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Patrick Stewart Speech
"Oh, I know Hamlet. And what he might say with irony, I say with conviction: 'What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form, in moving, how express and admirable! In action, how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a god!'"
Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Hide and Q"

The villain, or The Great Gazoo, or just a misguided member of an advanced race comments on how weak/pathetic/cowardly/worthless (or just un-powered) humans are. "Why do you care about them?" Or the villain will be more direct and point out that Humans Are the Real Monsters and thus not worth saving.

This will lead into the hero responding with the Patrick Stewart Speech, in which he may concede that humans are weak (at least for the moment), but there is much that is noble about humanity as well. He notes that they have much potential, and he admires humans' capacity for love/friendship/loyalty/courage/persistence/whatever virtue it is the writers want to Aesop. If you hear the sentences "There is much that we could learn from them," or "We were Not So Different, once," you're likely in the midst of a Patrick Stewart Speech.

Note this is not just defending humans out of a general respect for life, or even for sentient life: the Patrick Stewart Speech notes specific qualities of humanity itself which make it worth saving, above and beyond simply being a sentient lifeform. In short, Humans Are Special and Rousseau Was Right. One variant of this speech will praise our flaws instead, pointing out how in overcoming/fighting them we grow better and create beautiful things.

When done well, can give the viewer a sense of pride. When done poorly, comes off as overly preachy, or even ridiculous.

For a lighter-hearted version, end the Patrick Stewart Speech with some relatively minor accomplishment of humanity: "And they came up with jelly-filled donuts! How can you hate a species that invented jelly donuts? Have you tried these things?"

So named because Patrick Stewart has delivered such speeches many times, both as Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation and as Professor Xavier from the X-Men films. (He was trained as a Shakespearean actor, after all.) Do note, however, that while the Patrick Stewart Speech is always superb, with a perfectly balanced combination of precise logic and emotional appeal, a five-minute Patrick Stewart Speech holds barely a candle in comparison to a twenty-second Whoopi Epiphany Speech, just in terms of pure wise clarity.

See also Kirk Summation, "World of Cardboard" Speech. Contrast Shut Up, Kirk! and Shaming the Mob.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • Sailor Moon gives these all the time. Her introduction speeches are all about the innocence and wonder that is currently being invaded by the bad guys. Then, right before she powers up to end the deal, she'll plead with the bad guys to let the people live in peace. In the manga, she even gives up being a being of pure energy and thought so she can live on earth, pain and all, with her friends—and gives a speech about it, too. In the original anime, when faced with the Big Bad every season, they tell her how awful the world is and how useless her idealism is.
    Sailor Galaxia: Teamwork is a pitiful illusion! The only one you can rely on in this vast galaxy is yourself! Have you given up, Sailor Moon?
    Sailor Moon: No, I haven't. I love this world... even though there are lots of sad or difficult things...I like this world very much because I could meet everyone! I know you know...how wonderful this world is!
    Sailor Galaxia: Stop joking! This world can not be protected by someone who won't fight! It's because of your weakness that all your friends are gone!
  • Multiple characters within Fullmetal Alchemist. In particular the one given by Ed to Envy, which also doubles as a Reason You Suck Speech.
  • The anime movie Steamboy features a few of these on the (im)morality of war. They're rather intelligently done on a whole. For bonus points, in the English dub the character delivering these speeches is voiced by Patrick Stewart.
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch gives one to his brother Schniezelduring their final debate about humanity and humanity's desires. It is quite heartwarming, and serves to really tie the entire series together.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, when Scaglietti's Hannibal Lecture has paralysed Fate into inaction, Erio and Caro do this to counteract it. In this case, it's about Fate's own worth rather than that of humanity as a whole, but it stil fits here.
  • Guts delivers one of these in the first episode of the Berserk anime. The fact that he does it while slowly torturing a dying Apostle makes the whole thing truly disturbing.
  • Simon gives a lengthy one (which is really more like a dialogue) in the last episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann to counter the villain's Puny Earthlings speech.
  • If such a thing is possible, there is a combined Patrick Stewart Speech and Kirk Summation in the finale of Macross Frontier, in response to Grace O'Connor's plan to give humanity the Vajra's ability to sense fold waves:
    Brera: Being connected to you scoundrels, I truly realised... no matter how far we go, humans are always alone.
    Grace: That's why we-
    Alto: But it's because we are alone... that we can love someone!
    • It becomes more clearly defined as a Patrick Stewart Speech when you inter-splice the lines that Sheryl and Ranka are singing at the time: In fact the song Lion may have been written just for that moment, as it is also the more prominent song in the Nyan Nyan Service Melody
    Ranka: I'm not alone anymore, Because you are with me.
    Sheryl: I want to survive, even living on the edge, I'm in love with you... Ranka: I'm not alone anymore...
    Sheryl: With the star's guidance... Ranka: Because you are with me...
    Sheryl/Ranka: I want to live, I want to survive, I'm in love with you (I love you)Until I show you my serious heart I will not sleep!
  • Judai Yuuki, almost constantly, in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. Jaden, less so.
  • In Stellvia of the Universe, Masaru's personal Crowning Moment Of Awesome is a Patrick Stewart Speech broadcast to the entirety of humanity from a space station about to be crushed by a cosmic cataclysm. He survives.
  • Variation in Mahou Sensei Negima!, Negi is nearly tempted to return to Earth and abandon the Magic World to be destroyed by Fate, who claims that the inhabitants' lives don't matter because they are just meaningless illusions. Asuna counters with:
    All of us have been helped by all sorts of people since we came to this world! Bounty hunters, and information sellers, and inn proprietresses... Some of them have even saved our lives! That's got to go for you too. Right, Negi!? Like hell this is just some "illusion"! Are you completely dense!? Just look at the people around you! Children! Families! Old guys! You honestly think we can save ourselves and just sneak off home leaving all of them to him!? There Is... Absolutely... No Reason... To Hesitate For One Second Over This!!! Not in a million years would we think of taking orders from a little idiot spouting such patently ridiculous nonsense!!!
  • There is a truly badass one given in Paranoia Agent by the chief investigator's dying wife.
  • Belldandy gives one these, sprinkled with The Power of Friendship, to Celestine near the end of Ah! My Goddess!: The Movie.
  • Almost the exact example given in the trope description was used in Yumekui Merry.
    Merry: And besides, if you do kill them off, who the hell's going to make the doughnuts?
  • Enoah Ballard delivers an absolutely beautiful one in the final volume of Eden. Read it here.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, During the final fight with the Anti-spiral, Simon, Nia, and Yoko team up to give one to the Anti-Spiral King. And, as you would expect, it's totally awesome.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Touma Kamijou delivers a pretty awesome one to Fiamma of the Right in Volume 22. Fiamma believed that Humans Are the Real Monsters and was so disgusted that he wanted to Kill All Humans. His power, The Holy Right, is increased by the malice in his enemies, so he engineered World War III and declared humanity his enemy so he could have The Holy Right feed off the conflict and wipe out humanity. Touma points out that if humanity really is as inherently evil as Fiamma says, then engineering World War III would not be necessary; The Holy Right would have been powerful enough to destroy humanity right away. Furthermore, even after starting World War III, Fiamma still didn't destroy humanity right away. He brought insurance by brainwashing Index Librorum Prohibitorum to gain her vast knowledge of magic, kidnapped Sasha Croitsef to gain the telesma (divine energy) in her body, summoned Archangel Gabriel as a minion, and even summoned the Star Of Bethlehem as an attack fortress. Even after all this, Fiamma still didn't think he could destroy humanity right away. In addition, several complete strangers, even Accelerator, a former serial killer redeemed by the love of his adopted daughter Last Order, fight the good fight and inspired hope in the people during the war. Touma then accuses Fiamma of believing that deep down, Humans Are Good. The speech gets to Fiamma and he starts to doubt himself. He recklessly attacks and Touma punches him out.
  • Bleach: Komamura gives Tousen a special version tailor-made to Tousen's tragic past, where he says that he understands and accepts that, because of what happened, Tousen could not look at the world again except through bitter, angry eyes and that he became his friend precisely so he could help Tousen regain his ability to see the better aspects of humanity that still exist despite everything that's happened to him. The irony is that the humanity-defending Komamura is, in fact, a monster (technically an anthropomorphic wolf) whereas the monster in need of regaining his humanity is the human (Tousen).
  • No Game No Life:
    • Sora has great faith in the power of humanity (even if he detests the current state of it) and gave one such speech to all the people of Elchea.
    • Stephanie's grandfather believed that humans could defeat the others despite their lack of magic, but was unable to prove it, and so he became known as a "foolish king". Sora holds a small speech to Jibril about the King when he realised the old man was not a fool at all.

     Comic Books  
  • Professor Xavier of the X-Men, multiple times.
    • Which is perhaps why for the X-Men movies, Patrick Stewart was a perfect fit. (The other reason why being that, despite the character having been created when Stewart was only 23 years old, Jack Kirby drew Xavier at the time looking almost exactly like the Patrick Stewart of today.)
      • Patrick Stewart had lost his hair by his early 20s, and apparently he doesn't age... maybe there was an epic chance meeting unrecorded in the annals of fantasy/sci-fi history?
      • Xavier's appearance was actually apparently based on actor Yul Brynner. Google him and you'll see.
    • Prof. X has the compromising position of having to offer such words to a species of people who want to be accepted by humans but aren't and can easily lash out because they are technically superior (something Magneto encourages) while being one of those creatures himself. It can be difficult to convince your fellow kind that they need to come towards humans with the olive branch and not the dagger when any fearful human would just as soon reject Prof. X as any other mutant. The fact that he can still succeed at it is telling of his vast wisdom and compassion.
  • Being an adopted alien who was raised by some of the nicest midwestern farmers out there, Superman is quite fond of this.
    • Sometimes he doesn't need a speech. Just pointing out that frickin' Superman absolutely adores humans and wants to be a human is enough:
    • In the Superman/Batman series, Superman pulls off a mental Patrick Stewart Speech, where he convinces a Social Darwinist alien race to read his mind and back off of invading Earth.
    • Wonder Woman is also quite fond of this. Though she's a bit more of a realist then Superman, she'll break out the speech when the situation calls for it.
  • In Watchmen, the emotionless Dr. Manhattan justifies his return to earth with a smaller version of this—he realises that all human lives are "thermodynamic miracles", events that have no logical or probable reason for occurring. They simply shouldn't happen. The fact that he says this in the middle of a giant smiley face ON MARS (that really exists) just drives the point home.
  • Don't insult "earthmen" in front of The Guardians. They find them quite useful. There is a reason they've made six-plus human Lanterns (with four currently active).
  • Optimus Prime (as usual) delivers one in the Dreamwave comics sequel to the original series, and to drive the point home, it contrasts Megatron's earlier Hannibal Lecture with humans abandoning those trapped under some rubble, and others raiding shops in amongst the chaos - with images of firemen then rushing to save those under the rubble, and the thieves using what they stole to help out as well. Then Optimus lets out a little secret - he knows the majority of humans are assholes, but he also knows that they're an impressionable lot, and so he fights for those who deserve it - because he knows that if anyone can turn humanity around, it's them. And to put the cherry on this cake of awesome? Those same humans then risk their lives to ram a fire engine right in Megatron's face! And remember - humanity hates all transformers right about now.
  • In The Killing Joke, Batman gives one to The Joker in response to his "one bad day" monologue.
    Incidentally, I spoke to Commissioner Gordon before I came in here. He's fine. Despite all your sick, vicious little games, he's as sane as he ever was. So maybe ordinary people don't always crack. Maybe there isn't any need to crawl under a rock with all the other slimey things when trouble hits... Maybe it was just you, all the time.
  • Played with in Switchblade Honey: the Deconstructive Parody of Star Trek featuring Ray Winstone instead of Patrick Stewart as Captain of a Geurilla ship full of criminals who are fighting a losing war against an alien empire totally justified in attacking Earth. His speech is not so much "Humans are good at their core" as "Humans Are Bastards who deserve the consequences of their stupidity, but can we really live with ourselves if we desert them, go get drunk and let billions of our own people get killed?"

    Fan Fiction 

    Film 
  • Satan delivers one of these in The Devil's Advocate in his climactic scene. It involves his reasons why God Is Evil, Satan Is Good, and then wraps up with, "In spite of all his imperfections, I'm a FAN OF MAN! I'm a humanist. Maybe the last humanist."
  • Optimus Prime in Transformers delivers one of these in response to Ironhide's query of why they fight for the humans, a primitive and violent race.
    Optimus: Were we so different? They're a young species - but I have seen good in them. We cannot let the humans pay for our mistakes. Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.
  • Superman's father, Jor-El, does this at least once in the film series: "They can be a great people, Kal-El; they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. It is this, above all, their capacity for good, that I have sent them you ... my only son."
  • Beautifully subverted in Mars Attacks!. The President of the United States, played by Jack Nicholson, delivers one of these when the Martians make it into the bunker underneath the White House. After he ends the speech with a truly cliche "Can't we just get along?", the head Martian sheds a tear and offers to shake hands with the president. As they shake, the Martian's robotic hand comes loose, crawls around to the president's back and promptly stabs him through the chest.
    Martian (via translation device): Don't run, we're your friends. (being repeated over and over as they disintegrate all the dirty humans!)
  • Averted in Outland. The hero played by Sean Connery, having defeated the killers sent to eliminate him, limps up to the boss of the corrupt space-mining colony, opens his mouth to say what he thinks of him, then says "Oh fuck it" and just decks the man.
  • The Prime Minister in Love Actually has one of these, specifically for Britain:
    "We may be a small country, but we're a great one, too. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter. David Beckham's right foot. David Beckham's left foot, come to that."
  • Kim Basinger's character gives one at the end of My Stepmother Is An Alien. She presents Jimmy Durante as her "jelly donut".
  • The Fellowship of the Ring: Boromir's speech to Aragorn, shortly before the Breaking of the Fellowship. Though not a straight subversion of this trope, the story demonstrates a few scenes later that the reality of human nature is uglier than Boromir's speech makes it out to be.
  • In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Gandalf explains his reasons for choosing Bilbo for the quest:
    Galadriel: Mithrandir. Why the halfling?
    Gandalf: ...I don't know. ...Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I've found that it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk, that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness, and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.
  • Peter Graves delivers the start of one at the end of It Conquered the World (wonderfully played with great solemnity many a time during its take-down on Mystery Science Theater 3000.) It turns into a lecture about how man must improve after the first line, though, so it probably stops qualifying at that point.
    "He learned, almost too late, that man is a feeling creature and, because of it, the greatest in the universe."
  • Charlie Chaplin of all people gives a rousing one at the end of The Great Dictator.
  • Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men movies. Given who plays him, not surprising. Given who he is, also not surprising. Xavier's core message basically requires having such a speech at hand and ready to give at a moment's notice (as true here as it was in the source material). The capacity to give such a speech is basically the only thing that he and Magneto are feuding over.
    • In X-Men: First Class, where he is played by James McAvoy, he gives such a speech to Erik Lehnsherr. During their chess game, he attempts to convince Erik that human beings are capable of great understanding, and that mutants should be patient, as "we have it in us to be the better men." Erik skeptically replies, "We already are."
  • One of the earliest in cinema was in the seminal 1936 sci-fi movie Things to Come on the nature of humanity's progress.
    "Rest enough for the individual man - too much, and too soon - and we call it death. But for Man, no rest and no ending. He must go on, conquest beyond conquest. First this little planet with its winds and ways, and then all the laws of mind and matter that restrain him. Then the planets about him and at last out across immensity to the stars. And when he has conquered all the deeps of space and all the mysteries of time, still he will be beginning."
  • Batman gives a speech to The Joker in The Dark Knight which, though quite a bit shorter, plays out pretty similarly to the Killing Joke example above.
  • In the 2010 independent film Drones, office workers attempt to convince a benevolent alien to save them from an invasion by putting together a slideshow of the beautiful wonders of Earth. It doesn't work, but the alien is convinced to act when they agree to change the company's database from alphabetical to chronological (the alien had been working at the company and thought the alphabetical system was annoying).

    Literature 
  • At the end of Robert A. Heinlein's novel Have Space Suit – Will Travel, the hero gives a Patrick Stewart Speech to the aliens who were deciding whether to destroy Earth. The hero also briefly considered using a speech or two from some of earth's more famous orators... Then realised that it would be hollow if his last words on behalf of mankind just stole someone else's clever speech. His own last words (not death last, but last words admissible to the 'court' as it were) inspired one alien to do the whole 'were we not so different once' thing. It works.
  • Aximili from the Animorphs series of books, being an alien stranded on earth, will often think of the virtues of humans that make us worth saving. Like jellybeans, chocolate, popcorn, and the pinnacle of human achievement, the cinnamon bun. Needless to say, he is the epitome of the parody or light-hearted version of this trope. He has, however, marveled at humanity's willingness to trudge on despite seemingly hopeless odds. And not just trying to endure or cut losses, but to still achieve victory. He also notes that humanity's drive to succeed has enabled us to progress faster in technology than any other race, who are only ahead of us because they are millennia older.
    • He also remarks upon how humans are able to survive in a world with hundreds of different species that wouldn't mind having anything made of meat (Earth native or not) for dinner.
    • We get the same thing, oddly enough, from Visser One, one of the major villains. One of the first two long-term Human-Controllers, she eventually became, as one character notes, "addicted" to humanity, including having human children.
  • Crowley, of all people, makes one to Aziraphale in Good Omens, this time listing all the little pleasures of life that simply wouldn't exist if all there was to existence was Heaven. The idea of humanity having merit simply for being human is the general theme of the book.
  • Ayn Rand and Terry Goodkind are a big fan of this (perhaps too big), and their main characters have numerous paragraphs of monologue that extol the potential of man, usually focusing the most on things like our genius and indomitable will.
  • T. H. White's The Book of Merlyn contains a lengthy Hannibal Lecture on humanity's flaws, which seems like a massive downer. However, it does follow it up with a brief Patrick Stewart Speech on what the speaker considers to be humanity's saving grace: the love it has for its pets.
  • Death actually gets one in the Discworld novel Reaper Man. He stands before Azrael, his boss, and basically tells him that humanity deserves a Death that will care for them, rather than a simple blind force.
    Death: Lord, what can the harvest hope for, if not for the care of the Reaper Man?
  • Even though he's talking about hobbits instead of humans, Gandalf is fond of them. And Hobbits are just Englishmen anyway.
  • After being outwitted and getting one of the greatest Shut Up, Kirk! squelches ever by Mr. Scratch, Daniel Webster gives an outstanding example of this trope in The Devil and Daniel Webster.
  • In Sophocles' Antigone the chorus sing: "Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man".
  • One short story features humans in a peaceful, utopian future society desperately trying to invert this, using archived footage to convince aliens who want to make humanity slaves that they're too violent, unstable, and warlike to be worth keeping as slaves. It backfires catastrophically — the aliens wanted slave soldiers and are now convinced that humanity are the best they've ever found; they don't even have to train them to be aggressive.
  • In Pact, Johannes Lillegard, one of the most powerful human practitioners around, gives one of these to the Girl in the Checkered Scarf, a younger practitioner whose name was stolen by The Fair Folk, explaining that in spite of setbacks like that, humanity is ultimately winning the war against the supernatural thanks to the existence of The Masquerade, which has allowed them to advance past many of the concepts that supernatural creatures attached themselves too and breed faster than the supernatural can kill them. He then goes on to explain how he plans to further mitigate the amount of damage the more powerful Others can do by letting them pay him to torture copies of children that he's made in his domain.

     Live Action TV  
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series, "A Private Little War", Kirk beat Picard to it, pointing out how humanity was once like Tyree's people and in time they too could emerge as a peace loving, intelligent society.
  • Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation, multiple times.
    • Lamp Shaded in the episode "True Q":
      Q: Jean-Luc... Sometimes I think the only reason I come here is to listen to these wonderful speeches of yours.
    • Subverted in the episode "Code of Honor". Picard is talking about how wonderful humanity is, then breaks off and says, "forgive me, this is becoming a speech." Troi replies, "You're the captain, you're entitled." Picard then says "I'm not entitled to ramble on about something everyone knows." While looking almost directly at the camera.
    • "Encounter At Farpoint" is Q stating Humans Are Morons, with Picard shooting back Shut Up, Hannibal! lines and Q returning Shut Up, Kirk! lines.
    • SF Debris theorises that Q introduced humanity to the Borg, which resulted in Picard getting assimilated and becoming obsessed with revenge against them (culminating in Star Trek: First Contact), as a response to this.
    Picard: ...and I will make them pay for what they've done!
    SF Debris: And somewhere, Q is laughing, and quoting those lines from Hamlet with all the irony with which they were intended.
    Q is directly responsible for humanity's first encounter with the Borg, flinging the Enterprise halfway across the galaxy and directly into the path of a Borg Cube just to make a point.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • Subverted in an episode. After a baseball grudge match between our heroes and a crew of Vulcans, a pissing match ensues. The various aliens in the crew balk after the Vulcan disses human emotion.
      Ezri Dax: Did I forget to wear my spots today?
      Quark: All that intelligence and he still doesn't know what a human looks like!
    • Also Quark gives such a speech in defence of the Ferengi:
      Quark: The way I see it, hew-mons used to be a lot like Ferengi: greedy, acquisitive, interested only in profit. We're a constant reminder of a part of your past you'd like to forget. But you're overlooking something: Hew-mons used to be a lot worse than the Ferengi. Slavery. Concentration camps. Interstellar wars. We have nothing in our past that approaches that kind of barbarism. You see? We're nothing like you. We're better.
    • Subverted when Sisko is forced to give one of these during the pilot episode ("Emissary"). For one, he's actually standing up for all races of the Alpha Quadrant, not just humans. But the real trick is that the aliens to whom he must give this speech (or die!) lack any familiarity with some of the basic concepts necessary for a Patrick Stewart Speech to work. Primarily, they exist outside of time, and so don't even understand the concept of cause and effect!
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Q gives a heartfelt speech when he's about to be executed in "The Q and the Grey", but as the other members of the Continuum know all-too-well that he's an irresponsible Jerk Ass they're not impressed.
  • The Doctor, of Doctor Who, multiple times; particularly "Ordinary, stupid, brilliant PEOPLE" in comparison to the emotionless Cybermen in "The Age of Steel"; and his "indomitable" speeches in "The Ark in Space" and "Utopia"; subverted in "The Christmas Invasion", in which the Doctor, still slightly loopy from a botched regeneration, realises half-way in that his impassioned plea is actually the lyrics to "The Circle of Life" from The Lion King.
    • The Doctor has also commented on humanity's genius with confectionery, from jelly babies to edible ball bearings.
    • Inverted in "The Beast Below", Season 5, Episode 2 of the new series. "Nobody HUMAN has anything to say to me today!"
    • Another, very touching one, in "The End of Time". He tells Wilfred Mott that he's 900 years old, to which the old man remarks:
    Wilf: We must look like ants to you!
    The Doctor: I think you look like giants.
    • Inverted with the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) who often expressed his frustration with humans as "stupid apes".
    • Deconstructed along with several other Doctor Who tropes in "Midnight," when the Monster of the Week is an unknown entity possessing a woman on a bus, and the Doctor is trying to keep the other passengers from throwing her out into the planet's deadly sunlight; for once, he's drastically misjudged his audience and his ability to influence them.
      The Doctor: For all we know that's a brand-new form of life over there, and if it's come inside to discover us then what's it found? This little bunch of humans, what do you amount to? Murder? 'Cause this is where you decide, you decide who you are. Could you actually murder her? Any of you? Really? Or are you better than that?
      [pause]
      The Hostess: I'd do it.
      Mr. Cane: So would I.
      Mrs. Cane: And me.
      Dee Dee: I think we should.
    • "The Ark in Space": "Homo sapiens. What an inventive, invincible species. It’s only a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenceless bipeds. They’ve survived flood, famine and plague. They’ve survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity. They’re indomitable."
    • Even the TARDIS herself gets in on it:
      "Are all people like this?"
      "Like what?"
      "So much bigger on the inside."
    • Played straight (and nicely so) in "The Power of Three", when the Doctor confronts the Shakri, who believe that, to maintain "The Tally" humanity must be wiped out:
      "So. Here you are, depositing slug pellets all over the earth. Made attractive, so humans will collect them, hoping to find something beautiful inside. Because that's what they are. Not pests or plague, creatures of hope. Forever building and reaching. Making mistakes of course. Every life form does. But. But— they learn. And they strive for greater and they achieve it. You want a tally. Put their achievements against their failings, through the whole of time. I will back humanity against the Shakri every time."
  • In Outcasts, the rather Picard-esqe Richard Tate, President of the Human colony on the planet Carpathia, confronts a mysterious alien race only known as the Host Force. They communicate with him through a vision of himself.
    Host Force: Your species is a brutal and destructive one. And less significant in the universe, than a single bacteria, on a coral reef.
    Richard Tate: Maybe, but we have one thing you appear to have lost on your evolution to disembodied know-it-all. We may be frayed at the edges, but we still have love. And while we have that, we still have hope.
  • Commander Adama in the 2003 miniseries of Battlestar Galactica does a subversion. Rather than give a sappy speech at the Battlestar's decommissioning he asks "Is humanity worth saving?" A pertinent question considering the incoming genocide by humanity's rogue robotic children.
    • And he stops just short of saying no. Athena later rubs this in his face.
    • Later on the series, his son Lee uses one in Baltar's trial, working for the defense. Ironic, no?
  • In Babylon 5, Sheridan combines a Patrick Stewart Speech with a Kirk Summation and serves it all up with a Large Ham when he tells both the Vorlons and the Shadows to "Get the hell out of our galaxy!"
    • Also, there's Sinclair's response to the reporter in the first season as to whether humanity should be out in space.
    • Delenn gave one in the first season to the other members of the Grey Council.
  • Angel:
    • Angel gives one of these to Illyria, declaring himself champion of humanity, even for a traitor on her side ("He's scum, but he's still human"). Subverted when the speech is cut short by Wesley shooting the traitor in the chest. Angel, somewhat annoyed, asks him "Were you even listening?"
    • Lampooned a few more times when Angel gives these. Jasmine keeps turning his own ultimatums against him (like you've never eaten people!), and Lindsey confesses he just zones out when the yapping starts.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike explains to Buffy why he likes the world, and the humans in it, and thus would rather side with Buffy against Angel's evil personality Angelus than see Angelus summon the demon Acathla that sucks the world into Hell. A subversion in that he's not defending humanity except as food, but is quite fond of some parts of the culture that we give rise to.
    Buffy: What do you want?
    Spike: I told you. I want to stop Angel. I want to save the world.
    Buffy: Okay, you do remember that you're a vampire, right?
    Spike: We like to talk big, vampires do. "I'm going to destroy the world." It's just tough guy talk. Struttin' around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You've got... dog racing, Manchester United, and you've got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision. With a real... passion for destruction. Angel could pull it off. Goodbye, Piccadilly. Farewell, Leicester bloody Square. You know what I'm saying?
    • None of which explains all that business with The Judge earlier in the season.
      • He does whatever Drusilla wants, and would do anything to get her back from Angelus. So while his Patrick Stewart speech is partly true for him, it's mostly a way of avoiding telling Buffy that he's been cuckolded. She figures it out later, anyway.
      • Also, Spike pays attention to technology. Dru and Angelus may have thought the Judge was going to end the world, but she's nuts and he's been out of touch for rather a while. Spike almost certainly knew that the Judge was only going to kill people until the army brings up the tanks and airstrikes. He's only doing it to keep Dru happy.
      • In fact he specifically alludes to this when he was captured by the initiative - (referring to Buffy) I always worried what would happen when that bitch got some funding.
    • Anya gets one in "End of Days"
      I was kinda new to being around humans before. And now I've seen a lot more, gotten to know people, seen what they're capable of and I guess I just realize how amazingly... screwed up they all are. I mean, really, really screwed up in a monumental fashion. And they have no purpose that unites them, so they just drift around, blundering through life until they die. Which they know is coming and yet every single one of them is surprised when it happens to them. They're incapable of thinking about what they want beyond the moment. They kill each other, which is clearly insane, and yet, here's the thing. When it's something that really matters, they fight. I mean, they're lame morons for fighting. But they do. They never... They never quit. And so I guess I will keep fighting, too.
  • Captain Jack Harkness' monologue in the Torchwood episode "Everything Changes" about the wonders of 21st century Earth that never cease to amaze him; considering he is an immortal ex-Time Agent in a World War II uniform who was native to the 51st century prior to his first appearance, he might as well be an alien from another planet.
    "There you go. I can taste it. Oestrogen. Definitely oestrogen. You take the pill, flush it away, it enters the water cycle, feminizes the fish. Goes all the way up into the sky, then falls all the way back down onto me. Contraceptives in the rain. Love this planet. Still, at least I won't get pregnant. Never doing that again."
  • Inverted on Supernatural: in the Season 4 episode "Wishful Thinking," when someone asks why people can't get what they want, Sam and Dean say it would create chaos.
    Dean: I guess people are people because they're miserable bastards who can't get what they want.
    • As cynical as the show is, even the speech is played straight a few times. Dean doesn't understand why Anna would give up being an angel for being human. He's not totally swayed by her reasons, but he agrees that sex is pretty cool. Castiel also thinks humans are okay, and considers each of them to be works of art, being created by God. Also, because angels and humans were created by God, he considers the idea that humans are inferior to be close to blasphemy.
    • In Season Five's "Hammer of the Gods," The Trickster/Gabriel gives one of these to Lucifer, the season's Big Bad, who refers to humans as "cockroaches" and "flawed, broken abortions." The Trickster tells Lucifer that, although Humans Are Flawed, they try to be better. Then tops it off with, "And you should check out the Spearmint Rhino."
  • Hilariously subverted in the comedy series Hyperdrive. After their disastrous First Contact with the Queppu, the crew seek to avoid future problems by covertly nuking the planet behind the captain's back while he's busy giving his speech.
  • Seeing how wanting to be human is a major part of the show, Being Human has a few, usually from Mitchell, who, despite living through both World Wars, and being attacked by a mob believing he's a peadophile, still has complete belief in human goodness.
  • Kind of parodied in this scene from Misfits, when Nathan gives a ridiculously impassioned rooftop-speech to his brainwashed friends about the glories of hedonistic youth:
    "She's got you thinking this is how you're supposed to be - well it's not! We're young! We're supposed to drink too much, we're supposed to have bad attitudes and shag each other's brains out! We were designed to party! This is it. So a few of us - we'll overdose, or go mental - but Charles Darwin said you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, and that's what it's all about, breaking eggs! And by eggs I do mean getting twatted on a cocktail of Class A's. If you could just see yourselves! It breaks my heart - YOU'RE WEARING CARDIGANS! We had it all...we fucked up bigger and better than any generation before us! WE WERE SO BEAUTIFUL!"
  • Several of Tsukasa's World Of Cardboard Speeches in Kamen Rider Decade have elements of this; his speech in Agito's World is the best example, given to a race that protects humanity from monsters but also eliminates superior humans to prevent them from becoming corrupted.
    "The reason is "humans are foolish", right? Yes! They certainly are foolish. Going after the face of a dead woman, trying to abandon everything in order to keep someone important safe and running away alone. Right? Because we're foolish, we won't understand unless we trip on something along the road and hurt ourselves. But even if we get lost on that road and make mistakes, we'll continue to travel. There's no need for you to guide us!"
  • Horribly subverted in an episode of the 1985-87 CBS revival of The Twilight Zone. Sufficiently Advanced Aliens land, claim they triggered humanity's evolution and threaten to wipe them out for not reaching their potential (mentioning their only virtue seems to be "a small talent for war"). A human diplomat delivers a Patrick Stewart Speech and buys humanity 24 hours to demonstrate why they should be spared; the governments of the world quickly put together a comprehensive world-wide agreement to stop all fighting. The next day the diplomat presents the treaty to the alien representative; he looks at it...and laughs. He explains that humans were placed on Earth to evolve into powerful warriors. Instead they've merely developed the aforementioned "small talent for war", and the global peace treaty proves their inherently pacifist nature. There's nothing left for the aliens to do but scour the planet clean and start over again elsewhere.
  • Parodied in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The omnipotent Observers have been making Pearl Forrester and Professor Bobo fight to the death throughout the episode. At the end, Pearl has Bobo down and the Observers order her to finish him. Pearl refuses, throwing away her sword and delivering a speech (directly to the camera) about how humans may not be perfect, but their capacity for compassion and love makes them special. It does get to the Observers...until Bobo gets up and clocks Pearl in the back of the head, reminding her that he's not human. Then she starts chasing after him, shouting "That's it Magilla, you are so dead I can't believe it!"
  • In Smallville:
    • For a while, Brainiac masqueraded as Clark's history professor (and another displaced Kryptonian). In Splinter he goes into a spiel in class about how humans have a long tradition of betraying one another (two examples given were Caesar and Brutus, and Jesus and Judas). Clark delivers a textbook Patrick Stewart Speech to Brainiac at the end of the episode.
    Clark: You don't know anything about this race. Yeah, they can be petty and dishonest and betray each other over nothing. But they can also be honest and loyal. And they would give up everything to protect someone they love... even if they were from another planet.
    Professor Fine: Kal-El...
    Clark: My name is Clark. And I'll always believe in my friends and my family.
    • In Solitude, the following episode, Fine betrays him but Chloe comes to his rescue.
    • Clark spent a decent amount of time defending Chloe from superpowered beings. In Kara:
    • Blue, Kara tries to convince her father Zor-El not to destroy the human race, but he's completely unmoved and just beats her up and continues his rampage, forcing Clark to save the day. She surely learned quickly.
    Kara: I might have not been here long but I learned one thing: everything you told me about humans is wrong. They're good people and they're worth defending.
  • Happens in the Farscape episode "A Constellation of Doubt". The episode is intercut with a documentary they intercepted from Earth about the alien members of the Moya crew who visited. A lot of it involves people being very xenophobic and showing only the worst of human nature, but Noranti redeems us (sorta):
    Noranti: I like that you're always striving to reach higher — hoping for a better tomorrow! It's the quality that first attracted me to your Uncle.
    Bobby: That humans dream?
    Noranti: Yes! You're so ignorant! But you never give up, even in the face of insurmountable odds!
  • At least one episode of every Ultra Series focuses on Human Spirit and Courage.
  • The Power Rangers Wild Force episode "The Soul of Humanity" invokes this. During the Org's attack, several humans are pinned under rubble. As the others run away, Mandilok claims to the Rangers that all the humans they protect are nothing but selfish cowards. He's proven wrong when the people return to help their trapped friends. Cole then makes this speech:
    Cole: You see that, Mandilok? That is the true soul of humanity! Humans might make mistakes, but in times of need, we will do whatever it takes to help our friends!

    Music 

    Mythology 
  • There is a Jewish legend (probably Older Than Feudalism) that after the Flood, the angels came to God, and criticized his decision to create the humans, with the way it turned out. God's answers was a passage from the Old Testament which described the sufferings of pregnancy and childbirth. In other words "wait until I'm done".

     Video Games  
  • The trope namer himself pulled this off quite a lot during his role as Zobek in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.
  • In what is possibly a subtle parody of the concept, the Sidekick Issun in Ōkami will comment that "Humanity sure was smart coming up with something like this" if you examine one of many things that go doink.
  • Shortly after the release of the independently developed Visual Novel Katawa Shoujo, a poster on /v/, had this to say about the game's seemingly squicky premise.
  • Mass Effect 1 lets the player character deliver one of these, using the dialogue system to pick each stirring theme on the fly. It's up to the player if they end up giving a straight example or subverting the hell out of it.
    • The sequel's last level has you keeping the hopes of your teammates up before the final battle by once again allowing you to use the dialogue trees to create your own speech. Twice!
    • As well in Arrival you give one to Harbinger, which is pretty cool, especially considering how you're on an asteroid about to crash into a Mass Relay.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II had a similar example, where you could give a speech to some Dantooine troops before a battle. (although you could only choose 3 pre-made speeches, one good, one neutral, and one subversion meant to demoralize the troops rather than rally them). Some Gameplay and Story Integration occurs here, as the speech you choose actually influences how many troops survive the initial cutscene battle, changing the number of troops on hand for the Last Stand (to the point where it can be a Curb-Stomp Battle for either side).
  • Dante in Devil May Cry gave one of these to Agnus when the Mad Scientist asked how a half-demon could be stronger than a full-blooded one. Worth noting is that he said that humans have something that demons don't... but he didn't say what it was.
    • That is (possibly) revealed as The Power of Love in a supplementary speech made by Nero to Sanctus, right near the end of the game.
    Nero: Never could take those legends too literally, but I do know that Sparda had a heart. A heart that could love another person, a human. And that is what you lack!
    • In the last episode of the Devil May Cry anime, the main bad guy is giving his "How could I lose!?" speech, wondering if those who are born weak are doomed to always fail. Dante says that winning and losing doesn't have anything to do with power, it depends on the quality of your soul. The bad guy tries to use this to his advantage, saying "Oh, so since your soul is good, you'll spare me, right?" He doesn't.
  • In Sonic Adventure 2, in one of the last scenes, Amy tries to convince Shadow that humans are essentially good and should be protected from the upcoming armageddon from the final boss, The Biolizard. The speech triggers a memory for Shadow, that he kept a promise to his dear friend Maria to protect all of life.
  • At the end of Final Fantasy VI, Kefka's denunciation of existence prompts a response from the members of the party. This leads to Kefka declaring that they all sound like chapters from a self-help booklet, and then they kick his insane godly rear end anyway.
  • Ash Lambert made a quite rousing Patrick Stewart Speech after the Big Bad had revealed his plan to "cleanse" the world and it's sinful inhabitants.
    Ash: You're wrong! Though this world may be wicked, life itself is precious! Good and evil, love and hate. Each man contains the potential for both. You would exterminate mankind for their sins? I would fight the gods themselves to save them!
  • In Final Fantasy XIII, the Big Bad Orphan delivers one when it explains why the Fal'Cie turn humans into L'Cie.
  • In a subversion, the Final Boss of Persona 3 lists all the ways humanity is so great as you fight him. Eventually, he sums up by saying that it none of it matters, because everything's going to die anyway. Then he Turns Red.
  • In EnergyBreaker, the party gives one of these to the final boss just before fighting him. These do tend to occur just before final boss battles.
  • In Arfenhouse 3, Housemaster's party does this to Final Boss Billy in a direct parody of Final Fantasy VI.
  • This is actually how the final boss is ultimately defeated in Tales of Graces: Asbel convinces Lambda that humans aren't worth destroying, because they can do beautiful things. Lambda tries to argue, but Asbel wins him over, and Lambda becomes dormant.

     Web Comics  
  • Concerned. Gordon's brother Norman is an expert.
    Gordon: (thinking) Same old Norman, still thinks he's some bitter, world-weary action hero, spitting out sardonic, overly dramatic responses and acting like a camera is doing close-ups on him. Maybe I can trip him up... (aloud) Golly! I've got terrible hemorrhoids all up my butt! What say you?
    Norman: You think it's painful sitting down? Try taking a stand!
    Gordon: (thinking) Damn he's good.
  • Subverted - along with all other things - in The Non-Adventures of Wonderella. When the Vaguely Greco-Roman Godhead plans the destruction of the world to pave the way for a newer, better one, Wonderella shows the Godhead the value of human life... not with a well-reasoned speech, but by calling them "dickholes" and complaining that her sister can fly and she can't. Impressed that one of their creations should show such unbridled passion, they decide to leave the world as it is.
    • In another strip, Wonderella convinces Patrick Stewart himself to give one of these speeches to an alien that thinks Star Trek is real. However, the purpose of this wasn't to convince the alien to leave, but distract him long enough to get a sniper bullet to the skull. Stewart, of course, wasn't aware of this.
  • People is sometimes kind.
  • In Sluggy Freelance (Chapter 30: "Dangerous Days Ahead"), Torg fails badly at this.
    Torg: But you've lost sight of the fact that it is our weenieness that makes us human!
  • In Homestuck, the author gives one to Caliborn over the reasons why he shouldn't encourage the Alpha players to indulge in the sugary chaos of Trickster Mode any further. He even provides an exposition on how Mario's use of Invincibility Stars is "actually devastating to his development as a human being" as a comparison to the consequences of the players' use of a similar powerup.

     Web Original 
  • In Chapter 24.4 of Worm, Taylor gives such a speech to a man about to detonate a bomb that would kill the heroes fighting Behemoth, convincing him to cooperate with them, instead.

     Western Animation  

  • Optimus Prime of Transformers, multiple times.
  • Parodied in the Treehouse of Horror segment "Night of the Dolphin." Homer's speech to inspire the humans to fight back contains nothing but minor accomplishments of humanity (except the first one): "We invented computers, leg warmers, bendy straws, peel 'n' eat shrimp, the glory hole, and the pudding cup!"
  • Parodied in an episode of Futurama, where Nibbler gladly describes planet Earth as "homeworld of the pizza-bagel". Presumably, other cultures invented pizza and/or bagels (or foods similar to them), but only humanity had ever thought of combining them.
  • The Tick makes a Patrick Stewart Speech to dissuade Omnipotus from eating Earth. He quickly rifles through his apartment to find objects to use as evidence of Earth's right to exist, including a bowling trophy and a half-eaten cheese basket.
  • Butters gives one of these on South Park. However, he is not arguing against the destruction of humanity; he is just arguing that life is too good to waste on being emo.
    • He gives another episode where his father thinks he's "bi-curious" and sends him to a Pray-Away-The-Gay camp, eventually leading to Butters telling off his father and the counselors - while having no idea what "bi-curious" means.
  • Eek! The Cat was prone to rattling off long, bizarre and frequently funny lists of what makes Earth so great to some alien bent on blowing it up.

     Real Life  

  • When the Spartans defeated the Athenians at the Battle of Aegospotami and thereby brought the Peloponnesian Wars to an end, the Athenians feared that the Spartans would treat them the way that the Athenians had treated the citizens of Melos, who had refused Athens' demands to join its alliance: killing the city's male population and enslaving its women and children. Instead, the Spartans offered more generous terms, insisting only that the Athenians destroy those aspects of the city (such as its fleet and the walls blocking off its harbor), readmit the citizens whom it had exiled during the war, and submit to Spartan control of Athens' foreign affairs. In announcing the rationale for their generosity, the Spartans "replied that they would never reduce to slavery a city which was itself an integral portion of Hellas and had performed a great and noble service to Hellas in the most perilous of emergencies," a reference to Athens' leading role in defending numerous Greek city-states during the Persian invasions of the early 400s B.C. (Xenophon, Hellenica II.ii.6, translated by H. G. Dakyns, available here.)
  • A defining characteristic of Carl Sagan, who had an optimistic view of humanity and Earth's place in the universe even as he showed the world how insignificant we were on a cosmic scale. In fact, because Sagan's most famous Patrick Stewart Speeches were in Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which aired in 1980, it is entirely possible he was the Trope Maker for this trope, and The Next Generation, which began airing in 1987, was inspired by him.
  • Robert Heinlein gave such a speech over the radio in 1952.
  • Boom-De-Ya-Da! Boom-De-Ya-Da! Boom-De-Ya-Da! Boom-De-Ya-Da!. Even Stephen Hawking agrees!
  • Terry Pratchett closes his speech in this video with this CMOH: "Admittedly we do err... but given where we started from, which was crawling up some beach somewhere... we actually haven't done that badly. And I would much rather be a rising ape than a falling angel."
  • Patrick Stewart himself delivered one at a convention in response to a fan's question about his work for Domestic Abuse victims. Watch it here.


Not BadCompliment TropesProfessional Butt-Kisser
Muggle PowerHumans Are IndexedPro-Human Transhuman
Opening MonologueSpeeches and MonologuesPlea of Personal Necessity
No PovertyIdealism TropesPet the Dog
Passion Is EvilSpeculative Fiction TropesPatronymic
The ParagonRomanticism Versus EnlightenmentPost-Cyberpunk

alternative title(s): Pleading The Human Case; What A Piece Of Work Is Man; Heart Of Man Speech; Picard Speech
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