"When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve."In essence Humans Are Bastards is the reverse of Rousseau Was Right — the natural proclivity of humanity is towards selfishness, apathy and violence. Only a select few people manage to rise above their base nature to become something better, but the kernel of darkness is still inborn. When Humans Are Bastards is in effect, even your "heroes" don't have clean hands, so most conflict is gray against black, with some gray against gray or black against black on for variety. Frequently used by Omnicidal Maniacs as an argument in favor of a Class 3a Apocalypse. Humans being bastards doesn't preclude them being pragmatic about it, so if there isn't a profit to be made by making the world a hellhole, they might not, but if conditions are tolerable it certainly isn't due to any inborn altruism on the part of those in charge. Appeals to people's better nature will not work. Don't expect to see anyone shame the mob — idealism has no place here. Any successful do-gooders will be very, very cynical and paranoid, as the genuinely hopeful will inevitably become embittered if they're not killed outright. Very, very far down the cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, and all but guarantees a Crapsack World if this is true of the majority of the population. Comedies are black. Dramas are depressing. Beware of Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy. Compare Crapsack World, Black and Gray Morality. Hobbes Was Right often makes an appearance, proposing that if the bastardy of humanity is a constant, the most effective form of government is tyranny. On the other hand, the exact opposite stance may be taken as well: if humans are inherently bastards, then it's no use giving any of them power, because they will all inevitably abuse it. Contrast Rousseau Was Right and White and Gray Morality. See also Humans Are Flawed, which takes the middle road by acknowledging humanity's shortcomings while not underplaying their potential capacity for virtue. For settings where humans are depicted as bastards compared to other sapient species, see Humans Are the Real Monsters.
— The Joker, The Dark Knight
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- This is the point of the Universal Century Gundam series, where there are more selfish and cruel people in the world than kind, noble and selfless ones.
Le Creuset: (about Lacus) It's such a shame. I really did enjoy her songs. But the real world is not so nice as the one that exists in music!
- It is used by Char Aznable as an excuse to drop Axis on Earth. It becomes a lot more visible right after the disappearance of Zeon.
- Rau Le Creuset from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED believes that humans are selfish, greedy bastards who will do anything to get ahead... even if it means wiping themselves out in the process. He justifies this viewpoint with both Kira's existence (an attempt at a genetically perfect human being) and his own existence (a clone meant to be his original's legacy and successor, giving him severe identity issues); this belief is also drives him to want to wipe out humanity entirely, taking the "I'm Taking You with Me" ethos to its logical extreme. Fittingly, he's the worst of them all. The scary part? He's not entirely wrong. Considering all the racism and blind hatred fueling the wars (which both sides are aware of and DEFEND as virtuous, especially at their highest levels of authority), he has a very good claim for arguing his point. And it isn't even that he's blind to the capacity for good in humanity: he acknowledges virtue and idealism when he sees it, he just doesn't believe there's anywhere near enough of it to counteract the evils of humanity.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny, the Earth Alliance jumps straight to the Nuclear Option at the first opportunity. That opportunity was given them to ZAFT renegades dropping a colony on Earth. This is what motivates the antagonist from the sequel to enact The Plan to prevent such things from happening again, because he agreed humans became bastards as a result of their hatreds. The big difference between him and Le Creuset is that he believes he can fix humanity, rather than simply give up on it as a lost cause.
- End of Evangelion reveals that humanity itself is the final angel; and as evidenced by the JSSDF's ruthless and near-utter destruction of NERV, they are the one angel that cannot be defeated.
- Attack on Titan explores this, through discussions between characters and through how humanity deals with their grim circumstances. This is best exemplified by the attitude of Dark Action Girl Annie, who firmly states that people are by nature scum only concerned about themselves — those select few that go against the tide and have strong, unselfish convictions are greatly admired by her and considered "Special".
- Ghost in the Shell's setting runs on this, to the point that the Tachikomas are actually much more human than the actual humans.
- 7 Seeds repeatedly shows us what jerks humans actually are, although some of them are presented as last-ditch efforts in case things go so bad that they don't think there's any way things could recover.
- The 7 Seeds Project involves cryogenically freezing the team members and have them awaken in the post-apocalyptic world without even telling them they were picked for it. They just suddenly saw black and wake up in what looks like hell to them. The exceptions being the guides for each team, who were chosen to explain things to them and guide them, as well as Team Summer A that consists of teenagers who knew this was coming and have been raised to actively prepare for this situation.
- How Team Summer A and its candidates were raised. All raised to prepare for being picked for the project, be great at everything and learn to focus and pay attention to this. If you are somehow not outstanding or have some defect like lacking stamina or having hereditary bad eye sight, the candidate drops out, meaning they end up killed and turned into sludge and fertilizer.
- The Final Test for the candidates was worse. Random accidents begin to happen, which could have been avoided had they done as they were taught and been observant and paid attention. The Final Test escalates into a huge Kill 'em All, where the situation mimics them being thrown into the future with no help from the teachers, no easily accessible gas or water source and a place to sleep. It's pure survival. You "fail" the test by dying. The last seven students, one from each class, that are alive are picked for the project.
- The Ryugu Shelter reveals that one of its plans, if things really started to go down the drain, was to cull half of its population to be grinded up to become animal feed, fertilizer and fuel so the rest can survive a bit longer.
- The Fuji Ship is a shelter and armoury, filled to the brim with all sorts of shooting weapons and has a built-in mechanic that, if they thought things were hopeless, would shoot dozens of missiles including a nuclear warhead all over Japan and self-destruct the ship, with the captain and crew being locked in so they can't escape. Regardless if people were actually still living in Japan.
- Elfen Lied is a shining example of both this trope and Humans Are the Real Monsters. The diclonii are treated horribly in this series, and humans who want to help them aren't really treated kindly either.
- This is the premise of Hell Girl. In the first season, almost every victim is an Asshole Victim and the clients are mostly Woobies who torment them horribly. However, the season also reveals Ai's backstory. She was meant to be a sacrifice to her village's god. She and her cousin Sentarou, whom she loved, broke one of the rules, resulting in Ai and her parents being buried alive by the villagers, including Sentarou, who was forced to do so. In the second season, Futakamori, the theme has changed to Black and Grey Morality, where the viewers sometimes sympathize with the victims as well if the clients happen to be bastards. The final arc of the season takes the cake where almost everyone in the town is a complete asshole; they banish each other to hell and use Takuma as the scapegoat because of his reputation as the "Devil Child". And in the third season, Mitsuganae, the humans are so fucked up in their mind that none of Ai's clients get a happy ending like the ones from first season. The new main character in the third season, Yuzuki Mikage, is a victim of this trope: it's revealed that she's Dead All Along. But what killed her? Her father was a bus driver, whose many customers were killed in an accident. The bus company blamed him for it, leading to Yuzuki and her mother being isolated by society and nobody helping them when the mother fell sick and died, and Yuzuki died of starvation.
- Zeref believes this in Fairy Tail. It's why he wants to wipe out humanity. Turns out being Really Four Hundred Years Old lets you see some rather unfortunate and recurring traits of human nature, and with his Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds personality, it was the perfect storm to create a Misanthrope Supreme.
- Explored in the Chapter Black arc of YuYu Hakusho. The Big Bad is a former spirit detective who used to have a rigid Black and White Morality view of demons and humans, until he crashed the secret Black Book Club and witnessed that the evil rich old men that make up the club's membership have been capturing, torturing and murdering demons for their own amusement. The sight completely shattered his worldview and he vowed to Kill All Humans, recruiting followers by stealing a tape from the Underworld called the Chapter Black tape, containing hours of mankind's worst deeds, capable of turning anyone who watches it into a Straw Nihilist with an utter disdain for humanity. However, Koenma eventually reveals that the Chapter Black tape was never meant to be watched by itself. Instead, it's supposed to be watched at the same time as a similar "Chapter White" tape that shows mankind's most compassionate and altruistic moments, giving the viewer an idea of mankind's potential for good and evil in equal measure.
- The conclusion Aur from Maou no Hajimekata has reached, he believes humanity are a collective of selfish beings who will sell out and betray anyone, anytime in anywhere if it means saving their behinds; something happened in his life, implied to be a massive betrayal that left him in shambles, it made him into the cold demon lord that Aur is today, someone whose only life goal is to make humanity suffer and submit them to his rule. The irony is that Aur himself is a human being, performing greater acts of evil out of misguided hatred; he is proving his own view to be right.
- Dragon Ball
- The origin of the Nameless Namek who would become Kami and Piccolo is that he came from a peaceful and benevolent race, and became corrupted from seeing the worst of humanity over the centuries. When the Nameless Namek wanted to become the new Guardian of the Earth, he separated himself from his evil side and that piece of him became King Piccolo, who went on to terrorize humanity. Yajirobe lampshades that there are some really nasty humans in the world and couldn't blame Piccolo for being corrupted.
- In the early story arcs of the series, most of the focus is on Goku fighting humans who had no problem stealing, killing, and terrorizing their fellow man. The best example being the Red Ribbon Army who executed children and Commander Red sacrificing his own men just to use the Dragon Balls to get taller.
- Kami held this view which is why he didn't want to revive the Dragon Balls after Piccolo killed the Eternal Dragon Shenron. According to him, the humans turned his symbol of hope and courage, the Dragon Balls, into items of greed and murder. He only changes his mind after seeing Goku's selfless nature, despite Goku not being a human. Then again, he could have seen Goku as a representation of humanity since he was raised among them. This especially holds true if he knew what Goku was before being found by Gohan.
- Sgt. Frog:
- Well, at least, that's what the Angol clan considers humanity to be in the manga, sensing various evil thoughts throughout the world and even being able to count how many sins are happening on Earth in a specific moment. This would explain why the Angols seem nice, despite their destructive aims.
- Also in SoulCalibur 4, which features Angol Fear, Angol Mois' cousin who'd go on to appear in the Keroro manga later. Her story suggests the Angol race thinks Humans Are Bastards, and possibly the reason they want to destroy Earth is to save the rest of the Universe from that corruption expanding; Ultimately, Angol Fear observes that there are many innocent humans, and leaves it up to Angol Mois to decide whether to destroy Earth or not.
- A recurring theme in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, unlike other series the enemies are because of human greed and viciousness. To the point that the ultimate Big Bad of the series was just a regular human that eventually grew corrupt due to humanities' bloodlust.
- Berserk likes to push this idea: every single evil thing that happens in the series can be traced back to human corruption and desire, and there is no external threat to humanity. Supernatural monsters? Humans dreamt them up. The demonic Apostles? All former humans who willingly and knowingly turned themselves into monsters. The God Hand? Same deal, but even more depraved and powerful. The Idea of Evil, the Ultimate Evil that is suggested to be behind pretty much everything? Born of unconscious collective human desire. All the horror and the suffering humanity goes through in the series is, ultimately, self-inflicted.
- In The Walking Dead, the worst threats to the survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse are other survivors. Sometimes it's more Humans Are Morons.
- In a lot of incarnations The Joker holds this opinion (most famously in The Killing Joke), maintaining that all it takes is "one bad day" to make anyone just as murderously insane as he is.
- Marvel Comics generally follows this trope given how much of a Crapsack World it tends to be. Most people who get powers or advanced tech are more than willing to abuse it. Many humans are usually shown as incredibly corrupt, stupid racists who turn on their own heroes for any reason, support programs like concentration camps and Sentinels, and are more than willing to sell mankind out to invaders, dark gods or whomever is threatening them at the moment. About the only thing holding the planet together are the heroes and a minority of other decent people. Most futures tend to end badly for humanity and most alien races hold this opinion of humans and would not miss humanity if it were to destroy itself. There are some exceptions and in the aliens' case, for some races, it is a matter of Moral Myopia.
- In several of the many crossovers between Marvel Comics and DC Comics, the heroes from the DC universe — especially Superman — often view the heroes of the Marvel Universe as a bunch of arrogant, cynical jack-holes who can't be bothered to try and make the world a better place, while the Marvel heroes — especially Captain America — often view the DC heroes as a bunch of arogant, idealistic jack-holes who have somehow convinced the proles to worship them as demigods. In either case, they view the other ones as bastards.
- In The Return this is humanity's hat and why they're still alive.
- Katiya of the Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch fic The Warmth of a Sister's Love is a firm believer in this to the extent that she actually hates it when she has to assume her human form. However, Lucia and the others, having lived amongst humans for far longer than Katiya has, are quick to point out that not all humans are bad, and by the end, Katiya has started to accept this.
- This was so common in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, that some people on Friendship Is Magic Fiction (FIM Fiction) felt it necessary to create a humans Aren't Bastards group for stories that subvert this mindset. It can be found here.
- The films of Todd Solondz. Everyone is apathetic, disaffected, hypocritical, selfish - it's telling one of the more sympathetic protagonists is a man who fantasizes about school shootings.
- The Movie version of Over the Hedge sums up everything that's wrong with humanity in one word: Suburbia.
- The comic strip it's based on is this way too. Whereas the movie compresses most of its cynicism into a single sequence (which comes off as good-natured ribbing) and one recurring nasty character, the strip has it as an underlying theme.
- In The Fifth Element Leeloo despairs when she learns about the human race's tendency to inflict horrible things onto themselves (specifically World War 2) to the point of her seeing no point in helping them escape destruction, but then decides otherwise when Corben tells her that there are things that deserve to be saved and professes his love for her.
- Elves seem to take this attitude towards men in Lord of the Rings, only to be proven wrong by the riders of Rohan coming to the aid of Gondor. Though their dislike of men is justified, considering the last man who had the ring kept it for himself until it killed him.
- This is a recurring motif for George A. Romero's zombie films, all the way from the original Night of the Living Dead (1968). It's argued that, from at least Land of the Dead on, it's actually hurt Romero's story-telling, as he keeps rehashing/hammering in the same old message.
- Worth noting that a common complaint of Land of the Dead is that the human characters come across as such unsympathetic bastards that, incredibly, you could make a decent argument for the zombies being the good guys.
- The World's End: The Network certainly seems to think so.
- In The Dark Knight, a recurring theme is the question of whether Humans are evil or Rousseau Was Right. The Joker preaches the former, that all humans are cowardly, cruel, self-serving and will happily slaughter each other to get to the top of the pile. To this end, near the end of the film, he sets up a social experiment to determine which. He rigs two ships with explosives, one ferrying innocent refugees and the other carrying convicts, with each ship having access to the other ship's detonator. If one blows up the other, that ship is allowed to leave. The Joker gives them 10 minutes to decide, and if no action is taken, the Joker will detonate the bombs on BOTH ships. Not only do they both defy the Joker and refuse to condemn the other to death, it's the convicts who refuse to do it first.
- Hulk: David Banner believed that people cause too many chaos around him and his son.
David: Think about all those men out there, in their uniforms! Barking and swallowing orders! Inflicting their petty rule over the entire globe! Think of all the harm they've done! To you! To me! To humanity! And know this, that we can make them, and their flags and their anthems and their governments dissappear! In a flash! You and me!
- Believing humans will continue to grow and despise mutants, Magneto maintains this belief. Though it doesn't really help his case when he keeps doing things that make people fear him.
- Mutants are not well-treated in X-Men: First Class, to the point where Xavier's attempts to justify keeping the peace with normals basically boil down to "okay, they suck, but as the Superior Species, can't we set a good example?" Of course, it was the 60s, which was just plain bigoted in general.
- Subverted by the fact that the film's Big Bad (Sebastian Shaw) is a mutant, as are his followers, so humans don't hold a monopoly on being bastards here.
- In X-Men: Apocalypse, it's worth noting that the Misanthrope Supreme of the film is also the antagonist.
- Almost every main human from The Fearless Four. Examples being Buster's owner chuckling evilly when he plans to kill him rather than just wanting him off his hands and Gwendolyn's owners trying to kill her. Then there's also the main trio (unless you count that long-coated guy) of the Mix Max company/dictatorship.
- Surprisingly averted in Monsters. It seems the military may rain down the occasional heavy-handed airstrike to take down an alien but aren't seen doing their usual "It's the Only Way to Be Sure" approach, namely making a crater the size of Mexico. People just seem to be trying to survive or adapt to the situation rather than kill each other over it.
- The Purge shows that the people of the United States are perfectly fine with a 12-hour period each year, when all crimes are legal, resulting in an annual bloodbath. The nice couple next door might turn on you during the Purge for a perceived slight just because.
- Shere Khan from The Jungle Book (2016) is a firm believer in this. He's even outraged at the idea of adopting a human boy into the jungle.
Shere Khan: I can't help but notice there's this strange odor today. What is it, this scent? It's almost like some kind of man-cub. [spots Mowgli]Akela: Mowgli is a member of our pack, Shere Khan!Shere Khan: Mowgli...they've given it a name! When was it we come to adopt man to this jungle?Akela: He's just a cub.Shere Khan: [shows his scars] Does my face not remind you of what grown man can do? You change your hunting ground for a few years, and everyone forgets how the Law works. Well, let me remind you. A man-cub becomes a man, and man is forbidden!
- In the climax of the film Mowgli accidentally starts a forest fire in his enraged pursuit of Shere Khan, but subverts this trope when he realizes his mistake and works with Elephants (after having saved one earlier in the film) to put out the fire.
- In On Dangerous Ground, policeman Jim Wilson believes all people are this trope after years of serving and protecting in a Vice City.
- Lampshaded by the Sole Survivor at the end of Circle, in which a roomful of people have to vote for each others deaths in a mysterious alien experiment.
- An important plot point in Wonder Woman (2017), where the titular heroine witnesses first hand one of the most destructive conflicts in human history and ends up loosing hope in mankind. She was initially under the belief that men were under the influence of Ares and pitted to fight against each other. Turns out he merely suggests them new ways to kill each other from the shadows, rather than forcing them to do anything. The fact that even after being killed by Diana and bringing WWI to an end, other even more terrible conflicts such as World War II and the countless Cold War proxy fights would follow and he wouldn't be alive to influence ends up proving him right that humanity can perfectly wage war without outside forces.
- Every single character in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, even the hero is a multiple murderer who later on carries a necklace of ears around his neck. The only possible exception is The Judge, as though he's the worst of the bunch, there's a suggestion he's not human.
- Lord of the Flies is the purest possible example of this trope. The characters' failure to govern themselves is merely a symptom of a deeper problem. Many of them come to fear an alien "beast" that threatens their society. However, when the pig-head of Simon's vision says the monster was within the boys all along and later when the survivors are "rescued" by a military ship, it becomes clear that the book is an allegory of the idea that the root of conflict between people is their own inherent corruption.
- In Stephen King's Cell one character described humans thusly "At the bottom, you see, we are not Homo sapiens at all. Our core is madness. The prime directive is murder. What Darwin was too polite to say, my friends, is that we came to rule the earth not because we were the smartest, or even the meanest, but because we have always been the craziest, most murderous motherfuckers in the jungle."
- The Warchild Series by Karin Lowachee has this in droves. For a sampling: There are pirates who engage in human trafficking, a pirate captain who is probably a pedophile, a war between humans and aliens started because humans tried to take the aliens' moon by force (and massacring a bunch of aliens in the process), a government more interested in bigotry and bureaucracy than peace, soldiers who willingly engage in torture, etc. Even the most sympathetic characters still end up slitting someone's throat, rebelling from the central government, and executing suspected terrorists without a trial. Humans are bastards indeed.
- Mark Twain's satirical essay The Lowest Animal takes the claim that humans are the "reasoning animal" and totally destroys it by showing mankind's hatred towards each other and everything else.
- Twain also sarcastically argued for the (continued) genocide of the Native Americans, on the basis that the white man had lied and betrayed and screwed them so many times, and so thoroughly, that they would (justifiably) never trust whites again. Therefore, the only course of action left was to give up any remaining illusions of not being utter bastards, and finish what they'd started.
- British statesman Lord Chesterfield in Letters to His Son: "In the mass of mankind, I fear, there is too great a majority of fools and, knaves; who, singly from their number, must to a certain degree be respected, though they are by no means respectable. And a man who will show every knave or fool that he thinks him such, will engage in a most ruinous war, against numbers much superior to those that he and his allies can bring into the field. Abhor a knave, and pity a fool in your heart; but let neither of them, unnecessarily, see that you do so." (letter 60)
- In Poul Anderson's After Doomsday, the destruction of Earth is unprecedented, making the evidence that humanity did it all the more painful. At the end, when the survivors are pondering whether humanity should go on in face of this, they learn they were framed.
- This trope shows up in spades in the Marquis de Sade's work. Anyone who isn't a complete bastard is either a hypocrite or a victim. Sade's worldview was a very, very cynical one.
- Kurt Vonnegut was fond of this trope (although, strangely, his works are also full of White and Grey Morality). Cat's Cradle is an example.
- In Veniss Underground, Quin shows his genetically-engineered sentient meerkats video of humans committing atrocities against animals and against one another. It's meant to indoctrinate the meerkats with the belief that humans are bastards are meerkats are the superior race; and Nicola, after seeing the meerkats' hidden garden, doesn't entirely disagree.
- Dragons Lexicon Triumvirate:
"They are diadems of avarice, the heralds of doom to all intelligent species. It is the who intend to destroy all knowledge of the World and secure total control over time for the sake of fulfilling all their horrid desires."
- Rob J. Hayes' The Ties That Bind is a world where no one and I mean no one isn't one form of bastard or another. This includes the heroes. Then again, it is a Grim Dark Sword & Sorcery setting starring a bunch of thieves and sellswords.
- In Artemis Fowl, the narrator as Holly never misses a chance to take a swing at the horrid and disgusting humans, or Mud Men as the fairies call them. The fairies in general have this attitude, and while they don't get called out on it, the author seems to be implicitly showing it's an irrational bias. The fairies think of humans as a vicious, homogenic group — whereas some of the various fairy races are genuinely Always Chaotic Evil, brutish unintelligent monsters, or terminally arrogant or flighty. They deplore humans for destroying the environment — which they don't have any need to do themselves because their technology eliminates the problem. And they are disgusted by humans having toilets indoors — which is just dumb cultural myopia.
- The Hunger Games: At the end of Mockingjay, Katniss hits this trope hard.
- Vampirocracy: This is pretty much why the vampires felt they needed to take over the world. Humans would eventually destroy themselves, and with no humans, there's no vampires.
- George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four is this trope taken Up to Eleven. The world was destroyed in a nuclear war and all that's left is three warring super-states all run by totalitarian governments who all seek to control every aspect of their citizens lives and completely eliminate love, freedom, happiness and rebellion as concepts in the human psyche, and if anyone anywhere shows any hint of these ideas, the government arrest them, torture them and Mind Rape them until they are an Empty Shell who only love the government, and then the government executes them and wipes out all memory of them. This speech by the Big Bad should sum it up:
"Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing. Do you begin to see, then, what kind of world we are creating? It is the exact opposite of the stupid hedonistic Utopias that the old reformers imagined. A world of fear and treachery and torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy — everything. Already we are breaking down the habits of thought which have survived from before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual formality like the renewal of a ration card. We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever."
- "A Hunger in the Soul" by Mike Resnick has an adventurer-journalist abusing and eventually murdering the native inhabitants of an alien world in his quest to find a missing doctor who has developed the cure for a disease ravishing human civilisation. He eventually finds the doctor who has no intention of handing over the cure, having decided from the journalist's actions that humanity deserves everything it gets.
- Xun Zi, despite being a Confucian Philospher, carries the opposite belief of Meng Zi and suggests that humans are inherently evil, lustful and lawless, and they require laws and standards to become good. He also suggested that humanity should take control on their desires and instincts.
- The villains of The Traitor Son Cycle both think this, though for different reasons. The Dragon believes that humans are incapable of peacefully coexisting, both with the Wild and each other, without ruining everything around them. The Big Bad, on the other hand, is convinced that every human is secretly just waiting for an opportunity to give in to his darkest urges, and it takes only a little push to turn anyone into a monster.
- The Interim Coalition of Governance (the ruling government of humanity) from Xeelee Sequence is this Up to Eleven. They're like Oceania, but with better technology and on an interstellar scale. They would make the Imperium recoil in disgust. One of their worse atrocities is they spent the lives of trillions of child soldiers in a gamble to get rid of the Xeelee from their Galaxy and become the dominant lifeforms in the entire Universe. They are so xenocidal they have exterminated many aliens for getting in their way and reduced those who surrendered to a fate worse then death. They commit countless atrocities not because of Godzilla Threshold or Dirty Business, they commit them just so they can fill the wound made in their shattered egos made during the occupation from the Qax. They are hypocrites and liars who turned the societies under their rule into a totalitarian Crapsack World to make their people suffer and channel their suffering and hate towards the Xeelee, who are trying to save them from the Photino Birds. When the Coalition finally drove the Xeelee out of the Milky Way, they immediately fell into civil war before being unified by another tyrannical regime which also quickly collapsed.
- Game of Thrones: Like the novels the show is based on, this trope is on display constantly. In each and every episode it's a guarantee that characters will wreak suffering, misery and destruction to attain power and personal gain. This behavior is undeniably one of major reasons why the Game of Thrones world is in shambles.
- Malcolm in The Middle requires this to be a universal fact. Though it's usually Played for Laughs because everyone is either a jerkass or a moron.
- The Mirror Universe in Star Trek runs on this trope. A dark contrast to the standard Humans Are Special / Rousseau Was Right that powers the regular Trek Verse, humanity in that universe is a race of xenophobic, dictatorial imperialists out to conquer any and everything in their path. And they are just as brutal, if not more so, to each other; in that universe's Starfleet, killing your superior officer is an acceptable means of promotion. Note, there is a level of pragmatism in what they do. They generally would rather an alien world willingly submit to the Terran Empire's rules, but whereas the Federation will take a no, the Empire will commence orbital bombardment. And while casually killing fellow officers is a means of career advancement, it seems decorum dictates it be done only under excused circumstances (e.g. the superior screwed up).
- HG Wells in Warehouse 13 comes to this conclusion after her eight-year-old daughter was murdered.
'"Open your eyes, Myka! Have you seen the world in which you live? The divide between rich and poor! Hunger and famine! War and violence and hatred all flourishing beyond control! Indeed, men have found new ways to kill each other that were inconceivable in my day, even by fiction writers!"
- Angel goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, determined to take down the evil law firm Wolfram & Hart once and for all. He finds an elevator he thinks will take him to W&H's "Home Office" and their senior partners. On the way down seemingly to Hell, the undead W&H lawyer Holland Manners appears telling him his fight against them and evil itself is pointless. The elevator doors open to reveal they are still on Earth and that Earth is the home office. It is because evil lives in the heart of every human being. This revelation completely demoralizes Angel.
- A common theme in Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror. Depending on your perspective either technology is creating a lack of empathy among people or it simply allows humanity to be bastards more easily.
- In The National Anthem the British public pressure the Prime Minister to have sex with a pig in order to save a princess.
- In White Bear a signal transforms 9/10 of the population into "Observers" leaving the remaining 10th to do whatever they please, and they please to cause misery. Then it's revealed there was no signal and that these people are enjoying the torture of a criminal.
- Played for laughs by Community in "Debate 109," an episode involving a debate championship with the subject of "Is Man good or evil?" The main characters have to argue the latter position against a disabled man.
- On Scrubs, Dr. Cox expresses the opinion that people are "Bastards. Bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling".
- Played for Laughs on Married... with Children. The main characters are all comical and their misdeeds are humorously played out. Even authority figures, clergy, and random civilians are hypocrites. Being a Sadist Show this is all a comedy.
- In The Gameshow episode of the Derren Brown TV series The Experiments, the audience are encouraged to put on a "Phantom" mask and vote the outcome of the night of an unsuspecting volunteer. Many of them voted negatively to the point where they wished the mark be kidnapped right after putting him though roughing up, being overcharged, accused of a shoplifting, getting fired, and downright trashing his apartment.
- Delete: The AI accuses humans of being unworthy to live as a result of our various misdeeds.
- Westworld: It's really creepy how many guests like to pretend they're murdering or raping people in the form of android "hosts". Some of the androids start malfunctioning and realize what's going on, with one saying he that has to warn his "daughter" about the things they do with her, then pledging revenge on their maker.
- Bad Robots uses this as the justification for it's pranks. To elaborate, a robot named Tez One has gained sentience, and witnessed humans mistreat their electrical appliances. So he forms TezCorp to manufacture products that torture and screw humans over with this trope as the justification.
- Sense8: The series goes hard with this in regards to homo sapiens. Whenever the topic of regular humans vs sensates comes up, the show would have you think that no human anywhere has ever done anything nice for anyone, while one anthropologist even hypothesizes that the advantage homo sapiens has is their ability to lie, and they probably wiped most sensates out in the past (like the Neanderthals).
- If a Death Metal band goes into more "philosophical" or "societal" territory, it'll usually manifest as this. Expect a lot of Misanthrope Supreme as a result.
- Pearl Jam's "Do the Evolution" is a sarcastic "Humanity Is Superior" chant, which received a music video that translates perfectly how Humans Advance Swiftly by being bastards to themselves and everything else on Earth.
I am ahead, I am advanced
I am the first mammal to make plans, yeah
I crawled the Earth, but now I'm higher
20:10, watch it go to fire
- Zazie's "Je suis un homme" (I am a man) points out how humans can be quite apathetic and destroy the very world they live in. The video clip, set inside a museum full of visitors, shows a lot of statistics, such as the number of food produced for a given year, immediatly followed by the number of malnourished children in the world and people dying from hunger.
You see, I'm not a man
I am the king of illusion
At heart, may I be forgiven,
I am the king, the king of jerks
I control fire, I control the game
I control the world, and behold what I've done with it
A frozen land, a scorched land
The land of men that men forsake!
I am a man with his back to the wall
Like a freak of nature
On the earth, with no other reason
I run in circles, I run in circles
I am a man and I consider
All the horror of my nature
For my trouble, my punishment
I run in circles, I run in circles
- "Savages" by Marina & the Diamonds, as the title might imply, is about the animalistic nature of humans.
Another day, another tale of rape
Another ticking bomb to bury deep and detonate
I'm not the only one who finds it hard to understand
I'm not afraid of God
I'm afraid of Man
Mythology and Religion
- Hesiod from Greek Mythology introduced the Ages of Men with each age being worse than the last. The Silver Age war constantly till Zeus destroyed them for their impiety. The Bronze Age was worse till Zeus destroyed them. The current Iron Age is considered even worse with humans forsaking any form of righteousness and it is said Zeus would eventually destroy this age as well. Even Dike, goddess of mortal justice, left Earth unable to deal with humans.
- Hinduism has four different ages called Yugas that cycle continuously; namely; Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali. The amount of virtue or vice among humans depends on the age. Currenlty, we are living in Kali Yuga, the worst age where vice reigns supreme.
- The basic idea of some forms of fundamentalist Christianity, but especially that of Calvinism. Due to Original Sin, humans are corrupt, evil bastards to the boot, with no hope of escaping this except through Christ. Basically, those who disobey God's commandments are destined to Hell after their death because of their evilness, save those who seek repentance through Christ.
- The Apostles warn in their Epistles that during the last days the people will be evil, corrupt, violent, dishonest, lecherous and full of vice.
- Town Square in The Twilight Zone, where the citizens can be induced to panic and wreak havoc.
- In Big Finish Doctor Who's Jubilee, the Daleks invaded England during the early 1900's and were destroyed by the Doctor. Much of the technology was scavenged and used to form an English Empire, an utterly depraved version of the British Empire adscribing to the worst parts of the Dalek philosophy; paranoid, xenophobic, sadistic - to the point the last remaining Dalek considers humanity worthy successors of the Dalek legacy. The huge crowd chanting "EXTERMINATE" at the Last Dalek hammers down Humanity has been warped into nothing but the next Daleks.
- For such a lighthearted series, MOTHER 3 drives this point home when you least expect it. Really, even if the Big Bad is loathsome, despicable, and a sick monster in every way, shape and form, you can't help but agree with him just a little bit when he delivers his "The Reason You Suck" Speech. In a nutshell, the Tazmily Villagers erased their memories for a more Utopian society to prevent another Apocalypse from happening that nearly wiped out all the humans in the first place. It is mentioned in-game that humans have destroyed themselves in one way or another, but it is left ambiguous. War? Pollution? Overpopulation? Who knows, these are all guesses. But, instead of learning from their mistakes, they instead get corrupted by the Big Bad, who is, funnily enough, a symbol of humanity.
Porky: "You resorted to blanking your memories to create a new world where humanity's past failures would never be repeated... How stupid can you be?! No matter how much you change the rules, no matter how much you refuse to admit defeat, in the end, the creatures known as "people" will always sign their own death warrant by acting out of stupidity and evil. And then... mankind will be gone for good."
- The scariest part is that Porky's rant isn't entirely wrong. After all, how can you avoid repeating your past mistakes if you can't remember what they were?
- In Final Fantasy II, the Emperor's light half in Soul of Rebirth states this of humankind's legacy of war and violence. Almost fitting, given the kind of person he is even after his death.
- The Dead Space games do this all the freaking time. In a setting where the Universe is dark and cold and deserted, and the only alien life we've found are horrifically reanimated dead bodies trying to kill everyone, human beings still manage to hold the title of "biggest assholes in the Galaxy". Not one game goes by without some douchebag betraying you, fanatically worshiping the Necromorphs and Markers, trying to brutally suppress something or other by killing many innocent people, or all of the above.
- And in a few situations, it's even shown that much of that is necessary, or at least justifiable. Humans have reached a peak, and civilization is quickly circling the drain. The betrayals and coverups are part of an Government effort to revitalize humanity with alien technology, and even the fanatical Unitologists are led by a misguided belief that, though humanity has failed to survive, some kind of evolution could save everyone. Even though it doesn't and they're completely wrong.
- The third game reveals that humanity is merely following the same pattern every other race in the galaxy that preceded it followed. Every race became victims of entropy, limited resources, and the temptation of the Brethren Moons' Markers and destroyed themselves.
- At the end of Phantasy Star II, all the disasters turn out to be caused by earthlings, who, having stripped Earth of all its resources, have arrived to purge all life from Algo and take it for themselves. The Bolivian Army Ending doesn't leave much hope they can be stopped, either.
- Shows up as graffiti in the "Dead Air" campaign of Left 4 Dead ("WE ARE THE REAL MONSTERS!"). Also mocked right after ("Have you been outside JACKASS!!"). They really miss the internet.
- Shows up again in "The Passing", as a piece of commentary on bathroom graffiti. "I flushed it 50 times and now it DOESN'T WORK!","You IDIOT! YOU ARE THE REAL MONSTER"
- Breath of Fire IV has a particularly nasty example in the Fou Empire, which not only has been launching wars against the rest of humanity (fueled by Fantastic Nukes fueled by people from those areas that have been tortured to the point of insanity first) but goes into a full-scale war against their own founding emperor and King in the Mountain God-Emperor—who just happens to be an immortal draconic Physical God that their ancestors summoned and buggered up the summoning so badly that it literally split the god across time and space.
- This was the whole reason B.B. Hood, an adorable, cute-looking little girl who looks like Little Red Riding Hood was introduced into Darkstalkers 3, to prove that humans can be more evil than any actual monster. She's completely human with no superhuman powers at all (well, other than the fact that the basket she has is probably a Bag of Holding), but is the cruelest and most psychotic character in the game.
- This seems to be a recurring theme in the Fire Emblem series in general, both played straight and subverted:
- Fire Emblem Akeneia has the Doluna Empire formed explicitly to oppress the human race for wronging the Manaketes in the past. Gotoh had lost all faith in humanity because of this until he met Marth.
- Digging a little deeper in Fire Emblem Akaneia and Jugral's backstories had Dragons ruling the world before weakening while the humans became stronger, eventually resulting in dragons being overran by humans courtesy of Naga.
- This shows up a couple of ways in Fire Emblem Elibe. In Sword of Seals, dragons and manaketes were driven out a millenium ago in a brutal war known as "The Scouring" and ally with the game's human Big Bad, who decided that humanity should be wiped out because his dad kept trying to kill him. The second (prequel) game, Blazing Sword, reveals in its prologue that humans were the ones who began The Scouring and does not take an approving tone; Eliwood remarks on and acknowledges at the end of the game that it was wrong for the humans to try to take the continent for themselves.
- Fire Emblem Sacred Stones had the Five Heroes of Magvel take all of the credit for sealing away Fomortiis and omit Morva from their exploits of saving the world, and the humans of Darkling Woods who do know the truth are rightfully pissed. The heroes apologize for their short-sightedness and promise to change this. Ironically Morva himself is more interested in guarding the Demon King.
- Fire Emblem Tellius has a lot of racism and outright violence towards the Laguz, including but not limited to the Serenes Massacre. Even some of the hero's companions are initially racist and distrusting of the Laguz, and some of the Laguz are just as distrusting of the Beorc. It takes two whole games for the tensions to truly begin to heal between Laguz and Beorc, and many support conversations and acts of heroism to soften the initial racists.
- Lastly, Fire Emblem Awakening, a loose sequel to Akaneia had the Taguel, rabbit people who were apparently genocided by humans with unknown motives in a vaguely defined incident. The apparent last taguel, Panne accuses Emmeryn, the leader of a human nation, out on this, but softens when Emmeryn apologizes for the behavior of her race. Ironically though the supposed Taguel prejudice is never seen at all, not even with the villains!
- Yet the heroes of the series are always the opposite of this trope, proving to their cynical Half-Human Hybrid companions that despite the atrocities committed by their ancestors, someone is always willing to change things for the better so that all races can live in peace.
- Discussed by two fae in Gungnir. Appears a lot in the Dept. Heaven series as a whole, though some may have reasons for being bastards. Some may end up not even being human at all!
- Like any good Zombie Apocalypse story, the crew of the Sevastapol in Alien: Isolation descend into the ruthless "kill or be killed" survivalist mentality the moment things start going wrong and civil authority falls apart. A good number of them are so utterly paranoid, they're happy to kill Amanda on principle.
- A common theme in Mass Effect is whether or not humans are evil in their pursuit to prove themselves in the universe. The Illusive Man and his unethical corporation Cerberus carry this characteristic despite trying to prove the goodness in humanity. They don't exactly make humanity look good in the eyes of the alien council. In fact, Cerberus is trying to make humanity the dominant power in the galaxy by any means necessary and they look down upon the extraterrestrials opposing them.
- Despite the chief antagonists of the series being animatronic robots, the Five Nights at Freddy's series seems to have this as one of its primary themes. The robots are only malfunctioning because they're possessed by the spirits of dead children who were murdered by a serial killer. What's more, the enigmatic Bite of 87 was not caused by the animatronics malfunctioning as the Phone Guy claims in the first game; rather, it was caused by the victim's older brother, who forcefully shoved him into the mouth of an animatronic that then jammed and took out the boy's frontal lobe. Everything that happened in the series was a direct result of truly awful people doing truly awful things to innocent victims.
- Though it is worth noting that once the Bite occurs, the brother (who is laughing beforehand) stops laughing and looks on in still silence, implying that he never intended for his little brother to actually get bitten.
- This is discussed by Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain whenever you ask for his briefing on Soviet soldiers:
Simple really, there's less hesitation to pull the trigger if they're not fighting their own race. Morbid cynicism, but it gets results. That's humanity for ya.
- Undertale has the trope for the game's backstory. Humans and monsters used to co-exist until humans attacked monsters out of fear after learning that a monster could achieve incredible power if they absorb several human souls. Once the humans won the war, they banished the monsters to a mountain underground and sealed them away with a magic barrier. Since you play as a human character, most of the monsters you meet will either attack you on sight or be very distrusting of you. Depending on your actions, you can either play the trope straight by killing everyone or try to avert it by sparing everyone. In the Golden Ending, monsters and humans make peace with each other and the monsters mix within human society fairly quickly, implying that either the humans are trying to make up for the sins of their ancestors or the monsters were very quick to forgive humans.
- Fallout has tons of this. Humans in this universe were certainly bastards enough to destroy the world in a nuclear holocaust driven by racism and spite, and post-apocalyptic living has not improved things. The biggest singular example has to be Vault 11: just the existence of the Vaults is bad enough (they're fallout shelters that are actually a front for fucked-up social experiments for the US government - the Vaults weren't really meant to save anybody, and if they did it was more by accident) but Vault 11 really takes the cake. It's a Vault run by an AI that demands a human sacrifice every year or it kills the entire population of the Vault. The population decided to sacrifice the first Overseer (they forced him to go out of spite, him being the bearer of bad news after all) and ever since voted to sacrifice the Overseer. For years the people of Vault 11 callously sent their own to their deaths, some found ways of rigging the election process so they'd never get picked, and some even used their voting power to extort other residents (one of them extorted sexual favours from a woman by threatening to vote for her husband; when she complied, they voted for him anyway). When this woman was made Overseer, she changed the election process to a random number selection, and the corrupt voting block got unbelievably pissed off and started a civil war. Only five people out of thousands survived. When the smoke clears these last five go down into the bowels of the Vault and tell the AI they'd had enough and they're not going to sacrifice anybody... at which point the Vault door unlocks and the AI congratulates them. The whole point of the Vault was to see if the people would all stand up to the computer. After learning this, four of the five committed suicide.
- In The Elder Scrolls, the races of Mer (Elves), especially the Altmer (High Elves), believe this about the races of Men. They see Men as having pitifully short lives filled with violence and savagery who disrupt everything the elves try to achieve. According to Altmeri religious beliefs, the creation of Mundus (the mortal world) was seen as an act of malevolence as it forced them to experience mortal suffering, loss, and death while removing their spirits from a place of pre-creation divinity. While most are content to toil in this mortal "prison" with "more limitations than not," some extremists, like the Thalmor, actively seek to undo creation to return to that state of pre-creation divinity. However, they believe that not just the existence of mankind, but the existence of the possibility of mankind keeps them trapped in Mundus. (According to their beliefs, mankind were made up from the "weakest souls" by the "dead" creator god Lorkhan to spread Sithis (chaos) "into every corner," ensuring that there could never again be the "stasis" of pre-creation.)
- Downplayed in Terra. The upper brass of the UEC are definitely bastards, responsible for a number of atrocities, and human terrorists were originally responsible for the comic's Forever War. However individual humans are no more inherently good or evil than anyone else, and the Asurian Empire can be just as bastardy as the UEC.
- Subverted for laughs in Freefall. After being tricked into helping the police locate Florence, Sam exclaims that humans are devious sneaks... but since Sam's own kind are a race of scavenger-thieves, he sees this as praiseworthy.
- On Jay Thomplinson's Best Of The Left podcast, after having to do multiple episodes on the issue, he entitled the final 2013 episode on rape culture 'Humans are just terrible'.
- The eponymous Dr. Horrible laments that most humans are sheep and can't think for themselves. Obviously, only a complete overhaul of the system can fix this problem. Captain Hammer really only exemplifies this trope.
- Whenever The Nostalgia Critic runs into this trope in a film (almost always with a helping of Green Aesop), the review cuts to a newsreel-style condemnation of man's evil, complete with clips from the movie and an old-timey voiceover. It's finally subverted in the previously mentioned Once Upon a Forest, where the voiceover finally gets sick of the trope, announces most humans are alright, and showcases how much more dangerous animals are.
And then the movie itself subverts this by showing the humans not as bastards who caused the problem in the movie on purpose, but having simply made a mistake that they're more than willing to fix. Needless to say, the Critic was shocked when the enviromental film took this stance instead of the standard "humans are complete bastards wanting nothing more than to destroy the planet" that most Green Aesop films do.
- If Balloons Could Talk, then apparently humans would do all sorts of things that hurt and terrorize them just for the sick pleasure of hearing them cry out in horror and agony.
A pair of human hands hooks a balloon up to wires that conduct electricityThe hands insert the plug into the outlet and the balloon cries out in pain
- SCP Foundation: There's various examples of SCP objects who certainly think this is true, and the amount of SCP objects that were man-made certainly helps. However, one SCP object in particular plays around with this in an odd and certainly impressive way: SCP-2000, the Reset Button cloning facility and cold data storage they have to "reset" human civilization in case of catastrophe. Where does this come into effect? They can edit the output, and the logs say no more attempts to tone down humanity's violent and sociopathic tendencies will be made. Why? They're already made two successful ones, and any more would just kill humanity's drive to fight for their right to live.
- Worm. Two-thirds of people who gain powers (admittedly through Traumatic Superpower Awakening, but still) choose to use their powers for evil. Most authority figures are, at best, apathetic, incompetent or more obsessed with PR than doing good. People are unable to set aside their differences and unite even in the face of great troubles, all the way up to armageddon-in-progress.
- In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) episode "The Dragon's Gift", this sentiment is truly believed by Granamyr, an ancient and wise dragon who has been around for millennia and lived during a time when humans and dragons fought terrible wars against each other. When He-Man and Teela come asking him for help, he decides to give them a Secret Test of Character (basically, he tells them to murder the one being on Eternia who is older than he is, claiming he is simply jealous of it). When the two of them pass the test by refusing to do so, Granamyr admits that there may yet be hope for humans after all. (In the Spin-Off series She-Ra: Princess of Power, the origins of the war that he mentioned are revealed when the heroine is thrown into Eternia's past. As it turns out. It was started by a wizard seeking to set the humans and dragons against each other. To that end he carried out an attack on a human food supply, and then blamed it on the dragons, provoking them in to declaring war against the dragons. Thus, while Granamyr's claim was not unjustified - maybe one bastard who happened to be human was to blame - his anger against all of humanity was likely Disproportionate Retribution.)
- MAN: A Must-See Animation Short by Steve Cutts is basically the animated film of this trope. It starts with man figuring out he can smash a bug just for fun, then killing more than he could possibly eat without sharing, and goes all the way to industrialized factory farming and dumping toxic waste in the ocean, coupling this trope with a Green Aesop. Then it veers off into Space Whale Aesop as a pair of aliens discover the man being king of the earth and decide to do to him what he did to the planet, flattening him into a welcome mat to toss on top of his garbage.
- In Peace on Earth, the human race pushes itself to extinction through a series of wars fought for increasingly nonsensical reasons. The wars drag on and on at atrocious cost until only two men are left in the whole world, and they end up shooting each other dead, leaving the planet to be inherited by Ridiculously Cute Critters. The animals don't really remember humans very well but given the nightmarish stories and the "book of rules" the humans had but didn't pay much attention to, they come to the conclusion that the world's better off without them anyway.
- Remade as "Good Will To Men" (ala WWII).
- The obscure cartoon Vytor The Starfire Champion provides an amusingly extreme example. The hero's tribe depends on a special tree both to sustain life and as a symbol reminding them that the ways of peace of preferrable to those of fighting and bloodshed. In one episode the hero accidentally kills it, and hardly an hour later his former friends become so blinded by their violent impuses they start to build catapults and spears in plain view of each other with no indication of who they're even planning to fight. With the way the hero breaks up a spear fight between two of them, it's like with the one thing reminding them of their peaceful ways gone they've immediately decided to turn on each other. As soon as the tree's restored, everyone immediately drops their weapons and are best buds again.
- J'onn goes through these sentiments in Justice League when doing a mindsweep of the city in an attempt to find Luthor, ends up discovering the vanity and selfishness of mankind. He retreats to the woods but gets some faith in humanity restored when he reads the thoughts of a group of people trying to find a little girl who got lost.
- In Castlevania, Dracula was a reclusive vampire lord and not a big fan of humans until he met and fell in love with Lisa, a medicine woman who sought out the scientific knowledge he had in his castle. After she was burned at the stake as a witch, however, Dracula snaps and decides that, because no one tried to save her, humanity was deserving of nothing less than wholesale genocide.