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-> ''"Strange, I think to myself, how we have seen so much death in the wars and we know that two million of us have fallen in vain - how come we are so stirred up by this one man and have almost forgotten those two million? But that's just how it is, because one man is always the dead - and two million is always just a statistic."''
-->-- '''[[Literature/AllQuietOnTheWesternFront Erich Maria Remarque]]''', ''The Black Obelisk''; [[BeamMeUpScotty incorrectly attributed to]] UsefulNotes/JosefStalin

The amount of [[RuleOfEmpathy sympathy]] that death, cruelty, or suffering is expected to evoke from the audience is often inversely proportional to the magnitude of its effects. Far more important is the degree to which the audience knows the character(s) affected.

In other words, when some sort of {{tragedy}} befalls a character such as TheHero (or even the BigBad), the audience is expected to sympathize with him or perhaps even cry for him. However, the RedshirtArmy can be sacrificed with reckless abandon, and no one will so much as bat an eyelash. The death of a [[WhatMeasureIsANonUnique single plot-important character]] is a tragic and often pivotal point; the deaths of thousands of faceless {{Mook}}s, even if by [[ColdBloodedTorture torture]], are simply [[WhatMeasureIsAMook background noise]], so to speak. As long as the victims are sufficiently faceless, even a FinalSolution can be considered [[WouldBeRudeToSayGenocide not worth making any fuss about]].

Part of this is that the [[DeathIsDramatic major deaths occur on stage or on camera, in detail and taking long enough to be dramatic.]]

Psychologically, [[RuleOfEmpathy proximity is more important than magnitude]]. Often ties into OffstageVillainy, since the larger atrocities can't be displayed onscreen in full magnitude. Writers who want to avert this effect must deploy such tricks as the EmpathyDollShot, TheDeadHaveNames, or [[HeHadAName personalizing some victims]], to suggest the faces of the [[FacelessMooks faceless victims.]] Since MenAreTheExpendableGender, this sort of ADeathInTheLimelight is more often [[WouldntHitAGirl female]] or {{children|AreInnocent}} (especially [[HeartwarmingOrphan orphans]]) or, if male, [[KickThemWhileTheyAreDown injured]]. [[WatchingTroyBurn Strong reactions by main characters can also help.]]

The concept of this is related to the theoretical Dunbar's Number, which says at some point, it is simply impossible for a person to truly care about so many people. This is further explored and explained in Website/{{Cracked}}.com's article "[[http://www.cracked.com/article_14990_what-monkeysphere_p1.html What is the monkeysphere?]]"

Almost any SpaceOpera in any medium is bound to have this. ''Very'' difficult to avoid when you have a population that far exceeds our current one.

It can be subverted by [[TheDeadHaveNames listing the names instead of numbers]].

Compare SortingAlgorithmOfEvil, which operates along the same principle; and MoralMyopia, where a character thinks his harmful actions are justified as long as he's not hurting the "right sort" of people. May be related to the LawOfConservationOfDetail as well.

Contrast ProtagonistCenteredMorality, which has morality centered not on character exposure but relation to the protagonist.

See also LocalAngle, for when this mingles with CreatorProvincialism in the headlines; ButForMeItWasTuesday, when the villain ignores the countless deaths he causes; and IndustrializedEvil, where the mind-numbing scale of an atrocity is part of the horror (or not).

TruthInTelevision, alas; the real-life term is "[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identifiable_victim_effect identifiable victim effect]]". Apathy for collective suffering seems to be [[https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-autopilot/201003/why-is-the-death-one-million-statistic directly correlated with one's ability to keep emotions in check]], and is perhaps a mental defense against [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compassion_fatigue compassion fatigue]]. This phenomenon has even been reproduced in a lab, [[http://www.badscience.net/2010/10/empathys-failures/ where increasing the number of a criminal's victims causes people to recommend a lower sentence]].



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/InuYasha'': Miroku and Sango are so used to the mass destruction of their era that, while they're sympathetic to the loss of entire villages, they're also pragmatic about not being able to do much about it. Inuyasha is also a half-demon who is generally not too sympathetic to most humans. Kagome, however, subverts this trope. As a modern girl thrust back in time, she generally reacts more strongly than the others and once was absolutely horrified at Inuyasha stopping for a meal break in the middle of a corpse-strewn battlefield. That said, even Kagome is more likely to react to the plight of someone she's personally attached to than the loss of strangers. It's how [[KarmaHoudini Kouga]] became a friend of the group - despite being responsible for the destruction (and eating) of at least three villages that the group knows about, they ended up forgiving him and becoming friends with him. Notably, however, they were never allowed to find out that Kouga had destroyed Rin's village and killed Rin.
* ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'':
** Nobody ever comments zilch about seeing entire [[RedshirtArmy Redshirt Armies]] being blown apart. But when [[spoiler:Kamina]] dies, the whole cast spends ''three full chapters'' mourning his death.
** Even more so in the movie. You can just feel the anguish that everyone on Dai-Gurren Dan feels when [[spoiler:Kittan made the sacrifice]], as well as the resulting roaring rampage of revenge.
* Light Yagami from ''Manga/DeathNote''. Certainly [[spoiler:L's death]] evokes a stronger reaction from the audience than the thousands of others killed before (and the even greater number killed after). This is somewhat {{Justified|Trope}}, however, in that the majority of the people he killed were not just faceless masses but also [[AssholeVictim criminals]] killed for the sake of Light's ambition to [[WellIntentionedExtremist make the world a better place]], while the named characters he takes out are done for the sake of saving his own ass.
* In ''LightNovel/DirtyPair'', entire ''planets'' get accidentally blown up on a regular basis -- and more often than not it's played for BlackComedy.
* ''Anime/{{Macross}}'':
** Averted -- explicitly run away from -- in both ''Anime/SuperDimensionFortressMacross'' and ''Anime/MacrossDoYouRememberLove''. In the former, characters at times explicitly comment and agonize over the fact that there are civilian casualties -- in one later episode, the heroes stop their pursuit of the BigBad because he's just set a city on fire. In ''Do You Remember Love?'', [[spoiler: Hikaru finally convinces Minmay to sing the [[TitledAfterTheSong Title Song]] to halt the Zentradi assault in its tracks by forcefully reminding her about the millions who'd died during the war, including mentioning some names of Hikaru's friends and squadmates that (at least in the movie continuity) she'd likely never met. Suitably chastened, she realizes it is her human duty to sing and stop the war. He never brings up the possibility of him and her being killed, instead focusing on everyone else and the lives they sacrificed.]]
** In ''Anime/MacrossPlus'', Isamu and Guld's final showdown takes them to the streets of Macross City. They punch, shoot, and launch missiles at each other with little concern for the buildings and roads they're demolishing in the planet's most populated city --made even worse when you remember that Macross City is [[spoiler:under Sharon Apple's thrall]], so the civilians can't even notice the destruction around them or try to flee.
** Another aversion in ''Anime/MacrossFrontier'': every Vajra attack has heavy tolls on the population, and the narrative devotes some time to this. It goes particularly far in the aftermath of the [[spoiler:Vajra invasion of Island One, where one of the main protagonists and the civilian president are killed, and the next episode focuses on a fleet-wide memorial service for ''everyone'' who died in the massacre rather than focus on those two characters]].
* Often overlooked (since it [[AllThereInTheManual happens before the show]]) in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'', Zeon kills the majority of people living in space in the beginning stages of the war. This was once calculated as being the second-highest body count of any faction in the franchise's history (only the mass ColonyDrop that preceded ''Anime/AfterWarGundamX'', killing over 99% of the population, outdid it). Strangely, [[DracoInLeatherPants this hasn't hurt Zeon's popularity any]].
** Weirdly, ''Anime/MobileSuitZetaGundam's'' Titans have a much worse reputation than Zeon even though they only gassed ''one'' colony (Zeon did this to several, ''at least'', and then ''dropped them on the Earth'') and were in general only slightly more JerkAss-ish than Zeon was. To be fair, when Zeon was doing it, there wasn't yet a treaty forbidding this very behavior. The Titans did it in response to ''peaceful protests'' in a part of the colony. Also, the Federation was also doing ''something'' in response to Zeon as well, since both sides lost half their population during the first week.
** Also, your popularity is going to be high when you wipe out every last person in space that stands in opposition to you, leaving only your fanatical supporters alive to sing your praises!
** There wasn't treaty at the time but Zeon loudly proclaimed their "noble" goal, Freeing the Spacenoids from the Oppression of Earth Federation!! Guess who were the ones Zeon attacked first.
** In fact, ''both'' sides were responsible for that. Zeon and the Federation were indiscriminately throwing nukes back and forth at each other (plus the ColonyDrop that caused additional mass casualties on Earth), until they realized they were on the verge of ''both'' being wiped out and signed a treaty banning all [=WMD=]s.
** Harshly averted in the miniseries ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam0080WarInThePocket''. Not only are you able to witness the carnage close up from a bystander's point of view, you also meet most of the mooks fighting in the story's conflict. [[spoiler:While a lot of the main characters are part of a special-forces team, in the end they're still just a bunch of mooks - all of whom die, either in a shootout against overwhelming odds or {{curbstomp|Battle}}ed by the Gundam, no matter how much the viewer expects any of them to pull out an InfinityPlusOneSword and destroy the Gundam. To top it off, the anime made a very specific point of making their deaths utterly pointless, even if the last remaining member of the team succeeds in his immediate goal - the destruction of the Gundam - at the cost of his own life.]]
** In general though, the Universal Century averts this by often pointing out that every soldier is human in and of themselves, have emotions, dreams and an identity of their own, and that every soldier that dies is another life lost pointlessly in war (in fact, in ''Zeta Gundam'', when protagonist Kamille Bidan gets angry at resident PsychoForHire Yazan Gable, he is quite obviously angry that Yazan treats war like a game and that people on all sides are dying not just on his side).
* Inverted in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamWing'', when during the final battle Wufei confronts Treize and demands to know how many people have given their lives for Treize's plans. Treize astonishes him by ''giving an exact number'' ("As of yesterday, 99,822 people"), [[TheDeadHaveNames listing several names from memory]], and calling Lady Une to ask how many have died so far in the current battle and to request that those names be forwarded to him so he can memorize them. Whatever else may be said about him, Treize does not take sacrifice lightly, not even that of {{Mooks}}.
* ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'' averts this. Nagi spends a good chunk of his time after the war saving refugees, and Arika went to great lengths to save as many civilians as she possibly could. Negi holds to the same philosophy; the main reason that he doesn't join [[spoiler: Kurt Godel]] is because he doesn't believe in this trope, and if joining forces means that they can't save ''everyone'', then to hell with an alliance.
* Averted in ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'', when it is shown that [[spoiler:Van Hohenheim actually took the time to come to an understanding with EACH and EVERY ONE of the 500,000+ souls now trapped in his body as a result of Father's destruction of Xerxes.]]
* ''Anime/LegendOfGalacticHeroes'' suffers horrendously from this, coupled with having millions of people killed in ''virtually every battle''.
** However, it's never taken lightly. Most officers strive to minimize loss of life, and at least on the Alliance's side it's one of the sources of the country's problems that so much of its youth dies on the battlefields, with almost no veterans to speak of.
* Played straight, averted, discussed, deconstructed, and used as a major source of drama in ''Manga/{{Bokurano}}'', particularly the manga. Tens of thousands of people die as collateral damage from HumongousMecha battles [[spoiler:and tens of billions as enemy casualties]], and every character has their own take on it. Some pilots ignore civilian casualties and only pay attention to their own plight, some stall the battle and risk losing to give civilians time to evacuate, some get [[HeroicBSOD Heroic BSODs]]... it goes on. Especially heartbreaking in the last battle in the manga: [[spoiler:a main character has to murder the population of a planet in order to win. He insists on killing each person individually, to make it as painless as possible, but that doesn't make it any easier for him.]]
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'' does this occasionally. The most prominent example would be when Rolo tries to remember how many people he's killed. He isn't able to remember exactly how many and then uses the analogy of someone trying to remember how many times they've brushed their teeth in their lives; you've done it so many times that you're past caring. This moment is made even more scary when you realise that, to Rolo, killing someone has as much emotional impact as cleaning your teeth.
** Lelouch plays it straight AND subverts it at times.
*** During the battle of Narita, Lelouch and Kallen destroy a small town and kill everybody in it. They only think about how many enemy soldiers they just killed. Only when they find out the father of a classmate was also killed, they feel remorse about it. C.C. calls him out on this, asking if he thought this was somehow a unique instance, and pointing out that pretty much all of the soldiers they killed also had loved ones who are now grieving for their loss.
*** At the end of R1, [[spoiler: Lelouch [[PowerIncontinence loses control of his power]] and causes Euphemia to go on a massacre, resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent Japanese who believed in her; Lelouch, as Zero, is begged by these dying people to save them, but is also struck by the need to stop the destruction.]] It shows Lelouch's panic over doing a horrible, monstrous thing, versus allowing an even more horrible, monstrous thing - the question of being selfish or sacrificing your own sense of self for the greater good, averting the trope completely.
*** Three quarters through R2, however, it plays it straight. [[spoiler: Millions of people die, but all Lelouch (and most fans) can think about is Nunnally.]] Everyone else averts it, though, with the respect of many of his upper-level subordinates losing trust in him by thinking that he doesn't care - when in fact Lelouch's worst nightmares have come to life to haunt him.
** Schneizel's view on this: "Even if 100 or 200 million people's lives are sacrificed, an eternal peace is-" [[spoiler:[[ShutUpHannibal Cornelia promptly draws her sword]].]]
* Toward the end of ''Manga/MuhyoAndRoji'', 500 Executors die when Vector attacks the northern Magical Law headquarters, and a few panels of memorial services are shown. They get significantly less of a follow-up than many other deaths, notably Enchu's mother, [[spoiler:Panza]] (whose death weighs heavily on Roji) and Kid. Even Fujiwara, a minor character who was one of Imai's subordinates before he got killed in the Arcanum, comes back as a haunt and is mentioned as an example of someone who was incompetent but determined.
* In ''Anime/MaiOtome'', the death of [[spoiler:Erstin]] seems to weigh more heavily on Nina's conscience and Arika's mind than that of the many other people who were [[InferredHolocaust most likely killed]] (although no casualty total is given) by Nina using the Harmonium to destroy entire cities.
* ''Anime/EdenOfTheEast'' has an instance of a character having this viewpoint and the hypocrisy being noted by a fellow antagonist. Mononobe and Yuki both previously conspired to [[UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans build a better Japan]] by killing scores of people and plan to try it again, but are quite different in personality, with Yuki personally being rather meek. When Yuki is horrified at Monobe running down "Panties" with his car and making him complicit, Mononobe "reminds" Yuki that he's essentially a psycho with no qualms about mass murder.
* In the first ''Anime/ReadOrDie'' OVA, one of the I-Jinn, having stolen the second part of the manuscript needed to unleash their master plan, shoots his way through an enormous squadron of attack helicopters, probably killing several hundred people in the process. Yomiko, true to the obsessive bibliophilia that is an inherent part of her PaperMaster abilities, has this reaction:
-->'''Yomiko''': My book... My poor little ''book''...
* Inverted and Lampshaded by Kyubey in ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica''. Kyubey has [[LackofEmpathy no empathy]], and cares a lot more about a million deaths than about one.
-->'''Kyubey:''' [[spoiler:Your population is [[WeHaveReserves six billion nine hundred million right now]], and ten more of you are born every four seconds, so why do you make such a big fuss over the loss of just one of you?]]
* ''King Of Braves Anime/GaoGaiGar'' averts this by having the Gutsy Geoid (later Galaxy) Guard develop new tools to protect the human populace. One of those tools, Dividing Driver, was designed because they realized that a Protect Shade against projectiles in a crowded area was a ''bad idea''.
* Yugi, Judai and Yusei in ''Anime/YuGiOhBondsBeyondTime'' are upset by [[spoiler: Pegasus and Grandpa's deaths, as well as everyone else who died in Paradox's attack on Domino City.]] Paradox however sees [[spoiler: the massacre]] as only another step towards completing his goal. Considering how he didn't care about [[spoiler: destroying Venice just to get Judai]], it's no surprise.
* ''Manga/RurouniKenshin''. Kenshin's vow not to kill stems form the overwhelming number of people he killed during the Bakumatsu. Although Kenshin was an assassin and thus knew the name and face of his main targets, he killed all who were accompanying said target at the time, many of whom remain nameless.
* Invoked in ''Manga/OnePiece'' by Nico Robin, who states that anyone willing to issue and carry out a Buster Call (a coordinated, take-no-prisoners Marine attack powerful enough [[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill to reduce an entire island to ashes]]) is so detached that they can't truly comprehend the sheer amount of death and destruction it causes. Especially [[SmugSnake Spandam]], who flaunts the authority he was given to issue one every chance he gets)
** Robin tells the crew that the Buster Call is essentially just removing an island from the world map, and people aren't visible on such a map.
* In ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'', due to a food crisis, the government sent 250,000 people to [[BlatantLies reclaim Wall Maria]] with only less than 200 returning. One of the casualties is Armin's grandfather who handed him his hat before leaving. Another happens in episode 25 where the large number of civilian deaths are all represented by a bloodied little girl crying and stumbling in the streets over several corpses.
** Subverted by Eren when [[spoiler:he screams at Reiner and Bertlolt for being mass murderers, absolutely livid and disgusted at all the deaths they caused]].
* ''Anime/BloodPlus'': Several fans lost sympathy for [[BigBad Diva]] after her [[spoiler: [[RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil rape and murder]] of [[ChildrenAreInnocent Riku]]]], uncaring of the nameless and faceless hundreds of innocent people she's killed and eaten over the past 100+ years.
* In ''LightNovel/SwordArtOnline'', over 10,000 people were trapped in a virtual reality MMO for over two years and by the time they were freed, less than 4000 of them had died. Aside from things involving the main characters, and the establishment of a survivor school meant to counsel and help those who made it out, the series ignores the massive controversy and consequences that would occur from such an event, though the resident government agent all but outright states [[JustifiedTrope it's because of the Japanese government taking a direct hand in handling the press that's keeping the survivors from being hounded day in and out]]. In fact, not only did virtual reality games become more popular after the SAO incident but they feature a far heavier emphasis on killing (albeit due to the fact the technology that caused the players to be trapped and killed in the first place was replaced with tech that ''couldn't'' do that). Even so, this becomes incredibly egregious for some when the main character compares the person responsible for said deadly MMO to a villain he was fighting, responsible for merely trapping and brainwashing, not killing, a tenth of that amount, with the end result is the former being somehow the ''lesser'' of the two evils, with the justification that the first guy [[CardCarryingVillain wasn't being such a complete and unrepentant asshole about the whole thing like the current one]].
* During the Fourth Shinobi World War in ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', when tens of thousands of nameless ninjas died during the skirmishes, they are given nary a reference. Neji's death on the other hand, is treated as this is a huge thing for everyone, not just his own comrades but also other members of the Alliance who never knew about Neji in one bit, despite the fact that there are also other Shinobi members that had died during the same attack (And potentially other members that could possibly be looked up more than Neji for other people).

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* This is why the Event of the last two chapters of ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}'' is so shocking: Care is taken to show the [[spoiler:devastation of New York killing every named character who lives in the city]]. Rorschach at one point says it doesn't matter if Dr. Manhattan kills him as millions have already died [[spoiler: He kills him.]]
** Averted also with no less than [[spoiler: Ozymandias]], who declares that he avoided the "mass million murdering plot" to become a complete devil arithmetics [[spoiler: in his mind]] by regarding separately each one of the million individuals sacrificed, so, in a sense [[spoiler: he has been mourning the victims of his own crime a decade in advance.]]
*** Makes you wonder why they didn't at least put [[spoiler: the first Night Owl]] in with the casualties, since his earlier death from the comic was also cut out of the movie.
** In TheFilmOfTheBook, this is all but completely thrown out, since all but one of these characters have been cut, and ''his'' role is greatly reduced.
* Karolina Dean from ''Comicbook/{{Runaways}}'' actually quotes this when Xavin mentions entire worlds got destroyed while she's mourning [[spoiler:the death of her friend Gert]].
** Xavin actually comments that it's a stupid way of viewing things. Pointing out, very logically, that if person dying is tragic, a million people dying must be a million times as tragic.
* In DC's ''ComicBook/CrisisOnInfiniteEarths'', individual characters are acknowledged according to popularity (with the Flash and Supergirl getting covers and lengthy eulogies). The entire ''universes'' destroyed by the Anti-Monitor (in infinite numbers if the title is taken literally, and several universes, some established and some new, are destroyed on-panel) pack far less emotional punch. (The destruction of Earth-3 is notable for the innumerable innocents counting for less than the handful of ''villains'' who go down trying to save it.)
* ComicBook/CaptainAmerica had a story in which the villain was planning to unleash a weaponised virus to kill millions in revenge for his murdered wife. When the horrified Cap points out the hypocrisy, the villain callously responds with this trope's title.
* Discussed and averted in Creator/JossWhedon's ''[[ComicBook/XMen Astonishing X-Men]]'' where Danger brings back online one of Cassandra Nova's sentinels which massacred sixteen million mutants in Genosha. Danger modified the Sentinel to help her attack the X-Men, and also made it sapient. While battling the Sentinel, Kitty Pryde notices that Danger had also blocked off a part of its memory, and convinces it to break down those barriers. Turns out, that was the memory of the Sentinel's actions in Genosha. Being an intelligent, feeling being now, it is immediately gripped by intense guilt and withdraws its attack. Kitty explains that the murders of sixteen million people is too large for the human mind to fully comprehend, but the computer mind of the Sentinel is capable of appraising each one individually. Later the Sentinel commits a HeroicSacrifice in an attempt to stop the attack from Breakworld, with the implication that it had become TheAtoner.
* ''ComicBook/TheTransformersIDW''
** During ''ComicBook/TheTransformersDarkCybertron'', When Megatron becomes enraged at the death [[spoiler:Bumblebee]], Shockwave mocks him for being so concerned over the death of one bot when he himself is responsible for the deaths of Cybertronians.
** Also invoked by Starscream, after [[spoiler:Metalhawk sacrifices his life to destroy the 70 billion Ammonites attacking Cybertron in one fell swoop.]] It should be noted that Starscream's only trying to paint him in a negative light.
** Discussed by Getaway and Skids in ''ComicBook/TheTransformersMoreThanMeetsTheEye'' after Megatron joins the crew of the ''Lost Light''. Getaway points out that they can easily hate a Decepticon for killing an Autobot, but it's harder to comprehend the deaths of millions of Autobots.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Played creepily straight in ''Fanfic/{{Conquest}}'', where most of the reaction we see from the Borg during their war with the Empire is the statistics of their casualties. By the time the casualties come to 12 trillion drones, tens of thousands of ships, and over seven hundred worlds, the Collective starts to realize something must be off...
* In ''[[FanFic/SovereignGFCOrigins Origins]]'', a ''Franchise/MassEffect''[=/=]''Franchise/StarWars''[[spoiler:[=/=]''[=Borderlands=]''[=/=]''[=Halo=]'']] MassiveMultiplayerCrossover, this is played straight as a superlaser. Sarah kills anywhere from millions to hundreds of millions (WritersCannotDoMath combined with inexact canon regarding the population of the galaxy in question) to [[spoiler:stop the Flood]]. When she [[HeelFaceTurn team up with the heroes]] they angst a bit but decide the [[GodzillaThreshold stakes are too high]] and accept her help, despite going nuts on smaller displays of wanton destruction (Shepard, Torgue/Maliwan).
* Invoked in-universe by [[OriginalCharacter Alex]] in the ''Manga/ElfenLied'' fic ''FanFic/FamilySticksTogether''. He explicitly tells Kaede (aka Lucy/Nyu) that, while he's not entirely comfortable with [[SerialKiller what she plans to do to survive]], he is nonetheless fine with it as long as she is able to survive and explicitly tells her that her life means more to her than a thousand others.
* Comes up on the Tropes Are Not Good side of TropesAreTools in ''Fanfic/TheTSABActurusWar''. Early on, the author attempted to defy this by giving individual names to minor starships and soldiers, but reader reception was mostly negative and claims ranged from it being redundant and distracting to an outright turnoff.
* Lampshaded in ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/1460890/1/Living-History Living History]]'' when the [[Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer Scoobies]] hear about the casualties a BigBad in the future has caused. They simply can't picture deaths equal to several times Earth's population.
* The Time Lords in the Series/DoctorWho fanfiction ''Fanfic/TheLastGreatTimeWar''. They don't care about planets or even galaxies being destroyed in the War unless they are of significant strategic importance.
* Averted in ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11767392/11/Frigid-Future Frigid Future]]'' when androids 12 and 11 (reprogrammed by Bulma) save 17 and 18 from Gero and Cell. 12 is angry at 11 for wanting to give them a second chance, who cites how 3 redeemed herself and that 17 and 18 clearly care about each other. As 12 argues, 3 was purely robotic which meant she had an implanted personality she had to overcome; 17 and 18 were originally human and had their own free will but murdered millions anyway [[ForTheEvulz just for the hell of it]]. It doesn't matter if they care about each other, they chose to be monsters.
* Averted with Sarah Kerrigan in ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/6244518/1/Flight-to-Freedom Flight to Freedom]]'' who not only knows how many people were killed by the Swarm under her command but also, due to the Zerg HiveMind, knows their names. A couple times during her recovery she starts reciting the names of her victims.
* In ''Fanfic/ShadowchasersConspiracy'', a disturbing discussion of this comes up as Francis tries to reason with Sheeva, or so he wants her to believe. He challenges her claims of being an honorable fighter by mentioning the long lifespan of the Shokkan and asking how many deaths such a warrior who has lived so long must is ''personally'' responsible for if such battles to the death are commonplace among them. He suggests Sheeva must have killed ''thousands'' (even one victim every two months would do so) also mentioning how many families she must have torn apart, even suggesting that some of her opponents may have been children of previous ones, seeking revenge. (Of course, he's playing on Sheeva's confusion resulting from being yanked into a setting where [[WrongGenreSavvy the rules of her own reality]] don't apply.)

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibles'': ''Averted''. The scene when Mr. Incredible learns that Syndrome has killed ''dozens'' of supers. None of them are established characters, but the scene is treated as appropriately horrific. It's also implied that even if the audience never knew any of those people, Mr Incredible knew many of them personally and/or professionally.
** In fact, the audience ''does'' know them. Many were at the wedding at the beginning, proving them to be friends of the main characters. Owners of the DVD can even get to know ''literally everyone'' by looking at their profiles in the Extras where they talk about their life, their hopes and secret identity. Those are not just names with a face, they are people with a personality and Pixar tried hard on evoking as much empathy for them as possible.
* In ''Disney/{{Mulan}}'' the villain does indeed slaughter nameless masses by the hundreds (off-stage, no less), and no named characters died. Only three characters who die even have lines (one of the two messengers, General Li, and Shan-Yu), but the movie nevertheless manages to convince that the slaughter was a terrible thing. (An EmpathyDollShot is used to great effect.)
* Played horrifyingly straight in ''WesternAnimation/TitanicTheLegendGoesOn''. With the exception of Molly, (more commonly known as the "singer with the big boobs"), ''every single named character'' survives, including the {{Funny Animal}}s, complete with a WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue. In a film that takes place ''aboard the Titanic''. Molly, (who for some reason shares a name with the most famous Titanic '''survivor''', "The Unsinkable Molly Brown", only gets a single tear of mourning from one of her pets.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Franchise/StarWars: Film/ANewHope'', Princess Leia sees her entire planet, including her parents and most of the people she knows, destroyed. Luke [[MentorOccupationalHazard loses]] someone he'd known for a couple days, at most. ''She'' comforts ''him''. Obi-Wan has screen time, while nobody on Alderaan does, so his death is treated as a bigger emotional moment. May be justified to some extent, since the Princess is an aristocrat raised from birth to work in [[DeadlyDecadentCourt Imperial politics]], and presumably better able to control her emotions than the naive farmboy.
** And then averted in ''Film/TheForceAwakens''; when [[spoiler: [[WaveMotionGun Starkiller Base]] destroys the capital of the New Republic, we actually get to see the terrified faces of its many citizens as they see the bright, red light bearing down on them.]]
* ''Franchise/JamesBond'': Most of the villains 007 faces are cunning but incredibly insane and homicidal sociopaths to begin with, as while they claim that they're {{Well Intentioned Extremist}}s to begin with, but are only motivated by {{Greed}} while maintaining a superficial charm, and some are even [[OmnicidalManiac willing to kill or maim countless innocents]] for [[ItsAllAboutMe their own selfish gain]], all without a shred of guilt or remorse. [[Film/{{Goldfinger}} Goldfinger]], [[Film/{{Moonraker}} Hugo Drax]], [[Film/AViewToAKill Max Zorin]], [[Film/LicenceToKill Franz Sanchez]], [[Film/GoldenEye Xenia]] [[FemmeFatale Onatopp]], [[Film/{{Spectre}} Max Denbigh/C]], [[Film/TomorrowNeverDies Elliot Carver]] and [[Film/QuantumOfSolace Dominic Greene]] are some good examples.
** Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the nefarious leader of SPECTRE and 007's biggest ArchEnemy in all of his incarnations, is quite an insane and ruthless megalomaniac — and this enables him to be the perfect example of a DiabolicalMastermind. He doesn't care for all the misery he fomented as the only thing that matters is how much he's profiting from his {{Evil Plan}}s. Everything else can rot in hell. If minions or millions are killed, so be it. They're just as expendable. [[BadBoss If his minions fail to please him]], it's an automatic death sentence. And who gives a damn about the deaths he caused so far?
* Sort of lampshaded in Creator/CharlieChaplin's ''Monseiur Verdoux'': "One murder makes a villain, millions a hero. Numbers sanctify, my good fellow."
* During the aerial battle sequence in ''Film/BlueThunder'', the hero, flying the titular BlackHelicopter, is forced to [[WronskiFeint dodge]] a pair of heat-seeking missiles fired (over a major city) by Air Force F-16s. One hits a Japanese barbecue shop and the other hits a skyscraper square on. Even if you consider that all this was occurring [[ConvenientlyEmptyBuilding toward the end of a work day]], the casualty count must have been considerable; but of all the characters in the film, only the pilot who fired the missile and the beleaguered police chief give so much as a nod to the disaster. In RealLife, such an event would have everyone involved pilloried, especially when it turned out that Murphy wasn't a dangerous lunatic. There's also the F-16 that Murphy shoots down, but we don't actually see it crash so it's possible it landed in the ocean or somewhere similarly innocuous.
* Parodied in ''[[Film/DrStrangelove Dr. Strangelove (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)]]''. Turgidson assures the president that "it's not like we're not going to get our hair mussed" but if they act quickly with a decisive nuclear strike then there might be "ten...twenty million casualties. Tops!!" The president responds that he doesn't want to go down in history as the greatest mass murderer since UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler. Turgidson respectfully chides him for "caring more about his image in the history books than his people."
* The PostNineElevenTerrorismMovie ''Film/{{Unthinkable}}'' dwells on this with debates on whether it is morally justified to torture a known terrorist and aspiring mass murderer to death to extract information on the whereabouts of several nuclear devices that he scattered across the United States and rigged to detonate, which would kill millions of people. While this "dillemma" will seem downright farcical to most people, a better case is presented when the interrogators are considering torturing the man's two (innocent) children. When the WideEyedIdealist character is already responsible for the deaths of 53 people by trusting the terrorist at his word, she plays the trope horrifyingly straight when she openly voices her preference to let ''thousands'' of children all be killed to preserve the lives of his.
* This was a problem in ''Film/StarTrekGenerations''. Dr. Soran's plan to get into the Nexus involved blowing up a star, which would also destroy an inhabited pre-industrial planet. We had never heard of this planet before, knew nothing of its people, and never even saw its surface, so it may as well have been an uninhabited rock for all the audience cared.
* ''Film/TwoThousandTwelve'' has been criticized for this. Billions die, but who cares? It's [[SceneryGorn Disaster Porn]], and the only people who count are in a little plane. This is the reason for the LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters that drag down the film. Giving the audience as many characters with actual names as possible to care about to give the audience more of a connection to billions dying.
* The Joker's BreakingSpeech to Harvey Dent in ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' mentions this.
--> '''Joker:''' If tomorrow I said that a gang-banger would get shot, or a truck-load of soldiers will be blown up - nobody panics, because it's all "part of ThePlan". But when I say that ''one'' little old mayor will die... well then ''everyone loses their minds''!
* In ''Film/VantagePoint'', a bomb wipes out the crowded lobby of a five-star hotel. Moments later, a second bomb goes off under a podium in the middle of a large crowd. Dozens, if not hundreds, are killed. The movie hardly blinks. But one little girl whose first name the viewers know is about to be run over, and you'd think the world was about to end.
* Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse:
** ''Film/{{Thor}}'' is an interesting aversion. The audience is shown no reason to see the Jotunns as anything but AlwaysChaoticEvil, yet the climax still successfully conveys using only Thor's own reaction to it that Loki's attempted Genocide is a horrendous crime.
** In ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}}'', Loki killing loads of people, having his brainwashed mooks kill loads of people, and loudly announcing his plans to TakeOverTheWorld aren't what makes the audience (and the heroes) hate him, it's his murder of [[spoiler:Agent Coulson]] that does it.
* Invoked in ''Film/GodsAndGenerals'', after a [[LittlestCancerPatient young girl dies]], General Jackson, who has largely been TheStoic, begins to [[ManlyTears break down and cry]]. One of his soldiers comments that he's seen many men fall in battle yet didn't seem to care about them at all, but cries because of a little girl dying. Another soldier then mentions that the General is probably crying for all of them at this time.
* ''Film/GIJoeRetaliation'': With [[spoiler: London basically being blasted into the bottom of the ocean]], millions of people had to have died. While people are terrified when they see the attack, it is soon forgotten once the Joes save the other cities. Then everyone is all smiles.
* ''Film/ManOfSteel'' is an interesting examination of this. Metropolis is ground zero for a HostileTerraforming machine that literally ''pancakes'' an area of downtown the size of a sports stadium (and doing considerable damage well beyond ground zero) before it is stopped, and later the site of a superpowered battle between Superman and General Zod that is moderately smaller. For both events, named characters and unnamed civilians together are shown fleeing in terror. When the threat is over, the story moves on to wrap things up and while maybe not celebratory, is rather upbeat and optimistic. The sheer destruction involved spawned many [[MemeticMutation memes]] on the subject, with many accusing Superman of simply not caring about collateral damage [[note]]Which is not really supported by the actual movie, Superman was simply unable to contain Zod, who was responsible for the majority of wanton destruction[[/note]].
* ''Film/SchindlersList'': Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess (often diagnosed as a sociopath after the war), whose whole industry is mass murder, is extremely casual about the matter when Schindler arrives to bribe him for the female Schindler Jews who were shipped to the death camp instead of Schindler's factory in Moravia by mistake. Hoess refers to the prisoners they're killing as "units", first offers Schindler 300 other arrivals instead of the ones he wants, and is only bothered by the extra paperwork that it will bring.
* In ''Film/WarGames'', the NORAD computer WOPR/Joshua is programmed to calculate damages from different nuclear attack scenarios, which include civilian deaths. Its programmer, Dr. Stephen Falken, tells David that he eventually got disgusted by the military's dispassionate attitude towards nuclear conflict.
-->'''Falken:''' Back at the war room, they believe you can win a nuclear war. That there can be "acceptable losses."
* Notably averted in ''Film/Godzilla1954''. It's one of the very few movies where a monster ravaging a city and killing thousands of people is treated like a real disaster, and the result is played for tragedy rather than popcorn fluff, even though none of the main characters are killed.
* {{Discussed}} and {{Inverted}} in ''Compulsion,'' where Judd brings this up to justify the fact that he and [[PoisonousFriend Artie]] [[WouldHurtAChild killed a little boy]] ForTheEvulz.
-->"There were nine million people killed in [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarI the war]]! What does one little Chicago boy matter?"

* At the end of Creator/DanAbnett's ''Literature/GauntsGhosts'' novel ''Only In Death'', Mkoll is {{Mercy Kill}}ing the victims of the Blood Pact's [[ColdBloodedTorture tortures]]. When he comes to one, Eszrad stops him: [[spoiler:it's Gaunt himself. Him, they take out of there to recover.]] Though, to be fair, due to the time of capture and the fact they wanted [[spoiler:Gaunt]] to suffer longer, and from the description, you find out most of the prisoners had lost their slew of eyes, legs, arms etc, leaving them just barely alive husks. [[spoiler:Gaunt]] had only lost his eyes, something they could easily replace.
** Though Gaunt himself averts this rather pointedly; he takes time to memorize the names, faces and details of every man he's fought with or who's died under his command, and can recite them from memory. He gets quite visibly upset when it turns out there's someone he has forgotten.
** Also, Hark finds [[spoiler:Soric]] in the midst of many tortured psykers, and kills him and no others. (Admittedly, he's the one who [[ICannotSelfTerminate asked for it]].)
** In the background, the whole [[DarkerAndEdgier GRIMDARK]] milieu for ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' sees millions dying for anything more complex than making coffee (unless you're Chaos or Dark Eldar, where the coffee is probably made with the blood of children).
** The incident that finally caused the Emperor to finally realize that Horus was beyond redemption was when he saw Horus flay a guardsman/Space Marine/Adeptus Custodes during their climactic battle. Instead of the countless billions he was already responsible for, including his own Primarch children.
*** Presumably, the later {{Retcon}} to make that Guardsman be a Space Marine and then later again be an Adeptus Custodes was to emphasize how much of the ridiculous power of Chaos Horus was given - meaning the reason for the Emperor's realization wasn't exactly because of how he killed someone in front of him without lifting a finger, it was because he killed someone of superhuman strength without lifting a finger.
*** The reason for the Emperor's realization is still stated to be him realizing that Horus was irredeemably evil. Before that point he had been hoping he could reason with Horus and make peace, but seeing him personally kill another human being, who had no way off injuring him, without a thought made the Emperor understand that Horus couldn't be reasoned with. This is also the reason why most fans like the "Guardsman"-version better.
* Deconstructed and averted purposefully by ''Literature/TheRedBadgeOfCourage''. It is said to be the first [[WarIsHell war story]] that did not focus at all on large-scale movements.
* In Creator/GrahamMcNeill's ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' Literature/{{Ultramarines}} novel ''The Warriors of Ultramar'', Uriel explicitly thinks that the Inquisitor considers the population he is willing to sacrifice as numbers, while Uriel thinks of them as people.
* Discussed in Creator/NeilGaiman's ''Literature/AmericanGods''.
-->Without individuals we see only numbers: a thousand dead, a hundred thousand dead, "casualties may rise to a million." With individual stories, the statistics become people — but even that is a lie, for the people continue to suffer in numbers that themselves are numbing and meaningless. Look, see the child's swollen, swollen belly, and the flies that crawl at the corners of his eyes, his skeletal limbs: will it make it easier for you to know his name, his age, his dreams, his fears? To see him from the inside? And if it does, are we not doing a disservice to his sister, who lies in the searing dust beside him, a distorted, distended caricature of a human child? And there, if we feel for them, are they now more important to us than a thousand other children touched by the same famine, a thousand other young lives who will soon be food for the flies' own myriad squirming children?
-->We draw our lines around these moments of pain, and remain upon our islands, and they cannot hurt us. They are covered with a smooth, safe, nacreous layer to let them slip, pearllike, from our souls without real pain.\\
Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.\\
A life that is, like any other, unlike any other.
* The ''Franchise/{{Dune}}'' books are set amid genocidal galactic wars that are said to have killed trillions, the vast majority of which die offpage with little more than a footnote. The characters, up to and including the Emperor of the known universe, are far more concerned with their own personal issues to seemingly give it much thought.
** Subverted in the [[Literature/ChapterhouseDune last official novel]], in which the Bene Gesserit realize that their GeneticMemory makes them inescapably aware of and responsible for each and every atrocity committed by the human race, however far removed it may be in time or space.
*** In fact it's played with repeatedly in that story, the Lampadas ego-memories are treated as extremely precious and the loss of life egregious, but Odrade is willing to agree to 'write off' whole planets with a curt 'yes' and not think twice about the loss of life.
** Although it's true that the internal Atreides issues get more screen time, this is the Emperor's [[Literature/DuneMessiah entire conflict in the second book]]. There's a scene where he compares himself to Hitler -- "He killed more than six million. Pretty good for those days... Statistics: at a conservative estimate, I've killed sixty-one billion, sterilized ninety planets, completely demoralized five hundred others. I've wiped out the followers of forty religions..." He spends the rest of the book trying to get killed.
** Leto II also bears the weight of his 'enforced peace' in ''Literature/GodEmperorOfDune'', though his Fremen nature allows him to accepted easier than his father as a necessary lesser evil.
* Creator/TadWilliams understands the power of this trope. In his ''Literature/MemorySorrowAndThorn'' series, Pryrates' first act of evil is to [[KickTheDog murder a small dog]].
* When Kyp Durron in the ''Literature/JediAcademyTrilogy'' of the Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse causes the destruction of a world, Carida, generally thought to have twenty-five million people on it, it causes a "disturbance in the Force" which makes the heroes more determined to stop him. But all it takes is the revelation that he was influenced by a long-dead Sith spirit and his near-sacrifice sending the superweapon [[HurlItIntoTheSun into a black hole]] before he's [[KarmaHoudini welcomed back]] into the Jedi Academy. One of those twenty-five million was his brother and he felt bad about killing his brother, wasn't that enough? Later books subverted this. FixFic ''I, Jedi'' made the "disturbance in the Force" deeply disturbing and personal and brought up the issue of all the ''other'' people who'd lived there once, or trained there, or had relatives who were there, asking why the Hell Kyp hadn't been held accountable at all? The books after that make Kyp into TheAtoner to varying degrees, reminded of what he'd done almost constantly.
** ''Literature/FateOfTheJedi: Outcast'' revisits the Carida issue when Daala threatens that [[spoiler:if Luke Skywalker does not accept exile, she will extradite now-Master Kyp Durron to the Imperial Remnant for war crimes]]. Daala, the former mistress of the man who blew up Alderaan and who in the ''Literature/JediAcademyTrilogy'' launched an OrbitalBombardment of civilian targets on Mon Calamari and massacred a colony on Dantooine, doesn't have much of a leg to stand on. Also, in the ''Literature/LegacyOfTheForce'' series, for the first time, someone actually called Luke on how many [[WhattheHellHero ordinary people died when he blew up the Death Star.]]
*** It came up in an earlier book - part of the ''Literature/BlackFleetCrisis'' - where Luke was trying to befriend an extreme pacifist who claimed to have known his mother. A pacifist along the lines of "Violence is never, ever justified, in any circumstances!" Turns out he does know exactly how many people died, and most of the galaxy doesn't condemn him for it, since they were Imperials on the ''Death Star'' right after Alderaan, and although [[Literature/DeathStar a book of the same name]] shows us that a lot of them [[PunchClockVillain weren't exactly evil]], they weren't exactly innocent either - they were troops and support staff on a ''giant battle station that had just destroyed a pacifistic planet'', after all. A lot of Imperials were uncomfortable about Alderaan - the official story started off saying that the Rebels had hijacked a mining tool, but absolutely no one believed that, so they put the blame on Grand Moff Tarkin going mad with power.
** The roofer in ''Film/{{Clerks}}'' parodies this whole theory.
--> '''Dante''': My friend is trying to convince me that any contractors working on the uncompleted Death Star were innocent victims when the space station was destroyed by the rebels.
--> '''Roofer''': Well, I'm a contractor myself. I'm a roofer... (digs into pocket and produces business card) Dunn and Reddy Home Improvements. And speaking as a roofer, I can say that a roofer's personal politics come heavily into play when choosing jobs.
--> '''Randal''': Like when?
--> '''Roofer''': Three months ago I was offered a job up in the hills. A beautiful house with tons of property. It was a simple reshingling job, but I was told that if it was finished within a day, my price would be doubled. Then I realized whose house it was.
--> '''Dante''': Whose house was it?
--> '''Roofer''': Dominick Bambino's.
--> '''Randal''': "Babyface" Bambino? The gangster?
--> '''Roofer''': The same. The money was right, but the risk was too big. I knew who he was, and based on that, I passed the job on to a friend of mine.
--> '''Dante''': Based on personal politics.
--> '''Roofer''': Right. And that week, the Foresci family put a hit on Babyface's house. My friend was shot and killed. He wasn't even finished shingling.
--> '''Randal''': No way!\\
'''Roofer''': I'm alive because I knew there were risks involved taking on that particular client. My friend wasn't so lucky. You know, any contractor willing to work on that Death Star knew the risks. If they were killed, it was their own fault. A roofer listens to this... (taps his heart) not his wallet.
** The death tally after [[Literature/NewJediOrder the Yuuzhan Vong war]] was over 365 trillion. This is ''not'' [[SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale unrealistic]], by the way: With all the inhabited worlds of the ''Franchise/StarWars'' universe (enough to have 20 million sentient species), we know that for a war where the entire galaxy was fighting would probably lead to those kinds of casualties if it was on both sides.
** The Clone Wars is another example, played straight. The clone army is fighting and dying every day for three years to protect the galaxy, when they have no choice but to fight (unless they're given greater autonomy in the case of being a specialist, such as an ARC Trooper or commando). Many of the people of the galaxy think nothing of them dying because they just see the clones as organic droids. Created to fight, then to be tossed away later. Karen Traviss's ''Literature/RepublicCommandoSeries'' series delves deeply into inter-clone relations, showing us each different personalities, preferences, methods of speaking, and other such things. During a scene in one of the books, an ARC Trooper takes his helmet off in a crowded bus that he had gotten onto. A lot of the people aboard are very surprised that not only are the clones ''human'', but they're also ''young'', having only been grown around ten years ago.
* Averted, even after being turned UpToEleven, in the ''Franchise/StarTrek: Destiny'' trilogy. Hundreds of space stations are destroyed and at least a dozen planets depopulated, with a final death toll in the hundreds of billions. Pathos is established partly through the reactions of the Starfleet brass, Federation President, and various officers and politicians from other races; and partly by showcasing the final moments of various incidental characters (often relatives of main characters).
* Intentionally invoked for the [[Literature/TheCulture Culture-Idiran]] War in ''Literature/ConsiderPhlebas''. The epilogue quotes from a historical text which details the overall casualties, including over eight hundred ''billion'' lives, the destruction of over fifteen thousand planet-equivalent habitats, and six stars. The very next sentence notes that from a galactic perspective it was a minor bushfire war with low casualties and a small scope (".02 percent of the galaxy by volume and .01 percent of the stellar population.").
* The Dutch satirical writer Battus once derived a formula to determine the perceived psychological impact of an event in which people died: the logarithm of (# dead / (distance * years past)). Impact goes down with distance, as well as with time elapsed since the event. It goes up with the number of casualties, and all of this logarithmically, as 1000 versus 100 casualties give about the same increase in sense of impact as 100 versus 10. The formula, he notes, is correct also for the edge case that time = 0 and distance = 0, which is indisputably a most serious event for the individual concerned.
** The newspaper examples below are roughly similar, but as Battus is a mathematician in RealLife, this one has a scientific basis.
* Used by name in ''Literature/{{Doom}}''. At the end of the first book, the two main characters watch from space as the earth is carpet-nuked. They aren't nearly as disturbed by this as they feel they should be, until they start thinking about specific people they know who are probably dead.
* In the Literature/BelisariusSeries, soldiers die in frequently large quantities. Belisarius tries not to kill his men, but he knows that there will be casualties. And then [[spoiler:ally and friend Eon]] dies, and he goes to pieces. Partly justified in that [[spoiler:Eon's death causes a succession crisis, because his son is an infant]].
* ''Literature/GotzAndMeyer'' inverts this. The narrator claims that the titular Nazis could only have killed as many people as they did if they thought of each victim as a number rather than a person. A statistic equals a million (or five thousand, in their case.)
* In Creator/JohnCWright's ''[[Literature/ChroniclesOfChaos Fugitives of Chaos]]'', Victor weighs the death of everyone on shipboard (who had taken them up when they were lost at sea) vs. the death of everyone in the universe if they let themselves get killed. Colin just wants to help the ship. (Fortunately, Amelia TakesAThirdOption.)
** In ''Titans of Chaos'', Amelia thinks UsedToBeASweetKid of a maenad, but forces herself to remember all the babies who will die if the maenads wins, and kills her.
* An in-universe example: In Creator/SMStirling's Literature/{{Emberverse}}, most of Earth's population died following the Change, which rendered guns and most forms of power generation inoperable. Twenty-plus years later, most of those born since the Change take living in such a death-ridden world for granted; some of the young protagonists even ridicule most pre-Change humans for being so incompetent at survival skills. While exploring Toronto's CN Tower, however, they discover the skeletons of a woman (apparently a Change-time suicide) and her cat, and are deeply moved by the evidence of these particular deaths.
* In ''[[Literature/TheBelgariad the Mallorean]]'', Zakath starts out trying to commit genocide. His Mallorean soldiers kill every Murgo they can find, adults and children alike. While he may not have killed a million, it wasn't for lack of effort. Granted, he's quite crazy and everyone hates Murgos, but the protagonists forgive him quite easily. It's jarring when you consider the fact that these are the same people who [[spoiler: entombed Zedar in solid rock for all eternity, because he killed Durnik in self-defense. The prequels attempt to justify this, mostly by having him KickTheDog, but we don't see that in the Belgariad.]]
* In L. Jagi Lamplighter's ''Literature/ProsperosDaughter'', Miranda completely inverts it. She cares passionately about the deaths of thousands while behaving with such LackOfEmpathy to those near to her that her siblings thinks their father put a spell on her to cause it.
* This is one of the main themes invoked and questions asked in ''Literature/HollowPlaces.'' Austin, the protagonist, has a particular disdain for people who value their loved ones orders of magnitude above strangers, but he finds it difficult not to fall into the same line of thinking.
* ''Literature/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy''
** While not involving death, this is the point of The Total Perspective Vortex from ''Literature/TheRestaurantAtTheEndOfTheUniverse''. It's purpose is to show a person how insignificant they are in relation to the whole universe. The result is madness in all but one case. The creator was saddened by the madness of his wife, but was satisfied that he proved that if life was to exist in a universe this big, the last thing it could afford to have was a sense of proportion.
** Arthur Dent goes through something similar when he and Ford escape Earth being destroyed - he can only process his planet being destroyed by thinking of smaller things that he's lost and gradually working his way up.
-->"There was no way his imagination could feel the impact of the whole Earth having gone, it was too big. He prodded his feelings by thinking that his parents and his sister had gone. No reaction. He thought of all the people he had been close to. No reaction..."
-->"Every Bogart movie has been wiped, he said to himself, and that gave him a nasty knock. UsefulNotes/McDonalds, he thought. There is no longer any such thing as a [=McDonalds=] hamburger. He passed out. When he came round a second later he found he was sobbing for his mother."
** Also parodied in this exchange:
-->Ford Prefect: I read of one planet in the seventh dimension got used as a ball in a game of intergalactic bar billiards. Got potted straight into a black hole, killed ten billion people.
-->Arthur Dent: Madness. Total madness.
-->Ford Prefect: Yeah. Only scored thirty points too.
* Taken to an extreme in ''Literature/NuklearAge'', where Nuklear Man [[spoiler:rediscovers his identity as Lord Arel, the incredibly powerful destroyer of entire planets, but still]] protects Earth from his destructive former ally, which is put down to a new feeling of empathy with the individual people of the world.
* ''Literature/SeptimusHeap'': [[spoiler:Many people have died by the end of ''Darke'', but all what Jenna, Septimus and Marcia are concerned about is Beetle.]]
* In Creator/PoulAnderson's "The Pirate", Trevelyn's argument that because births replace emigration, slowly releasing this planet to settlement would not produce any net change in happiness is greeted with charges of inhumanity.
* Lampshaded in ''Literature/{{Redshirts}}'', where a planet had to die horrible deaths just so that one character could get a flesh-eating bacteria and be saved dramatically at the last moment.
* In ''Literature/DarknessAtNoon'', Ivanov uses this as an excuse for the ReignOfTerror:
-->"Every year several million people are killed quite pointlessly by epidemics and other natural catastrophes. And we should shrink from sacrificing a few hundred thousand for the most promising experiment in history? Not to mention the legions of those who die of undernourishment and tuberculosis in coal and quicksilver mines, rice-fields and cotton plantations. No one takes any notice of them; nobody asks why or what for; but if here we shoot a few thousand objectively harmful people, the humanitarians all over the world foam at the mouth."
* In the final battle in ''Literature/GreekNinja'', several people (and not) lost their lives but only [[spoiler:Iphigenie]]'s death is mentioned.
* Played straight and subverted in ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles''. In ''Literature/{{Changes}}'' when Harry discovers that [[spoiler:the daughter he didn't know he had]] has been kidnapped by Red Court vampires, he's willing to do whatever it takes to recover her. His sentiment is: "Let the world burn, me and the kid will roast some marshmallows." He winds up wiping out the Red Court entirely and getting several of his allies injured. In the subsequent book ''Literature/GhostStory'' he finally comes face to face with the human toll of his actions, learning of the chaos unleashed by the Red Court's destruction and particularly the cost borne by his apprentice, Molly. As the archangel Uriel points out to him: "It's one thing to say 'Let the world burn.' It's something else entirely to say 'Let ''Molly'' burn.'"
* The ''Literature/CiaphasCain'' novels manage to avert this despite the fact they almost never kill off long-term characters (named characters, yes). To name one example, ''Death or Glory'' features an extended passage of Cain and Jurgen walking through the ruins of a town after an Ork WAAGH! came through, imagining civilians being gunned down for sport from past experience with the greenskins. The effect is quietly horrific.
* The page quote, and ultimately the title, comes from ''Literature/TheBlackObelisk,'' from Ludwig's musings after a WWI veteran is murdered for refusing to (illegally) fly the Imperial flag at a ceremony commemorating the dead of that war.
* In ''Literature/ASymphonyOfEternity'' we have the Volunian war in which millions of soldiers have died have died and before that there was the war for what in now [[OccupiersOutOfOurCountry The Occupied Teritories]] where hundreds of millions died in the war, the real kicker? Both are considered TERTIARY fronts and MINOR AND BRIEF conflicts.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* It would be more difficult to find a ''Series/DoctorWho'' season that ''didn't'' include the deaths of thousands, millions, or, in at least one instance, ''billions'' that were only given a passing mention, if that.
** ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS18E7Logopolis Logopolis]]'' involves the destruction of one quarter of the entire universe; by even the most conservative estimates that's a single-episode death toll expressible only in standard notation. And not only does nobody seem to care (including one character whose home ''intergalactic supercluster'' was destroyed [[note]] He also killed her Dad [[/note]]), the villain responsible gets the full DracoInLeatherPants treatment despite being possibly the worst mass-murderer in all fiction (but in all fairness, it was an accident)!
** In ''Genesis of the Daleks'' the Kaled city is destroyed, killing at least thousands of people. The Doctor is deeply saddened... because he thinks that Harry and Sarah were in the city (naturally they escaped in time). However, it's averted to a degree as the destruction of the city still has emotional impact, mostly from the eerily jubilant reaction of the [[DesignatedHero Thals]].
** Discussed in "Nightmare in Silver" when a character is disturbed that he finds it so easy to feel sorry for a person who had no choice but to wipe out a galaxy to stop an intergalactic threat, but so hard to feel anything for the billions of trillions who were collateral damage.
** Defied by the Doctor in regards to the destruction of Gallifrey in the New Series. That event weighs on his conscience harder than anything else. He was asked just before he pushed The Button how many children were on Gallifrey at that moment, and were about to die by his hand. He didn't know at the time, but he later counted (2.47 billion). [[spoiler:Of course with his other incarnations he ends up saving Gallifrey in a TrickedOutTime gambit, but due to the time lines being out of sync doesn't remember this so the point stands.]]
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'':
** While debating whether to assassinate Daenerys, Grand Maester Pycelle questions how many thousand innocents will die in the war that must come if Daenerys invades Westeros.
** Tywin notes that the Red Wedding prevented thousands of deaths by ending the Northern rebellion without the friendly losses required to kill the same army in battle.
** Stannis, Melisandre, and Davos debate whether sacrificing a single innocent to end the war with magic is preferable to the thousands (including civilians) who would die in conventional warfare.
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'':
** ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries''
*** Lampshaded in the episode "The Immunity Syndrome." When [=McCoy=] expresses disbelief that Spock is capable of "feeling" the deaths of four hundred Vulcans, Spock replies, "I have noticed that about your people, Doctor. You find it easier to understand the death of one than the death of a million."
*** In "The Devil in the Dark", Spock attempts to defy Kirk and have the Horta brought in safely ForScience, in spite of the fact that it's been killing lots of miners. But when [[TheNotLoveInterest Kirk]] is facing the Horta, even though it's not doing anything, Spock starts baying for its blood and has to be ordered not to attack it.
*** The theme of the episode "A Taste of Armageddon" is that adopting this attitude towards wars actually helps in facilitating it.
--->'''Kirk:''' Death... disease, destruction, horror... ''that's'' what war is all about, Anan. That's what makes it a thing to be avoided. You've made it neat and painless. So neat and painless that you've had no reason to stop it.
** ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'': The episode "[[Recap/StarTrekTheNextGenerationS3E3TheSurvivors The Survivors]]" plays with this trope. A god-like being settles down with a human wife and becomes a pacifist - but then a hostile race attacks their planet, and the being's wife is killed defending the planet. This angers the being into destroying the hostile race - the entire race of fifty billion. This is where Picard finds him, alone on the blighted planet with a simulacrum of his wife.
-->'''Kevin Uxbridge''': "I saw her broken body... I went insane. My hatred exploded. And in an instant of grief... I destroyed the Husnock! ...No, no, no, no, you don't understand the scope of my crime. I didn't kill just one Husnock, or a hundred, or a thousand. [[FinalSolution I killed them all. All Husnock, everywhere.]]"\\
'''Picard''': "We are not qualified to be your judges. We have no law to fit your crime. You're free to return to the planet, and to make Rishon live again.[[note]]Left unstated were several ''practical'' reasons not to pursue justice further, including the fact that the Federation lacked the ''capability'' of levying stronger punishment on such a powerful being. Kevin's self-imposed exile on the ruined world with the simulacrum of Rishon to keep him company--and remind him of his misdeed--was as effective a punishment as any the Federation could impose.[[/note]] ...We leave behind a being of extraordinary power... and conscience. I am not certain if he should be praised or condemned. Only that he should be left alone."
** In the final arc of ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'', [[spoiler: the Cardassians finally turn on their Dominion allies - the female changeling responds by ordering the deaths of more than 800 million Cardassian civilians.]] Garak and Captain Sisko show some sympathy over this, but on the whole it's pretty well skipped over.
*** Averted in the case of Federation casualties during the war. Sisko makes it a point to read the name of every single Federation officer who is killed by the Dominion, and they even motivate his decision to betray Federation values in order to bring the Romulans into the war. In his own words from "[[Recap/StarTrekDeepSpaceNineS07E08TheSiegeOfAR558 The Siege of AR-558]]":
--->'''Sisko:''' They're not just names, it's important we remember that. We have to remember...
** Also averted in "Business As Usual", which finds Quark working with Gaila, a freelance arms dealer. When Gaila sells weapons to The Regent, a tyrant who plans to use his weapons to kill 28 million of his own people to quell a rebellion, Quark yanks himself away from the MoralEventHorizon and risks his life to screw the deal, getting the Regent (and possibly Gaila's associate Hagath) assassinated in the process.
--->"One life for 28 million. Best deal I ever made."
** Averted on ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' with the Xindi attack. The death toll of seven million becomes almost a mantra, deliberately repeated until it is burned into the minds of both the audience and everyone the ''Enterprise'' encounters.
*** Tucker's younger sister was killed in the attack and he spends time trying to avert this trope by insisting that she was no more important than any of the other casualties. Numerous characters try telling him that it is okay to acknowledge that she was more important to him, and that it is also okay to be more upset over her death. Finally after a costly battle, he breaks down and admits how much he misses her.
* In the ''Series/{{Angel}}'' episode "A Hole in the World", when Fred is infected with Illyria's essence and becoming her host, Angel and Spike travel to the Deeper Well, the resting place of the Old Ones, to save her, where the gravekeeper, Drogyn, tells them that if they drew Illyria back to her resting place, its essence would become a mystical airborne virus and kill thousands of people between England and L.A. Angel and Spike aren't willing to sacrifice all those people for one, though Angel [[WhatTheHellHero briefly appears to consider it]].
* Many ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' fans lost all respect for Spike after his [[spoiler:AttemptedRape of Buffy]]. They were perfectly okay with him killing thousands in horrible ways as a soulless vampire because it happened mostly offscreen. And not just killing - "Do you know what I've done to girls Dawn's age?"
* The Cylon attack which claimed billions of lives in ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}'' is almost forgotten in comparison to the suffering of the main characters aboard the escaping ships. Seeing the baby in the Riverwalk Market and Cami die in the Miniseries is more upsetting than knowing that almost all children of the Colonies are now dead. Even the other survivors rarely get screen time, primarily because they don't live on the titular ship, but a single woman suffering from cancer takes up a great deal. Late in the fourth season during a certain [[TheMutiny mutiny]] it is shown that the ordinary people very much keep it at the forefront of their minds, the main characters are unusual in having a broader view of things thanks to their experiences. Put simply, the lives of everyone is a mixture of nightmare, deprivation and mindless drudgery, but at least they are alive. Better to focus on the problems happening to them ''now'' than dwell on the genocide. But it is never forgotten. To be fair, that single woman with cancer ''is'' [[spoiler:the President.]]
** This is brought up in the trial of [[spoiler: Giaus Baltar]], where the prosecutor explains in her closing statements that such staggering loss is so difficult to comprehend, so instead, the focus turns to the scant thousands that remain.
* ''Series/StargateSG1''. In order to save Teal'c's life, the main characters destroy a piece of technology that is stopping a Goa'uld invasion! (said invasion was not imminent or known about however - the defense was in place and so Goa'uld did not send troops there. Unfortunately one must have decided to send a scout at some point after the tech was destroyed). When the Goa'uld do invade in the second season, they destroy half of the planet's population. This is made worse by noting that the defense technology they disabled could probably have been circumvented by the humans.
** They are very willing to admit their own faults, including when they personally screw up and cause some major disasters. People mess up, but as they are good it is usually unintentional and they try to make it up. The antagonists may point out valid faults, but as they themselves always do worse and don't even try to be good, Stargate Command still holds the high ground. Plus, they free the galaxy from thousands of years of domination and stagnation in just ten years. Broke a few eggs along the way though- whole worlds dropped off the map in part thanks to them with barely a mention, as befits this trope.
*** As mentioned above, they do get [[WhatTheHellHero called on it]] every now and then. Jacob [[spoiler: after he takes a Tok'ra symbiote]] points out that while SG-1 has done more in a few years than other factions who have been at work for centuries, their actions have created power vacuums among the System Lords that have resulted in massive amounts of killing. One episode in particular starts off playing the trope straight, then subverts it. the SG-1 travels to a planet where Teal'c had been to previously when he was First Prime for Apophis. He is brought to [[KangarooCourt trial]] for his crimes. He states at first that he's [[ButForMeItWasTuesday killed so many people]] that he doesn't even remember this one world. Later in the episode he states that he regrets every single act he committed as First Prime, and that the he carries the weight of every person he killed in Apophis' name.
** Teal'c offers some advice to a NotSoDifferent former adversary at the end of the Ori arc about learning to live with yourself as TheAtoner when this trope wears off and the guilt sets in: you focus on doing the good you can ''now'' and never let yourself forget even if others try to offer you forgiveness.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** There's a scene that subverts this trope in the episode "Convictions", where G'Kar and Vir are on an elevator together. When Vir apologises (for his species' attempted genocide of G'Kar's), G'Kar cuts his palm.
--->'''G'kar:''' [Timed to the blood drops spilling from his palm] Dead... Dead... Dead... Dead... ''Dead''. How do you apologize to them?\\
'''Vir:''' ...I can't.\\
'''G'kar:''' Then I cannot forgive.
** Averted a season or two before in "GROPOS:" The titular "GROPOS" are infantry, several of whom had made friends with main cast (in particular, one of the infantrywomen seemed to have developed the seeds of a relationship with Garibaldi) while using Babylon 5 as a staging area for a ground assault. The assault goes quite well (we see a news report about it), but the final shots make it clear that the GROPOS who had made friends with the established characters had died, and that many more of the unnamed GROPOS had died, and that was the real story. Even the JerkAss is shown lying dead among his fellow soldiers, as a reminder of how impersonal war is.
*** Note also that, during the final scene, a PADD is being passed hand-to-hand among the crowd watching the news report. This PADD holds a list of the casualties, and several of the un-named background characters turn away with crestfallen expressions, implying that they too had friends/acquaintances among the fallen. Stories Never Told...
** Although the crew is pretty sure that President Clark is a xenophobic bastard that gradually converts Earth into a fascist state, and they receive evidence that he indeed masterminded the assassination of his predecessor, it is only him having several civilian transports destroyed with some 10,000 people killed that truly infuriates Sheridan and Ivanova and drives them to declaring an all-open war on Clark. On the other hand, it was their attempts to remove him from power without bloodshed that sparked his doing so.
** Also averted with the fate of the [[spoiler:Markab]]. When it becomes clear that there's unlikely to be a cure of the disease that plagues them, they gather together, lock themselves in and pray. Delenn and Lennier join the ones on Babylon 5 to give them comfort, even though they're not sure that they're immune to that species' disease. When the doors are reopened, the looks on Delenn's and Lennier's faces make it clear that they just witnessed an extinction.
** Discussed in one episode. The [[spoiler: Vorlon]] are sending a fleet to two different planets. One is the Centauri homeworld, and the other is a colony. When asked why Sheridan is amassing his own fleet at only one place, another character responds that they only have enough ships for one battle. Centauri Prime has 3 billion people living on it, the other world has 6 billion. As Marcus points out, it all comes down to cold, uncaring numbers.
* ''Series/{{Leverage}}'':
** The show observes that this applies to good deeds as much a bad. If you buy the town a new school it just reminds people how rich you are but if you help raise one person out of poverty you're a hero.
** On a more regular basis, the cast tends to roll with this when they go after the heads of corporations and the like: you cheer for them because they helped whoever it was who originally came to team for help, but don't really think of the hundreds of others who might be hurt when the corrupt corporation gets shut down.
* Semi-averted in ''Series/BeingHumanUK''. Mitchell is a stereotypical hot vampire who's killed a lot of people and is emo about it, and sees other characters as villains just because they want to punish him for the thousands of people he's killed. But [[spoiler:the spirit of one of his victims]] tells Mitchell that he should stop acting like a victim, and if he really wanted to do something good, he would kill himself.
* A memorable, early episode of ''Series/{{MASH}}'' actually delves into this thought process and how it can keep a man sane in war. Hawkeye had just witnessed a good buddy of his from home die on the operating table, and goes outside to get out some well-deserved angst. When Henry Blake goes out to give comfort, he finds that Hawkeye isn't just mourning the fact that he lost a friend, but that he's witnessed innumerable casualties die in the same manner, and didn't cry for them.
* In the sixth season of ''Series/TwentyFour'', a nuke detonates in Valencia, killing over 12,000 people. The horror of this event is diluted when the CTU crew and regular citizens later prowl around LA like nothing happened.
* {{Invoked}} in an episode of ''Series/WonderWoman'', "The Man Who Made Volcanoes". As Wonder Woman, along with Soviet and Chinese agents, confront a scientist who is threatening widespread devastation on Earth, the Chinese agent notes that even if he killed 90% of the population of the People's Republic of China, there would still be "over 100 million" of them.
* The destruction of the Gamak Base in ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' should give the viewer pause. Yes, the Peacekeepers are an evil army who torture prisoners, but there are unknown numbers of techs like Gilina on the base who aren't combatants or necessarily bad people. Yet the main cast never seem to have any qualms about the base's destruction. In contrast, when the Command Carrier (which has children and non-combatants living on it) is attacked two seasons later, the characters do make the point that there will be time to evacuate the inhabitants.
* ''Series/CriminalMinds'' tends to zigzag around this trope. When it comes to case selection, the lower the number of murders, the less urgency the team has to take on the case. However, when it comes to the victims themselves, the victims the team weren't able to rescue (or hadn't attempted to rescue), the most team does is mouth a few words of regret (if they show any remorse at all for them), with the team only caring about the victim if they have to go out and find a way to rescue them before it's too late.
** The two-parter "To Hell..and Back" {{lampshades}} this trope when the team discovers just how many victims the [=UnSub=] had managed to kidnap:
--->'''Detective Benning:''' [shocked at the discovery] 89 pairs of shoes..\\
'''Morgan:''' So, how many of them did there have to be before you started caring? 100? 200?\\
'''Benning:''' [remained speechless]


* PlayedForLaughs (yes, really) in Music/TomLehrer's "[[Music/AnEveningWastedWithTomLehrer We Will All Go Together When We Go]]", which notes that soon no one will have to be sad about funerals and contemplating their own mortality anymore -- when nuclear war will kill everyone at the same time!
-->''We will all bake together, when we bake\\
There'll be nobody present at the wake\\
With complete participation\\
In this grand incineration\\
[[TheFifties Nearly three billion]] hunks of well-done steak!''
* Played straighter in "People Say" by Portugal. The Man:
-->''[[SarcasmMode What a lovely day,]] yeah, we won the war''
-->''May have lost a million men, but we've got a million more''
-->''All the people, they say...''
* Sara Groves has a song called "Abstraction" which is essentially about this trope. Millions of starving people in a place like Africa... hard to sympathize. Meet a few of them, and they're no longer just a statistic.
* The Hunters and Collectors song 'What's a Few Men?' is about the British indifference to Australian casualties in World War One.
* Referenced word for word in "the Fight Song" by Music/MarilynManson, from ''Music/HolyWoodInTheShadowOfTheValleyOfDeath''.

* The reason the news reports massive catastrophes abroad is to mention that none of "our people" were hurt.
** Finnish satirist news blog ''Lehti'' ran an article titled "[[http://lehti.samizdat.info/2004/07/24/319/ A Finn Equals 4 Alligators]]", also giving the "official" numbers of tragedy in news. Ten thousand Africans equal 1,000 Asians or other non-whites, equal 100 non-nearby whites, equals 10 nearby whites, which equals four alligators, equals one Finnish person "if you know them". They also ran an article assuring that there were "No Finnish Casualties Among the Dead Pope".
* A similar rule applied to some British newspapers: "One Brit equals 10 Frogs (Frenchmen) equals 100 wogs (Mediterranean Europeans)".
** A different version of that is, "One dead in Putney equals 10 dead in Paris equals 100 dead in Turkey equals 1,000 dead in India equals 10,000 dead in China" (though, of course, that last one also owes much to the "life is cheap in China" cliché, as China is home to literally ''billions'').

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' uses this trope very effectively on both extremes of the scale-here. A ''Billion'' Is A Statistic for the Imperium, and the destruction of entire planets is dropped casually and without circumstance. But numerous short stories focusing on one particular individual can be surprisingly sympathetic and touching. This is a trap.
** InvokedTrope by the Cadian Law of Decipherability for cemeteries on their planet. Due to necessary heavy militarization on the planet, death tolls are high while land is limited - thus, after a time at which graves' tombstones are found to be illegible, the graves are exhumed and the bones are tossed into a mass-grave pit to grant space for future burials, as the lack of a name on the graves proves no one will be remembering the individuals any longer.
** Imperial Guard Commander Chenkov of the Valhallan 18th is mentioned as sacrificing ''10 million'' Guardsmen without using artillery or armored support in a single conflict in order to end a year long siege. He did get a nice merit for it though.
*** Chenkov also built a wall out of the bodies of his men. Not the ones that died in conflict. When he wanted a wall he just ordered them to be executed!
** A famous joke illustrating just how worthless human lives are in the setting is that entire planet populations are often lost because of ''rounding errors on tax forms''. One story mentions an entire planet being accidentally drafted this way, and then posthumously sentenced to death for letting the now-abandoned world be conquered without a fight.
** This is effectively averted for the {{Space Marine}}s who are 1-in-a-100 of the already best ChildSoldiers surviving in brutal worlds. Every loss sorta sucks.
*** This is brilliantly translated into the game, as even though the average space marine is only 3 times more expensive than guardsmen, their heavy equipment tends to be on the marines themselves, and their tanks are much more fragile than their guard counterparts. Every loss will be big to you. As guard, however, you can probably stand to lose a ''squad or two'', as the sheer cheapness of your units means that you can sacrifice a unit that's 50 models strong just to keep a unit of 5 enemy Terminators occupied for the duration of the match (and this is actually a viable tactic, as the terminators might not even statistically have enough attacks to kill the unit in question within the given timeframe).
** An in-universe example is apparent with the Eldar, who view the survival of themselves and their brethren as the utmost priority and the deaths of innumerable numbers of the "lesser species" inconsequential, easily willing to engineer the destruction of anywhere between entire armies to several solar systems if any Eldar would otherwise be at risk.
** Saying Orks may die at the hands of their [[BadBoss Warboss implies the possibility they won't]]. If they didn't, their WAAGH wouldn't stay together. Plus, [[TheUsualAdversaries the Orks come back soon after anyway...]]
** The Tyranids potential numbers can be calculated by discerning how much biological material there is in the universe. Really.
** The trope is played horribly straight by the setting's post-human Batman {{Expy}} Konrad Curze[[note]] aka Night Haunter, Primarch of the scariest legion of Astartes in the galaxy. Arguably even more the case after he rebelled and got assassinated by an agent of the God-Emperor, as now his boys have no-one holding their leashes[[/note]]: he transformed his dark, gloomy and rainy homeworld from a terrified crime-ridden anarchic hellhole into a terrified crime-free dystopian police state by brutally murdering lawbreakers. Not in job lots though, not until they made him their king, but one by one criminals would disappear, only to be found later brutally killed, and rarely in one piece.
** Tau Ethereals play this trope straight. You can lose several squads of your fire warriors, but god forbid if the Ethereal dies (recent rule changes seems to have inverted this, as the Ethereal dying grants a bonus instead of a handicap now).
* Regular ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' has its own examples. Skaven live by this rule, expecting thousands of their kind to die at a time on the battlefield. Greenskins such as Orcs and Gobblins also tend to do this as they come in mass. Killing dozens of either probably won't affect the game too much. However Dwarves and Warriors of Chaos have very high stats and very good armor and weapons so they can take a punch and punt you across town, though they cost more. Killing a good number of a horde army such as Skaven or Orcs and Goblins, while killing a unit or two of Warriors of Chaos, Dwarves, High Elves, and Bretonnia, is a small victory.
* TabletopGame/BattleTech invokes and subverts this. Several sourcebooks list horrible events in the game's back story, some involving entire ''planets'' being razed. It's implied with the [[DeathFromAbove orbital bombardment]] from warships. While the [=InnerSphere=] has Warships as LostTechnology when the Clans arrived, the Clans have several. The Smoke Jaguar Clan [[DisproportionateRetribution bombed a planet]] after Prince Hohiro Kurita escaped. The Clan council banned orbital bombardment as ''dishonorable'' as the backlash unites the [=InnerSphere=]. One Jade Falcon warship captures a world by threatening to hit it from orbit, hoping no one will call their bluff.
* In Flying Buffalo's ''TabletopGame/NuclearWar'' card game, players track their progress by their countries' populations. A typical play will often kill anywhere from 1 million to 100 million people.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Risk}}''. Granted, you're just rolling dice and moving pieces of plastic around. You never stop to consider how many Green soldiers you would be sending to their deaths just to seize Kamchatka from the Blue Army. The game really only ends when all but one of the armies has been annihilated.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Rifts}}'', the Great Cataclysm which brought Rifts Earth to its [[AftertheEnd current state]], and the random Rifts demons, and other catastrophes that came after nearly made humanity [[ApocalypseHow extinct]]. This is brought up many times in various sourcebooks, but the numbers are so huge they're hard for someone reading the books to imagine.
* In any ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' campaign that features the Outer Planes (such as ''TabletopGame/{{Planescape}}'') it is common knowledge that even a small battle in the Blood War is at least a hundred times bigger than any fought among mortals, and casualties can often amount to millions on ''both'' sides. This becomes even remarkable when you consider that neither side has made any progress towards winning the conflict since it started eons ago. While it's hard to feel sorry for fiends, the thought of incredible loss of life that the war causes can often make one pause.
** One official ''Planescape'' adventure takes the players to a place called the Field of Nettles which is a frequent battlefield in the Blood War. The place doesn't have landscape, it has ''gargantuan piles of bodies'' that never rot for some unknown reason. The piles are so grand they make large hills or small mountains, and there are so many that the Field has become a maze, nigh-impossible to navigate without flying support. Whole armies can be outfitted just from scavenging the piles. Even the adventure can only barely reflect on the sheer death toll of mortal and immortal lives that goes into making the place, and is more concerned with the logistics of crossing it while worrying about fiendish patrols.
*** If the players are successful in completing the objective of this mission - finding the battle plans of the infernal armies of Hell - and then read them, [[spoiler: they discover that the Field of Nettles was ''not'' considered to have any strategic importance, and was actually used as a distraction to lure the demons from another battlefield that they ''really'' considered important. In other words, the devils were willing to sacrifice millions of soldiers for nothing more than a ''diversionary tactic''. The revelation should hit the players ''very'' hard at that point.]]
* In the ''TabletopGame/{{Eberron}}'' setting for D&D, Cyre (aka the Mournland) gets varying levels of this trope depending on where one lived before the end of the Last War, as do the casualties of the War itself. Most of Cyre's neighbors are perfectly willing to ignore the nation's death (except when they're being paranoid about the cause of the Day of Mourning and its possible repetition) and the loss of life of every soldier and civilian in the nation, mostly because everyone's so exhausted by war. Many Cyrans strive to make sure Cyre isn't forgotten and that others remember everyone who died was a person with loved ones, while visiting the Mournland is quite the pointed reminder: nothing rots in the Mournland, so every corpse is there in perfect condition.
* ''TabletopGame/BleakWorld'' has the [[ScaryDogmaticAliens Aliens]], they want to protect the citizens of Earth from the Venusians, but they do so by declaring a massive war that leaves millions dead. As long as we're free though.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''Videogame/StarRuler''. Massive ships can have a crew in the tens of thousands or ''more'', but are thrown into unwinnable combat by the player and AI. Planetary invasions consist of butchering the entire population via orbital bombardment.
* On one end of the scale we have the ''VideoGame/FireEmblem'' games. Each unit represents an individual character which has its own personality, skills, and motivations; as such, some people are hesitant to put even relatively unimportant characters into harm's way.
** {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d by Pelleas in ''[[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius Radiant Dawn]]'': "Individual lives taken before your eyes weigh more heavily than the many lives taken during the chaos of war. If that life is someone dear, the burden is even worse."
* ''VideoGame/{{DEFCON}}'' is a simulation of nuclear war on a simple wireframe map that resembles TheBigBoard at military command. All you see for dropping a bomb on a city is the city's icon engulfed in light and the text "MEXICO CITY HIT, 12.2M DEAD".
* ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}}''. Or any large-scale TurnBasedStrategy/[[FourX 4X]] war games for that matter.
** They only count if they have individual characters more valuable than cities. In ''Civilization'', the death of a single Great Person is more important than having the "city size" statistic decrease by one. Cities are counted in the millions of inhabitants.
** To an extent, regular soldiers as well. Since an entire military unit is represented by a single sprite, a player is unlikely to be too choked up by the loss of hit points, representing members of the unit, as long as the guy is still standing. ''IV'' and ''V'' address this by making each unit composed of several figures, but it's still not very daunting to see half of them get slaughtered, knowing that they can fortify in one place and eventually regenerate.
** Taken UpToEleven in ''VideoGame/GalacticCivilizations''. Planetary invasions involve tens of millions of troops, on each side, ''per battle'', and every single attempt at invading a planet is noted to cause the death of billions of people. Your population is so large that it is counted in billions as a base unit, and the game notes that that's only the taxpaying population, and there are many, many more that the census skips over.
* Somewhere in the middle is the ''VideoGame/TotalWar'' series; while most conflicts are between large masses of troops, the game also tracks the statistics of individual units; players are less likely to sacrifice an experienced, well-equipped and well-armored unit as mere cannon fodder as a result. Also, it does implement individual characters in the form of faction leaders and heirs, the preservation of which is often an important consideration.
** In the original ''VideoGame/ShogunTotalWar'' you could have the game print out detailed logs of each battle you physically fought in which the game will list ''every'' soldier on your side (within reason, as it stops printing after several lines of text) with their individual name, skill, morale levels etc etc. Although this option is not available in later games, the game does keep track of every individual soldier separately. Something to think about when [[YouBastard you send that peasant mob to soak up the archers' arrows.]]
** One of the games, ''VideoGame/RomeTotalWar'' even invokes this trope by name, in the trait description for 'Conqueror':
--> "If you kill a man you're a murderer. Kill many of them and you're a hero!"
* ''[[VideoGame/CommandAndConquer Command & Conquer: Red Alert]]'' paraphrases the quote at the top, and has it delivered by none other than Josef Stalin himself:
-->"When you kill one, it is a tragedy. When you kill ten million, it is a statistic."
* In ''VideoGame/MegaManZero 4'', [[spoiler:TheDragon Craft fired the KillSat Ragnarok at [[TheEmpire Neo Arcadia]], trying to kill the BigBad Dr. Weil. The attack, according to the [[AllThereInTheManual manual]], claimed 20,000,000 deaths of innocents. Yet the intended target ironically survives.]]
* Demonstrated very clearly in ''VideoGame/HalfLife2'' and its follow-up episodes. The Combine has enslaved the Earth, killing people in such numbers it's described as genocide and subjecting countless others to transformation into [[AndIMustScream Stalkers]]. All of that gets a very negative reaction from people... [[spoiler:but nowhere near the reaction provoked when Eli Vance is killed.]]
** [[spoiler:Well, he ''was'' the RebelLeader and likely a major source of inspiration and morale for the Resistance..]]
** [[spoiler:At a more personal level for the player, he was just moments away from disclosing the truth about the G-Man. NO!!]]
* In ''VisualNovel/{{Ever17}}'' the disaster that destroys the park the first time also releases TB, which is such a nasty deadly killer that despite high communicability still only manages to kill about 10000 people. But nobody cares that it's very likely [[spoiler:the characters rescued]] are just as likely to have let the plague free as the scientist who ran away or even that all the people died. Instead, [[spoiler:the whole gambit is around saving two characters who would have died otherwise]]. The best you get is [[spoiler:Lieblich finally gets uncovered, showing that at least the ''rest'' of the world cared about the plague.]]
* In a subversion, if you destroy [[Awesome/VideoGameLevels Cradle 03]] in ''[[VideoGame/ArmoredCore Armored Core For Answer]]'', the [[MissionControl other]] [[BigBad characters]] [[TheDragon WILL]] [[FaceHeelTurn care about]] [[VideoGameCrueltyPotential your mass slaughter]]. And then you get the ScrappyLevel as VideoGameCrueltyPunishment.
** No one seems to care about the countless lives you take when you destroy Arms Forts, like Spirit of Motherwill, or the countless Line Ark citizens who die because you blew up the Megalis power plant, that provides energy for their Phlebotium-Clearing Air Purifiers.
* The SignatureScene of ''VideoGame/SpecOpsTheLine'', known as the White Phosphorous incident, involves the death of 47 [[spoiler:innocent civilians, including women and children, all of whom burned to death slowly as the result of ''you'' mistakenly launching a white phosphorous missile in their direction]]. Not only is this moment the most famous, it's also widely regarded as the most disturbing scene. Many players had to stop after this scene, because they found it too disturbing. But the death count of this moment is nothing compared to later in the game, when [[spoiler:you accidentally help CIA agent Riggs]] deliberately cause the death of thousands of people by [[spoiler:dehydration after you destroy the city's water supply]]. Despite the fact that the death count of the latter will reach roughly a hundred times higher than that of the White Phosphorous incident, the WP Incident is ''easily'' the more famous of the two.
* ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChronicles'' has [[spoiler:Isara]]'s death being a major blow to all the main characters, who mope about it until the end of the game. On the other hand, [[PlayerMooks your regular soldiers]] don't get that treatment, apart from a single last sentence as they fade away. And that's not even taking allied and enemy soldiers into account.
** This is only the beginning. ''The entire Gallian army'' gets vaporized at one point, and ''no one'' has anything to say about the thousands of lives that were just snuffed out; the main characters' primary reaction is, "Holy shit, what a huge explosion-- can Alicia do that!?" It breaks the, "Your soldiers are people, not numbers; don't treat them as such," message the whole game had in two, especially considering that [[spoiler:Selvaria specifically blew herself up in order to burn the Gallian army alive where they stood.]] The scene is framed to show that General Damon (and the soldiers under his command) ''deserved it''.
* ''VideoGame/DwarfFortress'', where the death of one dwarf is a tragedy, but the death of two hundred Dwarfs is a very successful use of magma.
** It can be averted, however, in the fact that ''every single dwarf'' (and plenty of other creatures) is unique, with different personalities and tastes (and, in the new version, ''physical appearance''). Therefore, it's not uncommon to grow very attached to your little dwarves, and mourn their loss.
** Which means it's playing it straight, because as easy as it is to feel attached to your original seven dwarves, as the numbers pile up, they become more and more meaningless.
** Also played straight with your dwarves, as they grow from fraternal pioneers to solitary Iron Woobies. After losing enough close personal relationships, witnessing massacres no longer phases them.
* There's a prisoner on Manaan in ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'' who channels Remarque in one of his responses to the player.
-->'''Prisoner:''' Kill a million people with a mighty star cruiser and you are a war hero. Kill a hundred with a thermal detonator and you are a terrorist.
** Also on Manaan, Sunry tries to invoke this when you accuse him of murder, pointing out that you've killed a bunch of Sith yourself. Jolee calls him on it, saying that killing enemy combatants in battle during war and killing a person in their sleep are just a teensy bit different.
* Players tended to forgive [[spoiler:Sakura]] in ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' because of her victims - the [[AssholeVictim two asshole members of her family]], [[spoiler:Saber and Berserker]] and about a thousand people from the town they live in. Seriously, does anyone even remember that she ''ate a thousand people?'' To be fair, in story it's actually an [[AvertedTrope aversion]] as [[spoiler:Sakura]] is struggling with guilt about the town yet is no doubt pleased about [[spoiler:Zouken and probably even Shinji]]. It's demonstrated that she mentally collapses if Shirou is not around to help, and Shirou himself is trying to pick up the tattered scraps of his idealism for letting it happen. But to the players? Only upset about [[spoiler:Saber]], if at all.
** The fact that she had ''absolutely no idea'' that she was killing any of the people in the town, and was not at all in control of her actions at that point (she saw it all as a nightmare), probably has a lot to do with it as well. As soon as she realises what she has been doing, she [[spoiler:refuses to go to sleep, and then goes to confront her grandfather the next day in order to end it all. Granted, it [[FreakOut goes wrong]], but at least she ''tried''... The only people she actually consciously kills are the aforementioned asshole victims, who most definitely deserved it.]] However, arguably Shirou ''can'' be blamed for this, because he doesn't take the opportunity to kill her even after he finds out that she has done this (although, doing so in the game is [[spoiler:actually a bad choice, because her servant (rather predictably) kills him if he does, and this is likely to send Sakura insane with no possibility of being redeemed or stopped]])
** Contrast with [[spoiler:Caster]], who hospitalizes, disfigures and ''castrates'' large quantities of people during ''Unlimited Blade Works''. What most people will likely hold up as her primary act of evil is [[spoiler:taking Taiga hostage and kidnapping Saber]], and most of it is forgiven [[spoiler:by the time she dies beautifully in the arms of her beloved.]]
* In ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsOriginalGeneration'', whenever a named character is {{brainwashed}} into fighting for the Balmarians, everyone goes to whatever lengths to save them, or at least makes a big deal out of it. When you're faced with multiple ''unnamed'' human pilots [[FacelessGoons wearing masks]] who are all brainwashed, someone asks if it's OK to fight them, someone just {{handwave}}s that they can't be helped (for some reason), and it's never brought up again.
* When your game is about heroic eco-terrorists, there's no escaping this trope. ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' examples:
** Cloud's paycheck putting a dent in Marlene's educational funding is given more attention than the fact that Cloud and AVALANCHE just returned from bombing a power plant, probably killing hundreds of people.
** Barret breaks down when [[spoiler: Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie are killed by Shinra, and he thinks Marlene has been killed by the collapsing Sector 7 pillar; but she's alive, so it's more or less OK!]] Cait Sith [[WhatTheHellHero calls Barret out on this]] later in the game, when he asks him how many people AVALANCHE killed when they blew up that reactor. Barret actually tries to refute him ''with this trope'', but Cait Sith shoots him down, and Barret doesn't seem fully convinced of his own argument.
** The destruction of Sector 7 is a rare (for this game) villainous example of this trope. After all, apart from Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie, ''nobody the audience knows was killed'' -- and so Reno, the man directly responsible for the destruction, is never brought to justice for his actions. Hell, in Advent Children, he's a comic relief character who nobody takes very seriously.
** In ''VideoGame/CrisisCore'', Zack's death is played up as the most tragic thing evarar -- even though he just killed a small army of SHINRA soldiers, i.e., men doing the same job that Zack was doing back in Wutai.
* Averted in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX.'' On the three occasions that cities are attacked and/or destroyed altogether, there is a huge amount of mourning: when [[spoiler: Cleyra]] is wiped off the map, the main characters (Freya in particular) are shocked by the loss of life- though they are forced into action very quickly; Zidane and Garnet are visibly horrified by the attack on [[spoiler: Lindblum]], especially since they actually have to walk through [[TearJerker the]] [[SceneryGorn ruins]] soon after; finally, Garnet actually [[spoiler: loses her voice]] when confronted with the destruction of [[spoiler: Alexandria]] and the casualties that resulted.
** Doubled by the fact that the [[SummonMagic Eidolons]] used were [[spoiler: forcibly extracted from Garnet.]]
* Averted with a [[PlayerPunch potent emotional punch]] in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'': when [[spoiler:Auron and Jecht]] fade away, their deaths are given all due respect, honor, and grief by the party; [[spoiler:Tidus' final farewell]] is equal parts TearJerker and [[Heartwarming/FinalFantasyX Crowning Moment Of Heartwarming]], too. But the destruction of Kilika and the [[spoiler:mass slaughter of Al-Bhed and Crusaders at Operation Mi'ihen]] are the most heart-wrenching, devastating events in the game, and the characters respond to these with far, far more sorrow than even the aforementioned instances.
** Yuna's Guardians were far more unhappy with the idea that [[spoiler:Yuna has to die to accomplish the final summoning]] than the idea that Sin kills ''thousands'' if [[spoiler:she]] doesn't. [[spoiler: Also, it was insane that they simply didn't have a stock of fully trained summoners/final fayth ready and willing to beat up sin the SECOND it shows up. Sure it means certain death, but the crusaders sign up en masse and they have even LESS chance of surviving a Sin-encounter]]
*** Because even trying to reach the Final Fayth is likely to kill the Summoner, and summoning it to defeat Sin. In fact, most Summoners either eventually give up and turn back at Mount Gagazet OR die while trying to pass Mount Gagazet. If the Ronso didn't help Yuna, it would of been an even more treacherous journey, though the presence of a certain Boss makes you feel it's difficulty anyway.
*** Admittedly, Yuna herself only agrees once she learns that [[spoiler:The Final Summoning can ''never permanently stop Sin'', contrary to belief that there was some chance that it could]]. Everyone else, however, including all the Guardians and the entire Al-Bhed people, do not need such an argument - a single death is apparently too much for these residents of post-apocalyptic Spira to bear thinking about, even though every one of them has lost someone they care about to Sin. In fact, [[spoiler:the Al-Bhed are more than willing to kidnap Summoners who are going to sacrifice their lives of their own free will, and imprison them for life to stop those Summoners from making the honest and heroic choice to give themselves for the greater good - and the player is clearly expected to agree with them. WhatTheHellHero?]]
* Again in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'' where [[spoiler:the destruction of an airship fleet is simply a slap-on-the-wrist warning against Nethicite, and the complete annihilation of the crews on board (with the protagonists as the sole survivors) hardly even warrants mention.]]
* Parodied in ''VideoGame/DiscworldNoir'': Lewton tells an {{NPC}} that the people of Ankh-Morpork don't react if you tell them a thousand people died in a pogrom in Omnia, but tell them an Ankh-Morpork citizen stubbed his toe on the Brass Bridge and you get a reaction. The other guy then replies: "[[ComicallyMissingThePoint A citizen stubbed his toe on the Brass Bridge?]]"
* In ''VideoGame/WingCommander III'', with one bomb Blair (the PlayerCharacter) [[EarthShatteringKaboom destroys a planet]], killing billions of [[CatFolk Kilrathi]], but except in the {{novelization}} of the sequel it's not even mentioned (and only hinted at with a brief shot of the Emperor's chambers collapsing), unlike the deaths of [[spoiler:Jeanette "Angel" Devereaux]], [[spoiler:Mitchell "Vaquero" Lopez]], [[spoiler:Laurel "Cobra" Buckley]], or the fate of [[spoiler:Locanda IV, homeworld of Robin "Flint" Peters]].
* In the space RTS ''Haegemonia: Legions of Iron'' the conventional mean of subduing enemy planets is orbital bombardment. Preferably with viral torpedoes - they are more effective. All you get to see at that is the down-counting number of the population. 100 millions...85 millions...50 millions...c'mon, give up already...40 millions...you're not the only planet I have to conquer, you know...30 millions...25 millions...finally! Welcome to the family! As a token of my clemency, I'll now lower the taxes until you all love and admire me, savvy?
* ''VideoGame/DynastyWarriors''
** You can say the same for any game based on a large-scale war, and in fact, there ''are'' a few instances where the plight of the common folk is integral to the story (in particular, the Yellow Turban Rebellion and Liu Bei leading the peasants out of Chang Ban). The main reason DW makes such a huge deal out of certain deaths is that's how it was in ''Literature/RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms'', which, as anyone who's read it will tell you, is ''very'' heavy on drama.
* Possibly averted in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', when a reporter who confronted you in the first game shows up again to demand another interview of you. One of the many ways it can go is the reporter demanding on-air to know why Shepard sacrificed thousands of people for the sake of the Citadel Council -- and [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome Shepard replying to her anonymous, faceless "thousands" by stating from memory the names of all 8 ships that were lost, and expressing his/her respect for the lost soldiers and the great deed they did]]. 2400 lives vs 10000 lives during that fateful battle.
** Mordin deliberately averts this - when enacting the genophage (a mass sterilisation of a violent race, to which only one in a thousand give birth), he chose to keep visiting the world himself to study the results, to keep the reality of what he had done in his mind. He also averts this before heading out on the suicide mission - in order to have a clear picture of what he's fighting for, he calls his favourite nephew. In his loyalty mission, he even states that all life is precious.
-->'''Mordin''': ''Yearly recon missions. Water, tissue samples. Ensure no mistakes. Superiors offered to carry it on. Refused. Needed to see it in person. Need to look. Need...to see. Accept it as necessary. (inhale) See small picture. Remind myself why I run a clinic on Omega.''
** As well as the scale of conflict, the First Contact war had about 623 casualties on the human side over the span of 3 months compared to what will normally happen with deaths in the thousands
** Further averted concerning the Citadel Battle in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' when you encounter an asari on Illium who first seems like a two-dimensional JerkAss, but if you manage to get through her, she will reveal that the cause of her bitterness was the loss of her daughters on Citadel. And if you manage to put the pieces together, you will realize that those daughters were two very minor characters you spoke once or twice in the course of the first game.
** ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' repeatedly reminds you of the scale of the death and destruction that's happening everywhere [[spoiler: that the Reapers invade.]] At one point you see [[spoiler:a young boy die while trying to escape.]]
** A better example might be [[spoiler: Liara's]] reaction to the destruction of [[spoiler: Thessia]]. She was by no means uncaring towards Shepard or Garrus when they respectively lost Earth and Palaven, but it wasn't until her own world got destroyed that she had a HeroicBSOD. Note that she does not come across as unsympathetic or selfish in any way, and her stunned exclamation of "My home!" when she saw the devastation is a very believable and tearjerking reaction.
** This trope is extensively discussed throughout the game; Garrus and Shepard have a long talk about "the ruthless calculus of war", of sacrificing a million over here so that a billion over there might survive, and there are various times when a sacrifice of some kind has to be made, and it's up to the player whether to take the personal or pragmatic option.
** Over the course of the game you'll see news reports and e-mails about how minor characters met over the course of the series fall in battle one by one. You even come across the body of a Krogan poet you met in the second game, and can deliver a last message he left for his wife.
** When you meet Grunt, however, the trope might be purely represented. Depending on your previous choices, [[spoiler:you meet a rachni queen that is friendly to you. You must fight a lot of enemies in order to rescue her, while Grunt and his company of elite troopers are fighting in another location. However, both your team and Grunt's company are overrun by enemy. You have to either go rescue Grunt, which leaves the rachni queen to enemy hands, or call Grunt to fall back and assist you. Grunt will leave his position just to help you, but without his lead his companions are doomed to death. Then Grunt might die as well while covering your reatreat, or can survive, in both cases bearing a lot of emotion in the cutscenes and for the plot. His company results utterly decimated, but no tear is dropped for those soldiers, who play the role of masked nameless strong mooks. Only the life of Grunts play an emotional role. His death is a tragedy; their death is almost unnoticed.]]
* As said in ''VideoGame/{{Xenosaga}}'':
--> '''Margulis''' (regarding the fate of the planet Ariadne): ''What's one and a half billion people to us?''
** ''VideoGame/{{Xenogears}}'' has this happen MULTIPLE times throughout it's timeline, [[ManBehindTheMan always being indirectly caused]] by Miang. One time, Grahf is manipulated by the former into actually being a direct cause of it, but all circumstances have one thing in common; [[OffstageVillainy the actual annihilation is never seen happening.]]
* ''VideoGame/FableIII'' subverts this handily. In the second half of the game, [[spoiler: you have to manage Albion's funding to prevent the absolute annihilation of the kingdom's 6.5 million people by the invading [[EldritchAbomination Crawler]] and his "Children."]] Every day, you get to see a "Projected Civilian Casualties" statistic, which is exactly 6.5M-Funding. It is nearly ''impossible'' not to want to save as many as possible, and [[IDidWhatIHadToDo damn the PR!]]
* Used masterfully in the Cataclysm expansion of ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft''. The [[NothingIsTheSameAnymore updating]] of quests and geography in vast sections of Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms (the games' oldest and original continents) has brought the deaths and [[NeverFoundTheBody vanishings]] of a great deal of old, familiar [[NonPlayerCharacter NPCs]]. One who would have slogged through the corpses of countless nameless mooks throughout the previous two expansions without batting an eyelash would be surprised at the amount of effective {{tear jerker}}s in Cataclysm.
** Even more so since some players like to use the statistics page to compare how many [[WhatMeasureIsAMook enemies]] they've killed.
* In ''VideoGame/FarCry2'', one of the central characters, the Jackal, who you were hired to kill to put an end to his arms dealing which is only fanning the flames of the various civil wars that are going on in Africa, makes a very good point about this during one of his interview tapes which can be found in the game. During one of the tapes, he mentions that despite how powerful the U.S military is (and he would know, being a former Navy SEAL before he became an arms dealer), they let petty morality get in the way of doing whatever it takes to win, and that their media focuses too much on how many of our servicemen and women die in combat when they need to realize that soldiers dying is part of the cost of war. He notes that the American public can't accept heavy casualties and care more about the deaths of individuals rather than honor the cause they died for, stating that "the death of a 23 year old from Iowa gets more air time than the death of 50,000 people he gave his life to protect. So even if they did give a shit, their own media prevents them from taking any action." The death of even one of our troops is a tragedy, while the death of those he was fighting for even if goes into the thousands or millions is a statistic, and the Jackal is disgusted at the hypocrisy of this. It is for this reason that he believes that his arms dealing is actually helping the world - if the U.S Military won't do anything to stem the tide of all these terrible wars going on in the world then he will.
* Played with ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins''. Just before TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon, the game takes time to show an average man bidding farewell to his wife and child, possibly for the last time, before setting off for war. The image will stay with you.
* In one sidequest in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeInquisition'', the player must choose to save either a small RagTagBunchOfMisfits they've bonded with in an earlier scene, or a dreadnought full of sailors they've never met. Tellingly, most players go for the former.
** Even more tellingly is that the most often cited reason for choosing the latter is not 'There were something dangerously close to a thousand sailors who there was no evidence of escaping the doomed vessel' but rather 'I needed the Qunari to fight the demons'. Even the people who choose to save the faceless many instead of the likable few didn't do so as a subversion of this trope at all. Although another common cited reason is the information provided by the continued Qunari alliance will save far more people in the long run than the Chargers ever could, so the trope isn't always ''completely'' played straight here.
** Another side quest prioritizing the needs of the few over the needs of the many is the Inquisitor discovering that the Mayor of Crestwood [[spoiler:isolated and flooded a few dozen Blight-infected refugees to keep them from infecting the rest of his village]] during the Fifth Blight. Considering the Blight is ''extremely'' deadly, contagious, and incurable, the fact is he saved far more lives [[spoiler:by flooding the infected refugees]] than not. Except, the game depicts his actions as purely monstrous on account of the few dozen lives he ended over the hundreds he saved with that action.
** Discussed with Iron Bull, who actually takes you to meet random people under your command twice, so you can put names and faces to the adoring masses who worship you but whom you might not feel any pesonal connection to.
** Aside from these two quests, the game often bends over backwards trying to avert the trope. The game often emphasizes how many millions of people will die from the Breach [[spoiler:and then Corypheus]], yet the player is often shown random civilians struggling to get by in a world gone mad to generate pathos. Most side quests in the Hinterlands (the largest explorable area in the game) involve finding food, blankets, and medical care for random people you've never met, and if you do then for the rest of the game you'll randomly hear random background [=NPC=]'s blessing the Inquisitor for making their lives better. You can spend a lot of time getting to know random people working for you in Haven [[spoiler:and then, when Haven is attacked, you end up saving those same people in the wreckage]]. Companions Sera and Iron Bull often take a lot of time telling you how you should care about the nameless faceless people who work for you, and most characters will take at least one moment every thirty seconds to emphasize the [[WhatASenselessWasteOfHumanLife tragic waste of human life]] the countless deaths at the Conclave, [[spoiler:Haven]], Orlesian Civil War, and [[spoiler:Corpheus]] cause, rather than just focusing on the fact that tons of people died. YMMV on how successful this was to most players.
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'':
** In-game, the player can toy with this trope in various ways regarding their {{Red Shirt|Army}} [=NPC=] allies. Some players will work hard to make sure all their allies survive, while others (particularly on higher difficulties) will not bat an eye as their allies are cut down. Of course, how one reacts to the death of an NPC ally may depend on how useful they are; the loss of a rocket jockey or a Warthog gunner will usually cause more upset than the death of someone who only had an Assault Rifle.
** While the series has several parts where the objective is to rescue NPC soldiers, you can then often let all your newly-freed allies die without having anyone comment on it. A notable exception is ''VideoGame/HaloCombatEvolved''[='s=] second mission, where if you let an entire Marine squad die, MissionControl will actually point it out.
** Averted in ''Combat Evolved''[='s=] ending: [[spoiler:Chief asks if anyone else made it out alive, to which Cortana sorrowfully replies no.]]
** Played with in ''VideoGame/Halo3ODST'', where you play as the titular Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, who were merely allied faceless [=NPCs=] in previous games. Additionally, the audio logs are designed to emphasize the point that the currently empty city you're wandering through was inhabited by actual human beings who had their lives completely disrupted by the Covenant invasion.
** Horribly deconstructed in ''VideoGame/HaloReach'', where you play as a [[EliteMooks semi-expendable]] [[SuperSoldier Spartan-III]]. As powerful as you are, your shirt is still [[MauveShirt mauve]], and you and your [[TheSquad team]] are expendable. [[spoiler:By the end, almost your entire squad is killed, and only [[TeamMom Halsey]] laments it.]]
** The opening cutscene of ''VideoGame/{{Halo 4}}'' includes shots of the Covenant invasion of some unnamed planet, displaying Banshees bombarding masses of fleeing civilians and Elites running through the crowds impaling people on Energy Swords. The horror of it is used by Doctor Halsey to emphasize that, despite the terrible measures taken to create the Spartan program, sacrificing a few for the sake of millions more was worth it in the end.
** Several of ''VideoGame/Halo5Guardians''[='s=] audio logs seem to have been intended to make you actually care about otherwise nameless [=NPCs=], whether it be the workers of Meridian Station, your Swords of Sanghelios allies, or even your Covenant remnant foes.
* The ending of ''VideoGame/SonicAdventure'', where Tails happily declares that "alls well that ends well, right?" This is despite the fact that the city is utterly destroyed, at least half the population is dead, and Eggman gets away...[[KarmaHoudini again!]]
* Like the ''Total War'' example above, ''VideoGame/CrusaderKings'' and its sequel are games where most armies are composed of faceless levies but led by named characters, including your player character and his heirs. Often the game will allow, encourage, or outright require you to sacrifice thousands of those levies to satisfy the whims of one of these characters -- for instance, besieging a castle so that you'll have a holding to give to your SpareToTheThrone so he'll stop complaining about not having any land unlike his elder brother.
* On Scenario 53 of the "Trust Zero" Route in ''[[VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsZ Second Super Robot Wars Z: Saisei-hen]]'', Wufei asks Treize in their final battle just how many people have died because of him. Like in the original series Treize shocks Wufei by giving him the exact number: as of yesterday, 999,822 people. For the record, only 99,822 people died because of Treize in the AC universe alone. Thanks to many different dimensions and alternate Earths combined together, Treize's body count has jumped up to +900,000 and he remembers them.
* ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil6'': Averted: during Leon and Chris' fight over [[spoiler: Carla]], they get in this argument; when Chris points out that [[spoiler: Carla]] killed all of the men in his squad, all of whom had names and whom Chris [[AFatherToHisMen deeply cared about]], Leon reminds him of the big picture by informing him that [[spoiler: Simmons]], the other source behind the C-Virus outbreak, killed the entire population of Tall Oaks (approximately 70,000 people), along with President Adam Benford himself. This revelation helps to snap Chris out of his RoaringRampageOfRevenge.
* ''VideoGame/SpiderManEdgeOfTime'': This is the [[TeethClenchedTeamwork primary source of conflict]] between Spider-Man 2099 and the Amazing Spider-Man; Spidey 2099 is ''only'' concerned with the grand scheme of things and fixing the damage done to the timestream, while Amazing Spidey is [[ChronicHeroSyndrome obsessed]] with the human cost of his actions and saving as many people as he can whether Spidey 2099 likes it or not.
* The FinalBoss of ''VideoGame/BravelyDefault'' has an attack that ''consumes an entire AlternateUniverse'' as fuel, aptly named "Armageddon". The first time he uses it, he specifically calls you out on this trope, saying he doubts that you truly comprehend the magnitude of what he just did. The characters' terror at the implications are far more effective at stopping them from fighting than the attack's actual battle effect, and [[spoiler:they end up surrendering after the fifth world eaten, just to stop him from doing this anymore.]]
* Notably averted in ''VideoGame/StarCraftIIHeartOfTheSwarm'' when Raynor reminds Kerrigan of not just Fenix but also the "millions [she's] butchered" as the Queen of Blades.
* ''VideoGame/TormentTidesOfNumenera'' has [[MeaningfulName The Endless War]], as put best by a woman you meet in the Valley of Dead Heroes.
-->'''Thalana''': [[NothingPersonal But it's not personal]]. It's not someone who wants ''your'' destruction in particular. You're just... inconvenient to them. Your death is another number, a way to measure their success. [[WarIsHell It's... hell]]. A business-like hell. And ''you'' did it. Castoffs. You could stop if you wanted. But you don't. Or maybe you don't care. I mean, when you've made statistics of your enemies, [[FacelessMooks faceless foes whose existence you can erase without a qualm]]... you're not just hurting them. You're hurting yourself, the way you see the world. Soon everything is conflict and pain. [[TheSocialDarwinist All that matters is your success]]. And you've killed yourself, and you don't even know it. (''She wipes a tear away'') It ruins everything - everyone it touches.
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/StarOceanTheSecondStory''. When the characters learn mid-way through the game that the population of Expel (roughly one billion or so people) is gone, they are ''horrified''. (And many have a reason to - Bowman, Precis, Leon, and Rena all have family there.) But then comes the ending wherein [[spoiler: that billion people will be returned... at the cost of roughly a billion Nedians instead.]] This is played as a BittersweetEnding, and the characters by this point are ''very'' adverse to this.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary'': [[http://www.schlockmercenary.com/d/20050705.html Petey calls out Kevyn]] on being willing to kill tens of thousands in combat, but squeamish of mind-ripping a single individual to obtain the same results. He brings it up again in [[http://www.schlockmercenary.com/2010-09-19 this strip]], with an appropriate quote:
-->''"If I spend the power to rescue our friends, an entire world full of innocent people will die. You might regard that as merely a horrible tragedy in some distant place, but I can hear every heartbeat."''
* This example overlaps between Webcomics and RealLife. In ''Webcomic/TheCrossoverlord'' for most of the people Smiling Man's MoralEventHorizon was revelation that he [[spoiler: killed most or all alternate counterparts of main characters]] to get what he wanted, despite that much earlier he changed the position of all stars in the firmament, destroying all planets that were running around them and slaughtering every life form that could live on those planets. [[ForTheEvulz Because he wanted to make the sky smile at him!]]
* The final battle in ''WebComic/KidRadd''. We're not even shown the deaths of all of Crystal's cookie-cutter minions by Radd's ragtag band; most of the slaughter is implied. But [[spoiler: Bogey dies. And not just dies, he forces Radd to shoot him so Radd can take the life power-up he carries. After complaining earlier in the series about how he can't contribute meaningfully to this war. Ultimately, he not only saves Radd's life, he ends up being the only casualty on that side.]]
* Averted in ''Webcomic/{{Terinu}}''. When the [[spoiler: Human Federation's genocide of the Ferin]] is revealed, Leeza is properly horrified. It doesn't hurt that when she makes the discovery, we see an obscured autopsy photo of one of the victims
* In ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', [[spoiler: Jack Noir]] kills thousands of pawns and nobody bats an eye. And then he burns Prospit to the ground and a few eyebrows are raised. And then he kills [[spoiler: Dream Jade]], who's actually characterized, and jaws drop all around.
** Many fans hated Vriska for crippling [[spoiler:and later killing]] [[TheWoobie Tavros]], killing Aradia, and blinding Terezi at least as much as they do [[spoiler: Jack Noir]] for killing absurd numbers of pawns. Vriska also killed thousands of other trolls to feed to her custodian (although in that case, this trope was averted and discussed when she [[http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=6&p=005367 mentioned that to John]]).
*** The term 'murder' comes up often in connection with Tavros, though that's an oversimplification of the event. However it never appears in descriptions of the many fellow larpers sacrificed to her lusus or the many spirits of the dead she dominated and threw into the fire to smoke out the BigBad. In fact, fellow trolls who still resented her for causing the deaths of their friends didn't fully realize the atrocity of the latter until [[OnlySaneMan John pointed it out]].
*** Which is, in and of itself, an instance of this: Lord English, the aforementioned BigBad who Vriska used hundreds of fellow ghosts as bait for, destroys ''[[ApocalypseHow/ClassX4 entire universes]]''.
** It's worth pointing out that Eridan was Vriska's accomplice in her thousands of backstory murders, yet was seen as generally harmless or even endearing for his [[{{Wangst}} exaggerated emotional theatrics]]. [[spoiler: Then he snapped, announced his allegiance to Jack Noir, and went on a shooting spree when the others objected.]]
** [[spoiler:Jack got prototyped with [[RealityWarper Becquerel]] and eventually was sent to the Troll's Incipisphere, where he destroyed both Derse, Prospit, and the rest of the planets. Jack also caused the Reckoning in the kids' session, which wiped out Earth's population aside from the four kids.]] No one really cares. [[spoiler:Since that prototyping, however, he killed several characters, including [[TooCoolToLive Bro]], John, a Doomed Dave, Rose's Mom and John's Dad, John again, Rose, Dave, and too many to list here in [[WhamEpisode [S] Cascade]].]]
** [[spoiler:Gamzee]] hardly killed anyone, just [[spoiler:Equius and Nepeta]]. But he was still treated by some as as much of a monster as Jack Noir.
** Most games of Sburb kill off a planet's population, but the comic doesn't focus on that so much as the players' quest to [[spoiler:create a new universe.]]
** [[spoiler: Meenah, the bratty pre-scratch troll who would become the post-scratch Empress/Betty Crocker]] is ''paralyzed with joy'' that an alternate-universe version of her becomes the master/murderer of ''trillions'' instead of the ''[[WithGreatPowerComesGreatResponsibility noblesse oblige]]'' ruler she would have been forced to be. The only thing that sours her on the prospect is that her alternate also exploits and tortures the alternate of one of her friends.
* Both played straight and averted in ''Webcomic/{{Erfworld}}''. "Lord Hamster" wins a siege by [[spoiler:setting off the volcanic caldera under the city, wiping out almost everyone from ''both'' sides. [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone He's pissed that he had to resort to that to survive]]. He's ''equally'' pissed that he had to sacrifice his loyal servant shortly beforehand.]]
* ''Webcomic/BobAndGeorge'': [[http://www.bobandgeorge.com/archives/050201 Proto Man points out that sacrificing Mike might save thousands.]] His reasoning on why Mike has to make the sacrifice is that Proto Man is a protector of humanity, and as such "my life is much more valuable than yours".
* Quoted in [[http://www.poisonedminds.com/d/20120810.html this]] ''Webcomic/{{SSDD}}'' strip. For context the one saying that nuked Texas, and is horrified at the thought that she might get away with it.
* Averted in Webcomic/{{Freefall}}: [[http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff2200/fc02161.htm Florence worries that her entire product line will be canceled if she acts]] -- which is to say that her species will go extinct -- but [[http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff2200/fc02162.htm concludes that 450 million robots take precedence over 14 Bowman's Wolves.]]

[[folder: Web Original]]
* Spelled out as bluntly as a sledgehammer in [[http://forums.spacebattles.com/showpost.php?p=4458484&postcount=144 this Spacebattles post.]]
* [[http://www.superdickery.com/i-want-to-wreck-the-world/ This]] entry on ''Superdickery''.
--> Granted, destroying the entire world would be the single greatest act of dickery he's performed yet, but somehow the slaughter of six billion anonymous people seems to lack that personal touch we get when he kills Lois or ruins Jimmy's life.
* A minor LampshadeHanging on video games' tendency to do this to enemy mooks, part of one WebAnimation/ZeroPunctuation episode had a sign saying "you must end 062 promicing young lives to continue."
* Discussed in ''WebAnimation/LlamasWithHats''. It might be a higher body count, but simply ''saying'' you mutilated [[HarmfulToMinors millions of babies]] and [[BloodyHilarious dropping their severed hands on the lawn]] just doesn't have the shock value of a sudden surprise [[NukeEm nuke]].
* In season 2 of ''WebAnimation/{{RWBY}}'', several Hunters get into a fight in the middle of a highway road, the collateral damage of which flips several ''moving'' cars over. Despite the Hunters being students and (mostly) legal adults, they experience no social or academic repercussions and the civilians' potential deaths/injuries are never mentioned by anyone. Yet in season 3 (once CerebusSyndrome has hit), one Hunter student [[spoiler:(seemingly)]] mutilating another- in a recreational combat tournament, no less- is this shocking event that traumatizes everyone involved, makes observers instantly distrust the perpetrator, and gets several episodes dedicated to its fallout. Of course, the two situations are different in that the highway situation involved attempting to stop and capture a known criminal in a stolen MiniMecha with no real witnesses save the Hunters in question who were presumably never found out, while the tournament one was supposed to be a friendly match between two combatants [[spoiler:that was intentionally manipulated]] on live television throughout the world for everyone to see, so the lack of exposure might have played a factor.
* Constantly subverted in Roleplay/{{Glowfic}}.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Parodied in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "Bart the Mother". Bart accidentally kills a bird and decides to hatch her eggs out of guilt. The eggs hatch and they turn out to be a species of lizard that eat bird eggs, replace them with their own and eat the mother once they hatch. Skinner wants to kill the lizards since they're responsible for the extinction of several bird species but Bart lets them go, after which they completely eradicate Springfield's pigeon population, causing Bart to receive a commendation. After the ceremony...
-->'''Lisa''': I don't get it, Bart. You got all upset when you killed one bird, but now you've killed tens of thousands, and it doesn't bother you at all.
-->'''Bart''': Hey, you're right ... [[IgnoredEpiphany I call the front seat!]]
-->'''Lisa''': You had it on the way over!
* ''WesternAnimation/CelebrityDeathmatch'': Even though the entire point of the show is celebrities killing each other, any time one of the commentators is hurt it's treated like a tragedy. {{Lampshaded}} in "Johnny Gomez and Nick Diamond vs. Sam Donaldson" when Sam says that "the arena normally home to fun death and destruction was tonight the site of tragic death and destruction."
* Almost every early episode of ''WesternAnimation/JimmyTwoShoes'' has extras or background characters being mauled (killed?) in one-off gags with no reaction at all.

* This is the reason that ads to recruit sponsors for poor people in developing countries focus on a single child, instead of the thousands or millions of people in the neighborhood just like him or her.
* A joke (with many variants) goes something like this: two national leaders (let's say, the top political guy and the top military guy) are sitting in a diner, planning a war. They decide to kill a million citizens, and a completely unrelated bicycle repairman/pizza delivery driver/clown. They pitch this idea to a random bystander who is shocked to hear that they would go out of their way to kill the unrelated civilian. One leader turns to the other and says, "see, I told you no one would care about killing the million enemy citizens."
* Creator/EddieIzzard has a section in his comedy show ''Dressed To Kill'' where he discusses this in relation to Pol Pot.
--> "Pol Pot killed 1.7 million people. We can't even deal with that! You know, we think if somebody kills someone, that's murder, you go to prison. You kill 10 people, you go to Texas, they hit you with a brick, that's what they do. 20 people, you go to a hospital, they look through a small window at you forever. And over that, we can't deal with it, you know? Someone's killed 100,000 people. We're almost going, "Well done! You killed 100,000 people? You must get up very early in the morning. I can't even get down the gym! Your diary must look odd: “Get up in the morning, death, death, death, death, death, death, death – lunch- death, death, death -afternoon tea - death, death, death - quick shower…"
* Jeff Foxworthy did a bit once where he related that he'd been watching the news, and the top story was 80 people dying in a bus crash. Foxworthy said "the only thing I could think was 'How on earth did they [[ClownCar get 80 people on a bus]]?'....once it becomes a physics problem, it takes the emotional sting out of it."