What's Happening

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Germaholic: Is the Elfen Lied example for the anime or the manga? Because while the example might hold true for the manga (from what I heard, since I haven't read that much of it), the anime has more than just one likeable sympathetic human character, and there are really only a coupld of characters who are evil for the sake of being evil.

Andyroid: Hmm, would you say Terry Pratchett plays with this one in the Discworld books? He frequently depicts the foibles of humanity as being based on stupidity rather than malice (Hanlon's Razor, anyone?), and also tends to depict non-human races as being just as petty as humans. I'm reminded of a quote from Feet of Clay, "Just because someone's a member of an ethnic minority doesn't mean they're not a nasty small-minded little jerk."

Idle Dandy: Can I just say, I love this entry. A related thing is the thing where the new Battlestar Galactica changed it so the humans created the Cylons. I hate that trope. It's the entire reason I have never seen that show. I can't even articulate why I hate it so much. As mentioned, these scripts were all written by humans. I just have this feeling that humans are being used as a stand-in for something. Americans, maybe?

Zeke: Got it in one. But if you let the dumb politics sort of wash over you, it's a good show.

Cosmetor: I think that authors who mock humanity see themselves as "the exception", explicitly or implicitly, consciously or subconsciously. So they do it for the same reason people make fun of celebrities: to make themselves feel bigger than the people they put down. And they must feel really big when they put down their entire species.
Cosmetor: On an unrelated note, I don't think that the examples from Usagi Yojimbo and Sonic the Hedgehog apply to this trope. The former is more like making the villain someone special, and the latter is just a Mad Scientist. Neither are villains because they're humans.

Pro-Mole: On another unrelated note, I think Usagi Yojimbo goes pretty well, implying that the villain is inherently evil because he's evil. The fact that I never really read Usagi Yojimbo only makes my affirmation a little bit more contestable.

Robotnik, though, maybe a cause of an unintended application of this trope. The fact that he is the only human is blatant enough to just be a coincidence. Besides, I think nowhere in most examples relly confirms that humans are evil by nature. Humans fit the role of villains because it is easier to see humans are evil, opposed to animals, that share with Nature the quality of purity. Again, that's my way of seeing the trope.

Puffy Treat: Assuming that by "the villain of Usagi Yojimbo" they mean Lord Hikiji, I'm not sure he fits. 1) He's only rarely appeared in the more than two decades of the comics existence. He usually more a distant presence than an actual featured character, per se. Series creator Stan Sakai has expressed the wish that he had never shown Hikiji "on panel", as he thinks the character works better as an unseen background villain. 2) His motivations have never been divulged. The majority of the main characters have never interacted with him except very briefly, none of them know that he's human. His species has never been given as an explanation for his ruthlessness and cruelty. Unlike (for example) the Redwall series, species does not reveal morality and personality in the UY-verse. The the majority of the bad guys are found among the animal people, followed by supernatural entities.

Quicksilver: I would have to disagree about Robotnik not counting as an example of "Humans are Bastards", especially in the comic book where Human lookalikes called Overlanders are the root of the problems with the rest of the planet which is filled with fuzzy animals. Specifically, the comic blames them for starting the Great War, which put Robotnik in the position of power he would use to gain control of the planet, at least in the saturday morning show and comic. Also later issues, where Sonic Syndrome began making the comic as stupid as the games, it was eventually revealed that Earth became Mobius because Stupid Humans dissected the peaceful envoy of an alien race, who proceeded to gene-bomb the planet, thus creating Mobians. It's as stupid as it sounds, trust me.

  • C. S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet and the rest of the Cosmic Trilogy. The idea is that there are several inhabited planets in our solar system, but Earth is the only one where Original Sin took place. This caused our world to fall out of communication with the others — we are the titular Silent Planet.

May be just my thoughts, but isn't this a case of Puny Earthlings rather than Humans Are Bastards? I mean, are the humans the evil side of the story, rather than just the unprivileged?

Zeke: Not evil, but not just unlucky either. "Impure" might be the right word. The Cosmic Trilogy's alien races never made that conscious decision to defy God, and as a result, their worlds remain utopias. (This doesn't mean they weren't tempted at some point; rather, as we see in Perelandra, they resisted their respective temptations.) Earth isn't evil, but it is the only place in the solar system where evil holds sway, so it fits the trope.
Shadowtext: After seeing the title of this trope, and the text, I just had to add the Dr. Cox quote. Hope I'm not stepping on any toes.
anowack:: I didn't think that the Imperium example qualified for this trope, but that it was worthwhile to modify the entry rather than remove it to point out that the trope wasn't about just evil humans, but humans being particularly evil.

Roland: I dunno, a major point of the 40k mythos seems to be that humans suck. The 'necessity' of the Imperium, despite the attempts of the Devs to make them the Designated Hero, is pretty much a case of Take Our Word for It, and even then they have to pull regular retcons to try and clear away the mess they keep piling on.

anowack: Humans suck, but so does everybody else. I'm not arguing that the Imperium isn't a bunch of incredibly evil bastards; it's just that pretty much everyone in that universe is a bunch of incredibly evil bastards by normal standards, and the Imperium doesn't stand out from that background level of evil bastardy enough to qualify for this trope.

If you want, feel free to reverse my change, and I'll just add a comment beneath with my opinion.
Kilyle: Yes, Humans Are Bastards is obvious in many stories concerning humans vs. enlightened aliens, humans vs. medieval fantasy races, and so forth. It's also applicable (especially with the "malicious or just plain stupid by nature" proviso) for Anvilicious stories preaching against hunting (a subset of Carnivore Confusion perhaps?) or logging (Ferngully), and is definitely applicable whenever taking on human nature gets equated with taking on the worst humanity has to offer (Animal Farm). And it is likely applicable (sometimes) if it's animals who have been genetically altered or otherwise given the ability to actually communicate with humans.

However, I think this trope has gathered up a distinctly alternate trope and confused the issue. This trope is at play in many stories that portray antropathised wild animals who instinctively hide from humans, and who naturally encounter dangers created by or embodied by humans. Not all such stories, mind you. But in many stories, danger from humans is a fact of life, no more evil or unnatural than any other predator — or, say, the weather. And where it's treated as a fact of life, I don't think this trope applies.

Consider Watership Down. The animals are justifiably terrified of being caught by humans, and they make sure to pass that terror on to their children as a survival instinct. (Trying to build toward human-rabbit peace talks would be just surreal.) And yes, the book presents several human villains (the developers who destroy the initial warren, the farmer who feeds off the second warren, the human army in one of the stories). But it also presents a kindly human family (who tend to Hazel's wounds)—where the danger is not from the humans but from their animals!—and allows the rabbits to be curious about some human contraptions (such as the hrududil) without being harmed.

Even more telling, it is General Woundwort's refusal to treat danger from humans as a fact of life that leads him to take the most extreme measures to prevent discovery, leading his tribe into a far worse life than they otherwise would have known.

Similarly, The Rats of NIMH plays the scientists, who are villains, agaist the farmers, who are merely antagonists. Both offer death, but the farmers do only by living their natural lives, which makes them morally equivalent to the weather. The animals don't hate the farmer; they adjust their lives accordingly, in cycle with the seasons.

I should point out that even if the scientists were the only antagonists, the fact that they are a small and distinctly unrepresentative group should be enough to avoid the implication that Humans Are Bastards. Compare to a movie with a male villain (not condemning all men!), an old villain (not condemning all old people!), a pizza delivery guy villain (not condemning all pizza delivery guys!). (This does have its exceptions, which are all tropes, e.g., the Corrupt Businessman, who by nature does seem to condemn all businessmen if not paired with one or more non-corrupt businessmen.) Ergo, don't put something on the list just because all the humans portrayed are villains.

Oh, and one other category that ties in with the "human danger is a fact of life" trope: little people. Any small, hidden race, such as the Borrowers. Their staying hidden is part of the premise: If word of their existence reached the wrong people, they'd be captured, experimented on, put in zoos. So rather than risk the secret getting out (and no matter how well-meaning their human friends might be, the secret will get out), or, worse, approaching a bad human to begin with, they maintain absolute secrecy. But this doesn't cast a dark light on the whole of humanity: Does being cautious with your personal information online mean you believe the majority of people online are evil?

(Fairies, now, they have a few tricks: flight, invisibility, the ability to induce amnesia. So they can usually afford to approach more people. All the same, they try to limit it to those people who meet certain criteria of being open-minded or in dire need of magical intervention, or the like. I'd think examples of fairies would tend toward Humans Are Bastards because it's often implicit that humans by nature are too stupid, malicious, or close-minded to appreciate the magical side of life... but then that may be a different trope entirely.)

To sum up my very long argument: Split this trope into two tropes, the second dealing with human danger as a fact of life, much like any other predator, or like the weather. Then move most of the wild animal examples over there. Oh, and someone please sort the examples on this trope by media type, because the list is getting hard to read.
Shay Guy: Some of the arguments against this trope made me think of the chart in Freakonomics showing homicide rates in varying regions and time periods. It's one of the best antidotes to depression I've ever seen, at least for a "scientist" like me. No way that decrease is all improved medicine.

Peteman: I'm going to have to nominate the player character races from Goblins.
Count Spatula: Would Artemis Fowl really be a use of this trope? It seems more like a subversion to me. The fairies are shown to be exaggerating greatly in their dislike for humans, and their Fantastic Racism is something that is gotten over through character developement.
Demetrios: I'm sorry for not remembering who mentioned that the Starcraft books aren't much different from the games, but would you like to elaborate? :)
Stretch_Arm_Strong: This trope drives me up the wall when I'm playing fantasy games or watching movies. When it comes to the fantasy world, I'm 100% human-supremacist. I don't care if you spray pixie dust and have the trees on your side- we've got guns and flamethrowers. I enjoy nothing more than crushing pansy magical fairy creatures like elves and mermen under the heel of human technological superiority.

Gemmifer: I have daydreamed of doing that when I read the x-th book where any magical species seems to think humans are fair game to insult: Looks, lifespan, morality, power, intelligence, what-have you. The human character always take it quitely, which makes it nigh unbearable.
Bob!: To many quotes, cutting two of them.

The Fourteenth Book is entitled, "What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?" It doesn't take long to read The Fourteenth Book. It consists of one word and a period. This is it:
Jonah, Cat's Cradle

I don't get people. What's their appeal, precisely? They waddle around with their haircuts on, cluttering the pavement like gormless, farting skittles. They're awful.
Charlie Brooker, Dawn of the Dumb

Darktalon: I'm sure I can find the Charlie Brooker quote a new home. It's too good to waste.

Austin: The Warcraft example isn't really accurate. In all expanded material, each race is portrayed as having their faults and prejudices. The humans suffer from poor leadership and pig headedness, the orcs refuse to accept their part in their war crimes and leaders like Grom Hellscream, who was one of the most bloodthirsty chieftains in the old Horde, is worshipped as a hero with no regard to his atrocities, the tauren look down on races that aren't as interested in spiritual endeavors as they are, the Forsaken want to kill all of the humans and many of them are quite gleeful about it, and the night elves can't bare the thought of living as mortals and have an air of superiority due to their long existence and rejection of magic. I put in an edit pointing some of this out, but I feel it drifts into discussion. While I'm not sure how to improve it, to leave the Warcraft example as is is a mistake.

Austin: As for the response to my post, it ignores how the humans do have good reason for disliking the orcs, and seems to ignore the points made about the orcs entirely. How are the night elves bastards for fighting the orcs for invading their territory? And my point about the Warsong wasn't about Warcraft III, it was about World of Warcraft. He also says that this trope is "humans are bastards", despite the fact that more than one example on the list mentions how other races are just as bad or worse than humans. I'm trying to avoid natter and justifying edits, but if I can't get any responses in the discussion page, I'm left with few options.

Shoebox: Removed the examples from the 'Truth In Television' section, if we must have one. They're redundant enough to the main point that I can't see them serving any purpose other than magnets for discussion.

Random832: I think this really needs to be more focused - there are a number of entries that are just "everyone [who just happen to be human] are bastards" - I think this trope should only really apply when it's humans as opposed to aliens/supernatural things/animals that are depicted as being particularly bastardish

Rann: Yeah, it really needs some general cleanup or something. I mean, some of the entries aren't even about anything that happened in the series, but just going on about how much humans suck compared to whatever non-humans are in the series. (The Rosario to Vampire example is a good... well, example.) It's kind of like how when something gets listed on the Acceptable Target pages and people start bitching about how much the Target sucks, kind of missing the point.

Rann: I'm gonna go ahead and do some cleanup of any examples that are poorly explained, don't fit, or seem to be treating humans as Acceptable Targets. I guess if anyone cares about the ones that get removed, it can be discussed here. ... Or edit warred over, whichever. For now I'll leave all but the most egregious of ones where "Everyone's human but they're so MEAN to each other!", and those can come out later if no one wants to step up and provide a rationale for them other than Dystopia or Crapsack World.

  • This troper always thought the aliens were humans talking about beings that resembled unprocessed meat. Until he finds out they're talking about non-energy beings...

I had to take out this embryo of Troper Tales for two main reasons. 1) it seems the author clearly has not read the story, because it's very clear the aliens are not human at all, right from the fact they compare alien-sounding named cratures to the "meat creatures", and 2) because it's very clear they are machines, as are the other aline creatures they mention.
  • I don't know what the hell is going on with this part: "There's no doubt that humanity has a history of going to war for stupid reasons, genociding people for silly ideals, burning witches (even if, as C.S. Lewis points out, if they really were witches, if anyone deserved the death penalty they would) , experimenting on still-living people, raping, torturing, and otherwise treating ourselves like crap." Umm... what? What does "if they really were witches" mean? And when did C.S. Lewis endorse a death penalty for heresy?

Austin: He's playing Devil's Advocate and saying that if witches DID exist, and if they DID traffic with the devil, they'd deserve what happen to them. It's easy to say now "They're stupid for believing that witches were real", but if any one of us lived in that time, we'd probably believe in witches too.

Marlowe: Not to mention that anyone who thought of themselves as a witch in those times most likely had very serious issues.
Yoshi348: More quote trimming.

"The human race. You've seen what that leads to."
The Punisher: The End

"They need you right now. When they don't...they'll cast you out. Like a leper! See, their morals, their "code"'s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these, uh…civilized people, they'll eat each other."
the Joker, The Dark Knight

Notice that most of these quotes aren't fitting the Humans Suck compared to species X trope. (Cox's quote doesn't either, but it's there for a different reason, namely hitting the trope name dead on.)
Darekun: I don't think any of the examples that flips "back and forth between whether Humans Are Bastards or Humans Are Good" or the like are using this trope at all - they're just portraying a humanity that spans the entire Character Alignment spectrum.

Monsund:Agreed showing some humans are bad doesn't count. Also I must note that animals being afraid of humans does not count as Humans Are Bastards. What do you expect them to just jump into people's arms?

Marlowe The Elfenlied example, is that referring to the anime or the manga? Because I don't know the anime, but in the manga there's a lot more flawed, but sympathetic Human characters that turn up later, the most horrific treatment of the diclonics is done by pawns of those working towards a diclonic world order, that diclonics have a DNA programming that makes them kill Humans and finally that the main character only achieves her happiness through association with Humans.

Arivne: I had to take out the Mars Attacks! entry because it just doesn't fit.

  • Subverted by Mars Attacks!. Humans aren't portrayed as being especially bad in that movie, but the super-advanced aliens destroying the world? They're pretty much just doing it because they're dicks and think it's really funny.

Sarafina: The last sentence in the example of Happy Feet isn't true. Humans discover the problem (no fish) via Mumble's tap dancing. When the humans are watching the penguins tap dancing (from what was filmed) this dialogue occurs:

Are they trying to tell us something?

What's the problem?
Among other things we are messing with their food chain.
We've gotta do something.

We suggest a ban on all marine harvesting.

In the end they do ban marine harvesting ("No fishing!"). This shows that the humans realized that they are causing a problem in the food chain of the South pole and they want to fix it. Also during the discussion/argument that ensures because of the tape/film, they talk about penguins, not penguins who can tap dance.

Rann: Page is starting to get awfully "humans are teh suxxorz!" again. May have to do another purge soon.
  • Splatter: I killed the entire IRL section, which ran directly contrary to the very explanation of the trope as explained out in the intro.
  • Indeed this page has to get looked over every so often to keep it from turning into an example of this trope itself. If people start denouncing our superior species then we must cleanse the heresy in the name of the Emporer!