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Tested On Humans
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The Necromancer, Mad Scientist or Big Bad tests or demonstrates his latest weapon; not on beer cans or inoffensive paper targets like any decent gun-nut would, but on live human beings!

Definitely a subtrope of Kick the Dog. See also Human Trial Is Human Error, Innocent Bystander and Disposable Vagrant. Professor Guinea Pig is when the thing being tested isn't a weapon, and the Mad Scientist uses it on his or herself. Guinea Pig Family is when the Mad Scientist uses his family.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Samurai Gun. The evil Shogunate test their Steam Punk gatling gun on a bound woman with large breasts.
  • In Death Note, L uses a death row prisoner to "test" and locate Kira. Kira, obviously, has to use humans to test the capabilities of the Death Note.
  • In Gunslinger Girl after Raballo dies, Claes becomes unsuited for field work, so she's relegated to being the test bed for each new iteration of cyborg technology.
  • Golgo 13. In the anime episode "The Masterpiece Assault Rifle" a Mad Scientist develops the next generation of assault rifle. To establish its reputation he hires two mercenaries to use it against Duke with his trademark M-16. Needless to say, this is not a good idea.

    Comic Books 
  • Wanted had the supervillains abducting people for target practice.
  • Subverted in this Charles Addams cartoon.
    Death ray, fiddlesticks! Why, it doesn't even slow them up.

    Film 
  • A New Hope. Death Star. Gran Moff Tarkin. Alderaan. You know the rest.
  • The Empire Strikes Back. Vader wants to check that the carbon-freezing equipment is safe to use on Luke, so he orders it tested on Han Solo.
  • The Incredibles. Syndrome talks "retired" superheroes into coming to his Island Base, supposedly to stop a rogue robot. Actually he's using them to test the robot's abilities, constantly upgrading it with each defeat until the superhero is killed.
  • In Batman: The Movie, the Penguin tests the Dehydrator on five henchmen — henchmen wearing "Guinea Pig" on their shirts, no less.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Judge Doom tests The Dip on a poor, innocent Toon shoe.
    • Except he already knows it works (and so does the guy who explains it to Eddie), it's really just a gratuitous demonstration.
  • District 9. An off-hand comment made by the Corrupt Corporate Executive is that the protagonist is the first person to survive being incorporated with alien DNA. A more direct example (though it's a case of Tested On Aliens) is when one of the 'prawns' (with a target on his chest) is herded in front of a weapon, and the protagonist is forced (by having his arm shocked with a taser) to squeeze the trigger.
  • In Lord of War, an Arms Dealer sells a dictator a cache of firearms. The dictator tests one out by shooting one of his own aides, and the arms dealer is horrified: "Why did you do that? Now you have to buy it. I can't sell a used gun."
    • Note that the arms dealer was clearly horrified that the aide was shot. He's just enough of a Magnificent Bastard to know better than to tell that to someone who randomly shot his own aide.
  • The Last King of Scotland. Amin's bodyguard forces a Child Soldier to swallow one of the poisoned headache pills Garrigan had prepared for Amin, causing Garrigan to give himself away.
  • In the inaccurately-named Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, Emperor Ming tests his Death Dust on some prisoners to see if it will only kill those with the will to oppose him. Those of 'lesser intelligence' survive.
  • The Evil That Men Do (1984) opens with the Torture Technician demonstrating his techniques on a dissident journalist for a roomful of army officers.
  • The Killing Room (2009). Several volunteers are locked in a room for a psychological experiment, only to be killed off one-by-one. Turns out it's an evaluation program to identify people who can be brainwashed into becoming US government suicide bombers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Professionals. In "Killer With A Long Arm" the Cold Sniper guns down someone on a golf course to check his weapon was properly zeroed for the assassination he's been hired to carry out. If there was a reason for him to use a live target other than just to be a dick it was not adequately explained, especially since he'd used a scarecrow for an earlier test.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus. The Funniest Joke in the World was tested on a low-level military grunt.
  • The basic idea behind the Mads' experiments on Joel and Mike in Mystery Science Theater 3000. Find the perfect movie to crack the test subject's resistance, then release the movie on an unwitting populace.
  • An example of the good guys using this is in V: The Final Battle. The dust used to kill the Visitors is tested on an alien prisoner. Then while the others are busy arguing about whether they should find a human collaborator to test it on, one of the human scientists willingly steps into the chamber instead.
  • The Six Million Dollar Man ("Population Zero"). The villains try out their sonic device on a small town. The initial test just renders the population unconscious - the final test will kill them.
  • On Ugly Betty, Marc briefly became someone else's assistant. He did not enjoy it:
    Marc: Fabia doesnt believe in testing her products on animals, but she does believe in testing them on assistants.
  • Doctor Who: Davros tests his multiverse-destroying, matter-vaporizer gun on people collected from the streets of London. (The Daleks don't even have to hit anything, just turn it on and bye-bye multiverse)
  • In Helix, while a team of CDC researchers were ostensibly sent to a remote research base to contain an accidental outbreak of The Virus, their army liaison tells a CDC teammember that he and his superiors suspect the outbreak may have begun as a deliberate effort to test a developed Synthetic Plague on human subjects that got out of control.
  • Game of Thrones. Just to remind the audience that Ser Gregor Clegane is a huge brutish killing machine when he reappears in Season 4, he's introduced using lowborn prisoners as living practice dummies.

    Literature 
  • The Amtrak Wars by Patrick Tilley. The Iron Masters demonstrate the new firearms they're selling to the Plainfolk by shooting dead several condemned prisoners. When one samurai misses the target, he's used in the demonstration as well. Afterwards the protagonist Steve Brickman comments on how brave the men were in facing death. One of the Plainfolk replies dryly that considering the alternative, it was the best fate they could have hoped for.
  • Flashman presents a brace of pistols to an Afghan chieftain, and witnesses one of them being tested on a slave by the Big Bad. Even the amoral Flashman is shocked.
  • King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard. The king of the Kukuana people asks Allan Quartermain to show the effects of his rifle upon his assembled warriors. Quatermain replies by telling the king he would be glad to do so if the king volunteers to be the subject of the experiment. At which point it is decided to use an ox instead.
  • In Outbound Flight, the Vagaari commander gets his hands on the battle droids stowed away in Car'das's stolen shuttle. Droids of any kind are completely new to this sector of space. One of the first things he does is test their firepower on Geroon slaves.
  • The Master Sniper by Stephen Hunter. German sharpshooter Lt. Colonel Repp tests his StG44 rifle with newly-developed infra-red scope — first on some Jewish prisoners, then on an American patrol at the front lines — before carrying out the assassination he'd been tasked with.
  • In The Switch by Anthony Horowitz, the main character's father is the CEO of a major pharmaceutical company, popular because none of his products are tested on animals. They're not just tested on humans, though; they're tested on homeless children that nobody will miss.
  • In Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead, a Mad Scientist tries to make zombie soldiers, which of course means cemetery robbing. But his zombies are smarter and more useful the fresher they are, so he murders a twelve-year-old boy wandering through the graveyard and then tries it on him.
  • Which is also the punchline of H.P. Lovecraft's "Herbert WestóReanimator" story "The Scream of the Dead".
  • In Firestarter a government organization called The Shop tests an incredibly dangerous Psycho Serum called Lot Six on volunteering college students, who are told that half of them will be injected with a small dose of harmless hallucinogenic drug and the other half will be injected with water.

    Video Games 
  • In the first Soviet briefing of Command & Conquer: Red Alert, Stalin and his officers discuss the results of a test of Deadly Gas on a civilian village.
  • Occurs in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: Uprising, when FutureTech Corporation, the Allies' main Private Military Contractor, uses Soviet Prisoners for this purpose. The act is enough to push Dasha's Berserk Button, resulting in her calling up what few Kirovs the Soviets have left.
  • This was done many times in the Fallout Universe, by the pre-War United States. Even something innocuous like the new soda flavor Nuka-Cola Quantum ended up killing most taste testers.
    • When America was working on the Forced Evolutionary Virus (eventually repurposed to create Super Soldiers for the war against China), they tested it out on political dissidents and military prisoners. Most died due to terrible mutations or becoming so stupid they forgot to breathe, but the most stable results were hulking brutes with a caveman's intellect. When the military force guarding the base running these tests found out about them, the soldiers mutinied and executed the scientists.
    • During the Sino-American War, Chinese-Americans were rounded up in concentration camps occasionally used for such a purpose. In the Old World Blues expansion for Fallout: New Vegas you can explore the "Little Yangtze" camp, whose bomb-collared prisoners have lingered on for two hundred years as ghouls.
    • Perhaps the most egregious example would be the Vaults themselves. Though marketed as the ultimate bomb shelters, most Vaults were secretly the testing grounds for sadistic social experiments, to see if humans could survive prolonged space travel to another planet, which was the American government's real plan for surviving nuclear war. Some experiments make a twisted sort of sense - an all-powerful Overseer, infrastructure requiring constant and inconvenient repairs, low-light conditions - but what about the Vaults with grossly imbalanced gender ratios? Or the Vault without clothing dispensers? Or the Vault assigned one man and a box of puppets?
  • In The Sims 2, this is implied to be what Loki and Circe Beaker are doing with Nervous Subject in Strangetown. The house they have has a lab filled with science-y looking things (actually aspiration rewards) and Nervous lives in a basement room under the lab.
  • In Mass Effect 2 Mordin's former assistant uses humans as test subjects to develop a cure for the genophage. It's also what they initially think the Collectors are doing with the colonies they abduct. Actually they're being used to make a new Reaper.
    • Mordin himself acknowledges the logic behind using human test subjects (humans are more genetically diverse than most other species and so make excellent lab rats), but disagrees with it on moral grounds. "Never test using species capable of calculus. Simple rule. Never broke it."

    Western Animation 
  • Exo Squad. J.T. Marsh (a military officer and good fighter) is captured by Neo Megas near the Antarctic Neo Lord breeding facility and pitted against a Neo Lord to test the latter's combat abilities. It is clear that Marsh was never meant to survive.
  • In Street Sharks, Dr. Paradigm figures out that using his gene-slamming technique on humans would let him eliminate some steps, so he he tests it on the first person available - Dr. Bolton. He also tests it on Bolton's sons and a few other people, before figuring out that gene-slammed humans can't be controlled. He's working on it, though.
  • In Batman Beyond, Derek Powers developed a chemical weapon. When the potential buyer asked about its effect on humans, Powers told him that local human testing laws weren't so "liberal" as those of the buyer's home nation, but Powers had footage of an "accident."

    Real Life 
  • Samurai would test their swords on criminals who'd been sentenced to death.
  • The outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, World War II, and the disregard for human rights of prisoners kept in concentration camps allowed Japanese and German scientists to conduct experiments otherwise prohibited. The scientific value of many 'experiments' - particularly those conducted by Dr Joseph Mengele, a depraved sadist with an honorary doctorate in (Aryan) racial theory - was dubious. However, much of the work did confirm or invalidate numerous theories about the workings of the human body e.g. the circulation of blood, human metabolic rates, survival capacity in extreme conditions and when wounded, the stopping power/lethality of various weapons and the lethality and most contagious means of transmission of diseases.
    • Unit 731 of the IJA is perhaps the best known example of these wartime research units, having run through an unknown number (somewhere in the thousands) of people of various Chinese and occasionally European ethnicities for use in the aforementioned research. Vivisection without application of anesthetic was advocated as it produced the most accurate results, and they were a bit short on that kind of thing (medical supplies) anyway. Field tests of disease delivery methods and resultant effects had terminal effects on some 200k to 600k Chinese civilians in urban areas designated for biological research.
  • Possibly just a legend, but there is a saying about the Russian Mafia, they'll shoot you just to see if the gun works.


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