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In recent decades, the term Endangered Species has been popularized in many media. Endangered Species have become a major international cultural phenomena, with creatures such as the Giant Panda becoming global celebrities. While the term 'Endangered Species' probably entered common usage with the passage of The Endangered Species Act in 1973, the concept is far older. In 1948, the International Union for Conservation of Nature began formally classifying certain species as 'endangered', and the beginnings of wildlife conservation date as far back as late ancient times.
To be this trope:
- The Endangered Species, A, must be a type of creature, object, phenomenon, etc., for which there is an apparent distinct possibility they will all soon be gone forever.
- A group of creatures, B, who may be the audience rather than a character in the story, or the A's themselves, place a significant value on A's continuing to exist, for no other reason than that the world would be less without them.
- In the past B's either placed little value on the existence of an A or else hated or feared them.
- An Inferred Holocaust may have occurred, followed by a My God, What Have I Done? moment. Basically Must Make Amends at a species-wide level.
- The previously detested Small Annoying Creature or Monster of the Week becomes Draco in Leather Pants, The Woobie, etc. in the view of B's.
- A's are not Explosive Breeders, so increasing their population is not a trivial task.
A sapient race in terminal decline - not necessarily imminent enough to make them immediately endangered - is a Dying Race. Compare Last of His Kind, Only You Can Repopulate My Race, What Measure Is a Non Unique. Contrast Explosive Breeder.
- In Rosario to Vampire, Moka and Kurumu view Witches this way, and so they ask Tsukune not to be too hard on Yukari. It's later implied that this is also true for many if not most monstrous species, including Moka's, Kurumu's, and Mizore's.
- One of Doraemon's authors once drew an Anvilicious comic about humans being hunted to extinction because their bodies were considered to be a potent cure for hairiness (apparently, they don't have Nair in the future). The last two humans end up stranded on an island where a rare lizard (or salamander) was hunted to extinction by earlier humans.
- After House of M decreased the mutant population to just a few hundred individuals, Homo superior became this. There was even a storyline with Beast visiting every Evilutionary Biologist he knew to appeal to them for help restoring the X-gene. The first new mutant birth since M-Day has become a significant plot point in the X-Books.
- In the Alien franchise, the Rule of Drama ensures somebody always seems to want to capture a live xenomorph for study rather than exterminate them...
- In one of the Tremors sequels, some humans want to keep at least one Graboid alive.
- Young Spock uses the exact same phrase in the new Star Trek after his planet was destroyed with a handful of survivors.
- Star Trek IV
- The Buggers, by the end of Ender's Game, have been reduced to a single Queen. Much of Speaker for the Dead revolves around finding a suitable home for her so she can start a new hive. This is particularly notable because in Game, the Buggers were hated and feared by humans, and it was Ender's own work that led people to regret their (near) genocide.
- Also note that as the Buggers have a hive mind, the Queen and her hive are all considered to be one individual, so it's a case of Last Of Her Kind.
- Pern's dragons were placed in a similar position during the Long Intervals, in that the species' survival depended entirely on the health and fecundity of a single queen.
- The Inheritance Cycle: dragons.
- The French novel Malevil takes place after World War III. As such, all of Emmanuel's livestock are now in danger of extinction, in particular his horses. The only surviving animals were a cave used as a "nursery" and all but one were pregnant. The pig and cow have male offspring and could inbreed to survive. The horse gives birth to a filly, so as far as Emmanuel knows there are three mares left in the world and the horse is doomed to extinction. There are other surviving animals. Shortly after, Emmanuel captures the region's only stallion, bringing the known horse population to four and hopefully more in the future.
- In Babylon 5, the Dilgar and briefly Humans, during the Human - Minbari war.
- Also the Markab, who really did go extinct from a plague. Humans presumably don't die out from the Drahk plague, but the ones on Earth embody this trope at the start of Crusade.
- Battlestar Galactica: Humans.
- The Asgard, due to millennia of cloning cloned clones and having no original genetic material left. In the series finale they perform a species wide Heroic Sacrifice, but apparently there are pockets of them in other areas.
- In Mass Effect, The Rachni are a sentient, if extremely alien, species of insectoids who were thought to be actually extinct. In the course of the game, you have the choice between setting the last surviving Queen free to let them repopulate, or extincting them entirely. A harder choice than it may seem, since the Rachni went near-extinct due to them embarking on a war with the Citadel Races, causing significant loss of life. In keeping with the trope, you'll have characters - both in your party and further abroad - arguing that you can't justify destroying an entire species, no matter how monstrous it looks, and how much damage it once caused (keeping in mind that the Rachni Wars are ancient history, and this one has PROMISED it won't rise up to threaten the world again.) And some who argue that it's time to 'finish the job.'
- Ironically, the krogan -- who were armed by the Citadel races and sent out into the galaxy to fight the rachni -- suffered a similar fate: the Council deemed them too dangerous, and the krogan were afflicted with an artificially-created plague that all but sterilized their species, which previously bred like rabbits to survive their Death World. In an interesting twist, Mordin reveals that the scientists who created the disease wanted only to stabilize krogan birthrates, and are now working to make sure the krogan aren't driven to extinction.
- In the Homeworld backstory, the Hiigarans.
- Most terrestrial lifeforms in the Half-Life verse (marine life is said to have gone completely extinct due to billions of leeches and the occasional ichtyosaur swimming around). After a large batch of Xenian lifeforms were teleported onto Earth, a planetary-scale Combine invasion occurred and that's even before the Combine set up their reproduction suppression field which can't be ruled out as being ineffective against anything but humans... If a mini world-war and two decades of global sterility count, then humans might as well be endangered. At least until the suppression field was shut down and Kleiner urged everyone to "do your part for the revival of our species".
- The Ing have nearly been wiped out in Metroid. Since they were created by evil and are evil themselves nobody else seems to be worried about it.
- A strong theme in the Oddworld series. Scrabs and Paramites have been hunted down by Glukkons to make processed food (with Meeches going extinct), Gabbits were hunted down by Vyykers for the wide variety of uses they had with only Munch and 150 Gabbiar eggs left, and Steef were hunted for sport by Sekto and of these we only ever see two - Stranger, and Sekto's host body after he's disgarded it.
- Futurama (of course they must be mentioned in every trope) had a mission for the Planet Express crew to rescue the animals from a planet which was about to be destroyed. That is where they find Leela's "pet" Nibbler. Nibbler also eats all the endangered animals.
- Titan A.E.: Humans.
- One episode of the The Wild Thornberrys had a tortoise that was (almost) the Last of His Kind. Sadly Truth in Television, as he was based on a real tortoise called Lonesome George.
- Just run a search on the term "endangered species list" and try not to be too depressed.