Created By: Goldfritha on June 13, 2013 Last Edited By: Goldfritha on April 5, 2014

Species Like Mine

Intelligent beings prefer species like their own.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Birds of a feather flock together — and mammals tend to stick together as well, or reptiles. Or slimy silicon-based hydrogen-breathers.

Intelligent species often associate by preference with those who are like them, even though they can't interbreed. What the differences are can depend on what they are contrasted with; anything from closely related species, such as all primates, to oxygen-breathers or carbon-based lifeforms.

This may reflect the difficulty of dealing with Starfish Aliens; the biological differences may lead to mental incompatibilities too. It can also be a prejudice to be overcome.

In a Fantasy setting, the Five Races usually reflect this, since they resemble each other more than the other humanoid races.

If they can interbreed, it's Species Loyalty, or something narrower. The tropes are compatible, in that a race can prefer first its own, and then those that are similar.


Examples

Film

Literature
  • In David Brin's Uplift books, hydrogen-breathers leaving their own association to deal with oxygen-breathers instead are rare. While the galaxies in general abound with Starfish Aliens, hydrogen-breathers are so extremely alien that oxygen-breathers can't comprehend them, and usually can't communicate coherently or interact safely. Trying to treat with even weirder life, such as the Quantum Order, is mostly futile. Even when oxygen-breathers have achieved communication with quants, they have nothing in common that they can discuss.
    Even among the oxygen-breathing species many associate with similarly-minded races. For instance, humanity gets along so well with the Tymbrimi because they're much more flexible than other Galactics and actually have a sense of humor. In many cases this is justified by the fact that most species are uplifted by another and form "clans" with their patrons and "siblings".
  • In Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet series, there is a great deal of anger that human ships fought beside monstrous aliens like wolf-spider hybrids (who were willing to communicate and have always acted reasonably toward human ships) against cute teddy-bear aliens (who attacked instantly, and respond to no communications).
  • In the backstory to the Confederation of Valor series fears by the Confederate military that humans, initially the only member species able to fight, would have trouble once the Taykans and Krai started joining up turned out to be unfounded for this reason. Since the Confederation's other members run the gamut from vaguely humanoid to Starfish Aliens, the differences between the three species of similarly sized primates seemed minor by comparison.
  • In the Noon Universe, humanity prefers to interact with Human Aliens and humanoids. Nonhumanoid psychology is just considered too different and difficult for any permanent social interaction.
  • In one Stainless Steel Rat novel, an alliance of aliens is trying to put down humans as a revolting non-slimy race.
  • In Andre Norton's Storm Over Warlock, the reptilian Wyverns are considerably more like Terrans than the insectoid Throgs. Though that the latter are Planet Looters unwilling to even communicate and the Wyverns willing to live in peace doubtlessly helps determine which one Terrans can live with.
  • Subverted in the Humanx Commonwealth. Humans at first had a choice of allying themselves with the reptilian-humanoid Aann or the insectoid Thranx, and were leaning toward the Aann. Then the Pitar showed up, very humanlike and charming, and we instantly allied with them. Turned out the Pitar were Absolute Xenophobes (after they'd gotten in position, they launched a war that only ended with their annihilation), the Aann were manipulative sleazebags, and the thranx were the ones who turned out to make an awesome team with us.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Star Trek Verse there have beem many non-humanoid alien races which have appeared over time, but all the ones we see on a regular basis - i.e., the ones the main characters hang out with - are humanoid.
    • In the Next Generation episode "Human Soil" tiny Hive Mind crystalline aliens want nothing to do with the humanoids, calling them "ugly bags of mostly water."
  • In Star Trek: Enterprise they did a full season arc with the Xindi races as the Big Bad. Xindi had five sub-races: Mammalian, Arboreal, Aquatic, Reptilian, and Insectoid. The Mammalians (along with the Arboreals) were the most reasonable to deal with. The harshest were the Reptilians. Reptilian races seem tend to be the most evil throughout Speculative Fiction.

Tabletop Games
  • Later editions of D&D (and Pathfinder) tend to include an explanation of how a race interacts with other races in their description. This trope tends to dominate since the descriptions emphasise which of the other races they have the most in common with (with the odd exception of, say, mercenary or merchant races who get along with whoever they're trading with).

Real Life
Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • June 24, 2013
    aurora369
    In the Noon Universe, humanity prefers to interact with Human Aliens and humanoids. Nonhumanoid psychology is just considered too different and difficult for any permanent social interaction.
  • June 24, 2013
    StarSword
    May lead to Fantastic Racism.

    Literature:
    • In the backstory to the Confederation Of Valor series fears by the Confederate military that humans, initially the only member species able to fight, would have trouble once the Taykans and Krai started joining up turned out to be unfounded for this reason. Since the Confederation's other members run the gamut from vaguely humanoid to Starfish Aliens, the differences between the three species of similarly sized primates seemed minor by comparison.

    Also, I keep trying to write a Rule Of Cautious Editing Judgment-friendly Truth In Television example for humans' tendencies towards tribalism but I can't figure out how to phrase it.
  • June 24, 2013
    ArcadesSabboth
    I namespaced and expanded the Uplift example.

    I'd suggest just disallowing real life examples from the start. All humans are the same species, and people with prejudices who want to avoid other ethnicities really doesn't belong here.
  • June 24, 2013
    StarSword
    I was originally thinking of how, regardless of legal segregation, people tend to cluster in neighborhoods of the same ethnicity. I can definitely see the argument for NRLEP, though.
  • June 24, 2013
    MrRuano
    • Brought up frequently in the universe of Warhammer 40000:
      • The Imperium of Man is not only a paranoid police state with an inquisition eager to kill anyone that even shows the slightest hint of heresy, but it also has a campaign to purge any alien and heretic in their path.
      • The Eldar openly show contempt to any lesser races, even if they prove to be helpful, and would rather kill hundreds of them rather than let a small handful of their own die.
      • The Tau Empire are the only aversion to this principle, as they openly use other races as auxiliaries, like the Kroot, Vespids, and even other humans.
  • June 25, 2013
    Goldfritha
    Warhammer 40K would be Species Loyalty, actually.

    And human tribalism doesn't even reach Species Loyalty.

    So, needs a new name.
  • June 26, 2013
    Goldfritha
    Caem up with one.
  • July 3, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Addition to the Uplift example:
    • Even among the oxygen-breathing species many associate with similarly-minded races. For instance, humanity gets along so well with the Tymbrimi because they're much more flexible than other Galactics and actually have a sense of humor. In many cases this is justified by the fact that most species are uplifted by another and form "clans" with their patrons and "siblings".
  • July 8, 2013
    Arivne
    Prefers Their Own Species, to make it a little clearer what the trope is about?

    Tabletop Games
    • 1st Edition Dungeons And Dragons.
      • The Player's Handbook had a Racial Preferences Table for humans and demihumans. Each race preferred dealing with other members of its race more than it did other races.
      • The Dungeon Master's Guide had a Humanoid Racial Preferences Table for humanoid monsters (orcs, gnolls, goblins and so on). Each humanoid race also preferred dealing with other members of its race over other races, with a couple of exceptions. Hobgoblins and orcs only preferred to deal with others of the same or friendly families/tribes: they hated all members of rival families/tribes. Trolls only felt neutral toward toward other trolls and didn't prefer to deal with any other race.
  • July 8, 2013
    Goldfritha
    Prefers Their Own Species is NOT this trope -- that's Species Loyalty.
  • July 9, 2013
    Bisected8
    • Later editions of D&D (and Pathfinder) tend to include an explanation of how a race interacts with other races in their description. This trope tends to dominate since the descriptions emphasise which of the other races they have the most in common with (with the odd exception of, say, mercenary or merchant races who get along with whoever they're trading with).
  • July 9, 2013
    MorganWick
    I know we're leaning towards NRLEP, but would a meta-example be sci-fi's tendency to feature sapient creatures, in a way comprehensible to us (even creatures with Blue And Orange Morality tend to know English), often inexplicably human-like, and the more human-like they are the less likely they are to be evil?
  • July 9, 2013
    StarSword
    ^I think that's covered by Most Writers Are Human.
  • December 29, 2013
    frosty
  • December 29, 2013
    DAN004
    Hmm okay... I'm lost on this. What's the trope about, and how is it different from Species Loyalty?
  • December 30, 2013
    dalek955
    Species Loyalty is when characters prefer to hang out with their own species and don't like other species. This trope is when the species as a whole likes to ally with those aliens most similar to themselves.
  • December 30, 2013
    DAN004
    So "their own species" vs "similar species"?
  • December 30, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the Star Trek Verse there have beem many non-humanoid alien races which have appeared over time, but all the ones we see on a regular basis - i.e., the ones the main characters hang out with - are humanoid.

    In the Next Generation episode "Human Soil" tiny Hive Mind crystalline aliens want nothing to do with the humanoids, calling them "ugly bags of mostly water."
  • December 30, 2013
    dalek955
    • Subverted in the Humanx Commonwealth. Humans at first had a choice of allying themselves with the reptilian-humanoid Aann or the insectoid Thranx, and were leaning toward the Aann. Then the Pitar showed up, very humanlike and charming, and we instantly allied with them. Turned out the Pitar were Absolute Xenophobes (after they'd gotten in position, they launched a war that only ended with their annihilation), the Aann were manipulative sleazebags, and the thranx were the ones who turned out to make an awesome team with us.
  • December 30, 2013
    Snicka
  • December 30, 2013
    Goldfritha
    Actually Species Loyalty is when characters prefer to hang out with their own species — they can like other species, but they feel a loyalty to their own.
  • December 31, 2013
    Niria
    In Star Trek: Enterprise they did a full season arc with the Xindi races as the Big Bad. Xindi had five sub-races: Mammalian, Arboreal, Aquatic, Reptilian, and Insectoid. The Mammalians (along with the Arboreals) were the most reasonable to deal with. The harshest were the Reptilians. Reptilian races seem tend to be the most evil throughout Speculative Fiction.
  • December 31, 2013
    zarpaulus
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=8h7684eqi0eqanxm4emha9qc