Created By: jamie56 on December 5, 2011 Last Edited By: Wackd on October 11, 2015

Accidental Genocide

You killed us without knowing

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Trope
When humans inadvertantly kill an alien species without being aware of it. Compare/contrast Inferred Holocaust, where Fridge Logic suggests an offscreen disaster occurred due to onscreen events.

Literature
  • Saga Of The Seven Suns
  • In Ray Bradbury's Mars stories, disease brought to the planet by human visitors inadvertently causes the almost-complete annihilation of the Martians.
  • In Ringworld, the initial exploration team leave the Ring by dragging their ship with shadow square wire. Trouble is, shadow square wire is 1000 times stronger than steel, and they have only one end. The other is coiled up in a heavily inhabited city. Apparently the author noticed this "small problem" (or a fan pointed it out) between the first book and the second, where our hero has a "What The Hell, Me" moment.

Live-Action TV

Tabletop RPG
  • Dungeons & Dragons adventure IM3 The Best of Intentions. The plane of Splacknuck has no light and the bubble-like inhabitants are killed instantly by any kind of light. If the PC Immortal visitors create any kind of light in order to see, they roast several dozen of the bubble people.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • It's now believed that sometime during the colonization of the new world, diseases from the "old world" (Europe, Asia, and Africa) wiped out large portions of the Native American population.
Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • December 5, 2011
    MorganWick
    Accidental Alien Killers? Accidental Genocide?

    Needs less X Just X. (I think you're talking about the Popplers with Futurama, right?)
  • December 5, 2011
    Arivne
    Obligatory "If launched with this dialog-sounding title Fast Eddie will Cut List it immediately" warning.

    Literature
    • In Ray Bradbury's Mars stories, disease brought to the planet by human visitors inadvertently causes the almost-complete annihilation of the Martians.

    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons adventure IM3 The Best of Intentions. The plane of Splacknuck has no light and the bubble-like inhabitants are killed instantly by any kind of light. If the PC Immortal visitors create any kind of light in order to see, they roast several dozen of the bubble people.
  • December 5, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    I like Accidental Genocide

    Compare / contrast Inferred Holocaust, where Fridge Logic suggests an offscreen disaster occurred due to onscreen events.

    Examples:

    Real Life:
    • It's now believed that sometime during the colonization of the new world, diseases from the "old world" (Europe, Asia, and Africa) wiped out large portions of the Native American population.

    Literature:
    • In Ringworld, the initial exploration team leave the Ring by dragging their ship with shadow square wire. Trouble is, shadow square wire is 1000 times stronger than steel, and they have only one end. The other is coiled up in a heavily inhabited city. Apparently the author noticed this "small problem" (or a fan pointed it out) between the first book and the second, where our hero has a "What The Hell, Me" moment.
  • December 5, 2011
    Shnakepup
    I'd suggest Unknowing Genocide for the title.
  • December 5, 2011
    TBTabby
    An early Star Trek The Next Generation episode had a group of researchers crushing some silicon structures on an alien world in the course of their work. These structures were actually a race of silicon-based life so alien that they had no way of realizing they were alive.
  • December 5, 2011
    Wackd
    Ran some clean-up for you, and changed the name to something less dialogue-like.
  • December 5, 2011
    Maklodes
    In the Arthur C. Clarke short story "The Fires Within" (sometimes appearing under the pseudonym E. G. O'Brian), a civilization from inside the Earth accidentally does this to the whole biosphere at the human level.

    Would Enders Game count? Ender didn't realize that what he was doing was real, but the adults did.
  • December 5, 2011
    ThreeferFAQMinorityChick
    In my opinion, this is definitely a subtrope of But For Me It Was Tuesday.
  • December 5, 2011
    Oreochan
    ^ It is, although that is when they forgot and this is when they didn't even know they did it in the first place.
  • December 5, 2011
    pcw2727
    In an episode of SG 1 the SGC's MALF probe reeks havoc on a civilization of sentient computer programs by trying to contact them with its radio.
  • December 6, 2011
    PapercutChainsaw
  • December 6, 2011
    Omeganian
  • December 7, 2011
    PaulA
    • In the Time Wars series, one of the spin-offs from time travel technology is a type of nuclear weapon that limits its devastation to a defined small area by teleporting all the excess explosion out into space where it won't hurt anybody. That's the theory, anyway. About halfway through the series, Earth is attacked by another civilization that's gotten tired of having its space habitats wiped out by mysterious nuclear explosions.
  • December 7, 2011
    kenshinta
    In Panty And Stocking With Gartebelt, Garterbelt's semen become ghosts and attack Panty and Stocking to take revenge against the Kleenex or some nonsense. It Makes Sense In Context.
  • December 7, 2011
    darkapothem2000
    Orson Scott Card's Enders Game invokes this when Ender's simulated battles at Command School are revealed to have all been real, and his final "test" is actually an attack on the Buggers' home world.
  • October 6, 2015
    zarpaulus
    • In The Order Of The Stick Vaarsuvius, empowered by a Soul Splice from the nether planes, used a Familicide spell to wipe out a Black Dragon's family, that was intentional. What was accidental was killing off thousands of Dragon-human hybrids, their fully human relatives, the people they procreated with and their families...
  • October 6, 2015
    ZuTheSkunk
    • Sometime before the events of Fallout New Vegas, the player character, being a courier delivering packages all over the Mojave Wasteland, once went to a city named the Divide. He/she delivered a package that, unknowingly to him/her, contained a special detonator. Soon after his/her departure, this detonator activated all of the warheads buried underneath the city and caused them all to explode, turning the city into smoldering ruins, which we later get to revisit during the Lonesome Road DLC.
  • October 6, 2015
    Koveras
    • By removing the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom from the Stygian Abyss in Ultima IV, the Avatar has unwittingly caused massive cataclysms in the land of Gargoyles, bringing their species to the brink of extinction.
  • October 7, 2015
    ayjazz
    Video Games
  • October 7, 2015
    Chabal2
    SCP Foundation: SCP-1322 is a portal to a parallel universe containing a civilization with highly-advanced physics but not medecine. Contact is established via written messages, the other universe ask for help with a virus, the SCP scientists try to help and while the vaccine works, it also sterilizes their entire species.
  • October 7, 2015
    Folamh3
    Can this only apply to humans accidentally killing alien species, or can it apply to a group of people from one ethnic group accidentally killing a large number of people from another ethnic group? Can it also apply to one alien species killing another?

    If it's the former, the term "genocide" may not be appropriate, as it's usually used to refer to exterminating members of a particular ethnic group, not a different species. Also, if it's only for killing of alien species, then there shouldn't be any real life examples, as (to the best of our knowledge) we've never actually encountered another alien species.
  • October 7, 2015
    Folamh3
    There are also two Zero Context Examples.
  • October 7, 2015
    DAN004
    ^^ In fiction, exterminating a whole fantastic (sapient) species (whether aliens, elves or anything else) is called genocide.
  • October 7, 2015
    JoeG
    • This almost happens in the Star Trek The Original Series episode "The Devil in the Dark". A group of miners collect large crystals without realizing that they are the eggs of the Horta, an indigenous species of the planet they are mining.
  • October 8, 2015
    Folamh3
    ^^ Fair enough, but my point about the real life examples still stands. And the description is still poorly worded.
  • October 8, 2015
    Morgenthaler
    I'll second the motion that this seems like a duplicate for Mike Nelson Destroyer Of Worlds. More accurately, Mike Nelson Destroyer Of Worlds But Played For Drama.
  • October 8, 2015
    StrixObscuro
    I'm not sure the Futurama example counts, since the Omicronians managed to replenish their numbers. Also, the Ray Bradbury example needs to be more specific, given that he wrote a whole book of stories about Mars, and they don't all jibe into a single continuity.

    Literature
    • In Nantucket Trilogy, Doreen Green manages to almost single-handedly wipe out the natives of Massachusetts when she sneezes on one of them. Later, Pamela Lisketter inadvertently wipes out the natives of a pre-Olmec civilization when she bring her followers to Central America without realizing that one of her followers was carrying the mumps virus. Said follower ends up spreading the mumps to the natives, killing most of them and causing sterility in the survivors.
  • October 8, 2015
    adipose1913
    The description needs a major rewrite. Could I go ahead and do it?
  • October 8, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ go right ahead.

    We still have to determine whether exterminating other human race counts or not, though.
  • October 8, 2015
    PaulA
    The Ray Bradbury story is "And the Moon Be Still as Bright", from The Martian Chronicles, and the disease is chicken pox.
  • October 9, 2015
    StarSword
    TV:
    • The Star Trek Voyager two-parter "Year of Hell" has Annorax, a man who built a Weapon Of Mass Destruction that erases its target from past, present, and future so that for all intents and purposes it never existed except in the memory of the temporal weapon ship's crew. He used it to erase his people's longtime enemy the Rilnar from history, only to discover to his horror that this also caused the collapse of his own government the Krenim Imperium: Krenim-Rilnar interbreeding had introduced a crucial antibody to the Krenim genome, and the Rilnars' erasure meant that billions of Krenim were never born, including Annorax's wife. So Annorax began erasing other things from history to try and fix his mistake, eventually leading to conflict with Voyager.

    Video Games:
    • The Star Trek Online mission "Butterfly" involves erasing items from the timeline with the Krenim temporal weapon ship from VOY: "Year of Hell". In the end you're left with a Close Enough Timeline where almost everything is the way it was at the start of the mission, except that the entire Tuterian species, save the two who were on your crew, have been erased from history.
  • October 10, 2015
    Morgenthaler
    Is anyone going to adress how this is distinct from Mike Nelson Destroyer Of Worlds in anything more than a Played For Drama / Played For Laughs way?
  • October 10, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ In that in this trope, the guy may not necessarily destroy a world. They're just doing genocide.
  • October 10, 2015
    Dalillama
    The obvious answer is that Mike Nelson is a person, or at least individual entity, while this covers cases where it's a culture or species-wide ignorance/apathy causing the problem.

    There's another one I vaguely remember that involved humans terraformong a planet and not realizing that there were natives, but I can't recall any other details. I will come back if I find it.
  • October 10, 2015
    Morgenthaler
    ^^ Mike Nelson Destroyer Of Worlds is not that narrow. It's for characters who are responsible for destroying whole civilizations by accident, usually played as Black Comedy.

    ^ Tropes Are Flexible. That is nothing more than a variance in scope; "complete destruction caused by one person" and "complete destruction caused by a faction" is a distinction without a difference.

  • October 10, 2015
    StarSword
    In that case, I would say it's Mike Nelson Destroyer Of Worlds that has the problem. Looking at that title, I have no damn clue what it means. It needs a run through the Trope Repair Shop for a description rewrite and rename.
  • October 11, 2015
    Morgenthaler
    I would support a TRS before launching this YKTTW, as it's just going to end up there for overlap issues anyway if launched in this form. Unfortunately, there's a backlog ATM.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=i2y7esz09mvtr65resuso6c3