Demihumans are the Fantasy counterpart
to Rubber-Forehead Aliens
. Related to Half Human Hybrids
, Human Aliens
, and probably others. Depending on the story, they've been called elves
and many other names. The Five Races
is a trope that classifies these creatures and explains how they live together in a setting that contains four or five such races; see that article for details.
Typically, creatures that fit this trope are fantastical
beings which, despite being fantastical, are identical to humans in every way, except that they have:
They may also:
- C'hou in With Strings Attached has elves, but Word of God states that they're just another race of humans with pointy ears and fine features. However, the Hunter's world has goblins and trolls.
- J. R. R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings, etc): Elves, Hobbits, and Dwarves, and maybe orcs/goblins and trolls depending on your interpretation.
- There's some grounds for supposing that Hobbits are a sort of pygmy human. Tolkien went into some details about the origins of the other humanoid species, but never mentioned anything about the Hobbits.
- Adaptations of Tolkien's races and their Theme Park Versions appear in many, many, fantasy novels since, sometimes filtered through Dungeons & Dragons.
- Discworld: dwarves, gnomes, vampires, werewolves. Trolls are about as normal as people; they're just biologically very distinct—demihuman in treatment, but not in biology. Elves are Always Chaotic Evil. Orcs appear in Unseen Academicals, .
- The Marat in Codex Alera. They look human, but they all have white hair, Bond Creatures, and some other things that set them apart from humans. Justified, as they are implied to be descendants of Neanderthals who were brought to Another Dimension.
- Dungeons & Dragons: elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes (in 2e), irda (in Dragonlance) tieflings and eladrin (in 4e), etc.
- The trope-namer; 1st and second edition D&D used the term "demi-human" to describe the "good" races and "humanoid" to describe the "evil" races of orcs, goblins, bugbears, etc.
- And Planescape did away with this trope entirely, explaining what the prefix "demi-" actually means. For example, demigod doesn't mean "like a god" it means "half god".
- Parodied in Toon: in the "ToonQuest" setting the equivalent to humans were Dogs, dwarves became Badgers, elves turned into Squirrels, and halflings became Mice. The capitalization is where the 'demi' part comes in — yes, these races are specifically distinct from regular old Toon dogs, badgers, squirrels, or mice as dictated by the rules of the mighty wizard Teeyessarr.
- Shadowrun has "metahumans", but the concept is pretty much the same. Mainly, there are elves, dwarves, orks, and trolls, but some of the other races show up in The Shadowrun Companion as subraces of those.
- The Marvel Super Heroes RPG used the term "demihuman", but it referred to Petting Zoo People, despite being made by the same company as D&D, TSR.
- In New Horizon, not only are there three races of Ridiculously Human Robots, but there's also the group of humans who merge with wild animals called Medeans.
- Warhammer 40,000 started as a straight analogue of Warhammer IN SPAAAAACE but evolved over time with some additions and some removals. So far there have been Squats (Dwarfs), Eldar (High Elves), Dark Eldar (Dark Elves), Exodites (Wood Elves), Ratlings (Halflings), Ogryn (Ogres), Orks (Orcs) and Space Undead (Undead) (the latter started off literally as skeletons in space but have now become the Necron legions).
- The Mountain Folk, also known as Jadeborn of Exalted look almost identical to humans (even if the Worker and Warrior Castes look like fairly short ones), except for the stony appearance lent by the fact that they're "born" by being carved out of magical jade, as well as innately having a variety of magical powers and generally greater lifespan. They're actually supposed to be the race that humanity was based off of, and are even capable of interbreeding with them (the only form of sexual reproduction the Jadeborn experience).
- Some groups, like the Lintha, think of themselves like this, but they're really just another Human Subspecies.
- There are also some places in the East where local plant life has developed mobility and sapience as well as vaguely human shapes (but still generally having the biological features of plants).
- The Elder Scrolls has elves in pretty much every flavor, as well as orcs and dwarves, which are just different flavors of elves in that continuity.
- There are three "types" of races: human (Breton, Imperial, Nord, Redguard), elf (Altmer, Bosmer, Dunmer, Orc), and beast (Argonian and Khajiit.) The amount of "differentness" seems to have no bearing on racial relations— particularly among the elf races.
- Chrono Cross uses the term for Petting Zoo People. The Fair Folk are considered a subspecies.
- Elemental - War of Magic - The only "official" one is the Fallen, a bunch of half-dragon, half-human gents.
- Angels and humanoid Demons in Disgaea.
- BlazBlue has these in the form of Beastkin, human-animal hybrids manufactured to fight the Black Beast. These hybrids are considered by almost everybody to be second-class citizens.
- Twice Blessed: elves, dwarves, gnomes, goblins, hobgoblins, orcs, ogres, etc. Like OotS below, it's based on Dungeons & Dragons.
- The Order of the Stick: Again, elves, dwarves, halflings, goblins, hobgoblins, orcs, ogres. Fitting, as it's based on Dungeons & Dragons.
- Drowtales: see here.
- Linburger has the Cyll, the Trokks, Firne, and Mirrakae. All of which suffer Fantastic Racism, and most live in poverty in the slums. Though there are a few rich demihumans, such as a pornstar.
- Speak With Monsters mocks the human-centric nature of this trope with a list of alternate names for humans, ranging from "double halflings" to "I can't believe it's not bugbear."
- El Goonish Shive has elves, who are offspring of Immortals and humans, and Greater Chimera, who are offspring of humans and a species of aliens called Uryuoms through the aliens' Bizarre Alien Reproduction. Greater Chimera can have animals among their genetic parents but if they don't they are visually identical to humans except for their very unusual eyes and the fact that they have at least a pair of furry antennae on their heads. note
- Neanderthals, a physically hardier species of hominid (or possibly sub-species - it seems they weren't as different to us as was thought at first and inter-breeding may have been possible)
- Anthropologists have even speculated that many modern people of European ancestry may in fact have Neanderthal ancestors.