Created By: BlackDragon on November 11, 2009

Enslaved Elves

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A subtrope of Screw You, Elves!, which might be worth its own trope, since it's popped up in several places by now. Could be considered a kind of meta-revenge against Can't Argue with Elves.

Basically, a once-proud and glorious race - doesn't HAVE to be elves, but it usually is - have fallen. Usually, this happened before our story even began. Now, they live in squalor and slavery - those of them that still DO live, anyway - with few traces of their ancient culture remaining. Perhaps, during the story, they will rediscover their old pride and power, for better or for worse... but only if the story's really idealistic.

  • In Overlord, as well as its sequel, the elves are enslaved. In the first game, they had lost a war with the Dwarves, and most of them were killed, haunting the ruins of their old palaces as ghosts, while the survivors were forced to slave away in the dwarven mines. Depending on your choices, you could condemn the entire race to oblivion, by selling away the lives of the last remaining elf women, for a bit pile of gold...
    • And yet, regardless of which choice you make, there are more elves appearing in the sequel - this time, they're enslaved by the anti-magic Imperium, forced to work in the empire's tourist-trap resorts. They've also got a hidden, underground city, but you'll take care of THAT minor problem during the course of the game, as well as crushing an uprising of the enslaved elves in the resort-city.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, the Elves were once an advanced culture, and possessed immortality... then humans showed up, and everything went straight to hell. By the time the game takes place, a few of the remaining elves live in savage, nomadic tribes in the deep woods, trying to keep the last few shreds of their culture alive - while the majority of them live amongst humans, where they're considered second-class citizens, relegated to slum-like 'Alienages', and mostly restricted to menial jobs such as being servants and messengers.
  • In The Death Gate Cycle, the dwarves of the World of Air, Arianus, have devolved severely, loosing their pride, and even their names. Calling themselves 'Gegs', they serve as peaceful factory-workers on the machine-filled island that is their home, worshipping visiting elves like Gods...
    • ...that is, untill one of the most peaceful and eccentric of their numbers inadvertendly stumbled on the story's protagonist, Haplo, who had just entered their world, and ends up tagging along, seeing the rest of their world, and learning of the origin of the Dwarves from Haplo. Later in the story, he returns to the Gegs, and leads them in rebellion, ressurecting the ancient name and pride of the Dwarves, casting off their elven lords. The twist from being an entire race of Comic Relief characters, to plungeing their entire world into war and chaos (since the rest of the world is mostly reliant on the water produced by the Gegs' machine) is quite well-done.
Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • November 11, 2009
    Does this have to include slavery or just poverty in general?

    • Disney's Atlantis The Lost Empire. The Atlanteans are not enslaved, but they've forgotten so much of their culture and technology they don't even know how to read anymore.
  • November 11, 2009
    Yeah, I guess it might be a good idea to make it broader... the name was just a suggestion, anyway, based on the fact that two of my three examples involved enslaved elves... and Added Alliterative Appeal, of course.
  • November 11, 2009
    The Witcher has a similar situation, no?

    That said, I think the case of Atlantis The Lost Empire is a different trope.
  • November 11, 2009
    Primo Victoria
    In The Witcher books elves are mostly threaten by humans like Indians by white collonists (somebody efen says that "The only good Elf is a dead Elf")
  • November 11, 2009
    I never played The Witcher, but keep in mind that it's only this trope if there's some proof that they USED to be a proud and noble race, before their 'fall'. If a universe's elves have always just been nomadic tribes of pointy-eared barbarian bowmen, when it doesn't count for this trope, no matter how badly they're oppressed and see the violence inherent in the system.
  • November 11, 2009
    Professor Thascales
    Sometime this or last year, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction ran a story, "An Elvish Sword of Great Antiquity" in which elves had been enslaved for a very long time, with obvious parallels with the enslavement of African-Americans and white attitudes towards them.
  • November 11, 2009
    In the backstory of Escape Velocity Nova, the Vell-os telepaths were at war for fifty years with the Colonial Council before the Vell-os surrendered. The ensuing Carthaginian peace saw the Vell-os enslaved and their worlds blasted into space debris.
  • November 11, 2009
    @Black Dragon:

    it's been a while, but it seems like they were the old race, the ones who wrote the great epics, etc. before humans came around. The book series may have more on it
  • November 12, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    The back-story of the Eldar in WH 40 K.
  • November 12, 2009
    Primo Victoria
    Black Dragon - In the books Elves were once a noble and proud race, before humans came. They were at litte higher levels that humanity's elite get in this world. And in last book we can see a proud clan that escaped to another dimension so they would not end up as rest of their race.
  • November 12, 2009
    Guess that makes The Witcher a definite example, at least in the books, then...

    I think the Eldar of Warhammer 40 K is arguable, though. Sure, they used to be even BETTER, but they're still pretty damn sophisticated, and are holding their own against everything the grim darkness of the far future (which knows only war) can throw at them...

    Their empire may have fallen, but they're still a long way from being conquered - nor are they second-class citizens, enslaved, or even impoverished.
  • November 12, 2009
    • Michael Moorcock's Swords Trilogy. The Nhadragh race was once highly advanced in both magic and culture. By the time of the stories, they had declined to the point that they were conquered and used as slaves by the Mabden (humans).
  • November 12, 2009
    The Wizard Of Oz. The Munchkins were formerly slaves of the Witch of the East, and the Winkies and flying monkeys are slaves of the Witch of the West.