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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 no clothes at all.

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.

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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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Examples

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     Comic Books 

     Film 
  • 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.

     Literature 
  • 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.
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     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.

     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.
  • 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.
  • 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 has the title character waking up on N. Sanity Island's beach after falling into the sea from Dr. Cortex's tower some hours before. He then has to traverse the islands to get to Cortex again.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • The Survival Kids games always begin in this manner, obviously.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Rust, you do start naked on a beach, but so do all of the other players on the server, many of whom will try to kill you with the rock they spawned with. It's generally advised that you leave the beach and start heading inland as soon as possible.
  • 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.

     Visual Novel 
  • Island opens with its amnesiac protagonist waking up on the beach of an unknown island.
  • Super Danganronpa 2 begins with Hajime being woken up by Nagito on a beach.
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