Created By: berr on October 12, 2010 Last Edited By: berr on January 26, 2011
Troped

Space Elves

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Note: See discussion here, here (original ykttw), here, and here for reference.

This is a supertrope bringing together isolated references to Space Elves in three separate tropes: Our Elves Are Better, Proud Scholar Race Guy (Type II), and The Greys in one spot for the first time. Examples of each type would still fall under those tropes.

Launching soon, please respond with examples prior to launch.

There are certain races in Speculative Fiction that appear to occupy an equivalent niche that elves do in a fantasy setting; the idealized, Closer to Earth culture reaching toward utopian ideals, or the inscrutable, ominous Fair Folk for whom We Are as Mayflies.

When they are not behaving as a standard fantasy elf or, as is often the case, an enlightened mystic race such as Vulcans or Na'vi, they are off abducting humans, cattle, and children just like their Fair Folk ancestors.

Sometimes the elf-like race is implied to be Ancient Astronauts themselves, misremembered or otherwise. Sometimes they are literal Elves IN SPACE! or at the very least have elf-like characteristics such as longevity and Pointy Ears.

Some anthropologists have speculated that the tendency to imagine any foriegn intruders who are different from us as Elves vs. Dwarves is hard-wired, like the theory that humans are hard-wired to imagine dragons because monkeys were afraid of snakes.

By this logic, humans have an innate tendency to classify "alien" cultures as inscrutable, slender (tall and/or diminutive) beings who were here before us, have better tools and are not to be messed with,[[hottip:**:(all of which traits were once attributed to pygmies and other neolithic tribes by their Iron Age neighbors)]] versus swarthy, hairy fellows with large families, who are industrious, engage in untouchable occupations such as mining, and are migrants.[[hottip:**:(all of which traits were once attributed to the Irish and European immigrants, along with pygmies whom neighboring tribes wished to subjugate.)]] Space Elves and Space Dwarves would thus occupy an extreme niche as entirely legendary beings that personify the same archetypes.

Subtrope of Our Elves Are Better. There are three types of Space Elves: actual elves in a non-standard fantasy setting (compare Urban Fantasy, Mundane Fantastic); archetypal mystical philosophical beings (Proud Scholar Race) that could be elves if it were a fantasy setting (compare Proud Warrior Race, Proud Merchant Race for the Elves vs. Dwarves equivalent); and beings which are definitely alien but behave almost exactly like the Fair Folk and sometimes fill the same function (compare Ancient Astronauts, The Greys, Little Green Men).

Examples of all three types fall under this trope: Type I is a specific category of Our Elves Are Better. Type II is a specific category of Proud Scholar Race. Type III is a specific category of The Fair Folk.

Type II-A is an oddly specific phenomenon that describes the tendency of Type II's to manifest as a Blue Skinned Space Babe. It is a reoccurring theme in several works and universes that all seem to be referencing each other.

Type I: Elves In Space* (main article: Our Elves Are Better) *redirects here

Standard fantasy elves or equivalent beings with Serial Numbers Filed Off... In Spaaaace! These are surprisingly common in science fiction and Tabletop Games (compare Urban Fantasy). Ancient Astronauts may count as Type I if they are not merely mistaken for elves, but actually are elves who turn out to be an alien race.

Type II: Enlightened Mystic Race* (main article: Proud Scholar Race (Type II) *redirects here

Personality-wise, they may be aloof and detached, or (in the case of empathic types) quite gregarious. Either way, they have a tendency to be more mystical or philosophical than most of the other species in the setting. These are almost by definition Proud Scholar Race Guy (Type II), and they are typically pitted against Proud Warrior Race Guy in a straight application of Elves vs. Dwarves. For more information on Type II, see Proud Scholar Race.

Type II-A: Psychic Blue Space Babe* (main article: Green-Skinned Space Babe) *redirects there

Exactly What It Says on the Tin. For some reason, Space Elves, especially females of Type II, tend to manifest as a Blue-Skinned Space Babe and for quite some time now. Sometimes known as "blue hotties", they're more likely to be blue than green. Possibly because of the "little green men" stigma about science fiction, and the fact that green skin is more likely than blue to look like you have a horrible fungal infection. Sometimes they are part of a Sexy Matriarchy. Examples of Type II-A do not need to be listed separately, but are worth noting.

Type III: Mystic Alien Intruders* (compare: The Greys; The Fair Folk; Little Green Men) *redirects here

These are beings that fill the same function as The Fair Folk in the story or in popular consciousness, except that they (usually) Descended From Outer Space. This is very commonly associated with The Greys, although not always. Little Green Men can replace Leprechauns. Alien Abduction may take the place of a Changeling Tale. When they aren't snatching up our children, unnaturally extending our lifespans, or performing mystic rites on us for shits and giggles, they're snatching up our cattle just like the Brownies of old, and impregnating our virginal (swear to god!) women-folk, thus leading to Half-Human Hybrids. They may be Sufficiently Advanced, or older than the hills. See also Time Abyss. One thing Type 3's share in common is they are invariably Inscrutable.

Compare the Three Types of Proud Race Guy: Proud Scholar Race Guy (usually Space Elves), Proud Warrior Race Guy (posssibly Space Dwarves) and Proud Merchant Race Guy (all too often depicted as Space Jews, who may in fact be any of the three Proud Race Guys, or they may be standard ordinary people in a diaspora situation, thus occupying a middle position.

Note: Type II Space Elves (Enlightened Mystic Race) are also Type II examples of Proud Scholar Race.

Examples of Type I (Literal Elves In Space)

Examples Needed, Will update on launch.

  • The Eldar in Warhammer: 40000, naturally.
  • The Elves in ElfQuest.
    • The ElfQuest elves ironically didn't take on elf form until after they were stranded on Planet Abode, and didn't get back into space for about 20,000 years.
  • The fairies (including elves) of the Artemis Fowl series are traditional, native-to-Earth fairies, with magic that does some things, but they're also very high-tech and in a distinctly sci-fi setting. A fairy space probe plays a part in "Atlantis Complex," among other things.
  • Jak's race might be another example - Jak strikes one as Link IN SPACE!, and Link was an elf.

Examples of Type II (Enlightened Mystic Race)

See main page (Proud Scholar Race, Type II) for more examples.

  • Spock and his Vulcan ilk are scholarly, long-lived, pointy-eared, phlegmatic, and psychic.
    • Vulcans are also long-lived, vegetarian, and consider their way of life superior to humans'. There are already Vulcan examples in Can't Argue with Elves... because you can't.
    • Not only that, Vulcans are High Elves, Romulans are Dark Elves.
  • The Na'vi are Wood Elves. Type II-A to boot: the most recent example.
  • There's also the asari from Mass Effect. They also fit the scheme of Type II-A. Female, Blue, Space, Psychic, somewhat elfish.
  • The Abh in Crest of the Stars are blatant type 2's, with a good helping of Can't Argue with Elves--they're world conquerers and we're supposed to sympathize with them.
  • Not from a matriarchy or a female-dominated race, but other than that, Mira Nova from Buzz Lightyear of Star Command fits the bill of Type II-A'' perfectly.
  • The Elerians from the Orion games (2 and 3, not found in MOO 1) are a Type II-A.
  • The Syreen from the Star Control series of games are Type II-A.
  • The loroi from the webcomic Outsiders are Type II-A.
  • The Protoss from StarCraft fall under Type II and, except for the babe part, Type II-A.

Examples of Type III (Mystic Alien Intruders)

See also The Greys for additional examples, of a specific type.


Community Feedback Replies: 47
  • October 12, 2010
    berr
    So, should this page provide an examples list of each type, or be a supertrope linking to the main pages for each type (Elves In Space --> Our Elves Are Better, Enlightened Mystic Race --> Proud Scholar Race Guy, Mystic Alien Intruders --> The Fair Folk)?
  • October 12, 2010
    Wyvernil
    It might be useful as a supertrope.

    One possible idea might be to create a Fantastic Aliens trope for alien species which are basically fantastic races in space, including both Space Elves and Space Dragons and everything else of that nature. This would probably be a subtrope for Ancient Astronauts, which does the same thing for mythological figures.
  • October 12, 2010
    berr
    Yeah, the reason I categorized it as above is so the supertrope / subtrope distinctions would be roughly parallel with existing trope descriptions and won't break on examination.

    Note that I'm including all three types as a redirect so they can be soft-split later into tropes that can be categorized under this and related supertropes, e.g. Fantastic Aliens and Proud Something Race Guys.

    Although I suspect Type I Elves In Space, being a straight application of the term, should probably still redirect here.

    If we launch this, maybe we could have a Sliding Scale Of Sci Fi Versus Fantasy page (at some point) that could help clarify the relation between various tropes that have sci-fi and fantasy equivalents. (do we?)
  • October 13, 2010
    berr
    This trope has actually been discussed extensively in two other ykttws, so the only unresolved question is, being a Super Trope that references three categories of Space Elves, one of which has it's "own" page (sort of -- Proud Scholar Race has two types, and one of them is Enlightened Mystic Race) and one of which is listed on Our Elves Are Better --

    ...Are Examples Needed here or not? Should we port In Space examples over from Our Elves Are Better?

    (How is the Elf page split from its other subtropes? Are examples included on both pages?)
  • October 13, 2010
    berr
    Come to think of it, we could put examples of Type I here easily, since literal Elves In Space are a very easy to define phenomenon. So, just to keep things moving on this...

    Needs More Examples, Rolling Updates on Type I (literal Elves In Space).
  • October 15, 2010
    berr
    No replies so far?

    Note, the focus on literal examples as Type 1 was not suggested by me; it was indicated to be a common trope. Should be easy to identify examples as a result. I would assume Warhammer 40 K is one, but I don't play.
  • October 15, 2010
    magnum12
    Yes, they are indeed space elves.
  • October 16, 2010
    berr
    ^ Added.
  • October 17, 2010
    berr
    Any suggestions to improve this? since it is a super trope and has a supertrope above it (Our Elves Are Better - examples on this page will also appear on one or two existing pages) and got a lot of discussion on the old ykttw about creating this... additional input? duplicate examples from the existing pages? or should this be an example free page and only list examples of Type I and direct people to existing pages for the other types?
  • October 17, 2010
    berr
    hmm, hopefully if folks from the old ykttw has any input
  • November 12, 2010
    berr
    bumping.
  • November 12, 2010
    elwoz
    Elf Quest is type 1, I think (only read a tiny bit of it, long ago)
  • November 12, 2010
    LKtheGreat
    Borderline example: the fairies (including elves) of the Artemis Fowl series are traditional, native-to-Earth fairies, with magic that does some things, but they're also very high-tech and in a distinctly sci-fi setting. Does this count?
  • November 12, 2010
    berr
    I think it counts under literal elves INSPACE, I'm assuming they are capable of spaceflight if they wanted, right?
  • November 12, 2010
    LKtheGreat
    @berr: Yes - a fairy space probe plays a part in "Atlantis Complex," and I'm fairly sure such things were mentioned before.

    Edited my original to point out that elves aren't the only fairy race in the Artemis Fowl series.
  • November 18, 2010
    berr
    added.
  • November 19, 2010
    Indalecio
    The Ariloulaleelay from Star Control 2 would qualify as a Type III. They live in another dimension, are as old as dirt, and imply that performed experiments on humans in the past.
  • November 19, 2010
    Xzenu
    Expand teh Star Trek and Avatar examples a bit: Vulcans are High Elves, Romulans are Dark Elves, Na'Vi are Wood E Lves. :-)
  • November 26, 2010
    berr
    Not only that, but yet another discussion was started on Trope Talk about the oddly specific trope, "Psychic Blue Space Babe".

    Three examples were listed, which is almost more than this whole ykttw. And it was said to be a subtrope of Space Elves. Should we merge it in here?

  • November 26, 2010
    Wyvernil
    The linked discussion seems to be the original topic which inspired the original "Space Elves" YKTTW.

    Don't seem to see any new topics on the matter. But if there's any examples in there which aren't already here, feel free to add them.

  • November 26, 2010
    berr
    The three examples did not mention Na'vi either...
  • November 26, 2010
    Sackett
    Do we really need a trope for something that is the same but Recycled In Space?

    Do we have an Our Aliens Are Different type page? That would seem to me to be the more appropriate supertrope for different types of aliens, with a link to Our Elves Are Different and a mention that Elves lend themselves very easily to being Recycled In Space
  • November 26, 2010
    berr
    Wyvernil - it may not be a separate trope but it might be worth mentioning since the lanuage in this ykttw needs to be tightened up anyway.

    The issue is, aside from bumping it this ykttw has accumulated very few replies so far and I'm not sure if that means it's been talked to death or what?
  • November 26, 2010
    arromdee
    The Abh in Crest Of The Stars are blatant type 2's, with a good helping of Cant Argue With Elves--they're world conquerers and we're supposed to sympathize with them.
  • November 26, 2010
    LeeM
    The Elf Quest elves ironically didn't take on elf form until after they were stranded on Planet Abode, and didn't get back into space for about 20,000 years.
  • November 26, 2010
    berr
    Sackett -- the issue was there has been different threads all saying "we need this, launch it already" etc. The question was... how best to define it, so that we didn't have three or four different tropes ("Psychic Blue Space Babe", "Enlightened Mystic Race", which in turn overlaps with "Proud Scholar Race Guy", "Elves In Space") all saying the same thing. Hence the Type I-III (the notion is, these three don't really need separate pages, but each type is a subtrope of a different existing trope, and examples are listed in all three places.) It's been challenging because each thread (see up top) got tons of replies so I think the issue has been talked to death. And... it's a trope in the sense that there is a very definite tendency in sci-fi to create an "elf type" race regardless of setting.

    And the final issue is... we do have pages for half of the Elf tropes, including Rock Elves. Oddly enough, we don't have separate tropes for High Elves / Dark Elves / Wood Elves, probably because the distinction between them is so canonical that Our Elves Are Different covers it quite nicely for just about every elf in fiction. So since there is a similar distinction here, and only about half the examples are literal elves, I figure we could have a similar page covering all three types of Space Elves, without separate pages. Remember, only Type I is literal Elves In Space.
  • November 26, 2010
    berr
    But perhaps we could also use an Our Aliens Are Completely Alien page to list without examples the various sorts of aliens, the three Proud Race Guy tropes (for which there is no supertrope at present), the Greys vs. Little Green Men, etc. I assume there's already a page like that, probably on the index of alien tropes.
  • November 26, 2010
    Generality
    The Protoss fall under Type II and, except for the babe part, Type II-A.
  • November 27, 2010
    berr
    Added.
  • November 29, 2010
    berr
    Wyvernil - it may not be a separate trope but it might be worth mentioning since the lanuage in this ykttw needs to be tightened up anyway.

    The issue is, aside from bumping it this ykttw has accumulated very few replies so far and I'm not sure if that means it's been talked to death or what?
  • November 29, 2010
    berr
    Not only that, but yet another discussion was started on Trope Talk about the oddly specific trope, "Psychic Blue Space Babe".

    Three examples were listed, which is almost more than this whole ykttw. And it was said to be a subtrope of Space Elves. Should we merge it in here?

  • November 29, 2010
    berr
    The three examples did not include Na'vi...
  • November 29, 2010
    DeathCloud
    I wonder why its still not lauched. It's in good shape for trope entry and waste time here.

    And we should thing about Super Trope with all Space Fantasy Races
  • November 29, 2010
    berr
    The thread seems a little screwy, double posts.

    Sounds like this is ready for launch. I am putting it on brief launch countdown, just to give people a chance to add more examples because for a trope this big, it's always good to have more examples (maybe we should have a "spotlight forum" for adding examples to recently launched tropes). Please respond with more examples prior to launch.
  • December 2, 2010
    BraveHoratio
    Type II: The Minbari of Babylon 5 are High Elves or Grey Elves
  • December 2, 2010
    nrjxll
    The Silfen in Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga are Type I (they're almost physically identical to traditional elves and were the inspiration for elf legends, and are arguably Type III (those legends were specificially of The Fair Folk and their morality proves to be alien in a somewhat similiar fashion).
  • December 3, 2010
    berr
    Thanks for additional examples. I will launch this in the next day or so and add in any additional examples between now and then.
  • December 5, 2010
    berr
    Launching today.
  • December 6, 2010
    berr
    Wyvernil - it may not be a separate trope but it might be worth mentioning since the lanuage in this ykttw needs to be tightened up anyway.

    The issue is, aside from bumping it this ykttw has accumulated very few replies so far and I'm not sure if that means it's been talked to death or what?
  • December 6, 2010
    berr
    Not only that, but yet another discussion was started on Trope Talk about the oddly specific trope, "Psychic Blue Space Babe".

    Three examples were listed, which is almost more than this whole ykttw. And it was said to be a subtrope of Space Elves. Should we merge it in here?

  • December 6, 2010
    berr
    The three examples did not include Na'vi...
  • December 17, 2010
    berr
    Wyvernil - it may not be a separate trope but it might be worth mentioning since the lanuage in this ykttw needs to be tightened up anyway.

    The issue is, aside from bumping it this ykttw has accumulated very few replies so far and I'm not sure if that means it's been talked to death or what?
  • December 17, 2010
    berr
    Not only that, but yet another discussion was started on Trope Talk about the oddly specific trope, "Psychic Blue Space Babe".

    Three examples were listed, which is almost more than this whole ykttw. And it was said to be a subtrope of Space Elves. Should we merge it in here?

  • December 17, 2010
    berr
    The three examples did not include Na'vi...
  • January 26, 2011
    berr
    Wyvernil - it may not be a separate trope but it might be worth mentioning since the lanuage in this ykttw needs to be tightened up anyway.

    The issue is, aside from bumping it this ykttw has accumulated very few replies so far and I'm not sure if that means it's been talked to death or what?
  • January 26, 2011
    berr
    Not only that, but yet another discussion was started on Trope Talk about the oddly specific trope, "Psychic Blue Space Babe".

    Three examples were listed, which is almost more than this whole ykttw. And it was said to be a subtrope of Space Elves. Should we merge it in here?

  • January 26, 2011
    berr
    The three examples did not include Na'vi...
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