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People Farms

"The machines had found all the energy they would ever need. There are fields, Neo... Endless fields, where human beings are no longer 'born': We are grown."
Morpheus, The Matrix

Want to show that the bad guys (or possibly the Alien Invasion) are really, truly evil? Want them to cross the Moral Event Horizon without having to do much work? Want them to just terrify everybody into oblivion? Easy! Just state — or really heavily imply — that they breed humans like livestock, or keep them like animals in vast People Farms. Their purpose needn't be specified. Eating us? Harvesting our souls? Being bred for our skills in magic? Human Resources? Because they like to watch? Doesn't matter. Just the implication is enough to squick people.

While it's true that humans are just another species of animal on this Insignificant Little Blue Planet, we tend to think ourselves above mere animals — among other things, we believe that all of us have an inherent right to freedom, safety from imprisonment without due cause, or abuse both physical and emotional. People Farms play to lots of Primal Fears and Squicks at once — fear of imprisonment, enslavement, death (if we get treated to a culling of unfit stock), rape (if there's a "breeding program" going on, which participants have no choice in), and the general sense of being controlled. If it's our fellow humans doing this, you can be certain that their contempt for their fellow men is absolute. If it's an alien race, you know they obviously didn't get the memo that Humans Are Special. Of course, other sapient species can be substituted for humans, provided that they're sympathetic.

It doesn't help that the idea of wide-scale human imprisonment and abuse puts people in mind of the Holocaust.

A major example of Industrialized Evil.

No Real Life Examples, Please! We don't want to disturb the readers.

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • All non-Earth humans in Vandread are supplies of "spare parts" for the hyperadvanced Earthlings. Each is actually dedicated to a specific body part, to the point where their societies are set up specifically to nourish that particular part. Inevitably, harvest time comes before the end of the series...
  • Setting one of these up was the reason the Protodeviln in Macross 7 were trying to trap the titular colony ship.
  • In the latest arc of Gantz, the giant four eyed aliens capture any humans they don't kill outright, only to kill some of them in alien slaughterhouses for food. Other are kept in zoo exhibits or as pets.
  • According to Puella Magi Madoka Magica, all Magical Girls are basically the livestock of an alien race called the Incubators, who harvest their very souls to stave off universal entropy, basically turning the girls into liches as a result, and, usually as eventuality, into the very despair-spreading monsters they fight, Witches. The one who calls itself Kyubey even tells the protagonist, "You don't feel sorry for cows, do you?" Regarding the Holocaust allegories, it does not help at all that one Puella Magi was none other than Anne Frank. Ughhh.

    Comicbooks 
  • In Marvel Zombies, Zombie Giant Man suggests creating a human breeding program, so that they would have more live people to eat.
    • In Marvel Zombies 4, there is one (a cloning facility).
  • Transmetropolitan has bastard farms, where humans without a functioning brain are grown to serve various needs: to be sold as food to Long Pig, to be brain-dead sex slaves, and to be a candidate for Vice President.
    • That third example is not a joke, by the way. The Smiler wanted a Vice Presidential candidate with strong credentials, absolute loyalty and no scandals that would drag down his campaign. After searching for such a candidate to no avail, he just decided it would be easier to grow a candidate and establish a fake record for him. It might have worked, if not for Spider Jerusalem.

    Fanfic 
  • In The Swarm of War, after the first planet is conquered, about a million humans are allowed to survive because the Swarm needs workers to build machines, as well as psykers.

    Film 
  • The machines combine this with People Jars in The Matrix.
  • Parts The Clonus Horror — made famous by MST3K — and The Island, which was inspired by it, both involve breeding grounds for human clones (in order to harvest their organs).
  • In the 1972 crime movie Prime Cut a cattle rancher, among other felonies, keeps women in pens, like animals, for sale as sex slaves.
  • Was revealed to be the Big Bad's plan to survive the future vampire-dominated world in Blade: Trinity.
  • When Conan was a slave-gladiator in Conan the Barbarian (1982), he got his first taste of the "pleasures of women" when he was "bred to the finest stock."
  • One of the resistance's video speeches in They Live! claims that this is what Earth has become.
  • At the end of Soylent Green, the harried protagonist is reduced to running through the streets, yelling about how the world's leaders are going to reduce the planet's population to livestock and breed them for food. Given how overcrowded, downtrodden, ignorant, and apathetic the film's citizenry seems to be, the viewer is presumably meant to conclude it's already happened.
  • M. Night Shyamalan's Signs features aliens who have an inexplicable appetite for human flesh, in spite of the fact that water burns them like acid(?!).
  • In the 80's horror flick Motel Hell Farmer Vincent buries people in his garden, removes their vocal cords then pulls them out of the ground and turns them into Farmer Vincent's fritters Yummy.
  • In Daybreakers, humans are kept suspended in huge halls and farmed for their blood. That said, the plot revolves around the problem that Vampires are consuming their stock faster than they can breed them.

    Literature 
  • Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal is supposedly all about this trope.
  • In House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, clones are deliberately brain-damaged and kept locked up until the original needs an organ transplant.
  • In Hexwood, the Reigners specifically "breed" their Servants, ordering "chosen" girls to "breed" with their Servant, and then "farming" the offspring until they find out which ones they have to cull. Yes, it is freaky as all get out.
  • Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan.
  • Piers Anthony's "In The Barn" is a particularly Squicky example.
    • "In the Barn" focuses on milk production. In an author's note, he says that he considered writing a sequel, "In the Abattoir"...
  • Robert A. Heinlein:
  • China Mievielle's Perdido Street Station includes mention of Cactus farms during the tenure of a previous mayor. In this universe, Cacti refer to large humanoid plants.
  • Cordwainer Smith's A Planet Called Shayol, It's about a prison planet where people are harvested for organs. They're infected with a symbiotic virus which works a bit too well, not only making them immortal, but also causing them to constantly grow extra organs and limbs to harvest.
  • Both the Eloi and Morlocks of H. G. Wells' The Time Machine were developments of humans. The Morlocks spent their lives underground, operating the machinery that let the Eloi live lives of leisure. What did they get out of it? Cattle.
    • Also from H.G. Wells, the soldier from War of the Worlds speculates that the Martians, if victorious, will set up People Farms and raise human livestock for their blood.
  • H.P. Lovecraft's The Rats In The Walls
  • In Vamped by David Sosnowski, illegal farms of this sort provide blood for vampires.
  • In the Discworld novel Feet of Clay, it's revealed that a vampire has been selectively breeding the noble houses of Anhk-Morpork for centuries, by manipulating marriages through his role as leader of the Heralds. Not so much treating people as livestock as treating them as show-dogs, but still darn rude.
  • The Virus in Hosts would've turned the planet into a host-body farm if Repairman Jack hadn't stopped it.
  • In one Animorphs book showing a possible future where the Yeerks have taken control of Earth, there was at least one mention of humans being bred.
  • Robin Cook's Coma is about people who come in for minor surgeries and are put into a coma so their organs can be harvested.
  • In When the Wind Blows, it was revealed that the evil scientists had genetically engineered some babies to be born without faces, to be used for "parts". In the sequel The Lake House, the Hospital keeps people sedated and hooked up to virtual simulators while they harvest their organs.
  • In Old Man's War it is mentioned that an alien race did this to a human colony they conquered.
  • Larry Niven:
    • Subverted in the Draco's Tavern short story "Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing". The alien race in that story enjoys eating humans and other sentient species, but is horrified at the very idea of taking sentient life. So they grow human bodies without functional brains in vats and then eat them.
    • In Niven's "Bordered in Black", which strongly implies that a very humanlike population on another planet was being maintained for food by unknown aliens.
  • In The Court Of The Air, an ancient civilization of cannibalistic demon-worshippers got around the inconvenience of keeping their victims-to-be confined on People Farms by mutating them into Plant People. They were still sentient and aware of their fate, and still bled when devoured, but were rooted to the spot and powerless to escape.
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is another work with clones-as-organ-donors. The protagonists get to live a semi-normal life before it's time for their donations (thanks to being raised at an experimental school whose owners are trying to prove that clones have souls), but it's implied that most clones aren't so lucky.
  • The short story "A Distant Sound of Hammers" takes place in a post-Zombie Apocalypse world where zombies are so widespread (and church-promoted!) that normal humans are treated as animals and kept in pens inside gigantic slaughterhouses to be kept for food production.
  • A downright horrifying example in the Sword of Truth. Confessors, when they take mates, lose control of their powers during sex and confess their mates. Those Confessed mates have to kill any sons they've begotten, because, as ugly as this whole situation is, Male Confessors are the next best thing to an Eldritch Horror (though the series has some of those too).
    • What the Sisters of the Light might have been doing with Taminura. YMMV whether it was intentional or merely a nice side-effect of their incompetent policies on raising wizards.
  • Warren Rochelle's The Wild Boy, where humans were bred and kept like dogs to breed them for empathic abilities.
  • In Kur of Gor the Kur (an alien race) have bred humans for food so much that they almost could be considered another species. The food-humans are penned and are barely sentient, more like two-footed cattle. Even so, many Kur don't like the taste of human, preferring tarsk (pig) or verr (goat).
  • In the novels "In Death Ground" and "The Shiva Option" by David Weber and Steven White the invading aliens are a classic example of this trope.
  • In Neal Barrett, Jr.'s bleak post-apocalyptic novel, Through Darkest America, this has mostly replaced traditional agriculture. After the (implied to be nuclear) war that destroyed the previous civilization, most animals large enough for meat died out, and so have been replaced with semi-feral (uneducated to the point of not possessing language skills) humans that are referred to as "stock." Most people are reliant on "stock" as part of their diet, making them not so much People Farms as People Ranches. While it can be inferred that "stock" are somehow less mentally developed than normal humans, the end of the book confirms this is not the case when the protagonist learns that the Government has been adding new people to the breeding pool to prevent excessive inbreeding, under the guise of it being a program for getting society's best and brightest to rebuild technology from before the end. The protagonist's sister entered this program at the beginning of the novel.
  • The Gen Farms in the "Sime Gen" series by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Caprican Cylons that Starbuck runs into in season 2 of Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined).
  • This was the purpose of the Master's factory project in the alternate Sunnydale of "The Wish" on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • The Sisters Of Plenitude (an order of humanoid feline nuns) from the Doctor Who episode "New Earth" had one of these, with the purpose of using the bred humans for medical experiments.
  • An episode of the new Outer Limits had humans kept as slave-mechanics by sentient spaceships, apparently for many generations. The protagonist's ship docks with another so that he can mate with the second ship's female slave-mechanic, to provide yet another generation of repairmen.
    • Another episode had a group of humans decide to go live in a colony out in the woods, starting families away from civilization. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that the "colony" is actually inside a disguised alien spaceship, and the humans are being bred for slavery.
  • The Wraith from Stargate Atlantis regarded every populated planet in their corner of the galaxy as one big people farm.
    • But hey, at least it's free-range!
  • Supernatural: It is ultimately revealed that this is the plan that the Leviathans were working on all through Season 7 — they create a food additive drug that, upon ingestion, makes humans slothful and complacent, causing them to fatten up and dull up, so that they can be marched into the slaughterhouses the Leviathans are building under the guise of agricultural factories. Oh, and the drug is lethal to any other monsters that feed on humans, since the Leviathans don't want any competition for their food.
  • The crux of the Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man" was that the "benevolent" aliens made a utopia out of Earth specifically to transform the entire planet into one big People Farm.
  • The original V mini-series and subsequent series had reptilian aliens disguised as human-like beings bringing peace and love, only to secretly harvest the human race as a) cannon-fodder foot-troops for their wars and b) food.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Cthulhu Tech the Rapine Storm hasn't much use for the Asian human masses that it conquers, except for some recruitment (let's just say their army duty is... a little stressful). That doesn't stop them from creating the so-called Rape Camps and have their own version of fun. In a sense, the invading Mi-Gos are way more "human", they just seem to attempt direct extinction of the entire human species.
  • The New World of Darkness's UK has the Blood Farm, run by a mortal businessman with absolutely no morals and extensive knowledge of the country's vampire communities. He keeps his operation stocked with asylum seekers, who are brought in, kept in horrendous conditions, and slowly bled dry. It's implied that elder vampires use the Farm as a lesson to neonates. If they're queasy about having to attack people for blood, they'll be set up with packages from the Blood Farm for a few months... and then the elders spare no detail in telling them where it comes from.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • At least one Dark Eldar Kabal is mentioned in the background to have maintained "pain farms". Dark Eldar in general have huge factories where thousands of slaves work to produce weapons and food, but they don't really bother to farm slaves. There's hardly any need to bother when you have a whole galaxy full of "free range" ones.
    • The Adeptus Mechanicus keeps several cloning vats ready to produce literally mindless bodies for the production of Servitors (unless there's a nearby penal colony, in which case they have ample "material"). Many of these tanks are also used to mass produce Geneseed, either for the founding of new Space Marine Chapters or to help existing chapters replenish their stock, as Geneseed cannot be cultured in a tube but rather grown within a living human body.
    • Hive worlds can be seen as these, breeding grounds for billions of humans who can be conscripted into the Imperial Guard's ranks.
  • Shadowrun. The Tamanous organization runs "fetus farms" in which female captives are impregnated and later harvested of their fetuses. The fetuses are used as a source for fetal tissue transplants, stem cells and so on.

    Videogames 
  • Demon King Gil from Rance III had some because the power of the Chosen One is inversely proportional to the amount of people alive. She had to keep the human population up, so that the Chosen One would have no chance.
  • The Desians in Tales of Symphonia keep "Human Ranches." The protagonist's Doomed Hometown is so doomed because his best friend befriends an old lady from the ranch, and brings her food—and the rule around town is, you don't mention the Human Ranches and they won't mention you. The people are used to make the ability-enhancing exspheres the Desians - and the protagonists - use
  • One of the nastiest sidequests in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura unveils an Ancient Conspiracy of Gnomes who deliberately bred half-ogres so they could 'employ' them as bodyguards. Nowadays, they've basically got half-ogre 'farms', but they had to get their 'starting stock' from SOMEWHERE, and you find that place... as well as some squickily detailed records. Worse yet, the gnomes get away with it, making all the evidence you uncover 'disappear'...
    • The Mind Screw conclusion leaves open the possibility that the conspiracy really was delusional paranoia, and that killing the gnome and his 'agent' marks your own descent into the same insanity. Even so, the Gray and Gray Morality dampens the horror of it — even if it is true, half-ogre bodyguards tend to be better treated, better educated, and achieve social status that no other half-ogres have access to. And it's suggested that stopping the violent and homicidal persecution of gnomes excused the callous abduction and rape of women early in the foundation of the program.
  • In the video game Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds (based on the music based on the book) this is required for various applications in the war machines the aliens use. When playing as the aliens you actually have to BUILD human farms to draw the proper amount of blood. It isn't implied that they're killed, and in fact since you *are* basically the supreme overlord of the attacking aliens, you could basically say "They're not being killed" easily.
  • The Combine Empire from Half-Life 2 transforms a large amount of its human dissidents into "Stalkers", pitiful creatures whose limbs and ability to speak were removed. Basically, these things are the work slaves of the Combine, held and processed in the citadel for the rest of their poor excuse for a life.
  • The batarians in Mass Effect have some of these, though they're never actually seen. Liberating one and seeing what went on there was enough to turn a model soldier into a stumbling drunk.
    • The Reapers have them beat, though. The batarians have a few worlds. The Reapers use the entire galaxy. And they've been doing it for at LEAST a billion years.
  • This is humanity's fate if Talon wins dominance of the world in Primal Rage.
    • And he's one of the good guys, relatively speaking.
  • You run one of these in the flash game Farm of Souls. But it's okay, because you're being scored on how happy the souls you harvest are.
  • World of Warcraft features a literal people farm in the :Hillsbrad Foothills questline, modeled after the film Motel Hell (above). The player finds a shovel and has the chance to release the prisoners by using the shovel to dig them out :or click on the prisoners to kill them with the shovel.
  • Demons in Shin Megami Tensei games require certain energies from humans and other similar beings, which they can take from their summoners or outright rip from captured victims. Nocturne has Kabukicho Prison, which features this trope. The Ashura-Kai from IV are worse, considering the massive farm they have in Reverse Hills, the sheer amount of Red Pills they produce, and the sheer horror that is the fabrication process. Here's a hint - the secret ingredient? Human neurotransmitters.
  • Final Fantasy XIII reveals relatively early on in the game that Cocoon, the world where "civilized" humanity has its every need taken care of by the benevolent Fal'Cie is nothing more than a farm in which "human tools" can be bred by the thousands for an unknown purpose. Worse, midway through the game it's revealed by one of their servants that this unknown purpose is a mass sacrifice by which they can attract their creator back to the mortal plane.


PatronymicSpeculative Fiction TropesPeople Jars
Peek-A-Boo CorpseHorror TropesPersonal Horror
DaybreakersImageSource/Live-Action FilmsThe Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

alternative title(s): People Farm
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