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Humans Are the Real Monsters
aka: Rousseau Was Wrong

Sooner or later, humans will kill off all Aen Seidhe, all dwarves and all gnomes. Then they'll start murdering each other. Your kind knows no other way, it's in your genes. You'll keep killing each other until only one remains: the strongest among you. A thousand years from now, a dim-witted human barbarian will climb to the top of a pile of bones, sit down and proclaim: "I win!"

So the Speculative Fiction protagonist is fighting one or more nonhuman entities, and is one of the major forces of his kind. Battling onward, the hero is hit with true horror: the villains aren't fighting their equals or lessers, but their own monsters, who see the hero hat through a history of violent characteristics and nefarious motivations.

Since opposing races tend to be sufficiently advanced or incredibly large and/or powerful, any action of wanting or invading can be seen as worse due to their lack of needs. Due to unfortunate parallels to current human greed and actions, however, it's easy to draw comparisons and show how humans can easily fit villainous tropes. Additionally, expect any form of attack against humans to be either out of fear or revenge. On a large enough scale, expect an Anti-Human Alliance or having Humanity on Trial.

This trope typically comes in three distinct varieties, but the basic point is the same:
  • Monsters extend their reach to humans only for violent retaliation, with a reveal that humans were attacked out of fear.
  • Monsters attack the humans, only for human retaliation and action to draw their morality into doubt.
  • Humanity has extended its reach (different regions in fantasy, outside earth in sci-fi, etc.), with the revelation that humanity's actions makes them the invading monsters/aliens.

In all cases, humanity will show characteristics of the Absolute Xenophobe to one degree or another; no matter how sincerely an alien race may state its intentions to do good or seek peace, human perspective will generally be it's us or "them."

When humans are seen as uncivilized savages, see Humans Are Morons. When monsters are met with unexpected opposition, that's Humans Are Warriors. When humans are seen as monsters by lesser beings and animals, it's Humans Are Cthulhu. For a much more minor scale, see Humans Are Flawed. For humans being inhuman toward their fellow humans in general, see Humans Are Bastards. Frequently involves What Measure Is a Non-Human? and Hobbes Was Right. Compare/contrast Humans Are Special, Humans Are Good, and Aliens Are Bastards.

Note: If an example is invoked by a villainous equalnote  then it is not this trope. Said examples will typically fall under Straw Nihilist or The Social Darwinist (among others).


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     General 
  • In many Zombie Apocalypse works, fellow humans are a far greater danger than the zombies themselves. The zombies are more like obstacles than being the primary threat. This is especially true of works that use the traditional slow, shuffling zombies; more recent works that tend towards the more cynical end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism (The Walking Dead being a good example), and online massive multiplayer games with large potential for Griefing (prime examples including DayZ, Urban Dead, and, yes, even Minecraft). It's common enough that the trope was word-for-word both lampshaded and mocked in Left 4 Dead.
  • Some books and museum exhibits sometimes say this after asking the question "What is the most dangerous animal of all?". Some even feature a mirror along with the answer.

     Anime and Manga 
  • Dance in the Vampire Bund shows that while vampires and werewolves do exist, neither of them can hold a candle to humans. In the final volume of the manga, one angry mob tries to get at a family of Fangless vampires being harbored by their human friends. One overzealous "vampire hunter" stabs a human mother thinking she would turn to dust like a vampire only to realize she's bleeding on the floor and about to die Thankfully the Earth Clan manages to save both families and one werewolf gives the mob leader the following speech found in this trope's Quotes page
  • Dragon Ball Z had an entire episode called The Evil of Men near the middle of the Buu saga. It explores how even we non-powerful humans can be just as cruel as the monsters Goku and co fight on a regular basis. Case in point: A gang of thugs arrive to shoot up Buu and Mr. Satan (who is in the process of rehabilitating Buu) and shoot Bee the puppy. Later, one of them comes back and shoots Mr. Satan point blank in the back and runs off. Sure Buu saved him in time (and saved the puppy in the first attack), but witnessing this cruelty unleashed his evil side, and thus, the entire rest of the Buu saga is the world paying the price for what those men did.
    • Keep in mind that before this, said thugs were going around murdering random innocent people for fun. In the Japanese version, one of them gives their excuse: "Buu is going to kill everyone anyway so just pretend Buu killed them".
  • Elfen Lied makes a point of showing how inhuman and amoral humans can be. At times it seems the diclonii — mutants who are feared for their murderous tendencies, and abused accordingly — are more human than the actual humans. Considering the violent psychic dismemberment the diclonii are capable of, that's saying something.
  • In marked contrast, Studio Ghibli's Pom Poko. Some fans call it "FernGully with a Brain". Some of the Tanuki believe that all humans are bad and they argue for open warfare against the humans - and even then, they have a hard time fully committing to this as finding food would be a great deal harder with no garbage bags to rummage through. Other Tanuki argue that the humans are simply unaware that Tanuki are real and can be reasoned with. After the Tanuki take the gamble of going public, it turns out that this is indeed the case and the humans are happy to come to a compromise with the creatures, setting aside parkland for them to live in. Their default humanoid forms are cute looking is a real help but no body makes pets of them.
  • Similarly, Princess Mononoke (also by Studio Ghibli) appears to be taking this stance, as it also takes place in a threatened forest populated by animal spirits. Then it turns out that the humans aren't all bad, and the animals can be pretty dickish. It turns out every side was being manipulated by outside forces, who in their own way are just trying to get by, ultimately stating that Rousseau Was Right.
  • Spirited Away (again, Studio Ghibli) features a bath house that serves supernatural beings whose view of humans ranges from worthless to bastards to interesting to delicious. That the bath house's workers need to take human form in order to serve their customers can be seen as punishment, irony, or something else. It also goes both ways - several spirits are also greedy or decadent.
  • In Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea (Studio Ghibli must have a real fixation on this trope), Ponyo's dad makes it very clear that he thinks humans are bastards, and has been storing up potions to teach humanity a lesson (or something); ironically, his wife, the Anthropomorphic Personification of the ocean is a lot more easy-going. In the end he reveals he doesn't want to harm humans too badly because he allows his daughter to choose to become one.
  • Blue Gender: Man is ruining the planet due to technological excess and overpopulation, and so nature sends the Blue to forcibly knock humanity back to the Stone Age or the Bronze. The problem is that at the time of the show's events, humanity knows it's ruining the planet and is trying to fix things... an effort Gaia is actively sabotaging with The Blues. Example: A colony ship (to ease the overpopulation) is destroyed. The Aesop being that Humans can live in harmony with nature, as long as they're not abusing tech. Sadly, "tech" here is defined as anything more advanced than the wheel.
  • The manga series Parasyte: The only way nature can curb human devastation is to introduce a new apex predator to the biosphere to keep humanity in check. This is real life nature works.
  • In One Piece, while slavery affects all species/races, fishmen and merfolk are the prime target and face very heavy discrimination. Up to 200 years ago, they were seen as just another type of fish.
  • YuYu Hakusho
    • Chapter Black arc is a deconstruction. The nutshell is that humans have the capacity for great good and great evil. Sensui, the arc's villain, was a Spirit Detective who held Humans and Demons in views of black and white, until he crashed a gruesome party that had Humans themselves slaughtering Demons and bathing in their blood for the hell of it. Because of this, his view became gray until he saw the Chapter Black videotape- a divine recording of every atrocity humanity had ever committed; you name it, it's got it. Then he harbored a plan to go to the Demon World and repent for his killings, conveniently covered up with the Split Personality disorder he got as an aftereffect of the party and the tape to orchestrate a slow, painful genocide for all of humanity to experience. This is evidenced by a creepy mind-reading with him chanting about how much he'd love to have them all as dead meat. However, this is not the whole story. Koenma points out there is a Chapter White which has every act of human kindness. The two are about the same length and should only be seen together to ascertain a balanced view of humanity. Chapter Black is "just a one-sided argument"
    • It comes up again in a side-story toward the end when Yusuke, serving as a private Spirit Detective, investigates a case at Keiko's school involving a demon haunting the school. It turns out that it's actually a scheme perpetrated by two of the alleged victims to force the third victim off the team due to the others not liking her attitude, and claiming it's the only way to deal with her because she's an athletic scholarship student. After Yusuke sells Keiko's uniform to someone online (who turns out to be his mother) when she refuses to pay because Kurama did most of the work in solving it, the narrator declares that "Humans are as bad as demons- possibly even worse!" This is Played for Laughs when the author's editor points out "But Yusuke's partnote  demon."
  • The Big Bad in The SoulTaker, Kyosuke's sister Runa feels this way after bad stuff happened. In the end, the villain puts Kyosuke in a bind: fight to save humanity who are ungrateful bastards and hate him since he's technically an alien or let them all die and live happily and eternally with the Big Bad. Kyosuke naturally turns down both offers, takes a third option, shows the villain that there IS measure to a non-human and saves the day.
  • Rosario + Vampire:
    • This seems to be a widespread sentiment among Youkai, though most of it stems from good ol' Fantastic Racism; many of the more sympathetic ones question their views after being confronted with a positive example of humanity, and the most rabid anti-human faction practice their puppy-punting skills on their fellow nonhumans so much that they come off as blatant hypocrites.
    • This is what Moka Akashiya first thought of humans before she met her human Love Interest. After seeing how she was teased and bullied because of her vampire origins when she was a kid, who could blame her? Ruby and her adoptive mother thought this as well until they met him.
    • Moka's sister Akua also has some sympathetic reasons for thinking this, because her best friend/surrogate sister Jasmine was brutally murdered by an angry mob when they discovered she and Akua were vampires. Of course, it falls a bit flat when one realizes that the entire reason Jasmine was killed in the first place was because Akua exposed them as vampires and injured a human boy who tried to befriend them out of paranoia.
  • The Protagonist of Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest thinks humans are bastards or at least incredibly petty; it doesn't help that he's a certified Doom Magnet and he's surrounded by the most horrific delinquents at school. He acknowledges that his narrow view of humans makes him just as bad.
  • A main theme point in Inugami, where inugami (wolves with amazing abilities) are sent by a mysterious voice in their heads that says "gaze upon man". An inugami named 23 makes friends with a kind human named Fumiki, and his subsequent encounters with humans influences him into seeing humans as friends. The other inugami, Zero, sees humans as an example of this trope, since most of his encounters with them have involved violence.
  • Pokémon Special When Lake Valor blows up, most of the Pokémon in the surrounding areas adopt this attitude as a result. When Pearl tries to catch a pissed Buizel and unsuccessfully pleads to it that he wants to stop the ones responsible, Crasher Wake points out that the wild Pokémon don't understand anything that's going on beyond the fact that they know that humans were responsible for disrupting their natural habitat.
    • Episode 19 of Pokémon has a group of Tentacool and (one of them evolves after Team Rocket tried to capture them), that attacked the humans because Obaba (not to be confused with the one from the episode before this one) wanted to build a hotel resort on their nest. However, Misty, with the help of a Horsea, manage to convince them that not all humans are bad people.
    • Mewtwo's reason for wanting to Kill All Humans in Pokémon: The First Movie is this trope. He reached this a conclusion when the ones that he was exposed to cared more about what he was than who he was. When Ash performs a Heroic Sacrifice to stop the fighting between the clones and the original Pokémon, Mewtwo is genuinely surprised that a human would give his life for them and stops the whole wipe out humanity plan.
  • Slayers usually don't go here but in Slayers Premium sentinent octopi cast the Curse of Babel on humans for this reason. In the ending scene The assistant healer had, after the demon that the octopi had been mistakenly worshiping as a god is destroyed, admitted to the whole town that they were wrong to hunt the sentient sea-going cephalopods and eat them. However, she then declared that the town's economy was mostly built on their reputation for delicious octopus-based dishes, and suggested that, rather than having the humans go on hunting and eating octopi, the octopi just start cutting off their tentacles (which regenerate) and letting the humans have them for meat instead, a suggestion that the octopi agreed with. This works out best for both sides because the octopi are no longer killed and the humans avoid an economic collapse.
  • Lampshaded at the end of the Kikaider 01 OVA where the android Kikaider "takes the final step to humanity" by becoming capable of performing evil acts despite his conscience.
  • This is how Diva views humanity in Blood+. Well, you would think the same thing if you were used as a lab rat.
  • Subverted in Kimba the White Lion. While the series started off with a terrible first impression of humanity with Viper Snakely, there are some good-hearted humans like Roger Ranger and his uncle who become friends with Kimba.
  • In episode 10 of Upotte when Genkoku pleads with the girls and the AK faction to stop fighting Nanayon (an anthpromorphic AK74) points out that humans are ones creating guns in the first place.
  • The Animatrix: Played with.
    • Humans start the Robot War purely out of Fantastic Racism (the robots literally came before humanity bearing flowers and open arms) and that the robots locked humanity in the Matrix purely as self-defense against genocide and attempting to give them an utopia which human minds did not want.
    • In the present day, they create a device to show the machines that not ALL humans are/were bastards and that they wish for peaceful co-existence. It also gives them free will to decide whether or not to fight alongside the humans or continue the war at all. It ends with the deaths of the humans involved and the machines sent to destroy them, leaving the machine all alone to decide his purpose now...
  • Tiir and many Cursed Eye bearers from The Legend of the Legendary Heroes view humans this way. Though Tiir isn't much better at times and the protagonist eventually convinces him that not all humans are bad, it's easy to understand how they came to think that way to begin with, living in a Crapsack World where Fantastic Racism is rampant. Tiir says the trope title almost word for word, after recounting an incident where thirty-eight of them were slaughtered in the name of "monster extermination".
    Tiir: Who are the real monsters here?
  • Played with in Interstella 5555. Humans (well okay one human and it's showcased he wasn't right in the head after a disaster of nature killed his family) kidnap the alien rock band, make them appear human to hide their true nature, brainwash them and enslave them as superstars on Earth. It ends up being subverted: when the rest of humanity finds out the truth, they continue to treat them like superstars and do their best to get them back home.
  • Though portrayed as the villains, demons and vampires in Seraph of the End believe humans to be the truly frightening ones, citing that humanity's greed and passion are why humans will ultimately be the ones who destroy the world.

    Blogs 
  • Deadcoders Reviews: XANA in Code Lyoko is treated this way. In the blog, XANA encounters the horrors of French Engineering, French Mental Healthcare, the insanity of Franz Hopper, and Aelita; and reacts with Killitwith Fire, complete with an homage to S Fdebris's skewering of Captain Janeway.

    Comic Books 
  • "Funny Animal" Comics in particular features this trope often. To wit:
    • The main villain Lord Hikiji in the comic Usagi Yojimbo is the only human in a world of anthropomorphic animals. He's the reason Usagi has that scar above his eye, and has no master, no father, and ninja problems. Word of God states that the author regrets showing Hikiji.
    • Similarly, antagonist Doctor "Eggman" Robotnik was the only human in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog series for a while, and even today most games place his role in the storyline above all the other law-abiding humans.
  • In an early issue of Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing, Jason Woodrue gains Swamp Thing's power over the Green and decides to take its revenge on animals and humans, who have been abusing plants for far too long. Then Swamp Thing himself shows up and points out that, although humans do abuse nature, if humans and animals were gone, there wouldn't be anybody to convert the gases that the plants themselves needed to survive.
  • Humans in ElfQuest are, at first, simply The Enemy as far as the elven protagonists are concerned: cruel, idiotic, ugly, superstitious and xenophobic, and they've been like this as long as any Wolfrider can readily remember. This is later qualified when greater exposure introduces them to the concept that some humans can be friendly (and the Gliders have basically a tribe of 'tame' humans living at the foot of their mountain), but by and large the elven policy remains to keep avoiding human attention where possible.
    • Interestingly enough, the creators of ElfQuest first got together when Richard Pini replied to a letter by Wendy Fletcher in Silver Surfer, in which she complained about that comic's supposed use of this trope. The two of them corresponded for a while before finally meeting and marrying, and the rest is history.
  • Avengers Forever is a clear case in Marvel Comics; a whole story run on the premise of Time Lords trying to prevent the timelines with bad futures where humanity becomes an evil empire and conquers the universe.
    • This plot thread has continued since Avengers Forever; it drove the Maximum Security crossover and is arguably at the heart of the Infinity event.
  • Given that the average human in the Marvel Universe seems to look at (and treat) mutants with the same level of rationality and compassion that the white Southerners of the 1930's treated blacks, or, as Magneto often lampshades, like how the Nazi Party in Germany treated Jews in 1938, it's no wonder why mutants continue to flock to Magneto's camp even after the man has been depowered. On the other hand, Magneto has his own Master Race propaganda and there are plenty of mutant villains. On a third hand, everyone in the story be they hero, villain, or muggle is still human.
  • The Incredible Hulk doesn't get treated nicely by your average citizen, and certainly not by the army. Granted, his destructive potential is immense and he has a temper problem, but the incarnation he's mostly known for is for the most part much like an animal. In fact, a lot of the destruction he causes is often because he was provoked. In his Merged Hulk incarnation, he travelled to a dystopian future ruled by an evil, insane version of himself called the Maestro. There he explains his backstory and how his world came to be and how humans destroyed each other through a nuclear armageddon. He remarks to his past self, "For as long as I remember, it was the humans that called us the monsters. In the end, they brought their own destruction. Me, a monster? I wasn't even in their league".
  • Handled...interestingly in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog series. The Mobius equivalent of humans, Overlanders, were portrayed as violent thugs, more interested in conquering and destroying nature than living with it like the Mobians. They also waged a global war against the Mobians...which they lost. Inverted in that it was a Mobian conspiracy that started the Great War. Most of the race was destroyed right after Robotnik, (who even the Overlanders viewed as a monster), took over. Later we learn that Mobius was created when humans captured, killed and dissected alien emissaries. The aliens reacted poorly to this and proceeded to use a weapon to wipe out/mutate all life on Earth. Ever since the Sonic Adventure adaptation, Overlanders/humans have been shown in a better light.
  • In the comic book adaptation of the Dofus game, the race of Demons were a mostly Punch Clock Evil race, until a pair of human brothers (orphans whose parents were murdered, and spent years as victims of abuse by their peers and teachers afterward) made their way to their dimension, and introduced the Demons to such concepts of human evil as murdering parents before their children and other such cruel torments. The Demon King was ashamed to see that humans could outdo his own kind in the ways of Evil, and ordered the brothers to train his people.
  • A major theme of Wandering Star. The future Earth of the series is a Crapsack World with a reputation for violence. The Galactic Alliance needed Earth to fight the Bono Kiro because of that unique reputation. Throughout the story, Cassie, The Protagonist, encounters prejudice from aliens who see all humans as an uncivilized, backward, warlike species.
  • The reason Larfleeze hasn't left Earth after Blackest Night is because Lex Luthor told him that humans are greedier bastards than he could ever hope to match, and that life on Earth is all about owning things. After spending more time on Earth, Larfleeze has come to agree with Luthor...and he loves Earth for it.
  • In Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers, it's revealed that the cruel and vicious Sheeda, who decimated the utopian civilization of Camelot millions of years in the past and who are the Big Bad of the series, are evolved humans from the far, far future when the sun has turned into a red giant. To sustain their dying society, they plunder past civilizations.
  • Zigzagged in Crossed: All humans have the potential to be monsters, with the protagonist pointing out that however horrible the Infected are, they never do anything that ordinary humans cannot also do. Surprisingly thought-provoking, given that this is a series that's nothing but Gorn.
    • The two sequel series confirm this; each has a non-infected human that gives the Crossed a run for their money in the sick bastard department but lacks the excuse of having caught a psycho-virus.
  • Batman forces Darkseid to release Supergirl into the heroes' custody by threatening to destroy his planet. Darkseid commends him on such a ruthless maneuver, stating that it was believable coming from him (and would've failed were it done by a certain Kryptonian and Amazon) because humans are renowned for killing their own kind in order to win.
  • Nemesis the Warlock is all about an alien Anti-Hero defending his people and others against a fascistic Absolute Xenophobe human empire.
  • In the EC Comics story "The Monsters!", highly advanced aliens make First Contact, describe horrible mutants begotten by exposure to atomic radiation, and depart immediately after leaving two of them behind: a man and a woman.
  • In the Creature Commandos stories in Weird War Tales, Lt. Matthew Shrieve is the only non-monster in the group; the only normal human. However, Shrieve is by far the most monstrous of them all — he's a hateful man who is frankly disgusted by the "freaks" he commands, and there is no low he's not willing to stoop to in order to win. The Creature Commandos proper share his resentment; after all, turning them into monsters was his idea in the first place!
  • Played straight and then subverted in Dreamwave's Transformers miniseries. Megatron attempts to convince Optimus Prime that as bad as the Decepticons are, humanity is even worse, as a bunch of greedy war profiteers had in fact been using some deactivated Transformer bodies as weapons for their own gain. And as if to not hammer it in enough, during the fight with the Autobots and Decepticons we can see a montage of humanity screwing each other to save their own skins while leaving everyone else to die. The following issue then has Optimus throw this in Megatron's face, as he's always known that humanity is not perfect, but there is just as much good as bad in them (cue montage of people trying to selflessly help each other during the crisis) and the former outweighs the latter.
  • The Transformers IDW: Has Megatron try to convince Optimus, again, that the humans are all violently destructive evil species. He also considers them a threat worthy to get himself rebuilt and come back to exterminate himself. Humans are Xenophobic and actively are trying to kill the Autobots, even before the Decepticons revealed themselves. Groups like the Machination, captured and dissected Sunstreaker, kept him in perpetual agony and tried to control all the Cybertronians. Ultimately, Megatron is in the wrong, as the current attacks are caused by him manipulating the public subconsciously, and groups like the Machination were formed by Decepticons. Megatron has killed thousands and burned numerous worlds, as later books in the series attest to, he's far worse. The series ends with the Autobots abandoning earth, disappointed in the lengths some humans would go to, but still having befriended others.

    Fanfiction 
  • In general My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Fan Fic that involves humans features this trope in one way or another. Even if the humans aren't actively malevolent, they'll still be brooding over how embarrassed they are of humanity's evil, or become an unwitting gateway through which evil and corruption enters the pony universe.
    • In one series titled The Conversion Bureau it's flat-out stated that the ponies, both those born as ponies and the 'converts', teach this to the humans they're trying to recruit into their superior culture and race. Many Conversion Bureau fics show that the methods of "ponifying" someone removes their "human nature" and reconfigures them into ponies.
    • Another fic, The Thessalonica Legacy, subverts this nicely. The humans are violent, warlike, and sometimes outright murderous compared to the ponies, but it's because they had to be in order to survive their harsher universe, putting them more in Humans Are Flawed territory than here.
    • Article2 averts this. Although the human character in the story, Shane, is aggressive and rude to the ponies on many occasions, this is treated more as a difference in cultures and neither species is shown as inherently superior. It is also pointed out multiple times that Shane is just one person, a soldier, and in a very stressful situation, so it's not really fair to use him as proof of any faults in humanity as a whole.
    • Played with in The Last Human; humans are mostly remembered as aggressive and vicious predators who would make war among themselves for seemingly no reason. At the same time, they are acknowledged as being highly advanced and creative, and capable of great deeds, hence their reputation as "the creature of contradictions".
  • In The Man With No Name, the Doctor goes on one of his famous rants when he finds out what the Alliance did to River's brain.
  • In Renegade Reinterpretations, a Mass Effect fanfiction, the human race's first contact with the wider galaxy happened much earlier, and with the Batarians. Humanity spends the next hundred years playing catch-up, and is only able to survive by stooping to the barbarians level. In this timeline, Cerberus are viewed as heroes for experiments that even the canon Cerberus would have thought appaling. Once Humanity decides to go on the warpath against the Batarians (and is capable of doing so), the Citadel offers to make humanity a member race, give them reparations, money, land, medicine, technology, and all former Batarian territory. All they had to do was NOT invade the Batarian Homeworld. Humanity's response? "They went to the trouble of looking up what the largest fleet in the galaxy had been so they could surpass it by a time and a half."
  • Deconstructed in No Hoper when Nerferet argues this about how humans oppress vampyres for no reason. In response Light lists dates and details of all known vampyre attacks.
  • Weightless (Mass Effect): Shepard preferred other species (turians in particular) to her own. At one point, she flat out said "I hate humanity" to Karin. Her greatest enemy in this story, according to Word of God, is her own disbelief in the value of her species. As Nihlus said "He had never, in all his travels, seen a species so cruel to its own children."
  • That's the whole cause of the Tarbes Arc of ''Halkegenia Online.If Fernand hasn't destroyed Sayuri's garden the pixies would not have attacked the village in the first place
  • In the The Faceless there's the Shinigami Servitors—a group of fanatical humans that feed the Shinigami "undesirables" so that they themselves won't be killed.
  • Played with in ''Goddess Reborn Chronicle in that humans (and angels) can be as evil as demons are reputed to be but demons are capable as being absolutely good and noble. This it inherited from its parent source but the point is made that choices are always possible, it being its foremost theme-even if the choices are hard or cruel, those choices still exist.

    Music 
  • The music video for Do the Evolution showcases humanity's evil actions throughout history, though it also implies that life on Earth in general has always been naturally savage and brutal.
  • Parodied in Robots by Flight of the Conchords. Robots have annihilated all humans for this trope, but one of the lieutenants notes that they did the same thing as them by killing them.
    Captain, do you not see the irony, by destroying the humans because of their destructive capabilities, we have become like... do you see... see what we've done?
    Yes.
    ...So?
    SILENCE! DESTROY HIM!
  • One of the major themes of The Protomen's CDs, especially the first one.
  • Ayreon does this to great effect in Unnatural Selection from 01011001.
    We gave them feelings, what did they sense?
    Shout at the world in their defense.
    We gave them science what did they do?
    They built a bomb and they used it too!
    We gave them wisdom, what did they learn?
    Wore out the planet and made it burn!
    We gave them armor, what did they make?
    Nuclear weapons for their own sake!
    We gave them insight, what did they see?
    Vanquish the noble, enslave the free!
    We gave them wisdom, what did they seek?
    Destroying all that's within their reach!
    We gave them language, what did they say?
    They put the planet in disarray!
    We gave them dreams!
    And what did they dream?!
    * Man Is the Bastard. That is all.
  • Devo, Beautiful World. Especially the video. Actually, most of the band's work tends to involve this trope in one form or another.
  • Crime of The Century (The song, and maybe the album) is likely this, or some group jumping the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Although it's not directly stated, and not that the media cared, but Sympathy for the Devil strongly suggests that the Devil in question is humanity itself.
  • The Ego Likeness song "Song for Samael" certainly seems to imply this:
    And man is just a child
    Defective and diseased
    And I grow so fearful for their kin
    As I watch the sickness breed
    Some will find them worthy of salvation
    But to what end?
    I've seen a man rape his only child
    And murdered one who he called a friend
    Samael
    Meet me at the Red Sea
    Samael
    Meet me at the Red Sea
    There are too many thieves in the kingdom
    I will give you the key
    Will you take care of this for me?
    • They use this trope again in "Funny Olde World":
    Hey there demon!
    I hear you had a revelation
    That it's out of your hands
    Whether or not we deny our own salvation
    But I don't blame you
    For being torn at either side
    This world is really not all bad
    Beneath our vanity and pride
    And you don't tempt us
    We forge our own paths and our own ways
    And you can't possibly hurt us
    Worse than the way we hurt ourselves each day
  • Arch-Enemy's "Beast Of Man" uses the page quote in its lyrics.
  • Pick a Heavy Metal song, any of them, and chances are it's about this.
  • Pick a Cattle Decapitation song and chances are that the lyrics will inevitably be some form of this trope. Travis Ryan really, really hates humanity.
  • One interpretation of The Megas songs "Fly on a Dog" and "Just Another Machine" are that Megaman has decided that even if he could Become a Real Boy, he wouldn't want to because humans are bastards.

    Mythology 

    Newspaper Comics 

    Religion 
  • Christianity states this is the whole reason for the Incarnation and Sacrifice of Jesus. Paul even yells at other Christians for having sex with their stepmothers (1 Corinthians 5)
  • The Bible delves into this territory at times, especially in the Old Testament.
  • New agers often believe that there are many alien races out there watching over humanity, but are withholding assistance because we're too violent and nasty to each other and aren't Perfect Pacifist People like they are.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • The Imperium of Man of Warhammer 40,000 is a xenocidal, fanatical, corrupt, racist, mass-murdering apparatus. However, in the context of the setting, it's justified and thus avoid the complete monster label because pretty much every other species is just as bad, if not worse, and without the Imperium's harsh rule mankind would be doomed to slavery, extinction, or Fates Worse Than Death.
    • The fandom's preferred "good guys" are the idealistic Tau (collectivist imperialist aliens often accused of brainwashing by fans and Imperial humans alike) and the arrogant Eldar (who will gladly kill a million Humans today to save one Eldar a century from now). All the other races are much, much worse: the daemonic legions of Chaos are largely psychotic, the Tyranids want to eat the galaxy, the soulless Necrons want to end the existence of souls, the battle-loving Orks go on jihads for fun, and Dark Eldar literally get off on inflicting and receiving pain. Essentially, no matter how insanely vicious the Imperium gets, you'd still cheer them on. These are people who use other people for machinery, commit genocide and human sacrifice, and just generally run a totalitarian police state in which you can be killed for thought crimes. They have a branch of the government AND whole sections of planets devoted entirely to torture (church worlds-dungeon section). It is best not to read this series if you get easily depressed.
    • Psykers have always been a grey area, however. No matter how much they may be detested daemon magnets, the fact remains that the Imperium simply could not function - even with the Emperor at full strength - without them, as they're utterly vital for both communication and navigation. Same goes for the three-eyed Navigator corps. Not to mention that the Emperor is himself a psyker, the most powerful to have ever lived.
    • The Imperium of Man basically combines the worst parts of Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany, the British Empire, the Spanish Inquisition, Dark Ages Europe, and the colonization of the Americas. It's pretty much Humans Are the Real Monsters condensed into a single entity.
    • In a somewhat disturbing meta-example, the Imperium of Man is in no way supposed to be sympathetic with it's policies of religious zealotry and extreme genocidal tendencies, but fans who actually agree with such policies pop up with alarming frequency.
  • The World of Darkness series seems to hold to a viewpoint best described as follows: "Humans are Bastards, but frankly, compared to the rest of reality, they're small-timers." Both Werewolf: The Apocalypse and Werewolf: The Forsaken come close to playing it straight, while Promethean: The Created comes close to subverting it (Prometheans admit humans have their flaws, but desperately want to be them because they know Prometheans are far worse), while Changeling: The Lost subverts it outright (Dancers In Dusk states few things rekindle a changeling's much-needed faith in other people then visiting a stranger's dreams for the first time).
    • However, this trope is played painfully straight by editorial edict when dealing with any real-world historical event of the past century, doubly so when that event is The Holocaust. Charnel Houses of Europe, a Wraith: The Oblivion supplement, completely denied that supernatural powers had any part in the Holocaust in the Wo D, that it really was the product of Nazi racial supremacist theory and genocidal impulse.
  • In the expanded Dungeons & Dragons core setting based on Greyhawk, Humanity's creator deity is Zarus who claims to be the first human, a Lawful Evil Deity of bigotry and human supremacy. This in a world where every other core race's primary deity is good aligned. Worse yet, he's a greater deity, meaning he has a flipping ton of worshipers, all of them human.
  • In the Innistrad block of Magic: The Gathering, the entire plane is crawling with horrible monsters eager to prey on humans. Some humans adapted by becoming the worst monsters of all.

    Theatre 
  • William Shakespeare, Richard III:
    No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity, but I know none, therefore am no beast.
  • A classic example from the Threepenny Opera: "What keeps mankind alive? The fact that millions are daily tortured, stifled, punished, silenced and oppressed. Mankind can keep alive thanks to its brilliance, in keeping its humanity repressed. And for once you must try not to shriek the facts: mankind is kept alive by bestial acts."

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick prequel book Start of Darkness does this, with humans killing off goblins and other races solely for being classified as evil, even if they weren't doing anything. However, the goblin Redcloak, whose village was slaughtered by human paladins and went on to become The Dragon, shows himself to be just as bad in his own way, with his hypocrisy and less-than-balanced view of humans being brought up both in the book and in the on line strips.
    • Tsukiko uses this as justification for her necrophilia in this strip. Humans are the antithesis of undead. But Humans Are The Real Monsters. Therefore, undead must be good.
  • Many (to most) furry-themed webcomics with humans in them (or even in the history of the world-setting) portray humans as essentially Always Chaotic Evil, with the furry characters suffering persecution such as slavery, hate crimes, being relegated to the status of animals despite clearly being sentient and capable of speech, etc. at the hands of said humans. There may be one or two humans that aren't cruel, bloodthirsty, and rapacious as a sort of token attempt at fixing the Broken Aesop, but not always. It's rather easy to do with furry comics which are a prime method of using the Fantastic Racism theme.
    • In Kevin & Kell, whenever humans show up they're generally portrayed as the equivalent of Sealed Evil in a Can (and once, literally). The inhabitants of the furry world often make disparaging remarks about how stupid our world is in comparison to theirs (in which sentient creatures constantly slaughter and devour each other without so much as a hint of remorse or guilt).
    • Black Tapestries at first shows this, with pretty much the main antagonist thinking that all Humans Are The Real Monsters, even though at a later point, the Kaetif (anthros) are shown to be just as vengeful as humans are.
    • In Jack, the Big Bad isn't Satan, but a human that has become the personification of Envy. However, he's the only remaining human in Hell — it is assumed the rest have redeemed themselves and have moved on.
    • TwoKinds: The only humans ever shown are Templar who seem to be Always Chaotic Evil with plans kill all of one race and turn the other race's brains into mush and enslaved them or perverted slave traders (the latter is actually a pretty nice guy though). Most fans have a Take Our Word for It mindset.
      • On the other hand, the other races seem to be little better, with several of them intending to conquer/wipe out humanity themselves.
    • Newshounds has gotten really bad about this trope.
    • When humans appear in The Kenny Chronicles they tend to refer to Tarnekis as animals or rant about how they are a danger. Of course Tarnekis were created by pirates (who they are implied to have killed) and some of their ships were stolen (though the Ballyhoo was bought).
  • Lost the Lead is very, very guilty of this.
  • Goblins seems to have this a lot, where the perfectly nice goblins and other "evil" humanoids are always being persecuted by the bastardy PC races, though occasionally adventurers will notice the contradiction.
  • Terinu's race was wiped out by the humans, after it was discovered that they were the power source of the Big Bad. Made worse because Ferin are inherently adorable critters.
  • In Zenith, Zenith suffers a Heroic BSOD after getting shot at by humans and his Mama Bear dying because of them... well, sort of Zenith's fault for not being a man and dealing with a shot at his fin, but the other dolphins of the steel harbor tell him You Did Everything You Could.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal had a particularly good example as to why Humans Are Bastards
  • Played for laughs in Beartato and Reginald with Space Reginald's reaction to Earth.
  • Moon Crest 24: Conversed by Aleck von Zander, and appears to be the reason for his Fallen Angel status, as he preaches that vampires were forced to protect something they didn't believe in.

    Web Original 
  • In the world of The Account, a podcast audio drama, one-third of the humans in the Midlands turned into an army of psychopaths and got exiled to Earth. No one quite knows why. Now that they're trickling back in, and apparently sane, they're treated somewhat gingerly by the natives.
  • Cradleland takes place on a planet populated by Transplanted Humans. Their ancestors were slaves who were sold to aliens by humans on Earth during the Middle Ages.
  • Gaea's Rising features cute, lovable, intelligent robots that humanity wants to wipe out, just because the robots don't want to be slaves.
  • Played for Laughs in the The Nostalgia Critic videos whenever he does a movie involving nature. Eventually its gets subverted in one review where the announcer states that animals can be just as vicious and won't hesitate to try and eat you given the chance.

    Western Animation 
  • The Animals of Farthing Wood, played straight in the first season, where humans are either evil hunters, foolishly ignorant, or completely apathetic as to how their actions are hurting wildlife. Balanced out a bit in the second season, with the arrival of the Park Warden as a human ally.
  • Ah, but then there's Hugh Harman's Peace on Earth, which you must see for yourself as no description we could give you would suffice. While beautifully animated and notable (even admirable) for its pro-peace message delivered in the middle of wartime, several Tropers agree that this merry Christmas (!!!) short is also easily the magnum opus of this trope.
    • Plus there's the part where the little squirrel kid says "I sure am glad there's no more men around". Most. Anvilicious. Line. Ever.
  • In Gargoyles, Demona believes this trope and attempts to recruit Brooklyn after a bad incident with a biker gang by giving him a tour of unpleasant incidents around New York. However, after Brooklyn realizes Demona is a backstabbing megalomaniac, he realizes he had been manipulated. It turns out that Demona is also a genocidal murderer who betrayed her own clan, there are other gargoyle antagonists in later episodes, and plenty of humans in the show are good people. As for the "lesson," when Brooklyn describes it to Goliath, he dismisses its damning nature with his inimitable authority as a "half-truth that Demona has thoroughly embraced, but it's not the whole truth." Goliath also states in the 5-part pilot that "There is good and evil in all of us, human and gargoyle alike."
    • Gargoyles overall has a nuanced view of this trope that makes it about as hard to pin down as in real life. After all, the thing that sets off the whole series is basically one of the humans of the castle trying to help the gargoyles (by forsaking his fellow humans), only for it to backfire in his (and their) face spectacularly; so you could take it either as "humans are good, bad, and everything in between", or "humans are bastards even when they try to be good", depending on how cynical you felt like being that day.
  • The Plague Dogs, based on a book by Richard Adams of Watership Down fame (see below), is pretty Anvilicious about mankind's cruelty to man's best friend.
    • While both versions of the tale are as depressing as hell, it's interesting to note that the cartoon has an even more of a Downer Ending than the original book. In the film, the dogs are heavily implied to have died at the end, whereas they go live with a nice "Master" at the end of the book.
  • Futurama spoofs this trope in the Show Within a Show The Scary Door: a scientist declares that he's "combined the DNA of the world's most evil animals (a Lion, Scorpion, and Shark) to make the most evil creature of them all." A human then emerges from some sort of cloning tube, and just in case that's too subtle, declares, "It turns out it's man" in the most undramatic and dull way possible, just to parody the ham handedness of the way the point is often made by other shows.
    • Making this even more hilarious, this actually is the plot of an episode of The Twilight Zone, with Futurama's version just getting straight to the point.
    • Also, subverted when Fry and Leela get superpowers. After fighting a villain known as "The Zookeeper", Fry declares that "the most dangerous animal of all...is the Zookeeper!"
    • To Quote Professor:
    Also Animals never had a war. Who's the real animal?
  • The third episode of Justice League both provides an example and subverts this trope in a matter of seconds. Upon witnessing rioting and looting, Wonder Woman comments that perhaps her mother was right about humanity being savages. A moment later, Green Lantern is shown helping a couple of burly, typically biker-type individuals rescue two children from underneath some debris.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Wan Shi Tong, the knowledge spirit in the shape of an owl has come to believe this of humanity, saying that the only reason humans ever come seeking information is so they can use it to destroy others.
    • This is interesting because it provides a subtle and uncommented piece of evidence against this: While Sokka does indeed use the planetarium to figure out how to get an edge up on the Fire Nation, and pissing Wan Shi Tong off royally, the archaeologist the gaang is traveling with decides to stay behind in the sinking library, presumably trapped forever, because he just wants to be able to learn for knowledge's own sake.
      • The sequel series The Legend of Korra follows up on this. The second series deals with spirits who mostly, in the past & in the present, pretty much look down on humans. The antagonist intends to "correct the balance" by releasing the evil spirit Vaatu and become a Dark Avatar and allowing the spirits to roam the material world. Wan Shi Tong is shown helping him, due to anger at humans for using his library's knowledge. The archaeologist is shown long since dead, having not been allowed to leave the library for food and starved to death.
  • This is one of the main themes in the animated film Felidae. It's both played straight and subverted in regards to humanity's relationship with animals (particularly cats in this case). On the one hand there's Gustav ("Gus"), Francis's dim-witted yet otherwise good owner. On the other hand there's Pretorius, a scientist who experiments on cats while trying to create a special tissue-bonding glue. Most of the cats die horrible deaths, and Pretorius becomes a rambling alcoholic because of it. The only surviving cat, Claudandus brutally murders Pretorius and later develops a burning hatred against humanity.
    • Likewise, one of the cats, Felicity, believes that all humans are good stating that only humans would be kind enough to give a blind cat like her a home. Ironically, it's heavily implied that it was due to humans experimenting on her in the first place that she's blind.
    • Bluebeard at first believes that it's a human causing the murders stating that only a human would do something so cruel to a cat. Of course, it turns out to be a cat (IE:Pascal/Claudandus) committing the murders rather than a human. He also refers to humans under the slang term "Can-Openers", believing that humans are only good for opening cans of food for cats.
    • Francis gets into an argument with Claudandus, asking about the good men. Claudandus yells back "No! NO! There aren't any good men! They're all bad! ALL OF THEM!" Claudandus is even spitting as he yells this. Obviously, Claudandus's argument is flawed, because Francis's owner is a good man.
  • This trope, as it relates to animals, is spoofed in an episode of Family Guy where Death goes on a date with a woman who works at a pet shop. She insists that there'd be no more wars if people were more like animals, and he says "What are you talking about? Animals fight all the time!"
  • In Adventures of the Gummi Bears, the Gummis are in hiding because humans were too determined to get their hands on their technology.
  • Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic - A major point Lucifer tries to make to Dante's captured wife's soul, Beatrice. Trying to convince her that mankind is forever destined to fall into hell by their weak minds and free will, he pushes the point further by filling her head with images of mankind's greatest atrocities throughout time, one of them an image of Adolf Hitler and his empire, which suggest that Lucifer can foresee the future.
  • The trope name sums up Zim's outlook in Invader Zim, although the humans are more guilty of standing in the way of Zim's plans for world conquest than being truly evil.
  • The villains of Terrahawks justified their plans of conquest by saying that the humans opposing them had a bloody history full of things a lot worse than what they were doing.
  • One Tom and Jerry short has Tom waiting in line to get into Heaven, as a "conductor" lets recently deceased cats onto the train if they were good. At one point he calls out several names, and we cut to see a dripping wet sack, which opens up as several kittens scamper out. The conductor sadly shakes his head and mutters "Some people..."
  • Played for Laughs on South Park, although it is more that the Adults are Too Dumb to Live. Examples include "Prehistoric Ice Man" ("sometimes, what's right isn't as important as what's profitable"), "Here Comes the Neighbourhood ("And I want to assure the nation that is watching that South Park is not a town of prejudice or bigotry"), and "Pinewood Derby" (where the Earth is cut off from the rest of the universe because the people are not worthy of joining the intergalactic community). Anyone looking for a straighter version need look no further than Cartman.
  • Implied in the "Bolero" sequence of Allegro Non Troppo: Life on a distant planet evolves out of a discarded soda bottle. Eventually, apes (who are masses of black, sketchy fur compared to the brightly-colored cartoon animals and have red eyes set in black sclera) are revealed as cheating bastards who don't follow the animals' evolutionary path and eventually mess up the planet by creating war, religion, and destructive cities. By the end they have evolved into humans but on the inside they're still vicious, unsatisfied animals.
  • Ever notice that most of the antagonists on Tiny Toon Adventures are humans? Mostly Montana Max and Elmyra Duff but the only sole exception to this is Mary Melody, in fact there is a better owner for Furrball than Elmyra was.


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alternative title(s): Beware The Beast Man; Rousseau Was Wrong
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