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Playing With / Fling a Light into the Future

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Basic Trope: They couldn't save themselves, but they left something to help others avoid meeting the same fate.

  • Straight: A dying alien civilization seals a potent technological artifact in a capsule, attaches a beacon, and fires it into space.
  • Exaggerated: A dying alien civilization seals itself this way, turning their homeworld into a museum of its own history.
  • Downplayed: An author from an alien civilization writes a mundane warning about that civilization's downfall, and transmits it for explorers to find.
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  • Justified: It's already been shown in-universe that scouting ships are incredibly good at spotting lone beacons, so it's natural that they should eventually find one relevant to the cause of the destruction.
  • Inverted:
    • A dying alien civilization receives an artifact which is exactly what they need to save themselves.
    • A dying alien civilization leaves an artifact which is harmful for the discoverers as a form of cosmic tantrum.
  • Subverted: An alien civilization destroys itself, and deliberately spreads its destruction to similar worlds by sending them viral artifacts.
  • Double Subverted: A dying alien civilization appears to be maliciously spreading their destruction, but it turns out to act as a vaccine, preparing everyone it reaches for the real danger that's yet to come.
  • Parodied: Explorers find an alien artifact with a note attached, warning them of a highly-specific scenario in which it could save their planet. They throw it in the pile with the other ones.
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  • Zig Zagged: A dying alien civilization sends a warning capsule into space, but it's actually just a regular historical time capsule, only it has extensive records of the threat that will soon destroy them (which they expected to survive).
  • Averted:
    • A dying alien civilization leaves no records of itself behind and is of no help to the heroes.
    • A dying alien civilization attempts to create warnings or helpful items but is wiped out before that could happen.
  • Enforced: There's no way for the heroes to win without help or a warning, so this trope has to be worked in somewhere or else it'll have a bad ending.
  • Lampshaded: Explorers find an alien artifact designed to be wielded as a weapon against the invaders. Someone comments on how fortuitous it is that they received such an artifact while there's still a chance left to use it.
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  • Invoked: The captain of an exploration ship instructs his crew members to look for any odd beacons, messages, or time capsules that could have come from the dead planet, since "they always leave something behind."
  • Exploited: An army of invaders discover that the survivors are readying a warning capsule, and they use the opportunity to find a new world to invade.
  • Defied: A scientist is preparing to send a capsule into space, when someone bursts in and says something like "Wait, you've already finished the antidote? We've still got plenty of time to save ourselves, forget the stupid message-in-a-bottle plan!"
  • Discussed: The heroes argue about whether, in the event of imminent failure, they should use the last of their power to send a warning or just fight it out 'till the end.
  • Conversed: A character is reading a comic book involving this trope, and casually asks his friend what they'd write if they got a chance to send a warning into space.
  • Deconstructed: The artifact is presumed dangerous by the recipients, who intend to dispose of it.
  • Reconstructed: The recipients do not destroy the artifact immediately, instead keeping it in a secure chamber. In the interim, they learn of it's true function.

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