Humanity's Wake

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Humanity is extinct, leaving only legends behind.

Local residents Homo sapiens sapiens were reported dead in their home planet on Stardate 2814.7 due to unconfirmed causes. Witnesses don't agree on the cause of the deaths; some say it was World War III, others that they were killed during a violent home burglary, or murdered by their children, while an elderly species in the Vega system assures this publication they ascended to a higher plane of existence. Our sources however have confirmed that humanity is no longer active as a species, though speculation lingers on the existence of a lone survivor left to ponder their fate.

Humanity was born in The Time of Myths[1] and made their residence on the third planet in the Sol system, Milky Way galaxy, Orion Arm. Growing up, they created various technological marvels and were an active resident in the cosmos; some even say they were the center of cosmic life. Humanity's former enemies, currently residing in a can, suspect their death may be due to growing overly proud of their achievements.

They will be remembered for their philanthropic work as Precursors, being prolific creators of not-yet-Lost Technology, stopping several galactic wars[2] and being all around special. Though marring that legacy are allegations of being Neglectful Precursors and even Abusive Precursors. Already, a ragtag bunch of young space-faring species in the Orion neighborhood can be seen to dare each other to see who will step closest to "Creepy" Old Mannity's Oort cloud.

Surviving humanity are the species they uplifted to sapience, various models of robots, and approximately forty-two genetically engineered sub-species (including a few Mutants), all currently contesting the title of "Heirs of Humanity". Among humanity's children, there is a widespread range of feelings towards their death. Some assure us they are overwhelmed with sadness, and will mourn until the stars go out. Others, including neighboring friendly aliens in the Omicron system, have pledged their intention to give humanity a "second chance" and resurrect all humans via undisclosed means. Some have expressed joy at the death of humanity, and declared their intention to work against any resurrection. A few plan to take up the family business and create their own civilization. Speculation on whether any of these child species can avoid the flaws which killed their parents ran rampant among those interviewees.

The funeral reception will be held in the Galactic Core on Stardate 2815.3, and burial in the Derelict Graveyard later that galactic rotation.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.

Examples of Humanity's Wake include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Texhnolyze Those living on the surface are little more than shades of humans who live without purpose. The underground Lux is thrust into slaughter and carnage in the last few episodes, with essentially everyone dead by the end as the city goes dark.
  • Utawarerumono It is stated that this is the real setting of the story. Humanity was wiped out via a combination of Gaia's Vengeance and the wrath of god. The half-human hybrids populating the planet are genetic creations of humanity.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Atavar takes place in a future where humanity is extinct, having left behind a race of robots called UOS. UOS is bent on wiping out all life in the galaxy. Nice going, humans.

Film[edit | hide]

  • 9. The world is a tombstone for humanity.
  • The aliens at the end of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.
    • Although the movie never specifies one way or the other, it is implied (especially by the circuitry seen through their bodies) that these humanoid beings are not aliens, but robots like David. They are either the last creations of the extinct human species or of their own predecessors (robots building more sophisticated robots).
  • Omega Doom: In this B-Movie, humans are dead, robots inherit the Earth... and rule it badly, having devolved into an Enemy Civil War. Except there's one last enclave of humans, and they're out to clean up the bad robots by sending out the reprogrammed protagonist.
  • Rock and Rule depicts the humanoid descendants of dogs, cats, and rats (along with the occasional mutant) living atop and amongst the ruins of human civilization. They seem to have recreated a fairly accurate simulacrum of late '70s/early '80s North America.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • There was a short story by Arthur C. Clarke about alien lifeforms from Venus studying the few remaining artifacts of the human found on a frozen Earth. The one that confuses them the most is a short film portraying people behaving in a variety of strange ways, revealed at the end to be a Walt Disney cartoon.
  • The book Re Body, Robots kill us all, revive a human head, and set out to destroy some uplifted animals we had created.
  • Many H.P. Lovecraft stories don't take place in such a setting but have the idea of humans as an insignificant blip in a universe of monsters about to be snuffed out. Mike Mignola's works also have visions of a future-earth where man is no more.
    • The Shadow out of Time explicitly states that at least 14,000 years in the future humanity will die out and be replaced by a race of intelligent beetles (into whom the Great Race of Yith transfer their consciousnesses).
  • The Stainless Steel Leech from Roger Zelazny's story collection Last Defender of Camelot, in which humanity has died out, leaving behind a society of robots. They've adopted the behavior of humans for the most part, though developed strange superstitions. One of the robots developed a hardware problem and became a vampire of sorts, and while hiding from the rest came upon a human vampire, the last of its kind and slowly starving from lack of blood.
    • For A Breath I Tarry by the same author (and found in the same collection) has a similar setting, used as a retelling of Faust, though the tragic ending is averted by the creation of a new race of humans.
  • In Requiem, it is mentioned that once humanity finally managed to wipe itself out, two factions arose, each seeing itself as the true descendants of mankind: the robots and the mutants. The robots are animalistic tanks (elephant, gorilla, TRex...) while the mutants are hybrids and zombie-like things.
  • Brian Aldiss's short story But Who Can Replace A Man? The robots are overjoyed that humanity is wiped out and they are now free, but they end up nuking each other and in the end they come across one surviving human, whom their programming compels them to obey.
  • Charles Stross's Saturn's Children is a story about humanoid robots living in the wake of humanity's demise.
  • Dougal Dixon has written two versions of this trope. In After Man, the Earth is repopulated by descendants of the small animals (like rats and rabbits) which an extinct humanity failed to take down with us. In Man After Man, humans speciate into dozens of varieties, some sapient but most not, through a combination of genetic engineering and natural selection.
  • City by Clifford Simak is a fix-up whose component short stories start in the near future and continue until after humanity is extinct; the Framing Device consists of archival notes by uplifted dogs.
  • Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon has all of the "First Men" killed in an atomic holocaust 100,000 years from now. Save for thirty-five who mutate into the Second Men, starting a cycle of extinction and replacement that continues for two billion years and 16 more species until the Eighteenth Men die when the Sun goes supernova.
  • The short story Written on the Wind by David Levine, has a federation of alien races trying to decipher a message coded into the fabric of the universe, which turns out to be from humanity who destroyed the universe through nanotechnology; before the end they were able to program the nanites to rebuild the universe and create new and more diverse life.
  • In short story Pots by C. J. Cherryh a race of aliens comes across a space probe with Pioneer plaque on the board, after mankind is long gone from the Earth. They attempt to find remaining descendants of humanity, while spreading romantic legend about the first space travelers across galaxy. They remake their whole social structure, with hibernation and Cloning Blues for top leaders and scientists, for this purpose. When group of archaeologists finally finds something on third planet of small, yellow star it turns out humankind destroyed itself shortly after setting foot on the Moon.
  • The Daily Show's Earth (The Book) is addressed to a civilization that has discovered the planet after humanity's unspecified demise.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • One episode of The Outer Limits 1990s series had robots try to resurrect humanity, and in another, aliens.
  • In the episode "The End of the World" from the new series of Doctor Who, Cassandra claims to be the last human, but it turns out that there are billions of mutants and hybrids (most of whom look exactly like H. sapiens) and she's just a racist.
  • Red Dwarf takes place millions of years after humanity's extinction.
  • Life After People.
  • The Future Is Wild describes many animal species that evolve long after humanity has left the planet. In the last segment, a new type of tree-dwelling cephalopods show signs they may develop a civilization of their own.
    • The book the documentary is based on plays this totally straight, with humanity having died out.

Music[edit | hide]

Finally, robotic beings rule the world
The humans are dead.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Occurs in the gap between Mega Man ZX and Mega Man Legends. Humanity managed first combined with reploids to become superior cyborgs, then created organic robots in the image of what humans used to be like as a servant race, then true humanity goes extinct, leaving the servant race behind to try and fend off the fail-safes that now think they've Turned Against Their Masters. The series MacGuffin of Legends is the last remaining sample of human DNA.
  • NieR: The events of the game ensure that the remnants of humanity will die out in a generation, as Gestalts can no longer prolong their descent to madness and Replicants cannot reproduce. The subsequent game [NieR Automata]] reveals that's exactly what happened.
  • In Escape Velocity Nova, at least three of the storylines end with references to all of humanity ascending to a higher plane, although it happens millennia after the player's involvement ceases.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Technically averted in the Orion's Arm setting. True members of Homo sapiens sapiens still exist in large numbers, but they are rare in comparison to the overall population of humanity's descendants and are generally only found in baseline reserves.
  • In The Periodic Table Of Science Fiction, one of the stories features a miner who, waiting for a rescue ship and with nothing to do, uses the harvested ores to paint the surface of the asteroid he's stranded on. It eventually becomes acclaimed an artistic masterpiece and a galactic cultural treasure by alien species long after the human race itself disappears.
  • Day of the Barney Trilogy has Barney temporarily succeed in creating a society that, had it existed long enough, would have resulted in this. After the Great Act of Love, every adult and teenager hides from Barney and his followers while every human child has become Barney's Special Friend. Barney cares for them and makes sure they're well-fed and happy until they turn thirteen, at which point he murders the boys and takes the girls away so he can rape them and impregnate them with Loved Ones. Due to the allure of Barney and the inclusiveness of his group of Special Friends, as well as the combination of boys generally not being able to reproduce before reaching the age of thirteen as well as them (hopefully) not performing sexual activity with the girls, the full-blooded human race would have died off if Barney had reigned for long enough, with the Loved Ones as the last surviving remnant of humanity.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • There was an episode of Superfriends in which aliens find Earth devastated and lifeless. They search our records, find that one of the Legion of Doom's schemes had terrible unintended consequences, and used time travel to set things right without making their intervention too obvious.
  • Similar to the above, one episode of Justice League Unlimited had Superman catapulted into the future thousands of years by a so-called disintegration ray, where he discovered Vandal Savage had inadvertently wiped out the rest of humanity in one of his attempts at world domination. As the only sentient being on Earth, he went insane, grew Bored with Insanity, and then invited Superman home for dinner. "Like you've got anything better to do."
  • The MGM cartoon Peace on Earth, and its Cinemascope remake Goodwill to Men.
  • Adventure Time: A lighthearted cartoon series where the existence of the last boy on Earth is rather surprising, after the great mushroom war and given that humans are considered extinct delicacies.
    • A good number of characters though are either partly human or used to be human.
  1. The orphanage in which they grew up burned down, making independent verification impossible.
  2. or possibly starting them, records are hazy