Created By: Earnest on August 11, 2011 Last Edited By: Earnest on August 27, 2011
Troped

Endangerous People

Superpowers are awesome! ... Except now we're targets of people trafficking.

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Trope
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In a setting where there is a Witch Species, aliens, fairies, or superpowers that show up with sufficient regularity, these Differently Powered Individuals will have the dual hardship of being hunted by those who hate and fear them... or don't fear them at all and want to exploit them. The government, corporations, Mad Scientists and criminal organizations may seek to enslave and co-opt them to evil ends, such as spying, Super Soldiering, For Science!! and many other uses.

In extreme cases they may become an Endangered Species thanks to this Fantastic Racism.

Related to this trope is the tendency for these Differently Powered Individuals not to take this sitting down; resistance movements may spring up in self-defense. Some may seek justice and to create a equality and cohabitation (if not integration), others to rule humanity, and some to wipe it out entirely.

This has some basis in Real Life. The Industrial Revolutions (there are two of them) deserve most of the credit for ending slavery, particularly in America. The creation of more efficient devices (such as the cotton gin) reduced the need for physical labor, because technology was able to accomplish more than any number of indentured servants could. This eliminated the largest justification that slaveowners fell back on, as most labor-intensive jobs (like cotton and sugar plantations) would be able to continue operation without working unfortunate slaves half to death. Human muscle power was obsolete.

However, in a world with Differently Powered Individuals, assuming that these powers are significant enough to upset the balance of order, you've once again made slavery a relevant business. Conceivably, finding a way to make these superpowers universally available via Super Serum would act as a "third" industrial revolution in this case.


Examples:

Anime
  • Witch Hunter Robin had the inquisition out to mostly kill witches, but the Japanese branch wasn't averse to recruiting witches... in order to use them to hunt down their own kind.

Comic Books

Film
  • In the original Escape to Witch Mountain Tony & Tia are chased by a Corrupt Corporate Executive who wants to use their powers for his personal gain and a mob of people on a literal Witch Hunt. Not that they know what they'll do with them once they catch them.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a solitary example: The Incredible Hulk, whom General Thunderbolt Ross says, in no uncertain terms "is property of the US Government". Specifically, since Banner tested an attempt to reverse-engineer a super-soldier serum on himself, the power of the resultant Hulk Out is seen by Ross as useful to the government as study. He's prepared to capture Banner and use him as a guinea pig/monster on a leash for the rest of his life.
  • This is the premise of Push, all the world's superpowers hunt down... people with actual superpowers, killing, brainwashing, and experimenting on them.

Literature
  • In Crest of the Stars, the Abh were originally created to be slaves. Now that they have an empire of their own, they're hated.

Live-Action TV
  • Heroes had a mix of both options by the same organization, which both hunted, exterminated, recruited and blackmailed people with abilities.

Tabletop RPG
  • In the Aberrant role-playing, some novas (superpowered individuals) are hunted by criminal syndicates who kidnap them and harvest their organs to make superpowered drugs.
  • Champions. The organization PSI (Parapsychological Studies Institute) hunts down and captures people with psionic abilities and brainwashes them into becoming villains and slaves of PSI. PSI plans to use them to take control of the world.
  • In the New World of Darkness gameline Hunter: The Vigil, the Cheiron corporation does this to any being with powers, dissecting them for organ transplants.

Web Comics
  • In Drowtales, while "Goblin" races (humans, orcs, etc.) are terrified of Fae races (elves, faeries), one kingdom has offered a reward for captives of elven blood for use as human sacrifice in hopes of obtaining the power of immortality.

Western Animation
  • In Young Justice, the "genomorphs" are this: genetically-engineered/cloned superbeings that are kept under mental control until ordered with a task. In fact, the pilot was a carefully-crafted revolt by the genomorphs to supplant the control of The Light (the Omniscient Council of Vagueness which created them) and allow the most human-looking of them (Superboy) to escape and act as their advocate to the outside world.

Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • August 11, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In the original Escape To Witch Mountain Tony & Tia are chased by a Corrupt Corporate Executive who wants to use their powers for his personal gain and a mob of people on a literal Witch Hunt. Not that they know what they'll do with them once they catch them.
  • August 11, 2011
    KingZeal
    • The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a solitary example: The Incredible Hulk, whom General Thunderbolt Ross says, in no uncertain terms "is property of the US Government". Specifically, since Banner tested an attempt to reverse-engineer a super-soldier serum on himself, the power of the resultant Hulk Out is seen by Ross as useful to the government as study. He's prepared to capture Banner and use him as a guinea pig/monster on a leash for the rest of his life.

    Might be worth noting in the trope description that the Industrial Revolutions (there are two of them) deserve most of the credit for ending slavery, particularly in America. The creation of more efficient devices (such as the cotton gin) reduced the need for physical labor, because technology was able to accomplish more than any number of indentured servants could. This eliminated the largest justification that slaveowners fell back on, as most labor-intensive jobs (like cotton and sugar plantations) would be able to continue operation without working unfortunate slaves half to death. Human muscle power was obsolete.

    However, in a world with Differently Powered Individuals, assuming that these powers are significant enough to upset the balance of order, you've once again made slavery a relevant business.
  • August 12, 2011
    Arivne
    In order to be an example, is it necessary that the superpowered people be hated and feared? The reason is that I can think of at least one example where superpowered people are captured and enslaved without being hated by anyone.

    Tabletop RPG
    • Champions. The organization PSI (Parapsychological Studies Institute) hunts down and captures people with psionic abilities and brainwashes them into becoming villains and slaves of PSI. PSI plans to use them to take control of the world.
  • August 12, 2011
    foxley
    In the Aberrant role-playing game, some novas (superpowered individuals) are hunted by criminal syndicates who kidnap them and harvest their organs to make superpowered drugs.
  • August 12, 2011
    KingZeal
    • In Young Justice, the "genomorphs" are this: genetically-engineered/cloned superbeings that are kept under mental control until ordered with a task. In fact, the pilot was a carefully-crafted revolt by the genomorphs to supplant the control of The Light (the Omniscient Council Of Vagueness which created them) and allow the most human-looking of them (Superboy) to escape and act as their advocate to the outside world.
  • August 12, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    • In Halloweentown, the residents of the title location are fantasy creatures who fled here to avoid conflict with humans. One faction wants to return and enslave the now - unsuspecting humans, while another wants to test humans to see if they are ready for peaceful coexistance.
    • Subverted in Harry Potter, due to the wizards getting just too good at hiding, pretending to be killed off, etc.
    • In Crest Of The Stars, the Abh were originally created to be slaves. Now that they have an empire of their own, they're hated.
    • In Drowtales, while "Goblin" races (humans, orcs, etc.) are terrified of Fae races (elves, faeries), one kingdom has offered a reward for captives of elven blood for use as human sacrifice in hopes of obtaining the power of immortality.

    Namestorming:
  • August 12, 2011
    KingZeal
    Indentured Supers. Also, I don't think most of those examples above work. The idea of the trope is that the slaves are significantly more gifted than Muggles, not just a different race/class of people.
  • August 12, 2011
    Bisected8
  • August 12, 2011
    MorganWick
    The description seems to describe two different tropes: people wanting to enslave Differently Powered Individuals, and such individuals fighting against their Fantastic Racism. It's even possible to read the trope as just a duplicate of Fantastic Racism. The laconic supports the first interpretation, but the X-Men sure as hell aren't known for that, let alone being Trope Codifiers. Name me anyone who has ever supported enslaving mutants.
  • August 12, 2011
    KingZeal
    Weapon X.
  • August 13, 2011
    Bruxist
    And U-Men. Although in this case, they were specifically trafficking mutant body parts, blood and whatever else carried the mutations.
  • August 13, 2011
    Earnest
    There's also the island nation of Genosha, which built its prosperity on mutant slavery.

    I'll edit the description so it only mentions the supers resisting as a possible result of the persecution. Anyone want to ykttw that as a trope?

    @Arivne: The "hate and fear" isn't essential, just that they have amazing abilities and that those who know of them wish to exploit them.

    I'm liking Endangered Supers and Supers Slave Ring.
  • August 25, 2011
    Earnest
    Bumping for more examples and votes on the names.
  • August 26, 2011
    ZombieAladdin
    • In One Piece, Fishmen inherently have 10 times the strength of normal humans, but they are constantly getting captured and placed into slavery, where they are bought for extremely high prices by the fabulously wealthy.

    • While never shown at the forefront, analysis shows that Toons in Who Framed Roger Rabbit are a minority race, corralled into the ethnic neighborhood of Toontown. This is due to Judge Doom's discovery of Dip, the only thing that can harm a Toon, but it utterly wrecks them in even the smallest quantities. This allows Doom to rule Toontown with an iron fist and pick off any insubordinates.
  • August 26, 2011
    OmarKarindu
    Super Human Trafficking seems like a natural trope name.

    Comics

    Film
    • In a variant, the alien Prawns in District9 are used as slaves by their human antagonists.

    Live Action TV

    Western Animation
    • Roulette (see Comic Books above) turns up with this M.O. on Justice League as well.
  • August 27, 2011
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Shadowrun. Drakes are creatures which appear to be human but can shapeshift into the form of small dragons, with appropriate powers. Once they started to appear, powerful entities such as Great Dragons and MegaCorps immediately started to hunt them down and capture them.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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