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Playing With: What Measure Is a Non-Human?
Basic Trope: Human life is treated as more important than non-human life.
  • Straight: A hero who espouses Thou Shalt Not Kill has no problem destroying robots, zombies, aliens, and animals.
  • Exaggerated: Humanity wages an all out extermination of nonhumans without a word of protest.
  • Downplayed:
    • Our heroes are willing to kill both humans and nonhumans, but they are willing to use sneak attacks and other dirty tricks that they would never use against human foes.
    • Killing robots is considered murder but verbal abuse is considered normal towards robots.
  • Justified:
  • Inverted: Human lives are casually thrown away, but killing a robot is considered murder.
  • Subverted:
    • Non-humans aren't killed, but are instead taken to a place where they can live together free of human oppression.
    • The hero has no problem crushing a robot's head... But that's because the only thing the head contains is sensory apparatus, which, while necessary in combat, isn't vital to the robot's overall survival and can easily be replaced.
  • Double Subverted:
    • ...But that turns out to be a front for turning them into slave labor or Soylent Green.
    • As the robot fumbles around, blind, deaf, and terrified, it falls off a cliff. The hero doesn't care.
  • Parodied: There's an elaborate system of value attached to creatures based on how human they are, which is consulted by the characters when deciding whom to kill.
  • Zig Zagged: The value placed on nonhuman life varies greatly with the nonhuman. Mi-Go are killed on sight, Greys are conceded equals, Demons are considered second-class citizens, etc...
  • Averted: All (sentient) life is treated as equally valuable.
  • Enforced: Childrens' programming is not allowed to show people being killed, so there has to be something for the heroes to shoot at.
  • Lampshaded: "Would you still have killed him if he had been a human?"
  • Invoked: "Look, nobody cares about those robots. We can kill them all we want".
  • Exploited: Emperor Evulz keeps all the robots or undead back at the base doing menial things, and commands only humans to attack heroes, in hopes of exploiting the higher value they put on human life.
  • Defied:
    • A human character refuses to kill non-humans on the grounds that they are just as good as everyone else.
    • A human character is willing to kill non-humans, but makes it perfectly clear that they'd also kill humans without hesitation under similar circumstances.
    • "I don't see what makes a Human more of a person than Greys or Kitts. Or 'even' Returners or Metalfolk. We are the good guys, and we will act like it. Now. Set. For. Stun."
  • Discussed: "Of course we can kill him! He's Not Even Human!"
  • Conversed: "All the slaughter in this show is fairly gruesome, but I guess they get away with it because they're not killing humans".
  • Deconstructed: The non-humans rebel against their human oppressors.
  • Reconstructed:
    • ...And then they start treating humans the same way they were treated.
    • The non-humans are beaten and the uprising used as the justification for a fresh round of oppression.
  • Plotted A Good Waste:
    • The hero has been killing what they think are aliens... but turn out to be humans modified by the hero's own government to provide a convenient enemy.
    • The hero is called out on this bit of Moral Dissonance by somebody later on... and he has no answer beyond "but they're aliens!"

Back to What Measure Is a Non-Human?

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