on the planet. The reason the colony ship launched at all is because Earth itself was destroyed in a clash between two warring alien civilizations. It's speculated that other colony ships may have survived and founded their own colonies, but there's no way to confirm this.
  • StarCraft:
    • The entire Koprulu Sector is a lost colony. Originally, Earth was dabbling with the concept of interstellar colonization, and already had success within the Solar System. One enterprising scientist built a fleet of colony ships, rounded up thousands of "colonists" (in reality convicted criminals because they were easy to obtain), and promptly shot them toward the nearest habitable planet. However, a freak accident caused the fleet to lose the coordinates of both their destination and Earth. They eventually were forced to stop in the Koprulu Sector. Eventually, the various human factions developed into small spacefaring empires. In the expansion, the United Earth Directorate finally discovers the lost colony and attempts to subjugate it. It doesn't end well.
    • We eventually find out that the UED knew about the colonies and was just monitoring them from afar, content to let events take their course. Then they found out about the Zerg and the Protoss and decided to step in.
  • In Master of Orion 2, lucky exploration can net you with these. Finding a Splinter Colony effectively means instant colonization of a random, agriculture-supporting planet in the solar system. The iOS port Starbase Orion also has this mechanic.
  • By in-game statements of sapients that would knowm large swathes of the Galaxy are this in (old verse) Might and Magic, although we only get to see three of them (Enroth, Axeoth and the world of the novels) — the four settings of the first five games were not lost, but deliberately retarded (they were part of Ancient experiments). Unusually, at least the inhabitants of Enroth do maintain knowledge that they came from another world (in fact, their dating system starts from the year off-world contact was lost), it just never comes up in the Heroes of Might and Magic games.
  • Dragon Age
    • The village of Haven in Dragon Age: Origins is a form of this trope. It was established centuries ago by followers of the prophet Andraste, who created the village just outside of an elaborate temple they built to house her ashes. The village residents were charged with the perpetual guardianship of the ashes. While the rest of Ferelden sprang up around the village and changed with the passing of time, Haven remained in complete isolation - it doesn't even appear on any maps of the country and most people don't know it exists. Although its inhabitants are essentially of the same religion as the rest of Ferelden, they're unaware of the Chantry (Ferelden's church) or certain laws and regulations. Worse, in the last several generations, they've come to the erroneous conclusion that a dragon is the reincarnation of the prophet, and the village has evolved into a murderous Ax-Crazy cult.
    • The dwarven city of Kal-Sharok was thought lost to the darkspawn for centuries by the inhabitants of Orzammar, the only other remaining underground dwarven city (and home of both dwarf protagonists in Origins). In the face of annihilation, Orzammar sealed itself off and abandoned the rest of the dwarven empire for dead, assuming all other cities lost. Kal-Sharok managed to survive, however, and has become very insular and secretive and evolved a far different society. It was rediscovered a few years prior to the events of the first game, and according to King Endrin and Lord Shaper Czibor, they still haven't forgiven Orzammar for abandoning them.
  • The Forgotten colonists in Lost Planet 3 were abandoned by NEVEC and left to fend for their own on E.D.N. III for 36 years until NEVEC returns to the planet and accidentally rediscovers them.
  • Mass Effect
    • The series has a throw-away reference to a human colony being found in Alpha Centauri; the colonists set off before the discovery of the setting's FTL travel and had no knowledge that aliens existed.
    • In Mass Effect 2 the Hugo Gernsback crashes onto a planet with plants that degrade the human mind. The crew decides that only those able to repair the ship/get a message out are allowed to eat the food they brought with them with the rest forced to eat and become "like children". Shortly afterwards the guys in charge decide this colony life isn't that bad and decide to stay. When Shepard and their fire team make landfall they quickly learn that while plant life makes human women "like children" it makes the men who eat it turn extremely violent and what happened to the guys in charge including Jacob's dad.
  • Stellaris:
    • This is the backstory of the Commonwealth of Man, one of the pre-generated empires. Humans had dabbled in wormhole research before they settled on hyperdrives, and sent a colony to Deneb that was presumed to be lost. Said colony survived on a Death World, and became an authoritarian, militarized state that is hostile to its alien neighbors.
    • As of version 2.6, you can select this as your empire's origin, which means that a more advanced empire of the same species will exist somewhere in the galaxy.
  • Mars: War Logs: The entirety of Mars believes they are a lost colony, because after an unexpected cataclysm caused a polar shift that changed Mars forever (making the air breathable, turning martian sunlight into a near-lethal mutagen), Earth stopped sending calls. Most martians believe that the cataclysm was so colossal that Earth has written it off as a dead planet (the fact that Mars has regressed technologically and can't send their own signals doesn't help matters). The truth is, the cataclysm was COSMIC, and it destroyed Earth.
  • Rimworld: Every planet you can start on has remnants of these, thanks to the fact humanity was very proactive about seeding worlds with them but prevented by the lack of FTL travel from checking up on how they were getting along.
  • The big Sequel Hook/Wham Line of The Outer Worlds is that Halcyon has become a lost colony. All communication with Earth has been silent for 3 years, leaving the already faltering system completely alone.
  • In Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, Port Rimorge was founded by survivors of the Great Vortex who washed up on the islands over the years.

    Web Original 
  • Orion's Arm: The exodus from Old Earth following the nanodisaster resulted in many Lost Colonies, though most were re-contacted when the First Federation was formed or sometime later in the next 10,000 years. The Metasoft Version Tree maintains "baseline preserves" that are essentially intentional lost colonies. The original colonists were baseline humans who wanted to leave Sephirotic civilization and paid Metasoft for worlds where they could preserve their culture undisturbed, although at least one preserve world has rediscovered space travel and rejoined interstellar civilization.
  • In season two of Stellaris Invicta, the Antares Confederacy was founded by the Earhart colonization fleet after a wormhole accident took them to a star system filled with Death Worlds instead of the already colonized system they were heading towards. Remarkably, they survived, and later found out that, given what happened to Earth while they were gone, they were lucky to have been on the other side of the galaxy without any contact with home when it happened.

    Western Animation 
  • In Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, an interesting variation appeared in the season one episode "Ice Will Burn". The story deals with a people descended from 17th/18th century Siberian Russians, whose ancestors had to fled their town and got trapped by accident in an inescapable deep gorge/icy cavern. They managed to survive and thrive thanks to the heat produced by a small local volcano (Truth in Television if it's supposed to be set somewhere in the Kamchatka peninsula).

    Real Life 
  • The Adventurer Archaeologist Aurel Stein found a Chinese outpost dating to the end of the Han dynasty that had been cut off by the collapse of the dynasty (as detailed in Romance of the Three Kingdoms). Ancient Bureaucratic red-tape indicated that the outpost continued to function after it had been cut off, still keeping up Imperial forms as if the dynasty still held the throne.
  • In 1843, German settlers in Venezuela founded Tovar. A few years later the jungle reclaimed the only way to them and everyone assumed they were all dead... until they were rediscovered in 1953. They still spoke their German dialect and built their houses like 19th century Germans.
  • DNA analysis has recently suggested that not one but four or five African and Indian groups may be (as they claim) Lost Tribes of Israel. Besides the famous Ethiopian and Ugandan Jews who got airlifted by Israel in the 70s, a full-blown tribe in Tanzania got themselves tested to prove their claim that the tribe itself were a lost tribe of Hebrews, since the Roman era. (Being cut off, they didn't know any other Jews existed, so they adopted local language and customs.)
  • There is a group of people in southern Egypt known as Magyarabs who are supposedly descendants of Hungarians brought there by the Turks in 15th century. They were first encountered in the 1930s by Europeans (ironically, László Almásy, himself a Hungarian—who became famous via the movie The English Patient—and his colleagues).
  • On a smaller scale is The Lost Colony of Roanoke, NC. A small English colony was founded on Roanoke island in 1584, but vanished by 1589 under mysterious circumstances. One theory is that the colonists may have dispersed in the surrounding region. In modern times, the general consensus is that, after various setbacks, the colonists gave up waiting for the promised resupply ships and moved in with the Croatoan tribe.
    • Since the 1930s, it's been celebrated in an outdoor drama near the original colony site, and figures heavily in various conspiracy-themed Role-Playing Games.
  • In 1609, the ship Sea Venture set off from Plymouth, England to reach for Jamestown in Virginia, carrying more than 500 colonists and supplies. A few days from the Virginia coast, a hurricane struck and the ship was damaged and started taking on water. Sighting land, the Captain deliberately beached the ship on a reef in what is today Bermuda, which enabled 150 colonists to survive. The lost colony was stranded on Bermuda for nine months, until they could build ships to make it to Virginia. This shipwrecked colony inspired Shakespeare to write The Tempest.
  • The Khevsur people from Georgia were once regarded as descendants of European Crusaders who settled in a very remote region where they were frozen in time, still dressing in medieval armor adorned with crosses and holy icons. During World War I, American adventurer Richard Halliburton witnessed them and wrote about how they volunteered to join the Russian army... while still dressed like crusaders. This theory has been discredited, but it was common even among other Georgians for a time.