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You Wake Up on a Beach

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Every character has to start at the bottom, and then work their way to the top over the course of the story. Sometimes, though, an author will want to take that to its logical conclusion and start the story with the character waking up marooned on a beach with literally nothing except the clothes on their back and whatever was in their pockets. Or even less than that.

This type of beginning gives the author an easy starting point for his story, because it boils everything down to absolute basics and comes standard with a predefined list of relatively simple questions for the author to answer; among them is usually "How did we end up here to begin with?", a good way to get the audience immediately vested into the story. Which questions he chooses to answer and what answers he gives add more detail to the scene and flesh it out into whatever story the author wishes to tell.

In video games, a beach is an ideal tutorial area for new players, since the critters are generally weak and easy to kill and the loot is basic enough for the player to learn how the game's inventory systems work before the game leads them inland to their first real adventures.

Note that this is when the main story of a work starts with a character waking up on a beach, regardless of where the plot goes afterward. This is not the same as a Robinsonade, though it can become one if the character's survival on the beach remains the focus of the plot. Also note that some works might include a brief prologue or flashback before the character actually wakes up. This is fine, so long as the work's main plot opens on this trope.


Compare and contrast You Wake Up in a Room, where the character is locked in a room. Contrast Tropical Epilogue, where the story ends with the character on the beach.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece: In the "Wano" Arc, "Monkey D. Luffy" and later "Big Mom a.k.a Charlotte Linlin", starts this way: Luffy wakes up alone on a beach in with the Sunny Go briefly separated from Sanji, Nami, Brook, Chopper and Carrot, and later Big Mom wakes up separated from her crew after being attacked by King, one of Kaido's commanders.

    Comic Books 
  • Alix: The seventh album, "Le Dernier Spartiate", starts this way: Alix wakes up alone on a beach in Greece.
  • De Cape et de Crocs: Armand wakes up on the beach of the Tangerine Islands and promptly asks "What time is it?" He then chides himself for not following proper procedure and asks "Where am I?" instead.
  • XIII: "The Day of the Black Sun" starts when XIII is found unconscious on a beach by Abe, an old angler.

    Fan Works 
  • The Second Try: The post-Third Impact half of the story begins with Shinji and Asuka waking up together on a beach and looking for ways to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.
  • You Are (Not) At Fault: After getting torn into pieces and dying, Asuka wakes up on a beach. As she takes notice of the red waters, the ruined buildings, and the giant head lying far away, she wonders how and why she ended up on that beach.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Inception begins In Medias Res, so even though plot-wise the scene where Cobb wakes up on a beach all the way down in Limbo is near the climax it is the first scene the audience is shown.
  • Ladies In Lavender starts with the protagonist, a gifted young Polish violinist from Kraków, sailing to America and being swept overboard from his ship in a storm. He gets discovered by two old ladies washed up on the beach below their house.
  • Triangle: Jess's situation when we meet her at the start of the story.

  • Older Than Feudalism. In The Odyssey, Odysseus wakes up naked on a beach in the end of book 5 (shortly after the protagonist is introduced: the first four books focus on Telemachus). He is found by Nausicaa and her maids.
  • The Lost Years of Merlin begin with "Emrys"/future Merlin waking up with amnesia on the shores of Britain. He finds a woman who claims to be his mother, though her evasive makes him suspect that she's lying. (She's not.) He almost gets attacked by a boar (actually the Big Bad) before being saved by a stag (the Big Good, Dagda). He later learns that they came there from a magical island called Fincayra, which is the main setting of the series.
  • Redwall has the titular character of Mariel of Redwall, a young mousemaid, washing up on a beach after a shipwreck with no name or memories, only the clothes on her back and a heavy knotted rope. She gives herself the name Storm Gullwhacker after the weather and the rope (which she used to drive off a hungry seagull). It's not until much later that she learns her real name.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lost begins with the protagonist, Jack, waking up within running distance of the beach, where the other survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 are coming to amid the plane's wreckage.
  • Atlantis: This is how Jason arrives in Atlantis after he is magically transported there. And naked too.
  • Westworld: Season 2 starts with Bernard lying on a beach before the Delos security found him and woke him up. The scene is set after the events that transpired in the entire season.
  • The I-Land starts with several people waking up on an uninhabited tropical island, not knowing how they got there, and must find a way out. It's actually a virtual reality prison and they're all death row inmates.

    Video Games 
  • Every new character created in Anarchy Online starts on the beach outside the ICC Shuttleport by default after their transport shuttle gets shot down.
  • Every new character in ARK: Survival Evolved starts on the beach with only underwear on. Everything has to be crafted from harvested materials while trying to avoid the hungry dinosaurs running around.
  • Assault on Dark Athena: The game opens with Riddick washed up on a beach on some alien planet before running into mercenary soldiers, which later turns out to be All Just a Dream he experienced in hypersleep. This is revisited later in the game when Riddick crash lands in an escape pod on a very similar beach and planet.
  • BIONICLE: The Mata Nui Online Game begins with Takua, the player character, waking up on the Ta-Wahi Beach with amnesia after the events of Quest for the Toa launched him there.
  • Cthulhu Saves the World begins with depowered Cthulhu washing up on a beach and deciding to become a hero after overhearing the narrator saying he could regain his powers only after proving himself worthy of that title.
  • Crash Bandicoot: In Crash Bandicoot (1996) and its remake in the N. Sane Trilogy, Crash escapes from Dr. Neo Cortex's tower by dashing out of a window, then falling into the sea. The first level, N. Sanity Beach, begins with Crash waking up on the titular beach, with the rest of the game entailing his adventure between the islands return to the tower again and defeat Cortex.
  • The main game of Dragon Quest Builders 2 starts off with the player washing up on the shore of the Isle of Awakening, having been washed out to sea after the ship they were being held prisoner on sank.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Online starts with your character waking up on the shores of Korthos Island after being shipwrecked by the white dragon Aussircaex. There is a party of adventurers searching the shipwreck for survivors when you wake up, though, and they get you some starting gear before escorting you to civilization (through the tutorial caverns).
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall opens with a storm sinking the ship taking you to the eponymous city, so you wash up on the shores of High Rock. Given that the game was essentially a 3D Dungeon Crawler, however, the first level is not so much a beach as a regular dungeon whose exit happens to be near the shoreline.
    • In the early days of The Elder Scrolls Online, once Aldmeri Dominion characters escaped Coldharbour, they'd start the game by awakening on the beach of Khenarthi's Roost after a storm.
  • King's Quest VI starts with the protagonist Alexander waking up on a beach. Luckily for him, the island he's on was his destination.
  • Kirby and the Forgotten Land begins with wormholes opening above Popstar and sucking Kirby and several things from the planet into them. The cutscene concludes with the pink puffball washing up on a beach; this beach is actually the beginning of the game's first level, "Point of Arrival", with you taking control of Kirby once he gets up.
  • Legend of Grimrock 2 begins with the player characters as prisoners being transported by ship. When the ship is wrecked, they are the only survivors, washed up on a beach still in their cage.
  • A couple of games in The Legend of Zelda series begin on the beach:
    • Link's Awakening begins with Marin finding Link washed up on the beach after his ship was wrecked in a storm. After he recuperates in a bed at her house, he has to return to the beach to get his sword and begin the adventure proper.
    • Phantom Hourglass also opens with Link washed up on a beach after he gets tossed overboard a ship in a heavy storm.
  • In the Interactive Fiction game Mindshadow, your character wakes up on a beach suffering Laser-Guided Amnesia. You have to find a way to get rescued and return home, as well as finding items to jog your memory of who you are and what happened to you.
  • Minecraft often spawns you on or close to a beach. Other survival sandbox games like ARK: Survival Evolved have followed suit.
  • Path of Exile opens with your character washing ashore on the beach near the First Town after the prison ship you were on is sunk by the storm. The beach is overrun by the undead (including the freshly arrived batch of your fellow inmates who didn't make it to the beach alive), so you have to fight your way through them to safety.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers begins with the player character unconscious and amnesiac, on a beach, after being knocked out in an implied storm. They are quickly found and helped by a character who is to be their partner in the game.
  • Pokémon Legends: Arceus starts with Arceus giving the player a mission. Then they pass out until Laventon finds them on Prelude Beach.
  • The player in Polycraft wakes up on a beach following the crash of their ship. They must retrieve their blunderbuss and clear some wood away before heading inland to the main game.
  • RiME begins with the Player Character waking up on the beach of the titular island.
  • In Rust, the default spawning point for everyone on the server is on a beach, where you start naked with only a torch and a rock in your inventory. Unlike in other games, though, staying on the beach to learn the game's mechanics is not advised, because the other players spawning on that beach will try to kill you.
  • In The Secret Island of Dr. Quandary, after the prologue ends, you arrive on the titular island, trapped in the body of a kewpie doll.
  • The Survival Kids games always begin in this manner, obviously.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Videos 
  • Critical Role: This is how Fjord starts his path as a warlock in his backstory: After his ship sunk and he drowned, he wakes up the next morning on the beach, a falchion besides him.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • This is how starts MerStory; Jason, the protagonist, wakes up on a beach of an inhabited island... in another world. (He can tell because there are two moons.)

    Web Original 
  • SCP -61231 is a crab who makes all statements about him appear to say the exact opposite of what they mean. A local child found him unresponsive and injured on a beach shortly after Hurricane Sandy. The crab was then adopted by the kid's family. Three days later, he regained mobility and his voice, and escaped after igniting the family's home. Police reports of "a rude armed crab shooting lightning bolts" running toward the Hudson River led the Foundation to capture him with few casualties.


Video Example(s):


The Intro of RiME

The boy wakes up and finds himself on a mysterious island, and then his adventure begins.

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Main / YouWakeUpOnABeach

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