Creative subversion of the omnipresent trope
that "higher is better" (e.g., "higher quality", "higher rank", "higher calling"). Most common in constructed worlds
, and especially among nonhumans.
Compare Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad
- Discworld's dwarfs & Tales Of Mu's dark elves, for whom lower is better.
- Also to Discworld dwarfs, "enlightened" is seen as a negative term, as light makes your pupils contract and can therefore blind you.
- Also seen among the demons in Eric and of The Screwtape Letters, who do bad deeds in the hopes of being demoted through the lowerarchy.
- Also, DC Comics' Hell works like this.
- The humans in Above Ground are yet another example.
- The Dispossessed by Ursula K Leguin: In the Con Lang Pravic, the term "more central" is used instead.
- Ringworld by Larry Niven: the Puppeteers value cowardice above all things, so their leader is called "The Hindmost".
- Used occasionally in Invader Zim, as Zim's alien species has a hierarchy based off of height.
- The Addams Family all the freakin' time. A major theme and source of humour is the clash between the family and outsiders and the way the family always reacts pleasantly to horrified reactions because to them their words are compliments.
- In Sergey Lukyanenko's Line of Delirium, the Silicoids (floating sentient columns of rock) value stability and balance above all else. As such, their hierarchy is inverted compared to humans. Unlike The Emperor, who rules from the top, Sedimin (the ruler of the Silicoid Basis) rules from the very bottom, supporting the Basis, thus his title is the Foot of the Basis. When the protagonist is thinking of how the Silicoids decide leadership based on a duel to the death, he has to mentally correct himself in that Sedimin did not ascend to his position, as a human would, but descend.
- In some games, such as golf, a lower score is better.
- Screwtape frequently mentions the Lowerarchy of Hell.