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Sometimes, disasters happen. And sometimes those disasters are so large that they destroy an entire race, culture, or people group. However, small groups of refugees sometimes escape, fleeing to other lands and settling there. These refugees establish themselves in their new home, but they pass down to their children the memory of the homeland they had to leave, who pass those memories on to their children.
These descendents are a Racial Remnant. They are part of and yet separate from the main culture of the land they inhabit. They have known no other home, yet they carry the culture of a "homeland" which no longer exists. They will often still view themselves as displaced refugees, even generations after their ancestors had to flee.
Note that this is not about the remains of a once proud race who have been degraded. In order for a race to qualify for this trope, the race must be descended from a group that survived the annihilation of the members of their original culture, and those survivors must have passed down significant aspects of their original culture to their descendents.
Racial Remnants are most frequently found in Speculative Fiction.
Anime and Manga
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, after the oriental rebellion years ago, most of the Ishbalans were massacred. The descendents of those who survived are now scattered all around Amestris.
- In Titan A.E., humans are this after some Scary Dogmatic Aliens Energy Beings decide to blow up Earth in order to prevent humanity becoming a threat to them.
- In the Firebird Trilogy, the planet Ehret was destroyed by civil war. Two groups fled the conflict. One group settled on an already populated planet and integrated into the existing structure, while still passing down Ehretan culture; they became the Sentinels. The other group settled on a previously barren world, creating a new culture that became known as the Shuhr.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Targaryen family are refugees from the Doom of Valyrian and are the last remnant of the Valyrian people. They're easily identifiable by their distinct appearance and practice incestuous marriages to preserve their bloodline.
- The Tedrel Mercenaries from the Heralds of Valdemar series are the survivors of nation of people. They became mercenaries and tried to get enough money to create a new homeland.
Live Action Television
- Star Trek:The Next Generation: The early episode "Haven" has a shipful of Tarellians, the last survivors of a deadly plague.
- In the Talislanta game, the Xambrian wizard-hunters are a Racial Remnant of a culture that was wiped out by evil sorcerers. The few survivors' descendents spend their entire lived tracking down and executing the ever-reincarnating culprits, over and over again.
- The Deep Imaskari of the Forgotten Realms were this in 3.5E to 4E. They are the descendants of Imaskari that fled the great slave rebellion for an outpost deep underground; Deep Imaskar endured for millenia in secrecy. Then a series of events led to Imaskar rising again. There was also another group of Imaskar-descendants that endured, but less is known of just what they did the past few millenia (the Deep Imaskari were introduced as this trope; the other group was introduced as part of the events that led to Imaskar's partial rebirth).
- 288 years before the events of Mass Effect, the Quarian race lost their home planet to the Geth, forcing the survivors of the war to flee. At the heart of their culture is a strong sense of loyalty and a deep attachment to their home world, beliefs passed down by their ancestors. For this reason, almost every Quarian you encounter is devoted to finding a way to take back their home world from the Geth, despite the fact that no current living Quarian has ever stepped foot on the home world and that it would simply be easier to find a new planet.
- The Dalish Elves in Dragon Age are the last of the Elvhenan, nomadic wanderers who pride themselves on maintaining the culture that has passed down to them since the days of Ancient Arlathan, through its destruction and their enslavement, the founding of their second homeland in the Dales and its later destruction once again at the hands of humanity.
While other Elves do exist throughout Thedas, they are second class citizens who live in poverty and squalour; the Dalish Elves consider them nothing more than slaves who have adopted so many human ways that they are little different from their "Shemlen masters".
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang, an Air Nomad, was the Last of His Kind. In the Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, his son Tenzin is shown to have inherited his Airbending, and lives with his wife and three Airbending children in Republic City.
- Jews have been (and possibly still are) a real-world example of this. There've been multiple diasporas, during which the Jewish people have maintained a religious, cultural, and to some extent racial identity. Some would argue that even with the State of Israel there's a diaspora now, hence the possibility that this applies currently. Plus, there's a ton of "promised land" references in the Hebrew Bible and other, more recent Jewish literature.
- Copts are descendants of ancient Egyptians. They are a minority in the mostly Arab Egypt now.
- In pre-contact North America it was common for different cultures to adopt/absorb slaves or war prisoners into their captor's communities. This practice continued into the global era with some cultures, such as the Huron in central Ontario, dying out as a separate people (becoming absorbed into the Six Nations in the case of the Huron). Many cultural elements such as basket or clothing designs are carried on by their descendants, despite them now considering themselves members of the newer culture.
- The Armenians were basically this after the Turks eliminated them from Turkey (much of modern day Eastern Turkey was their traditional homeland, now populated mostly by Kurds) and the Soviet Union absorbed what was left. That is until the Soviet Union collapsed and they suddenly found themselves independent for the first time in nearly a millennium (barring a short two-year stint in the 1920s). The diaspora is still scattered all over the world though. Within Turkey itself there is still a small remnant, mostly in Istanbul and a couple sparsely populated villages elsewhere.