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Can't Argue with Elves
"Naturally if you can give me evidence supporting the evolutionary superiority of round ears, then you're free to go. But of course since we don't allow fiction as evidence, you're boned."

Our Elves Are Better. Better than you. They are taller, thinner, prettier, more graceful, better-read, more intelligent, more environmentally-conscious ("In Harmony with Nature" is the usual phrasing), more socially progressive, less aggressive or confrontational (while still being fearsome warriors), and better craftspeople, too.

Oh, and they're magic.

In fact, the only quality elves seem to be lacking is humility. Even when an author tries to specify that these elves are perfect, wonderful, etc., and humble, the elves still can't resist lecturing humans on their errant ways. Sometimes the elf will try a Socratic approach — asking, for example, why humans will kill each other, because of course elves never fight amongst themselves — but they don't need to. Pretty much any excuse is good to put the silly little humans in their place.

Strangely, the humans are not allowed to take offense, demand politeness, defend themselves or — heaven forbid — mock the elves right back. If anyone tries, the elf will sniff disdainfully and utterly destroy the human's argument, thus proving the elves right yet again. This trope is not limited to elves, though. Whenever you have a group that thinks itself as just completely superior to anyone else and ignores all arguments against it, you have this trope.

Not a bad thing if the creator intends for the characters in question to appear arrogant and annoying. But there are plenty of cases in which even the audience is supposed to share this view, which has you pretty much ending up with an entire race of Mary Sues.

Screw You, Elves! is for humans who do take offense (and make it very clear). In contrast with humans, dwarves are not only allowed but expected to argue with elves.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Outlaw Star, Aisha of the C'tarl C'tarl constantly brags about her species' superiority, and no one calls her out on it (partially because her species is physically superior). Then again, Aisha's the local Butt Monkey and is obviously immature, so this is most likely a case of "let the baby have the bottle" or acknowledging that she can take the abuse. It helps that Aisha is considered kind of bugnuts, even by C'tarl C'tarl standards, but Aisha tends to be the sign that they let the mask slip by letting her go out in public.
  • The elves in Zero no Tsukaima are depicted as such, fitting almost every quality in the trope description.

    Comic Books 
  • The mutants in Marvel's Ultimate Universe constantly talk about how genetically superior they are, and how it means they have a higher standard of behavior. On one occasion Professor X tells Cyclops that a certain instance of resentment is a human thing, and he is "pleased to say" Cyclops wouldn't understand. The ordinary human they are talking to at the time says not a word.
    • This is especially grating since in the Ultimate Universe practically every character save Spider-Man Took a Level in Jerkass, including Cyclops, who many if not most readers consider to already be a douche in the regular continuity.
      • Plus, in the proper 616 universe, it's the Brotherhood of Mutants who go on about how mutants are genetically superior and their main point of conflict with the X-Men is that the X-Men don't believe this. (Depending on the Writer, of course, but that's how it normally is.)
  • Both Marvel and DC's Atlanteans make frequent reference to how they "rule" most of the planet, making them clearly superior. In Kingdom Come Aquaman even proclaims the rest of the world's needs as below him because Superman has an entire Justice League to handle the surface, while Aquaman is responsible for 70% of the world all by himself. Nobody ever points out that the oceans have a population numbered in the millions at most, are 99% unoccupied, and have maybe a dozen supervillains to worry about.

    Fan Works 
  • Neatly deconstructed in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic "Human" fic, What Separates. Twilight initially takes the "elf" role after the arrival of a human soldier from Twenty Minutes into the Future, but over time realizes that 1) some of the stated flaws of humanity are based on unfair assumptions or generalizations; and 2) the Ponies can live a more idyllic lifestyle because they have magic and, with that, a much greater degree of control over their environment.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic The Girl Who Lived, the protagonist, Rose Potter, becomes a druid, who are basically to wizards what wizards are to Muggles. She does a lot of condescending to the wizarding world for not being as enlightened as the druids.

    Film 
  • Seen in the The Lord of the Rings movies, particularly in Elrond, who almost despises humans as foolish and weak.note  Elrond's problem with humans is more personal than an expression of elven hauteur. He's still angry at humans — in the person of Isildur — for failing to throw the One Ring into Mount Doom when they (he) had the chance. Since that failure led directly to the problems that were being discussed at that very moment, his harsh words may have been more a moment of pique than anything else.note  His daughter wanting to leave her entire family to stay with a human man probably plays a big part in this. Most other elves seem far more relaxed about it, though.
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has Thranduil and the Wood-Elves. They're downright hostile, taking the Dwarves as prisoner indefinitely and confiscating all their belongings just for trespassing in Mirkwood. Thorin does get to literally argue with them, though: the Elves treat Goblins/Orcs even more summarily.
  • The Na'vi of Avatar. The in-story justification is that their planet's ecosystem automatically regulates itself, meaning they don't think they have any need for things like modern technology, roads, clothing, and human education. It turns out the planet's ecosystem is actually sentient.

    Literature 
  • The Elves of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. The protagonist Eragon, who lives with them for quite a while, doesn't seem to notice (and also becomes elven later on). The text makes it apparent that the elves are more in tune with nature, more logical, more attractive, more graceful, more physically capable, more intelligent, more magical, and even more sexually liberated than humans are. It runs so deep in this series that non-Elves will regularly point out their own inferiority to Elves (usually along the lines of "We're not as good as you elves at this, but we manage"). The Elf being spoken to always accepts this as indisputable fact, and never disagrees.
    • The most amusing part being that the author wrote them as losing to even the simplest tactical maneuvers of the setting's various big bads, with the fact that they've been on the ropes for most of a millenium at the beginning of the series and the evil empire doesn't even bother going after them until they get a pet (human) dragon-rider demonstrating pretty thoroughly that they've always been that straight-up outclassed by the humans.
    • They also have a malfunctioning aristocracy with dark-ages quality of life, with the lower classes literally starving when Eragon finds them because 'in tune with nature' apparently doesn't translate to 'competent with agriculture'. The human empire, meanwhile, operates at about Renaissance level, with a functional middle class and plenty of excess food to the point that famine is a non-issue. Sure, the leadership is nuts, but actually less nuts than the prior dragon-riders.
    • Paolini seemed to have written himself into a corner: if the elves are always right, and the elves say the gods don't exist, then how does the dwarf god exist? He actually showed up to a coronation when asked and gave their choice the thumbs-up.
    • Paolini seems to actually realize how all this worked out around book three and a few characters actually do argue with the Elves, it just takes a while for him to get there.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld uses this not with elves that are better but with The Fair Folk, whose glamour produces a crushing inferiority complex in others. Readily averted by the cat, the birds, and any character that thinks like a witch (that is: very, very hard). Also by dwarves and trolls, whose instinctive reaction on meeting an elf is to bash it with something hard, heavy and/or sharp.
  • The Houyhnhnms of Swift's Gulliver's Travels are about as bad as it gets. They aren't a magical race, but they fill this trope quite well. Then again, considering that Gulliver is an Unreliable Narrator who worships any backward race he encounters, there's much literary debate over whether the reader is actually expected to have such an averse reaction to the Houyhnhnms and their hypocrisy.
  • The Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn books by Tad Williams. The Sithi can't help coming up with subtle put downs, condescending behavior and reproaches about old injustices done to them by ancestors who have been dead for centuries and their high-bred human allies never pay back in their coin.
    • Though most humans don't argue with the Sithi because they dislike them severely at best, and arguing involves talking to them, which the vast majority of humans think of in the same terms as being waterboarded. It's not really meek submission so much as ignoring the assholes.
  • In C.L. Wilson's Tairen Soul books, the Fey are so self-righteous and brash that the "evil/stupid" humans are on the verge of cancelling their alliance. The strange thing is that the author is completely with the Fey on that. The author seems to think it is their natural right to be arrogant. The "good" humans are the ones who don't take offense at being treated with condescension.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe rarely relies on this trope, but the Caamasi might count. They're basically a martyred race of pacifists who will fight if they must and are tirelessly moral. Still, they don't feature all that heavily, and most of them don't spend their page time lording it over other cultures.
  • Lampshaded in The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. The first human protagonist, Kellen, does quickly come to admire elves and elven culture, and these elves are fairly varied and polite and, well, human, as elves go. He does take minor offense when an older elf telling him some ancient history implies that humans did something or other because it's a natural human failing. A later human protagonist on the same side flatly dislikes elves for their formality and their absolute perfectionist attitude, though since they're all fighting a war he tries to keep it under wraps. It's actually a saying in that 'verse that you can't win an argument with elves, since they'll just change the subject.
  • The Aurënfaie in Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner novels have this going on in spades. Longer lifespans (and thus perceived greater experience and wisdom) than humans. Check. Innate magical potential (all the more because human magical potential originates from cross-breeding with them). Check. A language that is difficult for most humans to pronounce properly. Check. Monotheistic religion while the humans are following their own gaggle of silly gods. Check. Tendency to drag out any kind of decision making for a length of time that makes most humans want to give up and leave. Check.
  • The People in Artemis Fowl call humans "Mud Men", and the few human characters they interact with never really call them out on it. Possibly because said humans (especially Artemis) tend to notice that the People are the ones hiding from the humans, so what are they so proud of? Also because Artemis agrees that humans fight too much and ruin the ecosystem, the People's most common arguments.
  • There's a rather interesting twist on this trope in Kathryn Lasky's Guardians of Ga'Hoole books, in which all the main characters are owls. The owls consider themselves superior to other birds because most other birds don't regurgitate pellets. The other birds never take offense.
    • Neither do the nest-maid snakes, who are defined entirely as servants to owl families.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's Elves (of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion) aren't really like this, but some of the second-hand false impressions of them by people like Boromir and dwarves (as well as false portrayal in adaptations) fit the trope. It very much depends on the Elf. Thingol starts out as a straight example, but the trope is totally averted with Finrod Felagund, who's prepared to risk his life to help out the son of his human friend/fellow warrior.
  • The gnomes of the Gnomes faux field guide are quietly disapproving of humanity for the way we despoil nature, in comparison to their own ways. The fact that the gnomes have one-thousandth our mass (and therefore require one thousandth the resources to feed), can perfectly control their (already low) fertility, live for hundreds of years, can understand animal speech, and have access to magic probably makes it a little easier for them to live in harmony with Mother Earth, y'know?
  • The Harry Potter series has the centaurs who refuse to accept any sort of human dominion over themselves, and indeed even contact with humans is seen as a crime. Ironically, the only elves we do see in the series avert the trope entirely, as they have a psychological compulsion to serve their master's wishes.
    • Wizards themselves: they restrict contact with normal people, and consider the problems of the country they live in to be nothing to do with them. Are shown as superior (and arrogant because of it) all the time. One wonders if the word 'Muggle' was deliberately chosen as a six letter word with a double 'g' in it.
  • The Star Trek: Destiny series features the Caeliar, a race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who have evolved almost completely beyond the need for physical bodies, have no crime, poverty, or want, and are devoted completely to artistic and scientific pursuits. They have just enough respect for others' beliefs to not try to convince other races that the Caeliar's way is correct, but no amount of cajoling will convince them that the Caeliar's way is wrong. They are severely isolationist, but are Actual Pacifists, which leads various characters who stumble upon their home planet to become permanent "guests". Not a bad place to be, all things considered, but don't argue too much. Make too much noise or disrupt their work and the Caeliar will teleport you to a nice uninhabited planet a few billion light years away, just to make sure you never get home with information about them.
  • Timothy Zahn's Warhorse has the Tampies, who live in complete harmony with all living things and have no trouble being snooty about it.
  • The Cetagandians in the Vorkosigan Saga are a human variety of this, being obsessed with aesthetic accomplishments and possessing an extreme superiority complex. Naturally Barrayarans have other ideas.
    • Betans can be kind of like this, everyone making a fuss about how morally superior they are.
  • In Dragonlance the Qualinesti elves and especially the Silvanesti elves. Their common belief is that they are the chosen race of the god of good, Paladine (despite failing in actually doing something good to the world), they're the best in everything, and they blame humans for every single bad thing happened to Krynn, especially the Cataclysm and the return of the chromatic dragons. Oh, they're also so arrogant that they'll enslave their less-evolved cousins, the Kagonesti. They eventually pay for their hubris by losing their homelands (Silvanost's taken by minotaurs, while Qualinost is destroyed by a giant dragon).
  • The antihero of Jack Vance's Green Magic is a master of the Black and White Arts who discovers the existence of an even more powerful form of magic. He actually does argue with elves, or rather the sprites of the Green Plane, and makes himself such a nuisance to them that they eventually give up and teach him Green magic, although they repeatedly warn him it's a terrible idea. They were right: it turns out that human beings are just too primitive to ever become competent in Green magic... oh, and once exposed to the indescribable beauty of the Green plane, no human will ever again be content with anything on Earth.
  • Weirdly subverted in the Ryria Revelations. The elves are better than humans in every way (stronger, faster, tougher, more technologically advanced, and better at magic), but they have a single crippling weakness: their incredibly low birthrate. This allowed the humans to beat the elves in an ancient war by simply Zerg Rushing them until the elves arranged a peace treaty to end the (to them) unbearable losses. As one of the main characters put it, "the elves were drowning in a floodtide of humanity."
  • Various magical species (including the Sidhe) in The Dresden Files have this attitude towards themselves, but it's an unusual example of this trope because the various species are not seen as such by humans; Harry defies the hell out of the "don't mock them back" aspect of this trope (and says Screw You, Elves! at every available opportunity), and the fact that no other humans do it is more because the elves are incredibly dangerous rather than because the humans agree with their declarations of superiority. Clearly an example where the author fully intended them to be annoying even when they aren't being openly antagonistic.
  • By the same author, Kitai of the Marat in Codex Alera often talks about the shortcomings of the human Alerans, but she avoids the usual problems of this trope because: she herself is a likeable and sympathetic character, her exclamations of "_____ is/are insane!" are usually a Running Gag played for comic effect, her observations take the form of "your people are crazy" rather than "my people are awesome" and her criticisms are of social institutions that are either harmlessly ridiculous (the prudishness about nudity and sex) or clearly immoral (slavery), so she has a point. Any annoyance is also reduced by the fact that her people are clearly not intended by the author to be a perfect Mary Sue Superior Species; in the first book they are The Horde of savage cannibals whom the Big Bad easily manipulates into doing his dirty work with the intention of crushing them afterwards, and though they quickly show themselves to be a complex people their society clearly has a host of its own problems, even if they're different problems from the "civilised" Alerans.
  • The House of Night provides us with a serious in-universe example. Vampyre society is considered- both in-universe and by the authors- to be completely perfect. The narrative explicitly states that vampyres are smarter, hotter, stronger, and more creative than humanity. The only good humans in the story all assist vampyres in some way. Any humans who don't like vampyres are invariably hateful, murderous people who are hopelessly envious of the vampyres' perfection and probably serving evil.
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, the gentleman with the thistle-down hair is absolutely convinced that his beloved humans enjoy his games as much as he does. The idea that they are consistently horrified by their slavery on his account is so far removed from his own frame of reference that they just can't convey the notion to him.
  • A mild example, but in Elminster: The Making of a Mage, Braer gently lectures Elminster (when he's become a female version of himself named Elmara) on how elves live in tune with nature, while humans destroy everything which they can't control.
  • Steven Brust's Dragaera novels are built on the question of "if elves are so amazing and perfect, how come they aren't dominating the world?" In Dragaera? They are. However, this comes not from the Dragaerans' actual moral perfection as the fact that they have a lot of physical and magical advantages over normal humans, and are very long-lived. It's even suggested they were made so by their Abusive Precursors. As a result, they're often outrageous bastards who consider everything they do to be in the right, and humans are sufficiently oppressed in the Dragaeran Empire that they hardly dare try to argue.

    Live-Action TV 
  • About a dozen separate races in Star Trek, most notably the Organians. In the original series, these races were always pacifists speaking out against some conflict or other.
    • The first couple seasons of The Next Generation (while Gene Roddenberry was still alive and overseeing the show) managed to turn humans into the elves, with the Federation portrayed as an insufferably pacifist and socialist Utopia. The season one finale is even devoted largely to a trio of Human Popsicle 20th century strawmen who are repeatedly lectured about how much they suck for being from the 20th century.
  • The Silurians from Doctor Who. While The Doctor usually tries for a peaceful solution with most foes, he turns this tendency Up to Eleven every time he meets the Silurians, completely ignoring the fact that they're always armed to the teeth and just itching to cleanse their home planet of the ugly monkeys that have taken up residence in the past two million or so years. When the inevitable bloodshed occurs each episode, it's always the humans to blame.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Subverted by Lennier, who is a humble, soft-spoken servant, and happy to be so. The humans he knows are more up front about their badassery while he simply keeps it hidden. Usually...
    • Delenn is more complicated. Her ladylike demeanor and noblesse oblige can be mistaken for this. However she is not unthinkingly arrogant or self-righteous.
    • Played straight by a number of other Minbari, although it's not universal. The warrior caste Minbari in particular seem to be more oafish than being examples of this trope.
    • The Vorlons, on the other hand, play this trope alarmingly straight. They're better than everyone else (even the Minbari look up to them) and there is literally no arguing with them because a) they're always right and b) it's rather hard to argue with someone who talks in cryptic koans all the time and c) they're vastly more powerful than you. They've also manipulated most of the other races to see them as angelic beings. Sheridan finally snaps in spectacular style. Subverted by Kosh, who was often convinced to help and listen in various ways, including taking an action he knew would lead to his death. Sheridan mistook his attitude for this trope and didn't realize what Kosh actually meant until it was too late.
  • In the Dinotopia miniseries, Karl and David are completely unable to convince the Dinotopians that people living anywhere else have it better than they do. Cars, airplanes, and television simply can't hold a candle to their intellectual, pacifistic self-satisfaction, and any argument the brothers can offer is instantaneously deflected. Did I mention they're vegetarians and In Harmony With Nature? (except for the animals they kill to feed the T-Rexes) The books have some elements of this but are less explicit about it.
  • This is pretty much Joel's relationship with the locals in Northern Exposure. He's always in the wrong, even when he's right.
  • The Humanoid Cylons in Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) have shades of this. The war between Humans and Cylons basically boils down to this:
    Cylon: Humans are violent monsters! We will destroy you all!
    Human: You attacked us! We will retaliate!
    Cylon: See! I told you so!

    Tabletop Games 
  • Space 1889 weirdly inverted, this is many Martians’ opinion about how humans think that their ideas of Christianity, Progress and Science make them superior. Extra points for some humans thinking that Martians resemble elves (there is very little elfish in their behaviour, though).
  • Shadowrun products address this issue from both sides, with a heavy dose of Lampshading. On the one hand, "elf-wannabes" abound among the humans of the Sixth World, slavishly watching human-bashing shows from Tir Tairngire and saving up for surgery to elf-ify themselves; on the other, actual immortal elves (left over from Earthdawn) are depicted as callous, spoiled jerkass powermongers, who hold non-immortal elves in nearly as much contempt as humans. Ironically, ordinary elves who just want to get on with their lives find both the "wannabes" and the nobles every bit as distasteful as other humans do.
  • The elves of Warhammer play the trope very straight indeed. The existence of the Elves' natural arrogance is thought to be a result of their exposure to the wild magics that have saturated the Warhammer world since the coming of the Old Ones. Elves are very resistant to magic, thanks to their natural affinity for it, but not completely immune. Rather than physical mutation and madness, such as humans might develop, this racial trait is the price Elves pay (just as the Dwarfs have been made universally stubborn and covetous for gold). But alhough they share the same basic psychological substrate, the three different kindreds of elves - High, Dark and Wood Elves, express it in very different ways. Indeed, it might almost be said that the manner in which different elves manifest their race's natural sense of arrogant superiority is the defining feature of the different kindreds' cultures:
    • The Asur (High Elves) behave with a kind of patronising paternalism towards the lesser races - they think that poor, feeble humans and dwarfs are constantly in need of their help, and should be saved from themselves by High Elf intervention. They see the preservation of the world and the good things in it as a noble responsibility that falls on their shoulders alone, because nobody else is up to the task. The fact that they're not always wrong on this just serves to reinforce their beliefs and rub everyone else up the wrong way.
    • The Druchii (Dark Elves) are obsessed with conquest and domination, and their take on elven superiority is that elves are so much better than everyone else that they can and should take what they want. Elves deserve to rule the world, and the lesser races exist for them to enslave or murder at whim.
    • The Asrai (Wood Elves) are fierce isolationists. They have little to no interest in the affairs of the lesser races and see little point in having any dealings with them beyond telling them to get out of their forests at the point of an arrow. However, there is something of a schizophrenic duality at the heart of the Wood Elves, and if they do find themselves dealing with others then they might just as easily act like patronising but kind-hearted High Elves as callous, murdering Dark Elves.
      • Naturally each of the three cultures takes a very dim view of the others. The High Elves think the Dark Elves are amoral monsters, completely at odds with the noble duty of their race. The Dark Elves think of the High Elves as weaklings, who forfeit their birthright to rule by showing anything but disdain for races beneath them. Both think of the Wood Elves as rustic nobodies whose superior elven potential is being completely wasted. For their part the Wood Elves think the High and Dark Elves are engaged in pointless and empty pursuits by dealing with the lesser races at all. Very, very few elves seem to exhibit a more enlightened, less arrogant approach to other races. The most prominent example is the High Elf High Loremaster, Teclis, whose attitudes appear to have been shaped by the fact that he is physically weak and prone to illness, and hence an uncomfortable reminder to other High Elves of a frailty they think their race above. In the novel Sword of Caledor, Teclis muses on the inherent attitudes of elves, and thinks that the reason they always come out best in comparisons with humans is because it's always the elves who set the criteria. Teclis became fond of humans after helping them win the Great War Against Chaos (it helped that he's the most powerful wizard in the world!), and founded the Colleges of Magic in the human city of Altdorf, teaching human students. He is a rare exception, and he knows it.
  • The Eldar of Warhammer 40,000 play this trope straight in every dealing with the "lesser races". It often fails to work because the other races are either Always Chaotic Evil and Ax-Crazy or Xenophobes and inevitably tell them Screw You, Elves! with the biggest and nastiest guns at hand. Not that the Eldar are any better...
  • Magic: The Gathering has a sort-of example in the fairytale-inspired "Lorwyn" setting, where elves were, for the first time, just as heavily black-aligned as they were green. In story, they were so obsessed with beauty that they literally worshiped it, and their caste-system was determined by who was the most beautiful. Bad enough on its own, right? Well, because they were so beautiful, they considered themselves the de facto rulers of the entire setting, and actively hunted down and killed "eyeblights," creatures they deemed "too ugly to live", which included goblins (especially goblins,) and even disfigured elves (There's a reason that the Lorwyn elves are called "elf nazis"). Granted, when Lorwyn was plunged into a Brothers Grimm-esque darkness and became "Shadowmoor," a setting which was decidedly less interested in looking pretty, this made their change in position all the more satisfying.
  • The Sidhe in Changeling The Dreaming are immune to being made to look like fools with magic, and if you manage to do it the mundane way, they get a big stack of bonuses to cut you back down to size.
  • Averted with Celestials in the D&D 3.5 supplement The Book of Exalted Deeds, who are happy to debate the merits of Chaotic Good vs. Neutral Good vs. Lawful Good with anyone who can muster the nerve to argue with them.
  • Averted in Eberron. Elves in this setting are less likely to lecture you and more likely to cleave you in half with a giant two-bladed scimitar.
  • The elf Splatbook for Pathfinder really went out of its way to establish that elves are entirely more awesome than any other race.

    Video Games 
  • The Viera in Final Fantasy XII consider themselves to be above the Hume race since they don't cause wars or seek absolute power like Humes do. Only the main characters hear this and they never tried to show how Humes are not savages. Only a handful of Viera have a positive view on the Humes.
    • Elaboratting on that, there was only one Viera in the game who seemed to outright like Humes and the world outside her village, but she was a bit... weird (her "liking" could be argued to be fetish). There is a young Viera who was a unsure what to think of the outside world, but at least she liked to be around Hume children. There are two traveling Viera who were very disappointed to what the world had to offer, and only were impressed after watching the sea, of all things. Fran, one of the main characters and a Viera who has led a pretty interesting life and is best friends (and possibly more) with a Hume, seemed quite regretful of leaving the village and cutting her connection with the supernatural woods, calling it a life of solitude.
  • Inverted in Dragon Age where elves are considered lesser and barbaric by the humans, who take up the arrogant mantle and enslave the elves, even after the elves are freed from slavery they're still third class citizens.
    • The Dalish elves (who lead nomadic lives outside human settlements) attempt to invoke this over and over however, even when it's become glaringly obvious that it'll never work. All they have to show for it is more Fantastic Racism on both sides of the issue and the destruction of any would-be permanent homeland they tried to establish so far (declaring those unilaterally then flipping off your much bigger human neighbours everytime doesn't help). Even the City Elves think the Dalish are full of themselves, if Fenris' attitude is any indication.
    • While not elves, the qunari are a straighter example of the trope. The general argument presented is that qunari are perfect because they are ordered and the only people we see oppose what they want are either massive strawmen: Corrupt people who see them only as heretics. Even Hawke only gets to call them butchers. It is ignored how they take children away from their parents, force others to accept only one role in life, and are blind to the fact that they might be wrong.
  • The Elf Queen of Dragon Quest III is so upset that her daughter Anne eloped with a 'horrible human boy' that she curses his hometown, sending everyone there into eternal, unaging slumber. The only one who escaped that fate is the boy's father... who instead spends years pleading with the Queen to change her mind, to no avail. By the time your heroes arrive, the father's a withered old man, and the Queen still doesn't care. Despite all this, the father is surprisingly civil about having his whole life ripped away from him and all.
  • Parodied in Overlord, where the elves are just too full of themselves (and stupid) to notice (or care).
  • The Mandalorians in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords will not hesitate to outline how they are, in every way conceivable, superior to those puny little Jedi. Considering you are a Jedi in the game, it is surprising how little opportunity you get to disagree with them. Particularly interesting is that you can badmouth the Mandalorians but only as long as none of them are actually within earshot...
  • Mass Effect does this quite often with the Turian councilor. If you free the Rachni Queen, he chastises you for loosing a potentially fatal threat upon the galaxy. If you opt to kill the Queen instead, he asks if you routinely commit genocide. The guy just can't be pleased, most likely due to Fantastic Racism.
    • The Asari also frequently exhibit this attitude, though it gets blown out of the water by the third game. And from conversations with Javik, it's implied the Protheans were like this too.
  • In World of Warcraft, there are three types of elf (Night, Blood, and High), all of which clearly believe themselves awesome and superior but are blatantly flawed just like all other Warcraft races: elves are prone to Fantastic Racism, Bloods get themselves into deep trouble experimenting with magic, while Night Elfs won't help the other races against global threats until it's absolutely necessary.
  • Both played straight and subverted in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura were the all nature and magic elven society is falling to the rampant industrialism of humans, gnomes and dwarves. This brought to a separation of the elves in two branches: light and dark. Light elves are comparably decent - but still quite jerkass - folks who are content to let the other people live their own lives. The Dark ones are convinced of the innate superiority of elvenkind and despise all the other races as lesser. The fact that both branches are mostly going deeper and deeper into wilderness, leaving place for industrialism of other races makes them almost literal local version of Magical Native American.
  • Battle for Wesnoth. Both humans and elves have an archer unit, and each type levels up through different promotional classes. The description for the highest-level elven archer is a three paragraph long love letter about how they can shoot birds in the eye while blindfolded (or something similar); the description for the highest-level human archer just says that they're pretty good for a human, and then goes on for another paragraph about how much better elves are. Of course, as the game is open-source and fan made, many of the campaigns are a little less elf-friendly... about half of them include a "sticking it to the elves" mission, just for the sake of doing so.
  • The Elder Scrolls series plays around a bit with this trope. The Dunmer (Dark Elves) are very warlike and tend to scorn other races due to their meddlesome nature in their time-honored traditions and of course their homeland; most of them are fairly adaptive, though, and aside from the backwater Ashlanders, are able to tolerate outlanders to some degree. Bosmer (Wood Elves) actually tend to be very curious and are more an inversion of this trope as they tend to cause more trouble than the human races do by sticking their noses into other people's business. Altmer (High Elves) play it more or less straight with their extremely haughty attitudes that condescend to all other races as being inferior in their achievements, and typically scorn the other races for their failings (despite the Aldmeri Dominion being vastly responsible for many ancient wars and calamities of Tamriel...)
    • The Thalmor of Skyrim certainly believe in this trope. The other races react to this belief in a predictable fashion, and often do argue with them, ranging between general disagreement and contempt (the majority of people, including quite a few High Elves), feigned alliance with hidden hostility (the Empire), and very vocal and at times violent hostility (the Stormcloaks).
    • The Thalmor basically believe that the world is a horrible, forsaken prison and that the creators of it are evil beings. They wish to destroy it and kill every other race so the High Elves, the only beings who are truly descended from the Aedra, can be free once again. (What makes it crazy, they're not wrong per se.)
  • The Fae in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning more accurately play this role than the actual elves of the setting though for the most part this is subverted as you can argue with and even choose to subvert the culture and/or lives of those fae or elves who put on airs. The leaders of the Fae such as High King Titarion and Prince Cydan avert this by acknowledging that the Fae are in their twilight and show respect towards mortals.
    • The Gnomes take this even further than the Fae. Most Gnomes in the game preach on and on about Gnomes being the paragons of reason and logic in the world. Templar Octienne in particular is pretty arrogant which makes the end of the boss battle with him — using Fate to bash him through a window — extremely satisfying.
  • At one point in Tales of Phantasia, the party comes across a Hidden Elf Village. The leader immediately begins ranting in their faces about how "Elves are superior" and Humans Are the Real Monsters, as well as chastising them for having a half-elf (Arche) in their party. The party essentially sits there and takes it, and never actually tries to rebuke him.
    • At first. Later, when they rant about how Half-Elves are unfit to live in their village due to their destructive "human" ways, Cless chews them out by pointing out Half-Elves only develop human values because elves ban them from their Hidden Elf Village.

    Webcomics 
  • The Order of the Stick. Try arguing with Vaarsuvius. Haley basically smacked V on top of the head after one too many "And the problem with that would be...?" replies to her reasons why elves can't be allowed to be inherently superior to the other races.
  • The elves in 8-Bit Theater parody this aspect of elves, making them so obsessed with their own superiority that they believe all other races, and even some of the gods, exist as leftover genetic material that wasn't good enough for elves. This may also go some way towards explaining why they're on technological par with humans in spite of a nine-thousand-year head start. Maybe Fighter wasn't the one who needed the trial of sloth.
    • Another way, they parodied this trope was by having being human be illegal in the elven lands and if you bother asking why or pointing out how unfair and stupid that law is, then you'd better have an argument about round ears being better than pointy ones or they won't take your claim/question seriously.
  • Most elves in Sluggy Freelance avoid this trope, being more on the cookie and/or toy making side of the elf spectrum. However, the "Years of Yarncraft" storyline does reference elves as "mythological hotties who wouldn't give humanity the time of day."
  • In Errant Story, the elves' belief in their own superiority has led to multiple instances of genocide. Considering the trolls to be flawed and mistaken creations of their gods, they made a pretty good effort at exterminating them but did not succeed. They nearly did the same thing to humans before deciding to instead "uplift" the humans by using them as servants. Then after a few human-elf hybrids went violently insane they decided to kill all half-elves. This backfired as the resulting racial and civil war nearly exterminated the elves and they spent the next thousand years hiding from the rest of the world in an underground city.
  • Deconstructed by the fae (drow, dark elves, light elves etc.) of Drowtales who love to think of themselves as such, and while it is true that they possess Game Breaker powers that significantly put them above the humans and orcs of the setting, they're also responsible for turning the surface into the Hell hole it is thanks to their screwing around with demonic magic. Through the story it becomes increasingly obvious that the fae rule through brute force and that they really aren't that much better than the "savage" humans and orcs.
  • Marigold Heavenly Nostrils is a unicorn version of this trope, except when she comes across something reflective.

    Web Original 
  • Hilariously subverted in Tales of MU. The elves are immortal, wise, good at EVERYTHING and generally peaceful, but also arrogant as all get out and often absolutely batshit insane, especially when it comes to sexual matters (it is considered fairly rational elven behavior for a young elf to castrate the lover of a rival just to spite them, for example). They resent the weariness of their too-perfect lives and usually end up killing themselves. The major half-elf character in the story hates her heritage and everything to do with it.
    • It should be noted with Steff that she views herself as being an ugly talentless clod who looks about as much like a real woman (she's trans) as Sailor Bubba does, while Mack and her friends all see her as impossible graceful and artistically talented and it takes Mack and several other characters a long time to actually figure out that Steff isn't biologically female. This is explicitly stated to be caused by Steff being raised by elves, by whose standards she IS a clumsy talentless drag queen.
    • It should also be noted that most elves we see in the series are in the elven equivalent to their twenties, which are noted as being abnormally sociopathic in their dealings with pretty much everyone.
    • The main character Mackenzie Blaise has this viewpoint about some of her friends (notably Dee and Amaranth), seeing them as being inherently purer because of their species (dark elf and nymph, in this case), although that probably has something to do with how Mack thinks of herself as being inherently corrupted because of her half-demon heritage (which has some support in the story). Whether or not the reader is supposed to feel that any one race is supposed to be inherently better than others is hard to tell—we certainly see faults with all of them as the story goes on.
    • Merfolk in the MUniverse feel themselves to be inherently superior to all land species, although they don't really advertise this. However, as Mack discovers, it is rather hard to argue with them about this belief, as they on principle dismiss arguments from prey. To them, any land creature in water is food and no longer has a right to be considered a sentient being.
  • The transapients of Orion's Arm aren't elves, per se, but they are better than you and quite aware of it. In fact the only reason you'd ever argue with them would be because they want you to.
  • Played straight when several elves explain to the main characters of MDWS about how superior they are compared to humans. Then immediately subverted when the tank of the group punches the leader in the face while saying "But we're meaner".


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alternative title(s): Cant Argue With An Elf
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