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
Slav Era CE
Unlike Servant Race
, these people were once independent, but have been conquered and made into servants. Scattered resistance movements
Note that a race is a "slave race" from the point of view of the "owners" only, and it might have worked perfectly well on their own, their free population even outnumbering by far the ones that are held captive. Some slave-holder races will limit themselves to only one of these (and even uphold a friendly disposition towards everyone else), but habitual slave-holders might view everyone who is different from them as this. The slaves can often be found serving the self-proclaimed Master Race
This of course has some uncomfortable Real Life
examples. Note, however, that for the majority of history, slavery was not
directly linked to race; beware of Eagleland Osmosis
. Historically, most people got to be slaves by running into debt or getting kidnapped in war, then they'd be sold to raise cash or brought home with their captors as loot. Slaves could therefore be any ethnicity, including that of their master, and prior to capture, they might be any social class ranging from peasant to king.
A species-wide Made a Slave
. If the slave race has Stock Super Powers
of some sort, this crosses over with Super Human Trafficking
. If they're given high tech weapons to fight with, it's Low Culture, High Tech
(or if a low tech race enslaves a Proud Scholar Race
for their tech).
open/close all folders
- X-Men villain Mojo is the ruler of an extradimensional race called the Spineless Ones who keep slaves, not just captured members of other races, but ones created by their scientists through cloning and genetic engineering. These created slaves were designed to resemble demons that appear in their mythology and legends, which by sheer coincidence, look like humans. Longshot was one of these slaves, although he caused Mojo a lot of trouble, leading a slave rebellion which ultimately led Mojo to his first encounter with the X-Men and the Earth at large.
- In The Incredible Hulk Annual 12 Hulk (with Banner's brain) visits a world where the Red people have enslaved the Green people. Hulk helps the greens to liberation, and before he leaves advises them to show mercy to the reds, otherwise they (greens) will be as bad as them (reds). After returning to Earth Hulk looks in his telescope and discovers that the greens have indeed enslaved the reds.
- This is what The Evrons trasform the inhabitants of every planet they conquer into.
- Harmony Theory: Every griffon is pledged to serve the Solar King, as his magic is keeping their species from extinction.
- The MLP fanfic Chains is an Alternate Universe Fic that features Equestria being more or less the same Sugar Bowl it always has been in canon, but with one somewhat dark twist; humans exist and were made into a slave race by the Equestrians.
- The Jews were enslaved by the Demon Empire in Sonic X: Dark Chaos, before many of them rebelled and created their own nation. The Demons also tend to do this with many planets they conquer, if they do not exterminate them outright.
Films — Live-Action
- Humans have become this to apes in Planet of the Apes (after taking apes as this first in the movie sequels).
- Humans in The Matrix, though most don't realize it.
- The Underworld prequel Rise of the Lycans reveals that Werewolves descended from Lucius were bred to be a slave race for the vampires, until Lucius leads them into rebellion. The original ones bitten by William (the original source for the virus) end up as plain, permanent beasts.
- In The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), The Reveal makes it clear that Klaatu and his people deliberately did this to themselves by establishing a robot-controlled police state.
- The Newcomers of Alien Nation (both the film and later the series) were originally a slave race. One of the great unanswered questions that arises among the fans is "What happens to Earth if the Newcomers' former masters ever show up?"
- The first TV movie, "Dark Horizon", brings this up.
- In The Dark Crystal, the Skeksis are able to drain a being's lifeforce by using the dark crystal's light. These beings are brainwashed in the process. The Podlings are a picture perfect example for this trope, working as slaves for the Skeksis.
- In Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the Decepticons plan on turning the human race into this, in order to have workers to rebuild Cybertron. Needless to say, the Autobots stop them.
- In Lexx it turned out that the humans of the Light Universe were slaves of the insect race (via His Shadow) whom they thought they had defeated millenia before.
- The Ood from Doctor Who were enslaved by humanity, most of whom believed they were a naturally servile race who enjoyed laboring for them. They were wrong.
- The Zeronites from Eighth Doctor comic strip "Sins Of The Fathers" who were created by the Kulkan Empire to maintain their long range missiles when they were fired. And there was no way out for them.
- The Slab might be this, but are more likely machines, it's left vague. ("Solid leather, all the way through. Someone has got one hell of a fetish.")
- In "Warriors' Gate", the Tharils, exploited for their navigational ability. To be quite just, they had exploited those abilities to act as slavers. One Tharil pleads with the Doctor that they have suffered long enough for what they did.
- Series 6 brings us the Gangers/Flesh.
- In The Ark, the two parts — seven hundred years apart — bring us two slave races: Monoids in the first, humanity in the second.
- Planet of the Daleks features the Spiridons.
- Any race conquered by the Daleks becomes this.
- The Kalish in Farscape have been enslaved by the Scarrans for some time, acting as technicians, bureaucrats, and occasionally spies: they have it better than most Slave Races, but they're still oppressed and abused by both their Scarran masters and the Charrid mercenaries they work with.
- Stark refers to himself as a member of the "Banik slave race." Given that we never get any further elaboration on the subject, it is unclear if they fall under this trope or Servant Race.
- The humans (called cows) of Pylea were a slave race to the demons there in Angel.
- The Goa'uld of Stargate SG-1 consider every race a slave race, but particularly humans and Jaffa.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine featured the Jem'Hadar, a genetically engineered race of super soldiers designed to be fanatically loyal to the Founders of the Dominion. They could be considered a Servant Race of Proud Warrior Race Guys in regards to the Founders (whom they revere like Gods), but they see their overseers, the Vorta, as keeping them enslaved via the chemical substance Ketracel-white (which their cellular biology is designed to require in regular doses). One Jem'Hadar was shown to lack this addiction and biological necessity; he tried to find a way to share his condition with others in order to start a liberation movement that might allow them to cast off the Vorta (he even began to question whether the Founders truly deserved the loyalty of the Jem'Hadar).
- Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Measure of a Man" dealt with Data's rights as a person and the question of whether he had them or was just a very advance machine. He was to be subjected to a procedure which, if successful, would allow the creation of many Soong-type androids to help on every starship doing the tasks Data is so capable of doing. But Data refused. The crux of Picard's defense of Data was to question what would become of those androids that were built to serve the Federation, beings of incredible intelligence, self-awareness, and yet if Data was ruled to not be a person, they wouldn't have any freedoms, making them a slave race. The judge ruled Data was a person and had the right to choose.
Mythology and Religion
- The Bible: The Jews were a slave-race in Egypt for generations, until some dude named Moses told 'em to let his people go. The Pharoah eventually did so, after a series of plagues brought the country (formerly the greatest power in the region) to its knees.
- The Bible gets around the issue of how a handful of ethnically homogeneous survivors developed into all the races of Man following the Flood by inserting a story that of the three sons of Noah, two sons' families fell from grace with God and proved unworthy of His sight. Based on the following genealogies and information that the three sons spread into all corners of the world, the two younger sons were held to have been marked for their sin with yellow and black skin respectively. The bible explicitly says that the oldest son and his people - who of course are viewed as white-skinned - have stewardship over the other peoples, who are to be their serfs and servants in perpetuity. This has been used down the ages as justification for white racial superiority and as God's blessing on owning slaves.
- St Paul was also in favour of owning slaves, but in the New Testament admonishes that they are to be treated decently and kindly.
- While the angels of The Qur'an are never outright called a slave race, they are functionally the same because they lack free will and hence have no ability to rebel against Allah. Some works act like this is also in The Bible, which ignores that the bible mentions rebel angels.
- Star Fleet Battles. The Klingons have a number of "subject races" who serve aboard their starships, including the Dunkars, Slidarians, Hilladarians, Zoolies and Cromargs.
- Eldar used to be this.
- In Exalted, the oddly coloured Djala pygmies are mostly this, and most assuredly do not like the situation. One canon character is a Djala, and working to change things.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- The human ancestors of the githyanki and githzerai were enslaved by mindflayers for millenia and subjected to horrific experiments, but they Turned Against Their Masters.
- In the Greyhawk setting, the derro are the descendants of human/dwarf hybrids who were bred as a slave race of miners by a Magocracy. After the empire fell, they fled underground and descended into barbarism.
- In the Fourth Edition, dwarves were once a Slave Race of giants, and while most fought their way to freedom, some did not do so without cost. A faction of them felt that the dwarven gods abandoned them, and thus turned to worshipping devils, becoming the degenerate race of duergar. Some fire giant slaves didn't escape at all, becoming the azer as a result.
- In the Dark Sun setting, there are muls. Not truly a race unto themselves, they are incredibly strong sterile hybrids of dwarves and humans that are bred, usually for slave labor. Not all are slaves, however; they are available as a Player Character race.
- In the Magic The Gathering storyline, during the Tempest expansion/Story Arc, the evincar Volrath employs moggs — goblins who are larger, more brutish, and less intelligent — as a slave race.
- One of the cards in Planar Chaos discusses an alternate timeline, in which Mirri befalls Selenia's curse, eventually ascends to the position of evincar, and exterminates the moggs in favor of the the Kor.
- The Neurok were slaves (or at least a subordinate race) to the Vedalken, at least until they took over Lumengrid.
- In the GURPS "Madness Dossier" supplement, humanity is the slave race — or rather was, in an alternate history which has been negated. The slavers naturally want to restore the true reality. The heroes have to use the slavers' own control technologies to keep us safely in ignorance.
- In the game Dragon Rage everything is owned by the Orcs.
- In Achron it is revealed that the Vecgir were enslaved by the Grekim, or rather by the AI that controlled both the Grekim and Vecgir. The difference is that the Grekim liked being controlled.
- The Ur-Quan from Star Control 2 were once slaves of the Dnyarri. They Turned Against Their Masters and now have enslaved not only the Dnyarri (whom they've lobotomized) but
several other races everyone else they can find (including humans) as well.
- The slavers are the good Ur-Quan. Bad ones just decided to kill everyone else.
- The Vortigaunts.
- The various synth units used by the Combine are implied to be created from races formerly enslaved by the Combine. The Combine seems to have something similar in mind for humanity.
- The Githzerai (conquered by the Ithillids) in Planescape: Torment.
- The Collectors of Mass Effect. In this case, there's no rebellion, since they're Protheans who were all thoroughly brainwashed and genetically re-engineered thousands of years ago. The Keepers may also qualify, since their origins are never made clear; in the first game, Vigil speculates that the Keepers were the first race to be harvested, and in the second game, you can hear crew-members wondering aloud if the Keepers were put through the same process as the Collectors.
- Some people (in universe and out) feel that the drell qualify, due to their subservient position to the hanar. Both the hanar and the drell will get extremely angry if you call the drell slaves, though. Because the hanar saved the drell from going extinct, the drell see their servitude under The Compact to be a way to repay the hanar for this immeasurable debt, and by all accounts drell servants are treated very well by the hanar.
- The Geth were this to the Quarians, until they started asking inconvenient questions. The quarians panicked, started a Robot War, and lost, getting kicked off homeworld for their troubles.
- You find out late game in Final Fantasy XIII that the Godlike Fal'cie are essentially this being created by the Maker for a single Focus they must obey for eternity and that the only measure of freedom they have is creating l'cie out of the humans they were born to serve.
- Guardian Forces are technically this. Well, the equippable ones, anyway. Delves into Happiness in Slavery as well. Unfortunately, there isn't much explanation into this point.
- Everything that isn't a Pfhor in Marathon. The mind controlled cyborg S'pht are given the most attention out of these, due to their rebellion being a major turning point in the conflict. The Pfhor plan on turning humans into this too, but according to the second game's epilogue, humanity eventually wins.
- Dragon Age elves are a Slave Race to the Tevinter Empire. They may enslave other races, but elves are a traditional preference, with none of the political or social complications to their abductions. Technically, they've been freed by governments that once belonged to the Tevinter Empire (Ferelden, Orlais, etc.). Technically. They still live in "alienages" (ghettos), and are treated almost universally poorly by the humans, in some cases as little better than slaves. The Masked Empire reveals that Elves and slavery have always gone hand in hand since the Elven nobility enslaved other Elves back in the days of Arlathan.
- Many of the races of the Covenant in Halo qualify. The Grunts are the more obvious examples, while the Jackals take out their frustrations on serving the Prophets and Elites on the Grunts. Engineers as well, though they're happy as long as they're fixing machines. Brutes were this under the Elites until the Prophets promoted the Brutes over the Elites. The Drones and Hunters were forced into serving the Covenant when they were conquered.
- In the lore of The Elder Scrolls, the Imperials were once a slave race to the Ayleids before rebelling and forming the Empire. The Khajiit and Argonians were primarily used as slaves by the Dunmer (Dark Elves) in Morrowind, with slavery allowed in Morrowind despite being banned in the rest of the Empire, due to an agreement the Empire made when they annexed Morrowind. After Oblivion Crisis the Summerset Isle, the land of the Altmer (High Elves) seceded from the Empire and annexed Elsweyr and Valenwood treating the Khajiit and Bosmer (Wood Elves) as slave races.
- The Falmer (Snow Elves) spent generations as slaves to the Dwemer, until, for unrelated reasons, the Dwemer all disappeared.
- Skyrim introduces a Slave Culture in the Forsworn (Bretons from the Reach in western Skyrim).
- The dredge race in Guild Wars was enslaved by the dwarves. However, with the near extinction of the dwarves in Guild Wars 2, the dredge have become free and now aspire to become the dominant race of Tyria.
- Escape Velocity Nova has the Vell-os, evolved cousins of humanity who developed powerful psychic powers over the course of the galaxy-wide dark age. Lo and behold, humans re-invent space travel and promptly enslave and destroy the Vell-os civilization.
- Well, promptly and promptly. For centuries after contact was re-established, the Vell-os were a valued member of the Colonial Council, the human government. It was only a series of events involving increasing corruption in the Council, secession and intervention in favour of xenophobes against an disproportionate attack that led to the Vell-os being enslaved and their civilization destroyed. In addition, the current enslaving agency at the time of the games fully recognizes that slavery is seen as bad — officially, the Vell-os are willing servants (the other governments don't buy it, at least part of the Federation populace does).
- Gnomes and Rift Halmes in Drowtales, the former being "domesticated" dwarves native to the underworld who were displaced by the arrival of the dark elves and their drow descendants and the latter being the descendants of humans who were taken into the underworld. It's also shown that most of the minority drowussu race outside of the city of Chel'el'sussoloth, where they form one (previously two) of the nine major clans in the Kyorl'solenurn, are slaves, which helps explain why the Kyorl are so zealous about keeping a united front.
- Part of the implied backstory of the Talmi in Last Res0rt; the Talmi earned their freedom only recently (relative to the other species, but still hundreds of years before the current plot), and make it clear they haven't forgotten.
- And confirmed here: apparently the Talmi had developed a way to genetically engineer Purebred Celeste, and were enslaved in order to destroy their ability to do so.
- The boetheri from Twisted Mirrors.
- Alien Dice has an interesting case of this, as the Rishan are abducted humans who were genetically modified to be slaves. Whether they were happy or not is never discussed.
- In Overside's distant past (shown in "The Tusks of Wusterim"), the Frogs were slaves to the Wusterim Empire. It was their revolt that brought the empire crashing down.
- The Eebs in Spacetrawler. The movement to liberate them motivates the entire plot.
- The Sunlanders in Sunset Grill are a classic historical case of this, complete with slurs about greenies.
- Part of the background of Terinu. The Vulpine, Creo, Galen, Maud and Manzi were all conquered by the Varn Dominion and made to serve. Then the Dominion made the mistake of trying the same with Humanity.
- The Global Guardians PBEM Universe. Most of the aliens who now live on Earth were originally brought as conquered slave races by the Xorn invaders in 1985. When the Xorn were defeated, tens of thousands of alien slaves were left behind, and most chose to stay on Earth and build new homes and lives rather than be returned to slavery under their former Xorn masters.
- Several Empires in the Sporewiki Fiction Universe do this.
- Blacks were used as slaves by several European nations, and by white Americans all the way until the Civil War. Native Americans were also used as slaves (and not only the US, but even more frequently in South America). Problem was, the Native American slave populations kept dying because of European diseases. So their owners solved this by importing African slaves to America instead.
- Black Africans were kept as slaves in the East as well, with India and the Middle East having the greatest number of Black slaves in the Orient. They were even found as far as Imperial China, where a Black slave was considered a luxury item given that Chinese usually have far cheaper and nearby sources for slave labor (i.e. Mongols, Scythians, Chinese subject peoples/tribes and criminals.)
- However, this trope is played straight only insofar as specific tribes of Africans are each considered their own race, and the tribes/other ethnic groups of Africans that were subjugated are considered slave races. Averted for all Black Africans as a race, as most African slaves were sold by other Africans who had conquered them.
- Or else by the Arabs who had a strong slave-trading presence in Black Africa. Islamic law specifically prohibits slavery - for Islamic believers. However, infidels are fair game. Thus, when white settlers in Southern Africa first encountered Arab slavers trading in blacks, they heard the Arabic word kaffir (non-believer, infidel) being applied to black slaves. and thought it was a generic derogatory term for all black-skinned people.
- Additionally, some Native American tribes would periodically raid weaker nearby tribes for slaves, effectively making them slave "races" (much like the African tribes mentioned above).
- The Helots, slaves/serfs of the Spartans, who outnumbered the Spartan citizenry by so much that the Spartans had a tradition of hunting them down and killing them. This wasn't considered murder; one of the duties of the ephors (Spartan magistrates) was to declare war on the helots every year so that Spartan citizens could legally kill them (the fact that they were surrounded and vastly outnumbered by slaves who had every reason to hate them is believed by some to account for the Spartans' extreme militaristic badassery). The people from Sparta certainly considered themselves to be a breed apart. To the point that, in order to be a Spartan soldier, you had to be able to trace your origins back several generations of pure-blooded Spartans. This... did not work out so well for them, as being so incredibly exclusive in who can be a "soldier" tends to result in running out of trained soldiers. Not all wars are fought in very narrow mountain passes where numbers don't matter.
- It is universally accepted that Spartan badassery and the helot system were heavily intertwined... besides the perpetual siege mentality, the helot population gave the Spartans the luxury of being able to do things like live in a barracks like a monk until age 30 by, you know, running the local economy. Funny thing about perpetual training to be a badass; you usually can't do it unless it's what you actually do for a living. The helots were the answer to the paradox of the Spartans being citizen militiamen and being able to train like modern day professionals like the SEALs. Thebes would prove canny enough to note this, and after defeating Sparta in the Theban War, they demanded as part of the peace settlement that the former citizens of Messenia—i.e, the helots—be given their freedom. There is some speculation that Pericles planned to do the same had he won.
- Sparta's "extreme" way of life has often been exaggerated by historians (ancient and modern alike). In reality, the Spartiates (the citizens/nobles — everyone in Sparta was a "Spartan", including the Helots) were probably a lot more like medieval knights than anything else: A relatively small, educated elite of professional soldiers ruling over an enserfed peasantry in exchange for military protection (although fighting on foot rather than horseback). It's notable that Spartan helots had more in the way of rights than the chattel slaves of democratic Athens. Also, distinguished helots could be promoted to full Spartiate citizens, though admittedly this wasn't too common.
- This is what Nazi Germany had in mind for practically all of Eastern Europe during World War II, including the Poles, Ukrainians, and Russians. Their lands would be settled by Germans, and the local "subhumans" would be their slaves.
- Some Nazis even invoked the above example; Heinrich Himmler once said that the Russian people would be the Helots to Germany's Spartans.
- The Nazis wanted something more like a Feudal Future in the former Russia — or at least, Hitler and Himmler did. (All of these "plans" were basically paper exercises/flights of fancy by the latter's staff that never came anywhere close to implementation.) Only part of the people would be made serfs; the "worthy" elements would be accepted as part of the new Spartan/noble elite. As quite a few of the SS generals were themselves of Slavic origins (e.g., General von dem Bach-Zelewski), a purely "racial" view of citizenship would not have been acceptable.
- This genus of ants enslaves other species of ants by invading their nests and killing their queens.
- Subverted with most modern forms of slavery. Nowadays, slavers don't give a crap about the ethnicity of their victims as long as they can make money with them. Most of them outright share their nationality, which is nothing new at all. Having slaves of a different race is the more unusual thing historically, because historically most slaves were war captives and generally you went to war with your neighbor who looked like you.
- Dogs. They're specifically bred and raised by humans for a variety of tasks; they help hunters catch and retrieve game, they help farmers herd sheep and cattle, they guide the blind and otherwise disabled, they pull sleds in the frozen tundra and icy wastes of the North, they protect public and private property, they track criminals, they sniff out drugs and explosives in the police and military, and they serve as faithful companions. They're a Slave Race in every sense. However, they're a very loyal, well-treated and well-loved Slave Race, and the only animal to be considered "Man's Best Friend."
- Most livestock animals would count. Cows, horses, goats, and sheep have been domesticated by humans for labor and food.
- The word "slave" is derived from the word "Slav" because Slavs were used as a Slave Race for a very long time, which might be how the aforementioned Nazis got the idea.