"It's really simple. You bring two sides together. They fight. A lot of them die. But those who survive are stronger, faster and better."
For those who live by "Survival of the Fittest", you are either a predator or the main course.
The Social Darwinist
is someone who believes that the Darwinist theory of evolution — i.e. "survival of the fittest" to oversimplify it — should be applied to people, and sometimes entire societies or nations. To the Social Darwinist, all life is a struggle for survival in which the strongest naturally prosper at the expense of the weak — and it is right
, and natural
that they should do so, because that's just the way things are, and/or natural law is Above Good and Evil
. Such characters rarely concede that their chances for survival may have started higher than others due to reasons such as inherited wealth or social prestige. They typically state that We Have Become Complacent
and stupid, and want to remove weakness and stupidity from society. It may seem to some that because humans aren't currently having wars/disaster and humans aren't endangered as a species that evolution in humans has ceased altogether.
If they do talk about evolution, they are very likely to talk about Evolutionary Levels
and Goal-Oriented Evolution
rather than Darwin's actual theory (which was more of a pass-fail concept.)
Fictional Social Darwinists generally come in five major flavors:
- The Straw Meritocrat: The first type believes in Social Darwinism, which misinterprets the idea of evolution and natural selection and holds that people who rise to the top in society, by whatever means, are automatically "superior" - even going so far as to praise the evils of over-ambitiousness and condemn kind behavior. Frequently this will be held even in settings where the people in charge are clearly getting there through Nepotism, or otherwise as a result of luck and privilege. Despite it being nothing more than a Theme Park Version, this philosophy is still frequently held by both fictional characters and a few Real Life 'successful' people.
- The Nazi By Any Other Name: The second type is a racist or speciesist who believes that their race is a Master Race, and by extension, the only one fit to live and reproduce in this world, and uses this belief as a justification for subjugating, enslaving or just plain getting rid of those that they consider "inferior" (as the Real Life Nazis did). Scary Dogmatic Aliens are very likely to have this mindset, as is any society modeled upon the Nazis. Occasionally also held by superheroes.
- The Evilutionary Biologist: The third type is the Evilutionary Biologist or anyone who has mistaken ideas about how evolution works "for the good of the species," and in order to help it out or not "get in its way," anyone with a birth defect or who is in any other way "weak" in this villain's eyes deserves to die to keep the gene pool strong. Many such characters hope to create the Transhuman Ultimate Life Form. This type is also what Those Wacky Nazis had in mind with Aktion T-4.
- The Jerk Justifier: The fourth type is simply selfish and uses Social Darwinism as just a justification for sociopathic behavior. This character may not actually believe it and may not even care, but finds Social Darwinism to be a convenient justification or excuse for the way they were going to behave anyway. Often overlaps with Straw Hypocrite.
- The Struggler: The fifth type believe that competition, suffering and struggle makes the individual, and possibly a society (as a whole), superior. They tend to believe in Evil Virtues like cunning, ruthlessness, opportunism and the ability to endure and survive by any means necessary, and tend to have a cynical view of the world as a hard, harsh place and that Hobbes Was Right; they may also / instead suffer from Evil Cannot Comprehend Good and thus undervalue non-Social Darwinist virtues like kindness or pacifism. A Real Man Is a Killer logic often falls into this category as does War Is Glorious. Those Wacky Nazis held to this view as well. Differ from the first in that they don't necessarily believe that those at the top always deserve it; they tend to take a Might Makes Right view of things, and the most sincere of this kind do not believe the struggle ever ends.
If the Social Darwinist doesn't suffer a Karmic Death
, the heroes "disprove" his might-makes-right philosophy by demonstrating the The Power of Friendshipnote
: either by ganging up and beating the crap out of him and his cronies, or by the leader of the group (often the All-Loving Hero
) doing it himself while repeatedly driving home that he's fighting for his friends. A particularly profound way this to happen is to have the character beaten by a character who is either a visible minority the Social Darwinist considers inferior or has a glaring physical or mental handicaps
More sympathetic Social Darwinists (i.e. if they aren't hypocrites) will often begin to respect the heroes
after their defeat; they may turn into a Worthy Opponent
or even become a Noble Bigot
as they struggle with their beliefs and begrudgingly admit that a group they had considered inferior does in fact have worthy people among them. Their beliefs might be a Tragic Flaw
if they were drilled into them from a young age or they actually had to live in such a place were their views are justified
Compare Evilutionary Biologist
, Evil Evolves
, and Kill the Poor
and Slobs Versus Snobs
. Sometimes overlaps with Objectivism
and the "▄bermensch
" concept. There's a bit of this trope in the Satisfied Street Rat
. Likewise, characters with a Darwinist Desire
are usually only interested in applying social Darwinism on themselves and their offspring rather than imposing it on society, though both tropes can overlap in the same character. Compare and contrast Living Is More Than Surviving
- Social Darwinist will variably put either survival or quality of life on top of others.
Note that Charles Darwin
himself would not be amused by all these people and the way they interpreted his works; he proposed nothing of the sort. You never see a social Darwinist treating societies in the same way a real Darwinist treats species: Darwinists are interested in maintaining biodiversity, and Darwinism is a description
of the way species work, not a prescription
for which species should live or die. See Appeal to Nature
for the fallacy of using "nature" to prescribe any behaviour (moral, immoral or not), and also see the Analysis page for this trope
for more information on that. This did not stop Social Darwinism from becoming a fairly mainstream philosophy from the Victorian era to WWII, when it became associated with the Nazis
; this association contributed greatly to its loss of popularity. However, the emergence of culture war politics
in the late 20th century appears to have won new adherents to the philosophy.
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Anime and Manga
- After taking a level in jerkass and pursuing apostles on his quest for revenge, Guts in Berserk adopts this as his philosophy, saying that people who are too weak to survive in the Crapsack World that they live in deserve to die.
- Code:Breaker: Though not yet outright stated, Ogami's brother implies this is his group's ideal when he wonders why Ogami is protecting an ordinary (?) human.
- Emperor Charles zi Britannia in Code Geass has this philosophy — though it applies at its most ruthless to his children, as if any are weak, they deserve to die. The protagonist, a deposed prince of the empire, directly opposes this attitude as it's what cost him his mother and crippled his little sister — while Charles did nothing. Subverted, as this was all a facade by the emperor himself.
- Not really; it's more that he tries to use the notion of Might Makes Right to justify self-interest (in his mind, everything's alright as long as he wins). Lelouch calls him out on it in episode 21 of R2 when he points out that his parents wouldn't have cared if their plan did fail and they lost their children for real, remarking that they only wanted to have an excuse to feel proud of themselves for having kept their family.
- It may not seem so simple, but Charles likely does perceive himself to be at the top of society, and he does argue against Lelouch that, like him, he follows the mentality that the ends justify the means, but they differ in that Lelouch's goal is for the people of the world to care about each other (so that they wouldn't take advantage of each other again), whereas Charles acts for himself, and Suzaku later opposes him for taking advantage of other people just like (if not moreso than) Lelouch when those with power should protect those incapable of acting, recognizing that Britannian society isn't such an ideal world.
- Vicious of Cowboy Bebop shows shades of this, particularly in his attitude towards those who lose their ruthless side. Notably, he assassinates his former Mentor Mao Yenrai for attempting to make peace with another Syndicate, (then dismissively describes him as "a beast who lost his fangs") denounces the Elders of the Red Dragon as "corpses that can't fight," and demands to know why Spike Spiegel, his personal and romantic rival, survived his exile if he's no longer as cold-blooded and ruthless as Vicious.
- In Darker Than Black, Amber's organization "Evening Primrose" is sort of the Contractor Resistance movement, and while it's not clear to what extent Amber herself has this viewpoint, her obsessive follower Maki definitely does, and in one scene, he actually refers to Contractors as something like a "master race". The interquel villain Harvest is also an insane social darwinist, and has several lines about "the next stage in evolution".
- Light Yagami in Death Note develops from a Well-Intentioned Extremist into this trope, and he happens to be the protagonist. He believes that by using the Death Note to pick off criminals and the unpleasant, he can make the world consist of good people only. As he puts it, if Kira (his mass-murdering alter ego) is caught, then he's evil; if he wins and rules the world, he's righteous.
- Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z believes the Saiyan race is the most powerful in the universe and that Earthlings are weak and inferior to them. His transition to Majin Vegeta is largely because this belief, saying (in the English dub) "It's survival of the fittest. The strong will survive, and the weak shall perish!" Even Goku pointing out that during their battle they may have inadvertently revived Majin Buu is dismissed by Vegeta, saying (though he hardly believes it himself) that the two of them have evolved far beyond even Kaioshin's expectations to the point that Majin Buu is not a concern anymore.
- Every bad guy in Fist of the North Star is either this or just a raving psycho. It's a Mad Max style world after all.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist:
- There are Father and his Homunculi, and Kimblee, who is an ideological and philosophical Social Darwinist. He doesn't believe that weak people should be automatically killed (though he does enjoy blowing up people regardless of how helpless they are, but he believes violence is the only way to solve philosophical disputes; whoever is alive at the end of the day was right.
- There are also non-villain examples. Olivier Mira Armstrong is General Badass and leads the Briggs fortress border troops, who are the most Bad Ass soldiers in all Amestris. Her credo is "survival of the fittest", which she applied to everyone, including herself.
"Don't you get it? My men aren't going to come and rescue me. Because if I die here, I'm not worthy to lead them anyway."
- The Jester a.k.a. Kaizan Doushi in the anime series Grenadier.
- Lord Fezearl Ezelcant from Gundam AGE believes that the only way to create a perfect world is to wipe out the weak. It doesn't matter to Ezelcant if you're caught in the middle of an attack on a Federation colony, suffering from the overwhelming poverty within Vagan or dying from diseases due to Mars Ray exposure. If you do not have the will to survive and the willpower to do ANYTHING to have the means to do so, you don't belong in his utopia and you deserve to die. What makes this hilarious is that he states that he thinks peaceful and kindhearted people will come out of this, rather than hardened survivors. Thus proving that Social Darwinists don't always understand the very science they're putting their faith in.
- The Leader of the PLANTS from Gundam SEED, Chairman Patrick Zala, actively believes that Coordinators, genetically modified humans, are a different species from Natural-born humans. This leads him to actively pursue the death of every single Natural on the planet Earth. (His aggression towards Naturals likely stemmed from his wife being killed in an event before the series by the Earth Alliance, who was not pleased that Coordinators had been able to grow their own food.)
- Rudolf von Goldenbaum from Legend of Galactic Heroes firmly believes in this trope. One of the most infamous laws he passed after he established the Galactic Empire was the so-called "Inferior Genes Exclusion Law", which essentially involved the killing of people deemed to possess "inferior genes".
- Mazinger Z: The Dragon Baron Ashura is a Jerkass Justifier who uses the "survival of the fitest" like an excuse/justification to make whatever he wants. In a story arc of the Gosaku Ota manga alternate continuity Baron Ashura manages kidnapping Kouji and tries to talking Kouji in joining him (or her. It. Whatever). When Kouji retorts he has no interest in becoming a criminal, Ashura goes in a What Is Evil? Might Makes Right angry rant, uttering that in the nature the weak succumbs to the will of the strong and the strong survives. That is how the world always did, does and will work, and "good", "bad", "peace", "justice"... are meaningless, empty words human beings came up with because they are too coward to accept reality and too weak to protect themselves.
- Gihren Zabi of Mobile Suit Gundam. He believes that the strong should rule and the weak should simply get out of the way. This idea governs most of his actions throughout the show, and lead to his ultimately assassinating his father and seizing control of Zeon for himself.
- Tomonori Komori from Narutaru is a sociopathic teenager who finds the modern world overly complicated, and so he intends to use his Mon to kill the educated and the sickly, effectively turning things back to the Stone Age, to create what he claims would be a healthy, pure society. Ironically, it's revealed some time after his death that he had a sickly mother he was taking care of, and that he wasn't the healthiest of boys himself. He must've been bitter.
- One Piece has Captain Morgan, who seems to think that the fact he struggled to earn his rank (never mind that part of his promotion came as a patsy in someone else's scheme) gives him the right to kill anyone who questions his orders or opposes his methods; and Arlong the fishman, who thinks the physically superior fishmen should rule over the weak and puny humans.
- To be fair to Morgan, he never figured out that he was a patsy and presumably having his arm and jaw cut off made him quite a grumpy person. And while it doesn't justify his actions, Arlong was of victim of racism since he was a child. These guys don't hold a light to the Celestial Dragons, who basically run around, getting away with whatever they please because they can. Whatever they please includes murder, slavery, and setting the poor district of towns on fire before they arrive anywhere. This trope is best shown with how rich families reacted to the destruction of the poor district: "It's their own fault, they shouldn't have been born poor."
- The philosophy of Rurouni Kenshin's Big Bad Makoto Shishio is that "the flesh of the weak is the food of the strong" — and he drives his point home by taking a bite out of the hero. He is inevitably defeated, but afterwards, Kenshin observes that his victory has not truly proven anything — and that, if the one in the right is merely the strongest warrior, then Shishio was correct all along...
- In Saint Beast, Zeus believes that angels who are not "beautiful and strong" are not fit to serve him.
- Inverted in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, where both Lordgenome and the Anti-Spirals purposefully try to force the human race not to evolve too much, and it is the heroes who ascribe to a more idealistic combination of Darwinism (with Spiral Energy being the power behind evolution) and The Power of Friendship.
- Esdese in Akame ga Kiru!. It's only natural for the weak to perish, after all. To her, the feelings of the "weak" are utterly incomprehensible and absurd.
- Black Butler: Sebastian frequently sneers at humanity's weakness, vulgarity and paradoxically self-destructive behavior. Seeing being born a demon automatically makes him to be The Ace and The Sociopath, it makes some sense.
- Pokemon The First Movie is a somewhat strange example of the trope, due to the shifting of roles between the Japanese and English versions of the film. Both Mew and Mewtwo have shades of this in the Japanese version, though it is Mew, the hero, that is more of a Darwinist; in fact, it's Mew that offers the suggestion that the two sides fight without their abilities. In the English version, Mew shows none of these traits, leaving Mewtwo as the sole Darwinist.
- Several superpowered characters living in Academy City in A Certain Magical Index believe the powerful rule and the weak are just fodder and playthings for them. Shizuri Mugino used to be like this, but after her Heel-Face Turn, she's done a full 180 turn in attitude. Having grown to love and respect Shiage Hamazura, the Badass Normal who managed to defeat her, she learns about how Academy City allocates funds to people with promising powers while denying them to people with weak powers or none (like Shiage), assuming they are worthless. Mugino gets angry and declares that Shiage may not have any powers but he is definitely not worthless.
- In Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Corset says something along these lines when he's attempting to unleash Hell on Earth.
- In Madan no Ou to Vanadis, Duke Thenardier, one of the main antagonists of the first five volumes, is this due to his upbringing by his father. He killed all of his siblings to rise to power, and holds no sympathy for anyone he considers weak besides his son, which is why he decides to raze Alsace to the ground in Volume 1 and levies ridiculously high taxes on anyone he considers useless or weak.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: This is Kyoko's philosophy and she sees magical girls as the apex predator. Within magical girls, a weaker one must yield their territory to a stronger one or die.
- In Animal Land, Jyu completely believes in the "survival of the fittest" notion wherein strong animals prey on and can do anything towards weaker animals. He is totally against anything that goes against this notion, such as animals working together, as he sees it as a lie to the natural order of things.
- Kill la Kill's Satsuki Kiryuuin holds to the mantra of survival of the fittest so strongly that she literally decides her Absurdly Powerful Student Council by a "Naturals Election", which is held exactly as you'd think it would be.
Satsuki: All students have the right to attack all other students! Secret meetings, scheming, backstabbing, anything goes! Seven days from now, reach the schoolyard alive, and then use your strength to lay claim on your social standing once again!
- Koichi Shidou from Highschool of the Dead, when he kicks a student off a bus after he sprains his ankle, saying that the weak don't deserve to live in this world.
- Satyajit Shyamalan from Birdy the Mighty: Decode is one, and believes that the next step on humanity's evolutionary path is to use a super weapon to wipe out all of humanity but those he considers most worthy. His main criteria for determining those superior is whether they, like himself, had survived a major war or disaster that would lead to mass casualties.
- In One Punch Man, Dr. Genus was, even as a child, disgusted by the weakness of man. His goal is to take over the world and replace the human race with his army of genetically engineered monsters. He gets really shocked when he discovers Saitama's incredible power came from training and not genetics or anything of the sort.
- Jack Chick assumes that this is what the Theory of Evolution teaches.
- There are several such characters in the X-Men works:
- Magneto has some moments of social darwinism, calling mutants Homo sapiens superior (or the even less accurate Homo superior, implying mutants are a separate species entirely). What makes his views especially ironic is the fact that it was born out of the persecution he suffered at the hands of the Nazis.
- Apocalypse goes farther; besides vaunting the superiority of mutants, he believes in encouraging conflict to weed out the weak. Meanwhile, he isn't concerned for his own safety, assuming that he is the pinnacle of evolution. There are times, both in the main Marvel Universe and alternate timelines, when Apocalypse gets defeated and he's asked what makes him fit to survive. Sometimes, he seems entirely willing to die due to having been proved "unfit" under his own philosophy. It never lasts, because he's one of the X-Men's iconic villains so he has to come back to face them again.
- Mr. Sinister originated as a 19th-century eugenicist.
- Professor Xavier in X-Men Noir is an actual psychiatrist, and as such his spin on this is unique: he believes sociopaths are the next stage in human behavioral evolution. Chief of Detectives Eric Magnus, meanwhile, believes the criminal element is hereditary and genetic — and has to be contained or eliminated for the good of society. Emma Frost, an old student of Xavier's, combines the two ideas as warden at Genosha Bay, but also feels sociopathy is communicable.
- The Red Skull abandoned Nazism, but he still believes in social Darwinism.
- Venus Bluegenes in Rogue Trooper fits this trope in her initial appearance. She believes that GIs are inherently superior to humans, and killed the rest of her crew as she thought them inferior.
- Niles Caulder turns out to be this at the end of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol run. In fact, it's revealed at the end that he's planning a giant worldwide cataclysm that will enable the human race to emerge stronger as a result.
- The Norwegian cult comic The Great Four: When the Dead Awaken features a social darwinist Big Bad who is planning to start a new world war using steampunk gasoline technology. When the heroes arrive to stop him, he offers them an ultimatum: If he defeats them, they will join him in his conquest. If they defeat him, he has a self-destruct ready to destroy his Supervillain Lair and will let them pull the switch, because if he was weak enough to be defeated his works weren't worth anything anyway. He actually seems content with losing until the heroes decide to leave the lair intact so his gasoline-driven undead minions can continue to 'live'.
- In the New 52, the villain Harvest collects superpowered teens and forces them to fight each other to the death in an event he calls "The Culling", so that he can determine the strongest and rule over the survivors, who become his Ravagers. While Harvest is impressed by Superboy's power, he declares him a failure because of he will not kill his defeated foes. Later it's revealed that his real motivation is Fantastic Racism. He hates metahumans in general because his son was killed by a metahuman.
- Superman villain Manchester Black overlaps this with Might Makes Right. He and his group are the world's most powerful super-humans, so they should naturally have authority over the rest of mankind and are able to force them to obey their own morals and laws. Superman twists this trope around by not only being stronger than Black, but by demonstrating why putting this theory into practice is a VERY bad idea.
- In a contrasting portrayal when compared to the usual, in the Avatar fanfic, Children of Gaia, Earth is portrayed as one, plus Well-Intentioned Extremist, always working the evolution to benefit the strongest and don't even mind people mining her (a rather interesting subversion of Gaia's Lament). So, she gets really offended when she learns about how Eywa rules the Na'vi and actually agrees with humans on their policy over them.
- The Immortal Game has both Titan and his Dragon, General Esteem, who both believe that power is the only thing that matters, and that only those with power have the right to rule.
- Ace Combat The Equestrian War has Red Cyclone as a Racism Theorist; he wants to create a world where only the strong live while the weak are mercilessly slaughtered.
- Pony POV Series has Strife, Anthropomorphic Personification of Natural Selection, a more realistic version of the Social Darwinist. She is a Blood Knight who has no intention of letting her prey escape, and she knows that she is far more powerful than any mortal, but she at least fights battles personally instead of wiping her foes out instantly, because she believes every being has the right to prove itself and fight for its survival.
- In The Great Slave King, the strong ruling the weak ends up becoming the Slave King's modus operandi.
- As befitting a War God, Ares from The Princess of Themyscira believes in the strong ruling over the weak, which to him means gods directly lording over mortals.
- In Oblivion, the Gorgon sisters' father was this, and raised his daughters to believe that "those with power rise over those without, and crush them from above" and that "the weak cannot expect mercy or second chances." To this end, he and his wife trained their children hard so that they will be strong enough to survive in the world when they reach adulthood. It's implied that he has a Freudian Excuse that gave him this outlook on life.
- In the Puella Magi Madoka Magica fic Flashes of Light, Homura scorns her past self for being weak. Not coincidentally, this past self is also much saner than her.
Films — Animated
- Commander Rourke of Disney's Atlantis The Lost Empire fits this to such an extent that he invokes Darwin by name:
Rourke: Get off your soap box, Thatch. You've read Darwin. It's called 'natural selection'. We're just helping it along.
- In Ice Age, Sid, a (mostly) incompetent sloth outwits an (albeit also fairly incompetent) saber tooth cat. While repeatedly jumping on his victim Sid shouts: "Survival! Of The! Fittest!" and finishes with: "I don't think so..."
- Kron from the Disney movie Dinosaur is implied to be something like this. He even lampshades this when the herd is fleeing from the carnotaurs.
Aladar: (Concerning the elders in the back) But the others in the back! They'll never make it!
Kron: Then they'll slow down the predators!
Aladar: (Outraged) You can't sacrifice them like this!
- King, the leader of the Rogues and the Big Bad of Alpha and Omega 2: A Howl-iday Adventure, is a wolf who espouses such views. He is obsessed with the purity and strength of himself and his Rogues and is quick to mock any perceived weakness.
- Upon becoming a Corrupt Corporate Executive, the Once-ler in The Lorax adaptation adopts this mindset to rationalize his actions. In a cut song titled "Biggering" he goes farther and compares his company to an animal that must ruthlessly fight for survival, regardless of what it destroys.
- In My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks, The Dazzling's song "Let's Have A Battle (of the Bands)" encourages this mindset, with the lyrics saying things like it doesn't matter who you hurt in your journey to prove you are the best and that people should compete against each other instead of working together. In general, The Dazzlings spread this behavior through their Mind-Control Music and Hate Plague. It doesn't matter to them who wins; they are Emotion Eaters who feed on the negative emotions generated by the conflicts.
Films — Live-Action
- The villain of the 1945 film The Spiral Staircase cites this as his reason for killing women with any sort of physical defect, such as the mute heroine:
"There is no room in this whole world for imperfection. What a pity my father didn't live to see me become strong, to see me dispose of the weak and imperfect of the world, whom he detested. He would have admired me for what I am going to do."
- In Wall Street, Gordon Gekko's philosophy is Social Darwinism of the economic kind. Several of his quotes are "It's a Zero Sum game´┐Żsomebody wins, somebody loses" or "In my book you either do it right or you get eliminated". His entire "Greed is good" speech is of Social Darwinist nature. However, he only applies this trope to companies: weak people don't die, they just don't succeed in business, which is a fairly basic tenet of capitalism. Of course, he's more than willing to cheat to win if he can't succeed on pure talent.
- In First Knight, the villain Malagant is a firm believer in this, and cannot understand his rival King Arthur's philosophy that it is the duty of the strong to help and protect the weak. He hypocritically calls Arthur a tyrant for trying to stop him from terrorizing the weak peasants.
You still don't know what you're dealing with, do you? Perfect organism
. It's structural perfection is matched only by its hostility. Lambert:
You admire it. Ash:
I admire its purity. A survivor... unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.
- In Piranha 3DD, David Hasselhoff, playing himself, refuses to help rescue people from the piranha-infested waters, saying he's letting natural selection chose the survivors.
- Hugo Drax in Moonraker, who planned to use a lethal nerve gas to wipe out all humans on earth and repopulate it with the ones he chose as superior beings.
- In An American Werewolf in Paris, Claude gives a speech saying he hates institutions like hospitals and charities because their only purpose is to extend the lives of the weak, in turn weakening the human race as a whole. Combined with Fantastic Racism, he also considers werewolves like himself to be superior to ordinary humans.
- A running theme throughout multiple stories in Cloud Atlas. Hugo Weaving's character(s) echo the phrase "There's a natural order to things" in various contexts.
- Mentioned in the Holocaust docudrama Conspiracy. When Heydrich finishes the conference, he echoes the Nazi views on evolution as he gloats that the genocide of the Jews will "advance the human race to greater purity in a space of time so short Charles Darwin will be astonished". Or he would be. Evolution doesn't work that way.
- Jordan Belfort and all of his underlings at Stratton Oakmont in The Wolf of Wall Street. You're either rich or you're a loser with a miserable life.
- It's developed more in the Expanded Universe, but this is the ideology taken by the Sith of Star Wars fame. They believe that the strong have the right to control the weak (usually non-Force users,) and in their own order establish a desire to replace one's master so that both sides will remain as strong as possible against one another. The latter is the main reasoning behind the Rule of Two: the apprentice will become stronger to usurp the master, and the master will become stronger to prevent himself being usurped.
- Also, the Neimoidians (the species in charge of the Trade Federation in the prequel movies) had a similar system, not where the strong survive, but the smart. Neimoidians were insect-like humanoids who begin life as grubs, who the adults raise in communal hives, and only give a limited amount of food. Grubs who show ingenuity and cleverness learn how to collect and hoard food for themselves, while those who don't starve before they can mature. This system has made the race masters of strategy and politics, but it has also made them incredibly greedy by nature, and terrified of death.
- In In Time, rich businessman Phillipe Weis says the system where the rich live forever and people die if they go broke fits the policies of "Survival of the Fittest" and "Natural Selection". He's so obsessed with Darwinism that the password to his vault is "12021809", Charles Darwin's birthday.
- An old joke: two friends are trekking through the jungle and set up camp for the night. At one point, one of them sits bolt upright and says "Listen! I heard a sound. I think it's a lion." The other simply gets out of bed and starts putting on a pair of shoes. The first friend looks at at the second friend incredulously and says "What on Earth are you doing? You can't possibly outrun a lion." The second friend looks the first right in the eye and says: "I don't have to outrun the lion."
- Deconstructed in the Doctor Who story discussed below; while explaining the joke to a listener who didn't get itnote , the Doctor points out that while it's effective in a ruthless sort of way, it's effective one time only — who's the surviving friend going to outrun when the next lion shows up?
- Sutekh the Destroyer takes this trope to an extreme. He wants to wipe out all life so nothing can evolve that can threaten him, despite being a Physical God who is capable of destroying planets and who not even the Time Lords can stop.
- Almost all Nietzscheans in Andromeda — even the non-villainous ones, who are generally "good guys" only in that they exist in a state of permanent Enemy Mine.
- On The Knick, Herman Barrow, the hospital administrator, is a committed social Darwinist. He's an equally committed racist. Still, the show is set in 1900 New York, making it more Fair for Its Day than not.
- Almost every bad guy in Babylon 5:
Barrow: The poor are just weaker than us.
- The Shadows, known as the Lords of Chaos, espouse a Social Darwinist attitude and manipulate the younger races into interstellar wars to promote chaos and disorder where the strongest rise to the top (it's their way of "helping"). Their Armour Piercing Question, "What do you want?" embodies this by defining the answerer entirely by their own drives and ambitions.
- The faction of PsiCorps led by Bester also believes this. One has to wonder how they would react if they learned that the development of telepathy was not the result of evolution, but genetic tampering by the Vorlons...
- The title character in the episode "Deathwalker" was yet another case of this. Her species, the Dilgar, invaded multiple other races in a war a few decades ago, during which she was apparently the alien equivalent of Dr. Mengele. However the Dilgar were wiped out by the Earth Alliance and allied races in retaliation. She claims that the other races earned the Longevity Treatment she developed by driving her race to extinction, but is actually attempting to get revenge by giving them a serum that requires Human Resources to make, thus driving them into chaos if her ship hadn't been vaporized by the Vorlons.
- Another episode had Ivanova trying to negotiate with the Lumati, an alien Planet of Hats species who strongly believe in Social Darwinism; when they discover Downbelow, the "slum" of the station, they approve the "segregation" of "unwanted" elements and agree to grant the desired treaty as well as implement the same system on the Lumati homeworld. When Ivanova tries to correct their misinterpretation, they gently chastise her for her unnecessary modesty.
- One alien species constructed an indestructible killer robot to wipe out all "impure" members. It found out, unsurprisingly, that there is no such thing as "pure" and ended up killing all of them for "impurity".
- In 5th season episode Secrets of the Soul - All members of the alliance are supposed to be sharing medical information. The Hyach are holding out on Dr. Franklin. He discovers there was once another sentient species on their planet they Hyach-Do. There was some interbreeding. The Hyach passed religious laws that that prohibited interbreeding and led to the extermination of the Hyach-do. After they became an interstellar race the Hyach censored this part of their history from official documents. Over time their birthrate slowed. Dr. Franklin discovered that the Hyach needed a genetic component from the Hyach-Do. By committing genocide, the Hyach may have eliminated their own race also. It isn't revealed if the Alliance found a solution for them.
- The Doctor Who serial Survival deconstructs this trope / worldview in several ways, most notably by turning the Master into an essentially Social Darwinist villain — all the other characters are exploited for his own survival. He manipulates The Dragon, Midge, by playing on Social Darwinist beliefs — a specific comment on Thatcherism in Eighties Britain. There's also a bullet-headed Territorial Army type who's a determined believer in this type of philosophy, only to completely fall apart when he finds himself thrown into an environment where he has to actually practice it. It doesn't end well for him. Ultimately, the 'weaker' characters who work together and are able to overcome their purely individualistic / survivalist instincts do okay, the 'stronger' ones who can't and fall into this trope die.
- Torchwood: Children of Earth.
Denise: And now the time has come to choose [the children which are to be given over to the 456] and if we can't identify the lowest-achieving 10 per cent of this country's children, then what are the league tables for?
- Sylar of Heroes. Even he himself defines his actions in terms of evolution. Interestingly enough, he'll generally leave normal people alone as long as they don't stand in his way.
- Any number of psychos on Millennium fill the bill. The imprisoned Serial Killer in "The Thin White Line" is a prime example.
- Pick an advanced race in Stargate SG-1. Any advanced race (except the Asgard). The omnipresent reasoning for keeping most of humanity at medieval level or below.
- Plenty of examples from Star Trek:
- Khan is the epitome of a Social Darwinist. He is himself is the product of genetic engineering designed to create stronger, faster, more perfect humans, and feels it's his right to dominate the whole galaxy due to his genetically engineered awesomeness. He fails due to his genetically engineered ego.
- The Q being from Star Trek: The Next Generation accuses humanity of being a "grievously savage" 'child' race, and says they must be removed to make room for more "worthy" species.
- In the backstory of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Conscience of the King", a dictator of a space colony, when faced with starvation, ordered half the population executed so the rest of the population wouldn't starve to death before the relief ships arrive. This could have been a Shoot the Dog scenario in an I Did What I Had to Do situation, but he chose people based on some sort of genetic superiority basis determined by him instead of more random means. What's particularly sad was that the relief ships arrived months ahead of schedule.
- Though justified in-universe, the Prime Directive seems to apply this to non-warp-capable civilizations in dictating (in effect) that they should be allowed to go extinct rather than having their "natural evolution" interrupted.
- Creator King Ryuuwon from GoGo Sentai Boukenger is certainly one of these; his method of creating a Monster of the Week is to have his soldiers fight and kill each other, then promote the one who survives.
- Ryubee Sonozaki from Kamen Rider Double, as seen with the Gaia Impact in the end of the series. His plan is to unleash a wave of energy that will kill everyone on Earth that isn't compatible with the Gaia Memories, leaving only the "chosen" to rule whatever remains, with himself as leader thanks to his daughter Wakana being the "Earth's Priestess", that is, the one who initiated the impact in the first place. Then Jun Kazu steps in after Ryubee's death and tries to launch the Gaia Impact himself.
- Lionel Luthor expressed sentiments of this sort in Smallville, but it's his Alternate Universe counterpart, Earth-2 Lionel who truly embodies this. Having risen to become the most powerful man in the world, Earth-2 Lionel maintains that "it's got to be survival of the fittest," a principle he ruthlessly applies to himself and his children, encouraging them to plot against one another and himself to see who deserves to be the true heir to the Luthor name. In a Bad Future in the regular timeline, President Evil Lex Luthor is one as well, plotting to nuke the world so that he can rule over the strongest of humanity's survivors.
- The Bad Future Overlord version of Wyatt Halliwell in Charmed often invokes this trope. His morality was twisted by having to constantly fend off Elder Gideon's attempts to kill him whilst holding him in captivity, presumably until he finally killed Gideon himself. He rules both the mortal plane and the Underworld with an iron fist. His brother Chris has never been able to sway him to good or escape his target list, because of his philosophy that power rests Above Good and Evil.
- Universe at War the Hierarchy have decimated millions of worlds before coming to Earth, they believe that they are killing off the weak and they are superior to all.
- Kamen Rider Gaim: The Rival Kaito Kumon, AKA Armored Rider Baron, presents an unusual Jerk with a Heart of Gold spin on this trope. On the one hand, he sided with a group that's willing to let the Alien Kudzu take over Earth because he feels it'll cull the weak. On the other hand, rather than advocating Might Makes Right, he believes that the weak have a duty to become strong enough to stand up on their own two feet so nobody can push them around anymore. He doesn't boast about his own strength, but believes that only those who seek out strength are worthy of respect; the strong who oppress the weak are the enemy, while the weak who do nothing about it are beneath notice. The Fansubbers at Ăsir have noted that this makes Kaito's dialog very difficult to translate accurately.
- In addition to being quite the misanthrope and troll, Boyd Rice includes many of his social darwinist views in his lyrics. It's more apparent in his essays, though, in which he makes a very good case for Social Darwinism.
- When you take the lyrics and music video of Pearl Jam's "Do the Evolution" together, it seems to be a satire of this attitude.
- "Weed Out the Weak" by Hypocrisy.
- "The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing" by Frank Zappa.
- Triple H's Evolution was based on a very strange interpretation of Darwinism that began with assaulting Tommy Dreamer for no reason whatsoever. Eventually Randy Orton decided that to Triple H, the word evolution meant "Me" and Triple H agreed without irony.
- Jon Moxley has this view on professional wrestling, as he intimated when Sami Callihan announced his arrival to CZW. Since rationality isn't exactly Moxley's forte though, his idea of "survival of the fittest" was lighting the arena on fire and seeing who is still alive among the ashes.
- The Skaven and the Greenskins (Goblinoids) in Warhammer. Also the Dark Elves, to certain extent.
- The Word of God is notoriously ambiguous whether all greenskins represent the same species or if Snotlings, Goblins and Orcs are actually three separate species. The authors of the game just mention that the greenskins never stop growing before they die...
- Life is cheap if you have fur or green skin. This trope makes sense in this concept.
- The drow in Dungeons & Dragons are a Planet of Hats of Always Chaotic Evil Social Darwinists, due to a spectacularly poor choice in patron deity (a demonic spider-goddess) and living in underworld caves whose native fauna make them nearly a Death World. This does ensure that drow who survive are more dangerous, particularly to each other. Realistic natural selection might well have either wiped them out altogether or forced them to cooperate in a more rational manner. Lolth, their patron deity, tells them to knock it off whenever they fall below a certain point in population. And yes, this makes the drow a race that officially survives on Deus Ex Machina.
- Also in Dungeons & Dragons, the now-dead god Iyachtu Xvim used to be a Social Darwinist, and didn't like helping the weak like some of the more goody-two-shoes gods, believing that they were directly responsible for their situations and didn't deserve help.
- A Dungeons & Dragons by way of Eberron example are the Children of Winter, a Druidic sect who believe that the world passes through distinct season-like stages and the recent occurrence of the Mourning is a sign of the dawning of Winter. Thus, if the sapient races are to survive until the Spring, the weak must be culled from the herd. To this end, they propagate natural disasters (famine, plague, etc) and interfere with efforts to alleviate such. In theory, they are Well Intentioned Extremists. In practice, most D Ms tend to use them as handy "guys you can punch in the face without feeling guilty", similar to the Ashbound (who are an Anti-Magical Faction in a world that runs on Magitek of the "industrialised spellcasting" variety).
- The Clans of BattleTech have been bred for war for centuries using intensely competitive rituals to determine whose genes get passed on and whose don't, and believe this makes them worthy of ruling the Inner Sphere. Naturally, they get whipped by the "inferiors", who recognize that you can still be of use in combat over the age of 30. The story of the Clan invasion could be a deconstruction of the whole thing. While their rituals and codes of honor helped perfect the Clans' fighting technique, they forgot many of the pragmatic realities of war. Meanwhile, the Inner Sphere realms were all too familiar with them, thanks to their constantly bickering, possessive, petty leaders.
- Yawgmoth, from Magic: The Gathering. An unusual example is his nemesis Urza, a protagonist eugenicist; calling him "heroic" would admittedly be a stretch. Urza is such a darwinist that he actually sides with Phyrexia after spending millenia trying to defeat it when he actually visits the place, since Phyrexia is everything he ever wanted as an artificer and as a Social Darwinist. Vorinclex from New Phyrexia is a social darwinist as well, to the point of objecting to society at all. The only thing that matters is that ability to kill those weaker. Green and Black, despite being enemy colours, love social darwinism.
- The green-blue Simic Combine from Ravnica had shades of this. They engineered plagues to kill off the weak and sold cures to the highest bidder.
- Dromoka is a nicer than example than most. She does at least respect and protect her charges, but you either toughen up or become her lunch, as she suffers no "weak links". Her eponymous clan is a meritocracy for this reason. Still miles better than the rest of Tarkir.
- The RPG Sufficiently Advanced features a Social Darwinist faction that isn't averse to giving natural selection a helping hand.
- Two examples from Exalted:
- Lunars have been known to apply this to the societies, both human and beastman, that they set up. Generally, if a nation they've been shepherding is going well, they'll stop giving it covert (or, in some cases, overt) assistance and watch to see what happens. Oh, and for the setting in question, they're good guys, who made colossal sacrifices to stop The Fair Folk from wiping out reality 800 years ago.
- Cecelyne, one of the Yozis, was responsible for the principle of law in Creation, but it's suggested her ideas, even as a Primordial, were a bit... off. Now that she's been made into a Yozi, her idea of "law" has twisted to "whatever benefits the strong so that they rule over or drive out the weak." Oh, and her chosen are the Dark Messiah caste. Be quite afraid.
- Both the Imperium and the Eldar in Warhammer 40,000 view all other races and each other as less evolved and inferior. The Orks also do this with their culture based on warfare and toughness.
- Dark Eldar are almost exactly the same as the Orks, except replace size and toughness with skill and cunning. Dark Eldar society requires all of it's members to be Crazy-Prepared Magnificent Bastards, or they'll be backstabbed and betrayed by even more ambitious and cunning rivals and underlings. As such, Dark Eldar kabal society is constantly shifting around as warriors, dracons and archons climb up the ladder... or get kicked off it.
- Chaos worshipers. One of their mottos is "purge the weak".
- There exists a school of thought within the Imperial Inquisition called the Istvaanians. They believe that the Imperium grows stronger through conflict. If a certain Imperial sector is currently enjoying peace, they might stir up a conflict, just to make sure the populace are on their toes. They may also set up a "crucible of fire" to ensure that only the strong survive. They will monitor any conflicts they start for particularly strong, cunning and/or ruthless candidates to strengthen the Imperium. Behold, the only people in the setting who would argue that the Imperium's problem is that it's not fighting enough wars.
- Eclipse Phase has two factions who act like this. The Ultimates are a group of militant ascetics who strive for perfection. While the Exhumans are Singularity-chasing psychopaths who often assume truly horrific morphs and some of which try to be the top of the food chain.
- The eponymous creatures from Werewolf: The Apocalypse have definite shades of this, in that their leadership is decided by challenges. These can be non-violent challenges but rarely are. The cake is taken by the Get of Fenris tribe, who think being tougher than everyone else is the only worthwhile goal in life.
- The Ratkin (wererats) and Ajaba (werehyenas) are extreme social darwinists. The former were tasked with killing humans when the human population grew too larger, and the latter kill humans who are old, sick, or weak.
- Gilgamesh in Fate/stay night's "Unlimited Blade Works" scenario. The modern world is way more populated than the one he used to rule and thus the worth of the individual human has fallen drastically. Thus he plans to spill the contents of the incomplete Grail onto the world; by his logic, those who survive the ensuing apocalypse will be strong and "worthy" enough of his rulership. This may be justified in the terms of the Nasuverse's backstory: the human race has gone waaaaay downhill since the days of Uruk. It's an established fact in Fate/Zero that ancient Babylonians were something of a precursor race with nuclear missiles and spaceships and all kinds of crazy stuff. Gil's reasoning is that mankind's decline is due to the population explosion decreasing the "worth" of a single human life, and given all the crazy supernatural laws that the Nasuverse runs on, he might actually be right about this.
- In the visual novel Monster Girl Quest, there's a monster by the name of Cassandra who operates like this. She repeatedly kills people, then justifies doing so by saying only the strong deserve to survive anyway. Then, Luka's companion Alice turns one of Cassandra's own attacks back on her...and Cassandra then starts begging for help as she is about to be devoured alive by her own attack. Alice refuses; after all, by Cassandra's own logic, if Cassandra is killed now, then it's because she was too weak.
- Karales and Rei Hinomiya from Yumina The Ethereal.
- The RP Survival of the Fittest derives its name from this. In the games, only one student is allowed to survive, making the use of the term literal. Characters such as Danya, Steve Wilson, and V3 participant Adam Reeves exhibit Social Darwinist tendencies. Considering that the first two organised and put into execution the program, that's a given.
- The three chairmen in Strange Little Band fit this trope. This influences the way they run Triptych.
- Metapedia, a pro-Aryan Wiki which denies the Holocaust ever happened and consistently uses derogatory terms to refer to black people (going so far as to depicting an orangutan's brain as that of a black man). Cracked provides us a summary.
- Shadow Stalker of Worm is the selfish type, embracing a twisted Might Makes Right philosophy more to justify her own general sociopathy than out of any genuine ideology.
- Whateley Universe has Crucible, a Well-Intentioned Extremist Struggler, who goes around making people 'live up to their potential' by using hypertech to deliberately cause disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and meteor strikes. To him, what is a few thousand deaths and tens of thousands of lives ruined if it manages to make a hundred or so people 'rise to the occasion' and become more heroic, more aware, and more thankful for their lives?
- In Adventure Time, Goliad picks up this philosophy after spending one day at a daycare and seeing force work where diplomacy fails to keep the children from running amok. Princess Bubblegum realizes how dangerous this train of thought is and tries to impress upon Goliad how a leader should care for its subjects by comparing leadership to the relationship between a bee and a flower. Goliad rejects this lesson and offers her own interpretation of the bee-flower relationship:
"You're wrong, Princess. Bee cares not for flower. If getting pollen hurts or kills flower, Bee would not care. ::crushes bee:: Bee is stronger than flower. ::reanimates bee:: Goliad is stronger than Bee. Goliad is stronger than all...
- Fire Lord Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender shows signs of this. He even says to Aang in the finale that the Air Nomads deserved to die because they were weak. Likewise, apparently the reason he hated his son so much was because he was weaker than his sister. In a deliciously ironic twist, Ozai is rendered utterly powerless in the finale, with Aang stripping him of his ability to Firebend. To Ozai, this must be a Fate Worse Than Death.
- There are hints dropped that, in general, the extremely-militaristic Fire Nation culture tended toward this trope, albeit not to the same extent as Ozai and other members of the royal family, hence why Zuko has so much self-hatred for most of the series for perceiving himself as the weaker sibling. His becoming Fire Lord at the end of the series helps change this way of thinking for the better, and seems largely done away with by the time of Korra.
- Daffy Duck of Looney Tunes fame became this under Chuck Jones' pen, a self proclaimed self preservationist will do anything to save or simply indulge his own hide, especially if means taking down a certain rabbit.
Survival of the fittest, like they say... and besides, it's fun
- The Decepticons from Transformers all appear to be Social Darwinists. Megatron in particular is a stout Social Darwinist both in his views on "flesh creatures" and with other transformers — "Lesser creatures are the playthings of my will."
- For some of the Megatrons throughout the years, this is why they kept Starscream (or one of his expies) around. Megatron knew Starscream was plotting to take over, and staying one step ahead of him was proof that he was a Magnificent Bastard worthy of ruling the Deceptions, but if Starscream manages to usurp him, then he deserves to lead.
- In Young Justice, Vandal Savage claims that he formed the Light to advance humanity's evolution both on Earth and throughout the cosmos.
"Fifty thousand years of life
, and nothing ever troubled me as much as the founding of the Justice League
. Dedicating to maintaining society's calcified status quo, the League would protect mankind from disaster, crime, tragedy of any kind. Had you never heard of the survival of the fittest? In essence, you heroes
sought to protect humanity from its own glorious evolution."
- Superjail!: The Warden, in a flash back as a little boy, is forced by his Jerk Ass father to decapitate a puppy because it is "weak".
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars has the villain Pre Vizsla, who has incredible murderous disdain for any being he perceives as weak. When Darth Maul kills him, he accepts his death, as Maul proved himself the stronger warrior.
- In the My Little Pony 'n Friends episode "Baby, It's Cold Outside", a penguin king tries to freeze the world, claiming only the worthy would survive. When he freezes his own son by accident, he at first claims it was his son's fault and he was unworthy, but he eventually has a Heel Realization, saves his son, and stops his plan.
- Averted with the Trope Namer: Darwin himself, later in his life, went at length explaining why this trope was wrong. First was that we do not know what traits that humanity needs to survive in the future, so purging any "undesirables" could and would weaken us as a species. Second was that Humans Are Special and even if you come from a long line of "undesirables" you can rise above it. Like if a person comes from a long line of uneducated people and then go on to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
- Nazi Germany famously used social Darwinism to justify various atrocities and as part of their propaganda. A quote attributed to Hitler was: "Success is the sole earthly judge of right and wrong." He carried this to its logical conclusion when he lost. Because Germany's enemies won he thought that they were obviously superior racially, so he tried to destroy Germany itself in the last months of the war. Thankfully, saner heads prevailed and his orders weren't carried out.
- Sparta. Eugenics was already practiced (before the advent of biological science) by leaving defective and sick babies to die. Think of your childhood consisting of pain (no changing clothes, fighting against your best friends, usually to death, you are encouraged to steal, but if you get caught you were punished... not for stealing, but for getting caught, and finally being dumped in the wilderness, etc). Adulthood was extremely military, and the extreme views of Spartan society have given them an almost mythical reputation in history. Ultimately it undid them because they were limited in number to at most a few thousand of them and the loss of even a few hundred warriors was a major blow to them. They quickly reached their maximum extent.
- Social Darwinism was of no avail against corruption. The image which we have today of Sparta is the idealized version of Plato, not the realistic version of Thucydides, who described Sparta to be a thoroughly corrupt military dictatorship. The Persians described the Spartans as the most easily corruptible of all Greeks and their loyalty was easy to buy. Athenians were the most difficult to buy.
- The other issue that was the undoing of Sparta is that their state would not exist without being held up by slave-labor. With the men being soldiers and the women staying at home to bear children, the rest of the tasks all had to be done by slaves. If there were ever a slave revolt (and there were, quite often), the Spartans would have to drop everything to get the slaves back under control, then go to a nearby village to raid them in order to replace the slaves they inevitably killed. Without their slaves, Sparta collapsed rather quickly.
- The communities of any form of professional games (as well as anything online.) are this. They all try to form an elite social class and try to separate themselves from the common rabble. When they can't and are forced to interact with the common rabble, they either delight in beating them, or try to outright kick them to keep an "inferior being" called a "noob" from tainting their games. If they can't, they try to encourage that newbie to Rage Quit by constantly belittling and insulting them. This is worse in some genres. Sometimes the noobs do win, but end up becoming the same elite.
- This happens very frequently with games that have a free weekend event or a sale. The skilled players will usually be the first ones to complain about the incoming swarm of noobs that will ruin their games and sometimes said players will also try to completely troll the new players.
- Even online co-op games aren't safe from people who want to display how their skills are best and anyone that is inferior doesn't deserve to play with them. Snobby players will also use selectable difficulty levels as an excuse to belittle people that complain how something is too hard.
- Suffers Newbies Poorly is this in community trope.
- Sadly, this trope is well alive in the business world, as well as Law and Political Science.
- The Vitality Curve strategy in corporation HR, or "rank and yank", where 10% of the work force is sacked every year to get rid of the worst performing employees. In reality, after a couple of years when the worst employees have been terminated, continuing this policy leads into unnecessary corporation politicking instead of improving workplace morale and performance.
- There are a few hundred editions of old medical, anthropological, and sociological treatises and textbooks (debunked, naturally, since the 1930s or so) that held that Europeans constituted some sort of 'Master Race' and that this was 'proved' by their economic development (Industrial Revolution and all that) and success in declaring protectorates over areas like Sub-Saharan Africa where there were few-to-no ethnic Europeans. Which European 'race' was the Master Race, on the other hand, was up for spirited debate. Somewhat amusingly, in Britain The Irish were postulated as belonging to an Ibero-Celtic (Spanish-Celtic) race that was theorised as being more or less equidistant from the Anglo-Germanic 'Master Race' and the Central-African Ape-Slave Racenote .
- Which actually is only because 'whites' were inadvertently the Plague Master. From the time of the Han and Roman Empires (c. 0 AD) 'til 1520 Eurasia always had at least 300 million people swanning around and being all disease-y with each other. The Americas, on the other hand, would have been luck to find 50 million to rub together (and many of those people were nomadic and so were always at arm's-length from each other). In other words, there was absolutely no way that the Americans were going to get the better end of the deal in the event of any kind of disease exchange between Eurasia and The Americas. The Americas may have given Eurasia Syphilis; Eurasia gave The Americas Measles, Smallpox, Typhus, Malaria, and about a bajillion different variants of the common cold. While each of these was pretty bad separately, with an average death-rate of 10-30% apiece for each new variant of these disease to hit Eurasia, all of these diseases arrived in The Americas at the same time.
- As all of the above in this folder shows, this trope doesn't work in Real Life. It doesn't matter how much better, stronger, faster, or smarter you are; if you piss off everyone else to the point where they gang up on you, you're screwed. Most evolutionary biologists are certain that the two traits that enabled humanity to conquer the planet are tool use, and a greater ability to cooperate and coordinate than every other species.
- Both sides of the Romanticism Versus Enlightenment argument often accuse the other side of being this.