->''"We're here to devour each other alive."''
-->-- '''Hobbes''', ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes''

Frequently, characters will claim that it is in the nature of the human race [[HoistByHisOwnPetard to destroy itself]]. When the character is an alien but not a ProudWarriorRaceGuy, they'll look down on us as [[HumansAreMorons primitive, violent, and socially unacceptable]].

According to the more pessimistic sociologists, this is TruthInTelevision. Even the non-heavy drinkers agree that we possess this tendency. The basic reason for this is that our technical ingenuity -- that is, our ability to devise new ways of building and doing things -- is advancing faster than our social ingenuity -- that is, our ability to devise new ways to associate and relate with one another.

Part of this problem stems from our biology -- at the core of every mammal brain is a snappish crocodile that is upset when others enter its territory or make sudden moves around them. Behavioral patterns that once ensured our survival now court destruction. Luckily, the desire for self-preservation keeps this in check. There's a reason that Mutually Assured Destruction actually prevented the Cold War from going nuclear.

The other part is cultural, stemming from the behaviors and values that we teach to successive generations. Because of this conditioned element, the exact degree to which we seek self-destruction waxes and wanes over long periods of time, but because our military prowess is now reaching [[EarthShatteringKaboom earth-shattering levels]], it may soon be the case that even a slight lapse in reasoning may render the entire matter academic. In addition, the idea of disposable elements, advancing technology and consumerist culture are having the side effect of propagating a growing attitude of instant-gratification and selfishness in society.

But whether or not we're actually likely to drive ourselves to extinction is a matter of personal opinion, since all we really know is that we haven't done it yet.

A SubTrope of HumansAreTheRealMonsters and HumansAreMorons. Contrast ApeShallNeverKillApe. See also PretextForWar. May be used as a [[JustifiedTrope justification]] for a ZerothLawRebellion.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* According to the Anti-Spirals in ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'', [[spoiler:excessive levels of the evolutionary power that is generated by life with helical DNA could trigger the destruction of the universe]].
* In ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSeed'', Rau Le Cruset believes this. He [[OmnicidalManiac decides to speed up the process.]]
* ''Manga/DanceInTheVampireBund'' provides a non-human variant. Mina Tepes openly admits that without an emotional anchor of some sort vampires are prone to extraordinary degrees of self-destructive violence, and points out that roughly a tenth of her new domain's population has managed to kill themselves one way or another within a matter of months (neatly explaining why [[TheVirus Vampires]] are not running the planet by now).
* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'': This may be one of the reasons most [[OurHomunculiAreDifferent homunculi]] look down on humans, especially for Lust and Envy.
* ''[[Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion End of Evangelion]]'', with the comment "[[ApeShallNeverKillApe Humanity is the only creature capable of hating its own kind.]]"
* This is the philosophy on which the Mother System in ''Manga/TowardTheTerra'' was designed. Believing that humans are destructive by nature, humanity themselves designed a system of artificial intelligences to control and govern them. When [[AntiVillain Keith Anyan]], the man engineered by the Mother System to lead humanity, finally shakes off this view and decides to give humans a chance to determine their own fates, it marks the ultimate victory of the series.
** A similar example in the old manga ''Grey''. The never-ending war that's destroying the future world is secretly orchestrated by [[AIIsACrapshoot master computer]] [[FluffyTheTerrible Toy]], because, according to its calculations, humans only exist to kill each other and destroy everything. And also because [[AGodAmI it believes itself to be a god]].
* In ''Manga/{{Trigun}}'', Knives believes this about humans, since the humans he encounters are refugees from a ruined Earth.
* In the Franchise/{{Nasuverse}}, the [[GaiasVengeance Counter Force]] exists basically as a cleanup mechanism whenever there's a threat to humanity's continued existence. More often than not, that threat is humanity itself.
** [[spoiler:[[VisualNovel/FateStayNight Archer]]]]'s role as a Counter-Guardian involves slaughtering humans whose actions threaten humanity as a whole. Constantly seeing this trope in action sent him over the DespairEventHorizon.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}'': The Comedian remarks that mankind has collectively been trying to kill itself off since the beginning of time, but it's only ''now'', in the present day, that they finally have the firepower to finish the job.
* ''ComicBook/SilverSurfer'': A young Wendy Fletcher complained about this trope in the letter column. This led to a correspondence with Richard Pini, whom she later married, and they launched their own comic, ''ComicBook/ElfQuest'', which at first appeared to support HumansAreBastards, but then magnificently subverted it.
* A two-issue story in ''{{JLA}}'' involved them meeting an alien who, upon observing humanity, concluded that we had a genetic imperative/common subconscious desire to drive ourselves to extinction.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''FanFic/KidIcarusUprisingTheNovelization'': Hades outright tells Pit that all he did was give the humans a reason to go to war. As he states, it's in human nature to go to war for any reason, and while Pit may be able to defeat Hades, there's nothing he can do to stop human nature.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/Terminator2JudgmentDay'', Arnie says this to John Connor.
-->'''John:''' ''[observing two children playing around and pretending to shoot guns at each other then fighting for real over who won the game]'' We're not going to make it, are we. People, I mean...\\
'''T-800:''' [[TropeNamer It is in your nature to destroy yourselves.]]
* ''The Day the Earth Stood Still'': This is one of the reasons for Klaatu's visit in both the 1951 original version and its 2008 remake.
** In [[Film/TheDayTheEarthStoodStill1951 the original]], Klaatu visited Earth because, now that we were developing space travel technology, we could potentially take our self-destructive tendencies off world and threaten galactic peace. The aliens want us to outgrow our childish ways and will gladly accept us as equals when we do, but until then, if we start trouble, [[CrushKillDestroy unstoppable alien robots]] will be waiting to destroy us in retaliation.
** In [[Film/TheDayTheEarthStoodStill2008 the remake]], Klaatu visits Earth because our self-destructive nature is endangering the ecosystem of the Earth. Life is so rare in the universe that the alien community considers the biosphere of a planet far more valuable than any single product of that ecosystem. And so as punishment he tries to wipe out all life on the planet himself in order to "restart" the ecosystem, but this time without those pesky humans getting in the way.
* In ''Film/TransformersRevengeOfTheFallen'', Optimus Prime remarks, "We have seen your capacity for war" as a reason for not giving Autobot technology for humans.
** Of course, part of that has to do with the fact that he sees humans as a kindred species (if organic). His own race nearly wiped themselves out in a war that has lasted for ''millions of years'' and is still going on. All movies focus on both sides seeking a piece of technology that would allow the Cybertronians to restore their civilization. Giving advanced weapons to humans would most likely result in the end of human civilization. Hell, look what we did with the stuff we got by studying Megatron.
** By the time of the [[Film/TransformersAgeOfExtinction fourth film]], Optimus is unfortunately proven ''absolutely right'' in his fears when discovering the metal that Cybertronian bodies are made of causes humans to start building their own lifeless human-controlled Transformers as weapons. And worse, at the cost of the lives of several of his kind, who are hunted down, killed and have their corpses melted for resources. [[spoiler: Those responsible end up providing a way for Megatron to return in a new body as Galvatron, turning these new robots into his new soldiers. They were also attempting to acquire a Seed, a device that is essentially a WMD that turns all matter (including living organisms) within the blast radius into this same metal. Even if they knew how to safely handle it, they almost allow it to fall straight into Galvatron's hands, who wants nothing else but to kill as many humans as possible]]. Thus, in one broad stroke, the humans responsible almost completely ensure that they have created humankind's destruction, and that the ones who can save us from it have little to no reason for wanting to do so. Optimus is so jaded by it that he seriously considers taking the Autobots that remain and abandoning Earth to the fate humankind has presented itself with. ''Thankfully'' he changes his mind.
* ''Film/IRobot''. VIKI, tasked with oversight of all of the world's robots, finds herself bouncing between this trope and the [[ThreeLawsOfRobotics First Law]], and [[TakeAThirdOption settles on]] playing [[ZerothLawRebellion totalitarian damage control]].
* ''Film/TheMatrix'': Agent Smith gives Morpheus the whole spiel:
-->I'd like to share a revelation I've had, during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized... you're not actually mammals. [[YouFailBiologyForever Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with their surrounding environment]], but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and you multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings... are a disease. A cancer of this planet. You're a.. .plague. And we... are the cure.
* When [[Film/TheFifthElement Leeloo]] is in the middle of her HeroicBSOD, she says of humanity: "Everything you make you use to destroy."
* In ''Film/{{Aliens}}'', this tendency causes Ripley to ''unfavorably'' compare humanity to the rampaging monsters: "You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage."
** Although oddly completely forgotten about in ''Film/AlienResurrection'', in which Call incredulously says to Ripley after she's killed a xenomorph "But it's like killing your own kind!", apparently having failed to notice that up to that point more humans have died to other humans than to xenomorphs.
* Predating most of the AIIsACrapshoot examples mentioned above is the titular AI's reason for taking over in ''Film/ColossusTheForbinProject.''
--> The object in constructing me was to prevent war. This object is attained. I will not permit war. It is wasteful and pointless. An invariable rule of humanity is that man is his own worst enemy. Under me, this rule will change, for I will restrain man.
* The reason behind [[Film/{{Equilibrium}} Libria]]'s foundation and the [[GovernmentDrugEnforcement Prozium]]'s creation.
--> '''Father''': Intrinsically, humans, as creatures of the Earth were drawn inherently always back to one thing, war. And thus we seek to correct not the symptom but the disease itself. We have sought to shrug off individuality, replacing it with conformity. Replacing it, with sameness, with unity, allowing each man, woman, and child in this great society to lead identical lives.

* In Octavia Butler's ''Literature/{{Xenogenesis}}'' trilogy of books, the alien Oankali say that humans combine two traits--intelligence and hierarchical social structures--that will inevitably lead to our self-destruction. And they have a point: the whole series starts in the aftermath of nuclear holocaust that the Oankali nearly mistook for willful planetary suicide. Some of the viewpoint characters are human/Oankali hybrids (which have the intelligence without the hierarchical behavior), and they can directly perceive this contradiction--they know that leaving any humans unmodified will simply doom them to self-destruction.
* In the ''Literature/{{Berserker}}'' series of science fiction short stories by Creator/FredSaberhagen, the allies of humans, the telepathic Carmpan, a subtle and mysterious species incapable of direct aggression, state that it seems as if humanity has carried the burden of such a nature specifically in order to be able to fight off the robotic Berserkers who threaten all life in the galaxy.
* Creator/SpiderRobinson's short story "Unnatural Causes". Humanity's tendency to destroy itself has been engineered by the alien Krundai. They want us to slaughter ourselves so [[ToServeMan they can eat us]].
* Creator/LarryNiven's short story "War Stories", part of his "Draco Tavern" series, a ship full of alien explorers came across Earth and made recordings of several battles during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII. The recordings made them rich, so they came back to Earth to film more "war stories", knowing that such a warlike species as ours would eventually nuke ourselves back to the stone age. When we didn't, the alien film producers were forced into bankruptcy.
* ''Literature/{{Worldwar}}'': The alien invaders believe this about humanity - but it is mankind's warring against itself which puts us in a strong position to resist their invasion, as [[HumansAdvanceSwiftly we have far more technological progress due to it]], whereas they take centuries to introduce even one new invention.
* Subverted by Creator/IsaacAsimov's short story ''The Gentle Vultures''. The Hurrians are an advanced alien race who are used to encountering "competitive" hominids (ape descended), who tend to destroy themselves as soon as they get nuclear weapons. They, themselves, are "cooperative" hominids (monkey descended). Their FirstContact protocols for competitive primates is to ''not'' make contact, but to instead let them inevitably destroy themselves and then help the survivors rebuild their civilization into a cooperative utopia with the violence bred out. The Hurrians discover [[InsignificantLittleBluePlanet Earth]] just in time for the end of UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, and since they detected the Hiroshima/Nagasaki atomic bombings they thought humans would start using the big guns against each other very soon. Fifteen years later, they are still waiting.
* ''An Alien Light'' by Creator/NancyKress has a very similar premise to Asimov's story above. An alien race is puzzled that humanity didn't blow itself up before getting into space despite being competitive. The difference is that they must find an answer while humanity is blasting them into space dust.
* In Creator/TanyaHuff's ''Literature/ConfederationOfValor'' series this was part of the postulate of a coalition of hyper-pacifist races on why they never contacted less advanced worlds. They reasoned that the races needed to grow into their technology and overcome their warlike tendencies. If they succeeded, they would adopt the same pacifist mentality and be recruited; if they failed, they'd wipe themselves out of existence before achieving interstellar flight.
* One of the main themes in ''Literature/CloudAtlas''. The book's six protagonists each live in a different era, moving from colonial times to a Film/BladeRunner-style BadFuture to AfterTheEnd - and even then, people are still finding excuses to kill each other.
** The central question of the book is spelled out in the AfterTheEnd setting when two characters discuss what they know of human history and wonder whether the "civilized"/cooperative or the "barbaric"/destructive side of human nature is more powerful.
* This is a major theme in ''Literature/ACanticleForLeibowitz''. The book begins several hundred years AfterTheEnd, with the remnants of humanity just beginning to pick up the pieces after a nuclear holocaust that effectively destroyed civilization. By the end of the book, humans have reached and surpassed pre-apocalypse levels of technology, [[spoiler: which they proceed to use to launch ''another'', more powerful nuclear holocaust, which is implied to wipe out life on Earth entirely]].
* Subverted in the short story "Letter to a Phoenix", whose theme is that humanity is doomed to wipe out every civilization it ever produces in nuclear war or worse...which prevents it from succumbing to the slow, permanent death of stagnation that kills all other sapient species in the universe. [[FamilyUnfriendlyAesop "Only the mad destroy themselves. And only the phoenix lives forever."]]
* In Creator/SergeyLukyanenko's ''Competitors'', the aliens reveal that, in their experience, most humanoid races destroy themselves before expanding to other stars. As such, they have no fear of humans, even going as far as providing certain individuals with ImportedAlienPhlebotinum. If anything, they figure that this will only hasten our demise. The novel ends with one of the protagonists determined to prove them wrong.
* There is a short story that has one of the last few remaining humans believing this about humanity and a race of BeePeople, who destroyed each other in a vicious war. After meeting and almost killing the last of the insectsoids, he finds out that it was their "benevolent" saviors who orchestrated the conflict between the two violent races (although it's implied that said "orchestration" merely involved getting the two races to meet), resulting in the mutual destruction (the humans caused the insectoids' star to go nova, while the aliens nuked Earth).
* The prime reason why the Toralii in ''Literature/{{Lacuna}}'' prevent other species from possessing voidwarp technology. Doesn't just apply to Humans.
* ''Forever Peace'' by Creator/JoeHaldeman (the SpiritualSuccessor to his earlier and more famous ''Literature/TheForeverWar'') starts at the assumption that this trope is entirely true, but a means to create perfect empathy has been discovered, potentially averting this trope entirely - but those in the know face the ethical problem of whether they can force others through the process, because very few people (especially those in power) would volunteer for it. [[spoiler:When they discover someone in power has been intentionally hiding the knowledge that a new scientific megaproject could annihilate the ''galaxy'' at least by birthing a new universe, the protagonists enact their plan to force empathy on others through a coordinated set of coups d'etat, concluding humanity's mutually-destructive impulses cannot be permitted to continue for the sake of other possible species out there as well as itself.]]
* Creator/RobertReed's short story, "Chrysalis", has the RacialRemnant of humanity build an enormous GenerationShip to flee the wars that effectively wiped out the human race. Tended by a immortal, robotic crew, they search the galaxy to bring other species on-board ship. The robotic crew commands all ship operations to prevent the humans or other races from destroying themselves or the ship with too much power. [[spoiler: Subverted when it turns out that humanity is alive and kicking - and [[HumanityIsAdvanced has technology far in advance]] (including effective immortality) of what the generation ship possesses. The generation ship just blasts any ship it comes across that wants to establish contact]]
* This ends up being the central point of Creator/RobertCharlesWilson's ''Literature/{{Spin}}'' trilogy. Any sentient species ends up reaching their technological peak and then makes the conditions on their homeworld impossible due to over-consumption and pollution. The Hypotheticals, which are products of several now-dead civilizations, have made it their business to try to keep sentient races alive longer, but only so that the races can produce more technology, which is then "harvested" by the Hypotheticals from the ruins. By the end of the third novel, only three humans remain alive on the toxic Earth, although billions live on other worlds "provided" by the Hypotheticals. The rest died when the burning of two world's worth of fossil fuels has resulted in a bacterial bloom that turned the atmosphere toxic. When the living conditions on Earth became unbearable, the Hypotheticals shut off the [[PortalNetwork Arch]] between Earth and Equatoria.
* The central point of Creator/OrsonScottCard's ''Literature/PastwatchTheRedemptionOfChristopherColumbus'' involves a group of people from TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture, who use technology to "see" into the past and record history find out that Earth is nearing an Ice Age and that, thanks to the depletion of natural resources, human civilization will never again rise above Stone Age. They also find out that the same thing most likely happened in the previous timeline (although the events of that original timeline were ''far'' bloodier than our own history). It's implied, at the end of the novel, that they succeeded in their task of remaking history so that people become "greener".
* This is why aliens look down on us in the ''Literature/MyTeacherIsAnAlien'' series, with one in particular comparing us to monkeys who've learned to make atomic bombs, culminating in the last book spending dozens of pages going on and on about man's inhumanity to man. Then, in a complicated sequence of events involving a self-replicating alien blob that goes "poot", it's revealed [[spoiler:humans ''used'' to have some kind of group psychic link, and we're basically traumatised by not having that link any more]].
* In Larry Niven's novel ''Protector'' the alien Pak take this trope to extremes, as they are biologically-compelled to do whatever appears to be in the best interest of their own families. They literally CAN'T ponder the morality of their actions, and mature Pak are all geniuses, so the entire history of their civilization is a complex web of ruthless Xanatos gambits.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* A major theme of ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}''. And although the Cylons initially hold it over the humans, they eventually show themselves to suffer from the same problem.
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' story ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS25E1RemembranceOfTheDaleks Remembrance of the Daleks]]'', The Doctor observes that, "Your race has an amazing gift for self-deception, matched only by its ingenuity when trying to destroy itself."
* In ''Series/StargateSG1'', it is ''repeatedly'' and ''repeatedly'' shown what high technology can do to civilizations that aren't "ready" yet.
** The Tollans and Asgard refuse to share technology with Earth, for the same reason, although the Asgard do share shield and beam technology later, but no weapons (until very, very much later).
** Humanity then turned it around and did this to another civilization who were asking for Earth's modern weaponry--specifically, help with research into nuclear bombs--to prepare for a world war. O'Neill points out that [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII that line of thinking]] [[UsefulNotes/ColdWar isn't going to end well]].
* Even-handed version in ''Series/SeaQuestDSV'' where some of the crew meet a group of space aliens, yielding this quote: "We are all that remains of our world, a planet taken by our own hand, leaving nothing but the knowledge that self-destruction is a fate sealed in the genes of all life-bearing worlds."
** They later meet another group of aliens who pretty much prove this.
* In the ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' episode "Scorpion Part II", when Chakotay tells Seven of Nine (in her first episode on the show) that he's breaking off Voyager's alliance with the Borg, she says:
-->When your captain first approached us, we suspected that an agreement with humans would prove impossible to maintain. You are erratic, conflicted, disorganized. [[DemocracyIsBad Every decision is debated]], every action questioned, every individual entitled to their own small opinion. You lack harmony. Cohesion. Greatness. It will be your undoing.
* In ''Series/TheOuterLimits1963'' episode "Counterweight", this is one of the Antheon alien's criticisms of humanity during its TheReasonYouSuckSpeech.
* ''Series/TheOuterLimits1995'' episode "Heart's Desire" has an alien arrive on Earth during the WildWest era and take over the body of an old preacher. He then proceeds to give shady characters the power to turn matter into energy at will. They quickly turn on one another, before only one is left. The alien reveals himself and his goal: he has come to Earth to destroy potential enemies but has seen enough to realize that we won't last long enough to invent interstellar travel, and thus are no threat.
* A more passive version of this is brought up in an episode of ''Series/BabylonFive'' where Doctor Franklin and a Markab doctor compare historical incidences of their respective cultures taking ultimately counterproductive measures in response to epidemics.
* A broader version of this is the overarching mentality of the True Ancients in ''Series/{{Farscape}}''. Why don't they allow advanced wormhole technology? Because intelligent life as it is (and as a whole) is so hostile and competitive that in taking out their enemies they'll just take themselves with it. Trouble is, said knowledge is locked up inside Crichton's head, and the Peacekeepers know this, so he's been spending the better part of four cycles evading them and basically telling them, "You do NOT want this!" When the Scarrans join the party, he has to tell them the same thing.
** In the mini-series, he eventually ''shows'' them a wormhole weapon, which is, essentially, a massive AllConsumingBlackHole that threatens to destroy the entire galaxy (and probably won't stop there). Both sides are eventually humbled to cease hostilities and leave Crichton be. Except Scorpius in the follow-up comic.
* This is discussed in both ''Series/{{Cosmos}}'' series, both Creator/CarlSagan and UsefulNotes/NeilDeGrasseTyson pointing out our tendency to do really self-destructive things ranging from mere destruction of knowledge to creating nuclear bombs and polluting the hell out of the planet. One point of the series is to try and ''avert'' this by pointing out the danger and then showing the ways we can be better than that.
--> "If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."

* The chorus of ''Blood Brothers'' by Papa Roach:
-->Corruption and abuse\\
The salesmen of our blood\\
For the public's craving\\
Existence in the dark\\
It's in our nature to destroy ourselves\\
It's in our nature to kill ourselves\\
It's in our nature to kill each other\\
It's in our nature to kill, kill, kill!
** In fact, this is pretty much the whole point of the song.
* Music/BadReligion's "Individual" takes place [[TwentyMinutesInTheFuture no more than 20 minutes in the future]]:
-->Individuals run for cover \\
For the multitudes of [[TheWarOnStraw thoughtless clones]] \\
have reached a critical mass[...] \\
Congregating in invisible circles \\
Half a part and half apart \\
All too aware of the insignificance \\
[[AuthorFilibuster Pushing on with soul and heart]][...] \\
Procreation without gain or purpose \\
Languid wills and torpid minds \\
[[CrapsackWorld Catapulted ever faster]] by the arrow of time
* "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpOtZsnyT3c Sacrificial Kingdoms]]" from the ConceptAlbum "[[HumanityOnTrial The Crucible Of Man]]" by Music/IcedEarth is about this, and in fact screams these exact words at the end of the song.

[[folder:Myths & Religion]]
* Christians believe that Adam and Eve were created perfect, free from sin, but with the free will to choose, and did choose to sin when tempted, and so man has ever since been driven by selfish, sinful thoughts and motives.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Present in a variety of ways in ''TabletopGame/Warhammer40000''.
** Humans have done a pretty good job of trying to wipe themselves out at various points throughout their history. The Dark Age of Technology ended when the [[KillerRobot Iron Men]] [[AIIsACrapShoot rebelled]] and resulted in a partial collapse of human civilisation. This was followed by the Age of Strife, in which the appearance of psykers (caused by the Eldar falling into this trope) resulted in warp storms and widespread demonic possession which led to an even worse collapse. Then there was the Horus Heresy, yet another massive civil war in which humanity as a whole stood on the brink of collapse. And the rest of the time humans spend so much time fighting among themselves that they're much weaker than they should be in resisting the various aliens that want to kill them.
** On a wider scale, the very existence of Chaos is the result of the tendency of all lifeforms to fight each other. Early in the history of the galaxy the [[SubspaceOrHyperspace Immaterium]] was a calm, safe place. But it reflects emotions and so when the ongoing war between the [[{{Precursors}} Old Ones]] and the Necrons began, the Immaterium became the [[HyperspaceIsAScaryPlace Warp]] and created demons and the Chaos gods. The constant warfare between various different aliens since then has not really helped matters.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/Mother3'': In his monologue in TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon, [[spoiler: Porky]] says this about the Tazmily Villagers. [[TheReasonYouSuckSpeech To add insult to injury]], his lecture also counts as a HumansAreBastards tie-in as well.
-->[[spoiler:'''Porky:''']] No matter how much you change the rules, no matter how much you refuse to admit defeat, in the end, the creatures known as "people" will always sign their own death warrant by acting out of stupidity and evil.
* ''VideoGame/StarCraft'': Supposedly, this tendency is why Terran military technology is able to keep up with the [[BugWar Zerg]] and [[ScaryDogmaticAliens Protoss]] -- and also why the Terrans insist on fighting their own wars in the midst of a Zerg invasion.
-->'''Liberty:''' "I can only imagine what the Zerg and Protoss thought when they landed on planet after planet that consisted of nothing but Confederates and rebels whaling the tar out of each other. They probably thought it was the normal behavior pattern for our race. And I suppose they would be right."
* ''VideoGame/{{Marathon}}'': [[AIIsACrapshoot Durandal]] sends this message to the player character.
-->"Every breath, every motion brings you one instant closer to your death. With that kind of heritage and destiny, how can you deny yourself? How can you expect yourself to give up violence? It is your nature. Do you feel free?"
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'': During the end of the game, Shepard meets [[spoiler:the Catalyst, the Overlord of the Reapers, who justifies the mass genocide of the Galaxy as a means to prevent civilizations (human or alien) from creating powerful AIs who will end up destroying their creators and endangering the Universe. Rather than just ensure [[SuicidalCosmicTemperTantrum no organic life continues]] these powerful AIs sweep though the Galaxy every couple of millenniums, to allow organic civilizations time to grow before violently destroying and [[InTheirOwnImage absorbing them]]]]. {{Averted}} for extra irony if you do things [[GoldenEnding just right]] and make peace between [[spoiler:the quarian and the geth before speaking to the Catalyst.]]
** The Salarian Delatrass also claims this of the [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy krogan]], noting that they were uplifted specifically because of their brutality, and if you [[spoiler:cure the genophage]], they'll just drag the rest of the galaxy down with them. Subverted when we find out that the krogan did ''have'' a culture. It's just that when they were first discovered, they were in the middle of a nuclear winter (not an environment conductive to anything beyond day to day survival), then uplifted to fight a BugWar (again: hard to maintain a culture like that), and then got hit with the [[DepopulationBomb genophage]] (at which point as a species they fell into a suicidal spiral of depression).
** Given that on Sur'kesh you find out that the salarians' next plan is to uplift the yahg, an incredibly dangerous race who make the krogan look like kittens, it can appear that ironically enough, it's in ''salarian'' nature to destroy themselves, or at least ensure that they consistently get beaten up by races they uplifted without thinking it through first.
* In ''GearsOfWar'', this trope is [[HiveQueen Queen Myrrah's]] main justification for leading the Locust into a campaign of extermination against humanity.
* The BigBad of ''VideoGame/PokemonDiamondAndPearl'', Cyrus, claims that all conflict and suffering is the result of human emotion. It's because of this that he seeks to harness the power of the resident [[OlympusMons deities of time and space]] to destroy the world and remake it without "spirit".

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/KidRadd''.
-->'''Dr. Amp:''' Spontaneously, the citizens began killing each other.\\
'''Radd:''' Why?\\
'''GI Guy:''' ''Because that's what video game characters do.''

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''Literature/VeilOfMadness'' plays with it. It really ''should'' be in humanity's nature to destroy themselves, since they live in the Veil of Madness, a section of the galaxy that drives everyone in it insane. All other intelligent races that have evolved in it ''have'' destroyed themselves. Humanity is mysteriously immune to this influence- but the major theory is that the Veil can't drive humans insane because they're ''[[HumansAreInsane already]]'' [[InsanityImmunity a little insane]].

[[folder:Real Life]]
* In RealLife this trope tends to apply on a species level rather than an individual level as each individual tries to ensure ''its own'' survival at the expense of others and by extension the species as a whole. This is the essence of competition and while the survivors usually end up stronger there may come a time where there aren't enough survivors to perpetuate the whole.
* This is a popular explanation of the UsefulNotes/FermiParadox: Given the large number of stars and planets in the visible universe, it is likely that a number of extra-terrestrial civilizations exist. But why haven't we found any?
** There's a whole list of theories on the Fermi Paradox's Wikipedia page. Among the most general and simple: we've only been looking for a few decades, only listening for signals that sufficiently advanced civilizations might not try to communicate with in the first place.
** Or it's just that most--if not all--technological civilizations follow [[InYourNatureToDestroyYourselves this very trope]], so they're very scarce.
** The question is of course not why we haven't found them - the question is why they aren't here. Even assuming faster-than-light drives are impossible, an advanced civilization should be able to colonise the whole Milky Way over the course of a couple million years.
* Freud called it "thanatos-eros" (literally "death-love") -- the contradictory impulses in each individual towards destruction and violence on the one hand and towards creation and nurturing on the other. Psychological and cultural research so far supports his theory.
* The Medea Hypothesis proposes that life is naturally self-destructive, as it has come close to destroying itself several times (eg the Oxygen Catastrophe, and the Permian Mass Extinction). Of course, even if true, there wouldn't be much anyone alive could do about that. What's the ''alternative'' to life, after all?