People Are The Real Enemy YKTTW Discussion

People Are The Real Enemy
In a survival situation, the real danger is the other survivor
(permanent link) added: 2012-03-07 10:54:57 sponsor: Speedball (last reply: 2012-03-14 18:50:37)

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Needs a Better Description, Needs More Examples

This often gets misapplied to Humans Are Bastards, so I figured it needs its own trope.

In a survival situation (Zombie Apocalypse, After the End, or some more local disaster like a sinking ship) the rules of civilization break down. It's every man, woman and child for themselves. While much can be accomplished by cooperating, in the end, there might not be enough food, water, ammunition, escape pods or other essentials for everybody. Some people will start fighting, often to the death, to protect these things. That's why, in a deadly survival situation, it's not the disaster you have to worry about: People Are The Real Enemy.

The inversion of The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People. Compare Dying Like Animals, which more broadly encompasses people dying in a disaster due to their own selfishness or stupidity.


  • All over the place in The Road. The father and son have to evade roaming packs of cannibals.
  • One of the trailers for I Am Alive flat-out says that people are more dangerous than the destroyed environment. Gangs of marauders are everywhere, and they want all the food you've got, and possibly to eat you, as well.
  • General: This is a recurring them of almost any Zombie Apocalypse scenario. Zombies are dangerous in groups, but mindless and can be killed one-on-one easily. A crazed human with a gun or a knife is significantly more dangerous. Examples are most easily found in John Romero's "of the Dead" series, the Dead Rising series where psychopaths form the boss fights, The Walking Dead (both the series and the comic).
  • The tabletop game Paranoia revolves around this. It takes place in a City in a Bottle populated by mutants and run by a demented Master Computer who considers almost anything to be treason, and yet the biggest danger in the game is almost certainly your fellow players.
  • In the Alien franchise, the aliens are certainly dangerous, but it's the actions of the callous Company that put people in danger in the first place.
  • Pretty much the whole point of Lord of the Flies.
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