"They can be a great people, Kal-El; they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you...my only son"Humans Are Special, so many nonhuman superpowered people want to destroy us. Unfortunately, humans are also Puny Earthlings, and would be completely screwed except for other nonhumans protecting us. Humans are almost always Muggles; occasionally Badass Normals, but very rarely stand a chance against all the evil that is out there. Evil aliens? Interdimensional Big Bads? Intergalactic Empires? Eldritch Abominations?, Evil Wizards? Other humans? You name it. Humans are simply outmatched by all the dangers that are out there, and need the help of superpowered or otherwise superior species to protect themselves from evil; no matter how much they train or how much technology they have, they simply don't stand a chance against their enemies. Thankfully, there are special/superpowered nonhumans out there willing to defend humanity from threats that they wouldn't otherwise stand a chance at fighting. Usually these heroic aliens are the Last of Their Kind or agents of an Intergalactic Federation and are the only ones willing/able to protect humanity. Aliens may also protect humans from themselves if Humans Are Warriors or to invoke a Green Aesop. This trope can raise Fridge Logic issues if the defenders of humanity are depicted as having just recently begun to take on this responsibility, as it begs the question of how we'd managed to survive prior to that. Contrast Humanity Is Superior, Humanity Is Advanced and Muggles Do It Better, where we can do everything superpowered aliens can do, but with science and technology instead. Compare Superior Species and Humans Are Morons. Can overlap with Benevolent Alien Invasion. Occasionally, the role of the benevolent aliens can be assumed by angels or other supernatural beings. Please, do not, confuse this with Human Aliens, although overlapping is possible. Also not an inversion of Mars Needs Women.
— Jor-El, Superman (1978)
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In Dragon Ball Z, Earth would have been doomed very soon if the Saiyan Goku hadn't come from space.
- Scrapped Princess: This is the justification Cz uses, when she explains to Shanon why it was necessary for the Peacemakers to keep their world locked in Medieval Stasis. Later, during the final episode, Mauser goes into greater detail, when she explains the reasoning for this to Pacifica.
- Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water: During the time he holds Nadia captive, Gargoyle lauds this as the Neo Atlantians' "right" to rule humanity. Needless to say, she didn't buy into his bullshit.
- The Incubators of Puella Magi Madoka Magica claim to be this. Kyubey provides teenagers with special powers in order to feed on their negative emotions to preserve the universe's dead heat phenomenon, whereas those teens use the obtained powers to rack up humanity's civilization. A gag 4koma depicted Madoka becoming a cavewoman when she wishes Kyubey's existence out of the face of Earth.
- Superman is the classic example. Think of all the times Superman has saved the day, a lot of those times he saved humanity from extinction. Humanity would have been long gone without him.
- Made more apparent when he defeated Doomsday as he was the only hero capable/willing to defeat the monster. Without him humanity would have perished at this monster's hands.
- Played with in a Bronze Age Superman storyline where Superman finds himself Brought Down to Normal in his Clark Kent identity and decides to experiment with living a week as just one identity. As Clark, he sees a subway being flooded, and realises he could do nothing to stop it now that he's powerless. Fortunately, the fire department arrives to take care of the crisis, and Clark realises that the world always got along fine before there was a Superman.
- Subverted in Krypton No More storyline where Superman's fear to lose his adoptive world overwhelms him to the point that he decides to protect the Earth's enviroment by any means (including tossing super-tankers out of the planet). His cousin Supergirl stops him, reminding him that they have no right to make decisions for humanity or interfere with man's evolution and development.
- Supergirl has saved the day countless times since her creation, too.
- In the Crisis on Infinite Earths she saved an infinite number of Earths when she took the Anti-Monitor on. Even although she died, her sacrifice gave the surviving heroes time enough to fight back. When human Supergirl Linda Danvers tried to take Kara's place to save her life in Many Happy Returns, she unfortunately found she couldn't hurt the Anti-Monitor because she couldn't punch so hard like Kara (who was an Earth-One Kryptonian).
- In Supergirl (Rebirth), Kara provided the DEO (Department of Extra-normal Operations) with Kryptonian technology to help them fight alien threats off.
- In the Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire graphic novel The Gallimaufry, it's revealed that humanity has been under the protection of an uber-powerful Elder Race alien since joining the galactic community. (This is somewhat different from most other examples on this list in that said protection was part of an explicit secret deal with said alien — protection from extinction in exchange for safeguarding the Winslow — and humans were simply the latest species in line to accept it. It's only when the secret gets out and many of the other species spontaneously decide to gang up on them that humanity is suddenly in trouble.)
- In Paperinik New Adventures it's made clear that Earth would have been overran by the Evronian Empire without Xadhoom devastating their fleets and indirectly starting a number of rebellions among the Evronian subjects.
- Also Inverted, as Xadhoom has a tendence to ignore that the Evronians have the means to stop her if they can get the drop on her, and Paperinik (Earthling) had to save or heal her in four different occasions.
- Last Child of Krypton: Jor-El sends the rocket carrying Kryptonian DNA to Earth because "they cry out for a champion". Yui accidentally found it and altered her unborn son to carry alien DNA. Due to this Shinji has DNA kryptonian with everything it implies, and he is capable to fight the beings threatening his world and save humanity (rather crumbling down due to excessive pressure).
- Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: Asuka was conceived by donor sperm, and her biological father was Kal-El. She is half-kryptonian, and thanks to her alien heritage she gets inspired to become an heroine and saves the world over and again.
- In Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke, humanity Ascends to a Higher Plane of Existence via the help of a Benevolent Alien Invasion.
- Played with in the Uplift series. This is what most aliens believe—and given how much more advanced most alien species are, and how many are hostile to the "wolfling" human species, it is essentially true, now that they're aware of our existence. Without allies like the Tymbrimi, humanity wouldn't stand a chance.
However, there is no indication that humanity needs aliens for anything other than defense against aliens who think we should be their "clients" or exterminated for blasphemy. Between the present day and first contact humanity ended war, repaired the environmental damage to earth, uplifted chimps and dolphins, colonized five solar systems, and developed an automated empathy test that eliminated government corruption entirely (apparently most politicians are psychopaths, who knew?) In fact one might say that humanity is more "mature" than many species that are millions of years older because we had the opportunity to make mistakes and suffer the full consequences, unlike most of the galactics who were all uplifted by other species and in many cases designed to be soldiers.
- Inverted in Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars, where the native Martian races admit that without the Earthling John Carter, they would never be able to unite against their enemies and defeat them so quickly.
- Subverted. The human kids spend the first arc of the series optimistic that the Andalites will come to Earth and take over the fight with the Yeerks for them. It turns out that the Andalites believe that humans aren't worth much overall, and decide that the best course of action would be to wipe out the entire human race so the Yeerks can't use them as hosts. The kids quickly up the ante in their missions after they hear that bit of news.
- Also Zigzagged when Tobias led the free Hork Bajir to the valley, but was only able to because he was getting the directions from the Ellimist.
- In Daniel X, without alien hunters like Daniel, the world would've been destroyed very long ago.
- In Expedition by Wayne Barlowe, the aliens called Yma are there to protect humanity from itself. We'd destroyed the environment almost beyond repair before they showed up, and they're helping us put the world back together.
- Sholan Alliance: The human colonists on Kiess found themselves under the heel of the overpoweringly aggressive etc etc Valtegans. Without the help of the Sholans, they would have continued to be in that situation even with the arrival of the second wave colony ship, still enroute during the first book.
- In Mikhail Akhmanov's Arrivals from the Dark series, the Exile is a member of a race of shapeshifters who infiltrate other races and monitor/guide them. Unlike others of his race, the Exile has a birth defect that forces him to remain in human form for the rest of his (possibly immortal) life and only be able to affect small changes in appearance. He has been on Earth since the 13th century and played an instrumental role in warning humans about the incoming Faata starship. However, even then humans couldn't fight off such an advanced enemy, and Earth was about to be conquered and humans enslaved when the Exile gave a human the means to destroy the ship in such a way as to leave its remains for human scientists to study and reverse-engineer. He continues to covertly provide assistance and intel to human authorities, who, for their part, suppress any attempts at investigating the origin of this assistance (i.e. "don't scare the goose that lays golden eggs"). He shows up once again a thousand years later to help prevent a war with another Human Alien race.
- Creation Man And The Messiah: Implied and exaggerated with the spirits Abiriel and Ohebiel, who ensouls Adam and Eve, thus giving the entire human race a share of an older heritage. Abiriel is "alien" after the normal fashion: His original self was born and bred on another planet (obviously Mars). When he ensouls Adam, and getting a new body for his spiritual self, Ohebiel laments that humanity is doomed unless she intervenes, and then ensouls Eve. Ohebiel is not far from invoking the trope directly.
- In Sergey Lukyanenko's short story "Evening Conversation with Mister Special Ambassador", the alien representative wonders why Earth has remained unconquered despite all the big alien empires in our vicinity. At the end, he finally gets it. Humans are the most mentally retarded race of the galaxy, so everyone else feels pity for us and leaves us alone. An inversion of Humans Advance Swiftly and an interesting take on Humans Are "Special".
- Subverted in William Tenn's story "The Liberation of Earth", in which two groups of aliens alternately occupy Earth, each claiming to be protecting the humans from the other. Eventually, their war moves on, leaving a ruined Earth behind.
- This Immortal: After the nuclear fallout known as the Three Days, humanity would have perished if not for the Vegans, who took those stranded in space in and allowed them to live on Taler and other Vegan-populated planets. As of the time of the story, most humans live outside Earth and work for the Vegans, as it's assumed that Earth couldn't possibly support such a big human population, and those still inhabiting Earth are largely dependent on Vegan funding. It is the expressed goal of Returnist Radpol to change that.
- In Doctor Who, as much as the Doctor thinks that Humans Are Special, humanity (and reality itself for that matter) would have perished without his intervention long ago. Lampshaded in "Turn Left" when the world starts to decay and even reality itself ceases to exist without the Doctor's intervention. Though in this case it's a mutually-beneficial/symbiotic relationship, the whole For Want of a Nail alternate timeline was spun off not because of the Doctor's death, but rather his death and the subsequent consequences were the result of one human woman not being there to help him.
- The Aegis (Gary Seven's alien overlords) in Star Trek routinely protect civilizations from destroying themselves. Fridge Logic issues arise, as they are only ever seen in one episode, in which they operate in the past (20th century).
- The Vulcans serve as something like this between First Contact to a couple of decades or so before Star Trek: Enterprise — things were in a pretty darn rough shape after World War 3, and some of the civilizations in the neighbourhood were not so benevolent as the Vulcans. Had they not helped humanity get back on its feet from the Post-Atomic Horror and provided protection from other interstellar cultures, human civilization might well have ended up collapsing or been subjugated under the heel of (to take one example) the Romulans, despite Cochrane's invention of the Warp Drive.
- In Babylon 5, the Shadows and Vorlons both saw themselves as guardians of the younger races (including humans), guiding their development and evolution. They had conflicting philosophies as to how these younger races should develop, and ended up fighting periodic wars over this using younger races they've manipulated (often secretly) as proxies, to supposedly prove the superiority of their respective philosophies. This pattern is finally exposed to the younger races through the maneuverings of Sheridan, who then shames them into leaving the galaxy to allow the younger races room to determine their own ways.
- Also Inverted in the backstory: when the Dilgar invaded the League of Non-Aligned Worlds, only the Drazi could hold the line away from their own homeworld, and even they would have ultimately been overrun had Earth Alliance not intervened.
- The Stargate-verse implies that the Ancients and the Asgard have protected us for a lot of our history in the hopes we would one day become the badass "Fifth Race"note we have. Tragically we only earn that title when the Asgard are on their deathbeds, and so we have to take up their mantle as the intergalactic guardians of less developed peoples and planets. An exchange between Thor and Carter:
Sam: "There must be something more you can do."
Thor: "I assure you, we are providing you with all the latest Asgard technology, as well as a knowledge base, including our entire recorded history."
Sam: "That's not what I was talking about."
Thor: "Everything that can be done, has been done. The final attempt to solve our physiological degeneration has left each of us with a rapidly progressing disease."
- Humanity can only guarantee Pyrrhic victories at best against the Covenant, until circumstances cause the Elites to secede and ally with humanity. With their union the Covenant is defeated, but humanity rushes to rebuild itself quickly, because there is little guarantee that the Elites can protect them forever, especially since not all agreed with allying with humans in the first place. That said, the two species have continued to undertake a number of cooperative ventures in the post-war years.
- Additionally, a good amount of humanity's rapid advancement in the post-war years have been thanks to their employment of Huragok/Engineers, biological supercomputers originally created by the Forerunners. That said, humanity is cautious about utilizing their help too much, since there's still a lot humans don't know about the Huragok (who are notoriously difficult to understand even in the best of circumstances).
- Inverted in the backstory. In prehistory, humanity had an interstellar empire that was desperately trying to stop the Flood. Out of desperation, they then began aggressively sterilizing Flood-infested Forerunner worlds without bothering to send out a warning beforehand. Not surprisingly, the Forerunners got pissed (especially since the humans were also taking their worlds for themselves) and declared war on humanity. The humans lost to the Forerunners and were forcibly devolved, only for the Forerunners themselves to encounter the full might of the Flood and realize that they maybe could have used humanity's help.
- Humans in the series are considered flawed, weak, violent, and greedy by the Protoss and Zerg. Outside of Raynor's alliances with the Protoss, the humans are prone to civil wars and in-fighting even as they flee/fight the Zerg and Protoss. The climax of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, when Raynor and the Dominion invade Char and de-infest Kerrigan is pretty much the only heroic thing the race has done in the grand scheme of things.
- Also in Wings of Liberty, Jim Raynor is shown a vision of a possible future where the Terrans and Protoss are driven to extinction by the zerg/protoss hybrids in a timeline where Kerrigan dies, and can't lead the Zerg swarm.
- Then again, humans have been shown to at least be better at fighting the zerg than the Protoss in the games making this a possible subversion. Raynor played a major part in the defeat of the first overmind on Aiur, the United Earth Directorate seized control of the second in brood war, and humans took one of the zerg's best defended worlds (Char), twice. Let's also not forget that Sarah Kerrigan, the Zerg's current leader is a former human. Also, Terrans are the only one of the three races that were not uplifted by the local Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
- In Final Fantasy XIII, Barthandelus invokes this, telling the party that humans are foolish, cowardly and easily deceived, and "without [our] help, death is all of which you're capable". Delving into the backstory reveals that it is largely due to fal'Cie influence that humans have thrived.
- In Universe at War, the Earth is invaded by a race of Planet Looters called the Hierarchy. We humans get our collective asses kicked, but just as all hope seems lost, the Novus, another alien race with a grudge against the Hierarchy, turn up and begin fighting them alongside us. Only then does the tide begin to turn. And then, the Masari, the Hierarchy's Precursors who were believed to have been hunted to extinction by the very race they uplifted, also turn up to deliver a little "divine retribution" to their errant children.
- Phantasy Star II, The greatly advanced civilization of Algo is completely based on some super computer nobody give a damn where it comes from. Inverted as the Computer comes from Earth. Such civilization goes downhill very fast when the protagonists defeats Mother Brain and the aliens who are behind her creation. Fortunately, Phantasy Star IV shows that people recovered rather fast after a 1000-year time skip.
- In Gargoyles without Goliath's clan intervention humanity would have been long gone extinct, specially from Demona's genocide tendencies. Then again, Demona herself is from the same clan, so most of the time it's not really the humans needing gargoyles to protect them, it's gargoyles protecting us from their own kind.
- Gargoyles are instinctively protective, having evolved from cliff dwelling creatures. Goliath's Clan specifically protects the castle because humans built it against their cliffs. Since humans are active during the day, Gargoyles struck a deal to protect them during the night... of course, this goes the opposite way as the Gargoyles need humans to protect them during the day. In fact, the second half of the first season deals with Goliath struggling with the Modern world and concludes with Hudson recognizing its because Goliath doesn't have something to protect in the modern world.
- Futurama: Although Nibbler acts as a cute little pet most of the time, he in fact belongs to a powerful alien race and saves Earth and humanity more than once.
- Transformers is all about Earth getting caught between the two sides of an alien civil war. By the third season, we've taken a bit of a Level In Badass, but for the first two seasons we're almost totally dependent on the Autobots to defend us from the Decepticons.
- Ditto for Challenge Of The Go Bots, although our technology improves a lot faster than it does on The Transformers.