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


(permanent link) added: 2011-08-11 21:23:00 sponsor: Earnest (last reply: 2011-08-27 04:33:04)

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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.

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