"I'm not deficient. I'm SUPERIOR! Humans. Are. Superior.
Humanity, despite all our weaknesses
in comparison to most of the other alien races, have managed to carve out
or create an interstellar empire
usually with Earth as the capital
. This can be in The Future
or Twenty Minutes into the Future
, usually made possible by captured, recently discovered alien
or Ancient Phlebotinum
and through sheer willpower or just simply being Human
, enforced with an offscreen Redshirt Army
and Cool Ships
. If in the case of Evil Is Cool
, humankind is led by an Evil Overlord
, or some form of One World Order
with extraterrestrial or mutant racism or hatred
, and the higher echelons of these governments are almost never seen
. All aliens are portrayed by the government as Aliens and Monsters
despite some of them having feelings too, or in the case of a nation
or The Federation
, Humanity is at war
Often the Homo sapiens
race is genetically, technologically
, and racially enhanced
or turned into a trained Tyke Bomb
force in the attempt to ensure Humankind always comes out on top against the Scary Dogmatic Aliens
. This usually works, with the resultant super soldiers and the navy turning the tide of the wars in humankind's favor. Eventually after the war is finished the super soldiers end up as a sort of Space Police
, and with the Imperial Forces
in the case of an evil humanity. Sometimes the ruling agencies lead by a Hidden Agenda Villain
has the intent of upgrading the human race genetically.
If Evil Is Cool
is noted, this can occur with Humanity's subjugation of alien races along the way as well as aiding them in their ultimate goal of having Humans on the top of the food chain constantly
. However, if there is a resistance
with alien sympathizers, usually this will take momentum and can lead to the Empire being overthrown to become The Federation
. If a bunch of aliens ally themselves together to defeat the Human Big Bad
(often with renegade humans leading the revolution
) then humanity is put on trial
or it subtly is either the end of humankind
or the beginning of human subjugation
The prevalence of this trope in early science fiction in particular is partially attributable to Executive Meddling
on the part of John W. Campbell
, editor-in-chief of Astounding Science Fiction
(the defining publication of the golden age of sci-fi) for over thirty years, who flatly refused, under any circumstances, to publish any stories in which aliens were shown as equal or superior to humans.
It has nothing to do with the writers being humans themselves
of Humans Are Special
. Compare Mirror Universe
, Humans Are the Real Monsters
, Humans Are Cthulhu
, Humans Are Warriors
. Contrast Humans Are Morons
, Humans Need Aliens
, for when it's a non-human species that is superior. Whether Humans Are Morons
or Humanity Is Superior
is the dominant trope in science fiction at the moment is something of a Cyclical Trope
. See Humanity Is Advanced
when humans are superior in technology as well.
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Anime and Manga
- Human(oids) are explicitly stated to be superior in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann due to their ability to access Spiral Energy, because their physical shape is the most efficient form for using it.
- Lampshaded in an early MAD parody of Flash Gordon called "Flesh Garden", in which the evil alien emperor pits Flesh Garden against the great enemy of all - a man in boxing gloves.
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: This trope is noted to be the very reason that the dark lords started The Masquerade in the first place; it's noted on multiple occasions that as powerful as monsters are, humankind outnumbers monsters a hundred to one at the very least, and human technology and weapons are superior to monster might and magic.
- Star Wars: Not only are humans one of the most common races (everywhere from Tatooine to Coruscant), they're also the one with the most widely known descendants (Zabrak, Miraluka etc). One of the fundamental tenets of The Empire was that Humans were best - everyone from Palpatine down was at least partially human unless they were a) extremely lucky or b) really really good at their jobs (see also, Grand Admiral Thrawn).
- Whilst they aren't all force-sensitive like some species they do have a very high number of these compared to other species and have produced the strongest of force users the galaxy has ever witnessed.
- May just be the law of averages at work, however, considering that the human population seems an order of magnitude higher than that of other races. More people -> more Force sensitives -> better chances of producing a Force prodigy.
- Inverted in the EU novel Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan, where it's revealed that the old Sith Empire, while didn't discriminate against humans (those who weren't slaves), had the True Sith holdings all the power (the Emperor and several members of the Dark Council are shown to be True Sith). The humans are still the majority even in the Empire, though. In fact, the True Sith discriminate against other True Sith who aren't Force-sensitive.
- Even then, the "True Sith" are mostly human, the actual Sith blood is so diluted by this point that the only physical difference is red coloration and facial skin folds.
Live Action TV
- In Babylon 5, the human power (Earth Alliance) likes to give off the impression of punching well above the weight of such a young power with their militaristic bluster and gigantic ships), but considering their humiliatingly poor performance against the Minbari, Babylon 5 being taking nearly as much damage from a Centauri cruiser's warning shots in "Acts of Sacrifice" as it took from a massive Earthforce assault in "Severed Dreams", Sheridan describing Centauri fighters and pilots as decisively superior to Earthforce's own in the same episode, and the Bad Future in The Lost Tales where Galen shows Sheridan a possible timeline where the Centauri easily stomp the Earth Alliance and bomb Earth's cities to dust, they're nowhere near the top of the Younger Races, let alone the Middle Children such as the Minbari and Streib or the First Ones. J. Michael Straczynski himself describes the Earth Alliance as being in the "lower third" of the Babylon 5 food chain, and they helped win the Dilgar War by tipping the balance in an alliance with several other races, not because they were as powerful as the Dilgar. Also note that the Narns are near or at parity with the EA despite being around a century newer to the galactic scene. The Earth Alliance is a subversion—a race that on first impression seems exceptionally powerful, but is militarily a paper tiger that uses bold impressions, clever diplomacy, and extensive trade networks to build clout rather than force of arms.
- It seems that Earthforce did have at least superior ships and tech to the Dilgar, who were kicking the Alliance's ass until Earth got in involved.
- Let Me Get This Straight: Humanity is a lower tier power that regularly has a seat at the table with the most powerful races in known space. In fact, they usually provide the table, too. While the Earth Alliance may not be superior in a strictly military sense, it's a little harder to make the broader point about humanity.
- Delenn pretty much says that providing the table is humanity's hat. As a result, they tend to have friends, which can be very helpful as long as you don't do something truly stupid (like, say, starting a war with the second most powerful civilization in the known universe).
- France provided the table for the Paris Peace Treaties despite having just gotten stomped all over by Nazis. Switzerland has a long history of diplomacy despite never being considered a world-class superpower.
- Despite this, by Crusade, humans have warships that can match Minbari Sharlin-class war cruisers one-on-one. However, it's mentioned they only have about 50 of those (Warlock-class destroyers), while Minbari probably have hundreds, if not thousands. So, technologically, they can probably match the other powers, but they don't have enough to fully protect themselves.
- The Excalibur has the same amount of firepower as a Vorlon Heavy Cruiser but has to wait for a minute before firing again. Humans might not yet be able to protect themselves from the Minbari but the Minbari have zero interest in fighting humans again. The Excalibur was a human-Minbari collaboration.
- Blake's 7 has the Terran Federation survive an alien attack in the home galaxy with warning from the Liberator.
- The Intergalactic War cost the Federation 80% of the navy. In "Aftermath" two officers state the the Federation's 'historic' victory was bought at a terrible price. Later in the series, the Federation suffers multiple revolts and is forced to use a mind control drug since they lack military power.
- Farscape has the Sebacean Peacekeepers as a ruthless space 'human' empire with hardcore soldiers. But the quote is from John Crichton, the only true human in this part of the universe. The instance quoted though was a subversion - the alien was attacking them through their eyes, and Crichton was the only one with dull enough eyesight to fight it.
- Sebaceans are eventually revealed to be an engineered offshoot of early humanity (with generally enhanced lifespans, physiology, and healing) that were used as a peace-keeping force in an ancient interstellar U.N.. The do have one major flaw; they don't sweat efficiently and at high temperatures they shut down. Essentially anything near body heat temperatures causes them to fall into a coma- giving Crichton a serious advantage when Moya is invaded by a team of Peacekeeper commandos.
- In the Scarran-Peacekeeper War the Peacekeepers suffered many defeats.
- Which just goes to show that there's Always a Bigger Fish, but then keep in mind that aforesaid Bigger Fish also has problems of their own. While Scarrans are biologically hardy by nature, all of their cunning and ingenuity is largely due to a plant that they must regularly consume in order to keep up their intelligence. Said plant dictates how they expand, since they cannot go too far away from planets that can grow the stuff.
- And then Crichton inadvertently reveals Earth has a similar flower in abundance (not realizing the significance of the plant to Scarran expansion),putting his home-planet on their priority target list.
- Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis has Humanity surviving against near-impossible odds against the Scary Dogmatic Aliens who've annihilated many other species who attempted resistance. This is mostly limited to humans from Earth since the Goa'uld has enslaved humans and the Wraith cull entire civilizations. Even with humans from Earth this is occasionally subverted with an Alternate Universe where the good guys lose.
- Let's review: in 1996 the Tau'ri used the stargate to go to Abydos; on this trip, they confronted the Supreme System Lord Ra and killed him. Three years later Apophis paid a visit to us using the Stargate and pissed off a few people. We just declared war to an interstellar empire while only having limited resources due to keeping the Stargate a secret. Twelve years later the Goa'uld are gone, the Ori are gone, the replicators are gone, the Wraith are in the middle of a civil war and the Tau'ri are a major intergalactic superpower while no one on Earth has any clue about what's going on out there. In a span of ten years, we progressed from petty civil wars on our planet to bearing the legacy of two of the greatest races which have ever lived with ourselves becoming the Fifth Race(actually, the sixth if we count the Ori). All in secrecy and with limited resources. If we would have the whole planet's support, we could crush the Wraith and thus surpass the Ancients themselves.
- Of course, considering that all of the alternate universes seen in the show are in some degree worse off than the main universe, it is implied that we're seeing the best possible outcome, where everything goes right for Earth.
- You know, all of this could be due to Tau'ri being far more careful using the Stargates and using them effectively. Other races just use them for travelling and the best they care do to at guarding them is just to place a few guards around them or leaving them without any attention at all. Tau'ri put their Stargates deep inside military bases, guarding it with enough firepower to annihiliate a small army and in addition installing a some sort of shield to the gate that can be closed to prevent any kind of enemy forces coming through. And unlike most other races of galaxy, they also use scientists to study gates, aliens and alien technology in an attempt to reverse engineer something new out of them.
- Careful barely covers it, nobody else seems to bat an eyelid at using the gates that will kill you instantly if there is anything wrong at the other end, which you have no idea of knowing until you get there. Although no one comments on it, this aspect of the gate design is a pretty major flaw in Atlantis, where half the gates seem to be in space. The humans are the only ones who seem to check if a gate is actually viable before going through it. Also, the humans almost immediately have the idea to build a barrier that allows the connection, but instantly vaporizes anything that doesn't send a valid code, which is a little harsh, but saved them constantly. Even after seeing how effective it is, the Gould don't copy the idea. Although one does put something similar in place that just redirects you to another gate, rather than kill you.
- The reverse engineering of alien technology is a little strange, given that they couldn't reverse engineer technology designed by humans from another world. The Tollan have a few hundred years on humans due to not having the equivalent of the Dark Ages (which really wasn't as bad as people think it was) to slow down scientific progress and being generally peaceful in nature. It's mentioned that their technology doesn't have any moving parts, circuits, or wires, which makes reverse engineering nearly impossible. Then they turn around and start reverse engineering Goa'uld, Asgard, and Ancient technology, which is mostly crystal-based (i.e. no moving parts, circuits, or wires). Hmm. Granted, the Tollan had some neat toys none of the other races appear to possess (only one Ancient managed to come up with a wall-phasing device and didn't tell anyone about it). Granted, they've had help with some of it, like the naquadah reactor, but not the rest.
- Though the Tollan secrets were preserved thanks to the interference of the Goa'uld. While the Tollan were superior in many ways, they relied entirely on a single type of defense weapon, the ion cannon. As soon as the Goa'uld found a way around it, they destroyed the Tollan completely out of fear of their advanced technology.
- "Reverse-engineering" might actually be a misnomer in this case, as we repeatedly see that in the engine core of Earth starships are crystals and in battle it's often mentioned that they are "switching" to another set of weapons. This implies that Earth ships are really made from a mash-up of technology from various races, with certain systems remaining unchanged from their baseline models and the SGC simply rigged up some kind of universal interface to link them together.
- The Terran Empire in the Star Trek Mirror Universe used captured Vulcan technology to carve their own empire, which ended with them being subjugated.
- Of course, this only happened because they started being nice.
- After having pissed off a large number of races inclined to hold a grudge. The sudden total transformation of the Terran Empire is something that no-one in their right mind would have trusted in - not after a couple of centuries of utter brutality.
- The "In the Mirror, Darkly" episode of Star Trek: Enterprise shows that the Empire was almost lost when several subjugated races rebelled if not for Mirror!Archer obtaining the Prime!Defiant and using its advanced tech to kick their collective asses.
- The Upright Citizens Brigade eloquently stated, "Humans RULE, dolphins can SUCK IT!"
- "No way dolphins! You'll never get our jeans!
- In the Doctor Who episode "Utopia", it's revealed that baseline humanity (as in, non-Transhuman, look-in-the-mirror humans) is one of four species that makes it through to the dying days of the Universe, 100 trillion years into the future (well, the Doctor actually explains they went transhuman and back a few dozen times, including periods as pure data, but they always eventually revert to the default "hairless monkey" model). Let that sink in for a while, and also consider that of the other three species, one is the Sycorax.
- Not only that, but humanity is also a very successful species throughout its history, building at least four "Great And Bountiful Human Empires" (the third of which spanned three galaxies). Even in the 21st century, UNIT forces take it to the Tenth Sontaran Battle Fleet, cleaning their clocks in ground warfare, and by the 41st century they are going toe-to-toe with the resurrected Dalek Empire.
- And wiping the floor with the Cybermen in the Cyberwars.
- The Dalek Cult of Skaros went so far as to attempt to create Dalek-Human hybrids, believing this would give them whatever traits made humans such great survivors. Instead it led to their downfall since their hybridized leader became too human in the eye-stalks of the others. Humanity itself defeated them.
- However they do have a lot of help from the Doctor.
- In the backstory of Lexx, humans led by the Brunnen-G destroyed the Insect Civilization. The Insects were mighty planet-sized monster with greater resources, but their human opponents had greater resourcefulness. The last surviving Insect possessed a human and created the Divine Order because it (rightly) believed it would be more successful using humans to defeat themselves.
- King David from Dominic Deegan takes this view, almost never corrupting humans in his plans, but freely affecting other species. He also serves as a deconstruction of this trope, showing just how far someone with this mindset would be willing to go and what they would do in order to achieve and maintain this.
- Deconstructed and then reconstructed in Freefall. Sam Starfall, the only alien seen so far, is a member of a sapient octopus race that evolved on a planet that managed to avoid mass extinction events and thus has less advanced cell chemistry. Despite apparently looking like some Eldritch Abomination outside his suit and being able to eat things that would kill a cockroach, he's more-or-less physically inferior to most of what has evolved in Earth's biosphere. To put it in perspective, he once got beat up by a child back when he tried mugging humans for a living.
- Even the robots in the comic are generally inferior to humans. Economics has made it so mostnote are built from relatively flimsy materials, making them physically inferior to humans, and their neural nets are only rated for up to 80 years, while humans at the time are expected to live at least 160 years.
- The Salvation War: Armageddon: in response to Satan declaring dominion over humanity and "God" (or rather, Yahweh) closing the pearly gates... humanity fights back, and eventually, the U.S. military kills Satan with a pair of anti-ship missiles. As a defecting general turned newly-installed-by-the-U.S.-government ruler of Hell puts it:
is dead. Humans killed him with their weapons. With their weapons, not with magic, for magic and superstition is powerless in the face of human science. We are powerless in the face of human engineering. They have won this war and nothing we say or do can change that. Hell is changed forever and nothing we can do will change that either. The humans have told me they wish me to be the new leader in Hell, answerable only to them. I have agreed. If you do not like the idea of me as your leader, don't tell me." Abigor
gestured at the Marines and their vehicles. "TELL THEM!"
- The story of Glarion: The Glorious Conquerer from Orion's Arm is a deliberate contrast to the rest of the setting where humanity is anything but superior. Terragen civilization on a whole is superior in many ways to all xenosophonts it has contacted though, but there have been still more advanced civilizations discovered elsewhere - just not contacted yet because of the distance.
- Explored in The Jenkinsverse, where humans' evolving on what is by galactic standards a horrific death world has resulted in their being far, far superior to other species in every regard.
- Witness the Humanity, Fuck Yeah! subreddit, which exists solely for this trope to blossom (with a nice helping of Humans Are Warriors and occasionally Humanity Is Insane and/or Humans Are Cthulhu).