aka Rat Folk, Ratfolk, Rat Race, Rat People, Nezumi
Ratmen are the rat equivalent of Lizard Folk
: an entire race of intelligent anthropomorphic rodents or a single specimen thereof. They may be villainous creatures that live in filth and squalor, reproduce at a dizzying rate and worship foul deities, just another humanoid race with no particularly outstanding good or bad traits, or simply victims of an unwanted transformation. They may be (or descend from) rodents that developed humanoid features or humans that developed rodent features, whether through magic, science, radiation or natural selection.
Ratman supervillains often have either "rat" or "vermin" somewhere in their names. Ratman civilizations are sometimes given a quasi-Japanese flair or called "Nezumi," which is simply the Japanese word for mouse or rat; the proper Japanese translation for Ratmen would be "Nezumi-jin."
Subtrope of Petting Zoo People
. Contrast Rodents of Unusual Size
(where the rodents are huge but not humanoid or intelligent).
Note when adding examples: Do not confuse ratmen with wererats
: the latter are humans who can assume the form of a rat (or a giant rat, a human-rat hybrid, etc). Normal-sized rodents with human mannerisms do not count unless they are explicitly called out as abnormal in the fiction they appear. Refer to Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism
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- The Rat Man from Tomb Of Terror #5 (1952). A man is resurrected into a giant rat by a life-restoring fluid. He is intelligent and can talk and use things, but is also evil, like later examples.
- One character from the comic strip Snarfquest was a human prince who'd been transformed into this trope by an evil wizard, and was seeking to be restored to normal.
- One of Ghost Rider's minor villains is the bipedal, flesh-eating rat creature Verminous Rex, the sole survivor of an entire race of such creatures that lived int he spaces between dimensional walls.
- The Klarion and Manhattan Guardian miniseries in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers briefly feature a race of sentient, bipedal rats who dwell beneath New York City's subways. Since they're still the size of ordinary rats, Klarion's cat Teekl rather casually devours their king off-panel.
- The Spider-Man and Captain America villain Vermin is a human being mutated against his will into a cannibalistic, insane Rat Man.
- In Joe the Barbarian, the hero, a diabetic teenager trying to stave off death, hallucinates that his pet fancy rat is a noble Rat Man warrior who aids him on his Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane quest to defeat "Lord Death" and retrieve his insulin.
- In the 1984 Italian post-apocalyptic horror movie Rats: Night of Terror, the group of survivors gets decimated by common rats that seem to be driven from their underground habitat, making them extremely aggressive and dangerous. In the film's twist ending, it is revealed that intelligent mutant rat-humans are responsible.
- The title character of the 1986 flop Ratboy is a mysterious hybrid of human and rat found in a dumpster by the female protagonist.
- In Peter Jackson's Brain Dead (aka Dead Alive in the States) the zombie plague is carried by the "Sumatran Rat-Monkey." It has as much in common with ratmen as monkeys do with human beings.
Folklore, Mythology and Religion
- Japanese folklore gives the tale of Raigo the Rat, based on a historical figure from the 11th century. The emperor broke a promise to him and uses black magic so that when he dies he comes back as a giant rat, with a rat army to eat valuable scrolls.
- The Rats in the Rats, Bats and Vats series by Dave Freer and Eric Flint. Technically, they are not rats or even rodents, but genetically modified and cybernetically uplifted elephant shrews. Everyone (including themselves) call them rats, though.
- The bakenezumi ("queerats" or "monster rats" in translations) of From the New World are bipedal rat people who live in warring colonies and serve only their respective queens, occasionally helping humanity out. However, there's a lot of Fantastic Racism going on, with the humans despising them and the bakenezumi eventually growing to resent the humans for lording their Psychic Powers over them. As it turns out, the bakenezumi were originally humans with no Psychic Powers, genetically engineered to mutate into rat-people in order to protect the psychics' oligarchy.
- Master Splinter in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Depending on the continuity, he was either a normal rat or a Japanese ninja who was mutated into a ratman.
- In Warhammer Fantasy, the Skaven are a race of ratmen that live in squalor and may be something of a Trope Codifier, having inspired numerous imitators in tabletop gaming.
- In the third-party Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting Scarred Lands, the Ratmen (expies of the Skaven) are rats that became intelligent humanoids by consuming the flesh of the fallen Titans. Some of them have been further mutated to develop special powers related to the Titan they are descended from.
- Ratmen can be found in the third-party Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting Ptolus. Here, they are divided by size into the halfling-sized ratlings, the human-sized ratlords, and the ogre-sized ratbrutes.
- Some third-party d20 supplements have included varieties of ratmen, such as Aradan (from AEG's Mercenaries), Cavian (from Races of Neo Exodus) and Ikrikit (from Masterwork Monsters: Rats in the Walls)
- Ratfolk in Pathfinder are halfling-sized, highly social, and good at tinkering. Many of them are Intrepid Merchants. For the most part, they are portrayed fairly sympathetically - most of them are neutral in alignment, and they can be player characters - but some of their racial options, like the Plague Bringer alchemist, have more of a Skaven feel.
- Magic: The Gathering has Nezumi Rat Men in the Kamigawa sets of cards from 2004.
- In Warcraft, Kobolds are a race of ratmen miners that live in Kalimdor. They are low-level neutral monsters, though they can be annoying in large numbers.
- EverQuest II introduced the Ratonga race.
- Slade the Thief from Shining Force II is a human-sized anthropomorphic rat.
- In the Invader Zim episode "Game Slave 2," Dib stumbles across a group of "horrible rat people" living in a parking garage. They were originally normal people who became permanently lost in the parking garage and now live by scavenging, and this somehow mutated them into rat people. They don't look very much like rats, and Dib is skeptical that they've turned into actual rat people.
- The Captain Planet villain Verminus Skumm is a particularly anthropomorphic variation on this. Apparently he was created to represent the effects of urbanization and pollution on biodiversity.
- In one episode of Batman Beyond, the villain Shriek's lab assistant is apparently a teenaged Splicer who has given himself rat traits.