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"You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage."
It's bad to exploit others. To steal, to conquer, to torture, and most often when this comes up, to kill. But what makes it especially bad? Killing because you're human. Only humans, you see, are greedy, or jealous, or kill because they revel in someone else's suffering, while a monster who eats you, well, just has to eat. It's just dinner. Or it's just conquest, or whatever — not like those nasty humans.
This can also apply to assassins, who may be human, but still don't kill out of rage, greed, or insanity like all the rest of us human killers do.
At times the same kind of motive can count either way depending on how it's presented. It's better to kill for money — after all, it's Nothing Personal
, assassination is just a job
and hey, everyone needs to eat; it's not like you're killing someone out of jealousy. Yet it's also worse to kill for money — Aliens kill because they're aliens, but only human beings kill each other for cold cash.
Often a form of Broken Aesop
meant to imply that Humans Are the Real Monsters
. Also often a reason you Can't Argue with Elves
. See also Ape Shall Never Kill Ape
where the monsters are better because they don't
kill even if they do
have human motives.
If it is only claimed that the humans are just as bad (rather than worse), because both
the humans and nonhumans kill wantonly, that is not this trope but may fall under Not So Different
Anime and Manga
- In Code:Breaker, the Angels believe this about (non-powered) humans, and made a game where the students of the school agree or disagree to having serial killers murdered on live video. Despite so far all of them saying yes, it is subverted by the fact A. All the kids believe this to just be a joke, and B. the fact that these are very evil people that will be executed, so it is not like they are agreeing for some random innocent civilian to be killed.
- The Angels themselves seem to fit the bill better. As when they were introduced they played a game called "Who can kill the least amount of people".
- The Re:Codes as well, where when they were introduced they joyously played Rock-Paper-Scissors to determine who got to kill everyone in a part of a town for literally no reason.
- Ripley's famous quote above from Aliens.
- Used in Grosse Pointe Blank, where Martin claims that he's better than a psychopath because he kills for money (while psychopaths have no reason at all). He quickly backtracks into a That Came Out Wrong, of course.
- In the live-action adaption of The Jungle Book, Mowgli explains that animals only kill to eat or to keep from being eaten. He doesn't understand the concept of killing out of hatred or sport and gets pissed when one of the hunters tries to explain it to him.
- Touched on in Battlestar Galactica a little. Six claims murder is humanity's one true art. They also mention Cylons don't torture or try to inflict suffering when they kill. It turns out that she's completely full of shit, but in her defense, she didn't know it at the time.
- Averted in the Doctor Who episode "A Christmas Carol". Kazran states that he wanted to see a fish, not kill one. The Doctor points out that the shark was trying to eat Kazran, getting the response, "He was hungry."
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode, "A Taste of Armageddon," this trope is the rationale for the insane computer war two worlds are fighting. To oppose that, Kirk has to tell them that they of course are capable of self-control like any rational being.
- Criminal Minds there was a young serial killer who studies other serial killers and copies their MO, to him killing was natural to him like eating and sleeping. He even comments on it to Rossi, saying he wonders why all people don't feel this way, and asks if Rossi will be able to tell him why he is this way.
- While wanton killing isn't really unusual for the various alien species of Farscape, it is unusual for a race to so intently focus on killing off other members of their own species. In contrast to the standard Humans Advance Swiftly characteristic, D'Argo notes all of the infighting on Earth as the reason humans haven't advanced further technologically.
- The Professor's opening monologue on the Turbo-Grafx 16 CD game It Came From The Desert contrasts us with ants, shortly before the town is overrun by giant mutant ants:
Professor: Ants, Buzz. They build cities, wage wars, take slaves to work their underground farms. Some can even fly hundreds of feet into the sky and travel across vast oceans. But they never kill for sport. That is solely the domain of Homo Sapiens.