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Slept Through the Apocalypse

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Eh, it's fine; they'll just rebuild it again before he wakes up.note 

"The earth died screaming
While I lay dreaming
Dreaming of you."

Our heroic protagonist, Joe Average, is a very Heavy Sleeper. His friends joke he could sleep through an atomic bomb blast. In fact, he just did.

Thanks to an extraordinary coincidence, Joe was in one of the only (if not the only) safe places from The End of the World as We Know It. Joe will usually wake up and find himself very, very alone, and get increasingly freaked out. That is until night falls and he's relieved to find someone who is Not a Zombie Mutant, and won't try to bash his head open to eat his delicious brain meats, honest! Luckily for Joe, this is when a savvier survivor will bail him out and lead him towards more safety.

There's a lot of ways for Joe and/or Jane to miss the opening act of The End of the World as We Know It without realizing it. The threat itself may be a localized one like a Zombie Apocalypse, and being out in the countryside where there's no cell reception is one way to survive without becoming the wiser. Or they may be naturally immune or in a place where whatever 'it' is can't affect them. A Human Popsicle may thaw to find the world After the End isn't all he expected. And of course, a Heavy Sleeper may be clueless and lucky enough not to realize it's happening until he's knee deep in radioactive weevils.

If the story is a comedy or a horror story being played for laughs, Joe may be killed off pretty quickly without even realizing he was Late to the Tragedy. Otherwise, he'll have a pretty good survival rate as he taps into his inner Action Survivor.

Frequently overlaps with Rip Van Winkle, where the future reality the protagonist finds himself waking up in is strange but not apocalyptic per se. Compare But What About the Astronauts? when someone survived because they were offplanet.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The protagonist of Blue Gender, justified in that he was a Human Popsicle.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • In Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug, Master Roshi sleeps through the entire ordeal, only waking up at the end to lament how quiet things have been.
    • Dragon Ball Super reveals that Beerus slept straight through Majin Buu's attack on the Kais, which killed all but the youngest.
  • Fate/Extra Last Encore: Due to Hakuno's summoning of Saber past the deadline for the Holy Grail War, by the time the duo arrive in the first stage, the majority of the masters have given up on both the war and their servants.
  • Gundam 00: Ian Vashti, after being wounded in an attack on the Ptolemaios, rests for ten days. When he wakes up he learns that he slept through two battles and a crash landing through the atmosphere from orbit.
  • In the Hetalia: Axis Powers movie "Paint It White!", while the rest of the world is gripped in an Alien Invasion, Switzerland and Lichtenstein have a nice little picnic (their permanent neutrality created a barrier against the aliens). The Stinger reveals Iceland made out unscathed too and even got some tourism out of it.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: In the Jorge Joestar novel, Rohan Kishibe explains that during the climax of Stone Ocean when Pucci was accelerating the universe with Made In Heaven, he was so utterly absorbed in his work, the recreation of the universe didn't affect him and he carried over unchanged without noticing.
  • The protagonists in Psyren, along with any other people who answered Nemesis Q's invitation, get transported into the future are the only humans alive in the post-apocalyptic world. On the beginning, that is — by acting on the clues about the close future they found in that time, they helped some people live through the apocalypse.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Apparently what happened in the original ending. One episode everything is fine, the next one starts with Shinji already in Limbo. This is what happens when you run out of budget.
    • The third Rebuild movie has a straighter example. The planet is in ruins and most of humanity has been killed off, and Shinji spends a total of fourteen years in non-aging stasis inside of a giant dormant mecha while this all happens. What makes it worse this time around, is that one of the first things Shinji finds out after he wakes up is that not only did he sleep through it (in what was probably the safest place on Earth for that entire time), his actions in the previous movie are what caused it.
  • In Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, Takeru wakes up to find himself in Hachiouji of a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, despite the last thing he remembers having been on the JR to Yokohama. He's mostly been in a coma ever since the apocalypse hit, with the memories of his few waking moments having been wiped.
  • World Trigger: Isami Toma takes a nap when the second invasion begins, and only wakes up to snipe during crucial times.
  • Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon: The Root Head Was one of the yokai that attacked Kikyo looking to claim the Shikon Jewel and was sealed shortly before she met Inuyasha. When the seal wore out it promptly resumed searching for Kikyo and the Shikon Jewel... both of which no longer exist.

    Comic Books 
  • Invincible: Because Damien Darkblood was busy with other investigations, he didn't saw the news regarding the destructive battle between Mark and Omni-Man. Which had him took him forever to realize Omni-Man killed the Guardians of the Globe long after the truth about Omni-Man was revealed.
  • Loki: Agent of Asgard: Lorelei and Sigurd weren't present for Ragnarok, which makes them impossible for Heimdall to find. One of Loki's tasks is to bring them back home, regardless of whatever opinions they have on the matter.
  • Near the end of Marvel Universe — The End, Thanos has destroyed the universe. Cue Adam Warlock (who had been outside reality) showing up and demanding to know what's going on.
    Thanos: Adam Warlock, only you could somehow miss the end of the universe.
  • In Night Of The Living Deadpool, Deadpool awakens from a food coma in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • In The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, Tailgate was damaged and trapped underground, managing to miss a four MILLION year long war. He is unearthed after the war ends and has to figure out how to navigate a society where Autobots and Deceptions are still figuring out how a robot society not based on war will even work.
  • The protagonist, Rick, in The Walking Dead was comatose when the Zombie Apocalypse started. The first issue came out a couple of months after 28 Days Later (see below) had its wide release in the US, but was written before that, as noted by Robert Kirkman in an early letters page.

    Fan Works 
  • Liquid's Resident Evil: Tobias Liquid is critically injured and winds up in a coma by the end of Operation Arklay. He wakes up six months later in Exodus, right when Raccoon City is in the midst of the T-virus outbreak.

    Film — Animated 
  • Mentioned in a throwaway gag in The Rugrats Movie. Grandpa falls asleep watching the kids, which allows them to leave the house unsupervised and sets the movie's plot in motion. Didi chews out Stu for leaving Grandpa in charge in the first place.
    Didi: The man slept through Pearl Harbor, for heaven sakes!
    Grandpa: I sounded the alarm as soon as I could!

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The protagonist Jim of 28 Days Later who was comatose in a hospital through the initial outbreak and evacuation. He wakes up naked in an abandoned hospital and spends a while wandering around an eerily empty London, trying to figure out what happened. Then he goes into a church full of dead bodies and meets his first zombies. The trope is almost referenced by name in the Suicide Note left for Jim by his parents:
    With endless love, we left you sleeping. Now we're sleeping with you. Don't wake up.
  • A.I.: Artificial Intelligence: David, the main robot character and the robotic Teddy Bear run out of power trapped in a capsule underwater. They're "awakened" centuries later by sentient robots that have taken over the world after all the humans are gone.
  • In Airport 75 one of the minor characters gets drunk and sleeps through the whole drama, only waking up when it's all over.
  • In the original ending of Army of Darkness (changed due to Executive Meddling), the hero has to drink a specific quantity from a sleeping potion so he wakes during his era, but he miscounts and when he wakes much later than he meant to, the world's been destroyed.
  • Dawn of the Dead (2004): Ana and her husband miss a news broadcast about the Zombie Apocalypse because they're having a Shower of Love. They then go to bed, and by the time they wake up the next morning their whole neighborhood has been overrun, as they find out when an infected neighbor girl breaks into their house and rips out the husband's throat.
  • The hero of The Day of the Triffids does this, when he is stuck in hospital with his eyes bandaged after suffering an accident that leaves him temporarily unable to see. Meanwhile, a meteor storm blinds almost everyone else in the world, leaving the hero, now able to see again, as one of the relatively few people who still has his sight — which against the titular Triffids, is definitely a good thing.
  • Genesis II: Being accidentally trapped in a suspended animation experiment causes Dylan Hunt to miss World War III. When he wakes up, mutants are in control of the surface world.
  • In Get Smart Again, Larrabee managed to completely fail to notice that CONTROL had been disbanded for years and remained at their headquarters until Max and Hymie picked him up because he had received a presidential order to remain at his post. Note that the president who gave the order was Richard Nixon, and the movie takes place in either the last year of the Reagan administration or the first year of the first Bush administration.
  • German tragicomedy Goodbye Lenin involves the story of Alex, a disillusioned young East German who attends a democratic rally. His mother Christine, a staunch party member and decorated school teacher, suffers a stroke as she sees Stasi officers beat and arrest him. She suffers an 8-month coma during which the USSR withdraws from East Germany and eventually both countries reunite. Alex must maintain the illusion that her beloved communist world still exists, as should she realize her world has ended (replaced with corporate advertisements, destruction of Marxist monuments, her life savings made obsolete, and a horde of West German "Refugees" bringing the sins of the decadent west) she could not survive the shock.
  • The main character of Idiocracy is a volunteer for a cryogenics program who ends up being stuck in suspended animation for 500 years, at which point he wakes up to find that civilization has turned into a real dump due to humanity breeding itself into a species of utter morons.
  • In Independence Day, Steven Hiller briefly wakes up to the house shaking and thinks it's an earthquake, only for his wife Jasmine to tell him "not even a four-pointer, go back to sleep." They only find out what it really was when Steven steps outside to grab the morning paper, sees the neighbors packing all their things and getting ready to leave, and then looking out and seeing the city-sized spaceship hovering over downtown Los Angeles.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: Scott Lang missed Thanos' snap that turned half the universe to dust in Avengers: Infinity War because he was in the Quantum Realm, stranded after the people who were supposed to get him out died. He also misses the next five years, though in the Quantum Realm only a few hours pass. When he finally gets out in Avengers: Endgame, he finds himself in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco and realizes how much time has passed after reuniting with his now-teenaged daughter Cassie.
  • In a joke variant, Beauregard of The Muppet Show is found still living in his janitor's closet in The Muppets (2011), having apparently never noticed that the program had been canceled decades ago or the theater, abandoned. No, he wasn't necessarily asleep, just so clueless he might as well have been.
  • In Night of the Comet, the Action Girl survives because she was making out with a co-worker in a theater's metal-walled projection booth when the comet went over. Her sister had gotten locked out of the house and crashed for the night in a metal garden shed, so also failed to witness the comet or succumb to its deadly radiations.
  • In Brazilian movie O Noviço Rebelde, a storm destroys a church, and protagonist Didi spends some time carrying what remained of it — the confessional. At a certain point he opens the thing... and his friend Dedé is sleeping inside!
    Didi: Our church was destroyed in a storm!
    Dedé: I thought those were people sneezing, people coughing...
  • The first two Planet of the Apes movies combine this with Time Dilation. The ships' crews are meant to spend time in suspended animation, but end up spending longer than they expected. Of course, it's not until the end of the first movie that the hero realizes he's in this trope.
  • Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse: The three main characters completely miss that there was a Zombie Apocalypse because they were out of town camping. And they're not even the last to know; that honor goes to a large number of high-schoolers (including one of their sisters) who held a secret party and didn't tell anyone else, leaving them unaccounted for until the climax of the film.
  • No one in Shaun of the Dead really notices the Zombie Apocalypse has started. Shaun even repeats his normal morning routine, not realizing all the people he usually interacts with are zombies or the signs of destruction, and slipping on some blood in a convenience store only caused him to pause for a second. A lot of the film's satire arises from the fact that the people were so boring and lifeless to begin with that most other people just saw them slouching around and moaning and thought "Oh, that's just Ted on his way to work." It certainly doesn't help that zombies in the film are shown to be incredibly slow, meaning that Shaun maintaining a brisk walk and refusing to talk to anyone (like he normally does) was enough to effectively outrun them.
  • One guy in the middle segment of The Signal (2007) actually went about his day without noticing anything amiss, got to the New Year's Eve party, and thought nothing of all those present being covered in blood. He actually died without noticing the big picture. For reference, the titular signal made roughly 50% of the people in the city homicidal.
  • Woody Allen's character from Sleeper woke up 200 years after he was put to sleep to find a completely different world. One in which it was finally found out that smoking was good for you, and 200-year-old VW bugs (the old model) started instantly.
  • In Synecdoche, New York, an elderly Caden wakes up at the end of the film after spending an unspecified amount of time bedridden. Reentering the world, he finds the cityscape devastated and most of the people he knew dead. It's never explained what happened.
  • Marcus Wright is seemingly executed at the beginning of Terminator Salvation, only to awaken 15 years later, during the war between humanity and Skynet.
  • This Is the End: Literally in the case of Danny McBride, who fell asleep in James Franco's bathtub during his house party and proceeded to sleep through the earthquake and other chaos of the apocalypse's beginning. He somehow goes unnoticed by the other survivors until the next morning, when they wake up to find him eating most of their carefully rationed stockpile of food, oblivious to what's happened.

  • Darkness and Dawn is a book from 1914 where a piece of the Earth breaks away into a new moon and releases gas that kills even more people. A man and his secretary, in a high building, only are affected enough to be put into suspended animation and they wake up a thousand years later trying to survive and find other living people.
  • The Day of the Triffids: The main characters missed the meteor storm that blinded most of humanity. Bill Masen was in hospital with his eyes bandaged, Josella Playton took a sleeping pill to recover from a hangover and slept through it. The other non-blinded people underwent similar events (Coker stayed an entire day hidden in a basement because the police were looking for him, for example).
  • The protagonist of George R. Stewart's Earth Abides spent a few weeks holed up in a cabin, delirious from a rattlesnake bite he received while in the Sierra Nevadas, when he had finally recovered enough to return to civilization he found that a world-ending plague had wiped out [almost] everyone else.
  • Evolution:
    • One of the stories deals with a group of soldiers who were in suspended animation waking up hundreds of thousands of years after the human civilization collapsed, they encounter the precursors of raptor-like rodents and a group of feral humans.
    • In one of the vignettes by Stephen Baxter, a hibernating "dragon's teeth" team (intended to set up resistance cells years or decades after an invading force conquers the land) never gets relieved; the survivors wake up millennia After the End and find nothing left of civilization but feral humans, heavily eroded roads and some odd-looking, grass-covered hills.
  • Animorphs has The Familiar, where Jake goes to sleep one night and then wakes up ten years later, in a world where the Yeerks control the planet and everyone is a controller.
  • In the Gears of War novels Marcus and Co find a whole island that has been living in complete seclusion from the outside war since the start of the war. The war that burnt 99.9% of the world's land-mass to ash and almost led to mankind's destruction. They were quite shocked to find out all about this and the fact the war is "over".
  • Harda Horda anthology contains two examples:
  • In the Diane Duane Star Trek novel Intellivore, the titular being eats the minds of everyone on the starship Oraidhe... except for one guy who was in a coma, and thus couldn't be eaten. This is key to the Enterprise's plan to destroy it.
  • The Langoliers: A minor character falls asleep before the airplane flies through a Negative Space Wedgie, and he doesn't wake up until the entire adventure is over and the airplane is flying home.
    • As a possible subtle meta-joke, the way the heavy sleeper is described could fit author Stephen King himself.
    • And only characters who are asleep when passing through said Wedgie remain on the plane; anyone awake goes Somewhere Else, leaving behind any inorganic matter they had on (or in) them.
  • Vernor Vinge's Marooned in Realtime: After a time-halting technology called the "bobble" is invented, a number of people enter long-term suspended animation, some by choice, some not so much. But those who get bobbled near the beginning of the 23rd century, and emerge near its end, find that something seems to have happened in-between... and there's no-one left around to answer any questions.
  • Most of the people we meet in the novel Mind Games were asleep at System Start, which happened at 7 AM on a Saturday. That means they didn't see the original System announcements and have no idea what's going on.
  • In Victor Hugo's classic Les Misérables, The Alcoholic Grantaire gets so wasted he sleeps through the entire June Uprising. He wakes up in time to be executed alongside Enjolras.
  • Perry Rhodan's "Terra Patrol" consisted of some of the very few people left behind when Earth went through a plot-relevant Negative Space Wedgie and most of humanity simply disappeared... virtually all of whom were deeply unconscious or otherwise in significantly altered states of mind at the time of the event. The fact that these few start out scattered all over the planet and, with most of the world's infrastructure having mysteriously shut down as well, have to find each other first in order to be able to meaningfully team up provides a major driving force for for several issues' worth of plot.
  • In the second Red Dwarf novel, Lister ends up stranded on an ice planet that has just been moved closer to the sun, so the glaciers are all melting. He concludes that there is nothing he can do to significantly increase his chances of survival, goes back inside, and becomes the first human to sleep through the end of an ice age.
  • In the Revelation Space Series, the Epsilon Eridani system was in a golden age of technology, science, and morality. At some point in the 25th or 26th century, the Melding Plague arrived, corrupting the nanotechnology that made the civilization possible; its capital, Chasm City, was all but wrecked, and the Glitter Band — a ring of thousands of space stations — was reduced to the "Rust Belt" of a few dozen stations. Since there is no Faster-Than-Light Travel or Subspace Ansible technology, anyone who was returning to Yellowstone via Sleeper Starship suddenly found themselves in a borderline anarchist system with no technological base to repair or replace their advanced equipment and cybernetics. The novel Chasm City takes place a few years after the Melding Plague hits, and opens with a chilling message to any inbound starships that their civilization has essentially collapsed.
  • The Tomorrow Series, which tells the story of Australia being invaded by a foreign power, has the main characters essentially sleep through the invasion, as they're out in the boonies camping for a week, then as they're sleeping one night a huge fleet of planes flies over them, though they think nothing of it until they get home and find out Australia is at war.
  • The titular character in The Vampire Tapestry hibernates periodically, and mentions the fear that next time he'll awaken to discover that humanity has either destroyed itself (this trope), or rendered itself inedible through cybernetics and/or genetic engineering (which would qualify as this trope for him).
  • Happens to an alien in Larry Niven's World of Ptavvs, when it's released from temporal stasis to discover its species has been extinct for half a billion years or so.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This is the starting premise of Andromeda; Captain Dylan Hunt of the Systems Commonwealth is frozen in time for several centuries, and comes out of it to find that the Long Night has come and the Commonwealth has fallen. An unusual variation in that he was present at the very beginning and could have prevented it, but it would have involved the complete destruction of an inhabited solar system which he was reasonably reluctant to do.
    • Interestingly, wiping out the system (and the Nietzschean armada) would have forestalled any further attempts by the Nietzscheans, as they only rebelled because they felt that the Commonwealth doesn't have the balls to do what is necessary to survive.
  • Apocalypse, a Derren Brown special, involves setting up a young man who refuses to take responsibility for his life to believe that a meteor strike is imminent and then wake up in a hospital with a fake news report notifying people about a meteor-carried Hate Plague. Basically, the guy is supposed to have slept through a Zombie Apocalypse and must now take responsibility not only for himself but a young girl and a selfish asshole (meant to evoke disgust at himself) after the Reasonable Authority Figure is deliberately made to go away. Like all of Derren's specials on this scale (although this is probably the largest), everything is constantly monitored to prevent any harm from coming to the subject (physical or mental). The goal, as usual, is not only to show off Derren's skills and knowledge of psychology but also help the subject to be a better person.
  • Ash vs. Evil Dead: In a homage to the original ending of Army of Darkness, Ash is rendered comatose during the Grand Finale after killing Khandar the Destroyer and awakens an unknown amount of time later to find the world in ruins and a cyborg woman ready to prepare him to rejoin the fight.
  • The title character of Cleopatra 2525 is a stripper who wakes up in the year 2525 to discover that machines known as the "Baily" have taken over the surface. Surface humans live in villages with an early medieval level of technology and worship the Bailies. The free humans and mutants live in miles-deep shafts in the earth and must contend with general lawlessness, slave trading, crime lords, the risk of falling, and Terminator-like infiltration robots called Betrayers.
  • Used in the Community episode "Modern Warfare", in which Jeff takes a one-hour nap in his car and wakes up to find the entire campus abandoned and in ruins due to a massive paintball tournament. Probably a direct parody of 28 Days Later.
  • CSI: NY: In "Indelible," Adam reveals to Lindsay that, due to partying too hard while in college, he'd slept through the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
    Adam: I went out the night before with a couple of my buddies, and we had a few too many drinks, and I didn't wake up 'till after 2:00. And by then, the entire world had changed.
  • Much like the other adaptations here, both the 1981 and 2009 TV versions of The Day of the Triffids feature a main character escaping the mass blindness because he was in hospital with eye damage at the time.
  • Doctor Who: Played straight and then inverted with Donna Noble. When first introduced, Donna seemed to live in a little bubble, completely missing any extraterrestrial attacks on Earth. Meeting the Doctor made her a little more open to these things, and she later leaves to adventure around the universe with him. When the Earth is stolen, she undergoes a Time Lord-Human Meta-Crisis in order to save reality itself, and becomes half-alien. To keep her from over-loading, the Doctor has no choice but to wipe her memory of all the travels with him. The irony? She thinks she's slept through it all.
  • Get Smart: Larabee apparently remained at CONTROL headquarters after it was shut down sometime after the cancellation of the original series until Max picked him up partway through Get Smart, Again, having failed to notice that CONTROL had been disbanded. He did this because he had been given an executive order to remain at his post. This order had been issued by President Nixon. The movie takes place at either the very end of the Reagan administration or the very beginning of the G. H. W. Bush administration.
  • On The Last Ship, the titular Navy vessel was off conducting arctic surveys and incommunicado while The Plague was bringing down most of civilization.
  • The protagonists of The Last Train hibernate through an asteroid strike.
  • Red Dwarf protagonist Dave Lister is sentenced to eighteen months in stasis for breaching quarantine regs. He wakes up three million years later to discover the ship's crew has been wiped out... along with the rest of the human race.
  • In the 2008 re-imagining of Survivors, Al Sadiq is too busy picking up a girl at a nightclub to notice the news reports of the growing pandemic. After taking the girl home and having sex with her, Al falls asleep. In the morning Al wakes up to find 99% of the world's population has died overnight, including his latest conquest who passed away while lying next to him in bed.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • In "Time Enough at Last", Henry Bemis goes into the bank vault to have his lunch and read, which protects him from the nuclear blast that kills everyone else. He is knocked out by the force and eventually awakens to find the world destroyed.
    • Subverted in "One More Pallbearer". In the final scene, Paul Radin discovers that a nuclear war has devastated the world while he was in his bomb shelter attempting to fool Mrs. Langsford, Reverend Hughes and Colonel Hawthorne that such a war was beginning. However, it turns out that this is nothing but Radin's fantasy, his mind having been broken.
  • The Walking Dead (2010):
    • Rick Grimes was shot in the line of duty and subsequently in the hospital in a coma when the Zombie Apocalypse began;
    • Rick's group finds an abandoned prison with some prisoners who have been trapped in the prison cafeteria for ten months since the beginning of the apocalypse and they don't have a single clue what's happened on the outside world. (Well, aside from the violent riot that started after someone in the prison died and ended up killing everyone but those five.) One starts begging for a cell phone to call his family, with no clue that modern communications no longer function.

  • Blow, Gabriel! by Nautilus Pompilius (Russian) kicks it up a notch, to the Apocalypse Failure:
    Blow, Gabriel, blow! Now it just cannot worsen.
    City's so tight asleep, that Heaven itself will not rouse it.
  • Speaking of Gabriel... The sleeve notes to Genesis's album Trespass have this to say about the song "Stagnation":
    To Thomas S. Eiselberg, a very rich man, who was wise enough to spend all his fortunes in burying himself many miles underground. As the only survivor of the human race, he inherited the whole world.

  • Lif and Lifthrasir in Norse Mythology are foretold to survive Ragnarok this way, leaving them ready to repopulate the world afterward.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Invoked Trope in the D20 Apocalypse setting Plague World. Long story short: aliens invade the Earth by first unleashing a deadly virus targeting humans. Humans create Rip Van Teams (Teams of soldiers placed in suspended animation) using captured alien technology. Aliens win the war. Aliens get on the Earth. The virus mutates and kills most of the aliens. The last alien spaceship stays in orbit for 300 years, not having enough fuel to leave the solar system, crashing into the Earth when its orbit decays. The last spaceship gone, Rip Van Teams awake to reclaim the world.
  • In Magic: The Gathering Nicol Bolas was trapped in the Meditation Realm for thousands of years. By the time he escaped, Dominaria had been reduced to a post-apocalyptic wasteland due to the Phyrexian invasion.
  • The participants in the Morrow Project missed World War III because they had been placed in cryogenic suspension in order to rebuild the world after its destruction. Too bad the wake-up signal was sent 150 years late.

  • BIONICLE: With a twist. Mata Nui is a Humongous Mecha whose body contains an entire world. He is put to sleep by the Big Bad Teridax, which causes him to smack into a planet and damage the world within his body, and he remains unconscious for the disasters that followed. Essentially, Mata Nui's sleeping caused the apocalypse in the first place. He does eventually wake up, but only for Teridax to steal his body.

    Video Games 
  • Will/Ed in the European version of Advance Wars: Dark Conflict/Days of Ruin is a variation — as soon as the meteors started raining he barricaded himself into a kitchen supply room to wait to be rescued, but by the start of the game he's been in there so long he doesn't realize how bad it really is outside.
  • One of the game scenarios in the Atari Jaguar Alien vs. Predator game has the player as a Colonial Marine who was placed in 30 days' cyro-sleep as punishment for striking a superior officer. When he wakes up, everyone else is dead as the space station is overrun with the aforementioned aliens and predators.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: In the bad ending, Ryan is shot by The Consortium and blacks out. After Amok has destroyed the world, he awakens to the sound of Bad Vibrations to find the building in ruins, everyone in the vicinity gone, and arrives shocked to find the outside is now a Hell on Earth.
  • The Kid from Bastion wakes up in his bed to find the world torn to pieces.
  • The hero of Crystalis awakens from cryosleep 100 years After the End.
  • Initially in Dead Island. You miss the initial hours of slaughter because you were sleeping off a hangover in your hotel room. However, you get in on the second wave, all right.
  • In Dead Rising 3, Theodore "Teddy" Lagerfeld Jr. is an extremely lazy Basement-Dweller who's been holed up playing video games for so long that he didn't even notice there was a Zombie Apocalypse going on until Nick Ramos shows up asking for help. Unfortunately, Teddy is so lazy that he refuses to help, and tries to kill Nick with remote controlled helicopters when he persists.
  • Digital Devil Saga has this as a learnable skill, Null Sleep. It makes the user undamageable if they are asleep. It's pretty much the only known way to survive the Demi-Fiend's notorious Gaea Rage head-on, which does many times more HP in damage than any of your characters can ever have.
  • An NPC in Dragon Quest VI sleeps through the attack and arson of his village by monsters despite one battle happening a few feet away from his bed.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the Dawnguard expansion has the vampire, Serana. Being trapped in an underground shrine for at least two thousand years, she slept through the corruption of the Falmer, the extinction of the Dwemer, the transformations of the Chimer and Orsimer, the Thrassian Plague, the founding of the Cyrodiilic empire, the Planemeld, the shattering of the Staff of Chaos, the Warp in the West, the unbinding of the Heart of Lorkhan, the Oblivion Crisis, the eruption of Red Mountain, and the Great War against the Aldmeri Dominion which resulted in the banning of Talos worship. She wakes up in the middle of the Skyrim Civil War and the Dragon Crisis. Depending on your actions, she could have also slept through the Eye of Magnus almost destroying reality, the aforementioned Dragon Crisis, and the return of Miraak.
  • In Endless Space, a small number of the eponymous Endless Pre Cursors managed to slip through the civil war ("Dust Wars") that destroyed their civilization and almost all of their species. Skuoi Kyryi fought in the Dust Wars, slowly becoming more augmented due to assassination attempts until he got sick of it and froze himself in a ship adrift in deep space, where he slept 'til he was recovered millennia later by a race of new upstarts. Kyuind Neuil, a Virtual Endless, managed an orbital factory in an isolated area, and tended his factory til he was discovered by an Automaton expedition. Eiyno Wraeil, a Concrete Endless was testing out a new hibernation pod right as the war broke out, destroying the robots that were set to awaken him after fifteen minutes, leading him to sleep for several thousand years.
  • Fallout:
    • In Fallout 3 DLC Mothership Zeta there are apparently thousands of people abducted and frozen from the time before the war. The most notably is Elliot, an army field medic abducted during the battle of Anchorage and was frozen then. Your other teammates break it to him that the world was nuked.
    • Fallout: New Vegas has Mr. House who was awake during the apocalypse itself but knocked out saving Las Vegas from nuclear annihilation. While he was out the dot of civilization he preserved was swallowed up in the post-nuclear wasteland.
    • The protagonist of Fallout 4 is put into cryosleep in Vault 111 minutes after the start of the Great War and awakens 200 years later.
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2: At the very end of the game, Lightning purposely invokes this (via entering crystal-stasis) to "become an eternal epitaph" to Serah's memory. The next game is about what happens when she wakes up.
  • In God of War Ragnarök, a post-game sidequest reveals that the real Tyr, not the one that was actually just Odin impersonating Tyr, is still alive and locked up in a prison in Niflheim. By the time Kratos frees him, Ragnarok has already happened and he's somewhat dismayed that he couldn't be there to help.
  • You might say this of Gordon Freeman in Half-Life 2. After Gordon was placed in suspended animation by the G-Man at the end of the previous game, the sequel begins a couple of decades in the future, during which time the Earth had been subjugated by the Combine. The G-Man awakens Gordon and apparently strategically places him in City 17, leading the events of the game.
    G-Man: Rise and shine, Mister Freeman. Rise and... shine. Not that I... wish to imply you have been sleeping on the job. No one is more deserving of a rest, and all the effort in the world would have gone to waste until... well, let's just say your hour has... come again.
  • In I Miss the Sunrise, Ros (the player character) was kept in a suspension tank during the Shine, so they have no recollection of it.
  • In Iratus: Lord of the Dead, the titular Necromancer is worried that he'll end up having to do this due to being sealed deep underground and being immortal. He is overjoyed when a group of unsuspecting miners accidentally releases him before the inevitable end of the world.
  • Kirby:
  • Subverted in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Link slept for a hundred years while Ganon essentially destroyed his world, but flashbacks reveal he was at ground zero from the get-go, fighting with all his strength to protect Zelda and the kingdom. He was only put to cryogenic sleep to recover when his injuries became lethal, which happened after everything went to hell.
  • Lollipop Chainsaw has protagonist Juliet narrate about her life and then wake up, realizing she's late for meeting her boyfriend before school, completely oblivious that a kid from school has opened the gates of hell and created a zombie apocalypse until she gets to the meeting spot.
  • NieR: Automata: At the start of Route C, the entirety of YoRHa is infected by the machines and brought down from the inside; the Bunker gets blown up, and all of the androids connected to the server get controlled by the machines. Aside from the playable characters, the only surviving YoRHa androids are a Scanner in the forest, who was literally asleep and deactivated, and a pair of E-Drug junkies in the desert.
  • The Unplanned Variable in The Outer Worlds was a colonist bound for the Halcyon system aboard the colony ship Hope, one of thousands in suspended animation for the ten year journey. Nine years in, and the Hope's Skip Drive failed, adding an additional twenty-six years before the arrival in Halcyon, with only a year's worth of supplies for the crew members who were kept awake to man the ship. The crew began thawing and eating the colonists, leading to a mutiny that left the ship lifelessly drifting towards Halcyon. The Halcyon Holdings Board discovered the Hope twenty five years later, at which point there was no way to safely revive any of the colonists. Dr. Phineas Welles went against the Board and attempted thawing out colonists, leading to an unspecified number of deaths before he finally manages to revive you, starting the game.
  • In Portal 2, Chell was in cryosleep through the Seven Hour War and the Combine occupation of the planet.
  • In the game Rage (2011), the protagonist was deliberately sealed in a vault to survive an asteroid impact. The novel explains that he was a seasoned Marine Lieutenant and that he'd been sealed along with the others so they'd have someone who'd protect them.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil 2: Leon oversleeps at a motel before making his way to Raccoon City. Considering what was happening there, that was probably the luckiest thing that ever happened to him.
    • Resident Evil 3 (Remake): Taking into account the established timeline of the Raccoon City outbreak, Jill seems to have done just this, albeit aided by the sleeping pills by her bed.
  • Not really an apocalypse (but a prequel to one), but Roger Wilco in Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter sleeps through the Sarien attack on the Arcada and the slaughter of everyone aboard. The only reason the Sariens missed him is that nobody bothered to check the broom closet.
  • In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords, The Exile was drugged into a coma aboard the Republic cruiser Harbinger and wakes up in a kolto tank on Peragus to find that Everybody's Dead, Dave. They then piece together what happened from various Apocalyptic Logs: An HK-50 Bounty Hunter droid trying to capture the Exile to collect G0-T0's bounty secreted itself aboard the Ebon Hawk, then started killing the miners via sabotaged equipment to prevent them from bounty-jumping it, and finally triggered an emergency lockdown, herding the remaining crew into the dormitories so it could gas them all at once.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Paper Mario: Squirps was placed in hibernation to meet the heroes and prevent the apocalypse, yet it also meant that he slept through the end of his own kingdom. There's nothing left of Squirpia by the time he wakes up.
    • A minor example in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. Luigi manages to sleep through not one, but two Bowser attacks, only waking up just before Bowser inhales him.
  • The protagonist in System Shock spends six months in an induced coma healing up from an operation to install a neural interface, awakening to find that SHODAN has turned Citadel Station into a chamber of mutant and cybernetic horrors. Nice Job Breaking It, Hacker. (Not really his fault, though: he was given the implant because it would keep him on ice for six months, in case Edward Diego needed him again). Happens again to a different guy in the sequel, only this time it's a Hive Mind of mutant worms and their Body Horror hybrids that have taken over an experimental starship. The worms were created by the Big Bad from the first game. Who is also still around.
  • The Golden Ending in Undertale reveals that Napstablook will always end up missing whatever dramatic thing happens at the end. How? They stay at home and close the curtains instead of taking a look.
  • Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception: It is eventually revealed that protagonist Haku was placed in suspended animation shortly before the human race was annihilated by Uitsalnemetia's curse. He wakes up some hundreds of years later when Kuon, one of the "proxy" demi-humans who have succeeded the human race, finds his pod and wakes him up. Unfortunately, a malfunction in the awakening process causes him to have amnesia about his past for most of the game.
  • In The Walking Dead: Season One, while being taken to prison, the vehicle Lee is in crashes after striking a Walker, and he spends several days unconscious before waking up and seeing how much things have changed.
  • World's End Club: The prologue begins with the Go-Getters' bus getting blown away from the impact of a meteor. After escaping the underwater theme park, they find out a full year has passed and humanity has been forced underground by a malevolent AI.

  • In Dead Winter, Liz gets into a car crash right as it's starting and wakes up a few days after a good portion of the city's residents died... and got back up.
  • In The Bleak Midwinter: The protagonist, suicidal from failing to save her sister in an accident, has a thread of hope in the form of the Soulmate system, a supernatural worldwide phenomenon that tells people the exact time they will meet their true love - which for her is decades away. She decides to test out her family's corporation's new cryogenics research rather than wait and age - and then the androids they were also developing went rogue...
  • Only Human, Ely was in hibernation capsule through the events that brought an end to humanity. She is awakened 500 years later.
  • In The Pocalypse, Joe wakes up in a hospital, long after the apocalypse began.
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic:
    Chimera.Goat: Well... we kinda fell asleep for a bit...
    Bob: Asleep??? This crap's been going on all year!
    Chimera.Goat: What? (to Chimera.Lion) You and your stupid catnaps.

    Web Original 
  • This short Creepypasta uses the trope surprisingly well and quite literally.
  • Left POOR Dead: Reginald and Tippy live in a mansion, so they had no knowledge of the apocalypse.
  • Lampshaded in this The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild parody. 'Aww man, the apocalypse happened and I slept through the whole thing. I was really looking forward to it too.'
  • According to the Red vs. Blue Ultimate Fan Guide, Grif was sent to the Red Team for doing this; basically, he fell asleep on duty at a base that was shortly overrun by aliens, and only survived because friend and foe alike thought he was KIA.
  • Sandsverse: Horace took a nap during most of Lent. At one point he woke up, saw what was happening, and went back to sleep.
  • In the SMG4's Mario Bloopers episode "The Weegee Uprising", Luigi, Boopkins, and Shroomy spend 500 years trapped in the freezer while Weegee dolls took over the world.
  • In the second Monster Hunter World arc in We Are Our Avatars, everyone spent the last 7 days high on Samus's super marijuana after their camp caught on fire and they woke up to the apocalypse.
  • Antoine Daniel's reason for his lack of new videos in three months is explained in episode #35 of What the Cut. Shortly after he posted episode #34, Space Pirates invaded every town and city on Earth, causing mass migrations and riots. Earth nations united against the pirates and reached a stalemate, until a second alien invader showed up, camels from Pluto. Earth and the pirates were forced to unite against the camels. In the end, the conflict was settled with a game of Rock–Paper–Scissors. And during all this time, Antoine was getting drunk in a pub, unaware of anything, and thinking only three days had passed.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time has "No One Can Hear You", when Finn is knocked unconscious and wakes up to a completely empty Candy Kingdom, save for a stark-raving mad Jake.
  • All Hail King Julien: Timo was hiding in a Mom-Bot that also kept him locked inside during Koto's invasion.
    Mort: After Koto took over the kingdom...
    Timo: Took over the kingdom?! Nobody tells me anything!
  • The Arthur episode in response to 9/11, "April 9th", focuses on everyone's post-traumatic stress after Lakewood elementary catches fire. Everyone except Buster, who slept in and arrives as the firefighters are cleaning up. As a result, the fire doesn't feel real to him, causing him to be alienated from his friends.
    "It's not a story Buster! It really happened!"
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang was frozen in an iceberg for 100 years, which is how he survived the total genocide of his people. By the time he awakens, almost everyone he knew is now dead, and he isn't even aware of the Hundred Years War going on. Later parodied in one of Aang's nightmares in "Nightmares and Daydreams".
    Ozai: Wake up Aang. Wake up, sleepyhead. Rise and shine. You overslept. You missed the invasion!
  • This happens to Uncle Ruckus in The Boondocks episode "The Fried Chicken Flu", where he reveals that he was in the attic replacing the insulation and got knocked out when he hit his head after the generator exploded earlier in the episode. Which leads to him having no knowledge of the pandemic currently underway.
  • Castlevania (2017) has Alucard attempt to stop his father, Dracula, from summoning the Legions of Hell to destroy Wallachia in retaliation for the death of his wife and Alucard's mother, Lisa. The wound Dracula gives him is so severe that he ends up having to go to sleep for a year in the catacombs beneath Gresit to heal from it. By the time Trevor and Sypha find Alucard, Gresit is one of the last major settlements in Wallachia.
  • In the Family Guy episode “Forget-Me-Not” Peter, Joe, Quagmire, and Brian waking up in a hospital with amnesia in a post-apocalyptic world where they are the last people (and dog) still alive, with no memories whatsoever. It's actually a virtual reality simulation created by Stewie, as part of a bet he made with Brian over whether or not Brian and Peter would still be friends if Peter was not Brian's owner. He does the same thing to Lois, Meg, and Bonnie, but they just all start fighting each other for apparently no reason.
    Stewie: They've only been in there for three minutes. Haven't even tried to figure out each other's names yet.
  • In the first episode of Futurama, Fry is accidentally trapped in a stasis capsule for nearly a thousand years, and sleeps through at least two apocalypses and a period of reconstruction resulting in a far future that's a lot like the present, but with robots and spaceships.
    • Later, an old girlfriend convinces him to travel to the year 4000 in "The Cryonic Woman", where the world is a post-apocalyptic wasteland ruled by children. However, it turns out he's still in the early 3000's but ended up in a bad part of Los Angeles.
    • Apparently he indirectly caused the apocalypse, both times. Due to a time paradox.
  • It is implied that Princess Luna almost never intervenes in the plot of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic even in crisis situations because she is asleep during the day after being awake all night raising the moon and dealing with political issues, though she is sometimes seen awake during the day (the same goes for Celestia at night). It is comically brought up at the end of "A Canterlot Wedding Part 2" when she arrives at dusk asking if she missed anything.
  • The Phineas and Ferb episode "Night of the Living Pharmacists" has Stacy managing to miss the entire Zombie Apocalypse due to watching a horror movie, even punching a few while fixing the power generator (the safety equipment had sound-proof headphones).
    Stacy: Don't go in that basement, movie lady! People in horror movies are so oblivious.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In a Treehouse of Horror episode, Springfield gets hit with a nuclear missile at the exact time Homer happens to be in a bomb shelter.
    • Another episode featured the whole family falling asleep in church and showing all their dreams. When they all wake up in a now empty church, they're embarrassed, but Homer says "Ah, it's not the end of the world". Then he opens the door and finds out it is.
  • Steven Universe: Amethyst, Bismuth, and Lapis Lazuli are three of the seven Gems that managed to survive the Diamonds' Corruption bomb. Bismuth and Lapis were poofed at the time (the former bubbled in a forcefield and the latter attached to a mirror), and Amethyst was still incubating in the ground before being born.
  • Wakfu: Jack Pandaniels, the owner of the bamboo milk brewery, survived the transformation into a Thirster, but had no idea what was happening since he's deaf.

    Real Life 
  • Minoru Oka was asleep in his army barracks in Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, when the city was nuked by the United States. He slept through it, and survived, since his barracks was on the outskirts of the city, suffering only negligible damage from the explosion. Thanks to Oka being a Heavy Sleeper, neither the intense burst of light, nor the incredible noise and distant rattling from the shockwave woke him up.
  • Mohammed Abu Ali slept, watched movies and fixed his air conditioning over the course of ISIS taking over his hometown of Makhmour, Iraq. He missed the evacuation and only noticed something was off when he left home to pray, finding a Ghost Town inhabited by militants who after he clarified he was a Muslim noncombatant had him turn on the lights in the local mosque and go home.
  • A Korean couple on their honeymoon slept through the whole capsizing of the Costa Concordia, surviving because their cabin happened to be above the water line after the ship came to a stop. Fortunately, rescuers found them and brought them to safety.
  • These scientists were sent to a remote Pacific island in February 2020 with no connection to the outside world, right before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. They returned in December 2020 with no knowledge of the ongoing crisis.
  • During the raid on Cabanatuan prison camp during World War II, one British prisoner, Edwin Rose, slept through the entire raid and rescue because he was deaf and at the latrines. When he awoke the next morning, he found the camp abandoned. Realizing what had happened, he shaved and put on his best clothes and walked out, eventually being rescued by local guerrillas.
  • One of the survivors of the Jonestown massacre, where the Reverend Jim Jones convinced over 900 of his followers to commit mass suicide, was an elderly woman who ignored the calls for a meeting and took a nap.


Video Example(s):


"The Woman out of Time"

Diamond City Journalist Piper interviews the Sole Survivor, since her being a vault dweller would make a great story. However, the Sole Survivor describes to Piper that she was cryogenically frozen for over 200 years, and that the world has drastically changed for her.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / FishOutOfTemporalWater

Media sources: