Created By: Gojirob on August 23, 2012 Last Edited By: Agares on January 27, 2014
Nuked

Insufficiently Different Monsters

So-called different monsters that nonetheless follow a tradition even if it makes no sense

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Trope
When Our Monsters Are Different is an Informed Attribute that just might lead to Fridge Logic. This trope comes in a sliding scale, with three known varieties:

  • Informed Difference: A work claims that the monsters are not the monsters they resemble or that human beliefs are wrong about their nature, but the monsters turn out to be functionality similar if not the same as their traditional portrayals. The argument that the monsters are different is moot.
  • Indirect Difference: A work goes out of its way to claim that the monsters are different from their traditional portrayal - and yet, the monsters as presented follow tradition to a tee... while usually lacking its justification. This typically occurs because of a change to an important tangential issue that should affect the monsters but doesn't.
    • Demons But No Heaven: If classical demons are featured in settings absent of God and/or Satan or analogues thereof, the question of "why?" is raised. Older traditions have the nature of one side in the Heaven-Hell conflict shaping the image of the other, but if there is no Heaven with armies of angels or if those heavenly forces are Knight Templar types or otherwise Light Is Not Good, then how did the demons become evil?
  • Incongruous Atavism: The monsters are changed from the traditional portrayal in some way, while retaining other aspects that make no sense with regard to the change simply because it is traditional. This problem is almost never justified or even lampshaded.
    • Contagious Vampire/Werewolf Species: If vampires (or werewolves and other lycanthropes) are portrayed as a species instead of a curse or disease, they may still possess the ability to change humans into pseudo-vampires (that themselves may or may not be able to change other humans in turn). As the vampires can already reproduce sexually and transforming humans willy-nilly just creates competition for food, it brings up the question why the original vampires would have developed this ability other than tradition.

If a group known for being morally questionable is featured, the friendly bunch - if there are any - are either the minority or their attitude is hard to use as a counterweight to writing off the nature of others.

Compare Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff", Devil, but No God, My Species Doth Protest Too Much, and Totally Not a Werewolf.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In Devilman and related series, God was an alien, and the demons were upset at being rejected. Yet, (save the hero and his fellow hybrids) they are never shown to be anything but monsters eating people and wiping them away in the most gruesome, often taunting manner imaginable.
  • Lampshaded in Vampire Knight. Yuki has known about vampires since she was a child and since her vampires are their own race, she believes that the idea of a human being changed into a vampire through bite is a silly superstition until her adopted brother Zero, the sole survivor of a vampire attack that killed his family, sinks his fangs into her neck.
  • Inverted in The Record of a Fallen Vampire. Their vampires and dhampirs are styled in the traditional manner (high collared capes, bat wings, fangs, etc) but do not consume human blood, a signature identifying trait of vampires in fiction. This is justified by stating that the primordial ancestors of all currently living vampires did consume human blood, but their modern descendants have long since evolved out of this trait.

Film
  • John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness has the order of the evil hierarchy feature a nasty surprise twist, and Jesus is a time-traveler/alien offering warnings to people in a past era who were woefully unprepared to transmit his warning. The Church is revealed to be a very ineffective secret-keeper. Yet the fate of the world should the Uber Big Bad prevail seems to be a very traditional one.
  • In Werewolf, the resident Mr. Exposition identifies the bones from an archeological dig as a Navajo skin-walker, and he spells out exactly how those differed from the traditional Hollywood wolf-man. But anyone who gets cut by that skeleton's teeth turns into a werewolf, and looks more or less exactly like the traditional Hollywood wolf-man.

Literature
  • Christopher Brookmyre's Pandaemonium, in which a group of (admittedly badass) Scottish schoolpupils have to fight off an incursion from a different dimension. What the Roman Catholic Church presumes to be, and perversely wants to be, demons from Hell turn out in the end to be nothing of the sort, even though they look the part, right down to the horns and cloven hooves.

Live-Action TV
  • The Buffyverse originally introduced "demons" as the series' Monster of the Week, though the mythology was very Lowest Cosmic Denominator. Originally demons were just random monsters (only a very small number of which were a Big Red Devil), but as the series went on it was revealed that some demons were actually fairly decent people aside from being unusual. This didn't change the fact that most of the demons in series were still random monsters, and raises the question of why the word "demon" is used in the first place since in this context it carries the same weight as "space alien."

Tabletop Games
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, lycanthropes are a race of their own that carry a disease that causes other races to develop lycanthropic characteristics without actually becoming true lycanthropes; the "natural" lycanthropes breed true, but "infected" lycanthropes do not. This is justified in the sourcebook Van Richten's Guide to Lycanthropes in which scientifically-inclined monster hunter Van Richten speculates on a logical progression where, in the distant past, the original infected lycanthropes might have developed a symbiosis with the disease and mutated into natural lycanthropes. This logic makes less sense in later editions of the game, where infected lycanthropes cannot pass on the disease and the "weretouched" (aka shifters) were introduced as the watered-down descendants of lycanthropes who interbred with non-lycanthropes.

Video Games

  • In Runescape, Lowerniel Drakan (the vampire leader) comes from another realm called Vampyrium, and possibly some of the ranking Vyre Lords do as well. Most, however, are humans who were converted via unknown means. Since the "cattle" who live in Meyerditch's ghettos get bitten all the time when they have to give tithes, a mere bite will not turn a human. Also, in the first novel, a werewolf is interrogating someone and assures him after biting him that humans cannot be turned by any means.

Western Animation

  • Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil has an episode centering around the Special Fathers fighting an invasion of altar boy and choir boy vampires who have been praying preying on Catholic priests. They meet up with a guy who is supposed to get them reacquainted with vampire hunting, with amusing results:
    Nightshade: As I'm sure the Special Fathers will tell you, hunting vampires... well, forget everything you've seen in the movies. It's all bunk.
    Sister Mary: Sunlight?
    Nightshade: Oh, no, actually, OK. Sunlight is real. Sunlight can kill a vampire.
    Sister Mary: Stake in the heart?
    Nightshade: Y-yeah, hold on, let me give you my spiel, okay?
    Sister Mary: Sorry.
    Nightshade: Forget what you've seen in the movies. It's all bunk.
    Father Cantalupi: You know, Nightshade, I've heard that line in the movies.
Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • May 27, 2013
    aurora369
    So it's a subversion of Our Demons Are Different?
  • May 27, 2013
    Malzen
    Literature

    Chris Brookmyre's Pandaemonium, in which a group of (admittedly badass) Scottish schoolpupils have to fight off an incursion from a different dimension. What the Roman Catholic Church presumes to be, and perversely wants to be, demons from Hell turn out in the end to be nothing of the sort, even though they look the part, right down to the horns and cloven hooves.
  • June 7, 2013
    Prfnoff
    Do we even have "traditional demons" as a trope? We should have that before we think about making this one.
  • June 15, 2013
    ArcadesSabboth
    ^ Definitely.
  • June 15, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^^ Well, we do have Big Red Devil...
  • June 18, 2013
    aurora369
    We should make Our Demons Are Oldschool or kinda like that.
  • October 9, 2013
    KarjamP
    ^No New Stockphrases or dialog-based titles.

    What about "Demons are demons"? That's more grammatically correct. :P

    Seriousness mode on.

    What about Traditional Monster Portrayal? (it's not only about demons, if you guys were to read the trope properly. Demons are just given as an example).
  • October 9, 2013
    DAN004
    Again, Big Red Devil.

    Dunno, Our Monsters Are Different tropes will usually mention the traditional portrayals of the monsters in question. Moreover, "demons exhibiting traits of demons despite their claim to be different" is just plain chairs. They're BEING demons after all.
  • October 11, 2013
    DracMonster
    ^^The "Our X Are Different" tropes are actually for the "standard" portrayal of something as well as variants.

    But if I'm understanding this correctly, it's where the differences are an Informed Attribute, and "on screen" they still seem to behave like a traditional portrayal. In other words, kind of a supernatural version of Stop Being Stereotypical.

    Is that what you were going for here? If so, Informed Attribute really has this covered, but a Sub Trope for supernatural creatures might stand on its own, since trying to make them "different" is so common.

    EDIT: Duh, Karjam P isn't the OP, heh. This is over a year old and the OP never came back to it. Lets call it Up For Grabs if someone wants to rework it.

  • October 11, 2013
    KarjamP
    ^Tagged. :P
  • October 12, 2013
    pawsplay
  • October 14, 2013
    AmyGdala
  • October 14, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Sorted the examples by media + did some other formatting.
  • December 10, 2013
    Zenoseiya
    How does Our Monsters Doth Protest Too Much sound as a trope title? It's a combination of Our Monsters Are Different and My Species Doth Protest Too Much. The monsters "protest" to be different from the stereotypes while living out those stereotypes, or follow the stereotype without any real justification.
  • December 10, 2013
    KarjamP
    Bad Snowclone, because My Species Doth Protest Too Much says that they're different from how the rest of the race usually acts.

    IE, Our Monsters Doth Protest Too Much implies that this is My Species Doth Protest Too Much, but for monsters. (Ie, the monsters are different than what the other monsters from the same work behave like, whenever it's the traditional portrayal or not.)

    Also, even if it make sense for it to be the name of this trope, it violates the rule "No New Stockphrases" (which applies to dialog-based titles as well).

    Note that the rule's called "No New Stockphrases", not "No Stockphrases Allowed". Tropes launched with dialog-based titles before the rule was but into effect (like My Species Doth Protest Too Much) are under a Grandfater Clause to be allowed to keep their current name as long as it still makes sense (or if it's wikied too much).
  • December 10, 2013
    MorganWick
  • December 10, 2013
    Zenoseiya
    I've noticed that this trope has two (three?) flavors. The first is where the monsters of the story behave like traditional monsters even though they lack the justification their traditional counterparts had (demons but no heaven) or their biology renders it superfluous (vampires/lycanthropes are a species that can infect humans). The second is where traditional monsters show up and the text states that, despite appearing to be so and so monster, they are not actually that monsters despite being functionality identical (basically applying Call A Rabbit A Smerp to traditional monsters and then lampshading the resemblance).
  • December 10, 2013
    MorganWick
    ^Call A Vampire A Smeerp? (runs even faster)
  • December 10, 2013
    Zenoseiya
    ^We already have Call A Pegasus A Hippogriff, which is different and I mentioned it in the article. This is when the creatures follow traditional myth while simultaneously removing the justification for that myth or when they appear and the text states, literally, that despite being identical in every way to the monster they resemble, they are not that monster. For example, demons invade and people believe them to be demons, but the text tell us they aren't demons despite the difference being a moot point.
  • December 11, 2013
    KarjamP
    MorgornWick: All your suggestions violate No New Stockphrases.
  • December 11, 2013
    MetaFour
    Not sure if this fits, but:

    Film:
    • In Werewolf, the resident Mr Exposition identifies the bones from an archeological dig as a Navajo skin-walker, and he spells out exactly how those differed from the traditional Hollywood wolf-man. But anyone who gets cut by that skeleton's teeth turns into a werewolf, and looks more or less exactly like the traditional Hollywood wolf-man.
  • December 11, 2013
    DAN004
    Again... if they call themselves vampires and they're being vampires then it's chairs. So I guess the point of this trope is the Informed Attribute that they're somehow "different" from the monsters you know, yet is just similar in practice.

    So what, Informed Monstrosity?
  • December 11, 2013
    Zenoseiya
    ^No. This is when either a) demons from hell show up and the work itself then says, literally-speaking, that they aren't demons from hell despite there being no actual difference, b) when demons from hell show up and are actually called demons but there is to no reason why they are evil in the first place because there is no Heaven or God Is Evil (and they aren't Made Of Evil either), and c) when vampires/werewolves are portrayed as their own species but still possess the ability to change humans into vampires/werewolves even though the change into species would render this ability unnecessary. And so on. Those are the patterns I've been able to identify.
  • December 11, 2013
    DAN004
    I guess the points b) and c) are more Internal Subtropes since point a) sounds more general.
  • December 25, 2013
    Earnest
    This is just a quible regarding the OP. There's perfectly valid reasons for vampires or werewolves to be able to cause Viral Transformations in addition to biologically reproducing. Being able to turn a high ranking muggle official to your side, tempting them with power, and especially when Transhuman Treachery is a thing, can help infiltrate and dismantle resistance to your group. Plus, in a pinch, it's loads faster than breeding, great for making shock troops, and can be a great means of keeping your species alive in case of emergencies.

    A better example might be "Our vampire/werewolves are wholly biological and non-magical! ... yet have somehow developed severe faith and cross allergies despite the obvious drawbacks and non-biological nature."
  • December 30, 2013
    Starfire
    I think my real problem with this is part of the reason "Our X are Different" is titled the way it is: "Traditional" definitions are undefined or conflicting. There is no one "traditional vampire" or "traditional demon" there are a few stereotypical images, but once you do even a cursory glance at any of the sources or legends there's no consistency. Even Dracula isn't consistent from version to version. In the novel he can be out in the sun, in the movies he burns. You're trying to hit a moving target. What we're talking about here isn't so much traditional monster portrayal as Hollywood Monster Templates. demons are red and get goat horns and maybe a pointy tail, vampires are Bela Lugosi, werewolves turn into hulking monsters and can be stopped with a silver bullet, and zombies are rotting corpses and move like molasses and want brains. I don't know that you can pin things down more than that, especially for any monster that was in the public consciousness before Hollywood existed. The variety of demons in folklore alone is staggering. Depending on the culture, some demons aren't even evil.
  • December 30, 2013
    Zenoseiya
    ^^ If vampires are humans infected with a virus and capable of reproduction, you would assume their children are born with the virus. If they are literally their own species, this does not make any sense, because there is no biological reason they would evolve that capacity. The reason you give does not make sense from an evolutionary perspective, because humans haven't evolved the ability to turn cows into humans by biting them in order to more effectively control cow populations or create armies. It's nonsensical.
  • January 11, 2014
    Earnest
    Well, we've developed the intelligence to domesticate cows. So we DO have the ability to yoke them into labor or even war trains, not just food.

    Sure there's advantages. It takes years to raise (vampire) children and minutes to transform a human. Even if turned humans are weaker, it's ecologically advantageous to be able to turn your main predators/food source into more of you if you're low in number.
  • January 11, 2014
    Megacles
    In Runescape, Lowerniel Drakan (the vampire leader) comes from another realm called Vampyrium, and possibly some of the ranking Vyre Lords do as well. Most, however, are humans who were converted via unknown means. Since the "cattle" who live in Meyerditch's ghettos get bitten all the time when they have to give tithes, a mere bite will not turn a human. Also, in the first novel, a werewolf is interrogating someone and assures him after biting him that humans cannot be turned by any means.
  • January 19, 2014
    arromdee
    Your Vampires Suck has an example which also counts as lampshading this trope:

    • Lucy The Daughter Of The Devil has an episode centering around the Special Fathers fighting an invasion of altar boy and choir boy vampires who have been praying preying on Catholic priests. They meet up with a guy who is supposed to get them reacquainted with vampire hunting, with amusing results:
      Nightshade: As I'm sure the Special Fathers will tell you, hunting vampires... well, forget everything you've seen in the movies. It's all bunk. Sister Mary: Sunlight? Nightshade: Oh, no, actually, OK. Sunlight is real. Sunlight can kill a vampire. Sister Mary: Stake in the heart? Nightshade: Y-yeah, hold on, let me give you my spiel, okay? Sister Mary: Sorry. Nightshade: Forget what you've seen in the movies. It's all bunk. Father Cantalupi: You know, Nightshade, I've heard that line in the movies.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=m048ujdiicwjkvkj16dq55rm&trope=OurMonstersAreInsufficientlyDifferent