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Sole Survivor

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"And I alone am escaped to tell thee."
Job 1:19, The Bible (KJV)

It could happen in a lot of ways. Your family picnic is gunned down by The Mafia. Your platoon is ordered to do something suicidal by General Ripper. Your ship goes down. Your Doomed Hometown has a volcano erupt on it. You were Playing Possum when wounded. You were knocked unconscious during the Last Stand. You were the lucky duck who did not find the Applied Phlebotinum lethal. You were sent to Bring News Back. You were ordered to perform some errand, often stunningly trivial, which left you off-base when the surprise attack overwhelmed it. But somehow you alone survive this horrible event. You've become the Sole Survivor.

This is the eventual outcome of a Dwindling Party. It can lead to Survivor Guilt or a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. A Sole Survivor may become a Zen Survivor or Shellshocked Veteran.

If your entire world/race/culture has been wiped out, you're the Last of His Kind, which gets its own page. If your entire world/race/culture has been wiped out and you're the only survivor because you did it, that's Genocide from the Inside. This can overlap with Genocide Survivor, but one can be a Genocide Survivor without being the last member of that people.

Compare Spare a Messenger, Everybody's Dead, Dave, and Final Girl. Contrast any story with an Undead Author. Not to be confused with the summer camp Soul Survivor, the winner of the reality TV show Survivor, or the 1984 horror movie Sole Survivor (though the protagonist is an example).

As both a Death and Ending Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Area 88 has Boris, a pilot famous for always coming back alone. The TV series introduces him when some rookie tempts fate by saying they've survived a mission with him. He dies after demonstrating that the F8E Crusader can fly with its wings folded.
  • Attack on Titan:
    • Reiner Braun is the only one of the four Warriors sent to infiltrate Paradis Island to make it back to his hometown alive. Marcel was eaten by Ymir's mindless Titan form (which allowed her to absorb the Jaws Titan and regain her mind), Bertholt was killed to save Armin and give him the Colossal Titan, and Annie is still alive, but she's in a self-induced Crystal Prison in enemy territory.
    • Eren's father Grisha is the only member of the Eldian restorationists who were sent to Paradis Island to be Titanised that survived. He watched all his comrades, and his first wife Dina, be turned into mindless Titans by the Marleyan military. One of those military officers, Kruger, then revealed that he was a Titan Shifter, killed the other officers, and (after a large serving of exposition) gave Grisha his Titan power and sent Grisha on his mission to infiltrate the Walls.
    • Floch Forster, a Red Shirt, is the sole survivor of Erwin's suicide charge against Zeke. Technically, Erwin survived too but was mortally injured by one of Zeke's projectiles. While Floch tried to save him, Erwin wanted to die alongside his men and Levi respected his last wish, saving Armin instead.
    • By the end of story, Levi is the only one remaining of all the original members of the Survey Corps.
  • When everything finally reaches its conclusion in Aura Battler Dunbine, only Cham Fau is left to relate the tale of Byston Well, as told by the Mi Ferrario.
  • Subverted in Berserk. Guts is initially set up in the Black Swordsman arc as the only survivor of whatever massacre led him on his vendetta against Griffith and the demon lords of the God Hand. But the Golden Age arc, which tells the story of Guts's time with Griffith and his Band of the Hawk before the events of that arc, reveals that there were two other survivors of the Band of the Hawk: Rickert, who was the only survivor of the group that got separated from the main group when the Hawks were declared outlaw following Griffith's arrest for boinking Princess Charlotte, and who thus wasn't there with the others when the Eclipse went down; and Casca, Guts's greatest love and the only other survivor of the Eclipse, who received the Brand of Sacrifice much like he did when Griffith sacrificed everyone, but who lost her mind following a truly horrific ordeal at the hands of the demons and Griffith himself. The survival of these two sets up the Conviction arc in which Guts has to step away from his path of vengeance and blood in order to save Casca from a bunch of cultists and a fanatical high inquisitor.
  • This is an idea that recurs a number of times in Birdy the Mighty: Decode. The most prominent examples are the two seasons' main villains, Shyamalan and Nataru. The former was the only one in a gathering of 4,000 to survive a terrorist attack in his homeland, while the latter was the only one to survive a blast from the Ryunka that killed his best friend. Both instances ended up being the Start of Darkness of those affected.
  • Bleach: Uryū Ishida is the last surviving Gemischt Quincy in the world. Six years before the manga begins, the Quincy King Yhwach carried out an Auswählen which depowered and killed all other Gemischt Quincies, including Uryū's mother Kanae and Ichigo's mother Masaki. Uryū is the only mixed-blood in history to have survived an Auswählen. As a result, he's the last mixed-blood quincy alive. Yhwach is determined to make use of the mysterious ability that Uryū possesses that allowed him to survive something that should have killed him.
  • In the Bokurano anime, Kana Ushiro is the only one of the chosen kids who lives on. She dies in the two other continuities, though.
  • Buso Renkin: Tokiko Tsumura was the only survivor of a homunculus attack on her elementary school when she was 10. The event was so traumatic that it left her an intense hatred of homunculi, and very few memories of her life before the incident.
  • Code Geass:
    • Claudio Darlton, the leader of the Glaston Knights unit in Code Geass R2, is the last person of his unit left after the other four pilots and their mechs were crushed by a base, irradiated and blown up, downed by having a chain-sword driven into them and sliced up, respectively. What makes this worse is the fact that they're all adopted brothers, and that their father died in combat a year ago.
    • Marika Soresi, a member of Luciano Bradley's Valkyrie Squadron and Kewell Soresi's younger sister, is the last person of her team left after the other four, including their leader, get destroyed by Kallen during the Second Battle of Tokyo in Code Geass: Oz the Reflection. Before the manga revealed that Marika survived, it was a Total Party Kill.
  • Hei was the sole survivor in Darker than Black Gaiden OVA episode 4 during Yin's awakening as Izanami. He was spared due to "white" Yin's interference against "Black" Yin.
  • Daikyouryu no Jidai: Zhu the Triceratops is the only one of his family to survive an attack by a Tyrannosaurus rex who killed his siblings and their mother.
  • Daltanious: Ramos, the son of Captain Melipole. The rest of his crewmates died, but the Adalus base rescued him and tended to his injuries. Unfortunately, Ramos still couldn't make it and died. Before he bit the dust, he told Kento not to hate his father, and that for the past 12 years, the Tate family were all he could think of.
  • Glorya in The Dark Queen and I Strike Back is the only Arborian Dryad left, the rest of her race having been wiped out by the humans. She survived because she was outside her village when this happened.
  • Ganta from Deadman Wonderland is the only survivor of his middle school class after an Ax-Crazy man, which he later dubs "The Red Man", comes out of nowhere and slaughters everyone. Ganta is jailed for killing his classmates. The killer's identity is later revealed to be Ganta's Cute But Psycho Forgotten Childhood Friend Shiro.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • In the Bad Future of Dragon Ball Z, Gohan was the sole survivor of the first battle with the androids. He spends the rest of his life (nearly two decades) fleeing, training, fighting the androids, and looking after Vegeta's son, Trunks, in the hopes that eventually one of them would grow strong enough to end their reign of terror.
    • By the final episode of Dragon Ball Super, Android 17 became the sole surviving member for Universe 7 in the Tournament of Power (everyone who lost got erased), thus winning the tournament for his universe and was the only person who gets rewarded a wish via the Super Dragon Balls.
      • While he was also the only one of all the fighters left, his wish popped every last person who had been erased (including whole universes) back to life.
  • Fabricant 100: Ashibi Yao is the only survivor of the Yao family massacre.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Van Hohenheim was the only survivor of the destruction of the kingdom of Xerxes.
  • A major subversion happens in Getter Robo Armageddon - the Getter Team arrives in an outpost in Manhattan responding to a distress signal, only to find that the only survivors are a couple of adorable puppies. It isn't until the battle's over and everyone's relaxing when they realize something - how could anyone have sent the signal if the puppies were the only ones there? (It was a trap.)
  • Out of a family of seven, Henrietta from Gunslinger Girl was the only one to survive a robbery. To make matters worse the robbers spent the rest of the night brutally raping her right next to her family's corpses, and Henrietta couldn't have been older than thirteen. Thankfully, when she was converted into a cyborg to save her life by the Social Welfare Agency, the memories of her past were erased (or in actuality heavily repressed) with her Conditioning.
  • Sango is the only survivor of the Demon Slayers' massacre in Inuyasha.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • In Diamond is Unbreakable, the toddler-aged Rohan Kishibe was the only survivor of Kira's massacre at Reimi Sugimoto's house.
    • In Golden Wind, Guido Mista is the only original member of Team Bucciarati — aside from Panacotta Fugo who left the team mid-way - to survive the events of the manga. The other two survivors, Giorno Giovanna and Trish Una, were new recruits in the team.
    • Emporio Alniño is the sole survivor of the heroes in Stone Ocean. F.F. sacrificed her life to save Jotaro's Memory disc, Weather Report was killed by his brother Enrico Pucci, and Narciso Anasui, Ermes Costello, Jotaro Kujo, and even Jolyne Cujoh were killed by Pucci's Made In Heaven Stand, and Emporio ended up being the one to defeat Made In Heaven and the only one to remember the original universe after the Reset Button Ending (that revived the main cast aside from F.F., but without their memories).
      • Related to this, because of Jotaro Kujo's death in Stone Ocean, Joseph Joestar is the only member of the namesake Stardust Crusaders who is still alive at the end of the old universe's continuity, as besides Jotaro dying in Stone Ocean, Jean-Pierre Polnareff was killed at the hands of Diavolo in Golden Wind (and barely clings to life by inhabiting the turtle Coco Jumbo's Stand as a ghost), and back in Stardust Crusaders, Muhammad Avdol and Iggy were killed by Vanilla Ice's Stand, Cream, while Noriaki Kakyoin was killed by DIO and The World.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya!: Ultimately subverted with Meta Knight. At first it seems he's the only Star Warrior left alive, after all the others were killed fighting the forces of Nightmare. However, other survivors eventually are revealed such as Kit Cosmos who shows up midway through the series having been stranded on an island and in the finale it's revealed that three others: Sir Arthur, Sir Lancelot and Sir Percival are also still alive.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Megane Alpine was the only survivor of the Combat Cyborg incident, falling into an eight-year coma while the rest of her squad was killed (though Zest was technically still alive up until the end of StrikerS).
    • Tohma from Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force. He's currently on a quest to find out who are the ones behind the destruction of his hometown. The fact that he is a Sole Survivor had ruled out the Huckebein group as prime suspects since when the Huckebein performs a massacre on a settlement, they make sure that no one survives.
    • Granz and Elenora Florian were the only survivors of the Eltrian Planet Reclamation Committee slaughter in the backstory of Reflection and Detonation, as they both happened to be off base at the time.
  • In the Mellowlink anime OAV series, the title character is the Sole Survivor of a mechanized platoon ordered to abandon their machines and take a position as ordinary infantry. Just to show how badass he is, Mellowlink decides to go on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge armed only with infantry weapons against the conspirators who gave the bad orders, who have giant robots.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Louise Halevy's entire family was massacred at a wedding. She lost her hand in the attack but was otherwise the only survivor.
  • Terry Sanders Jr. in Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team suffers from the bad luck of having every team he's in getting wiped out except for him on their third mission together, earning the nickname of "Shinigami" (The Reaper) in the dub).
  • Naruto:
    • Sasuke Uchiha, the page image survived the killing of his whole clan by his older brother Itachi Uchiha and the latter's collaborator Obito Uchiha. While the trope was initially subverted given that Itachi and Obito were still alive, it's played straight by the end of the manga, as Sasuke outlives them both.
    • Kakashi Hatake is the only living member of Team Minato. His friends Obito Uchiha and Rin Nohara both died during the Third Great Ninja War, while his sensei Minato Namikaze died during the Nine Tails' attack. Coupled with his father's suicide years ago, it really fueled into Kakashi's massive survivor guilt and self-hatred, as well as his Papa Wolf tendecies towards Team 7. While Obito is later revealed to be alive, he has become such a changed man that Kakashi hardly recognizes him. And he bites the dust during the Fourth Great Ninja War anyway, leaving Kakashi as the only survivor again.
      Sasuke: "Maybe if I was to kill the most important people in your life... everyone who's ever meant anything... maybe then I'd listen to you, because maybe then you'd have some idea how I feel!"
      Kakashi: "Hmm... that's an interesting theory, but I'm afraid you're a little late to put it to the test. Everyone you're talking about has already been killed."
    • From Jiraiya's death at the hands of Pain to Orochimaru's resurrection during the Fourth Great Ninja War, Tsunade is the only survivor of Team Sarutobi and the Legendary Sannin.
    • Choza Akimichi is the only surviving member of his team after the other two members, Inoichi and Shikaku, were killed by the Jyuubi.
  • In Noein, one of the timelines involves Yuu being the only survivor of a car crash that killed all his friends, including his beloved Haruka. Ultimately his grief drove him insane and he became the eponymous Noein.
  • One Piece:
    • Brook is the last survivor of the Rumbar Pirates. Although technically, he died, too.
    • Robin is also the only person to have survived the Ohara Incident. Subverted in Egghead Arc when it's revealed that Jaguar D. Saul also managed to get away albeit with heavy injuries.
    • Nami, although not technically the only one, was one of only two citizens who survived the destruction of her hometown as a baby (the other being her adoptive sister).
    • Excluding the royal family, Law is currently the only known survivor of "The White City" Flevance.
  • Pluto has a Serial Killer out to murder the seven strongest robots in the world. Only Atom survives the story.
  • In Psychic Academy, Ai is the only survivor of a train crash caused by his then-unknown powers freezing time for the train car he was in (but not the rest of the train), which caused it to derail.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Homura is always the only survivor throughout all the timelines because she is the one creating them all with her time-reversing ability.
  • Miki in School-Live! is the last non-infected person found in the mall by the other three girls. In the manga, she and her friend Kei encountered a group of survivors however they were Adapted Out in the anime. Kei Gave Up Too Soon left Miki due to hating being stuck in a room all day simply surviving, and ended up turning into a zombie.
  • Subverted in Sakura Wars the Animation. Klara M. Ruzhkova is the apparent sole survivor of the original Moscow Combat Revue, whose airship crashed during an assault in Petrograd. But "Tokyo Trembles! The New Moscow Combat Revue!" reveals that everyone in the Moscow Combat Revue survived the crash, including Leyla.
  • Miyoko from Shadow Star is the only member of Aki Honda's Girl Posse that survives Hiroko's Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • In the manga adaptation of Suicide Club, Saya Kota is the only survivor when fifty-four girls commit mass suicide by jumping in front of a train.
  • Kanae von Rosewald of Tokyo Ghoul:re was taken in as a servant of the Tsukiyama estate after becoming the only surviving member of the Rosewald family, a prominent German ghoul clan that was wiped out by the Washuu clan of ghoul investigators.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Astro City story "Pastoral", Roustabout claimed to be the sole survivor of a group of kidnapped experimental subjects.
  • The warrior Dagar of Dagar the Invincible is the sole survivor of the nation of Tulgonia.
  • Emma Frost was the sole survivor of the mutant massacre of Genosha in X-Men. Until it turns out that others, most notably Magneto and Polaris, have survived as well.
  • The backstory of the Losers, stars of DC's Our Fighting Forces, involves each member being the guilt-wracked sole survivor of their previous assignment. Brass put them together as a commando unit because they had nothing left to lose, hence the name.
  • Green Lantern: Atrocitus is the sole survivor of the Manhunter's massacre of Sector 666, there used to be four other survivors but he killed them and used their blood to help create the Red Lantern Corps.
  • There's The Punisher from Marvel Comics, who just had his entire family wiped out by criminals.
    • Before that, at least in the MAX books, he survived the battle of Firebase Valley Forge, as depicted in Born. That is, everyone on BOTH sides (USMC garrison vs VC/NVA Regiment) perished, except for him.
  • Supergirl was originally the only survivor of Kryptonian city Argo. In the Pre-Crisis universe, though, she discovered than a group of survivors found shelter in a pocket dimension. In the Post-Crisis universe, a group of Argonians -including her parents- survived the city's destruction when Brainiac abducted them. However all of them got killed when New Krypton exploded, and Kara is again the Last Daughter of Argo City.
    • In the DC Nuclear Winter Special story Last Daughters, the adult supergirl tries to invoke this by placing her adopted daughter in Superman's old Kryptonian ship to get her safely to a nearby habitable planet. She ultimately decides to subvert the trope and break the cycle by going in the ship with her.
  • Originally, Superman was the Sole Survivor of Krypton. Then came Supergirl, then the Phantom Zone criminals and the people of Kandor. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, which had Supergirl killed, Superman was once again the Sole Survivor. Then came Supergirl, then the Phantom Zone criminals and the people of Kandor...
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin: The titular Ronin is the last of the Ninja Turtles, revealed at the conclusion of the first issue to be Michelangelo. The Foot Clan, under the leadership of Shredder's grandson Oroku Hiroto, slaughtered his brothers and Master Splinter.
  • In The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, Rewind is the only survivor of the DJD's rampage on the duplicate Lost Light
  • For the first part of White Sand, Kenton is convinced that he's the sole Sand Master left after Kerztians poison and massacre them. Fortunately for him, this turns out not to be the case.
  • Galactus' backstory is that he was the sole survivor of the entire previous universe.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • In both Wonder Woman (1987) and Wonder Woman (Rebirth) USAF pilot Steve Trevor was not the only one to crash into Themyscira but was the only one to survive, with his co-pilots/crewmates not surviving the initial crash.
    • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): Hippolyta ends up as the only Amazon survivor on Themyscira. Diana survived due to the aid of Gaia, but they are separated and cannot reach each other what with Themyscira already acting as a Hidden Elf Village even before Zeus tossed it into space and whether Diana still counts as a true Amazon after finding a life in the world outside is up for debate.
  • X-Men: A part of the backstory for the Bad Future Bishop came from is a man called the Witness was this after one of the X-Men betrayed the rest of the team and killed all but the Witness, with his appearance and speech patterns suggesting it was Gambit. This led Bishop to believe Gambit was the traitor—which was later debunked by the opening of Onslaughtnote .

    Fan Works 
  • Subverted in Power Girl fanfic A Force of Four. Kara Zor-L believes she is the last survivor of Krypton after her cousin's death. Then three old Superman's Kryptonian enemies surface.
  • JoJo New Universe: By the events of Stardust Crusaders, Jonathan Joestar is the sole surviving member of the heroes from the events of Phantom Blood, with Speedwagon dying from a heart-attack and Baron Zeppeli and Twilight Sparkle dying from old age once their hamon gave in.
  • Out of her huge family, Trisha Elric is the only one in her family to have survived the Ishval Massacre in Son of the Desert. And she didn't live that long either.
  • In Old West, Grace Glossy's son Teddy is revealed to have been laid with nine other snake eggs. The fate of Teddy's siblings is not revealed until much later on: they were killed by outlaws before they had even hatched and Teddy avoided the same fate narrowly when his mother killed the attackers.
  • This is the backstory of Dog Spike in the Aftermath of the Games universe. Shortly after he was born, a horrible case of rabies spread through his litter when his unvaccinated mother got bitten by a rabid dog, and the animal shelter was forced to euthanize all of them to save the other dogs. Spike was spared because he was the only pup who wasn't infected. As a result, he went into such a deep depression that the thirteen-year-old Sci-Twi (who was recently orphaned in a drunk-driving accident) was the only human willing to adopt him because the others didn't want a sad dog.
  • This Bites!: Aside from Robin, a few other characters have this in their expanded backstory.
    • Marine Captain T-Bone, once of the 13th Royal Marine Flotilla. When his crew protested the excessive force chasing after Nico Robin, one of their own, Vergo, sold them out to Sakazuki, who promptly massacred them to a man.
    • Pickles of the Foxy Pirates. He was taken in a Davy Back Fight from his old crew, right before they were killed in a battle with the Marines.
    • Buggy. His old crew landed on a Secret Island and only the clown made it off alive. Can you blame him for wanting to stay out of the Grand Line from then on?
  • In the Pony POV Series:
    • Queen Majesty is revealed to be the only survivor of her herd after the first Arc Villain Rowena's Coven slaughtered them. The first arc primarily consists of her hunting them down and returning the favor.
    • Princess Anasi is a version of Dark World Trixie from a previous loop of Dark World who managed to survive her universe being erased by Nightmare Eclipse and become a Concept, which is only discovered when Twilight ascends in the final loop after defeating Eclipse. It eventually turns out her Scootaloo and Gilda were saved by Nightmare Manacle.
    • Nightmare Eclipse herself and Discord are the only survivors of the original loop.
    • Most of the ponies in Nightmare Manacle's section of Eclipse's lair are this, having been rescued from their loops to populate her fake Ponyville as part of her mania, though are unaware of that fact.
    • Razzaroo is eventually revealed to be the sole survivor of the Lost Age being erased to prevent it from breaking down and taking the entire timeline with it. All others were either erased or reincarnated into the new world with alterations, while Razzaroo survived and has spent all her time since then attempting to become a Concept (which she succeeds in). This is no longer the case after Apple Bloom, while briefly being The Omnipotent undoing the Rumors' damage to reality, resurrects all the remaining G3 ponies still in Oblivion as caretakers of Pinkie Pie's Lost Age inspired park.
  • The Animorphs/Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series crossover "The Turn" features Tanya as the equivalent of this for the Ducks; after the Yeerks manage to infest the rest of her team, Tanya is only just able to escape with the help of the Animorphs, forced to go underground while working with the Animorphs to find some way of saving her team from the Yeerks.
  • In the Infinity Crisis spin-off Batman Family, the Eighth Doctor rescued Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers from the reality of "What If... Captain Carter Were The First Avenger?" after an anti-matter wave in that universe collapsed time and brought them back together before consuming their reality.
    • Another spinoff story, The Last Archer, both averts and plays this trope straight. This spinoff revealed that the Clint Barton of Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers' world also survived the destruction of that Earth and became a companion of the Fugitivie Doctor. However, two of the Fugitive Doctor's other companions, Jubilee and Red Dragon, are the last survivors of their Earths, all destroyed by the same event that destroyed Clint's world.
  • In "Lost and Found", Paige Matthews (Charmed (1998)) is the only one of the Halliwell family (including Coop, Leo and Henry) to survive Thanos's Snap (Avengers: Infinity War).
  • In The Unfantastic Adventures of Bizarro No. 1, one single spelunker escapes the Blue-Kryptonite Men's first attack. Lampshaded when the Mayor of Bizarro Metropolis quotes Moby-Dick -or in Bizarro Speak, "Dick's Moby"-, as he tells the story.
    Bizarro-Mayor: Big excavation near Bad Carl's Caverns. Spelunkers trying to fill up caves, took rock away from wrong place to put it somewhere else, uncover lair of Blue Kryptonite meanies. Them am come out in droves. All spelunkers dead but one, and him alone am escaped to tell me.
    Bizarro: No need to go quoting Dick's Moby at me, Mayor.
  • Resident Evil Abridged begins with most of S.T.A.R.S. Bravo team already missing, or dead, which is why Alpha Team is sent on a search and rescue mission for the survivors. By the time their mission ends, there's only Bravo team member left: Rebecca Chambers.
  • Adam in Sword and Claw is the only one out of his original group to survive a battle with werewolves, and his survival is thanks to Lilith intervening.
  • Alternative Class Despair: Due to Makoto's Death by Adaptation, Komaru is the sole surviving Naegi.
  • Still Stand in the Sun: Excluding Hama (who doesn't appear in this story), Katara is the only Southern waterbender who lives long enough to find a way to get out from the Fire Nation's Tailor-Made Prison for waterbenders.
  • Poor Juri Katou in Destiny, who was already the biggest Woobie in her show due to her partner Leomon’s murder and her Demonic Possession by the D-Reaper, is involved in a fatal accident where her family’s car crashes into a guarder rail, killing her father, her stepmother, and her halfbrother, which drives her into an even deeper depression then she was already suffering and she almost ends up being Driven to Suicide until Rika and Takato stop her. As Juri’s father remarried because her biological mother fell terminally ill and died when she was still very young, Juri is now the last surviving member of the Katou family.
  • In Beyond Heroes: Of Sunshine and Red Lyrium, the story begins with Bethany Hawke being the only survivor of the explosion at the Divine's Conclave. Later in the story, she also becomes the last surviving Hawke, or so she thinks, and lampshades it in conversation with Varric.
  • In What Is Written In Blood Ghost survives not only the mass slaughter of his village when he was just a kid, but the massacre of his own elite team.
  • Vow of Nudity:
    • The prequel story is particularly lethal towards its main cast. In the end, out of twelve protagonists, only Haara's mother survives to the end.
    • Haara herself is the only one to escape the island after the disastrous expedition on the Isle of Slimes, though enough characters' fates remain unknown that she returns years later to search for other survivors.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Antz, Z is the only survivor of the war between the ants and termites because during the midst of battle he fell into a hole which was then covered by a dead termite when he awakens he finds that everyone including his friend Barbetus have perished in the battle.
  • Barbie: Princess Charm School: The baby Sophia of the Royal Family of Gardania was the only member who survived the car crash, and instead got left on the doorstep of the Willows' apartment, was raised as a commoner named Blair and enrolls at Princess Charm School, where she learns of her true heritage and reclaims her title.
  • Dinosaur: Aladar is the only Iguanodon in the prologue in his family to survive the Carnotaurus attack, while his biological mother and all of his unhatched siblings' eggs are instead trampled to death by said Carnotaurus while trying to kill a fleeing Pachyrhinosaurus, due to his egg barely being crushed by the Carnotaurus' footprint, with encounters with an Oviraptor and later a Pteranodon eventually resulting in his egg being brought to Lemur Island where he will be hatched.
    • Aladar's adopted lemur family (consisting of Plio, Suri, Yar, and Zini) are the only lemurs to survive the asteroid impact, which destroyed their island and killed off all the other lemurs. Although another colony of lemur is revealed to be living in the Nesting Grounds, as seen in the epilogue.
    • Baylene is the only Brachiosaurus to survive the asteroid impact, which also results in her becoming the Lastof Her Kind.
  • At the very beginning of Finding Nemo, Nemo's own egg is the only egg to survive the barracuda attack, resulting in his mother and all of his unhatched siblings being killed by the barracuda, as well as traumatizing his widowed father Marlin, causing him to become overprotective of Nemo.
  • Pinocchio is the only boy kidnapped by the Coachman to successfully escape Pleasure Island, with the help of Jiminy Cricket, while all of the other boys, due to them being turned into donkeys, including Lampwick, aren't so lucky.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Dave Bowman in 2001: A Space Odyssey, where he's the only astronaut left after HAL kills all the rest.
  • Alien:
    • In Alien, Ripley is the only Nostromo crew member to survive the titular alien.
    • In Aliens, Newt was the only colonist to survive the final stand against the aliens
    • Morse is the only Fury 161 prisoner to survive the xenomorph's onslaught in Alien³.
  • In Blood Drips Heavily on Newsies Square, Michael is the only survivor of Don Knotts' rampage.
  • Cain Hill: Mary is the only survivor of Chester Lockhart's rampage in the abandoned insane asylum. Marcus is shown in a neck brace being rolled into an ambulance on a stretcher. The police speculate he may survive, but the closing subtitles reveal that he died the following day.
  • Cast Away with Tom Hanks (plane crash).
  • Castaways: Finn tells Cara and Emily that he's the only member of his family who survived after the pandemic hit. Given that he's a trafficker getting close to them so they can be sold, it's quite possible that was just a sob story for gaining their sympathy.
  • Color Out of Space (2020): Grant Ward at the end of the film, with the entire family and even the sheriff who accompanied him dead.
  • Cube:
    • The first film plays it pretty straight with Kazan. He survives after the others fell victim to either the cube's traps or each other.
    • Subverted in Cube 2: Hypercube. Kate is the single survivor of the Hypercube and the only one to escape it but is executed immediately afterwards before her superior.
  • Da 5 Bloods: Otis is the only member of the Bloods to survive their return to Vietnam.
  • Hughie Warriner in Dead Calm is the only living member of photography cruise in the Pacific that ended in everyone else dying of food poisoning. When he's picked up by a couple on vacation, it's discovered he murdered everyone and sabotaged the yacht.
  • In the Dolph Lundgren movie Diamond Dogs 2007, every main character except Dolph's is dead by the end. Three of them die within seconds of each other.
  • The Dirty Dozen: Wladislaw is the only member to survive the Suicide Mission.
  • Downplayed in Dog Soldiers: Cooper is the only human survivor, but he survives together with the dog.
  • In Escape Room (2019), Each of the players is the sole survivor of a horrific accident. It turns out that this is why they were all chosen — the people behind the game want to see whether it was luck or skill which enabled this, and which of them is the most capable survivor. To be more specific:
    • Amanda was a soldier in Iraq, but an IED explosion killed almost her entire unit; only Amanda survived the blast.
    • Ben was driving drunk in order to take his friends out on a joyride, but they got into a car accident that killed all of his friends, with only Ben himself surviving the accident.
    • Danny is the only survivor of carbon monoxide poisoning that killed his entire family.
    • Jason and his college roommate's boat overturned while in the middle of the ocean; only Jason survived between the two, apparently because his college roommate swam off towards land that wasn't there. But then Ben realizes later that this is a lie; Jason actually murdered his college roommate so he could use their shared jacket to survive.
    • Michael and his fellow miners were trapped in a cave-in; Michael had to listen to his fellow miners suffocate, with only Michael himself being successfully pulled out of the cave-in.
    • Zoey was in a plane that crashed, with the crash killing everyone else aboard; only Zoey survived.
      • Averted at the end, when Ben initially seems to be the only survivor of the party, before Zoey reveals she was Faking the Dead just in time to save him.
  • In Faster, The Evangelist was the sole survivor of the Driver's hit list since the Driver spared him out of forgiveness. The Driver was also the sole surviving member who took part in a bank robbery 10 years prior to the film.
  • In Five, Charles and Barnstable were together when the bomb went off and so knew at least one other person had survived, but Michael, Roseanne and Eric each believed they were sole survivor of the Depopulation Bomb that wiped out humanity until they encountered each other.
  • Epps in Ghost Ship is the sole survivor of her crew.
  • Godzilla:
    • The 14th Edition of Definitive Edition Godzilla Introduction contains a 2-panel comic verifying Dr. Yamane's theory regarding the original Godzilla's origins; showing a small colony of Godzillas living at the bottom of the ocean until the Castle Bravo nuke wiped all but one — or two, given the existence of the subsequent Showa Godzilla — out.
    • The Return of Godzilla: Hiroshi Okumura.
    • Ford Brody becomes this several times in Godzilla (2014) to the units he joins along the way to saving his family.
    • In Kong: Skull Island, Bill Randa was a crewman on a U.S. warship when he was young. A monster attack on the ship (suggested to be Godzilla) left him the only survivor, and he spent his life uncovering the truth about the monsters to the world from that point on.
  • Natalya Fyodorovna Simonova from GoldenEye is the sole survivor of the destruction of Severnaya by means of the title superweapon.
  • The beginning of Gore Orphanage establishes that Great-grandmother Nellie was the sole survivor of the events of the titular orphanage.
  • This is done in Grave Encounters with Lance Preston. However, the sequel deconstructs this to the point where it bears to question if being the sole survivor is truly a good thing. Lance was ultimately driven mad after years of being trapped in the horrifying alternate dimension, and Alex was forced to kill his love interest in order to get out alive... and alone.
  • Stone in Gravity lives through a catastrophe that wrecks her space shuttle and kills her other crew members, either directly or indirectly. The film is about her fight for survival alone in the vast emptiness of space.
  • Paxton in Hostel is the only member of the group to make it out of the titular location with his life. Until the sequel, anyway.
  • Howl (2015): Ellen is the only one to escape. Everyone else is either killed or transformed into a werewolf.
  • On July-3 of Independence Day, when the Black Knight squadron leaves MAS El Toro to fight the city destroyer above Los Angeles, the Invaders' protective shields gives them a one-sided advantage in the fight, and systematically shoot down all of Black Knight squadron. When Captain Hiller and his wingman see how hopeless the situation is, they lead two defender craft away from the city and into desert, where Hiller's wingman is shot down, and Hiller forces one of the pursuers to crash into the desert. Later, when Hiller arrives in Area 51, he asks General Grey to transfer him back to El Toro, only for Grey to sadly inform him that El Toro has been completely destroyed.
  • The Human Centipede (First Sequence) sees Dr. Heiter shot in the head after killing two detectives, Katsuro slitting his own neck, and Jenny succumbing to blood poisoning, leaving Lindsay alone to either be rescued by police backup or die waiting.
  • At the start of It! The Terror from Beyond Space, Colonel Carruthers is not only the sole survivor of his expedition to Mars, but is accused of the murder of the other members of his expedition as no-one believes his story of an alien monster killing them. Until the monster gets on board the relief spaceship and starts killing the crew there as well.
  • The Jean-Claude Van Damme movie Legionnaire has everyone who isn't already dead get killed by a rebel army, except for Van Damme's character.
  • Jurassic World: Blue is the sole survivor of the Raptor pack at the film's end. Charlie dies to a security member, and Delta and Echo are killed by the I. rex.
  • Lone Survivor tells the story of Marcus Luttrell, the only survivor of Operation Red Wings (see in the Real Life section).
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: Faramir is the only soldier who doesn't die during the suicidal cavalry charge to reclaim Osgiliath, although he's severely injured and is unconscious.
  • In The Lost Patrol, a British cavalry patrol in World War I is besieged and picked off one-by-one by Arabs. The sergeant is the only one left when a British regiment, attracted by the fire he set, arrives. When asked where his men are, the sergeant just points to the graves.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thor: Ragnarok: Valkyrie/Brunhilde was the only Valkyrie warrior who survived Hela's massacre. She fled to Asgard across the galaxy to the planet Sakaar and spends her time drowning her sorrows and being mercenary Scrapper 142 for the Grandmaster.
    • Avengers: Infinity War:
      • Rocket Raccoon is the only member of the Guardians of the Galaxy to survive Thanos's Badass Fingersnap and subsequent annihilation of half the universe.
      • Likewise, Rhodey/War Machine ends up being the only non-founding Avenger member left after the Snap.
      • Thor is the only royal family member of Asgard still alive, which he mentions to Rocket.
      • Eitri was the only dwarf of his planet Thanos didn't kill, despite promising to spare his people if he made the Infinity Gauntlet.
      • Nebula ends up being the only one of Thanos's children alive in the end, as Thanos sacrifices Gamora and the Black Order are all killed in battle.
    • Avengers: Endgame:
      • Hawkeye is the only member of his own family who didn't get ashed.
      • Both the Black Panther T'challa and his sister Shuri were Snapped, leaving Queen Ramonda as the only surviving member of the Wakandan royal family.
      • After the final battle, Gamora ends up being the only person who time traveled from 2014 to remain alive. Nebula is shot dead by her future self, while the rest of Thanos' army who are not killed off during the battle are snapped out of existence by Tony's usage of the Infinity Gauntlet.
  • The Menu: Margot is the only guest allowed to leave before Hawthorn is burned down as part of a mass Murder-Suicide.
  • New Police Story: The main character, Chan Kwok-Wing, is famous for being the sole survivor of Joe's gang's gruesome murders that wipe out his entire squads.
  • Famously subverted in Night of the Living Dead (1968), when zombie-siege Sole Survivor Ben is shot and killed by the posse that mistook him for one of the undead.
    • This is switched up in the 1990 remake, in which Barbara rises to Action Girl status and ultimately is the only one who survives.
  • In Oblivion (2013), Julia is the only survivor from the space ship Odyssey's crash site.
  • Only the Brave: Brendan is the only one not present when the Granite Mountain crew is engulfed in the Yarnell Fire, due to acting as lookout. Given that this is what actually happened...
  • Will Turner pulls a couple of these in Pirates of the Caribbean. At the beginning of the first movie, he's pulled out of the wreck of the Princess unconscious on a floating piece of shipwreck; in the second, he's the only person to escape when the Kraken takes down the Edinburgh Trader.
    • Also, at the beginning of the second film, Pintel and Ragetti are the only former members of Barbossa's crew to have escaped the noose.
    • Phillip the clergyman Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was the only survivor on the ship he was sailing which Blackbeard attacked. Angelica, Blackbeard's daughter and ship firstmate, refused to let him be killed and brought him on board with the intention of him being able to save Blackbeard's soul.
    • In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Captain Salazar's M.O. is hunting down pirate ships and sparing one man's life while massacring everyone else on the ship. He does so with Will and Elizabeth's son Henry Turner in order to deliver a death threat message to Jack Sparrow.
  • Pope Joan: Johanna is the sole survivor of a Viking attack on her village while most of the men were off fighting in Lothair I’s army.
  • By the time Reservoir Dogs is finished, Mr. Pink is the only surviving criminal... and even then he doesn't escape justice.
  • In the ending of Resident Evil (2002), Alice appears to be the only survivor in the entire city. However, the second movie picks up immediately after the ending of the first and Alice is seen to be only in an abandoned portion of the city. She isn't even the only survivor from the Hive, but the other one was beginning to mutate.
  • In Ripper: Letter from Hell, Molly was the sole survivor of a Serial Killer who killed all of her friends while they were on a camping trip on an island. The killer was never caught. Five years later, history starts to repeat itself.
  • Saw:
  • Scream:
    • Randy Meeks' Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome in Scream 2 means that Sidney Prescott is the only survivor among her circle of friends.
    • This is the Big Bad's motivation to kill in Scream 4. Charlie thinks that he and Jill will come out as an Outlaw Couple after killing their friends, but Jill wants to be the sole survivor, because it will bring her more notoriety and fame. To that end, she stabs Charlie in the heart, when the original plan was to non-fatally hurt him.
  • In The Secret of Roan Inish, Grandfather tells his granddaughter Fiona that his own great-grandfather, Sean Michael, was out at sea fishing with the other men of the family when a fierce storm destroyed their fishing boats. The others drowned (as would have been expected), but Sean Michael was found alive the next morning, having been dragged to shore by a seal.
  • She Creature: The mermaid kills everyone aboard the ship except for Lily, the only human who was kind to her. Lily returns the favor by telling no one the truth about the mermaid.
  • In the 1970 TV movie Sole Survivor 1970, the only crewman to come back from a WW II bombing mission returns to his plane when it is found in the North African desert. This was based on the discovery of a bomber found in the Libyan desert. In this version, however, he was the navigator and bailed out to save his own life, leaving the plane to get lost. What he doesn't know is the crew is dead, but not gone, their ghosts remaining with the plane.
  • Sole Survivor: Denise is the lone survivor of the plane crash in the beginning.
  • Once the main heroine of Suspiria (1977) kills the head witch (Suspirorum, the Mother of Sighs), the building starts to collapse, and the moment she leaves, it bursts into flames, supposedly killing every single person within the building except for the main heroine.
  • In The Town, protagonist Doug Mac Ray is the only surviving bank robber of his gang in his final robbery job.
  • As of Transformers: The Last Knight, Barricade is the only member of Starscream's original band of Decepticons who's still alive from the first movie.
  • In The Traveler, Detective Black is the only survivor out of the 6 police officers whom Mr. Nobody vows to take revenge on.
  • This happens to Bruce Willis' character in Unbreakable. He survives a train wreck that killed every other passenger without getting a scratch. This draws the attention of his mentor. Turns out the antagonist has been deliberately causing disasters like this until a sole survivor emerged, for a "higher" purpose.
  • Virus Shark: Of the crew of the Cygnus Research Facility, Kristi is the only one to make it to the surface alive.
  • War for the Planet of the Apes:
    • Nova is implied to be the last surviving human.
    • And at the end of the film, Cornelius becomes the last remaining member of Caesar's family.

  • It was long rumored that Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova, the 17-year-old daughter of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, secretly survived the 1918 execution of her entire family in the aftermath of Red October. While this was disproven for good in 2009 with the DNA identification of her body, a number of speculative works based on the legend depict Anastasia as this. See Did Anastasia Survive? for the full list of works.
  • The Black Death, as retold in Scandinavia, has several narratives of sole survivors in secluded areas. Norway has one famous example in the valley of Jostedalen, where everyone who lived there died from the plague, except for one little girl, who was found a year later, half-mad, but still alive. Other valleys have similar stories as well.

  • At the very beginning of the Lone Wolf series, Silent Wolf is the sole survivor of the Kai Order, which is wiped out by a surprise attack by the Darklords' force upon the Kai Monastery. In the original, he was sent to fetch firewood as punishment and accidentally knocks himself out upon witnessing the attack. In the Updated Re Release, he takes part in the defense of the monastery and flees through a secret passage. Either way, he renames himself "Lone Wolf" and swear revenge for his fallen companions.

  • By the end of Animorphs, Cassie is the team's only confirmed survivor: Rachel dies in the final battle, and the epilogue sees everyone else wind up in a Bolivian Army Ending out in space.
  • The Apocalypse Troll:
  • Occurs multiple times in John Steakley's Armor, where the main character is a soldier who is simply so good that he survives when the rest of the army is wiped out. At one point he is in the hospital recovering from wounds where he is yet again the sole survivor, and he over-hears his superiors being stunned by the bureaucratic oversights and mistakes which caused him to continue to be sent back into battle. Eventually, they fake the records to remove almost all of the battles he has been in, so as not to get senior officers in trouble. He resignedly approves of their actions, even though it means sending him back into battle where he is again a sole survivor.
  • In Battle Royale, groups of students are forced to fight each other until one survives; said survivor gets a lifetime pension, meaning they're set for life.
  • Siri Keaton in Blindsight turns out to be relating the story as his shuttle drifts slowly towards the solar system after Theseus and the rest of her conscious crew sacrificed themselves to take out the aliens in the Oort Cloud.
  • Kaiku in The Braided Path is the sole survivor of her family being massacred at the start of the series.
  • In The Chronicles of Prydain, Princess Eilonwy is the only remaining member of the royal House of Llyr. At the very end of the series, it's revealed that this is also the case for Taran. Dallben found him as an infant, concealed among tree roots near a battlefield where hundreds of people had been killed; Dallben sensed that the boy's mother had hidden him for safety before she herself was slaughtered in the massacre, leaving him as the only survivor of the terrible event.
  • In the first book of the Circle of Magic quartet, Daja is introduced as being the sole survivor of a shipwreck that claimed her family. However, in her culture, being a sole survivor is seen as a mark of being cursed, so she is exiled from her people, completely forbidden to even interact with any of them she may meet so as to avoid passing her bad luck onto them.
  • Averted in The Clay Pigeons of St. Lo, where the author, an American battalion commander in Normandy during WW2, learns to be cautious of hysterical soldiers claiming to be the last surviving member of their massacred units. Said units are invariably battered but still intact, with the 'survivors' (few of whom had combat experience at that stage) having panicked and fled.
  • The Cold Moons:
    • Bamber's mate and newborn cubs die at the start of the book, which leaves him the only survivor of his family. It's also implied that all the badgers in his glades were also killed by the mysterious poison.
    • Tendril is the sole survivor of a dog attack. Her parents and nine siblings were all mauled and torn to pieces.
  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian pulled this off in both "The Gods Of The North" and "The Scarlet Citadel" — him being the only one to survive while the rest of the cast is killed off; some of them by his hand.
  • In The Dark Tower series, Roland is the only survivor of the battle on Jericho Hill.
  • Dolphin Trilogy: As an infant, John lives on an island in the Caribbean, where his parents are creating the prototype of their latest invention. Then the prototype explodes, killing everyone on the island except John, whose nurse had just set him down near the cliff on the back of the island, partially protecting him from the concussion wave. John is flung harmlessly into the sea, where he is rescued by a pod of dolphins.
  • In Experimental Film, farmer Hendrij Wròbl becomes convinced that The End Is Nigh. He lets his animals go, burns his crops, and leads his family at gunpoint into the remains of the field to wait for Jesus. Two weeks later, his nine-year-old daughter Giscelia is found hiding under a heap of ashy dirt and discarded stalks. The rest of the family is dead, either from privation, from being beaten by Hendrij, or in Hendrij's case, from being beheaded by Lady Midday.
  • The Expanse: Amos considers himself to be the designated last man standing, which the rest of the Rocinante's crew agrees is the case. Taken to the extreme at the end, as he gets resurrected by protomolecule repair drones that change his biology to be absurdly durable in the process. He's alive in the epilogue of the final book - over one thousand years after the end of the series - having outlived his crew and everyone else he knew at the time.
  • Goblins in the Castle: Of a sorts in Goblins on the Prowl — the gobliness seer Flegmire is revealed to be the only goblin who avoided being caught by the spell that trapped the other goblins in the North Tower of Toad-in-a-Cage Castle, for the simple reason that she didn't go there that night, and had to spend a hundred and twenty-one yers all alone. It's left her more than a little crazy.
  • Lemuel Gulliver (shipwrecks, repeatedly) in Gulliver's Travels.
  • Harry Potter: As a baby, Harry becomes not only the sole survivor of the Potter family after Voldemort's attack, but the sole survivor of the Killing Curse in history. This is what makes him "The Boy Who Lived", though it's a title and status Harry comes to have rather complicated feelings about. note 
  • The eponymous Deadly Game of The Hunger Games is designed to leave one survivor. When Katniss and Peeta subvert this trope by both surviving, they end up starting a revolution.
  • Tom Clancy did this twice in The Hunt for Red October. (The book, not The Movie.) First, a nuclear submarine has a reactor accident that ended up destroying the ship, and only one sailor got out before it sank. Then, later on, a bunch of people were being ferried out to a rendezvous with a different ship by helicopter. The chopper was old, and the transmission exploded, causing the chopper to crash into the ocean within sight of the ship they were supposed to be meeting up with. Only one man managed to get out alive and was rescued by the ship.
  • I Am Legend, although this may be closer to Last of His Kind. Regardless, Robert Neville is the last man on Earth — the rest having been killed or succumbed to vampirism.
  • Imperial Radch: In Ancillary Justice, Breq is the last remaining ancillary of the ship Justice of Toren, all of the others and the ship they belonged to having been killed by Anaander Mianaai, who she spends the book gathering the resources and opportunity to kill.
  • Inkmistress: Ina is the only villager left after the rest of Amalska's people are massacred by bandits.
  • In In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, Dede is the only surviving Mirabal sister. Her sisters, Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa, known as "Las Mariposas", were Dominican revolutionaries who fought against the reign of Trujillo and were brutally murdered for doing so.
  • In Johnny and the Dead, Johnny meets the Sole Survivor of the "Blackbury Pals", British soldiers from his hometown who were killed en masse in World War I.
  • The Last Human (2019): Emma is from a bunker where a disease broke out and wiped out the entire population except her. Emma didn't even seem to catch the disease.
    • Subverted. There IS a disease in Emma's bunker, but no one has died from it. Though they will if Emma doesn't get the medicine from the other human bunker that she was headed to.
  • In The Locked Tomb, Gideon is the only survivor of the vent flu that killed the rest of the Ninth House's children outside of Ortus, the son of the cavalier primary who was housed separately, and Harrow, who was born afterward. She eventually learns this was a cover story. The heads of the house deliberately killed its children to ensure Harrow would be born an immensely powerful necromancer. When she asks Harrow why they spared her she learns they didn't; she inhaled a deadly nerve gas for ten minutes and just didn't die. They never knew why and were terrified of her for the rest of their lives.
  • This is the basic premise of The Long Walk. 100 teenage boys start walking nonstop until there is only one still alive. He's the winner at least until the physical and mental damage from the Walk kills him. Long Walk winners tend not to have much in the way of life expectancy.
  • Ishmael of Moby-Dick is the sole survivor of the sinking of the Pequod.
  • Mau and Daphne of Nation, A tidal wave both destroys every person on the island of Nation and causes the wreck of the ship Sweet Judy. Mau is the Sole Survivor of the former since he wasn't on the island at the time, and Daphne of the latter, because she wrapped herself in a mattress.
  • Newsflesh: In San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats, Lorelei Tutt, then eighteen, is the only known survivor of ComicCon, having left the convention center minutes before the zombie outbreak began. Thirty years later, she still has a massive case of Survivor Guilt over her petulant attitude, which got her sent back to the hotel by her father, being the reason she lived while her family and so many others died.
  • The book Night Never Ending by "Eugenjusz Andrei Komorowski with Joseph Gilmore" claims to be an account of Eugenjusz Komorowski, a Polish army major who survives the infamous Katyn Forest massacre when a bullet meant for his head by Soviet troops instead enters his arm and he loses consciousness and is left for dead. He regains consciousness a while later and heads for a town where he is found by German policemen. The factuality of the account is contested, as the existence of Eugenjusz Komorowski is not verified.
  • Old Kingdom: In Sabriel, it turns out that Touchstone is the last living member of the royal family after the Big Bad perpetrated a Ruling Family Massacre. Said villain, Kerrigor, is actually The Evil Prince, but his status as a Greater Dead Adept effectively removes him from taking the throne as he was already Dead.
  • In John Milton's Paradise Lost, Abdiel is the only member of Satan's forces who sees through his lies and revolts against the revolt. Heaven rejoices in him.
    Among those friendly Powers who him receav'd
    With joy and acclamations loud, that one
    That of so many Myriads fall'n, yet one
    Returnd not lost:
  • In Poster Girl protagonist Sonya Kantor is the only member of her family who survived the rebellion that overthrew the regime.
  • Rebuild World: A hunter who followed Akira back to an unexplored ruin he found, trying to get the Lost Technology relics there before him, activated the underground tram to a monster infested city, getting his entire unit of hunters killed and leaving him this. He resorts to selling the location of the ruin to anyone who might be interested for cheap, to pay for Drowning My Sorrows.
  • The Ancient Mariner from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, because he was the one who brought bad luck on his ship by shooting the albatross.
  • In Ringing Bell, Chirin the lamb is the only surviving member from the flock. Woe/Wor the Wolf has eaten all the sheep, and killed Chirin's Mother. His main motivation is seeking revenge for the murder of his mother after sacrifing her life to protect her son. The 1978 adaptation by Sanrio, spares most of the flock, except Chirin's Mother and an unnamed sheep.
  • Robinson Crusoe (shipwreck).
  • In The Scar, Hedrigall is found adrift at sea, and tells a story of being the Sole Survivor of the destruction of Armada. It's an in-universe subversion, as he's telling it to the occupants of Armada... except he may not be lying. It's complicated.
  • In Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe's Triumph, Sharpe survives Dodd's massacre in the opening by Playing Possum.
  • Shatter the Sky: Sev is the only member of his family alive. The rest were killed as a result of opposing the emperor.
  • In Silverlock, the two leads are watching what appears to be the sinking of the Pequod (from Moby-Dick) when one asks about survivors, and the other, seriously genre-savvy character says "Probably one, it's the usual number."
  • Sinbad the Sailor, like Odysseus several times, survives several situations that kill off the rest of his crew by himself.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Mirri Maz Duur is the only survivor of the Lhazarene village sacked by Khal Drogo's khalasar. She exacts vengeance by tricking his wife, Daenerys Targaryen, into making a deal to revive him in exchange for killing her unborn baby, even though it was Daenerys who saved her from execution. Mirri says that she had lost hope of living after seeing her fellow villagers die, and wanted to screw Drogo's loved ones as her last act of spite.
    • By the end of A Storm of Swords, Stannis Baratheon is the only surviving king of the War of the Five Kings, though it's not because he wins the Iron Throne, but rather because he retreats to the North to fight for another day. Near the end of A Dance with Dragons, Ramsay Snow claims to have killed Stannis in his Pink Letter to Jon Snow, but the preview chapters of The Winds of Winter reveal that he was bluffing, as Stannis is still alive.
  • In Spy Classroom, Klaus is the only surviving member of his team. The only reason he wasn't killed on the mission that wiped out the rest of Inferno was because he had been working a solo assignment elsewhere at the time.
  • Stu Redman in The Stand. There are others in Boulder and there's Tom Cullen, but Stu was the only survivor of the four sent to face Flagg (if you don't count Kojak, the dog).
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In Wraith Squadron, Myn Donos is the sole survivor of Talon Squadron, which was wiped out in an ambush. This leaves him with serious psychological problems. Fortunately, so does everyone else.
    • In the Republic Commando Series, Omega Squad is formed by putting together the surviving members of four different commando squads that were wiped out on Geonosis.
    • In Black Fleet Crisis, Plat Maller is the only person to survive the attack on Polneye by the Yevetha. He's the only survivor from their Purge of all non-Yevethan colonists in Koornacht Cluster as well.
    • By the end of Star Wars: Kenobi, Veeka is the only remaining Gault after her brother Mullen and father Orrin are killed and press-ganged (with a very short life expectancy) respectively by Tusken Raiders. Her other brother was killed prior to the novel's events, again by Tuskens.
  • In Sunday Without God, protagonist Ai is the only survivor when a mysterious gunslinger massacres her little village. She was also the only living villager in the first place, the others being deceased but not able to truly die.
  • Tailchaser's Song:
    • Tailchaser is the only known survivor out of his family. His mother and siblings disappeared one day and are presumed dead.
    • Roofshadow was on a walk when her entire clan was killed. Everyone was either literally torn to pierces or mysteriously disappeared. The vanished cats are most likely dead.
  • Talion: Revenant: Of his family, Nolan is the only survivor, with the rest being murdered all together while he was hidden.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium: Maglor is the only one of Fëanor's seven sons who is still around. His fate is not to be envied though; he was essentially cursed to wander Middle-earth until the end of time.
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: One Rule is that though every nunnery seen will be recently sacked, a survivor lives to tell about it. She will be an old nun or a Novice. If old, she will die after telling the story. A Novice however will die as well or join the adventurers she's told about this.
  • The ballad Das Trauerspiel von Afghanistan ("The Tragedy of Afghanistan") by Theodor Fontane, a dramatization of the case of Assistant Surgeon William Brydon (see Real Life).
  • Warhammer 40,000 Expanded Universe:
  • Warlock Series: In Storm Over Warlock, Shan Lantee was searching for the wolvervines when the Throgs wiped out the base.
  • At the start of Watchers of the Throne, Aleya returns to her convent from a mission only to find that everyone else there had been massacred. Once she strikes out for Terra and meets other Sisters of Silence, she finds that many others were in similar situation.
  • Zigzagged in Zomboy. Imre Lazar is the only survivor of a radiation leak that wiped out the population of his old hometown, Fort Sterling. The radiation did have an effect on him, however. It zombified him. That's the official story. Imre's baby sister, Kato (short for Katilin) survived and was zombified too. Only she's more in tune with her zombie instincts than Imre is.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 7th Heaven, Simon asks his elderly neighbor to come to his class and speak about being a Holocaust survivor. Initially reluctant until she hears about deniers in his class, she tells her story about how out of all her family members sent to the concentration camps she at 10 years old was the only one who survived. The end also includes a credit that explains the story came from a real life Holocaust survivor used with permission.
  • Subverted in Angel when Lindsey briefly believes himself to be the only one left alive by Darla and Drusilla's massacre of the Wolfram and Hart Special Projects division. Just as he's pondering the implications of this, and seemingly finding them somewhat to his liking, one of the paramedics reports finding "a live one" (Lilah), to which he responds "We do?" in a disappointed tone.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • Laura Roslin, Secretary of Education, becomes President of the Colonies when the rest of the government (and most of the colonies) gets killed by Cylons.
    • The only major character from the Battlestar Pegasus to survive the whole series is Louis Hoshi.
    • Of all the Viper pilot candidates Starbuck trains in the episode 'Act of Contrition,' the only survivor is Brendan 'Hot Dog' Costanza. In fact, not even Kara herself makes it to the end alive.
  • Blackadder Goes Forth:
    • In the last episode, it's revealed that George is the last of the "Trinity Tiddlers", a group of college friends who all joined up when the war began. About five minutes later, George leads a charge against a German trench and is killed too. Yes, this is a comedy.
    • Similarly, Baldrick is the last remnant of the Turnip Street Workhouse Pals Batallion. He doesn't survive the ending either.
  • Cally, the final member to join Blake's 7 in Season 1, is a Human Alien who due to her differing biology survived when the Terran Federation wiped out the entire population of a rebellious planet with bioweapons. She's from a telepathic species so finds the isolation particularly difficult to cope with, and is planning to give her life in a Suicide Attack before Blake turns up. Blake himself was the sole survivor of the massacre of a rebel group, but in that case, it was because the Federation wanted him alive; as the Rebel Leader he could be interrogated, then brainwashed into publicly recanting his cause.
  • Branded (1965): Jason McCord was the sole survivor of the Bitter Creek Massacre.
  • In Chinese Paladin, the Sword Saint is the sole survivor of the Mt. Shu massacre.
  • In Crusade, Captain Matthew Gideon was the sole survivor of the destruction of the EAS Cerberus. This is also an example of government cover-up — the official story is that the Cerberus was destroyed by a jump engine failure; however, then-ensign Gideon (who was outside doing an EVA mission) saw the ship being attacked by a ship with obvious Shadow technology.
  • CSI: NY: Lindsay Monroe/Messer, the only survivor of the massacre of her friends in the diner when she was a teenager.
  • Deadliest Warrior: If the episode pits groups up against each other, then in almost all cases, only one member of the winning side is left standing in the resulting battle. The only exception is "Al Capone vs. Jesse James", in which both Jesse and Frank James survive.
  • Designated Survivor: Similarly, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Tom Kirkman becomes President of the USA when the Capitol Building is bombed during the State of the Union. Unlike Roslin's accidental "promotion" this is a real, actual plan in case the US government is attacked (though Entertainment Weekly notes that Tom doesn't know about the plan until he's called up while in real life everyone in government is aware; this is to show how he isn't really a "political insider").
    • While Kirkman is the only member of the cabinet to survive, (and is thusly heir to the presidency) Congresswoman Kimble Hookstratten is the only surviving member of Congress by virtue of being the designated survivor for the Republican Party (Kirkman is an Independent, but served in a Democratic administration) until Congressman Peter MacLeish is dug out of the rubble. MacLeish meanwhile is the only person in general to have survived the blast that destroyed the Capitol Building and killed upwards of twelve-hundred people. His survival, however, was intended, as he is a member of the domestic anti-government conspiracy at work.
  • Doctor Who:
    • After the events of "Logopolis", Nyssa is the last survivor from Trakken after her home planet is destroyed and her father is killed.
    • In "The Long Game", Eva St. Julien, a.k.a. Suki MacRae Cantrell, is the last surviving member of the Freedom Fifteen.
  • In the Season 2 finale of Flashpoint, the subject had been a soldier in Afghanistan, and happened to drop back to take a drink from his canteen just moments before the unit was hit by an explosive device; because he had dropped back, he was far enough away from the explosion to survive, while all of the others were killed. He suffered from severe Survivor Guilt because of it, eventually leading him to commit Suicide by Cop.
  • Game of Thrones: Cley Cerwyn, of House Cerwyn. Ramsay flayed all the other members.
  • The eponymous character of Iglot is of a species called the Unggiko that was mass-murdered to near exctinction by the Ravena. Aviona saved Iglot from harm during this event, making him the sole surviving member of the species.
  • Jessica Jones (2015): Jessica Jones was the sole survivor of the car accident that killed her entire family — or so she thinks. It turns out that her mother also survived, but Dr. Karl Malus decided to declare Alisa dead so he could perform somewhat illegal experimentation on her.
  • Legion (2017): Gabrielle is the sole surviving member of her family; all of her relatives were exterminated by the Nazis.
  • Monarch: Legacy of Monsters: It's revealed later in the series that Colonel Leland "Lee" Shaw III was the only survivor who made it back from a disastrous and top-secret Monarch mission which breached Hollow Earth in the sixties.
  • NUMB3RS: In "Provenance", Erika Hellman was the only member of her family in Berlin who survived the Holocaust, and was six years old at the time.
    Erika: You have no idea what it's like to be the only survivor of your family and to have no idea why.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "The Light Brigade", the Chief Weapons Officer was the only survivor of the General Patton, one of the UNDF's most advanced ships which was easily defeated by the aliens.
    • In "Bits of Love", Aidan Hunter may be the last living person on Earth in June 2047, seven months after a nuclear holocaust.
    • In "The Beholder", there are two examples. Patrick Tarloff's parents were killed when their single-engine airplane crashed in the vicinity of Fort Yukon, Alaska. Patrick, who was seven years old, was the only survivor but was blinded. Similarly, Kyra was the only member of her family to survive the crash of their ship, which was severely damaged when it got too close to Earth's magnetic field.
    • In "The Vessel", there are likewise two examples. Jake Worthy is the only member of the seven-person team onboard the space shuttle Inspire to survive the crash. The alien lifeform that entered Jake's body was travelling on board a ship with his mate, his child, and others when it collided with a meteor. His mate and child were killed in the collision while all of the other survivors were converted into electrical impulses and eventually vanished into the ether, leaving only the relevant alien.
  • Power Rangers Dino Fury: Zayto and his fellow Knights of Rafkon were seemingly the only six people to escape their planet's destruction at the hands of the Sporix. They followed the Sporix to Earth to prevent it's destruction as well, but after that battle the only person left was Zayto.
  • Sharpe: It is revealed in Sharpe's Challenge that Sharpe was the sole survivor of an attack on an East India Company outpost in India.
  • Space: Above and Beyond depicted several characters as this:
    • Major McKendrick, discovered by the 58th behind enemy lines after his unit was wiped out.
    • Lt. Col. Butts is ultimately revealed to be the lone survivor of his previous squadron; the 58th's first mission after he assumes command is to bury his squadmates and retrieve their Hammerheads.
    • Possibly McQueen himself; at the very least, he seems to be the only member of the Angry Angels still fit for duty.
    • Played with in "Stay with the Dead", in which the 58th try a Faking the Dead ploy that convinces their own side as well as the enemy.
  • Star Trek:
    • Occurs in several Star Trek: The Original Series episodes.
      • "The Cage": Vina, survivor of a spaceship crash.
      • "Charlie X": The title character, also a spaceship crash survivor.
      • "The Conscience of the King": It's revealed that Kirk very nearly becomes this for a massacre he witnessed in his youth, as he finds that seven of the other eight witnesses have been killed off in the preceding years, and an attempt is made on the life of the eighth, a subordinate of Kirk's named Kevin Riley. Fortunately, McCoy is able to pull Riley through.
      • "Balance of Terror": Commander Hansen in Earth Outpost 4 after the initial Romulan attack.
      • "Arena": The survivor of the Gorn attack on Cestus Three.
      • "The Doomsday Machine": Commodore Matt Decker. Has severe Survivor Guilt.
      • "The Omega Glory": Captain Ronald Tracey after his entire crew dies from a virus they picked up on Omega IV.
      • "That Which Survives": Losira. Subverted in the end when we find out that she didn't survive.
    • Subverted with Worf in Star Trek: The Next Generation. For many years Worf and his friends believed him to be the sole survivor of the Romulan attack on Khitomer. However in "Sins of the Father" Worf and the Enterprise crew learn that Worf's nanny also survived the attack and was living on the Klingon homeworld. Later, Worf learns in the episode "Birthright" that a number of Klingons on Khitomer were taken prisoner by the Romulans and were still alive in the 2360s.
    • In the Battle of Wolf 359, a fleet of 40 Federation starships is reduced to a Derelict Graveyard by a single Borg cube. It will later be stated that 39 ships were lost, meaning that one ship survived. General fan consensus and unconfirmed sources indicate that it was the Endeavor; it helps that it's been all but confirmed that her captain, Amisov, also survived.
    • La'an in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is the Sole Survivor of a Gorn attack when she was a child.
  • Supernatural:
    • Shaw with the claw-shaped scar in "Wendigo" was the sole survivor of the titular monster's attack on the cabin where he and his parents were staying decades ago.
    • Kali is the only one of the assembled deities who survives the massacre by Lucifer in "Hammer of the Gods".
    • In "The Great Escapist", Kara alone was left mutilated but alive among the carnage with a message for Castiel. Once Cass got the message, Naomi kills Kara anyway.
      Kara: They said you have to stop.
    • When she's first introduced, Hannah is the only angel who survived an attack by Metatron. The latter reveals afterward that he did it on purpose.
    • In "Ladies Drink Free", the Hidden Villain werewolf was the survivor of a massacre by the British Men of Letters on his peaceful-living pack.
    • In Apocalypse World, Maggie and Floyd when first introduced are the only survivors of a band of hunters attacked by rabid vampires. Floyd is later killed by a vampire while navigating a tunnel, so Maggie is the last one left.
  • Survivor:
    • The winner is a mild version, as the other players are "voted off" the show rather than killed.
    • In any season where tribal lines are strong, usually one tribe bands together to knock out the opposing tribe in a merged situation. Such a move became known as Pagonging, a name going back to the first season during which the former Tagi Tribe members stuck together even post-merge to rid the game of all the members of their former enemy, the Pagong Tribe. The sole survivor from a Pagonged tribe usually makes a remark about being the last of their original tribe left in the game.
  • The Terror: The first season is a fictionalized account of the Franklin Expedition, which was historically lost with all hands. The story ends pretty much the same way, and the only survivor is Francis Crozier, the captain of the HMS Terror. He alone survives amongst a native arctic tribe until the rescue party finally arrives, but he opts to have the chief of the the tribe tell said rescue party that nobody survived. His naval career was already at a dead end before the disaster because he's Irish and has no chance of making flag rank, he has zero chance to be with the woman that he loves, he failed to save anyone from his command or any of his friends in spite of his own best efforts, and he has nothing but disgrace waiting for him back home, so he opts to live out his life with the natives, whose culture he feels more at home in.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • In "Time Enough at Last", Henry Bemis finally has all the time in the world to enjoy reading when he's the only survivor of a nuclear war... then he goes and breaks his last pair of glasses.
    • In "One More Pallbearer", Paul Radin offers three people who wronged him the chance to ride out an atomic attack in his personal underground shelter, but they all refuse. Then, the attack happens. Devastated, he emerges into the ruins of the city, but the Karmic Twist Ending reveals that the attack wasn't real — he's hallucinated it out of guilt.
    • In "The Thirty-Fathom Grave", Chief Bell was the only survivor of the sinking of the submarine 714.
    • In "The Old Man in the Cave", Mr. Goldsmith is the only survivor of the Village after the other residents, Major French and his men all eat the canned food that the Old Man warned them was contaminated with Strontium-90.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • A variation in "A Little Peace and Quiet". Penny has a stopwatch with the power to stop time. She uses it when World War III starts between the US and the Soviet Union, only to find that she's stopped time just as the town was moments from being obliterated by a bomb. Now she's faced with a choice: live out her life effectively alone, or die with everyone else.
    • In "Still Life", the 86-year-old Professor Alex Stottel is the last surviving member of Dr. Levinson's expedition to the Amazon River basin, where they encountered the Curacai, in January 1913. Stottel was a 13-year-old boy at the time.
    • In "Devil's Alphabet", Frederick becomes the last surviving member of the Devil's Alphabet Society after Cornelius' suicide on November 2, 1898.
    • In "The Last Defender of Camelot", Lancelot is the last surviving Knight of the Round Table 1,000 years after the fall of Camelot. He was kept alive for all that time by a spell cast by Merlin.
  • The War of the Worlds (2019): Amy alone escapes the mansion, while the rest of the group are killed by the Martians one-by-one.

  • D.D./Trishia from Infinity Game is the only one who survived the previous game when the DM eradicated the entire world.

  • "Prairie Fire" by Tumbleweed Tex:
    "Just one He left to tell the tale, just one was His desire. We lost the herd and 30 men to a raging prairie fire."
  • "Barrett's Privateers" by Stan Rogers, about a disastrous expedition during the Revolutionary War.
    "Now I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier, the last of Barrett's Privateers."
  • "Mariner's Revenge Song" by The Decemberists is initially subverted in that that there are two survivors, but there will soon only be one, as seen in the last verse.
    "So lean in close/And I will whisper/The last words you'll hear."
  • The song "The Irish Rover" tells the story of a massive sailing ship in the early 19th century. After spending a verse describing the immensity of the ship ("she had twenty-seven masts!") and two verses describing the crew, the final verse describes the ship running into trouble (either a mechanical breakdown or an outbreak of measles, depending on the version) and a mighty storm, ending the song with the line "Now I'm the last of the Irish Rover."
  • "Lone Survivor" by Peter Schilling from Things to Come, which is about a single person surviving a nuclear holocaust through "a fortress made of steel".
  • "Sole Survivor" from Asia.
  • "Sole Survivor" by Blue Öyster Cult, about the last human alive.
    "There walked a lonely man/Silent, mute, the only man/Not knowing how, not knowing why/Was he the sole survivor"
    "Why should he be alive/Breathing still while others died/And the only question/Why was he the sole survivor?"
  • One point of "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Albuquerque" has the singer as the lone survivor of a plane crash. Why? Because he had his tray table up and his seat back in the full upright position.
  • The narrator of "Survivor" by Pretty Balanced is the only one left in her town, for reasons that are never stated within the song.
  • Helloween's "Sole Survivor":
    "Sole survivor/Of a kill without alert/Sing your feelings out/Your song remains unheard"

    Myths & Religion 
  • In Arthurian Legend, Sir Bedivere is stuck with this. As Tennyson has him say in Idylls of the King:
    But now the whole Round Table is dissolved
    Which was an image of the mighty world;
    And I, the last, go forth companionless,
    And the days darken round me, and the years,
    Among new men, strange faces, other minds.
  • According to Norse Mythology, only six gods (Vidarr, Vali, Baldr, Hothr, (four of Odin's sons) Mothi, and Magni (two of Thor's sons)) and two humans (Lif and Lifthrasir) will survive Surtr's flames during Ragnarok.
  • The Odyssey: Odysseus ends up being the only one of all of his men to make it back home to Ithaca, the others perishing in the various disasters that befall them.
  • Older Than Dirt: In the Old Kingdom Egyptian Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor, the protagonist was the only survivor of his ship after a storm on the Red Sea. He washes up on an exotic island inhabited by giant talking snakes, which may or may not be deities.


  • Dimension X's "Dwellers in Silence": Dr Cornelius Hathaway is the only surviving human on Earth in 2007 as all other survivors of the Earth Wars settled on Mars 20 years earlier. Hathaway managed to survive as he was in his lead-lined laboratory in the Sierra Mountains when the radioactive dust cloud enveloped the United States. His family didn't.
  • The Lone Ranger: The titular Ranger was the sole survivor of an ambush that wiped out a Texas Ranger patrol.

  • The RP series Darwin's Soldiers has a theme of battles that leave a single person alive on one side (usually the enemy side):
    • In the Furtopia RP, Zachary's team leaves one terrorist alive after a shootout so they can interrogate him.
    • In the Gang Of Five RP, the first shootout at the AWTR explicitly states that only one female terrorist survives.
    • When Shelton's team is attacked by sublevel guards, Shelton is the only one left awake. It turns out they needed him for the password to auxiliary control.
    • Shelton is also the only avatar still alive by the end of the simulation in Schrodinger's Prisoners.
    • When James' team launches a counter-assault, a single terrorist gets a shattered kneecap instead of death.
    • In the second RP, Dragonstorm guards disarm or incapacitate every defender in the control room except Clyco, who activates a BFG and kills all the attackers except PFC Reynolds.
    • Noleson is the only survivor of the security team that tries to arrest James and his men. At least, before Pelvanida is blown up...
    • When a rocket hits the gunner bay of an escaping Lab 101, everyone inside is killed except Shelton, who was unconscious on the ground. He seems to have a habit of this.
    • Shelton is knocked out with everyone else in Nietzsche's Soldiers. This time it's Kerzach who's left awake.
    • In Pavlov's Checkmate, Hans knocks out a Russian enemy before the shooting starts, presumably leaving the Russian the only enemy survivor.
    • When DS-1 ambushed James' team after incapacitating their van, "Achates" (later revealed to be Shelton) was the only one who didn't die.
    • Part of Ethan Garner's backstory involves being the only survivor from 'Delta Force', though Ethan's author left the RP before explaining what that meant.
    • When a police force fights Terror Squad, Jayden is the only officer left alive.
    • When Terror Squad attacks the Schutzhund competition, Hailey is the only survivor.
  • In Survival of the Fittest, this is the obvious fate of anyone who wins the game, as the entire point is for the students to kill each other until only one remains. Battle Royale works on a similar system, but is more idealistic. However, Shogo Kawada fits the trope at first and pretends to be the sole survivor of the Shiroiwa game to aid Nanahara and Nakagawa in their escape.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is very common in TTRP Gs due to the turn-based format. Once the players kill all but one of a group of bad guys, it's not unheard of for the party to decide to capture the last mook standing, either to interrogate them for information or to strong-arm them into becoming their unpaid servant.
  • In Paranoia, this is actually a recommended way to win—you can blame all the bad stuff on the dead, and take credit for all the good stuff "without fear of contradiction". But sometimes The Computer is suspicious of Sole Survivors, so it may be better to let a couple of your teammates live and bribe/blackmail them into backing up your story.
  • An attrition-based board game, Stay Alive, had the tagline "I'm the sole survivor!" in its '70s TV advertisements. Here's Vincent Price uttering the phrase in one spot.

  • Horatio in Hamlet, after virtually every other character (the ones who aren't already dead) drops dead around him the last scene of the play. Even he reaches for the poisoned cup to kill himself but Hamlet stops him.
    Hamlet: O good Horatio, what a wounded name,
    Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me!
    If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart
    Absent thee from felicity awhile,
    And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
    To tell my story.
  • Discussed in RENT by Mark. As he watches his friend group starting to fall apart in Act 2 due to HIV/AIDS and broken relationships, he wonders if and when he will eventually be the only one left.
    Why am I the witness?
    And when I capture it on film
    Will it mean that it's the end
    And I'm alone?
  • The selection of who will become this via the grand prize of The Amazing Karnak's game is a major plot point in Ride the Cyclone. In the end, the honour goes to Jane/Penny Lamb as the other five victims of the Cyclone Disaster decide to give the grand prize to her, thus moving on to whatever comes next, with the only living members of the cast up to that point, Karnak and Virgil, dying soon after. Just as Karnak had predicted they would.

    Video Games 
  • One ending of the uncut edition of Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere is titled "Sole Survivor", referring to Fiona Fitzerald, who is the only major character to be still alive at that point. Nemo would count, too, but he is not exactly alive.
  • By the time The Black Heart ends, with Hashi dropped down a pit, Noroko finally finding peace and moving on, Animus using the Heart's power to kill himself, Ananzi being murdered by her own father, and the Shar-Makai annihilated en masse, Peketo is the only playable character still alive. And even then he's now a Sealed Evil in a Duel.
  • Blood Knights has a Downer Beginning where your entire unit gets killed by vampires after being double-crossed by the church, save for your player protagonist, the Vampire Hunter Jeremy. He then forms an uneasy Enemy Mine alliance with a vampire, Alysa, kickstarting the game's events.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Price is the only named character who survives the entire trilogy.
  • In Call of Juarez: The Cartel, DEA agent Eddie Guerra is the sole survivor of the bombing incident of the DEA office. Also upon catching up to Alvarez in the final chapter, depending on who you are playing as, if you choose the option of killing your teammates, you will end up as the sole survivor.
  • Clock Tower: The first game gives you the option to save one of three friends, but the sequel makes it canon that Jennifer was the only survivor. And then it reveals that she's not quite the only survivor — Dan Barrows escaped from his burning outer shell and is now the Scissorman.
  • At the beginning of Crysis 2, protagonist Alcatraz was the sole survivor of the United States Marine Corps Force Recon unit when the Ceph attacked the submarine that his unit is on. Later subverted when Chino, one of Alcatraz's squadmates, turns up alive... and even later played straight for Chino when Prophet's consciousness takes over Alcatraz's body.
  • Dead Space: Isaac Clarke is not only the Sole Survivor of the maintenance crew sent to the Ishimura, but he is the only character to survive the events of the game.
  • The Doom Marine is the sole survivor of his unit. Unless you play Co-Op. In Doom (2016), the Doomguy is revealed to have been the sole survivor of the realm of Argent D'Nur after it was absorbed by Hell. And he is angry as fuck about it.
  • Dragon Age:
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, in the Human Noble Origin, the player character is the only member of the Cousland noble family and household to survive the massacre at their family's castle in the middle of the night. Companion Wynne even invokes the trope, calling them "the last of the Couslands." (The character's older brother, who wasn't home for the event, has also survived; however, he's missing for most of the game and suspected to be dead. His survival isn't revealed until the end.) Similarly, Alistair is revealed to be the last surviving blood member of the Fereldan royal family.
    • Depending on the player's dialogue choice at the end of one quest in Dragon Age II, Merrill can end up being the only surviving member of her Dalish clan. Meanwhile, depending on the fates of their younger brother and sister, Hawke can end the game as the last surviving member of the Hawke family.
    • The entire premise of Dragon Age: Inquisition hinges on the fact that the player character is the only one to survive an explosion at the Divine's Conclave, a magic blast which decimated an entire building and killed the other hundreds of people inside it. The game revolves around finding out who is really responsible for the event and why, and preventing them from achieving their ultimate goal. Also, depending on player choices both in this game and the previous one, it's possible for one of the quests to be concluded in such a way that either Bethany or Carver becomes the last surviving member of the Hawke family.
  • A couple of characters in Evolve have this label.
    • Maggie was the only person to survive the fall of Factor to the monsters, forced to live in the ruins of the colony and hide from the monsters for two years until she could get an evacuation ship up and running on her own.
    • Markov was a simple colonist until corporate mercenaries raided his home to wipe out the colonists and allow the Megacorps to take over the resources they'd discovered. This one was a bit more notable than the others because he was the sole survivor of the event in general, not just of the colonists.
    • Slim joined up with the war effort with his friends but ended up as the only one of them to make it out alive after their first real military action.
  • In Fallout 4, the player character is the only remaining resident of Vault 111, who woke up after 210 years to find everyone else (including his/her spouse) dead, and in the end, he/she is also the sole survivor of the family after Shaun's death. In fact, the player character is actually referred to by the trope name in official material, due to the fact that they have to name the protagonist something, despite the game's near-infinite naming possibilities.note  Also, the canon default names for the player in 4 are Nate and Nora for the husband and wife, and it's just easier to refer them as a collective "Sole Survivor".
  • Fatal Frame:
  • Final Fantasy
    • In Final Fantasy II, the Dragoons of Deist are believed to have been wiped out...then you meet Ricard Highwind, the last Dragoon. Even though he makes an Heroic Sacrifice, Elena and Kain vow to restore Deist and the Dragoons in the end.
    • In Final Fantasy IX, Dagger eventually discovers that she is the only survivor of the attack that wiped out the Summoner Tribe at Madain Sari. While there were initially a handful of other survivors in the village, they all died over a five-year period; Eiko is not counted as one of the survivors because she was the only Summoner born after the attack.
    • In Final Fantasy Dimensions, Sarah is the lone survivor of Burtgang's royal family because the king sent her away in anticipation of The Empire's final assault on the castle. Nacht is similarly the only survivor from the whole kingdom of Falgabard. Late in the game, the former Imperial general Vata reveals that he joined the empire's military so he could get revenge from within after they destroyed his hometown.
  • In Find the Cure!, the player character's backstory states they were the only member of their search party who was able to jump through a Cool Gate and reach another dimension. It wasn't stated whether the others were killed mid-route or simply didn't jump in fast enough. The player can also invoke this by choosing to stay in the other dimension since everyone else from the original Earth will be dead within 25 years.
  • Word of God for Fire Emblem: Three Houses states that as sparing Claude on the Crimson Flower Route is considered the canon option and that he actually escaped unscathed on the Silver Snow route, he is the only faction leader to survive all four routes in the game, especially if Rhea dies at the end of Silver Snow and Verdant Wind routes alongside Edelgard and Dimitri.
    • Assuming no other students are recruited, Annette has a strong chance of becoming this for the Blue Lions on routes outside of Azure Moon. On the Crimson Flower route, Dimitri, Dedue, Felix, Ingrid, Sylvain, and Mercedes are required kills, while Ashe starts very close to the player's starting position; Annette, meanwhile, is also an optional target but starts far away. On the Verdant Wind route, Ashe can be killed at Aileil, while everybody else sans Dedue can be killed at Gronder, and even then, he can die at Enbarr. Finally, on Silver Snow, Ashe can once again be killed at Aileil, Dedue can once again be killed at Enbarr, and everybody else presumably dies offscreen at Gronder. In all cases, Annette is not seen, implying she survived
  • In Fredbear and Friends, Thomas very quickly becomes the only person left alive in the pizzeria, and the only one to successfully escape.
  • In Genshin Impact, out of the original Seven Archons, only Morax and Barbatos remains. The others had died and took on their mantle. Morax's character story also mentions that the original Seven Archons once held an oath to guide and protect humanity, but the successors do not necessarily care about said oath.
  • In Guild Wars 2, a distressingly common way for Charr to become gladium, usually either by being badass enough to survive the Suicide Mission, or by becoming a Dangerous Deserter when confronted with something so risky. The player characters don't quite hit this mark, as their sparring partner and only their sparring partner survives the game's intro, but players can recruit gladium of the first type and talk gladium of the second.
  • Halo:
    • In Halo: Reach, exactly one member of NOBLE Team manages not to die by the end of the game. It's Jun.
    • It was originally claimed that the Master Chief was the last Spartan-II by the time of Halo: Combat Evolved. Then this trope got inverted as more Spartan-IIs were revealed to have survived (or not even been present during) the Fall of Reach.
    • Similarly, by the end of Halo: Combat Evolved, Master Chief appears to be the only person to have survived the events of the game (plus Cortana, but she's an AI living inside his helmet). Him sitting alone on the ship makes an unsettling contrast to the first level where he's surrounded by one army and fighting another army. Later expanded universe materials would reveal other people survived too.
  • Infested: You're the only member of 5-A who survives the infestation.
  • If you choose to retrieve the canister instead of saving Jess, and fail to let Gerry get on the boat, Jess will be the sole survivor in Jurassic Park: The Game. However, this counts as a Game Over since the game needs the player to fulfill all button inputs, and the final episode is named "The Survivors" for a reason.
  • Kingdom Hearts
    • Kingdom Hearts χ ends with the Protagonist being the last fighter standing at the end of the Keyblade War, only surviving because Ephemer and Skuld intervene and rescue them, allowing them to witness the postbellum events of Union X[Cross], but for the player to witness more by extension due to Meanwhile Scenes.
    • Kingdom Hearts III pads out the final confrontation with the party initially failing to defeat the Demon Tide after Donald Zettaflares Terra-Xehanort. As a result, only Sora and Jiminy are left to undo the problem after the former returns from The Final World, and since the latter can't fight, It's Up To Sora to take down the Lich and rescue his fallen comrades.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords gives us Visas Marr, who, for unexplained reasons, is the only survivor of the planet Katarr after the life of the planet itself and everyone on it was drained by Darth Nihilus.
  • O. Dio, the boss of the Western chapter of Live A Live, is said to be the only survivor of the 7th Cavalry (Custer's unit); several people remark that they thought nobody survived that. When you defeat him, he turns into a horse—in real life, a horse was the only survivor of the 7th Cavalry—and gallops away. The sheriff theorizes that the hate of the dead soldiers had possessed it.
  • At the start of Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter, Mace's squad of Rangers is wiped out and he is sent to prison. When he gets out ten Years later, the entire organization has been dissolved.
  • Mari and the Black Tower: Downplayed. Abbie is seemingly the only survivor of the Bad Future where miasma wiped out humanity, since the last two scientists sent them back in time. Later, it turns out Ned was also sent back in time, and that he's the son of the scientist, Mary.
  • Mass Effect:
    • This is one of 3 possible backgrounds you can pick for your character in the series — being the Sole Survivor of a team of marines who got wiped out by Thresher Maws (who are 'bout as nasty as they sound). Can lead to an interesting scene later in the original entry, when you run across another survivor, who had been hunting down a group of scientists responsible for setting up the attack, in order to study the Thresher Maws. If you fail to 'talk him down', he'll execute the last of the scientists, and then say "The vids say that you're the only survivor...who am I to argue?" and then shoot himself. Very dramatic.
    • Although not named explicitly, the Colonist background also has Shepard as the sole survivor of a batarian slave raid that kills his or her entire family. It's possible to combine this with the Sole Survivor background, creating a Shepard whose pre-Spectre life probably qualifies as cursed.
    • In Mass Effect 2, if you do everything wrong, Joker will be the sole survivor of the suicide mission.
    • If you delay starting the suicide mission for too long, then Dr. Chakwas is the only one of the abducted crew who isn't liquefied.
    • Played for Laughs with mercenary squadmate Zaeed Massani. Talk to him on the Normandy and he'll share some of his many war stories. Practically all of them end with the mission going FUBAR and him being the only one to make it out, getting to keep his dead comrades' pay in the process. His dossier in the Shadow Broker DLC attributes this partly to the fact that he was a Bad Boss who threw allies into the fire to save his own hide. This is a hint that he's actually a poor choice for a Squad Leader in the end game.
    • Eve is the only krogan female to survive Maelon's experiments and the side effects - unless you didn't save his data, in which case she will die.
    • In Mass Effect: Andromeda, depending on player choice, Salarian Pathfinder Zevin Raeka can be the only original pathfinder to survive the game.
  • You gotta admit that Artyom in Metro 2033 is the luckiest SOB in the game to survive multiple near-death situations. Most who accompanied him on the mission are either dead or badly wounded.
  • Metroid
    • Samus Aran is the only survivor of a Space Pirate raid on her colony. Then the Chozo that rescued her were wiped out and/or disappeared, making her a Sole Survivor twice over.
    • Metroid: Other M reveals that the sole survivor of the Space Pirates on Zebes that wasn't cloned/recreated like Ridley and Mother Brain was actually Phantoon, who is finally killed in the epilogue. Hopefully.
  • In the "Rise and Shine" short, it's revealed that Mei of Overwatch is the only living employee of the former Ecopoint: Antarctica. An ice storm damaged their power supply; with dwindling supplies, all six of them went into cryosleep until they could be rescued. However, all the pods except Mei's malfunctioned, causing them all to die.
  • Persona 3: In the FES and Portable Updated Rereleases, completing a certain sidequest will result in Chidori Yoshino becoming the only surviving member of Strega.
  • The survivor of the peace mission in Quest for Glory III, who dies soon after returning to Tarna after suffering terrible wounds.
  • In Ravensword: Shadowlands, the game has you play as the only survivor of a battle between dark elves and humans, where everyone died as a result of a powerful demon named Ul'Thok being summoned.
  • Hunk in Resident Evil 2 is the only survivor of the Umbrella cleanup team. His ending portrait in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis reveals that he's earned a reputation for always being the only member of his team to survive, to the point that other Umbrella employees have nicknamed him "Mr. Death".
  • The very first message you receive in Rodina on your Pilot Wave Radio informs you that you are the only survivor of a ship that was attacked when entering the system the game takes place in.
  • Rule of Rose: Wendy sics Gregory Wilson on the orphans, before being killed by him herself. Wilson attacks Jennifer too, but eventually commits suicide. Jennifer is the only one who escapes this.
  • SaGa Frontier: The region of Wakatu was wiped out by Trinity. Gen is the only survivor of the region, and has taken to drinking himself into a stupor over his loss. His status as the last survivor allows for Loophole Abuse; Trinity has banned any travel to Wakatu (which you need to enter for the Tarot Quest) unless you are accompanied by a native, because they didn't think there were any survivors.
  • Completely screw up with the time limits in Splatterhouse 3, and Rick will be the only member of the Taylor family to survive the night.
  • Two women from Super Robot Wars fell to this trope: Selena Recital was the sole survivor of Team Jelba from a Balmarian assault, while Calvina Coulange was the sole survivor from the Ashalley Kreutzer facility when the said facility was decimated by the Furies. And no, they're not Expies.
  • Kirby is the only fighter to survive the Downer Beginning of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's World of Light Adventure mode.
  • Trillion: God of Destruction: Archangel Uriel is the only survivor of Trillion's onslaught against Heaven.
  • Until Dawn's Anyone Can Die mechanics make this a possibility for almost every playable character, even if it means turning into a wendigo. The sole exception is Mike, who will pull a Taking You with Me if he believes he's the last one.
  • The Valkyria Chronicles series is fond of this trope:
  • A Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky: Brooke was the only survivor after "her family was slaughtered", as a man in Balfur City will explain after she's meetable after the Bandit King took over.
  • In World of Warcraft, there used to be a series of quests that would lead you to acquire your Dungeon Set 2. It involved the Veiled Blade mercenary company, who had been cursed when they grabbed the amulet of the dragon they had just killed, Lord Valthalak. One by one, they were killed by Valthalak's spectral assassin, until only two remained: Deliana and Mokvar, who had fled seeking protection in Ironforge and Orgrimmar respectively. They each tried to escape the curse, eventually succeeding with the Adventurer's help. Mokvar eventually earned a place in Garrosh's Horde, where he was killed during the Siege of Orgrimmar, leaving Deliana as the sole surviving member of the Veiled Blade.
  • If you play the tutorial for XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the only survivor of Operation Devil's Moon will be Delta 2, AKA the "Argentine Heavy" (his name and later callsign are randomized, but he will always be an Argentinean who promotes into the Heavy class). This Mauve Shirt tends to become the backbone of a new player's roster, but he's just as mortal as the Rookies he'll be serving with.
  • XCOM 2 similarly has Jane Kelly, who survives the tutorial version of Operation Gatecrasher and becomes XCOM's first promoted soldier. Technically she's not the only survivor, since Central Officer Bradford also takes to the field and by the end of the mission they've rescued the Commander, but afterwards Bradford goes back to serving as Mission Control while the Commander leads from the Avenger, so Kelly's the only field operative to survive the mission.
  • In Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, more specifically the second expansion The Indigo Disk, this is the backstory of Terapagos. Originally millions of years ago Terapagos was just one of its kind living in the underdepths of Area Zero, but seismic shifts caused by tectonic activity eventually killed off the other Terpagos, leaving only one alive by the games' events.

    Visual Novels 
  • During the final trial of Dangan Ronpa Trigger Happy Havoc, after the Big Bad, Junko Enoshima, has revealed herself and told the rest of the students that they were given amnesia to forget the fact that they all were friends for two years to Hope's Peak and holed up inside the school to protect themselves against the apocalypse, she decides to give Togami a very heavy dose of Break the Haughty. She plainly tells him that during The Tragedy, every single member of his family died horribly, and he is now the only one left. He was born and bred to inherit his family's company and had to become extremely cutthroat to beat all his half-siblings and rise to the top, and he's now faced with the reality that all of it was for nothing. Togami's been a total Smug Snake up until now (albeit slightly more team-oriented at this point than in the beginning) but despite his self-centered, pompus attitude, it's still hard to watch him become so visibly distressed in the face of such horrible news.
  • Both the protagonist and Tamara in Double Homework, since they were the only survivors of the avalanche they started.
    Tamara: Only the strongest skiers survived Barbarossa that day.
    Protagonist: Only us.
  • Shirou Emiya in Fate/stay night was the sole survivor of a great fire ten years ago that razed a whole section of the town he lives in and killed almost everyone else living there. A few other kids are mentioned to have gotten out, but they've all moved away to different foster families and Shirou has no contact with anyone else who was directly involved in the disaster. It has left him with a fair bit of Survivor's Guilt, and all three routes are dedicated to how he deals with it in different ways. In the Fate route, you eventually get some of the background to the event: Kotomine caused the event by wishing for a distraction from the incomplete Grail, and all the other surviving kids were taken in by the church and converted into living mana batteries for Gilgamesh.
  • The Fruit of Grisaia: Amane is the only survivor of an accident in which her school bus drove off a cliff and crashed in a ravine, stranding the survivors for weeks. Starvation and disease slowly killed several of her classmates, leading the rest of the survivors to resort to cannibalism, but Amane ultimately managed to escape and was eventually rescued. This leads to Amane developing a serious case of Survivor Guilt.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry
    • At the end of the Tatarigoroshi-hen chapter, Keiichi is pushed off a bridge by Satoko (who, after finding him over Rika's corpse, believed he did it), and curses the town to die as he falls. Next morning, he stumbles back into town to find that everyone died of volcanic gases.
    • Satoko (as if she wasn't broken enough) gets this treatment in (the anime only) Yakusamashi-hen, when she finds Rika's mutilated corpse again, falls off a bridge after a lengthy chase (the very same one she pushed Keiichi from) and stumbles back into town several hours later. For bonus points, Satoko becomes a Comatose Canary after this ordeal.
    • Mion also deserves a mention, due to the fact that the above Satoko example was based on a game-only arc centered on her, Comatose Canary ending and all.
    • Rika gets an ending where she is the sole survivor, which is the arc where she takes the school hostage and is arrested and taken out of town before the Great Hinamizawa Disaster. She spends her adult years as a Broken Bird, flipping back and forth between quiet and indrawn, to screaming and rambling in fear and horror at the drop of a hat.
    • In the first episode of Kai it's revealed Rena was the only survivor of Tsumihoroboshi-hen. After attempting to bomb the school she was taken into police custody and thus wasn't in Hinamizawa when the gassing happened.
  • This is practically a running theme in Sunrider:
  • Another Nasuverse example, Tohno Shiki, from Tsukihime, is the sole survivor of the Nanaya demon-hunting clan. Not counting his TATARI clones.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Salem was part of a race of humans who was wiped out a long time ago, except for her. Her attempt to incite humanity to defeat the gods results in the God of Darkness destroying humanity and leaving her to walk the earth alone as punishment. The God of Light later brings back humanity in a much weakened form and reincarnates Ozma from the old race to try and guide humanity to redemption. Angry with the gods and Ozma, Salem is determined to keep humanity divided.

    Web Comics 
  • In American Barbarian, he finds his father, and the other five brothers who had not left home, dead.
  • In Impure Blood, Jaem is at least the sole survivor of the crew, and possibly of all the crews, or even wider.
  • In spite of the reputation for the eponymous Warriors from Hell from Invincea and the Warriors from Hell to never leave behind any survivors, Invincea is spared from the devastation of Hillsnest.
    • The child Marnie is the last survivor of her family, attacked on the road by bandits. Invincea naturally takes a liking to her.
  • Kaiten Mutenmaru: Sick was the only survivor of the Solitude family after the rebels killed his transformed parents for their decadence and tyranny.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • As of strip 827, Niu is the only surviving member of the Azure City Resistance.
    • On a smaller scale, O-Chul is the last survivor of the Sapphire Guard that is left actually defending the Sapphire.
    • Serini Toormuck is the last surviving member of the Order of the Scribble, the Precursor Heroes who sealed the Snarl in the Gates.
  • Undine in Sleepless Domain is the only member of Team Alchemical still left to fight after Sally, Gwen and Sylvia die and Tessa loses her powers healing Undine. Much of the plot of the comic involves her trying to find out why.
  • Return to Player starts out this way, but gets a do-over.
  • In the Splatoon fan comic series The Splat Crew, Darkness is the only survivor of a beach raid instigated by Octolings and also gets Identity Amnesia from it.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Sigrun and Emil at some point find a female cat and her kittens. The mother is badly wounded by a dog-beast, and all but one of the kittens has died either from their shelter flooding or exposure. Once they are all brought back to the tank, Mikkel has to put the mother cat down because her wounds are too bad, but the remaining kitten makes it and becomes the Team Pet.
  • Used a lot in Terra. Grey is the last of the UEC First Recon unit killed in an Azatoth ambush, Agrippa's family was purged on orders from Sovereign Northazul, Alex's entire colony was slaughtered by the Shadow Cabal, Catella's colony was slaughtered by human raiders, and the list goes on.
  • Hoh from Tower of God is the sole survivor of a massacre of young children, all which were his friends.
  • Unsounded:
    • Prakhuta is the only survivor of Delicieu's experiments on two-toes.
    • Ruffles is the only survivor in her clan/family after her village is destroyed while she's not in it.

    Web Original 
  • In The Crawlspace, the narrator is the only one out of her four roommates to survive the story, since she escapes from the apartment as soon as she can, unwittingly leaving the others to their fate (she did try to warn them).

    Web Videos 
  • Afterlife SMP: After finding that all his fellow server-mates are dead or missing, Oli briefly celebrates being "the winner of Afterlife" while presumably speedrunning the rest of his lives, but eventually attempts to reach out to Angel Sausage (who decided to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence to join his patron deity) to escape his loneliness. He ultimately rejects "life" in Heaven as Pearl (AKA said patron deity)'s sparring-buddy due to wanting to be alive again rather than "dead" in Heaven, falls into the ocean without any origin, builds a boat on a "Far Side" Island he landed near, and sails west to the Empires SMP Season 2 world, where he ends up trapped with all his former server-mates and friends who seemingly don't remember him anymore (due to amnesia or a general lack of Character Overlap).
  • Critical Role: In the "The Nautilus Ark" one-shot, inspired by films like Alien above, Dr. Wiser is the only one of the Ark's crew to survive the alien parasite and make it to the human colony.
  • Epic's Gameshows: Generally applies to anyone who wins, due to the format of contestants being voted off until one person is chosen from two finalists to win the game. The same applies with Kawaii Vinnys Minecraft Survivor.
  • Life SMP: By the Deadly Game premise of the series, the winner of each season is supposed to be the last one standing out of over a dozen server-members. However, the seasons generally play with this:
  • In Noob: Le Conseil des Trois Factions (which translates to "Noob:The tri-faction council"), the chain of events leading to holding the council mentioned in the title is started by the only survivor of a battle unit intended to hold back an enemy threatening the whole world.
  • Played for Laughs in What If? "What If Presents: The Solar System Song".
    Astronaut: Uh, Houston? We have a problem.
    Mission control: What's that, Peter?
    Astronaut: Uh, well, um, all of our astronauts died. Except me.
    Mission control: Oh, dear. Well, that's a story for another What If?.
  • In The Worm, Sparrow is the last survivor of the Woodfield Five, the name given to a group of teenage friends from the small northern town of Woodfield who all suffered severe mental breakdowns, sometimes resulting in violent outbursts. The others all died save for Sparrow. While it's unclear what exactly happened, it’s strongly implied Sparrow was involved in their deaths, resulting in her being sent to a mental hospital (a briefly-seen newspaper article states her friends and an older man were killed in an attempted murder-suicide, with Sparrow being taken into custody). It's all but stated that the friends killed each other and/or themselves because they were infected with the Worm.
  • The Wrath of Giga Bowser: Every single playable character in Super Smash Bros. Melee is killed — except for Roy, the one who manages to take down Giga Bowser.
  • By the time the Distant Finale rolls around in Xionic Madness, Xero is the final surviving member of Bolverk Squad. He dies during that Distant Finale, so his disciple Enid is the sole surviving named character.
  • Zsdav Adventures:

    Western Animation 
  • Both Master Shake and Frylock are Killed Off for Real in the final episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The final few minutes shift to a Distant Finale, showing that Meatwad got his act together and actually started a family after the death of his friends.
  • The Avatar universe:
    • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang awakens after 100 years frozen in an iceberg and is told nobody has seen another Air Bender for almost 100 years, they are believed wiped out by the Fire Nation. At first, he doesn't believe it they could have been wiped out until he returns to the Southern Air Temple and discovers that he is, in fact, the sole survivor of the Fire Nation's act of genocide.
    • The Legend of Korra:
      • In the third season, there's a villainous example: Zaheer is the only Red Lotus member to survive the events of the finale. There are other members, but none as notorious or well-known as his group.
      • During the series finale, Asami Sato is the Sato family's last survivor, because her mother was killed by the Agni Kai triad when she was 6, and her father perished at the hands of Kuvira.
  • In Danny Phantom, in The Ultimate Enemy, Vlad Masters is the only survivor of the events that created Dark Danny; Danny's friends and family were killed in an explosion, and Danny himself was murdered by his ghost half after he became Dark Danny.
  • Rick and Morty: In a sense, as of Season 3, Morty Smith's the only remaining member of the original cast. His versions of Summer, Beth and Jerry were left behind in the 'Cronenberged' timeline, and are possibly dead after being frozen by the Rick squad that found Morty and Summer in 'The Rickshawnk Redemption' while Rick himself has lost his original body and has transferred into an alternate Rick. Confirmed when his original Jerry, the only one left after Summer and Beth's deaths, is killed by Rick Prime in "Solaricks".]] [[spoiler:And the death of Prime Rick (Morty's original grandfather) in "Unmortricken", makes this Morty the only surviving member of his original family, and likely the only surviving human of his original Earth.
  • Samurai Jack:
    • Robot assassin X9 was the only model of the original X-Series to have survived due to having an Emotion Chip implanted in him,until he was killed by Jack after being forced out of retirement by Aku.
    • Ashi is confirmed to be the sole surviving sister of the Daughters of Aku.
  • The Simpsons: In the first short from "Treehouse of Horror VIII", Homer Simpson believes himself to be this, having been scouting potential bomb shelters while the French neutron bomb wiped out the population of Springfield. However, he soon learns there's also a group of highly irradiated mutants (including Flanders, Moe, Dr. Hibbert and more) who want to eat his skin, and eventually finds out that his family survived the blast unharmed due to the lead paint in their house. Johnny and Edgar Winter are also inexplicably in Springfield, having seemingly arrived after the blast, but Homer mistakes them for mutants and runs them down.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • In "The Honourable Ones", Agent Kallus reveals that the very first time he went on a mission, all of the other members of his unit were killed fighting Saw Gerrera's rebels.
    • Speaking of Kallus, as of the end of Season 3, he's the only surviving member of the main Imperial cast from Seasons 1 and 2 (not counting Lieutenant Yogar Lyste) — and he's not an Imperial anymore, anyways.
    • Also as of the end of Season 3, Governor Pryce is the only surviving member of Grand Admiral Thrawn's inner circle — again, if you exclude Kallus.
  • In Season 1 of The Venture Bros., Bud Manstrong recounts being the only survivor of the "movie night" aboard Gargantua-1 in which everyone else aboard was Thrown Out the Airlock, including Dr. Venture's father. Ultimately subverted in Season 7, where it's revealed that a group of Guild villains, including Red Death and Vendata, had snuck aboard in an ill-fated attempt to arch Jonas Venture. The two of them, as well as one other villain named Hate-Bit, survived, but the remaining villains shown in Red Death's flashback don't make it out.
  • Wakfu: Turns out, the usurper boss is the last remaining Lenald on Wabbit Island, who was just minding his own business and doing solitaires before the Wabbit King sent his guards to arrest him.

    Real Life 
  • Several famous plane crashes had only one survivor:
    • One proverbial example is Vesna Vulovic, the only survivor aboard a plane that exploded at 33,000 feet in 1972. She's the current holder of the Guinness world record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute.
    • Juliane Koepche, the 17-year-old schoolgirl who was the sole survivor when her plane broke up in mid-air above Peru due to a lightning strike in 1971. She fell more than two miles but only broke her collarbone. She then trekked for 9 days through the rainforest to find help. She's a subject of a documentary film, Wings of Hope made by Werner Herzog.
    • Cecilia Cichan was the only survivor of the crash of Northwest Airlines Flight 255 in 1987. The plane crashed after takeoff, killing 156 people, including 2 on the ground. Cichan, then four years old, suffered a fractured skull, broken leg and collarbone and third-degree burns, but unlike everyone else on the plane (including her own mother, father, and brother), she survived her injuries and went on to live a relatively normal life. 26 years after the crash, Cichan spoke about it for the first time in the documentary Sole Survivor.
    • Robina van Lanschot was among the 249 passengers and crew onboard KLM Flight 4805 when it was diverted to Tenerife after a terrorist attack shut down their destination airport. Van Lanschot, who lived on Tenerife, chose to disregard airline and airport rules and did not re-board the plane when they were cleared for departure, electing instead to stay on Tenerife so she could see her boyfriend. The plane in question collided on takeoff with a Pan Am 747 and subsequently crashed on the runway, killing everyone aboard note .
    • Bahia Bakari, a 14-year-old girl who was the only survivor of the crash of Yemenia Flight 626 in 2009. The plane crashed into the ocean, and 152 people died; she clung to a piece of aircraft wreckage, floating in heavy seas for over nine hours, much of it in pitch darkness, before being rescued.
  • Dennis Hale, the lone survivor of the second-to-last shipwreck on the Great Lakes, the Daniel J. Morrell, went through a harrowing ordeal. He and three others made it aboard a life raft and while they died within the next day, Hale clung to life for the next 34 hours. When he was found, he had lost 25lbs. He still has the life jacket.
  • Ensign George H. Gay was the only survivor of Torpedo Squadron 8's ill-fated attack on the Japanese carriers during the Battle of Midway.
  • Assistant Surgeon William Brydon was not the only survivor from the British Army's infamous 1842 retreat from Kabul, but he was the only British person of the army not to have been killed or taken captive.
  • One of the lines of the US Army's Ranger Creed: "Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor."
  • Gerónimo de Aguilar, in practice, of a Spanish shipwreck off the coast of Yucatán in 1511. The only other survivor, Gonzalo Guerrero, chose to stay among the Mayas and even ended up leading a native army against the Spaniards decades later. Aguilar instead joined Hernán Cortés' expedition to Mexico and was the one to write their story.
  • The sole survivor of the Dyatlov Pass incident was Yuri Yudin, as he turned back due to illness.
  • Randal McCloy was the sole survivor (out of 13 miners) of the 2006 Sago coal mine disaster in West Virginia having been trapped inside for two days.
  • Harrison Okene, a 29-year-old cook, was the sole survivor of a tugboat that capsized just off the coast of Nigeria during a heavy swell. A hundred feet below the surface, in complete darkness, Harrison survived as he crouched inside a 4 square foot air pocket. More than sixty hours later, he got the attention of a team of divers who had arrived to recover the crew's bodies. After two days in a decompression chamber, Harrison returned to land. It's worth mentioning that he was on the toilet as the boat capsized. This man survived two and a half days under the Atlantic, chest-deep in freezing water, in nothing but his underwear, with only a single bottle of coca cola for food or hydration.
  • Four people were in the car crash that killed Princess Diana; bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones was the only one to survive.
  • Otto Frank, father of Anne Frank, was the only one of his family, plus the people staying with him, not to have died in a concentration camp.
  • When the MV Struma was torpedoed, it had 792 passengers (Jews fleeing Nazi Europe) and ten crew. After an extended delay in sending rescue vessels, there was only one survivor, 19-year-old David Stoliar. To make the matter even sadder, she had been expelled from neutral Turkey and forcibly towed to the Black Sea and forbidden to enter again a Turkish harbour, and it was a Soviet, not Nazi, submarine (Shch-213) which torpedoed her.
  • Ben Cauley was the only survivor of the plane crash that killed soul legend Otis Redding and most of Cauley's bandmates, the original Bar-Kays. note 
  • The wreck of the "White Ship" killed all those aboard (including the heir to the throne of England, William Aetheling) bar one, a butcher named Berold. While William escaped with several others to a lifeboat, he decided to go back and rescue his half-sister; unfortunately, the lifeboat was swarmed and capsized. William's death led to a nineteen-year conflict over the succession.
  • Charlotte Brontë witnessed the deaths of all five of her siblings to tuberculosis. Her last novel, Villette, reflects the sadness that this brought her.
  • This often haunts successful people who come from an abusive childhood, particularly if they are the only one of their siblings to do so.
  • After The 47 Ronin incident, 46 of the ronin who killed Kira were executed by way of seppuku. The 47th, Terasaka Kichiemon, was sent to inform their deceased master's former retainers that their revenge had been complete; he was pardoned and lived to the age of 78.
  • Of the twelve resistance fighters involved in the minor World War II sabotage mission Operation Martin, Jan Baalsrud was the only one to escape a Nazi trap. While only one of the other eleven men was killed during the capture, all ten prisoners were tortured to death or executed. Jan escaped to neutral Sweden with the help of local patriots and Good Samaritans, as dramatized in the movie The 12th Man.
  • During the Battle of Mogadishu (more specifically The Day of the Rangers), two US UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down. The only member of Super 64's flight crew to survive the battle was pilot Mike Durant. The rest of the crew were killed when Somali militia and armed mobs overran the crash site, along with the two man rescue team, Delta Force snipers Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart. Durant was beaten nearly to death before being taken prisoner and was eventually released eleven days later. Related, Gordon and Shughart's deaths in combat left Brad Hallings the only survivor of Gordon's sniper team. (He had stayed behind to man a minigun aboard Super 62 and provide fire support after one of the crew chiefs was wounded)
  • The Chichijima incident of World War II involved nine American pilots who ejected after being shot down over the island. Future President George H. W. Bush was the only one to escape — the others were captured and killed by Japanese forces.
  • In 2005, Operation Red Wings, a botched Navy SEAL Operation in Afghanistan left 11 Navy SEALs and 8 members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment dead, with only one Navy SEAL, Marcus Luttrell surviving.
  • During the Mamasapano Clash in 2015, 44 members of the Phillipine National Police Special Action Force were killed in a firefight with MILF and BIFF rebels, including 35 members of the 55SAC,the only survivor of this unit was PO2 Christopher Lalan.
  • During the Yarnell Hill Fire in Yarnell, Arizona in 2013, 19 members of the Prescott Fire Department's Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed, the only survivor, Brendan McDonough was posted on lookout and was not anywhere near when the fire over took the others.
  • Marie-Thérèse, the daughter of Marie-Antoinette, was the only member of her family to survive the French Revolution while her parents and paternal aunt were executed and her younger brother, Louis Charles, died of an illness. Later, on December 18th, 1795, she was freed and sent to Vienna.
  • Of seven US servicemen to receive the Medal of Honor for actions during the Iraq War, the only one to receive his medal non-posthumously is David Bellavia.
  • When the Soviet era nuclear submarine K-159 was sunk during a squall, the only one of the ten man crew to be successfully rescued and survive was Maksim Tsibul'skij.
  • Lead vocalist Andrei Galut was the only member of the Romanian metal band Goodbye to Gravity to survive the 2015 Colectiv nightclub fire.
  • Barry Gibb is the only surviving member of The Bee Gees band, all of whom were his brothers. The youngest brother, Andy, died of mythrocarditis as a result of his drug abuse. Maurice died as a result of complications of a twisted intestine, and Robin died in 2012 of kidney failure.
  • Joey Molland is the only surviving member of the band Badfinger. Other members of the band, Pete Ham committed suicide in April of 1975, Tom Evans also committed suicide in November of 1983, and then Mike Gibbins died of a brain aneurysm in October of 2005.
  • With the deaths of Davy Jones in 2012, Peter Tork in 2019, and Michael Nesmith in 2021, Micky Dolenz is the last surviving member of The Monkees.
  • The only survivor of the original Von Erich Family is Kevin. Losing all of his brothers and his father left deep scars on his psyche.
    "I used to have five brothers. Now I'm not even a brother."
  • 12-year-old Jason Holman was the only surviving member of his friendship group after the 1979 Sydney Ghost Train fire. He was ripped from his carriage by the ride operator, moments before all hell broke loose.
  • From 9/11 stories, Captain Jay Jonas of the New York Fire Department in interviews speaks about how just before he and a group of firefighters were about to go up the burning North Tower, realizing they may not come out alive, all of them took time to shake hands and say it's been an honor working with one another and wish each other luck. He notes out of everyone in that group he was the only one who came out alive, and even his survival was a stroke of luck.note 


Video Example(s):


Lone survivor

Corporal Talia Perez struggles to process the loss of her squad in Sanctuary and why she's given a medal as the only marine left standing.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / SurvivorGuilt

Media sources: