Created By: somerandomdude on November 24, 2012 Last Edited By: zarpaulus on October 28, 2013
Troped

Humans Are Divided

Humans, moreso than other species/races, seem to be uniquely prone to factioning and/or inner conflict.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
So you have your fantasy setting. The elves are all ruled by the gracious Queen Bona, the dwarves are all loyal to the mighty King Stormhammer, and the orcish hordes are all under the iron fist of Lord Grimdark. And the humans?

Well, the humans have King James, King Seth, and King Ian. And they all hate each other.

Humans, as a species, seem to be uniquely prone to factioning and intra-species conflict. If ever humans arise in a story, there are likely to be multiple kingdoms with poor relations. Multiple nations may exist for other races as well, but they usually like each other fine, unlike the humans, who will constantly try to get the edge on their "rival," even in the face of The Horde.

Please note that this is only for cases where the humans are divided, in stark contrast to other races/species in the setting. If everyone hates each other, and the humans aren't special, then it's not an example.

Examples

Literature
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Men are the only race to fight on both sides of the War of the Ring. The good side has Men of Dale, Gondor and Rohan, along with Dwarves, Elves, Ents and Hobbits. The evil side has Men of Dunland, Harad, Khand, Rhûn and Umbar, along with Orcs and other Always Chaotic Evil races. There was also a long-standing rivalry between Rohan and Gondor that slowed the building of their alliance.
  • John Christopher's The Tripods trilogy. Before the Masters conquered the Earth humans regularly fought with each other as they do today. During the trilogy humans from different national areas joined together and carried out several attacks to defeat the Masters. Shortly after the victory the humans from different areas had already started squabbling with each other again, to the dismay of the narrator/protagonist.
  • Spin Control by Chris Moriarty features a human-to-human example that is effectively Earthlings Are Divided. The bulk of human-controlled space is run by the United Nations, but Earth is hardly under a One World Order and its feuding nation-states present an unfamiliar wrinkle to offworlders trying to negotiate with Earth.
  • In Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series the Race invades earth during World War II. America, the Soviets, and Nazi Germany only work together just enough to keep the Race from conquering the entire planet. And even then they're constantly at one another's throats.
  • In the Garrett, P.I. series, humans are the only race inclined to prolonged large-scale conventional or magical warfare. Other races have the occasional internal spat, but it's usually either at the level of tribal feuding or else decided by a single battle. Civilized non-humans are more inclined to fight members of other species, or as mercenaries for human factions, than their own kind.
  • In Ender's Game earth is united under the Hegemon thanks to the threat of the Formics, but the counter-invasion fleet hasn't even reached the Formic homeworld by the time countries start plotting against one another. And the planet is engulfed by war within months of the end of the war.

Live Action TV
  • In Babylon 5, the story arc starts with a unified human government called the Earth Alliance, which encompasses Earth and every other planet colonized by humans. However, by the end of the arc (after the Earth Civil War), Mars (which had a sizeable separatist movement since before the civil war) and some other colonies are independent entities. The Minbari also had a civil war, between castes in that case, but their race rather quickly reunified when that was settled. All other alien races were also under unified governments and stayed that way.
    • In "Parliament of Dreams", they have a week in which each race on Babylon 5 is supposed to showcase the religion of their planet. All of the other races have a unified religion for their planet, but when it's the humans' turn to participate, Commander Sinclair walks the ambassadors down a long line of clergy from the multitude of faiths on Earth. Though it is shown in later episodes that the Narn have a few different faiths (or at least denominations emphasizing different prophets), and G'kar accidentally starts a new one.
  • In Star Trek in general, when there is warfare within a planet, it is always described as "civil war", without regard to whether sovereign states are involved, in stark contrast to how we describe wars on Earth.
  • In Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) the twelve colonies of Kobol weren't politically unified until the Cylon rebellion. Amongst the refugee fleet infighting seems to kill as many as the Cylons.
  • Andromeda: The Systems Commonwealth fell thanks to the Nietzscheans, a Human Subspecies, rebelling. Once the Commonwealth was shattered the Nietzscheans fragmented into hundreds of competing prides. Many of the assorted planetary governments during the Long Night are also human. In contrast the Vedrans all vanished, the Perseids retreated to their homeworld, the Than re-established their pre-Commonwealth Hegemony...

Tabletop Games
  • Downplayed in Warhammer 40K. Humans are all united under the Imperium, but it's in a constant state of civil war (being so large) and their worlds are constantly at risk of being annexed by the Tau or falling to Chaos. However they're nowhere near as bad as the Orks (who'll fight each other if they can't find anyone else to have a scrap with).
  • In Warhammer Fantasy humans comprise not only The Empire but also Bretonnia and much of the Chaos forces.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons setting Eberron, of the twelve nations that formed from the breakup of the old Kingdom of Galifar, five are ruled by humans. Every other base race has one nation.
  • Traveller has a lot of human empires. Due in part to the Ancient's habit of abducting primitive humans from earth and placing them on distant planets. During the reign of the Third Imperium there's the Imperium itself and its numerous client states, the semi-autonomous Solomani Confederation, the Zhodani Consulate, the Sword Worlders, the Darriens...
    • Meanwhile the Hivers and K'kree have single unified states, while the Droyne live in scattered enclaves and the Aslan and Vargr seem incapable of forming stable large governments.

Video Games
  • While all the three races in Starcraft experience some Civil Warcraft the Terrans have it worst. Factions include the Terran Confederacy, the Sons of Korhal which become the Terran Dominion, Raynor's Raiders, and the United Earth Directorate. In contrast the Zerg are a Hive Mind who only fight one another when the Overmind's power is disrupted, and the Protoss have one major division who set aside their differences and reunite by Brood War.
  • Warcraft II has the multiple human kingdoms, most of whom don't like each other, attempting to unite in the face of a united orcish Horde under the thumb of Orgrim Doomhammer. Gilneas ends up leaving, and Alterac eventually betrays them and joins the Horde.
  • The X-Universe series has this happen due to Earth's colonies getting cut off from the homeworld. The four nonhuman core factions are all under One World Order, but by X3: Terran Conflict there are four separate human governments: the Argon Federation, the Earth State, the Free State of Solara (otherwise known as Aldrin), and the Hatikvah Free League. Earth's paranoia means that they and the Argon immediately become embroiled in a Space Cold War, which turns into a hot war by the next game Albion Prelude.
  • In the Halo series the USMC was in the process of putting down many colonial insurrections when the multi-species Covenant attacked.
  • In Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars the GDI and Brotherhood of Nod are still fighting as the alien Scrin invade.
  • Played With in Sword of the Stars, the Hivers, Tarka, and Zuul are more factional than humanity, but the Liir and Morrigi are more unified.
  • Endless Space has three separate human factions; the capitalistic United Empire, the Pilgrims who broke off from the rule of the empire to pursue their own goals, and Horatio, who are all clones of a billionaire named Horatio, who decided to create an empire consisting entirely of himself. There's also a 4th human faction availeable as DLC, but background-wise it's the elite fleet of the United Empire and not a separate entity.
  • Mass Effect has the Earth Systems Alliance and Cerberus, a very powerful terrorist organiztion (which becomes more powerful and openly hostile as the games progress). That said, the Krogan are even worse off, with the various clans fighting each other (they become united as the games progress), and the Turians are stated to have recently had their own internal conflict.
  • When EverQuest II first launched, there were only two starting locations: The Human cities of Qeynos and Freeport. Both of these cities were the only ones that survived through 500 years of wars, cataclysms that tore up the entire planet, and one of Norrath's moons exploding and raining down debris. All the other races had to abandon their homes for various reasons and flock to those cities. With the continent literally split apart and separated by rough seas, a Cold War scenario developed between all the good races of Qeynos and all the evil races who fled to Freeport.
Community Feedback Replies: 32
  • November 24, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
  • November 24, 2012
    DracMonster
    The starcraft and warcraft examples are very debatable - both zerg and protoss storylines featured internal conflicts. As for warcraft, the orcs were actually much more prone to infighting -- they were basically (just barely) being held together by a cabal of warlocks using a combination of black magic and very careful political manipulation. (Blizzard doesn't go in for peaceful coexistence...)
  • November 24, 2012
    somerandomdude
    ^ They do feature internal conflict, but none of it ever results in separate, warring factions, which is what this trope is about.
  • November 24, 2012
    Ghilz
  • November 24, 2012
    jatay3
    Humans, by definition would have no need of diplomats if they were united Ghilz.
  • November 24, 2012
    SeptimusHeap
    ^I think Humans Are Diplomats often refers to their relations to other species.
  • November 24, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    Averted in Tolkien's depiction of the Elves, especially in the Silmarillion when tribes, factions and offshoots of the original elven stock are frequently in conflict.

  • November 24, 2012
    Bisected8
    • Downplayed in Warhammer 40 K. Humans are all united under the Imperium, but it's in a constant state of civil war (being so large) and their worlds are constantly at risk of being annexed by the Tau or falling to Chaos. However they're nowhere near as bad as the Orks (who'll fight each other if they can't find anyone else to have a scrap with).
  • November 24, 2012
    NimmerStill
    • In Babylon Five, humans seem to be the only species prone to intraspecies warfare.
    • In Star Trek in general, when there is warfare within a planet, it is always described as "civil war", without regard to whether sovreign states are involved, in stark contrast to how we describe wars on Earth.
  • November 24, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Related to Planet Of Hats--the other side of the coin, where alien races are depicted as unusually homogenous in culture compared to humans, and thus often more unified--unless Humans are The Federation or have a world government at that point (which would be an aversion of this proposed trope).

    In Babylon 5, the story arc starts with a unified human government called the Earth Alliance, which encompasses Earth and every other planet colonized by humans. However, by the end of the arc (after the Earth Civil War), Mars (which had a sizeable separatist movement since before the civil war) and some other colonies are independent entities. The Minbari also had a civil war, between castes in that case, but their race rather quickly reunified when that was settled. All other alien races were also under unified governments and stayed that way.
  • November 25, 2012
    luthien
    Eragon fits this
  • November 26, 2012
    Arivne
    Literature
    • John Christopher's The Tripods trilogy. Before the Masters conquered the Earth humans regularly fought with each other as they do today. During the trilogy humans from different national areas joined together and carried out several attacks to defeat the Masters. Shortly after the victory the humans from different areas had already started squabbling with each other again, to the dismay of the narrator/protagonist.
  • November 26, 2012
    StarSword
    ^^Zero Context Example.

    Literature
    • Spin Control by Chris Moriarty features a human-to-human example that is effectively Earthlings Are Divided. The bulk of human-controlled space is run by the United Nations, but Earth is hardly under a One World Order and its feuding nation-states present an unfamiliar wrinkle to offworlders trying to negotiate with Earth.

    Video Games
    • The X-Universe series has this happen due to Earth's colonies getting cut off from the homeworld. The four nonhuman core factions are all under One World Order, but by X3: Terran Conflict there are four separate human governments: the Argon Federation, the Earth State, the Free State of Solara (otherwise known as Aldrin), and the Hatikvah Free League. Earth's paranoia means that they and the Argon immediately become embroiled in a Space Cold War, which turns into a hot war by the next game Albion Prelude.
  • November 26, 2012
    zarpaulus
    I tried to YKTTW "Humans are not United" a while ago. Probably should have just said "Divided". You can take the examples I managed to gather.

    • In Harry Turtledove's World War series the Race invades earth during World War II. America, the Soviets, and Nazi Germany only work together just enough to keep the Race from conquering the entire planet.
    • The Dungeons And Dragons setting Eberron, of the twelve nations that formed from the breakup of the old Kingdom of Galifar, five are ruled by humans.
    • While all the three races in Starcraft experience some Civil Warcraft the Terrans have it worst. Factions include the Terran Confederacy, the Sons of Korhal which become the Terran Dominion, Raynor's Raiders, and the United Earth Directorate. In contrast the Zerg are a Hive Mind who only fight one another when the Overmind's power is disrupted, and the Protoss have one major division who set aside their differences and reunite by Brood War.
    • In Command And Conquer Tiberium Wars the GDI and Brotherhood of Nod are still fighting as the alien Scrin invade.
    • Played With in Sword Of The Stars, the Hivers, Tarka, and Zuul are more factional than humanity, but the Liir and Morrigi are more unified.
  • November 26, 2012
    Nomic
    Endless Space has three separate human factions; the capitalistic United Empire, the Pilgrims who broke off from the rule of the empire to pursue their own goals, and Horatio, who are all clones of a billionaire named Horatio, who decided to create an empire consisting entirely of himself. There's also a 4th human faction availeable as DLC, but background-wise it's the elite fleet of the United Empire and not a separate entity.
  • December 3, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • In the reimagined version of Battlestar Galactica the twelve colonies of Kobol weren't politically unified until the Cylon rebellion. Amongst the refugee fleet infighting seems to kill as many as the Cylons.

    • In Warhammer Fantasy humans comprise not only The Empire but also Bretonnia and much of the Chaos forces.
  • January 29, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • Traveller has a lot of human empires. Due in part to the Ancient's habit of abducting primitive humans from earth and placing them on distant planets. During the reign of the Third Imperium there's the Imperium itself and its numerous client states, the Zhodani Consulate, the Sword Worlders, the Darriens...
      • Meanwhile the Hivers and K'kree have single unified states, while the Droyne live in scattered enclaves and the Aslan and Vargr seem incapable of forming stable large governments.
  • January 30, 2013
    Chabal2
    Warhammer 40 K: Mankind also has the major distinction of large chunks of humanity falling to Chaos, and those chunks fighting among themselves (as they serve the embodiments of various emotions) as much as they do normal humans and other species. This is a major reason the Tau don't understand humans, since in their society, not only does everyone know their place, they're happy to serve instead of trying to make a better life for themselves.
  • January 30, 2013
    StarSword
    ^Speaking of the Tau, a number of human systems have joined up with them or been annexed.
  • January 30, 2013
    AFP
    Video Game example:

    • Mass Effect has the Earth Systems Alliance and Cerberus, a very powerful terrorist organiztion (which becomes more powerful and openly hostile as the games progress). That said, the Krogan are even worse off, with the various clans fighting each other (they become united as the games progress), and the Turians are stated to have recently had their own internal conflict.

    Television example:

  • January 30, 2013
    zarpaulus
    • Andromeda: The Systems Commonwealth fell thanks to the Nietzscheans, a Human Subspecies, rebelling. Once the Commonwealth was shattered the Nietzscheans fragmented into hundreds of competing prides. Many of the assorted planetary governments during the Long Night are also human. In contrast the Vedrans all vanished, the Perseids retreated to their homeworld, the Than re-established their pre-Commonwealth Hegemony...
  • January 30, 2013
    SharleeD
    • In the Garrett PI series, humans are the only race inclined to prolonged large-scale conventional or magical warfare. Other races have the occasional internal spat, but it's usually either at the level of tribal feuding or else decided by a single battle. Civilized non-humans are more inclined to fight members of other species, or as mercenaries for human factions, than their own kind.
  • September 21, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Mind if I adopt this one?
  • September 21, 2013
    JonnyB
    Another example from B5: In an early episode ("Parliament of Dreams"), they have a holiday in which each race on Babylon 5 is supposed to showcase the religion of their planet. All of the other races have a unified religion for their planet, but when it's the humans' turn to participate, Commander Sinclair walks the ambassadors down a long line of clergy from the multitude of faiths on Earth.
  • October 11, 2013
    DAN004
    Probably has something to do with how we IRL has many countries, factions and conflicts inbetween.

    Like any other Humans are X tropes, this is often because Most Writers Are Human.
  • October 14, 2013
    Frank75
    Rivalry between Gondor and Rohan? There's a better example: There are those two kingdoms, but also Sauron's allies in Rhun and Harad, some scattered humans in places like Bree, and more.
  • October 14, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Namespaced the examples.
  • October 14, 2013
    Kernigh
    The current entry for LoTR,

    is not an example of the trope. Rohan and Gondor have always been allies without hate. I would change the example to say,

    • In The Lord Of The Rings, Men are the only race to fight on both sides of the War of the Ring. The good side has Men of Dale, Gondor and Rohan, along with Dwarves, Elves, Ents and Hobbits. The evil side has Men of Dunland, Harad, Khand, Rhûn and Umbar, along with Orcs and other Always Chaotic Evil races.
  • October 18, 2013
    somerandomdude
    Bouncing this back up and declaring it Up For Grabs.
  • October 18, 2013
    zarpaulus
    What do you expect me to do when no one adds new examples or hats?
  • October 28, 2013
    zarpaulus
    I'm thinking that this has been up for far too long. Any idea what index this would go in? Or Anime or Comic book examples?
  • October 28, 2013
    DRCEQ
    • When Ever Quest II first launched, there were only two starting locations: The Human cities of Qeynos and Freeport. Both of these cities were the only ones that survived through 500 years of wars, cataclysms that tore up the entire planet, and one of Norrath's moons exploding and raining down debris. All the other races had to abandon their homes for various reasons and flock to those cities. With the continent literally split apart and separated by rough seas, a Cold War scenario developed between all the good races of Qeynos and all the evil races who fled to Freeport.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=hktky1ft20lztj9h2m5iiq2l&trope=HumansAreDivided