Slavery really isn't a nice business. No matter how you slice it, the entire trade requires that one take away another human beings basic freedoms, and sell them the way you would a cow (or a piece of furniture for that matter). Is it any wonder, therefore, that in fiction, slave traders are portrayed as some of the very worst people you could possibly meet?
Finding a sympathetic slave trader in any work of fiction, is a lot like trying to find a needle in a haystack. At best, slave traders will be generic villains, at worst they will be so bad that other villains will give them funny looks
. Expect them to not only buy and sell those slaves purchased from "legitimate" sources, but to kidnap anybody they can get their hands on. They're liable to enjoy beating and tormenting their slaves, sometimes to the point where the Fridge Logic
kicks in--if you damage your goods that much, what are you going to sell.
Anime and Manga
- Most of the slave traders in One Piece are irredeemable jerks, and every character who's bought a slave thus far is similarly reprehensible. The Flying Fish Riders are an exception, however: Inspired by Sanji's spontaneous cosmetic surgery to their leader, they give up slave trading and rename themselves the Rosy Life Riders.
- The Slavers arc in Punisher MAX has Frank Castle battling a sex slave trafficking ring. As you can probably imagine, these guys are among the very worst Complete Monsters that Castle has ever fought, and the horrible things that they do to their captives hit every one of Castle's Berserk Buttons concerning mistreatment of women and children, resulting in one of his most violent killing sprees.
- The Albanian sex slavers in Taken, who kidnap the protagonist's daughter and her friend with the intent of turning them into slaves. The slavers don't rape Kim because virgins are considered quite valuable on the black market, but Amanda and other captives do wind up dead by the time the protagonist finds them.
Live Action TV
- The slave traders of Mereen, Yunkai, and the other city-states in A Song of Ice and Fire are universally presented as foppish, slimy bastards, who enjoy raping children, and hideously breaking small boys so that they might turn them into Unsullied. Even for this series, they're bad.
- Jorah Mormont, a fairly sympathetic character needed money in the past and decided to get it by selling some poachers to slave traders. That's why he can't go back to Westeros. In an interesting bit of Irony, while Danaerys Targaryean is anti-slavery and fights against that bunch in Mereen, Yunkai, etc., Mormont was one of her closest allies, in addition to the fact that she considers herself a part of the Dothraki culture, and they are notorious slave takers/traders.
- Anyone who deals in slaves in Redwall is usually pretty bad, so it isn't surprising that Slagar the Cruel, the one slave trader to serve as The Big Bad of one of the books, is among the worst villains in the series. Slagar regularly kidnaps young creatures (preferrably the children of those who have angered him) so that he might sell them to Malkariss to work in his mines. Some of his henchmen are just as bad, with the sadistic stoat Halftail being perhaps the worst of them. Slagar actually has to reprimand him, not out of morality, but because he was endangering of killing the product they were trying to sell.
- In The Belgariad the slave trade is such a vile process that Sadi (himself a drugdealer and Master Poisoner) couldn't stomach it and got out. A favourite practise of slave traders is said to be leaving crippled slaves chained on the path for the lions.
- In David Eddings' other series, The Elenium/The Tamuli, slave trading is portrayed in a similarly negative light. The Atans (a race who believe that they need to be enslaved) loathe the traders who regularly try to steal their children. When one of them, Mirtai, recounts her life's story, she has sympathy for some of her owners, but none for the men who captured and sold her. It's worth noting that Scarpa, perhaps the nastiest (and certainly the most insane) of The Tamuli's villains comes from the nation where their national hero is the man who invented the slave trade.
- In The Book of Negroes the slave traders, both African and white, are hideously vile people who enjoy sexually exploiting their slaves before selling them off. Some of the people who own the main character are portrayed in a semi-positive light. The traders who sold her to them, are not.
- In Voyage of the Dawn Treader King Caspian and some others are captured by an evil slaver, even though Caspian had outlawed the slave trade. Naturally they don't believe he's the king, but once he is redeemed (by being bought & freed) he replaces the corrupt governor of the island.
- Battlestar Galactica (new series): "Black Market" features Phelan, a black market gangster who deals in weapons, slaves, sex slaves and CHILD sex slaves.
- Mass Effect: The Batarians consider slavery a part of their caste system and see the Council's anti-slavery laws as discrimination. The rest of the galaxy sees Batarians as nothing but criminals and scum. Also, according to one of Commander Shepard's potential back stories, Shepard's home colony was destroyed by Batarian slavers and Shepard's parents died in the attack.
- In Fallout 3 the slavers are one of the factions you can join. Not only does co-operating with them give you bad karma, but killing them with no provokation gives you good karma. There's also another group of slavers who you can find raiding the Washington monument looking to buy Lincoln artifacts to destroy (you can instead choose to drive them out of the memorial so some former slaves can move in).
- Played straight in Illusion of Gaia, though with some Faux Affably Evil, Video Game Cruelty Potential, and possibly Moral Dissonance thrown in when the hero must rat out an escaped slave in order to complete a sidequest.