[[quoteright:200:[[KyouranKazokuNikki http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cit_kyouran_kazoku_nikki_-_catgirl_vs_mandrake_-_will_it_blend.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:200:Proposed alternate measure: [[WillItBlend Will it]] [[http://www.willitblend.com/ blend?]]]]

->''"Boy, [[JustAMachine if those employees weren't robots]], I would have looked like some kind of serial killer or something, eh?"''
-->--'''Dr. [=McNinja=]''', ''Webcomic/TheAdventuresOfDrMcNinja''

There is an [[SortingAlgorithmOfMortality invisible value]] placed on the existence of non-human characters in fiction, compared to the value of the life of a human. Killing/destroying one may or may not be the same thing as [[ThouShaltNotKill killing a human]]. The difference between NotEvenHuman on one end of the scale and NotQuiteHuman on the other can be a very fine one, and where a series chooses to draw that line can vary as wildly as the writers' imaginations.

Intelligence and emotions, and whether the character in question is actually alive in the conventional sense, are usually what dictate the morality of the situation. But more often than not, it's based upon how human-like the character is (an issue further explored in [[http://www.fanboy.com/2010/01/are-humans-biased-to-thinking-that-only-humanoids-are-intelligent.html this blog post]]). The sliding scale usually goes something like this:

[[folder:Starting with the least likely to be granted rights...]]
* [[ThatPoorPlant Plants, protists, fungi, bacteria, and so on and so forth]] do not count on this scale. Except sometimes when tropes like PlantAliens, {{Planimal}}, PlantPeople, and WhenTreesAttack come into play. Or if the organism is a member of an endangered species. Or if you're talking about destroying an entire forest, since that's on such a large scale and since there are animals in the forest that could die or get their habitats destroyed.
** If a SoapboxSadie is present, you can get a major talking-to for this, but it's never really taken seriously, like the character, and is often played for comedy.
* [[CloningBlues Clones]], [[ExpendableAlternateUniverse parallel universe duplicates]], and other {{Doppelganger}}s are [[ExpendableClone often considered expendable]], even if they absolutely ''are'' biologically human and independent individuals with unique personalities. Restoring an AI from a backup copy is often treated like a DisneyDeath. This is all provided at least one "instance" of each character survives. ("Sorry, but we only need one flannel shirt-wearing comic relief guy.") The thing is, [[http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff400/fv00383.htm it should be more like a twin sibling dying,]] instead it's a more casual ImmortalLifeIsCheap. See also AngstySurvivingTwin.
* [[TheUndead Undead]] beings like [[DemBones skeletons]], [[OurZombiesAreDifferent zombies]], [[OurGhoulsAreCreepier ghouls]], and victims of certain strains of TheVirus do not blip ''at all'' in this value (despite still being Homo Sapiens). There's hardly any controversy about it either, probably because they're trying to kill you. In fact, killing one is seen as only helping along a [[UndeathAlwaysEnds natural process]].
** There are some exceptions in the very, very rare works where the zombies are not entirely mindless and retain a bit more personality and/or self-control. One example of this (albeit one that some viewers found ridiculous) is the 2008 remake of ''DayOfTheDead''. It is eventually revealed that certain zombies not only don't eat people, but are completely non-violent. Because of this, multiple characters argue over whether or not it's okay to kill them. They ''are'' [[CarnivoreConfusion zombies]], but they aren't hurting anyone. More on this in the Film section.
* On to living things. The value of the life of a non-human [[AnimalMotifs animal]] in fiction, distressingly, tends to relate directly to how much humans like said animal. Thus dogs are protected by InfantImmortality but [[ReptilesAreAbhorrent snakes]], spiders and [[BugWar insects]] are trampled without a second thought. Sadly, this is TruthInTelevision. To paraphrase an old Denis Leary routine about the Endangered Species Act, "You ''know'' how this is going to end! Eventually, [[HumansAreTheRealMonsters only the cute and cool animals will get to live!"]]
* [[MonsterOfTheWeek Monsters Of The Week]], [[{{Kaiju}} Giant]] [[{{Robeast}} Monsters]] and BigCreepyCrawlies are generally treated as huge pests and exterminated as such without much controversy, typically in self defense. There are some exceptions. If you are a monster, the more you resemble a more conventional specimen of the creature you are based upon, the fewer people you directly harm, and (most importantly) the more personality you have, the better your chances are for surviving. Some human or other will recognize that you are merely misunderstood and may try to help you. Of course, if you eat ''that'' human, you're pretty much boned.
* If the BigBad is revealed to be [[NotEvenHuman non-human]] as a TomatoSurprise or [[OneWingedAngel assuming his monstrous true form]], it usually makes it OK to kill them if it wasn't before. Double points if that form is that of [[ScaledUp a snake or other reptile]].
* [[OurVampiresAreDifferent Vampires]], while they are technically among the undead, have variable ranges simply because they usually have more personality. Most characters can kill them anyway even if they're [[TechnicalPacifist Technical Pacifists]]. Certain depictions of Franchise/{{Batman}} and King Graham from ''VideoGame/KingsQuest'' have killed off {{Dracula}} with favorable karmic results (With Graham, the FanRemake takes a different route), even when killing ''anything'' is anathema to them. The idea here, as well as with the other undead mentioned above, may be "Well, technically, they're ''already'' dead, so it's okay! And anyway, Vampires are AlwaysChaoticEvil!"
* Robots and Artificial Intelligence stories examine this quite a lot in their plots, for example in the writings of Creator/IsaacAsimov. Good robots and other MechanicalLifeforms are considered people most of the time. Killing one is generally the karmic equivalent of killing a human the same way -- except that it is easier to show them getting hurt (think of poor Bishop in ''Film/{{Aliens}}''), which gets awkward. MechaMooks and bad robots almost always have a very low value in this regard, even if they demonstrate [[RidiculouslyHumanRobots obvious personalities, emotions]], and [[CreativeSterility humanlike intelligence]]. Regardless, robots are the most frequent victims of the "[[HowDidYouKnowIDidnt How Did You Know That Mook]] [[NotEvenHuman Wasn't Human]]?" "[[HowDidYouKnowIDidnt I Didn't!]]" trope. It's JustAMachine, after all. It probably helps that when a robot dies WeCanRebuildHim more easily than [[CameBackWrong bring back a human]] (which is a source of superiority as well: human life is more complicated, probably because robots are almost ''always'' written as not having [[OurSoulsAreDifferent souls]] even if they are sentient), making them more expendable.
* Supernatural entities vary depending on alignment. Typically demons are on the same level as undead.
* And then there is an uncomfortable border line occupied by characters who ''are'' human -- but since they aren't "normal", they aren't considered as such. Good {{Cyborg}}s, if the brain is still intact, are almost always considered human, except by the persecutors who harass them. Bad Cyborgs are treated on the same scale as MechaMooks. Other "partially disembodied" entities, whether they [[BrainInAJar once were humans]] or [[WetwareCPU were made like that]] run the entire spectrum from being accepted as variant humans to "kill them just to end their supposedly nightmarish existence and go drink some BrainBleach". The same can be said for {{Transhuman}} characters.
* RubberForeheadAliens rarely have this problem - as their actors are obviously human, it is easy to transfer the value (this is largely why the trope persists even into the modern, CG-heavy era). HumanoidAnimals and {{Half Human Hybrid}}s tend to get the same protection as a normal human... but it depends on how humanlike they are. If they take up a form that isn't bipedal, rely on their instincts too much, or otherwise start toward the TalkingAnimal side of things, they can quickly reach the level of monsters-of-the-week.
* As far as other fantastic races, it often seems that the morality of killing the race depends on how much they resemble humans either culturally or physically. [[FiveRaces Dwarves, elves, gnomes and halflings]] all look relatively human, and so killing them is bad, but the bestial-looking [[AlwaysChaoticEvil orcs, goblins and trolls]] are evil and should be killed. Other races who obviously are not human, but possess cultural traits such as music or clothing styles that the human audience can easily recognize or identify with, are also given preferential treatment over whatever evil races exist.
[[/folder]]

This is often one of the reasons why HumansAreTheRealMonsters. It can get especially awkward, however, when it happens in works of fiction where many of the ''heroes'' aren't human either, leading to uncomfortable FridgeLogic.

In general, the more thought that is put into the script, the more value nonhuman life will have. This trope is often used as a metaphor for the RealLife issues of animal and human rights. See also ThatPoorPlant, OfThePeople, ZombieAdvocate, InhumanableAlienRights and VanHelsingHateCrimes. The flipside of sorts is WhatMeasureIsANonSuper. Related tropes are UncannyValley, TheyWouldCutYouUp, and EmergencyTransformation. Contrast with AndroidsArePeopleToo.

For cases in which this treatment applies to characters who ''are'' human, see WhatMeasureIsAMook, MoralMyopia, ImmortalLifeIsCheap, and AMillionIsAStatistic.

This also tends to happen in a metafictional way: many animated series' and video games can [[GettingCrapPastTheRadar get away with horrific violence and onscreen deaths]] that the censors would've put a quick stop to (or at least given the work a higher rating) had the victims been Human. Robots, the Undead, and the like can be brutally impaled, dismembered, and decapitated onscreen, using this trope on the MoralGuardians even if the work itself averts or subverts the trope in-universe.

[[noreallife]]
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!!Examples belong in subpages:

[[index]]
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/{{Advertising}}
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/AnimeAndManga
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/ComicBooks
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/{{Fairytales}}
* [[WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/{{Fanfic}} Fanfiction]]
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/{{Film}}
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/{{Literature}}
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/LiveActionTV
** WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/StarTrek
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/{{Machinima}}
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/TabletopGames
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/{{Theatre}}
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/{{Toys}}
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/VideoGames
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/WebComics
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/WebOriginal
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/WesternAnimation
** WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/DCAnimatedUniverse
* WhatMeasureIsANonHuman/{{Meta}}
[[/index]]
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