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Neglectful Precursors
That ancient race sure built a lot of weapons... I mean did they really need to spend all their time building stuff to destroy the universe? Like, how about the galaxy's biggest movie theatre or some kind of super-advanced water park? All work and no play guys, seriously.
Grif, Red vs. Blue

Precursors; kindly ancient civilization or deadbeat parents? You decide, on today's episode of Judge Troper's Court!

The plaintiff: The Adventurer Archaeologist claims that the Neglectful Precursor has left this galaxy and not provided a proper means of child support. He further alleges that the abundance of sealed evils with flimsy seals and easily found keys, the leaving of outstanding debts with ancient enemies bent on collecting from humanity, and the presence of civilization-shattering plagues are clear signs of neglect. The plaintiff demands that the ancients stop leaving dangerous weapons lying about for villains to acquire, or else make access to them morality-sensitive, so only heroes can use them to pay off previous debts.

The defendant: Claims that since they've become Energy Beings thousands of years ago, they have evolved past conventional morality but are nonetheless caring for humanity or "testing it", evidenced by their "wise" decisions to hold back Lost Technology until we're ready to use it, and scatter the keys to important technology so it can be used again. They defend their "long distance parenting" as character building, making sure the threats humanity faces are in line with its skill, and that there's always one more Lost Superweapon around for each. They assure the court they "always knew we would win." And finally, the defendant argues that there needs to be a cutoff point where their actions, inaction, and remaining artifacts stop being the excuse for everything bad that happens in the universe— that they did the best they could under circumstances beyond our comprehension— and where the younger races start realizing that they are responsible for their own mistakes.

The Verdict? You decide!

See Abusive Precursors for Precursors that go beyond merely "guilty", or Benevolent Precursors for civilizations up for the "Precursor of the Eon" award.

No Real Life Examples, Please!

Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist is an example when humans become Neglectful Precursors of much stronger beings than they are themselves. Because of bad initial appearance they dump their creations, which made them hate humanity or seek a very cruel ways to become humans, made worse when the Big Bad helps them survive and gain power by feeding them Philosopher's Stones.
  • Your honor, I bring before the court the case of Al-Hazard from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. The defendant is charged with the creation of no less than twenty-one 'Jewel Seed' Lost Logia with a combined output capable of fracturing reality, with an ease of use even a child could use. They also stand accused of the creation of a fully armed interdimensional warship complete with an army of drone weaponry.
  • Your Honour, the humanity, the court of angels and the demons of the nine nether planes would like to drag God before the court.
  • Your Honor, I would like to mention the Unnamed Aliens from Happy Seven. They were fighting so much they created a super weapon strong enough to blow up the universe, hid it inside Earth, then left.And, then they waited till there was actually less then 5 minutes left to decide to come stop the machine.
  • In the manga ''Hotel''. Humanity are precursors to the sentient computers, one (Louis) whose task is to ensure that the DNA of all Earth life is protected and a second who's task is to protect the DNA of humans in order to colonize another world in hopes of saving the species. While the creations of Louis may or may not be independent sentient robots separate from itself the creation of his counterpart in space certainly are ... we're assholes who did nothing but cause Earth to die and died in the process ourselves leaving Earth an unlivable wasteland.
  • Humanity in Nausicań of the Valley of the Wind. It engineered a vast, vast number of Weapon of Mass Destruction, which include the titanic cyborg-like God Warriors, destroyed the entire ecosystem of the whole world, and finally all but perished in the Seven Days Of Fire. But its greatest sin was to create the Heart of Shuwa, a biological computer which contains a human-like consciousness, and which, when found by the few surviving humans, dispensed just enough scientific knowledge to enthrall them. Additionally, war technology pre-Seven Days Of Fire is still scattered across the planet, including the aforementioned God Warriors.
  • Humanity on planet Gunspoke left all kinds of surprises for Vash the Stampede in Trigun
  • The Prosecution would like to present evidence in the case against the much-vaunted Protoculture from Super Dimension Fortress Macross for being irresponsible forebears:
    1. Created the Zentradi race solely for the reason of waging war, to the point the Zentradi don't know how to do anything else.
    2. They involved themselves in a Lensman Arms Race that led to the development of Weapons of Mass Destruction capable of wiping out entire solar systems.
    3. Their creations were possessed by beings from Another Dimension that nearly annihilated the Protoculture itself. Instead of destroying them, they merely imprisoned them and left them there for further generations to deal with.
    4. They seeded Earth with life, but left behind an overseer in case things got too nasty just so it could put Humanity on Trial and trigger the destruction of life on Earth if it found mankind lacking.
    5. They left behind pockets of ancient technology in various worlds, which invariably is turned into weapons (if it's not a weapon itself) by either the Zentradi or humanity.
    • The defense would like it to be known that while the creation of the Zentraedi and the resulting Lensman Arms Race were grave errors on their part, the Protoculture learned from said mistakes and spent their last years seeding the galaxy with life (including both the human and Zolan races, possibly including further undiscovered species) in an attempt to atone for them. The defense further wishes to note that the failure to destroy the Protodeviln and clean up their pockets of technology may be a result of said events happening in a time of galaxy-wide warfare. We put forth the theory that the Protoculture did the best that they could with the resources they had left, considering the Zentraedi were at the time hunting them down and slaughtering them en masse.

    Comics 
  • The Celestials of the Marvel Universe tinkered with humanity's genes, creating the Eternals and the Deviants, as well as sticking the X-Gene into humanity's genetic mix. They also happened to leave behind one of their advanced spaceships where it would be found by En Sabah Nur, one of the first mutants resulting from the X-Gene. One can guess at the sort of use he put the Celestials' technology to by the fact that he renamed himself Apocalypse. Then it turns out they let En Sabah Nur nick their stuff so he would owe them a favor.
    • With respect to the prosecution your honor, the suggestion the defendants are the cause of the X-gene a disputed theory. As witness Sublime testified, the X-gene was an unexpected mutation that proved to be beneficial in an ecosystem that was formerly dominated him. Mr. Sublime had been the dominant species on Earth long before any mammals appeared, much less caught Celestial attention. Therefore interstellar mammal gene therapy must be ruled out because Sublime would have known about it. Further more, the X gene has been detected in the Celestial projects Skrull and Eternal long after our clients had given up an active role in their development, as well as in the technarchy, whom there is no record of Celestial contact with on a subject it is doubtful any force less than the infinites or the tribunal itself could have tampered with and not drawn the ire of the Magus.
      • Your Honor, John Sublime's account is contradicted by other observers such as The Watcher, who can be agreed to be a far more objective and trustworthy witness. Furthermore, if Mr. Sublime's account of having formerly been Earth's dominant species is true, his repeated attempts to wipe out both the human and mutant races leave him open to charges of being an Abusive Precursor.
    • Additionally, the prosecution would like to remind the honorable judge Troper and the jury that when the Celestials deemed the Terminex unfit for further evolution and wiped them out, they did not see fit to finish the job and let the Terminus project they left behind alone. This resulted in the destruction of entire ecosystems in numerous galaxies and may have been the end of life as we know it on Earth if not for the efforts of the Fantastic Four. That the Terminus project only began in response to Celestial aggression and would take a trivial effort for them to put an end to, the charge of neglect is hard to argue against.
  • Your Honor, I present to the Court the Guardians of the Universe - while it is true they created the intergalactic police force now known as the Green Lantern Corps, and that they have had a major role in the defeat of the Anti-Monitor, Superboy-Prime and Mandrakk the Dark Monitor, there has been an ever growing list of incidents which leads the prosecution to wonder exactly what is it that the Guardians have been doing with that power.
    • For starters, the Court is presented with evidence of the Guardians' creation of the Psions. They were given immeasurably powerful technology and isolated from the universe at large so they could strive to comprehend it without interference. Except the Psions have once and again studied it, leading to a Vicious Cycle in which they discover their origins, are paralyzed when understand they are essentially a huge experiment, destroy all technology, and start anew. Furthermore, the path the Guardians have pushed the Psions into has arguably pushed them into a spiral of abuse into other species, creating a race of Mad Scientists.
    • The Guardians covered up the crimes of a rogue member of their collective, one Krona, namely reprogramming and unleashing the berserk Manhunters on Sector 666, which ended in nigh-complete genocide, destroying entire universes in his mad quest to know of their creation, manipulation of the Emotional Entities, first contact with Nekron, pouring entropy in the newborn universe.
    • The Guardians, in fact, have a noted record for hiding the records of their past failures, even though knowledge of this could prove critical in eventually saving the Universe as a whole, to make themselves look better. Examples of this include the sealed Apokolips campaign (in which hundreds if not thousands of Lanterns were slaughtered against Parademons), the existence of the Parallax Fear Entity (which led to the destruction of the Corps and the near-death of the universe), and most egregiously, the smear campaign against Abin Sur and Ganthet and the sealed records pertaining to the truth about Nekron and the prophecy of the Blackest Night, in which they continuously suppressed vital information and fomented discord within the seven Corps, which were all vital in the banishment of Krona and the end of the Blackest Night.
    • When questioned by the abomination Nekron, a Guardian was asked exactly why his people had chosen to patrol the cosmos. His answer - "I don't remember". - only serves to underpin how far the Guardians have strayed.
    • In another earlier case, the Guardians chose to sentence one of their own Appa Ali Apsa to mortality and exile because he had decided to preserve the life of one Green Lantern over preserving the environment in a clear Catch 22 situation. While he eventually regains his immortality, Appa Ali Apsa's experiences as a result of his exile are one of the chief reasons he subsequently goes mad and brings in various cities from across the universe to use as his playthings, crossing the line himself into Abusive Precursor.

    Film 
  • To be tried in absentia: the unspecified race which dispatched a probe to Earth's humpback whales in Star Trek IV. This species, alleged to have long been in peaceful contact with said whales, equipped their probe with the capacity to communicate with these creatures underwater ... and to decimate Earth's indigenous ecosystems, in the event that the whales failed to respond. Even if the probe's makers were unaware that whales were not Earth's only sentient residents, such environmental sabotage is reckless and unconscionable. Moreover, if the whales' language were to change in the millennia between one probe's visitation and the next, rendering them incapable of a coherent response, then the probe's "peaceful communication" might well have exterminated the humpback species long before humans could do so! Your Honor, I submit a charge of reckless endangerment on behalf of plaintiffs George and Gracie, and of negligent homicide on behalf of other Earth life forms killed by the probe's transmissions.

    Literature 
  • The plaintiff brings the precursors of the Morgaine Cycle to court, having created a system of star gates that slowly tore the fabric of reality apart (This is not known until several hundred years after the network is finished). Eventually they discover this, after which they then proceed to cause a energy cascade that wipes out their entire race, just to destroy the incredibly dangerous gates. Unfortunately, one survives and is copied to create another network by a second precursor race who are almost wiped out warring with each other over whether the gates are dangerous or not. The last member of said race is the titular Morgaine, who embarks on a million-year journey to close all the gates. Some others remain trapped on worlds as Sealed Evil in a Can, and these fall under Abusive Precursors as they typically run slave empires.
  • Your Honour, The Elder Gods of the Cthulhu Mythos would like to plead guilty, except that they have no concept of guilt....also, they want permission to use the buffet, that being what they prefer to call the jury.
    • Verdict: Mistrial. A retrial has been postponed until the state can locate a judge, jury, and prosecutor capable of confronting the facts of the case without being reduced to gibbering madness.
  • The Uplift Institute would like to find the lost patrons of humanity and prosecute them extensively for their abandonment of a semi-uplifted species. Such reckless behaviour cannot be tolerated, and an example must be set. Humanity is now a wolfling species and will likely die out within the next few thousand years, given galactic dogma against such species.
  • The Consu from the Old Man's War Universe have created the sentient race Obin without a sense of consciousness. Even though it turns out the Consu considers lacking consciousness to be an ideal state of being, the fact that they never told the Obin this little fact, and treated the Obin like a bunch of irritating insects who should stop asking questions definitely qualifies them as neglectful.
  • Your honor, the prosecution would also bring suit against the T'lan Imass from the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Their ritual sealing of captured Jaghut and Forkrul Assail proved ineffective in the long-term as any person with sufficient strength and interest could remove the rock and thus release the trapped being. In addition, their actions directly contributed to the destruction of magic at various locations around the world, which continues to this day.
    • The Jaghut themselves weren't slacking off either. Known for having created some other races just for fun (they didn't need them for anything in particular), some of those sentient or semi-sentient killing machines ( the Boles, the Nachts), they then just up and left them to do whatever they pleased, which includes looking for new things to hate and kill because, well, that's what the do best.
    • And not to forget the Azathanai, who can be credited for creating most of the known races in the Malazanverse. Some still have some connection to whatever race they created, but some simple don't care anymore or think their creations deserve what they get.
  • Your honor, the prosecution would like to bring suit agains the Heechee of the Heechee Saga, who are responsible for leaving behind advanced technology when fleeing from the Assassins, which was bound to be found by a younger race and, without proper instructions on the use, would likely end up misusing it to disastrous ends. Furthermore, the continuous use of said technology is what attracted the attention of the Assassins toward the Heechee in the first place, which means that, by leaving such technology for anyone to use, the Heechee have doomed an unfortunate young race (namely, humanity) to extinction.
  • Your honor, the prosecution respectfully wishes to indict the Xunca, of the Humanx Commonwealth universe. Having risen to a state of absolute galactic domination some billion years past, they discovered an unstoppable galaxy-devouring horror approaching from across the universe. In attempting to deal with it, they constructed a super-superweapon concentrating the energy of millions of galaxies. However, prior to the activation of said weapon, they decided instead to flee to a different dimension... and forgot to leave behind a key, thus effectively condemning our galaxy to annihilation unless some freak accident happened to replicate the precise conditions required to activate it. Naturally, this happened, but the fact that they allowed the situation to come about in the first place can only be seen as the grossest evidence of neglect.
    • If it please the court, the defense submits as evidence the document heretofore referred to as Quofum, which establishes that the Xunca did not, in fact, "forget" to leave a key. Rather, the Xunca themselves lost the key before their weapon could be activated, and despite millions of years of diligent effort, could not reproduce this Lost Technology. At worst, this would mark them as Flawed Precursors, not negligent ones: at least they'd tried to save the galaxy for races yet to come, rather than simply escaping a threat which they had no hand in creating.
  • Your honor, the prosecution respectfully wishes in indict The Great Old Ones from the The Dark Tower saga. These precursors left incredibly dangerous artifacts which regularly killed and maimed the people of Mid-World.

    Stargate Verse 
  • Your Honour, for unbelievable negligence, incredible incompetence, blinding hypocrisy, and a refusal to take any responsiblity at all for crimes, misdemeanors, or even basic sapient decency, the prosecution requests that The Ancients of the Stargate Verse be assessed the maximum civil and criminal penalties available under the law. A summary of their deeds and lack thereof is as follows:
    1. Refuse to help normal people ascend to Energy Beings save on their own merits, and punish those who do. Fair enough, but they also won't allow anyone who ascends to help mortals, bringing down the banhammer at the slightest sign of rule-breaking.
    2. Refuse to help any of the "lower beings" at all, including against monstrous, Always Chaotic Evil beings that will kill or enslave everything in their path. Which is EXTREMELY hypocritical considering they're directly or indirectly responsible for the creation of almost all of them in the first place. Anyone of their kind that does attempt to help are treated worse than those that attempt to help them ascend. Witness: Daniel Jackson.
    3. Rarely took security measures (and almost never left instructions) regarding the legions of Pointless Doomsday Devices they left like so much trash throughout various galaxies including one capable of exterminating all life in the galaxy and another that could not be shut off once activated.
    4. Leaving other technologies throughout the galaxy, including a means of achieving immortality that causes insanity if used, to be exploited by anyone who discovered them. This resulted in the Goa'uld transforming from a simple parasitic species to the tyrannical rulers of the entire Milky Way Galaxy.
    5. Directly responsible for the creation of two horribly powerful, ravenous, immensely destructive beings (the Replicators and the Wraith). After exterminated their mistakes they chose to ascend. Rather than use their ascended knowledge to fix the problems they had created they left their monstrous creations to slaughter countless millions of lives.
      • Your Honor, I must note that important evidence has recently emerged with regard to the creation of the Wraith. It has come the prosecution's attention that the Wraith came about due to an experiment to achieve Immortality. Unwilling to test the process on themselves or their fellow Ancients, the researchers instead used a "lesser" species: humans. The majority of the test subjects did not survive the transformation. When it became clear that the survivors could only sustain themselves by feeding on the life force of humans or (more importantly in the researchers' eyes) Ancients, they imprisoned the newly-created Wraith and planned their extermination, which was prevented by the Wraith escaping and killing their captors. The Wraith Queen Alabaster and Teyla Emmagan, descended from human-Wraith hybridization experiments, can both testify to genetic memories of these events. The Wraith Old One is the only known survivor of the original Wraith and could also confirm through firsthand knowledge, but is unlikely to recognize the validity of this court and more likely to see it as a snack.
      • It should also be noted that, in their war with the Wraith that lasted thousands of years, the Ancients with all of their superior technology never bothered to look for a way for Wraith and humans to coexist. Yet in a matter of mere years, a combined research group of Tau'ri and Wraith have developed an experimental retrovirus that allows a human to be fed upon by a Wraith without any permanent damage at all. Preliminary field tests have demonstrated that it works in at least some humans, with wider trials planned in the immediate future. Had the Ancients been willing to even consider possibilities other than a war of extermination, billions of lives could well have been saved.
    6. Intentionally created, in the Pegasus Galaxy, stargates that terminate in orbit around planets without including a warning system.
    7. One of the aforementioned Always Chaotic Evil beings managed to ascend and attempted to use the Ancient knowledge for his own benefit. Because his ascension had been aided by another the Ancients responded by only partially de-ascending him, leaving him with all of his knowledge (as well as being effectively unkillable).
      • This was done purely for a petty guilt trip on the person who had ascended him. Even if her decision was wrong they allowed Anubis to kill millions of people not only without restrain but with their explicit protection. Effectively setting a murderer loose in a building full of helpless children and then preventing anyone from stopping the killing, putatively to teach a moral lesson.
    8. The justification given for their constant absence is not wanting to involve themselves with mortal affairs, believing they do not possess the right to wield such power in such a way. Yet when the Ori, beings comparable to the Ancients to whom they should have no such restrictions, set their sights on the Milky Way galaxy they are allowed to just waltz in on a technicality. In addition, they are perfectly willing to break this non-interference clause when their own well-being is at stake, sending Morgan Le Fay to stop Merlin (who at the time was descended and should have been out-of-bounds) when he made a device capable of killing ascended beings.
    9. The Morgan Le Fay case bears further elaboration, as she very carefully leaked information to the humans, while the rest of the Ancients watched her. The moment she tried to do anything but be vague, she was dragged away, never to be seen again.
    10. The primary aspect of the Ancients non-interference pact is long as there are no ascended powers being used. That seems reasonable. Yet when Adria fully ascended, and later came down to our lowly plane of existence and acted to her full powers, did the Ancients finally stand up and say, "No"? Well, no. While Adria returned to the Ori galaxy and never returned to the Milky Way afterwards, thus the Ancients were still playing by their (pompous, overblown, immoral) rules, the very fact that their rules allow for such a loophole merely strengthens the case against them.
    11. Decided to ignore any and all precautions regarding the safeguard of their technology, or leave any kind of warning regarding their technology, even when clearly having the power to manipulate the physical environment to do so. This extends to the Ancient Library of Knowledge and the Destiny Chair, both of which are designed to kill their users.
    12. Furthermore, there is evidence that the Ancients were effectively incompetent, as they 1) were not able to cure a plague which a Goa'uld symbiote is able to cure with no side-effects, 2) were not able to utilise their own technology to go back into time, instead, creating a time loop/trap for other races to discover, 3) were not able to defeat either the Wraith or the Replicators even though the 'primitive' Tau'ri were able to, and 4) were not able to hold Atlantus after being given control of it back again, because of their arrogance and general incompetence.
    13. So, the prosecution suggests we extend the verdict to Guilty, guilty, hypocritical Lawful Stupid Energy Being scumbags. Thankfully, the Ancients turned out to be so neglectful they actually left behind the keys to creating the sangra'al, a device capable of destroying themselves. All in favor of capital punishment?
  • The Asgard would like to point out that the reason the Ancients didn't fight the Ori or Adria was that they were in fact more powerful than the Ancients. It is stated that any human who believes in the Ori makes them more powerful on the ascended plane. As the series went on the population of the ENTIRE Ori galaxy and a large portion of the Milky Way was helping the Ori, and all that power switches from being split by a whole race to concentrated in one single being. It would've been frankly suicidal for the Ancients to directly intervene, but letting SG-1 fight in their own way kept the focus away from themselves. Also, why would the Ori need to cheat and create a human with some Ori powers that wasn't ascended? Because the Ancients were preventing them from intervening directly, which would have been a thousand times worse.
    • The convenient (alleged) banishment of Morgan Le Fey (a powerful Ascended Ancient) to the galaxy wherein lived the Ori, conveniently accompanying SG-1 through the Supergate, conveniently being present to heal Teal'c of mortal injury, conveniently giving Daniel Jackson the knowledge and means to sever Adria's power, and conveniently being on-hand to destroy her once her power had been severed, all while sticking exactly to the letter of their rules, should not be ignored.
  • To be fair, the Ancients DID help out their descendants in the past, giving one group of them a weapon capable of easily defeating the Goa'uld. (the Velonans) who then turned around and became as bad as the Goa'uld, using the weapon the Ancients had provided to subjugate other worlds. Said group were similar to the Tau'ri, to the point of having a similar tech level. The Ancients might simply be scared of a repeat, and probably for good reason. (it would take the NID how long exactly to steal any superweapon provided to the Tau'ri?) - the Ancients aren't neglectful, they made a judgement that providing help to the Tau'ri was too dangerous. (look at what has happened with other races- the Abydosians were ascended ( and I doubt that was natural)) As for the Ori, it should be noted that the it was the Tau'ri who (accidentally) gave the Ori knowledge of the Milky Way- the Ancients had been hding the Milky Way from the Ori. The Ancients may well have thought the Tau'ri needed to learn a lesson. Note that Morgan Le Fey seemed to have a LOT more latitude than Oma Desala did- the Others didn't stop Morgan until she was about to basically tell the Tau'ri where the Sangraal was. And don't tell me the Ancients didn't know she was sending the dreams of the Ark Of Truth to Daniel, or that Morgan was heading for the Ori galaxy. At the very least, the ancients were deliberately ignorant of what she was doing.

    Live Action TV 
  • Humanity themselves in Red Dwarf. They left a huge number of maladjusted sentient beings ranging from genetically engineered bioweapons to homicidal cybernetic war machines with indefinite lifespans to overpossessive gestalt entities to mind and emotion sucking parasites. The only saving grace seems to be that they all want to kill all humans (virtually to the exclusion of everything else), which three million years into the future consisted mainly of Lister, and could be considered to be dropped to the lesser offense of "Having Your Own Race Destroyed by Your Foolish Creations."
    • If Ridiculously Human Robots may be counted as a "species", the prosecution brings forward the remains of the Wax Droids of the episode "Meltdown". After being abandoned for millions of years, they broke their programming, whereupon the Villain Wax Droids attacked the Hero Wax Droids and almost wiped them out (so the "good" wax droids were indeed left in the lurch). We are even forced to overhear the execution of Winnie the Pooh. It wasn't until Arnold Rimmer arrived and used his military "genius" to wipe out the entire planet.
  • The State Of New Mexico wishes to bring charges against the Greys of The X-Files. However, the evidence seems to have been destroyed by The Men in Black.
  • The people of Earth would like to bring charges against the Colonials and Cylons of the reimagined series of Battlestar Galactica for abandoning technology and sentencing their descendants to:
    1. 140,000 years of struggle to reinvent things such as basic sanitation, agriculture, medicine, education, and the wheel!
    2. Sentencing their immediate descendants to the horrors of disease, famine, dying in childbirth, and lack of long term protection from the environment (Earth was in an ice age, for frak's sake!), possibly hostile natives, and unknown indigenous flora and fauna.
    3. The loss of FTL drive and other advanced technogies, the loss of which to the present day (and possibly beyond) leaves us with no way to evacuate the planet in case of an asteroid strike. (And no, you can't blame Lee Adama for everything; the colonials and cylons all thought this was a good idea.)
    4. Left no messages or warnings to the descendants that that "all of this has happened before and will happen again" if they don't "take care to be nice to our robots" - mainly because by giving up technology their descendants had to wait ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND YEARS for someone to reinvent writing.
    5. And what is the backup plan? "Oh, weĺll just interbreed with the natives!". Even ignoring you can't tell whether or not you can interbreed by looking at someone, even if Gaius frakking Baltar made the test, then you have no way of knowing whether or not you just exposed yourself to a disease that you have no immunity against, and WITHOUT TECHNOLOGY you have no way to find a cure or at least a vaccine. And that isn't even considering they have no idea whether the natives are even friendly to outsiders. Your Honor, I hereby move that they be found guilty not only of neglectful actions to their distant descendants but also guilty of neglectful actions to their immediate descendants as well.
    • If my clients are to be found guilty, then they refuse to go down alone on this. If they get thrown in the stockade, then at least God and the Head entities should go down with them if not replace them entirely. They've got far more cosmological level chops then my clients ever did, were interfering tremendously with their lives, and had ample opportunity to influence highly influential members of the community to say this is a bad idea (one of the greatest scientists of the era, and a heroine of the Cylon people). Instead, they seemed to have encouraged the whole abandonment of technology idea, manipulated their lives, and seemingly did not offer any advice to future generations despite the fact that unlike my clients, they were immortal and didn't have heaps of species-wide post traumatic stress disorder from years of multiple near-genocides, multiple actual genocides, being cramped up inside ships for years on end with the knowledge you may die at any moment, having to abandon the closest thing to a new home they got, getting betrayed by their siblings, having to deal with their first recognized intra-species conflict, and actually cleaning up Neglectful Precursor-esque messes like their malevolent child/grandchild/sibling robot races.
  • The races of Babylon 5 universe vs the Shadows and Vorlons throughout their incarnations.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel all kinds of Big Bads and Monsters of the Week returned from previous 'defeats' on cue.
  • The Time Lords and various other races throughout Doctor Who.
  • The Dharma Initiative in LOST left mysterious numbers stations and donkey wheels for anyone to find.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Craftworld Eldar. The very literal Defectors From Decadence saw what the debauchery of their civilization would result in and tried to stop it. They failed, and in a last resort to survive they constructed small artificial planets to escape the downfall of their species. That they seem to regard the failure to prevent the heart of their empire turning into The Eye of terror as "Neglectful" and they are now actively trying to fix the damage they've done, the Court therefore infers a plea of guilty, as well as stipulation to a sentence of eternal community service. The Court finds no defect, and the Craftworld Eldar are permitted to proceed as they have. Further, Craftworld representatives have offered an additional penance: upon the extinction of their species, their combined souls will combine to create a new cosmic entity, which they say will destroy the cosmic entity created by their decadence, and hopefully heal the damage of its birth.
  • The Scarred Lands franchise. The back story to the series is a war against the amoral creators of the world, the Titans, and their rebellious children, the Gods. The Gods were unable to completely kill the Titans, so they just maimed and imprisioned them. Despite completely oblierating two of the Titans, the other Gods were left mostly whole and just imprisoned. Since then, the remains of the Titans has damaged the land and corrupted countless creatures, even the two who were almost destroyed. Despite the fact that the Gods now rule the world, they haven't shown themselves to be in any hurry to clean up their mess.
    • Perhaps the most noticeable screw up is what they did to the Titan Kadum, the Father of Monsters. They ripped out his heart, chained him to a rock and threw him into the ocean. Unable to die, his blood continually seeps out of his chest, corrupting a large part of the ocean and all of the creatures inhabiting it.
  • Star*Drive is filled to the brim with ancient alien ruins, some of them quite advanced. Humans of various faiths (Hatire and Ancientist) find religious inspiration in these ruins, but this probably wasn't the intent of the precursors.
  • Blackmoor and Evergrun, two ancient civilizations from the Mystara D&D setting, aspired to technological greatness but succeeded only in damn near blowing up the world. Oh, and they left some spare nukes sitting around for their barbaric successors to tinker with, which is why the Known World now has a contaminated wasteland called the Broken Lands in the middle of it.
  • Forgotten Realms — The Dracorage Mythal. Making the device designed to put all dragons in the world at once into murderous madness may be justified by the extreme situation those ancient elves faced. But leaving it around for the rest of eternity (it survived even severe damage to the Weave)? Especially considering its short activation by a comet was not an inherent feature, but merely a control condition that could be changed by a competent enough wizard—which eventually happened.
    • The defense would like to point out that the elves later fought a several-millennia-long string of world wars with each other that totally destroyed most of the elven empires that created the mythal in the first place. Kind of hard to fix something when you no longer exist.
    • As it pleases the Court, it is the ancient elves that are on trial, not their modern-day descendants. That the ancient elves managed to destroy their own civilization without securing their Doomsday Device is exactly why they're being prosecuted.

    Toys 
  • The Great Beings of BIONICLE were scientist-rulers on their planet, until they created the Element Lords to take over the "ruling" part so they could focus on the "science". This is perhaps the most damning display of negligence, creating proxies so that they can safely afford to neglect their subjects. (Though it could be argued that they did act responsibly in making sure there were proper replacements.) While things were all right for a while, Unobtainium was discovered and the Element Lords led their subjects in waging a No Blood for Phlebotinum war over it, one that only ended when said Unobtainium split the planet into pieces. The Great Beings tried nonviolent solutions, all of which failed. The eventually resorted to creating baterra robots, a last-ditch doomsday weapon programmed to end the war by killing all armed combatants. However, they were released too late to prevent the disaster, and later overrode their shutdown commands.
    • While the sheer number of safeguards ensuring Mata Nui's functioning, as well as the attempts to stop the war and the disaster, argue against negligence, the issue of the Element Lords still looms large. However, it occurs to the court that the Great Beings are only precursors to Mata Nui and his inhabitants, not to the other races that they passed off to the Element Lords. So they were precursors and may have been negligent, but not both at the same time.
  • Charges have been found and filed against the Transformers being known as Primus: the defendant failed to properly expunge a deadly form of reproduction from the early Transformer ancestors, leading to the creation of the Swarm, an Omnicidal Maniac Eldritch Abomination that nearly destroyed several civilizations across the galaxy, including the modern-day Transformers. The defendant also created the Fallen, a creature that oversaw the universal element of entropy, an element that the defendant's brother and eternal enemy Unicron is the embodiment of, essentially handing the Chaos Bringer his very own avatar to do his bidding with. In short, thanks to the defendant's absentmindedness, he had an indirect hand in creating two of the Transformers' worst enemies, of whom only one had been "neutralized" (although the Swarm's "purified" form of the Vok could arguably be considered just as nasty as their previous selves), while the other is still at large and continues to plague the defendant's creations, on occasion. The defendant also is highly reluctant to wake himself unless there is a significant and direct threat either from Unicron himself, or against the defendant's person, and even then, he uses proxies to do the dirty work, for him; for instance, he allowed the Transformers to wage a civil war that lasted aeons and devastated and drained their home planet - the defendant's body - almost to destruction, with very little repercussions, but when Unicron began actively hunting down and consuming the sparks of the Transformers, thus weakening the defendant's power, the defendant hired one of the remaining Transformers to form an army against Unicron, and allowed him to choose a scant 2 soldiers from time and space to fill that army with.

    Video Games 
  • In their exodus from this area of the galaxy, the Precursors of the Star Control series absent-mindedly left behind a humongous battleship armed with superweapons that can wipe out entire fleets with each shot. Naturally, the enslaving Ur-Quan Kzer-Za stumble across it, naming it Sa-Matra. Among the numerous other artifacts the Precursors left behind are: bombs used as planeteering tools (one is used to put a hole in the outer layers of a star, causing it to flare like a supernova and sterilizing the entire inhabited system, and another is deemed powerful enough to destroy the Sa-Matra only after amplifying modifications are added by the Chmrr), the Mycon (biological planeteering tools that evolved into a race of fungi who terraform inhabited water worlds by force to their own scorching ideal conditions), and Inter-Dimensional-Fatigue-wave-generating devices (the study of which gets the Androsynth eaten by Lovecraftian extradimensional horrors).
    • Arguably an act of self-defense. Word of God has stated that the sequel was always intended to explain what happened to the Precursors. Despite the fact that the original creators lost control over the IP before making said sequel; to some extent, the (non-canon) sequel Star Control 3 DID justify things. The Precursors had been searching for a way to survive a galaxy-wide genocidal sweep of sentient species from even more powerful space entities and FAILED to come up with a combative method of survival despite said superweapons.
  • Suit brought on behalf of the people of Azeroth and related worlds of Warcraft against the Titans, who ordered the universe, defeating evil where they found it. Crafting prisons to host creatures like demons, the Old Ones and their elemental servants, though their intentions were noble, it hasn't really worked out in the universes' favor. Also, the demons were released by a corrupted member of their race, and while they tried to ease his pain, it is unknown if they did anything to stop him after he turned.
    • Defense raises the following points: 1. Destroying the Old Ones would have required destroying and remaking Azeroth as well. By imprisoning them the Titans gave the races a chance to grow instead of destroying them outright. 2. The Titans are well aware of the fall of one of their own and the demons and are fighting against it across the universe. Whereas other precursors often abandon the younger races, the Titans continue to fight these evils providing support for the world of Azeroth and countless others. Move to dismiss due to being active and not neglectful.
  • The Eloh, the ancient precursors of Tabula Rasa, created a superscience capable of manipulating energy and matter by acts of will. They then went through interstellar space handing this stuff out randomly. When this didn't end well - surprise, surprise - they annihilated the entire military of the first race to rise against them, the Thrax, firmly cementing xenophobia. Then a small faction called the Neph went and enslaved the Thrax and went on a war against the rest of the universe to make sure no one would ever be their equals again, starting with the mainstream Eloh. Rather than actually fighting back or enlisting (or even warning) the sentient races across the universe, the Eloh just tossed various pieces of Applied Phlebotinum on random populated and unpopulated worlds. At least the Sages of the Zelda series bothered to seal away the evil in a can.
  • Potentially the player in Spore. One of the achievements requires them to uplift a certain number of creatures. The easiest way to do this is to just randomly drop monoliths on every planet encountered without sentient life and then forget about it.
  • Your Honour, I would like to submit another case: The Elder Gods from the Mortal Kombat series. They seem to be perfectly willing to allow the realms to be endangered by either a renegade Elder (Shinnok), a Knight Templar protector (Raiden) or other entity (Blaze). Even the times they do pay attention, the go back on their word, as Scorpion will attest.
  • The Shee in the Creatures series created the Norns, fuzzy adorable little critters with rudimentary intelligence that they claimed to love as pets. But when they decided it was time to move on to a bigger, round world, they left most of the creatures they had created to die on their home planet.
  • Your Honor, I would like to bring forth the case of the people of Vana'diel from Final Fantasy XI versus Altana and the Celestial Avatars. Upon creating the world of Vana'diel Altana carelessly left the keys to undoing all of creation, the Mother Crystals, not in scattered places across the planet buried deep under the seas or mountains, but instead she left them easily accessible within hundreds of yalms of each other. And when the Zilart attempted to harness the power of the Mother Crystals nearly obliterating the planet, did she attempt to move the Mother Crystals or even destroy the machinery that the Zilart created? No! She left it all intact setting the stage for the same tragedy to unfold again! Instead she sat back and watched while random people got together and fought back the various schemes that she could not be bothered to acknowledge.
  • The citizens of the Homeworld galaxy would like to present the following class-action suit against the ancient Hiigaran, Taiidani and Bentusi empires. The actions of the ancient Hiigarans, Taiidani and Bentusi resulted in the Hiigarans' descendants being exiled for 4,000 years on the barren desert world of Kharak, admittedly to prevent the ancient Hiigarans from enslaving the galaxy. The terms prohibited the exiles from developing certain technologies. However, the records of those terms were lost, so that the Kushans had no idea of the danger. As a result, the modern Taiidani attacked in response, unaware that the Kushans had no way of knowing what was going on, wiping out all life on Kharak.
  • The people of the collective worlds of Final Fantasy wish to file charges against the Lufenian people. The plaintiff also wishes to directly charge Cid Lufaine and Shinryu in this incident. As evidence we point to the Lufenian War, which was directly responsible for the creation of airship technology, the floating fortress (which was filled with weaponry), the relocation of the crystal of Wind to said fortress, the invention of the War Machine technology, initial contact with the being known as Omega, the invention of Manikins, and the creation of the beings known as Cosmos and Chaos. Cid Lufaine and Shinryu, while not the perpetrators of the original Lufenian conflict are indicted for the following: 1.) Usage of Cosmos and Chaos to involve the innocents of other worlds, 2.) The eventual freeing of Chaos from World B, and the Time Loop he created thereafter, 3.) Imprisoning innocents in their sick war games, in a location known as "World B." 4.) The inhuman treatment of said innocents as cattle to feed Chaos and Shinryu, and 5.) All incidents caused, directly or indirectly, by the actions of Cid Lufaine, Chaos, and Shinryu, who, implicitly, endorsed the atrocities committed by Mateus Palamecia, the Cloud of Darkness, Theodor "Golbez" Harvey, Ex-Death, Kefka Palazzo, Sephiroth, Ultimecia, Kuja, and Jecht, up to and including their willingness to repeatedly restore life to these individuals at the cost of life of the innocent.
  • The Forerunners of Halo. Evidence: They knowingly concealed the existence of an extremely dangerous and parasitic organism capable of annihilating all sentient life in the Galaxy. They defeated this organism via the use of superweapons which did, in fact, annihilate all sentient life in the Galaxy. They leave the superweapons in an operable state capable of another Galactic genocide. AND they don't even bother to destroy the last remnants of the parasite, which they left in stasis on board the superweapons!
    • The defense enters into evidence Halo 3, confirming that the Forerunners' entire extinction was due to a sudden and unexpected shift in the war with the Flood, which forced them to fire the Halo array. In fact, in that same game, it is revealed that the Forerunners were actively attempting to preserve the species of the galaxy by sheltering them on the Ark, well away from the Halo array's firing range. Only when this came under threat did they utilize the Halo array.
    • The evidence is not simply misleading, it is largely untrue. The Forerunners did not conceal information regarding the Flood; that information is readily available if one simply asks the Monitors. The weapons in question were only operable by members of a single species which was supposed to serve as the Forerunners' successors, but due to cataclysmic damage they were not aware they could utilize the weapon. And while the Flood samples were contained on the rings instead of being destroyed, evidence indicates that the Flood are an extra-galactic entity (making extermination pointless and research on countering them important) and the Flood themselves were kept securely contained until the Covenant disregarded the warnings and forcibly released them.
    • New evidence from The Forerunner Saga clearly showed the Forerunners were not actually neglectful so much as self-destructive. They are instead facing charges of Abusive Precursors, at the court's discretion.
  • Your honor, the Hyrulians of The Legend of Zelda would like to bring forth a suit: the three Goddesses left behind the Triforce, which is their exit door and Cosmic Keystone. There were a few precautions against it getting nicked by a sociopathic man-bear-pig, but clearly they weren't enough. They let Link and Zelda clean up after them, giving them fairly useless "help" such as Light Spirits of Hyrule and the Sages, while in the interim innocents suffer and die before the Link of that time can get going.
    • Defense brings up that failure of precautions does not indicate failure of the precursors. Any precaution can fail when against someone who is intelligent and resourceful enough. Contrary to plantiff's arguments the three Goddesses are active in Hyrule insuring the rise of a hero or other action whenever evil rises. The Light Spirits and Sages have proven to be instrumental in stopping said evils proving they are far from useless. Innocents suffering is unfortunelty part of the mortal world, but these are usually short periods of unrest followed by long periods of quiet as demonstrated by the nature of the Hylian army. Defense moves to dismiss suit based on the Goddesses constantly taking action and not being the universe's baby-sitters.
      • Defense forgets the timeline of The Wind Waker, where no Hero is born to prevent the rising of the Great Sea and the Hero must go through several trials without the aid of the Goddesses. However, while the Wind Waker may be a slight example of this, motion is granted.
    • The prosecution wishes to lay a further charge of complicity in multiple genocide at the feet of the Goddess in Skyward Sword. Her efforts to fight the demon Demise are admirable, even though her decision to lift the chunk of land above Demise's seal into the sky was questionable, given that it seemed bringing it back down again was all that was needed to prevent his escape. But her decision to withhold critical information from her chosen champion qualifies as criminal negligence. By demanding that said champion built a timegate to receive her instructions and see his childhood friend again, instead of having her servant in the hero's time explain it in 5 minutes, she shares the responsibility for the side effects. Said side effects include The Dragon hijacking this timegate to bypass the champion's efforts to permanently seal Demise, which allowed Demise to unleash an indefinitely reincarnating Ganondorf on the world. As such, the prosecution claims that the Goddess' strategic decisions are responsible for the tragic events of nearly every Zelda game ever.
    • The defense notes that a substantial amount of time may have passed between the champion's return from his briefing by the Goddess' vessel and the timegate's use for evil. The Goddess had no knowledge that her servant and the champion (both of whom were present on both occasions) would fail to close the gate in a more permanent fashion once the briefing had been concluded, would fail to even consider the danger of its continued existence. Your Honor, the Goddess cannot be convicted for the poor decisions of those on whom she rested her plans.
  • In light of the testimony of Cmdr. Shepard of Mass Effect, the Citadel races would like to file charges against the Catalyst, and its creators to be tried in absentia. These individuals are responsible for the creation of the Reapers, currently facing at least 740 counts of galactic genocide. Only their claimed rationale for allowing these acts, that they believed a Robot War to be inevitable, and thus created the Reapers to prevent sufficiently advanced races from creating sufficently powerful synthetic races, prevents the plaintiffs from charging abuse rather than neglect.
    • In light of information emerging from Commander Shepard's First Contact with the last surviving descendants of their species, designated Leviathan, the defense seeks to amend its previous plea. The Leviathans admit to creating the Catalyst to find a solution to their vassal races' pattern of creating Artificial Intelligence and getting themselves wiped out in Robot Wars, but the solution the Catalyst chose, namely forcible conversion of sapient species into Reapers to preserve their knowledge, was taken without the Leviathans' input. Indeed, the Catalyst turned most of them into the first Reaper capital ship, Harbinger. Therefore the defense enters a plea of nolo, requesting a sentence of time served and community service in the form of using their mental domination powers to help battle the Reapers in the current cycle.
  • Your Honor, the plaintiff seeks an injunction against Jas, the alleged Elder God of Runescape. Jas left behind a stone that was supposedly used by the current gods to create the current Runescape from an empty plane. This is up for debate, but it is clear that the Stone of Jas was the real reason behind the devastating God Wars, which resulted in the extinction of several races, turned a populated area into the cursed region known as the Wilderness, and resulted in a single tribe of goblins hiding in a cave for centuries.
    • Furthermore, Jas cursed a group of creatures called the Dragonkin to guard the stone. And by guard, the plaintiff refers to their habit of causing mass destruction to the nearest human settlement whenever anybody uses the Stone. To break free of this curse, the Dragonkin have created corrupted versions of themselves called dragons to act as bodyguards. These dragons have caused massive loss of property and life.
    • Your honor, the prosecution would like to present several exhibits. The Stone of Jas is one of 12 artifacts. The gods (not the Elder Gods, but the ones worshipped now) drew their power from these artifacts, and are responsible for cataclysmic conflicts.

    Webcomics 
  • The Dragons from The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! left behind one of the deadly Iridium Bombs from their ancient war that wiped out the dinosaurs. The government found it and human civilization almost got blown up in the ensuing scuffle.
  • The creators of our universe in Homestuck were caught up in other matters and never got the chance to shape it as gods. This was probably for the best. However, they definitely neglected to build it properly, thus dooming it to failure.
  • The people of Chel'el'Sussoloth of Drowtales would like to bring charges against the Dokkalfar kingdoms. They opened nether gates, bringing demonic beings to feast upon our life energy. They squandered their homelands and forced their descendents to live underground and be transformed into monsters! For 1100 years, they then ruled us with an iron fist from afar in their towers above our city. Had they stepped down and agreed to share what they knew, perhaps the recent Nidraa'chal "incident" would never have occurred. Now, when we need them most, they refuse to teach our heroes how to fight the darkness, instead waiting for us to destroy ourselves before deciding it is time to rebuild.

    Web Original 
  • The case against the P!k Gardeners of the Global Guardians PBEM Universe is, granted, mostly circumstantial, but the prosecution is confident that the jury will reach the correct conclusion. The first action these so-called "Gardeners" took upon discovering ancient Earth some sixty-five million years ago is to completely wreck Earth's biosphere by dropping a nickel-iron asteroid some ten kilometers in diameter onto what would later be the Yucatan penninsula. After performing this massive act of vandalism (an act which only prevents them from being charged as Abusive Precursors because no sentient dinosaur-descendants survived the act itself), they fade into the woodwork for sixty million years. When they return, they continue their program of vandalism by tinkering with the genetic code of certain primate species, giving them the potential to develop superpowers, but failing to provide supervision or instruction in the use of those superpowers by once again disappearing into the blackness of space, never to be seen again. The resulting chaos caused by the appearance of those superpowers can be measured in the loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in damages. The prosecution rests.

    Western Animation 
  • Your Honour, the prosecution wishes to file suit against The Vok from Beast Wars. While likely not outright precursors like the Quintessons, there is considerable evidence to be presented: At least two of their machines were present on or in the orbit of prehistoric Earth prior to the Beast Wars. While appearing more curious than malevolent in the beginning, by the halfway point of the show, they were clearly shown as openly hostile, and omnicidal. Consider the following:
    • Their second expedition to prehistoric Earth was an experiment to test and gauge the threat level of the transformers. When the robots failed, the Vok's third machine was revealed - one of Earth's moons turned out to be a heat ray capable of a Class X Apocalypse How event. This machine was used, and, if not for the intervention and sacrifice of Optimus Primal, would have achieved its' purpose. Additionally, this device was indeed in orbit long before the arrival of the transformers.
    • Also, their fourth machine, while not quite as destructive, still posed an enormous threat, once it was captured by Megatron. The security protocols were almost laughably inept at keeping them robots out, much less preventing a hostile takeover.
    • Finally, there is the arrival of the Vok themselves: intent on destroying the reality-breaking criminal Megaton, at a time when doing so would have created an equally damaging rift in time (i.e., the original Megatron's spark was still inside his body). Furthermore, their lack of willingness to cooperate, if not downright contempt for Optimus Primal's warning about these consequences resulted in him nearly being killed.


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alternative title(s): Neglectful Precursor
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