This essay challenges recent explanations of the uniquely robust immunology of Lionel Verney, narrator of Mary Shelley’s The Last Man. Most readers point to Lionel’s encounter with a dying black man as the source of his immunity to the plague that decimates the rest of humanity in the twilight of the twenty-first century. Because this explanation is inconsistent with the plague’s epidemiology, this paper seeks alternate reasons for Lionel’s resilience and reads Lionel’s encounter with the black man as a moment in which the novel’s models of universal compassion collapse in the face of abject suffering and racial alterity.