One example is that of zombies. I almost considered doing zombie for the Z post, in fact, to talk about what we can see in such stories when we look past the brain eating and running for their lives stuff. I haven't actually read or watched many zombie related stories but the few that I have read had something about them that the reader could hold onto, could hope for (and often so did the characters). Sure, many will die in them, but there are often survivors (even if it seems like there is only one).
Hopes even get dashed. A character grows when they learn that the goal they strive for, the dream/hope they had doesn't turn out to be what they imagined, but that doesn't end all hope as they know it. In fact, they adapt and keep one candle lit for a little light can heed off some darkness.
Even in some movies/books that aren't exactly "horror" this theme can be found. The specific example that comes to mind is Independence Day. Sure the focus of the movie is the whole alien attack, but that's just it. The big moment comes when people that wouldn't under normal circumstances work together, they can put aside those differences and save the day. We hope that in the face of a different other (in this case, aliens) that us humans could put aside our differences and fight for our survival.
Writers, we spin these tales and while we dash readers hopes with many different things (plot twists, death, love triangles ending, etc) we always have to give the reader something to hope for when it comes to the story. Even if that hope is a candle that will later burn out, we give them something to keep the pages turning. And sometimes, it is within the darkest genres/stories that the light will shine the brightest.
What do you think?
Does hope come out in your stories?
Any other common themes that you've noticed?