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Racial Remnant

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Sometimes, disasters happen. And sometimes those disasters are so large that they destroy an entire race, culture, or people group. However, small groups of refugees sometimes escape, fleeing to other lands and settling there. These refugees establish themselves in their new home, but they pass down to their children the memory of the homeland they had to leave, who pass those memories on to their children.

These descendants are a Racial Remnant. They are part of and yet separate from the main culture of the land they inhabit. They have known no other home, yet they carry the culture of a "homeland" which no longer exists. They will often still view themselves as displaced refugees, even generations after their ancestors had to flee.

Note that this is not about the remains of a once proud race who have been degraded. In order for a race to qualify for this trope, the race must be descended from a group that survived the annihilation of the members of their original culture, and those survivors must have passed down significant aspects of their original culture to their descendants.

Racial Remnants are most frequently found in Speculative Fiction.

If only one person survives the catastrophe, then it's Last of His Kind. Contrast Dying Race.


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    Comic Books 
  • Superman:
    • Brainiac shrunk and bottled the city of Kandor prior to Krypton's destruction, and the city was later rescued by Superman and developed its own culture while preserving the best parts of old Krypton. In some continuities, they escape the bottle and find a different planet to inhabit, as Earth doesn't seem keen on sharing their planet with tens of thousands of people with the same powers as Superman.
    • The people of Argo City, home of Supergirl, also survive the destruction of Krypton thanks to a forcefield surrounding the city. Whether anyone but Supergirl lasts long enough to make anything of their society and focus on anything beyond short-term survival depends on which dimension the story is set in.
    • The Daxamites and Phaelosians are a pair of offshoot Kryptonian species that moved off-world before the destruction of their planet and have few good memories of Krypton, but still maintain some of its culture.

    Fan Works 
  • This could apply to the main cast as a whole in Gensokyo 20XX, as they are what remains of the original population of Gensokyo, as much of their population was killed when Gensokyo was destroyed and they had to flee Gensokyo to survive. The same would apply to anyone descendant from them (i.e, Ran's pups and their pups).
  • In The Butcher Bird ghouls are implied to be this, if not a full-on Dying Race. The disaster in question? Gol D. Roger.
  • The King Nobody Wanted: The Sarnori people (especially those who can trace their descent to Mardosh) have been ravaged by the Dothraki, and those who barely survived to relocate now live in much smaller settlements, with only memories of their past culture and glory that they hope to one day regain.
  • The Weaver Option:
    • The Rashan homeworld was destroyed by a Hrud migration, with the survivors finding a tenuous sanctuary in the pirate system Pavia.
    • During the Great Crusade the Emperor personally oversaw the destruction of the entire Skaven race aside from a small number he sealed inside a stasis container. During the "Extermination" arc Taylor drops the container on Sicarus, where the Skaven quickly re-establish themselves and demonstrate why the Emperor wanted them exterminated.

    Film — Animated 
  • Humans in Titan A.E. after Earth is destroyed by the Drej live either in a makeshift space colony built of the hulls of old ships, or in ones or twos or, if they're lucky, tiny minority communities among other species.

  • The Aeneid by Virgil has Aeneas and a group of other Trojans fleeing to Latium after the Greeks nearly destroy the city of Troy, founding what would eventually become Roman civilization. Further emphasized when Juno at the end of the epic concedes defeat, but on the condition that the Trojans assimilate with the Latins.
  • In the Firebird Trilogy, the planet Ehret was destroyed by civil war. Two groups fled the conflict. One group settled on an already populated planet and integrated into the existing structure, while still passing down Ehretan culture; they became the Sentinels. The other group settled on a previously barren world, creating a new culture that became known as the Shuhr.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The Targaryen family are refugees from the Doom of Valyria. Although descendants of Valyrians live throughout Westeros and Essos (and are easily identifiable by their silver-blond hair and purple eyes), the Targaryens are the last of the dragonlords, forty noble houses who comprised the ruling class of the Valyrian Freehold. To preserve their bloodline, they practice extensive incestuous marriages.
    • The Children of the Forest, the original inhabitants of Westeros, have been reduced into a single isolated population located north of the Wall.
  • The Tedrel Mercenaries from the Heralds of Valdemar series are the survivors of nation of people. They became mercenaries and tried to get enough money to create a new homeland.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • The Dúnedain Rangers of The Lord of the Rings are a remnant of the men of Arnor (destroyed in the Third Age by the Witch-King), who themselves (along with the men of Gondor) are a remnant of the Men of Númenór (sunk by Eru in the Second Age), who themselves are a remnant of the Edain of Beleriand (sunk during the War of Wrath in the First Age). The Rangers have held on to their heritage through the years, passing down the stories and carrying out their role as protectors even when their lands had been ruined.
    • The elves of Rivendell are a remnant of the Elves of Eregion (destroyed by Sauron in the Second Age), who, along with the Elves of Lindon (the small area of land west of the Blue Mountains), are a remnant of the Elves of Beleriand (some would also settle in Lothlórien and Mirkwood, where they ended up mostly assimilating with the local Silvan Elves). It is a major plot point that these places are trying as best they can to sustain the essence of years past.
    • By the time of The Hobbit, the Dwarves of Durin's Folk have lost almost of their territories (including their homeland of Khazad-dûm) to orcs, dragons, and other evil creatures. Nonetheless, they still dearly hold on to the memories of their former glory, and possess a strong desire to retake their lands. They manage to reclaim Erebor at the end of the book, but it's not until long after the events of The Lord of the Rings that they recover enough to finally resettle Khazad-dûm.
  • In A Memoir by Lady Trent, the Draconeans living in the Sanctuary of Wings are all that remains of a once-proud civilization that spanned the world.
  • In Animorphs, none of the Pemalites survived the artificial virus the Howlers infected them withnote . However, the Chee, who they created in their image as Robot Buddies, survive the virus just fine, and preserve the memory and culture of their creators as best they can.
  • Virus (1980): The human race is apparently reduced to 10,000 people (886 in The Movie) who either lived in Antarctica during The Plague or managed to escape to there as the infection spread. Then those people find themselves scrambling to disarm an automated nuclear missile system before an earthquake causes it to irradiate Antarctica as well.
  • The Camp Half-Blood Series: Unlike Camp Half-Blood, which merely provides refuge for Greek demigods, Camp Jupiter boasts itself to be the successor to the Ancient Roman civilization (it's actually the modern incarnation of the historical Legio XII Fulminata). It models its style of government after the Roman Republic (headed by a pair of praetors that function more or less like consuls), and divides its army into a series of cohorts. It also provides retired demigods a place to settle, the city of New Rome.
  • In the Children of a Dead Earth trilogy by Patrick S. Tomlinson, Earth's population is reduced to a mere 50,000 on a Colony Ship (Earth and Mars were destroyed by a mobile Negative Space Wedgie). Much of the plot of the first book revolved around keeping humanity's population at exactly 50,000, due to the severe lack of resources.

    Live-Action TV 
  • It's only really brought up in background materials and a couple of off-hand remarks, but humanity is itself this in Firefly, an unspecified but probably not large number of people having fled resource depletion and environmental collapse on Earth That Was in Generation Ships and/or Sleeper Starships. It's not clear if the solar system in which the action takes place is the only star to which colony ships were sent or if civilisation held on back on Earth, and without Faster-Than-Light Travel it's not like they can go back and take a look.
  • Game of Thrones: The Targaryens are remnants of the Valyrian Empire marked by their distinctive white-blonde hair.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Dragon's Teeth", the Vaadwaur, once 6 billion strong and a major power, are reduced to less than 600 — but are no less dangerous...

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mystara has the Hollow World, which was used as a safe haven for cultures that were dying out. Current immortal magic inside the hollow world makes people more stubborn about their beliefs (making it difficult to attempt conversion), and also includes a network of caverns to allow quick escape (making wars of genocide difficult).
  • In the Talislanta game, the Xambrian wizard-hunters are a Racial Remnant of a culture that was wiped out by evil sorcerers. The few survivors' descendants spend their entire lived tracking down and executing the ever-reincarnating culprits, over and over again.
  • The Deep Imaskari of the Forgotten Realms were this in 3.5E to 4E. They are the descendants of Imaskari that fled the great slave rebellion for an outpost deep underground; Deep Imaskar endured for millenia in secrecy. Then a series of events led to Imaskar rising again. There was also another group of Imaskar-descendants that endured, but less is known of just what they did the past few millenia (the Deep Imaskari were introduced as this trope; the other group was introduced as part of the events that led to Imaskar's partial rebirth).
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Craftworld Eldar, the survivors of the original Eldar civilization. They fled on planetoid-sized Generation Ships called Craftworlds before The Fall, a great calamity that gave birth to an Eldritch Abomination who subsequently killed all but three of their gods, devoured the souls of the majority of the Eldar race, and created a tear in reality that consumed most of their interstellar empire. Now they drift through space in the shadow of subsequent alien empires, a borderline Dying Race trying to keep their people and culture from being extinguished forever... at any cost to the other races of the galaxy. The Craftworld Dorhai is an extreme version of this, as they view themselves as being the only untainted survivors of the old Eldar empire and maintain that everyone else, including all other Eldar, are corrupted by Chaos.
    • The Dark Eldar are the direct descendents of the old Eldar civilization that orgied Slaanesh into existence. They reside in Commorragh, the Dark City hidden deep within the Webway, where they continue the old cruel and decadent lifestyle, feeding upon the souls of their slaves to keep them immortal. They occasionally come into realspace to raid and pillage, sometimes for prisoners, sometimes to steal a few stars to power Commorragh.
    • There are also the Exodite Eldar, who lived on colonies far enough from the centre of their civilisation not to be affected by the Fall, and who tend to have a more rural and survivalist theme (essentially wood elves to the Craftworld Eldar's high elves; they've tended to get less mention as 40K has moved away from simply being Warhammer In Space!). So there are three different racial remnants who all disagree on exactly which bits of their former culture should be remembered.
  • In Warhammer, the Sky-Titans were once a glorious civilisation who lorded over a floating kingdom over the Mountains of Mourn to the east of the Old World. A war with the invading Ogres left the Sky-titans decimated and overthrown, fleeing into the world wherever they could find refuge. Now their descendants, the Giants, are formed into tribes of primitive, inbred degenerates who roam the world fighting for anyone who can provide them with food and booze, usually the Beastmen, Greenskins or the Ogres who destroyed their people.
  • The Maerynian survivors in Sentinels of the Multiverse, who escaped Grand Warlord Voss's conquest of their planet and subsequent transformation of at least some of the remaining Maerynians into Gene-Bound thralls. And they're lucky to even get a remnant; at least two species that Voss has previously conquered are represented solely by their last survivor, preserved forever in the Enclave of the Endlings. The Maerynian hero, Tempest, is understandably not Voss's biggest fan, making it just as well that he also has a counter to almost anything Voss can pull.

    Video Games 
  • All of humanity in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. Earth nuked itself at some point during Unity's trip to the titular world. The details are never given.
  • 288 years before the events of Mass Effect, the quarian race lost their home planet to the geth, forcing the survivors of the war to flee. At the heart of their culture is a strong sense of loyalty and a deep attachment to their home world, beliefs passed down by their ancestors. For this reason, almost every quarian you encounter is devoted to finding a way to take back their home world from the geth, despite the fact that no current living quarian has ever stepped foot on the home world, as well as the fact that the geth aren't actually as hostile as they think. In Mass Effect 3, the quarians stop being this trope if they regain their home-world, through reconciliation with (or the destruction of) the geth.
    • The Remnant tech in Mass Effect: Andromeda, so named because it's easier to say than "remnant of an extremely advanced civilization". It's a large amount of massive terraforming systems and the tetchy drones guarding it, the original owners having left them behind in something of a hurry four-hundred years before the Initiative got to Andromeda.
  • The Dalish Elves in Dragon Age are the last of the Elvhenan; nomadic wanderers who pride themselves on maintaining the culture that has passed down to them since the days of Ancient Arlathan, through its destruction and their enslavement, though the founding of their second homeland in the Dales, and its later destruction once again at the hands of humanity.
    • While other Elves do exist throughout Thedas, they are second class citizens who live in poverty and squalour. Many Dalish consider them little more than slaves who have adopted so many human ways that they are little different from their "Shemlen masters."
    • Although, as the series progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that the Dalish culture contains a lot of half-forgotten and misinterpreted tales and customs, while all human cultures are in some way descended from ancient Tevinter, which built itself by imitating, if not outright appropriating, its not-so-honorable elven precursors. Ironically, Humans may have more in common culturally with ancient elves than the nomadic, vaguely tribal Dalish—although both groups would ferociously deny it.
  • The Helghast in Killzone became this after their homeworld was rendered uninhabitable during the final days of the war. The surviving population was granted asylum on Vekta by the ISA and kept in check by a massive fortified wall while Helghast extremist groups have been committing acts of terrorism aimed at disrupting the fragile peace.
  • In War Craft III, Rexxar is one of the last Mok'nathal (half orc/ogre). There are few of his own kind left, since Draenor was shattered in the second war.
  • A Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky: Solomon, the last member of the previous Lydian society.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • It is rumored that Ayleids (Wild Elves), whose race once ruled all of Cyrodiil, still live in the untamed wilds across Tamriel, but the odd unconfirmed sighting is the only evidence for it. By the 4th Era, centuries have gone by without a reliable sighting. Many Ayleid refugees fled Cyrodiil during and immediately following the Alessian Revolt, but few found safe havens. One group went into High Rock and joined the Direnni Altmer there, where they formed the "last kingdom of the Ayleids" under the leadership of Laloriaran Dynar; it managed to keep going for a while and even defeated the Alessian Empire at the battle of Glenumbra Moors, but eventually the local Bretons displaced them. Other Ayleid clans went into Valenwood where they were taken in by the Bosmer, but went native and were eventually completely absorbed into the Bosmer race.
    • The last group who identified as Nedes, human ancestors to most of the modern races of Men, lived into the late 1st Era in the deserts of Hammerfell. They were wiped out when the Redguards invaded and claimed the land.
    • The modern Redguards of Hammerfell are the survivors of the calamity that destroyed Yokuda. Even into the 4th Era, they are said to be few in number relative to the other races of Tamriel. There are some indications there is another population of Yokudan descendants (still living on the islands left of Yokuda), but the hints suggest they are far fewer than the Redguards.
    • The Kothringi were a race of primitive silver-skinned menfolk native to the Black Marsh. However, during the 2nd Era, they were almost completely wiped out by the Knahaten Flu. Two remnant groups were known to have survived for at least a few decades after, however:
      • A group of Kothringi refugees escaped their homeland aboard the Crimson Ship. However, they were denied refuge anywhere in Tamriel and sailed westward. Redguard sailors later supposedly found the ship with all aboard having died, but other tales tell that none who see the ship ever return alive.
      • The chief of the Kothringi tribe in Stillrise Village made a deal with Clavicus Vile, the Daedric Prince of Bargains and Wishes, in order to survive the Flu. Vile kept his end of the bargain, but did so by transforming the populace into immortal, undead skeletons. The villagers maintained living appearances through illusion magic and lived in peace for over 20 years, but a group of necromancers discovered their secret and attempted to enslave them. The villagers defeated the necromancers, but would eventually succumb to their own infighting.

  • Anna Galactic: Humanity as a whole was annihilated by aliens, except for those "stranded" on the planet.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang, an Air Nomad, was the Last of His Kind. In the Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, his son Tenzin is shown to have inherited his Airbending, and lives with his wife and three Airbending children in Republic City. Following the end of season 2, Harmonic Convergence granted many non-benders (including Tenzin's brother, Bumi) airbending, resulting in the birth of a new Air Nation. However, Tenzin's family are the still the only descendants of the original Air Nomads.

    Real Life 
  • Jews have been (and possibly still are) a real-world example of this. There've been multiple diasporas, during which the Jewish people have maintained a religious, cultural, and to some extent racial identity. Some would argue that even with the State of Israel there's a diaspora now, hence the possibility that this applies currently. Plus, there's a ton of "promised land" references in the Hebrew Bible and other, more recent Jewish literature. Furthermore, the Hebrew Bible explicitly refers to the Jews who survive various conquerors and are taken captive instead of being killed as a "remnant"note , often tying into references to said "promised land".
  • Copts consider themselves to be the descendants of the Ancient Egyptians. They are a minority in the mostly Muslim Egypt, but the reality is kind of complicated:
    • On one hand, it is true without question that modern Muslim Egyptians are also descended predominantly from Ancient Egyptians, although it is true that they are more likely to have Arab and other non-Egyptian ancestry (e.g. Turkish).
    • On the other hand, it is also true that although all Egyptians speak Arabic as their native language, Muslim Egyptians are much more comfortable with their cultural connections to the other Arabic-speaking peoples and even with identifying themselves as Arab. Copts, on the other hand, prefer an exclusively Egyptian identity and associate themselves with Ancient Egyptian culture (which was Christian for over 300 years under Roman/Byzantine rule) and preserve the last form of the ancient Egyptian language as Coptic (which serves as their liturgical language).
  • In pre-contact North America it was common for different cultures to adopt/absorb slaves or war prisoners into their captor's communities. This practice continued into the global era with some cultures, such as the Huron in central Ontario, dying out as a separate people (becoming absorbed into the Six Nations in the case of the Huron). Many cultural elements such as basket or clothing designs are carried on by their descendants, despite them now considering themselves members of the newer culture.
    • The Huron also have a second remnant, a small enclave of refugees who established themselves near Quebec City in what is now the reservation of Wendake, who despite its small size and heavy intermarriage with local French-Canadians is one of the most culturally dynamic First Nations groups in Canada.
  • The Armenians were basically this after the Turks eliminated them from Turkey (much of modern day Eastern Turkey was their traditional homeland, now populated mostly by Kurds) and the Soviet Union absorbed what was left. That is until the Soviet Union collapsed and they became independent for the first time in nearly a millennium (barring a short two-year stint in the 1920s). The diaspora is still scattered all over the world though. Within Turkey itself there is still a small remnant, mostly in Istanbul and a couple sparsely populated villages elsewhere.
  • The Parsis of India are descendants of Zoroastrians who fled there when Persia (Modern-day Iran) went Islamic.
  • The Ainu of Japan are a remnant of the original inhabitants of the islands before the ancestors of the Japanese came over from Korea.
  • A common theory is that the Basque language (known in Spanish as either Vasco or Euskera) of the Basque Country in modern Spain is the last extant pre-Indo-European language in Western Europe due to it being a Language Isolate.
  • Populations in the Greater Antilles often carry portions of Taíno ancestry, the indigenous inhabitants of the Caribbean, now considered extinct.