TV Tropes Needs Your Help
View Kickstarter Project
Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here
and discuss here
Ratmen are the rat equivalent of Lizard Folk
: an entire race of intelligent anthropomorphic rodents or a single specimen thereof. They may be villainous creatures that live in filth and squalor, reproduce at a dizzying rate and worship foul deities, just another humanoid race with no particularly outstanding good or bad traits, or simply victims of an unwanted transformation. They may be (or descend from) rodents that developed humanoid features or humans that developed rodent features, whether through magic, science, radiation or natural selection.
often have either "rat" or "vermin" somewhere in their names. Ratman civilizations are sometimes given a quasi-Japanese flair or called "Nezumi," which is simply the Japanese word for mouse or rat; the proper Japanese translation for Ratmen would be "Nezumi-jin."
Subtrope of Petting Zoo People
. Contrast Rodents of Unusual Size
(where the rodents are huge but not humanoid or intelligent).
Note when adding examples: Do not confuse ratmen with wererats
: the latter are humans who can assume the form of a rat (or a giant rat, a human-rat hybrid, etc). Normal-sized rodents with human mannerisms do not count unless they are explicitly called out as abnormal in the fiction they appear. Refer to Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism
open/close all folders
- The Rat Man from Tomb Of Terror #5 (1952). A man is resurrected into a giant rat by a life-restoring fluid. He is intelligent and can talk and use things, but is also evil, like later examples.
- One character from the comic strip Snarfquest was a human prince who'd been transformed into this trope by an evil wizard, and was seeking to be restored to normal.
- One of Ghost Rider's minor villains is the bipedal, flesh-eating rat creature Verminous Rex, the sole survivor of an entire race of such creatures that lived int he spaces between dimensional walls.
- The Klarion and Manhattan Guardian miniseries in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers briefly feature a race of sentient, bipedal rats who dwell beneath New York City's subways. Since they're still the size of ordinary rats, Klarion's cat Teekl rather casually devours their king off-panel.
- The Spider-Man and Captain America villain Vermin is a human being mutated against his will into a cannibalistic, insane Rat Man.
- In Joe the Barbarian, the hero, a diabetic teenager trying to stave off death, hallucinates that his pet fancy rat is a noble Rat Man warrior who aids him on his Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane quest to defeat "Lord Death" and retrieve his insulin.
- In Art Spiegelman's Maus races of humans are being depicted as various species of anthropomorphic animals. Jews are depicted as this, a metaphor stemming from Nazi propaganda. In certain scenes however Spiegelman himself appears to be just wearing a mouse mask.
- In the 1984 Italian post-apocalyptic horror movie Rats: Night of Terror, the group of survivors gets decimated by common rats that seem to be driven from their underground habitat, making them extremely aggressive and dangerous. In the film's twist ending, it is revealed that intelligent mutant rat-humans are responsible.
- The title character of the 1986 flop Ratboy is a mysterious hybrid of human and rat found in a dumpster by the female protagonist.
- In Peter Jackson's Brain Dead (aka Dead Alive in the States) the zombie plague is carried by the "Sumatran Rat-Monkey." It has as much in common with ratmen as monkeys do with human beings.
- In The Ratman, a scientist creates a murderous humanoid rat creature named Mousey note in hopes of getting a Nobel Peace Price.
Folklore, Mythology and Religion
- Japanese folklore gives the tale of Raigo the Rat, based on a historical figure from the 11th century. The emperor broke a promise to him and uses black magic so that when he dies he comes back as a giant rat, with a rat army to eat valuable scrolls.
- The Rats in the Rats, Bats and Vats series by Dave Freer and Eric Flint are still rat-sized, but have human-like intelligence and use tools. Technically, they are not rats or even rodents, but genetically modified (including some rat gene-splicing) and cybernetically uplifted elephant shrews. Everyone (including themselves) call them rats, though.
- The bakenezumi ("queerats" or "monster rats" in translations) of From the New World are bipedal rat people who live in warring colonies and serve only their respective queens, occasionally helping humanity out. However, there's a lot of Fantastic Racism going on, with the humans despising them and the bakenezumi eventually growing to resent the humans for lording their Psychic Powers over them. As it turns out, the bakenezumi were originally humans with no Psychic Powers, genetically engineered to mutate into rat-people in order to protect the psychics' oligarchy.
- Ratpeople are one of the more minority races in Garett PI.
- The giant rats from The Underland Chronicles, which are sentient. There are similar giant versions of many small animals from our world.
- Ratmen (and a genius ratgirl) play a part in Glen Cook's Garrett P.I. series. It seems the wizards of a few generations back had quite a fad for the creation of new sentient lifeforms, and they shared real-world scientists' preference for using rats as research subjects.
- Like other mammals, rodents were well-represented in the Spellsinger novels, although rats and mice were treated like second-class citizens, forced to wash floors and so on.
- It seems to be a common subversion that if rats aren't the monsters or the bad guys, they're the Butt Monkey race.
- The rats in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH were mostly normal-sized but walked upright and wore clothing.
- Brutus, while certainly not giant, was described as being rather large as far as rats go.
- It was stated that the drugs they were given increased their size... it was part of why the normal rats feared them.
- Master Splinter in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Depending on the continuity, he was either a normal rat or a Japanese ninja who was mutated into a ratman.
- Itchy is portrayed in a manner that evokes this trope in the Dick Tracy media: small, pointed nose, slight overbite, and a nasal and occasionally squeaky voice.
- In Warhammer Fantasy, the Skaven are a race of ratmen that live in squalor and may be something of a Trope Codifier, having inspired numerous imitators in tabletop gaming.
- In the third-party Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting Scarred Lands, the Ratmen (expies of the Skaven) are rats that became intelligent humanoids by consuming the flesh of the fallen Titans. Some of them have been further mutated to develop special powers related to the Titan they are descended from.
- Ratmen can be found in the third-party Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting Ptolus. Here, they are divided by size into the halfling-sized ratlings, the human-sized ratlords, and the ogre-sized ratbrutes.
- Some third-party d20 supplements have included varieties of ratmen, such as Aradan (from AEG's Mercenaries), Cavian (from Races of Neo Exodus) and Ikrikit (from Masterwork Monsters: Rats in the Walls)
- Ratfolk in Pathfinder are halfling-sized, highly social, and good at tinkering. Many of them are Intrepid Merchants. For the most part, they are portrayed fairly sympathetically - most of them are neutral in alignment, and they can be player characters - but some of their racial options, like the Plague Bringer alchemist, have more of a Skaven feel.
- Magic The Gathering has Nezumi Rat Men in the Kamigawa sets of cards from 2004.
- Legend of the Five Rings also has a race of rat-men called the Nezumi in it. Alongside the naga, they're the only non-human race in the setting that isn't hostile towards humanity.
- EverQuest II introduced the Ratonga race.
- The Rat Tribe of Inherit the Earth is the resident Proud Scholar Race of the setting. Their underground complex is part library and part monastery, all built into what looks like an old sewer system.
- Slade the Thief from Shining Force II is a human-sized anthropomorphic rat.
- In Warcraft, Kobolds are a race of ratmen miners that live in Kalimdor. They are low-level neutral monsters, though they can be annoying in large numbers.