"We were like you once, but now we are different... certain weaknesses have been removed."
Related to the Planet of the Apes Ending
, and sort of like Was Once a Man
for an entire species, this is where a group of alien/future creatures (typically those encountered by normal humans) are revealed to be the future evolutionary path
of humanity. These creatures are often monstrous in appearance and behavior and this idea generally has a strong element of Humans Are the Real Monsters
. Compare with Not Even Human
; in this case, they are worse because they are. Note that there are occasional instances of uplifted humans who having experienced The Singularity
are benevolent and god-like.
Compare/contrast with Human All Along
and Human Subspecies
. Not to be confused with Ultraterrestrials
. See also No Transhumanism Allowed
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Anime and Manga
- The Abh from Crest of the Stars and sequels. Engineered to be space explorers they have a third eye and some modifications to the brain so they can navigate better in three dimensions. Also longer life and adaptions to cope with extended periods of microgravity with periods of high acceleration since they were created before the in universe discovery of Faster-Than-Light Travel and Artificial Gravity.
- Possibly true at the end of Ergo Proxy the Proxies were created by humans with the intent that they would make Earth habitable again. When this does occur at the end of the series, you see a bunch of spaceships descend from the sky intent on killing the human survivors from the domes. While the viewer isn't shown what they look like, they are alien invaders who were/are human- see Man After Man below
- In Super Dimension Fortress Macross, the Protoculture, and arguably the Zentradi, as the Protoculture were more or less advanced humans who created the Zentradi to fight for them. Didn't work so well.
- In Suisei no Gargantia the Hideauze are revealed to be this. They are descendants from humans who volunteered themselves to be part of genetic experiments that would allow the human body to survive the harshness of space in search of a new homeworld to escape an Earth going through global cooling. That group, known as the Evolvers, were opposed by other humans who formed the Continental Union, the forebear of the Galactic Alliance. They wanted to escape Earth as well, but as humans, and relied on technology more than genetics. This contradicts everything Ledo learned about the Hideauze being a hostile alien force that wanted to wipe out humanity.
- The Reveal in the 2000 AD series Zenith was that the Eldritch Abomination villains were actually a trio of Earth superhumans who had evolved far beyond human form and and gotten stuck on the wrong side of a dimensional barrier in the process.
- The Sheeda from Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers series were a future posthuman species that robbed the past to support their resource-poor civilization.
- The many races of Marvel Comics' Microverse are all descended from a future humanity which fled through time, space and dimensions to escape a genocidal war.
- Neil Gaiman's The Books of Magic features a vision of a dying Earth where the surviving humans have evolved into tall, translucent-skinned hunter-gatherers with drastically reduced intelligence. Their bodies produce chlorophyll to help cope with the lack of nutrients left on the planet.
- The robotic alien creatures at the end of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence are a rare positive example of this. Being robots with biological components in a world where humans are extinct, the implication is either they are robots who won the Robot War with evil humans or else uplifted humans who learned the error of their ways. In either case, they are a Sufficiently Advanced Alien.
- A borderline example in The Descent with the cave creatures who evolved from homo sapiens or an earlier ancestor.
- Pandorum, the creatures are at first assumed to be aliens that somehow got aboard the ship. It's revealed that they were humans that, like everyone on board, were exposed to an agent to accelerate their evolution and evolved to life on the ship.
- The beings responsible for creating the wormhole in the movie Interstellar are speculated to be simply humans from the extremely distant future, who, like the Downstreamers in Manifold: Time have evolved to exist in strange 5-dimensional space and can thus travel through time as though it were a physical dimension, and influence the material Universe via gravitational alterations, much like the "ghost" who directs the protagonist to the hidden NASA base is revealed to simply be himself from the future, influencing his own past.
- The Downstreamers from Stephen Baxter's Manifold: Time and Manifold: Origin books are descendants of the human species from the very end of the Universe, after the Heat Death. Since much or all of the material universe has disappeared in their time, they function as disembodied minds hosted in a computational sub-stratum of the Universe itself, where they can survive indefinitely. This allows them to access entire galaxies' worth of energy and complete control over space and time. It doesn't mean they enjoy it, however.
- The Time Machine is an early example with the Morlocks and Eloi as future humans and neither presenting that pleasant an outcome for the species.
- Man After Man is all about this in a heavily Humans Are Bastards way. Much of the book is about various genetically engineered species of humans all heavily dehumanized (and cripplingly overspecialized to boot). The book ends with an alien species coming to earth and destroying all life on land. They are the evolved remnants of the humans who went into space at the beginning of the book.
- Isaac Asimov's Solarians eventually genetically re-engineered themselves into a race of hermaphrodites with psychic powers in the name of their world's social code, opposing any physical contact between human beings.
- The Belisarius Series by David Drake and Eric Flint features in its backstory two opposing factions in a far-future war. One faction is made up of Transhuman Aliens, humans evolved or genetically engineered to live on alien worlds, some even evolving into gigantic Space Whales. Others scuttle about on crab-like legs that are modified ribs. The opposing faction fancies themselves the original, pure-blood humans, and wants to wipe out all the evolved and engineered subspecies of humanity. Of course, this far in the future, they aren't recognizably human any more, either.
- More precisely, the Great Ones are so different as to be made of non-organic crystals and forcefields, but think like human beings; whereas the New Gods resembe impossibly perfect humans, but have lost all compassion for those not like themsleves to the point where they seem less human than the Great Ones. The ideology of the conflict is whether humanity should be defined by your mind or by your biology. This is why one faction is trying to alter the past into a meritocratic society, and the other into a caste-based eugenic society.
- The Miles Vorkosigan series has three examples in the Cetagandans, the "Quaddies", and the Betan Hermaphrodites. The Cetagandans are an Evilutionary Biologist race who are continually experimenting with genetics so as to "perfect" themselves. They still look human now but it's hard to say what the future holds for them. The Quaddies are a people specifically engineered for zero gravity with a second set of arms instead of legs. Normal humans shunned them so they fled and set up their own society after the invention of artificial gravity precluded any real need for their services. The Betan hermaphodites are described as "Betan egalitarinism gone mad" and are relatively normal except for the obvious. They're also a minority even on their home planet though they're much in demand as sex therapists.
- A group of Sauron Super Soldiers of the CoDominium universe invade Haven. The natives blame everything from Space Pirates to supernatural monsters. Having the Saurons rule most of the planet for several centuries does nothing to clear up the matter for most people.
- Several Star Trek Expanded Universe novels have the crew meeting "aliens" who turn out to be heavily modified humans.
- The Homo Ludens in the Strugatsky Brothers The Time Wanderers are essentially a select group of human beings that have ascended to a higher level of existence and left the Earth, having lost all interest in their old lives, friends and relatives, but also having promised to defend their lesser brethren if need be. They're benign, just rather detached.
- In Fall of Hyperion, the Ousters have modified their DNA to varying levels; the more extreme variants have massive wings and are capable of flying unassisted in space.
- In The Avatar, the Others seen to fit this trope, and actually invite Caitlín to become one of them.
- Lots and lots in Alastair Reynolds works, notably Revelation Space. The Ultras vary from human-seeming to animated works of art; the Skyjacks are permanently adapted for life in space; the Stoners are heavily augmented humans who go so far as swapping sexes and appearances the way most people choose hairstyles - Zebra, in Chasm City, has horselike legs, zebra stripe skin pigmentation, a mohawk that runs all the way down her spine, horselike eyes, and hasn't always been female. Not that any of that gives the hero a moment's pause before bedding her. In Zima Blue, outside of the Revelation Space universe, an artist who appears to be a transhuman turns out to be a pool-cleaning robot who developed sentience and modified itself repeatedly over the centuries.
- Even more so in House of Suns, where we have a galaxy of staggeringly diverse beings, from sea-life to giant space-dwellers to semi-sentient weather, all of which are in fact evolved or modified human stock. The only reason the central characters are remotely recognizable as human comes of their spending the eons since the original diaspora flitting around at relativistic speeds and thus have passed much less subjective time in the meanwhile.
- In Jack Vance's 1962 story, The Dragon Masters, a human colony is plagued by alien kidnappers. After fighting back and taking captives, the story shifts ahead many years, and the captive aliens have been bred into Dragons of many breeds with many purposes. When the alien slavers return, its revealed that they have done the same with their human captives.
- In Steve Alten's Phobos: Mayan Fear, the grey aliens held captive in Area 51 turn to be transhumans from the future, specifically the ancient Mayans leaded by Chilam Balam through the wormhole created in the past by the present CERN.
- In M.C.A. Hogarth's Paradox Universe the Pelted are multiple races of genetically engineered human-animal hybrids created in the 21st century as servants. After a number of scandals they were given a fleet of Generation Ships and left the Sol system. Over the centuries some races forgot their origins but the books take place after FTL drive is developed and contact between earth and the Pelted worlds is re-established and their genealogy is common knowledge. The Eldritch on the other hand keep their human ancestry a closely guarded secret, most of the Alliance believes them to be true aliens, despite looking considerably more human than most Pelted.
- Lots of examples in Doctor Who.
- The Cybermen from the page quote.
- Some Cybermen aren't technically humans—they're a nearly identical humanoid race from Earth's long-lost twin planet Mondas. Regardless, they often forcibly convert humans and Humanoid Aliens into Cybermen, so at least some Cybermen fit this trope perfectly.
- Other Cybermen are humans from an Alternate Universe.
- In the episodes with John Simm's Master, his minions, the "Toclafane" are refugees from a decayed far future. They are a race of cheerful psychopaths which normally look like flying silver basketballs. Inside these "balls" are human heads, revealing their true species.
- Doctor Who also had Daleks that were partially built from human DNA in "The Parting of the Ways" as well as a human being converted into a human-Dalek hybrid in "Daleks in Manhattan/ Evolution of The Daleks".
- The Face of Boe is most likely a human—specifically, Captain Jack Harkness—after eons of Age Without Youth.
- Nietzscheans and the Castalian fish-people from Andromeda. Nietzscheans are humans genetically engineered to be superior Ubermenschen by a literal Nietzsche Wannabe Mad Scientist a thousand years or so before the events of the series. They can eat almost anything organic, have nanobot-enhanced immune systems, and bone spikes growing out of their forearms (in addition to the usual Super Strength and other enhanced physical abilities). The Castalians are humans genetically engineered with gills to live underwater and breathe water rather than air. They've got nifty water-tank backpacks with tubes to their neck gills for when they have to come out of the water to meet others. Nietzscheans are pretty much neutral, Castalians generally fairly good guys, although they've done some nasty things to survive in the Crapsack World after the fall of the the Commonwealth.
- There are a few less obvious examples. For example, Dylan's enhanced strength ans a few other traits are due to his mother being a high gravity worlder. Becca has a number of enhancements such as enhanced reaction time that make her a better spacer (and were reverse-engineered by the time-traveling creator of the Nietzcheans). The crew had only one un-altered human (until they started to get a bigger crew in later seasons), and it was mentioned a few times that more than 80% of humans have some kind of engineered genetics.
- Babylon 5 season 4 finale, "Deconstruction of Falling Stars" had a human from a million years into the future revealed as a trans-human Energy Being that uses an encounter suit much like the Vorlons earlier in the series did.
- Jason Ironheart becomes one after an experiment at creating telekinetics turns him into an Energy Being.
- The third season Blake's 7 episode "Moloch" featured one of these, although it was justified, more or less, since said being was the result of a computer simulation made flesh by an ultra-sophisticated replicator.
- It's suggested (the crew can't really go look; finding Earth is one of the series' goals, though hardly ever really worked toward) that humanity is extinct in Red Dwarf due to the 3 million year difference between when Lister left Earth and the current time frame. They don't really know what happened, but in the first episode it is suggested that if 3 million years could turn a house cat into Felis Sapien, Lister compared to "modern" humanity might as well be the slime that crawled out of the primordial sea.
- The various species of GELFs (Genetically Engineered Life Forms) the crew encounters are all of human creation, but they serve very much the same role in the plots that aliens would in a more conventional space opera.
- Basically, every "alien" in Red Dwarf is a human creation, fast-forwarded three million years. Many shows have The Precursors; here, we're it.
- The Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Terra Nova" has the Enterprise encounter a colony wiped out by radiation, and an English-speaking primitive group of underground-dwelling bumpy-skinned humanoids, all under a certain age. Guess what, they're the surviving kids and their descendants, having been hidden away in a shelter when their parents died. Why the Enterprise crew don't make the connection sooner is just par for the course for that series.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation inverted this trope when it was revealed that ALL humanoid species, including humans themselves, were descended from ancient humanoids that thrived billions of years ago. The first humanoids had explored the galaxy and found no beings like themselves.
- Star Trek: Voyager In an episode where Tom Paris breaks the warp threshold and has his natural evolution accelerated to the point where he mutates into a primitive salamander-like creature along with the captain.
- Series wide, the human members of the Borg could qualify. The vast majority of Borg drones seen seem to be human, including the various Borg Queens. That said, this is a series famous for its Human Aliens, so they could just be aliens that look a lot like humans.
- Kes, an ascended Ocampa, counts
- Star Trek: The Original Series featured several incorporeal aliens who had evolved past a humanoid form, including the Organians, Zetarians and the Thasians. The Preservers had also evolved past the need of a body but resembled oversized brains, and several other humanoid species had been replaced by their own machines.
- The "ascended beings" in Stargate SG-1 - at least, the ones who were human before they ascended.
- An episode of The Outer Limits has a group of college students board an ancient alien starship. When they land, they find a skeleton of a human-like figure with bat wings, which they assume to belong to the aliens who sent the ship. Then it is revealed that the planet is actually Earth in the future, meaning the skeleton belongs to a human who has either evolved or has been genetically modified to have wings.
- It's pretty clearly intended to be genetic engineering. They only traveled 200 years into the future, and the writings they find imply that humanity was wiped out in an inadvertently self-created biological apocalypse.
- The original Outer Limits had the classic episode "The Sixth Finger," about a working class guy who gets accelerated through Evolutionary Levels to become a superintelligent creature. Transhuman Treachery follows, partly because he had been kind of a misanthrope to begin with.
- The Observers of Fringe are revealed to be this, albeit coming from one possible future of humanity. Using their unique mastery of time, they are free to interact with the past (including our present).
- When Peter has amnesia in Volume 2 of Heroes, his soon-to-be-love-interest, Caitlyn, says she thought he was an alien escaped from a military base.
- On Primeval, it's speculated that the Mer Creatures from the future may be descended from humans, although it's only solidly established that they're primates.
- Some role-playing-games use the term "Evolutionary Offshoots" for such creatures
- The Therians from AT-43. They're more Well-Intentioned Extremists than villains, as they're the descendants of humanity, but found that the universe would collapse in a trillion years in its current state. To prevent this, they seeded worlds with life which would strip their homeworlds of resources, allowing their conversion into a gigantic Dyson sphere. All the other factions in the series were seeded by them. As is befitting AT-43, they are also huge nerds. The MMORPG is the basis for their society, and forums are considered cities.
- "Transhumanity" in Eclipse Phase is mostly composed of humanity and its descendants, though except for flats, almost everyone is genetically enhanced to some degree and virtually immortal. It also includes uplifted animals and AIs though, who are not that different from humanity anymore (and can slip into each other's bodies).
- An early Dragon Magazine article for the Gamma World RPG (several editions ago, and no longer canonical) justified the unrealistic physical hardiness of its "pure strain humans" by revealing that they're descended from genetically-engineered superhumans. Untampered humans' descendants are all mutants; "pure strains" only think they're the original human type because they closely resemble the humans in ancient pictures.
- Continuum plays this a number of ways- every Spanner, whether Continuum or Narcissist has been at least partially uplifted by future technology to give them the ability to Time Travel. Aquarian humans from after 2222 AD or so are benevolent, slightly weird telepaths (and get weirder the further Up you go) as a result of the same sets of technology, while past 2400 the world belongs to the Exalted and the Inheritors. The Inheritors have apparently managed to colonise and fill the rest of the universe, so a portion of UFO sightings are spotting them taking a break en route to their colonies in the Earth's past (the rest are spotting them cleaning up someone's attempt to mess with causality and cause vigintillions of Inheritors to never have existed). The monstrous side of the trope is played straight by the Scorpiod Kings of Antedesertium who all started out as human Narcissists.
- Warhammer 40,000 has Ogryns and Ratlings - ogrish and halfling-like "abhumans" who have evolved markedly different physiques from the rest of humanity thanks to the high and low gravities of their respective worlds. They are generally employed by the Imperial Guard as brutal shock troops and snipers respectively. Squats, too (Space Dwarfs), were portrayed as a stable strain of abhuman mutants, but they are generally not considered a part of the 40k universe anymore.
- The Abh from Crest of the Stars and the Androsynth from Star Control are both genetically engineered humans.
- The Veruni of Wild ARMs 5 are believed to be aliens by the inhabitants of the Filgaia they conquered. However, it later comes to light that centuries ago they fled Filgaia by spacecraft and then returned a few decades ago. However, their alternate path of evolution has made them unfit to survive on Filgaia and they are dying out.
- Also Wild ARMs, where the evil alien robots turn out to be robots from the future after mankind has replaced organic parts with machine parts.
- Half-Life 2: Combine Overwatch soldiers are substantially modified humans touted as "transhuman" and the next stage in the human species' evolution, according to Dr. Breen, and are referred to by Dr Kleiner as the "post-human allies" of the Combine in one of his broadcasts. The Combine will uplift you to the next stage of evolution whether you like it or not.
- The Rikti from City of Heroes are mutated humans from an Alternate Universe. They're disfigured to the point of being unrecognizable as human, but they also have advanced technology and Psychic Powers.
- Each of the three factions of the Korean MMO RF Online are this: The Bellato are short Heavy Worlders, the Cora are space elves with psychic powers, and the Accretians are cyborgs with Landmate-sized bodies.
- Lunarians from Touhou were humans that moved to the earth in ancient times. They also have the most advanced technology in the series, live on the source of Gensokyo's magic, and include a pair of Mary Sues that systematically defeat many of the main characters.
- The Omar in Deus Ex: Invisible War.
- The Reapers in Mass Effect, although they're more along the lines of Transalien Aliens.
- In Achron it is not stated outright, but can be inferred that the Vecgir are in fact the decendants of humanity that have been enslaved and modified by the Coremind in a loop that has been going on for millions of meta-years.
- Civilization: Beyond Earth: The end result of devoting your civ to the Supremacy or Harmony affinities is turning your people into Cyborgs or Half Human Hybrids respectively. May be a positive or negative portrayal depending on how you roleplay.
- Mother: Cognitive Dissonance reveals that the Starmen were once the denizens of Mars and were leading a promising society, but after losing a war against Giegue, they were offered by him to have their PSI powers enhanced in exchange for his loyalty. This lead to the creation of the cybernetic aliens that we know today.
- The world of Drowtales contains both normal humans and "Rift Halmes", who have changed due to living underground.
- Venusians in Triquetra Cats, using cybernetics and genetic manipulation to adapt themselves to Venus, humans from that planet end up looking like cyborg Grey Aliens