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The Remnant

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Golly!
"Although the Clone Wars were over, some people never seemed to get the message."
501st stormtrooper, Star Wars: Battlefront II

The Remnant can be best described as a more militaristic version of Last of His Kind, being members of a faction who are continuing to fight a war that their side has already lost. Basically a (usually villainous) version of La Résistance that formed from the remains of The Empire or some other faction. They may be using irregular military tactics, but they will probably still be dressed in their old uniforms (or the remnants thereof). Unlike a General Ripper, The Remnant no longer hold an official position in the armed forces, often because their government has ceased to exist or has been replaced. In a number of cases, this happens because nobody on either side has yet been informed that the war is over. The losing side then becomes The Remnant by default after the fact.

This happens pretty often in real life, especially for defeated factions where surrender's not an option — or ones that aren't prepared to admit defeat just yet. In particularly nasty cases, two strong-but-not-overpowering factions can alternate between being really weak central governments and really strong Remnants, sometimes for a generation or more (and restoring peace to a population accustomed to war and violence is going to be tricky, too).

A Remnant using guerilla warfare can be much more dangerous than they were as an established government; guerillas are constantly on the move, and have the luxury of always getting to choose which target they'll attack next. The standard advice is that you need ten soldiers for every guerilla to defeat an insurgency, which means a lot of money and sustained effort, which means that an occupying army will sometimes just give up.

For a short-term 'bigger brother' counterpart to this, see Dragon Their Feet; in fact, a Dragon who missed the last battle is likely to end up leading these guys. They may also be a Vestigial Empire, and the government they're trying to overthrow is likely The Federation (or The Good King in fantasy, where this trope's rarer but not unknown).

This trope tends to involve a bit of Protagonist-Centered Morality. Good guys who do this are Determinators and La Résistance and extra heroic for fighting in the face of near-impossible odds. Bad guys are just exasperating for refusing to go away. See also Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters and Villainous Legacy. To characterize a faction more or less accurately, look at its history, the level of legitimacy it can claim, what it stands for, and — above all — the methods it uses.

One man's Resistance is another man's Remnant. Government in Exile is the civilian equivalent while The Remnant is military. Still Fighting the Civil War is when both the military and government have ceased to exist but sympathizers still remain. When the remnants are from Those Wacky Nazis, they will likely try to establish the Fourth Reich.

Most heroic examples of this trope tend to be in Zombie Apocalypse fiction, and similar genres.


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Examples:

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    Films — Animated 
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride: The hostile lion pride living in the Outlands were banished by Simba because they refused to swear off their allegiance to Scar. Their leader Zira was Scar's lover and is still actively seeking to avenge him. Of course, they were nowhere to be seen in the first film, and the fact that Scar didn't have a mate was actually a minor plot point (Scar convinced himself that the reason the pride was unhappy was because he hadn't secured the succession, rather than because he was running Pride Rock into the ground). Things get more complicated because Zira's son Kovu, while being raised as Tyke-Bomb by her to kill Simba, genuinely falls in love with Simba's daughter Kiara.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (1986): The six Grundles are all that's left of their people after the witches succeeded in destroying the kingdom they once lived in.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Before Rikidozan founded the JWA, it was hard to find any pro wrestling in Japan outside of a few, small, dedicated clubs. Since JWA was a men company, The All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling Club was the cornerstone of an association set up to oversee multiple women's pro wrestling companies after the WWWA stopped by on their world tour and proved women wrestlers could draw. The association's board couldn't make anyone do what it wanted however, and every company associated with it died, save one mostly kept alive by continuing to host WWWA and the wrestlers of couple other foreign companies. The remnant "Zenjo" grew to become Japan's first mainstream women's pro wrestling company as The Beauty Pair got over, then became the one of the most successful pro wrestling companies ever with The Crush Gals. Still, when the WWWA shutdown Zenjo made the WWWA titles its top ranking championship belts as a nod to Zenjo's origins.
  • The National Wrestling Alliance lost the ability to compete with any of the national promotions that arose from the territorial system in 1994. It was, in fact almost completely forgotten in its own home country by 1996. The company had been around since 1948 and by 94 there wasn't a member that had been extant in 1989. But even as a shadow of its formers self, the NWA never stopped operating and finally succeeded in establishing itself in Europe, as well as finding viewers in Africa and Asia to be surprisingly loyal. In 2010, it even made an ever so slight resurgence, reminding people it was still around through internet streaming. Even after a leadership shakeup caused more members to leave in 2012, it undauntedly launched an invasion of one of it's largest and most successful former members, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, the next year.
  • Carolina Wrestling Federation Mid-Atlantic is the last remnant of Wrestling Superstars Live, which itself was the last remnant of the American Wrestling Association. There are other pieces of the AWA floating around in Australia and Japan, most notably in Pro Wrestling ZERO1, but those are cases of foreign companies snatching up material as AWA and then WSL collapsed with noisy thuds while CWF M-A was active when the latter fell and CWF M-A survived said fall.
  • Wrestling Association R was the last surviving remnant of Super World Of Sports, a Japanese promotion so powerful it threatened New Japan Pro-Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling by itself but was propped up by eyeglass company Megane Super and had all the problems that implied. However, when All Japan was nearly killed off by the NOAH exodus, Genichiro Tenryu begrudgingly merged WAR back into the now Mokoto Baba ran All Japan.
  • The Heartland Wrestling Association was the last remaining remnant of what was once the largest pro wrestling promotion in the world, WCW, sending trainees that would have gone straight to WCW out to the wider world. When the HWA folded in 2015, some declared WCW "officially dead".
  • After the CZW conflict was officially settled by Homicide, CZW's Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli and Necro Butcher continued to cause problems at Ring of Honor shows.
  • The Apache Army were the last of several FMW remnants, spending most of their time invading other promotions before FMW's official revival.
  • Kinya Oyanagi of Toryumon's first gimmick was that of a Japanese holdout soldier. You'd be amazed how many ways a salute can be used offensively.

    Radio 
  • Used as the punchline for the version of Douglas Adams 'Kamikaze' sketch that was broadcast on BBC comedy show The Burkiss Way in 1977:
    Pilot: I stand by what I said! We shouldn't be doing this at all, Sir! All this flying out and crashing into British and American ships — It's all wrong, sir!
    Commanding Officer: Wrong, Simpkins? Give me one good reason why it's wrong!
    Pilot: Well — The war ended thirty-two years ago, Sir!
  • Hilariously inverted in the The Men from the Ministry episode "Something About a Soldier": General Assistance Department finds out that the demobilization order of Burgenhead Light Infantry was accidentally lost under the file cabinet in 1945, and that 20+ years later the troops, located deep in Welsh wilderness and having their communications cut off, are still under the belief that the Second World War is going on and that a German invasion might be imminent. When the Bavarian Birdwatching Society arrives from the east at their stations the Major of the unit immediately assumes that rest of Britain has been overrun and tries to assault the German tourists.
  • The Navy Lark: In one episode the Troutbridge manages to capture a straggler U-Boat from World War II, with hijinks and poor German accents abounding. Please note, the episode was set in and aired in 1960...

    Tabletop Games 
  • 50 Fathoms: The Kraken Fleet's only city has been destroyed, their once proud navy is down to one Great Ship, and their leader, Grand Admiral Caspian, was crippled in the last fight against the Big Bad. It hasn't stopped the remaining Kraken from trying to find ways to fight the Big Bad, and win this time.
  • BattleTech: Even after their annihilation there are still small elements of Clan Smoke Jaguar who pop in and out occasionally.
    • The Spirit Cats are the remains of Clan Nova Cat, who were destroyed by the Draconis Combine.
    • Despite Republic of the Sphere propaganda, the Word of Blake was never entirely annihilated. The survivors are assumed to have made a suicidal bid to attack the Clan Homeworlds, are enjoying retirement on the remaining Hidden Five, or masterminding round two for the Jihad. They are something of a bogeyman for the Inner Sphere: still possessing their most elite troops, a self-sufficient industrial infrastructure, and the setting's planet killing weapon.
  • Deadlands: The supplement South o' the Border includes the San Patrico Battalion: a group of Americans who fought for Mexico in the Mexican-American War and who now roam the badlands of the Confederacy and northern Mexico.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Eberron:
      • Some warforged (sentient soldier-golems) act like this after the end of The Last War has left them without a place in the world. All the sides are technically at peace, but one of the main aspects of the setting is that the peace is so fragile that any kind of major incident (which the player characters will no doubt get involved in) could start another war. The biggest Remnant among warforged is led by the charismatic Lord of Blades.
    • The Order of the Emerald Claw are Karrnathi zealots that were once the pride of Karrn's military but have now been branded outlaws and terrorist. This is also a Subversion, as the Order is actually the military arm of the Blood of Vol and are used as spies, saboteurs, and agents provocateur throughout Khorvaire. And then Double Subverted, as some supplements point out that much of the Order's rank-and-file don't realize just how strong the ties to the Blood of Vol really are, and genuinely believe they are Karrnathi patriots continuing to fight the war on Karrnath's behalf even if the Karrnathi state refuses to (or in some cases believes that the Karrnathi state's public opposition to the Order is all a case of Plausible Deniability to allow the Order to strengthen Karrnath's position without inviting reprisals against Karrnath).
    • Forgotten Realms: The Shade Enclave of Thultanthar is an interesting example. The Netheril Empire pretty much collapsed entirely in the event known as Karsus' Folly, which destroyed all their major cities. Thultanthar survived by being thrown into the Shadowfell, where it remained for millennia, until events preceding the cataclysmic Spellplague shifted it back. Being an Empire, they went to work rebuilding in the most imperialist fashion. The enclave was destroyed permanently by Elminister during the Second Sundering.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Chaos Space Marines, who after losing the Horus Heresy continue to wage war against the forces of the "False Emperor" ten thousand years later. And because many of them took refuge in the Eye of Terror after losing the civil war, some of the veterans of the Siege of Terra literally have been fighting the Long War for millennia on end.
    • Roboute Guilliman, who had been cut off from the rest of the Imperium during the Heresy, set up the "Imperium Secundus" centered on Ultramar in an effort to carry out the Emperor's ideals. When they regained contact and learned the Emperor was still alive and leading the defense from Terra, Guilliman ditched the idea and made all haste towards the other Loyalists.
    • The militaristic Craftworld Biel-Tan still tries to reconquer the galaxy for the Eldar race. The Dark Eldar is building up their own empire and sees itself as the remnant of the original Eldar empire.
    • As of 7th Edition's "Gathering Storm: Fall of Cadia", Abaddon's Thirteen Black Crusade resulted in a victory for the forces of Chaos and the complete destruction of Cadia. The Cadian Regiments still exist as a fighting force due to evacuated civilians and other deployments across the galaxy but Cadian recruits will be a bit hard to come by now...
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle:
    • As revealed in the "Storm of Magic" book, the Fimir were once the primary servants of Chaos, only for the Dark Gods to switch their attention to the humans and leave the Fimir hanging. As a result, the most Fimir you are ever likely to see in an army is two, and that's only in Storm of Magic games.
    • When the Old Ones first came to the world, the planet was a glacial wilderness home to a number of preexisting species and civilizations, and a major part of the Old Ones' plans were thus dedicated to wiping them out in order to essentially clean the board for their own projects. The majority of these species were obliterated by the Old Ones' arcane might and armies of Saurus warriors, but a few fragments and relic populations managed to endure into the present. The main ones in this group are the dragons, who endure in scattered holdouts across the world, and the dragon ogres, who survived by pledging themselves to Chaos but became sterile in the process.

    Theater 
  • A Very Potter Musical: Voldemort is defeated at the end of the first play. The sequels reveal that the Death Eaters are carrying on their evil schemes without him, though the final installment has Voldemort resume leadership... sort of.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • Ad Astra Per Aspera: Common, but usually not very important. The Batavian Soviet Republic is the main remnant of the USSR, and the Platte system is home to various German successor states.
  • Kentucky Fried Politics: After the 1975 Chinese Civil War ends with a victory for Deng Xiaoping, a pair of Generals loyal to the defeated Lin Biao retreat to Manchuria with their forces. A few months after the war's end, they steal a couple of nukes, and threaten to use them on Beijing if Xiaoping doesn't surrender the country to them. Xiaoping's forces manage to disarm the nukes, then storm the rebel Generals' base and kill most of their faction.
  • Magic, Metahumans, Martians and Mushroom Clouds: An Alternate Cold War: After the Spanish Civil War that breaks out in response to Francisco Franco digitizing his mind in order to stay in power forever, Franco and his loyalists are reduced to a single fortified compound in the Pyrenees — too secure for enemy forces to take, but leaving them without the resources to attempt to retake the country.
  • Marble Kingdoms 10: The Green kingdom is the second to fall, leaving behind only one survivor of the siege on its castle. That survivor is Agobard the Knight, who spends a considerable amount of time afterwards cutting down enemy armies by himself before he finally meets his own end.
  • Reds!: A Revolutionary Timeline: The US government tried to declare the election which saw the American Worker's Party win void and arrest all members of the AWP. This resulted in an armed insurrection which turned the United States of America into the United American Socialist Republic. The USA is, in the "now" of the alternate timeline, a Banana Republic controlling Cuba and a few small islands, firmly in the hands of a quasi-fascist military junta.
  • The Ruins of an American Party System: Following the Soviet Union's sweeping victory in the Second Great European War, Germany is reduced to just the Rhineland.


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