Humanity Is Superior

"I'm not deficient. I'm SUPERIOR! Humans. Are. Superior."
John Crichton, Farscape, "Crackers Don't Matter"

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 20 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.

Sub-Trope 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, Superior Species, for when it's a non-human species that is superior. Whether this trope or Humans Are Morons 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. Even if a creature isn't humanoid, it if can evolve, its shape over time will tend towards humanoid.
  • Guts (MangaBerserk) is a human swordsman known for casually taking Gods and demons leagues above human ability on a daily basis.
  • Despite her display of beyond omnipotent abilities, Medaka Kurokami (Medaka Box) puts strong emphasis that she is just an ordinary human.

  • 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.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Child of the Storm hints that while most of the universe considers Earth to be a magic and monster infested Death World, whose dominant species are a bunch of primitives happiest when killing something, usually each other, and sees Asgard's fondness for/protectiveness of Earth is a mark of Asgardian eccentricity, the Asgardians see something that they like in us, that while we are young, we have the potential to become something great, a leading light in the universe, as did a few Kryptonians, so have seen fit to nurture our potential. Besides, what with our determination and willingness to take on all comers, they kind of like our style. On top of this, a certain Captain Mar-Vell met Agent Peggy Carter in the '50's and took a shine to her, giving her and SHIELD a massive amount of data that became known as 'the Mar-Vell Files'. Unfortunately, humanity was not ready and this well-meaning gesture went spectacularly wrong, leading to the files being mothballed.
  • 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.
  • In Fractured, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands crossover and its sequel, this is played with—as per Mass Effect's canon there are those in Citadel space who believe in the trope. Cerberus exploits the arrival of more-advanced humans to try to enforce the belief by military means, culminating with a plot to use a cloaked superlaser station to take out a Trans-Galactic Republic Star Dreadnaught. It doesn't work, but shady elements from the Trans-Galactic Republic's galaxy conspire for Human dominance and were indeed the ones who helped Cerberus acquire technology for their failed coup. Humanity is also (sometimes) the most advanced species (save Neglectful Precursors who hit Sufficiently Advanced Alien levels) in the fan-verse, though most of them aren't tempted to abuse this fact.

  • 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). And while Palpatine himself was willing to overlook a lack of humanity in sufficiently skilled subordinates, this was very much not official policy and few in the leadership of the Imperial military felt the same a non-human had to be exceptional enough to merit the Emperor's personal attention if they wanted to get ahead; merely above-average wouldn't cut it.
    • 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. And by the time of Star Wars: The Old Republic itself (300 years later) the Dark Council was a mix of True Sith and human Sith Lords.
      • 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, and even the latter isn't universal.

  • In Nick Pollotta and Phil Foglio's novel illegal aliens, though initially technologically inferior to the alien races they encounter, Humans catch up very VERY quickly (albeit with the help of an alien technician) and surpass the weaponry, medical, and general technological abilities of the aliens they got most of the technology from in the first place, by sheer inventiveness, for example, they regenerate members of an extinct alien race, create a type of unobtanium ship armor an alien earlier on in the story was lying about to make them think alien ships were tougher than they really were, created ORIGINAL weapons based on an "atomic vortex" that started with a pistol that was ridiculously powerful and escalated to a cannon that could wipe out massive fleets of automated attack satellites, and generally overcame any and all opposition by races whose technology they hadn't even known about mere months before.
  • In the novel Pandora's Planet, Humans are, on average, smarter than the aliens who invade Earth, only being beaten because half the time the Humans were fighting each other.
  • Humans in The Damned Trilogy by Alan Dean Foster are faster, stronger, tougher, and fiercer than every other sentient species, bar none. They're also the only species with the ability to resist the Psychic Powers of the Amplitur, who have brainwashed entire species into being happy slaves. So, the discovery of humanity by the Weave of free species at the beginning of the first book marks a critical turning point in their war to remain free. Unfortunately, humans are feared by the other sympathetic alien species precisely for those qualities and the uncomfortable question comes up that if they win the war, what will happen to human/alien relations then? Technically there are faster, stronger and tougher races than humans but Humans are a Jack-of-All-Stats species, faster than the strongest species, stronger than the fastest but fiercer than all. Ironically all three books deal with Humans who try to be more than just warriors.
  • The Empire of Humans in Yulia Latynina's "Inhuman" is very much evil, bloated and corrupt; at the time of its founding it was less corrupt and more evil, with constant executions, mind control and biological warfare. However, almost all of that is revealed to have been Necessarily Evil: The Empire's founder only came to power and introduced those measures after the democratic government, along with the Earth's entire ecosphere and 98% of the human population, was eaten by the Ttakas, a race of truly extreme omnivores who ate other species as an alternative to eating each other (though they did that too whenever possible) that also happened to breed very rapidly and be incredibly inventive. And those measures worked: humanity survived and built an empire, while the Ttakas were killed off by use of a very nasty, advanced human-engineered virus, along with other things whenever that proved impractical. Later wars and oppression really were mostly for the evil, though. Admittedly, it still is not so much a case of humans alone being bastards; more like almost all the sapient species encountered, in one way or another.
  • In Anne McCaffrey's Tower and the Hive series, Humans are the only ones with Psychic Powers, which not only give them Casual Interstellar Travel, they allow them to handily defeat the hostile insectile aliens swarms. The Mrdini, who have been restricted to slow Generation Ships and which have to kill off (and it's implied, eat) excess population to finish the trip, and use mass kamikaze tactics to fight the Hivers, are both grateful and pissed when they meet this Mary Sue species.
  • John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata series has humans as one of only two (out of six) races physiologically capable of killing. Naturally, we're better at it than the other one.
  • In Fred Saberhagen's Berserker novels, the technically pacifistic Carmpan race (they are literally pained by even indirect performance of a violent act against any species, but have no trouble giving humans militarily useful intel) found in humanity the potential "badassness" to be effective Berserker-killers, and so trained and equipped us to be just that. They were certainly deeply indebted to humanity for suffering the scourge of war through its history until the point where nothing less would serve. But where did the Carmpans train and equip Humanity? What follows suggests that the humans had all the goods:
    When they came, you were dug in and ready on a hundred worlds. Because you were, some of you and some of us are now alive.
  • The Colonial Union in John Scalzi's Old Man's War and sequels is very much like this. At least until you start to get a wider view of the 'verse in The Last Colony. Turns out that, despite humanity's quick expansion immediately after venturing out into the universe, in the last century or two humans have settled into the same Status Quo Is God back-and-forth as the rest of the local races. The necessity of allowing the viewpoint characters to survive gives a very distorted view, one encouraged by the government.
  • Strugatsky Brothers' Noon Universe series depict the humanity as THE superior power in the galaxy, with only a few of other races capable of spaceflight. The humans are so advanced that they are helping other civilizations into space age using covert agents known as Progressors. Subverted in that many alien species are humans in anything but name, and are only written as aliens as an excuse to write dystopian settings (dystopian Earth humans would not be accepted by Soviet censorship).
  • Turtledove's Worldwar and Colonisation series both play this straight and divert it. When the aliens come they overrun most of the world using superior (presumed modern) technology, but are unable to full conquer Europe, America and some of Asia due to a combination of lack of numbers and human tenacity, and the fact that the aliens were expecting Crusades level technology. Humanity is also far more variable than the aliens (their homeworld has been civilised for ~50,000 years), and so manage to make up most of the difference in about 50-60 years, and by 100 years after the initial invasion are way ahead, including some sort of faster-than-light drive (as seen in Homeward Bound). It's not just the Race either. Apparently, the Race has already conquered two other races, who were exactly like them (Lizard Folk with a set mating season and a slow, measurable approach to innovation).
  • Another story by Turtledove subverts and plays with this. "The Road Not Taken" involves humanity discovering the universe is full of spacefaring alien races. Thing is, everyone else has a technological level several hundred years behind humanity in every field but space travel. The result is humanity becoming a brutal race of conquers who go around curb-stomping the rest of the galaxy, regardless of whether they attacked first. The subversion comes in the sequel; as humanity starts conquering the galaxy, its own progress pretty much stops. Then they encounter a race who also doesn't have the FTL technology but are way more advanced than humans in other areas. Guess what happens next.
  • Name-dropped briefly in Jack Vance's Planet of Adventure. A Humanity on Trial (by combat) ends with a very angry Reith repeatedly smashing the alien's head against a sidewalk.
    Dirdir Elite: "Sub-men are not subject to arbitration."
    Adam Reith:""I am no sub-man. I am a man and quarry to no one. If a wild beast attacks me I will kill it."
  • Eric Flint's novel Mother of Demons both plays this trope straight and subverts it, at the same time. On the planet Ishtar, humans encounter a species of mollusk-like sophonts called gukuy. Humans are far speedier than gukuy (in fact, the gukuy are not even able to properly see the running motion of humans until they become used to it because it's so much different than they expect), and are capable of using spears, which gukuy cannot use and which can exploit a weak point on the gukuy (namely, it can hit an area unprotected by the hard mantle which results in impaling a gukuy's brain). In fact, gukuy widely consider humans to be demons because of those two factors. Yet, gukuy bodily fluids are so poisonous to humans that they will die within minutes from a bite wound, and humans are only capable of digesting regurgitated "childfood" (partially digested vegetation) produced by the maia (a larger, less-evolved sophont than the gukuy).
  • This is the belief of the Steel Angels, also known as the Children of Bakkalon, a militant religious sect that appears in George R.R. Martin's "Thousand Worlds" Science Fiction setting. They are most prominent in the short story "And Seven Times Never Kill Man", in which a human trader attempts to arm the nonhuman inhabitants of a planet the Children have colonized in order to prevent their race from being wiped out.
  • This was an Enforced Trope at Astounding Science Fiction when John W. Campbell was in charge. He required that any story involving aliens must show them to be inferior to humans to reflect his personal belief that white men were superior to other races.
  • Pretty much anything written by Gordon R. Dickson, if it has humans against aliens. Humans may be technologically inferior or physically weaker, but they always win, one way or another. Or just by being waaay too awesome to handle.
  • Brutally deconstructed in David Brin's Uplift universe. Humans are the only race in the civilized galaxy that evolved on their own, not being uplifted by another race. Rather than making humanity look like a bunch of awesome badasses, it's made us pariahs in the galactic community; at best the other races think we're lying about not being uplifted (or think that we were abandoned mid-uplift), at worst they think we're a bunch of heretical punks who need to be put in our proper place. Not only that, but while humanity evolved on it's own, it's still pathetic in terms of technology compared to everyone else.
    • Reconstructed in the form of the Library, which gives uplifted species access to massive supercomputer simulations and calculators with effectively infinite capacity before most of them even develop arithmetic. As a result, almost the entire galaxy does every last bit of their math by brute force, and views the human use of things like basic calculus in their design as something akin to black sorcery. As a result, once humanity does gain the specs for a technology (either from an allied species directly or by finagling a library reference code) it tends to be fully functional and integrated into the human fleets and settlements in a matter of months or years instead of the usual milennia of trial-and-error.
  • Also deconstructed in Robert Reed's Great Ship universe. Humanity is one of the most advanced races in the galaxy and basically own the Greatship, but not because of our inherent superiority. Rather it's because humans just happened to get lucky and find the Ship first. The humans who run the ship, known as the Captains, have developed something of a god complex, believing themselves to be superior to other races and thinking they're the only thing keeping the ship functioning (which is blatantly untrue). They violently rebuked attempts by other species to explore the Great Ship before they hit on the idea of selling space on the ship. Note that said Ship is absolutely huge (bigger than most planets) and humanity wasn't in conflict with any other races, so there was no real reason for them to withhold access to the ship other than their own petty egos.
  • In Protector, it is said that humans have the potential to beat the hyper-intelligent Pak Protectors, because, compared to them, we war less, and cooperate to develop technology that a Protector wouldn't consider necessary. This is actually true for most of Known Space, because humans are neither so xenophobic as the Trinocs or the Puppeteers, nor as warlike as the Kzinti. It does' help that we're the favorite toys/tools of the Puppeteers. In general, though, it's a strikingly humanist fictional universe. It also helps that non-Protector humans are much more intelligent than non-Protector Pak (which aren't even fully sentient), that human Protectors are much more likely to adopt the entire human race as their protectorate instead of just their own personal bloodline, and that Protector forms for both species think in extremely narrow ways thanks to biological imperatives.

    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 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 (known as the Tau'ri in the Goa'uld language) 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, though they were just a splinter faction of the Ancients). 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 do at guarding them is just to place a few guards around them or leaving them without any attention at all (if only because they have no idea what it is). The Tau'ri put their Stargates deep inside military bases, guarding it with enough firepower to annihilate 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. However, more than a few of the more advanced races encountered by the Tau'ri swiftly end up following the Tau'ri model.
      • 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.
      • Though Atlantis reveals that the Ancients had this idea too, with their shield, which does pretty much the same thing.
      • 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 in the early days, it's often mentioned that they are "switching" to another set of weapons. This implies that the first Earth ships, such as the Prometheus and the Korolev, 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. Though presumably a way had to be found to reproduce the crystals, probably via the Tok'Ra.
      • By the later series, ships such as the Daedalus, Apollo and Odyssey are mentioned as having alien technology incorporated into their design from the start - though the Asgard later bolt their best technology onto one of the Earth ships.
    • It should also be noted that despite the restrictions of the Stargate being kept a secret, Earth has a relatively high technology base. Excepting the Tollan, the Goa'uld, the Ancients, the Asgard, the Wraith, the Hebridans and possibly the Travellers (who run around in jury-rigged Ancient ships), the Tau'ri are more than a match for anyone else out there to begin with, and often have the advantages of innovation, meaning that they can close the technological gap very quickly and Armour Piercing Bullet Beats Laser. Not only that, but since the Goa'uld haven't interfered in a while, humanity has been allowed to expand across the whole planet and exploit the resources of a whole planet, meaning that in terms of population and economy, the Tau'ri massively outweigh almost everyone else, a pattern repeated with the Hebridan - by contrast, Goa'uld controlled worlds have populations in the hundreds of thousands at most and rarely extend far beyond the Stargate - meaning that even the restricted support given to the program is more than enough. Plus, a willingness to help out less war-like/less numerous races and a general intergalactic reputation as the Nice Guy of the universe, willing to throw in to protect people they know nothing about, giving them military, technological and medical aid (which is largely why the Asgard nominated them as their heirs apparent), means that they make a lot of friends.
  • 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 and 'Turn Left' aptly demonstrates exactly how screwed we are without him. Even in that timeline Humanity punches well above its weight, and it's the combined attrition from several successive attacks and resulting social collapse that really does the job.
  • In the backstory of Lexx, humans led by the Brunnen-G destroyed the Insect Civilization. The Insects were mighty planet-sized monsters 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Generally, humans are the dominant race in Dungeons & Dragons, thanks to extra versatility with none of the mechanical drawbacks other races suffer. While other races have intrinsic advantages, humans can always pick up the right skill for the job.
    • In 1st Edition, even friendly non-human races like dwarves were barred from many classes and had a lower level cap than humans. Humanoid races like orcs were Always Chaotic Evil cannon fodder with spellcasting limited to "shamans" and "witch doctors". Gary Gygax confirmed that the system was built to favour human player characters.
  • In the Fading Suns RPG setting, humans have been expanding onto other planets and conquering alien races for thousands of years with little trouble- until they meet the Vau. Not so much expanding now: the Vau aren't as expansive or aggressive as the humans, but they could be called ultra-defensive.
  • Warhammer 40K brings us the Imperium of Man, a massive galactic empire whose domain encompasses millions of worlds and countless citizens. Its armies number in the trillions, with thousands upon thousands of war machines at their disposal (including Humongous Mecha the size of mountains) and include many of the deadliest warriors in the galaxy. While human technology is not the most advanced of the setting, the Imperium is nevertheless capable of achievements that often match (and in some cases exceed) those of other races. Given the grim morality of the setting, it's no surprise that the position of humanity as the dominant galactic power is reflected in their attitude towards alien civilizations.
    "It is our destiny to rule the universe, just as it is the destiny of the Xeno to pave our way."
    • In spite of its clearly dominant position, the Imperium of Man is dying. For the past ten thousand years or so, it has experienced virtually no social or technological progress and has been in a perpetual state of conflict with everyone, including itself. To make matters worse, there are indications that the God Emperor of Mankind is dying as well; his death would result in the collapse of the Imperium's faster-than-light navigation network and could potentially cause a Negative Space Wedgie that would consume the entire galaxy. Be that as it may, humanity is certainly not going to give up without a fight.
    • Historic fluff indicates that while humanity did not occupy as much of galaxy, the species was technologically more powerful during the Dark Age of Technology. Much of the Imperium's military might is built upon the forgotten legacies and reverse engineered accomplishments of that bygone era. Lost records and misinformation propaganda makes it impossible to exactly gauge the might of pre-Imperium mankind, but what little is revealed paints them as a vastly powerful interstellar civilization that other galactic powers acknowledged as formidable.
    • It's a little hard to say who is superior when comparing the Eldar and humanity. The Eldar possess the advantages of superior tech, greater psyker potential, and longer lives. On the other hand, humans have far greater reproductive ability. The Eldar also have some serious issues of the soul since their stronger connection to the Warp means they are a far more passionate and extreme race — the Eldar as a whole have trouble being anything other than wholly irresponsible hedonists or ultra-repressed folk.
      • Hilariously enough, by that yardstick, da Orks are superior to both. They're strong enough to tear members of either race limb from limb and tough enough to easily survive injuries that would kill either outright, they can theoretically live forever (though their Blood Knight/Fearless Fool/Mad Scientist/Drives Like Crazy tendencies tend to put an end to their lives rather quickly), they breed asexually via spores and hence are the most numerous and widespread race in the galaxy (except possibly the Tyranids), and their latent Clap Your Hands If You Believe psychic potential puts their technology on par with the Imperium's. The only thing holding them back is their animosity to absolutely everybody including themselves, leaving them disorganised and almost constantly in-fighting.
  • Web and Starship is a 2–3 player board game where the players compete to form the largest empire. One species travels faster than light by using the Web, which allows near instantaneous travel between planets that are part of the Web, but to get to a new planet takes years. The second uses Starships, which get to new planets much quicker, but results in slower internal communication. In a three player game, the third species is humanity, who starts off with no means of traveling faster than light. But each of the first two races will be negotiating with the humans to get an advantage over the other race, and humans are capable of developing both Web and Starship, which makes it pretty easy for the humans to win if they do.
  • Humans are the biggest and the baddest in the Traveller universe.

    Video Games 
  • It's shown in Halo's fluff that the Covenant tend not to be very inventive or innovative when it comes to their own superior technology, as the vast majority of it was reverse-engineered from what they found in the remains of Forerunner civilization (specifically, this is because the Covenant worship the Forerunners and everything they built, meaning that any attempt to better understand Forerunner tech, or even just improve the Covies' own knock-off versions, runs a big risk of being seen as heresy). Humans, on the other hand, had to pretty much build everything on their own; indeed, after the war ends, Halo 4-era media shows that humanity has been able to somewhat surpass the technological barrier, though most of what they have is still closer to pre-war tech levels. Not only that, but humanity shows itself to be quite impressive at war too, holding out against the technologically, numerically, and often physically superior Covenant for almost three decades during the war.
    • Even before first contact, the UNSC was already ahead in AI and computer technology, again because of the Covenant religion. The AIs themselves are a big part of the reason for humanity's surprising pace of advancement; in Halo: Reach's data pads, it's revealed that a group of human AIs have actually been secretly guiding humanity for centuries, making sure they develop in the right way. None of this is malevolent; they see it as necessary, both to their survival and as service to their "Creators".
    • Lampshaded in one of the entries in "Conversations from the Universe" (a booklet which came with the Limited Collector's Edition of Halo 2), which had two Elites talking about the humans. One talks about how brave and persistent the humans are (wondering why they hadn't asked the Humans to join the Covenant yet) while the other just claims they're puny (and points out that as formidable as the Chief is, they've killed his kind before).
    • This trope as a whole is slightly subverted in that humanity would have lost the war had the Covenant not splintered in two, with the Separatists deciding to ally with the humans; in fact, the Flood might have taken all of Earth had the Separatist fleet not sterilized a good chunk of Africa. Additionally, the Elites in particular had already reached roughly the same technological level as 26th century humanity before the former ever began messing around with Forerunner technology (which itself happened well before the Roman Empire even existed).
    • As originally revealed in The Forerunner Saga, prehistoric humanity had already established an interstellar empire capable of defeating the Flood and putting up a good fight against the Forerunners, before the latter basically nuked them back to the Stone Age. That said, humanity did have some help from Prophet allies who had also managed to independently develop an advanced interstellar civilization, not to mention the fact that both humans and Prophets had to research Forerunner technology themselves in order to hold out as long as they did during their war against the Forerunners.
    • The Precursors apparently believed this was the case, choosing ancient humanity over the Forerunners when deciding who should be given the Mantle.
  • Played with in Mass Effect: humanity's sudden rise to power has been unprecedented, as they're new to the galactic stage (having only discovered the technology everyone uses 30 years ago) yet have become more powerful economically, militarily, and population-wise than several pre-established powers like the batarians and hanar. They've also introduced several technological advances of their own to the galactic community, like space aircraft carriers and medigel. However, humanity is still MUCH weaker than the most powerful races in the galaxy: the turians, asari, and salarians. There are also a number of human organizations who use this as their core belief. Of note are Terra Firma, a political organization that constantly lobbies the Systems Alliance government, and Cerberus, a secret black ops group with many government connections and wealthy financial backers whose goal is to ensure human superiority in the galaxy. These two are closely linked, with Terra Firma serving as Cerberus' political mouthpiece.
  • The Black Lance organization, in Wing Commander IV, was part of a far-ranging plot to upgrade the human race after the war with the Terran Confederation's war with the Kilrathi out of the belief by Tolwyn that humanity wasn't superior without genetic modification of humans and their society.
  • Pokémon Red and Blue: Alakazam has an IQ in the thousands. Macargo is hotter than the surface of the sun. Ponyta's hooves are harder than diamond. There are several more Pokémon with similar godlike abilities (or who are simply gods), yet humans are the ones in charge.
    • Humans invented pokeballs, giving them a bit of an advantage. On the other hand, however, as anyone who's played the games can tell you, those things only work two, maybe four times out of ten once you get to that level of play.
    Game: [insert Pokémon name here] was only pretending to be caught!
    Player: FUUUUUCK!
  • Runescape: Theoretically, humans are the weakest race of all, except maybe goblins. All of the major countries, however, are human dominated, except for Morytania (vampyre) and the Elven forest which is in the middle of a civil war. This vast human power is attributed to runestone magic: thanks to rune stones produced via the recently discovered Runecrafting skill, any Muggle can become a mage with the proper training.
    • Nex, a terrifying creature feared by the gods, and a dreaded servant of the ambiguously dark god Zaros, prefers humans in her army instead of the undead or demons. Despite her terrifying appearance, Nex is apparently a Good Boss. Torva, Pernix, and Virtus, her three best human soldiers in history, were noted to have died as mortals of old age, not in battle, and Nex honored their memory.
  • X-COM:
    • In the titular series of games, the organization goes from a clandestine U.N.-backed organization (UFO Defense) to a self-sufficient paramilitary entity dedicated to preserving Earth's interests in space (Interceptor and Apocalypse) thanks to a tenacious penchant for reverse-engineering alien technology. Organizations outside X-COM, however, exhibit some Humans Are the Real Monsters with their wanton discrimination against androids and alien-human hybrids.
    • The Firaxis remake reveals that the Ethereals want to turn humans into Super Soldiers to face an even greater enemy. All the enemies you fight are their previous, failed, attempts at marrying physical strength, cybernetics, intelligence, and the Gift. Unfortunately for them, their plan works too well, provided you complete the game and destroy The Mothership.
  • X-COM's Spiritual Successor series UFO After Blank has humanity recovering from being almost completely wiped out to successfully scaring the beejesus out of a superior alien species (in Aftermath), successfully destroying not one, but two alien invasion forces (in Aftershock), and successfully terraforming Mars, despite the attempted intervention of four separate alien species (in Afterlight). This trope almost taken to the extreme, if you exclude the fact that more of the principal characters are driven by desperation rather than heroics.
  • The extremely racist Lord Garithos of Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne holds this belief. He's a Jerk Ass toward his dwarven and elven allies, and is pretty much the reason that the Blood Elves break away from the Alliance. The rest of the universe definitely disagrees with him since the humans needed their alliance with the high elves and dwarves to beat back the Horde. It's very clear that currently, no singular race would ever be able to rule over the rest of Azeroth.
  • The Fal'Cie in Final Fantasy XIII believe that Humans Are the Real Monsters and that humanity is superior. Their entire scheme revolves around taking advantage of both of these traits to manipulate humans into destroying Cocoon (which would doom the Cocoon Fal'Cie and the human populace) in order to bring back The Maker.
  • Galactic Civilizations: for thousands of years, interstellar travel relied upon slowly moving jump-gates into position at subluminal speeds; humanity, meanwhile, slaps together a hyperdrive in about half an hour and sends it to everyone, even minor players, before becoming a significant galactic power. Of course, whether or not humanity actually wins over everyone else is mostly down to you, except in the campaign for 2, where humanity ultimately gets seven shades kicked out of it by the Dread Lords, leaving the Drengin to rise to dominance in Dark Avatar. Hilariously, there is a Minor Race in the game that is noted to have been mere months away from perfecting hyperdrive themselves, and are rather disgruntled that humanity stole their thunder.
  • Humanity in Dark Souls and its sequel or rather, the Dark Soul that makes humans "human" empowers the setting's greatest champions (in the form of the protagonists) and its greatest horrors the Abyss and its progenitor Manus.
  • Consistently the case in every Escape Velocity game:
    • In the original game, the ongoing Confederate/Rebel conflict came off the heels of a failed alien invasion that occurred several decades prior. While humanity could not even come close to matching the aliens incredible technology, they eventually overwhelmed the aliens through extreme determination and sheer numbers. This is alluded to in the final mission of the game for both factions, where the player is aided by a military carrier fleet to destroy a lone alien battleship that somehow survived the war. It's still a very difficult fight.
    • In the sequel, the human United Earth is engaged in an active war with the ruthless Voinian Empire. According to the backstory, humanity was losing worlds left and right when the invasion began, but by the time the story begins... the Voinians really aren't doing so hot anymore. Not only have the aliens repeatedly been beaten back by the human alliance, the game's unusual ship balancing ensures that the United Earth's particular composition of shielding and mobile ship engines gives them a significant edge against the Voinians in nearly every engagement. The Crescent Strands, another group of aliens who similarly counter the United Earth ships, are too busy killing each other to influence the war one way or the other.
    • The only intelligent alien species in Escape Velocity Nova are the Wraith, a bizarre spacefaring species that began openly attacking ships belonging to the human telepaths known as the Polaris after a violent misunderstanding. Polaris scientists managed to reverse engineer the aliens' ability to form energy beams and cloak themselves at will, neutralizing any advantage the Wraith had in battle. They are currently camped out deep in uncolonized space, defending themselves when possible but wishing the humans would simply leave them alone.
  • A small but certainly present aspect of the Purity philosophy in Civilization: Beyond Earth, combined with Good Old Ways. The Purity affinity is all about terraforming the alien world (and exterminating the local alien fauna wherever appropriate) and making it more like dear old Earth, and likewise, rejecting the rampant transhumanism of the Harmony and Supremacy philosophies and instead aiming for more moderate genetic augmentation to create an "optimised" humanity freed from the shackles of disease and defect. The military utilises a variety of conventional arms alongside cadres of elite battlesuits, arguing that the human form is already well-suited for combat and only needs suitable weapons to capitalise on it. In the Rising Tide expansion, this dynamic is also played by Purity/Supremacy hybrid civs, except without the cybernetic enhancements of full-Supremacy and instead venerating the relationship humans have with machines - basically, replacing the Good Old Ways aspect of full Purity and going with Science Hero, claiming that human technology and ingenuity can challenge and overcome any obstacle.

    Web Comics 
  • 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.
  • Toyed with in Homestuck, where some of the alien trolls attempt to show their superiority over the humans at every possible moment. In practice, however, the kids outwit their attempts at every turn and end up becoming so powerful that they could kill the trolls any time they wanted to. Good for the trolls that they're all buddies.
  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • 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:
    "Satan 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. Borders on Deconstruction. Humans, and everything associated with them (diseases, etc), are so much stronger than galactic norm that even basic interactions become problematic, if not dangerous. Without the proper precautions, a human can kill a ship or a world just by being there. This causes most races to want to avoid associating with them, especially in the wake of the Hunters' ultimatum.
  • 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). Numerous other articles similar to it have been spawned since, and some of them take the trope Up to Eleven to the point of parody. We humans aren't just conquering, genocidal, resource-stripping pieces of shit, we actively aspire to be and relish in being conquering, genocidal, resource-stripping pieces of shit.
    • One of the largest stories spawnned by HFY, The Jenkinsverse veers into Deconstruction instead. Humans are much stronger, faster and quicker-witted than nearly all species in existence, due to evolving on a (by the standards of life-bearing planets) insanely dangerous Death World. However, this comes at the cost of our finely tuned biology existing on a much narrower comfort curve.
    • Humans have dietary needs far beyond other sapients, both in terms of calories and micronutrients, and deficiency diseases like beri-beri and scurvy (or their equivalents) were unknown on the galactic scene before humans showed up.
    • The human nervous system, while a finely tuned and highly efficient machine when functioning, is far more prone to instability an malfunction than any other sentients', with levels of mental illness unheard of in other species, and can be incapacitated by simple flavorings like ethanol. Standard fire-suppression foam turns humans first psychotic, then comatose.
    • Humans have difficulty spending large amounts of time in the lower galactic standard gravity, needing to spend time in the high-gravity of their homeworld or risking organ failure.
    • Humans also find it difficult to breathe galactic standard atmospheres, the lower density and oxygen content compared to earth's leading to altitude sickness. Meanwhile, most sapients have no trouble operating in an earth-standard atmosphere.
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, Ecclesiarch Decius is faced with the near impossible task of telling the rest of the church that the Emperor isn't a god, as per the Emperor's instructions, meaning that their entire doctrine is a lie. How does he avoid being lynched on the spot? By launching into an epic speech about how there are around a dozen gods in existence, and that it is insulting to compare the Emperor to them when he is ABOVE them (individually lambasting each and every one of them for good measure). His voice starts clearing up as he delivers the point that the Gods and their false promises of power are for fools and weaklings and certainly not above Man, and by the time he states Humanity is the greatest race in the Galaxy, and the Emperor, the first and finest of them all, shares their blood with them, he's speaking in a clear, powerful voice. It's enough that they accept his words.

Alternative Title(s): Humans Are Superior