Pan across a desolate landscape. Was it a war? A science experiment Gone Horribly Wrong? Divine Retribution at last for the bastardry of humanity? Who cares? All is dead. All is lost. It's the end. Or is it?
Out of the dust there sprouts a plant. It could be just a shoot with a few little leaves, or perhaps a single, tremulous flower. A tree that seemed dead may have shoots on it, or flowers, or even a bit of bark stripped away to reveal a green, wick heart. Is it a Hope Spot? Or does it mean that the Darkest Hour is over? Is it Anvilicious? Who cares? Maybe the heroes have earned their happy ending after all. And that's what's important.
Sometimes related to Green Aesop.
Anime and Manga
- In Macross, Hikaru actually finds a field of flowers in the middle of the wasteland.
- There's another in Macross Frontier, late in the series: After the Frontier has been ravaged by Vajra, we see a couple of kids watering a flower that has sprung up among the wreckage.
- The very last shot of Princess Mononoke is a fantastic variation.
- From the same author/director, the last shot of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is of a normal, non-corrupted sapling sprouting next to Nausicaa's forgotten flightcap at the bottom of the Sea of Corruption. Vindicating Nausicaa's hypothesis that the "corrupted" plants were actually processing the pollution of the world and rendering it harmless, and the bottom stratum of the Sea of Corruption has perfectly clean air and water.
- In the end of Barefoot Gen, a plant is shown sprouting at the same time Gen's hair is growing back, showing that life can still go on despite all that was destroyed by the bomb.
- This happens at the end of Tekkon Kinkreet, when the apple seed which White plants nearly a year earlier finally sprouts and blossoms in the end, reflecting the hope that Black's reunification with White will lead to a brighter future.
- In Battle Angel Alita, after Gally/Alita's climatic final battle with Zapan, her broken and nearly destroyed body collapses in the ruins of her former home... and she sees a single flower sprout, under a beam of sunlight, where she planted Ido's seeds days before.
- The last scene of the 2006 Kyoto Animation adaptation of Kanon shows a single sprout coming out of the tree stump (and a fox cub in the background...).
- The Fist of the North Star movie has Lyn carting around a flower. It gets knocked out of her hands near the end, and the last shot before the credits is a small field of flowers grown from where it got knocked down... somehow...
- Mobile Suit Gundam 00 does this in the final episode. After the final battle, Feldt's flower drifts out of the Exia's shattered cockpit and falls towards Earth. During the epilogue, we see a massive field of similar flowers. This also ties into the imagery of the fourth and final ending theme, which shows the Gundam Meisters abandoning their ruined Gundams, complete with a badly damaged 00 covered in flowers as a young Setsuna looks on and smiles.
- In the epilogue of the Eureka Seven movie which is shown after the credits, a single lunar Crystal flower is shown along with Renton & Eureka's pendant, emitting rainbow light that is believed to grant wishes to whoever prays to it.
- In Countdown to Final Crisis, Earth-51 is destroyed, leaving only its Monitor floating in a blank universe—except for a single living plant, which gives him hope. When next we see Earth-51, it's been completely overwritten with a new continuity.
- Towards the beginning of Planet Hulk, the slaves cleaning up after the Hulk's gladiatorial debut discover a plant growing from his spilled blood, on land previously thought totally infertile. By the time Hulk becomes emperor, the barren lands are lush with vegetation, all owing to that single plant.
- Subverted in the Firestorm series by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake. Firestorm finds a single sprout growing in a war-torn wasteland, and even calls it little hope. Then Shadowstorm comes along and deliberately destroys it.
- Appears in the sequels to the Powerpuff Girls Dark Fic Immortality Syndrome: in fact, the early plot of Solitary Vigil revolves around Sole Survivor Bubbles caring for the sprout.
- Final Fantasy the Spirits Within tries to do this, but doesn't really establish the desolation (what with all the ghosts flying around) and doesn't pause to reflect, so it comes across as a badly placed stop on a MacGuffin hunt.
- Actually, the eagle at the end signifies not all is lost. If you recall, the phantoms destroyed all life, especially animals, in their path.
- The rainbow and the cat at the end of The Matrix Revolutions could fall into this category.
- It also happens in Idiocracy when they switch from Brawndo (it's got electrolytes!) to water.
- In the film version of The Lord of the Rings, Denethor is ranting and raving about how the White City is doomed, all is lost, that the line of kings is ended ... and the camera pans to focus in close-up on the "dead" White Tree of Gondor—which has suddenly, out of death, spawned a single, white blossom.
- In Excalibur, when Arthur and his knights ride out to face Mordred for the final battle, a flower slowly blooms in the corner of the shot.
- In Sunshine, Corazon finds a growing sprout in the burned-down Oxygen Garden. Subverted though in that she's murdered a few seconds later.
- From the description of Planet of the Apes on This Very Wiki:
At first it appears that the planet is completely desolate, but they look for signs of life anyway. They discover that it has life when they see a small plant growing in the desert. They pull it up - go figure. "Where there's one, there must be more!" so, hope renewed, they keep looking.
- At the beginning of Joe vs. the Volcano. A single flower grows in the desolate area outside the factory where Tom Hanks works.
- WALL-E takes this concept and turns it into a MacGuffin that drives the entire plot.
- In a similar vein, the peach tree sprout after the credits of Kung Fu Panda (the "hope" in this case being that there is now a Dragon Warrior to keep the peace, thanks to Shifu finally believing in Po as Oogway asked him to).
- At the end of Nine: In a world where life has been wiped out so thoroughly that stuff isn't rotting (no bacteria), at the end, we see little bits of green pop up.
- At the end of Pan's Labyrinth a white flower blooms on a tree branch in memory of Ofelia.
- Downfall. The courtyard of the Fuhrer Bunker appears desolated: full of dirt, shell craters and stockpiled munitions, but Traudl looks down and smiles when she sees a white flower. We then see there are other flowers and trees growing around the courtyard. But the moment of peace is soon broken by an air raid siren.
- Inverted at the end of Little Shop of Horrors. Seymour and Audrey get married and move to the suburbs just like they wanted. A sprout is shown growing just outside their new house...but it's a sprout of Audrey II!
- Depending on who you're rooting for, that could be seen as a good thing.
- The very last scene of the war movie The Thin Red Line shows a coconut sprouting on the beach.
- Used in another sense - that is to say, subverted? - in an Isaac Asimov short story, the name of which escapes me. A criminal has been sent to the distant future to live out the remainder of his life in isolation. He arrives about a hundred years before the planet is completely unable to sustain life, and it is a dead world of dust and rock. He spends years travelling its surface, finding absolutely nothing. But one day, he spots a single patch of grass, just a few scraggly brown strands not more than a metre across in all. With tears in his eyes he gives it all the water he can spare before he has to move on. It is one of two other living things on the entire planet apart from himself. And the other thing is, well... far less harmless.
- The Remnants series by KA Applegate brutally subverted this trope. The whole world is a wasteland after it was hit by an asteroid, and the characters have been travelling on a generation starship and then reach Earth. They're thinking about trying to restore Earth to its life-supporting ecology, but they also have the understandable option of just getting back on the starship where they can be supported by its technology. Then they see a flower growing somewhere. Guess what? It was a fake, placed there by a character named Yago, who, if he was outside the Moral Event Horizon before, has now fallen deeply within it. While everyone else is looking at this flower, celebrating Earth's chance for a new life, Yago makes the ship take off and leaves them stranded.
- James Thurber's The Last Flower.
- This is possibly the entire point of The Secret Garden.
- In the midpoint of The Neverending Story, Bastian has to rebuild Fantastica from a single seed, through the power of his imagination. Everything else is pitch darkness.
- Probably the most famous chapter in The House On Mango Street is the one about the four skinny trees that grow on the protagonist's city street and how she identifies with them.
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, as you might expect, has a motif of a species of tree that reflects on the toughness of the people in Brooklyn by being the only kind that can grow in their neighborhoods.
- Briar Moss, the plant mage from Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic books, has a few of these in his life. Initially, when he's a street rat and thief and has been imprisoned, he "befriends" a patch of moss in his cell (which is where he takes his last name from). In a later book when his teacher is dying, he magically follows her into death and finds himself in a huge wasteland, where he begins seeing little bits of plant growth that grow denser and denser until he finds her in the middle of a garden.
- The covers of the Deathlands series (set in an After the End North America) often used this theme -- as seen here in the first novel, taken from a scene in the book. Acknowledged in the Syfy Film of the Book where the True Companions go Riding Into the Sunset desert in their Sec Wag, and a couple of daisies are in the foreground.
- In The Lord of the Rings, the newly crowned Aragorn finds a sapling of the White Tree way up in the moutains; the line of White Trees goes back to his people's ancestral home, and ultimately to Eressea accross the Western Sea. Their flourishing has always been connected to the prosperity of realm and kingship. The sapling is then relocated to the traditional spot in the citadel's courtyard, while its dead predecessor is laid to rest in the tomb of the kings.
- In Viido Polikarpus and Tappan King's Down Town, after the mystical sapient tree Taara is reduced to ashes in a Heroic Sacrifice, a tiny green shoot remains to communicate with Zenovac in Down Town, and a similar sprout appears at the ancient oak's stump in New York's Central Park.
Live Action TV
- The first episode of Power Rangers RPM: In his Establishing Character Moment, Dillon waters it, wipes out a squad of attacking Mecha-Mooks (offscreen), and drives on (making sure not to run the flower over).
- The series uses this trope as a bookend - after Venjix's defeat, Dillon, Summer and Tenaya venture out into the recovering landscape, and find a small field's worth of flowers.
- As mentioned in Real Life below, The final season of Blackadder ends with the deaths of most of the main cast, cut down mere feet into their (pointless) over-the-top advance on the German lines. In near silence, the scene cross-fades into a shot of a field of poppies. Very moving.
- Edge of Darkness manages to invert the idea to chilling effect. After the hero dies of radiation poisoning, the last shot is of black flowers growing on a hillside; the chilling part is that, throughout the series, black flowers have been invoked as Gaia at work (cf. James Lovelock), and their implied purpose is to induce Hollywood Global Warming in order to rid the planet of the human race.
- In Lost season 6, Sun is frustrated to find the garden she started is now dead. Jack finds one little tomato that defied the odds to survive.
Religion and Mythology
- In The Bible, Noah sends birds from his ark after the world is apparently destroyed by floods, resulting in this, making this one Older Than Feudalism.
And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; and the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.
- In Magic: The Gathering, after two sets of depicting a world too devestated by various wars and disasters to support any chlorophyll-bearing life more complex than moss, some cards in the Future Sight set show the same world's plant life begin to grow back.
- Horribly, horribly subverted in a bit of Warhammer 40,000 fluff: those aren't plants that survived the Exterminatus, they're Tyranid Rippers.
- In the fluff in the Civilization IV mod Fall from Heaven:
"And I stood in the valley, as I was commanded, and sang the songs of rebirth. I sang until I slept. And upon waking I sang once more. Water and food were brought to me, and I slept beneath the stars. I sang the songs of old. And I sang the songs of new. After one hundred days in the wastelands I looked down and saw something green. Something grew in those days, and I sang for a hundred more."
- In Final Fantasy VI, the ravaged and desolate world shows its first signs of recovery when some children, who have been trying to get flowers to grow, succeed in getting a single flower up.
- In Final Fantasy VII, a short clip may be seen after the end credits "500 years later," where Red XIII is running around with two offspring and the city is wrecked, but plants are growing everywhere.
- When you play as Atlantians favored by Gaia in Age of Mythology, the land around your buildings turns lush green no matter what the environment. If playing on a desert or underworld map, your base can be an example.
- In Iji, a plant and some ants crawling over it in the (probably acid) rain is seen as part of the "humanity is not doomed" montage.
- Chrono Trigger has the characters finding a single seed in a Bad Future, which the leader of the surviving humans promises to tend. A similar situation shows up later in the game in an earlier time period.
- In fact, a single hopeful plant shows up in every time period (except in 1000 AD, when the planet's ecosystem is most healthy, it's a whole forest), and each has a caretaker who are clearly from the same family line. That plant and its descendants have been carefully tended since 65 million BC, in order to be around for the benefit of humankind in the dismal 24th century. "Hope Sprouts Eternal", indeed.
- The ending of Advance Wars Dual Strike.
- The ending of Wild ARMs 3.
- Happens a few times in World of Mana games, sans the ravaged world:
- The end of Lunar 2: Eternal Blue shows a tiny patch of grass poking out of the surface of the Blue Star.
- The (good) ending of Breath of Fire 3, although the sprout comes after the game's credits.
- Note that the sprout seems to be Peco, a talking onion and one of the main characters! But it's OK, as Peco may be a seed for a Wise Tree.
- In the Quest for Glory games, the work of the powerful sorceress Erana is evident in various magical gardens that seem to spring up in the harshest places, whether in the middle of a swamp, a dry savannah, or a snowy mountain pass. In the fourth game, flowers magically sprung up around her staff where it was placed in the town, and a plant that was exhumed and placed in the swamp kept on living despite being submerged in a pile of evil goo.
- Successful completion of the Return to Ravenhearst hidden object game gives you an animation of the terrible house going up in flames, while dead tree branches in the foreground suddenly come to life and produce nice purple flowers.
- Awakening the Spirit and restoring the river in Nightmare Realm causes vegetation to burst back into life throughout the witch doctor's dying world, in all its full-color Scenery Porn brilliance.
- In The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, bringing peace to a monster-infected forest will cause a single new shoot to grow at the base of the late Wise Tree. The hero bends down to examine it, and a man-sized sprout erupts from the ground and bowls him over.
- In the first Suikoden, the farmer Blackman is found in the burned-out ruins of Kalekka, stubbornly caring for his seedlings. He only joins the Stars of Destiny if you avoid stepping on his plants. But why would you do such a thing, anyway...?
- The the text adventure sequel to Fahrenheit 451, a single buttercup grows in a bombed-out ruin. Montag uses it later on to prove his identity to Clairisse.
- In Fate of the World, a single icon of a sprout emerging from the soil is used on the event card for promoting Green politics in a country. It is fitting, as the most hopeful futures usually require a globally green outlook.
- Some of the endings in Deus Ex Human Revolution describe humanity coming together because of your actions. During this description, an image of a single sprout being planted by a team of people is shown.
- The post-apocalyptic world of the Fallout series is a blasted wasteland. But in Fallout 3, there's an oasis filled with leafy trees and self-appointed druids. The only reason it can exist is a bizarre interaction between the Forced Evolutionary Virus, a tree, and a man named Harold. One option for completing the associated quest fits the trope in a broad sense: the Oasis will continue to expand until the Wasteland is green again.
- At the beginning of Heroes of Hellas III, Athena's sacred olive tree is barren and dying. After every so many completed levels, they give you a closeup of a slightly healthier tree with one or two new branches.
- The entire point of Mandragoria is crossbreeding exotic plants in order to bring the magic back into a dying world.
- In Terrafarmers, the more plants you add, the greener and healthier the surrounding landscape looks.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has the sacred Gildergreen tree in Whiterun, an obvious Shout-Out to the White Tree of Gondor, which has died; the priestess sets you on a quest to cure it. The best option is to take a sapling of the original blessed tree of which it's an offshoot and have that planted instead.
- Not technically something growing, per se, but in Avatar: The Last Airbender, the pre-Toph Gaang visits a burned-down forest. Katara points out many, many acorns everywhere, and they all realize that the forest will grow back eventually.
- In The Lion King 2, a tiny plant grows from the ashes of the burned land.
- Disney also uses this trope in Bambi 2. The film starts just after the death of Bambi's mother. The "There is Life" number shows winter slowly but surely melting into spring ending with a small sprout emerging from the melting snow. At the end of the film, the sprout is shown again, larger and with a new sprout growing entwined with it.
- The famed Papaver rhoeas is a symbol of remembrance for all veterans in various wars, particularly WWI.
- The Finale of Blackadder Goes Forth ended with the scene of the cast going over the top fading to a field of poppies.
- Poppies are used as a substitute for lethal bloodshed in Oh What A Lovely War.
- Specifically, it became a symbol because of its red color and because it can grow in disturbed soil, so in battlefields on the western front where nearly all plant life had been destroyed, poppies really did keep growing.
- There are Survivor Trees incorporated into the memorials in New York and Oklahoma City, each of which (barely) lived through those cities' respective terrorist attacks. Seedlings descended from the Oklahoma tree have been planted all over the country, and the NYC tree's offspring will likely be shared once it's healthy enough to produce them.
- Jack pine trees have seed pods that only open after a fire. And they sprout quickly. Thus often a few months after a devastating forest fire, you see the beginnings of new green trees.