Quotes / A Million Is a Statistic

Quotes from works

"I've noticed that about your people, Doctor. You find it easier to understand the death of one than the death of a million. You speak about the objective hardness of the Vulcan heart, yet how little room there seems to be in yours."

"Victims? Don't be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare?"
Harry Lime, The Third Man

"6 billion lives on Cirana, 3 billion lives on Centauri Prime. We have enough ships to take a stand at one of them, so which do you choose? It's numbers. Cold, unsympathetic numbers."
Marcus, Babylon 5 ("Into the Fire")

Chris Redfield: I lost all my men because of [Ada]!
Leon S. Kennedy: And I lost over 70,000 people, including the President, because of Simmons!

Angel: Thousands of people are dead because of what you've done.
Jasmine: And how many will die because of you? I could've stopped it, Angel. All of it. War, disease, poverty. How many precious, beautiful lives would've been saved in a handful of years? Yes, I murdered thousands to save billions. This world is doomed to drown in its own blood now.

"They built Shepard Stadium about 2011 for sports shows. They upgraded it in 2019 as a makeshift shelter in case of ion storms. Capacity was about forty thousand people. Three weeks into TW3, it was filled with three hundred thousand.
They didn't mind. None of them. They were all in black bags."
Anonymous GDI medical worker, Tiberium Wars

"I know this sounds strange, but in the world of humans, if a person kills one man, he is a murderer. But if he kills 100 people, then he is praised as a hero."
King Magrid, SoulBlazer

"He took no delight in the fact that the destruction of the bacta would cause the deaths of millions, even billions. As odd as it seemed, even to him, their lives meant nothing. Since he did not know them, they were numbers, and Kirtan Loor had never been one to be terribly emotional about numbers."

"Y'know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go 'according to plan.' Even if the plan is horrifying. If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang-banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all 'part of the plan.' But when I say that one little ol' mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!"

Karolina: We have a saying on Earth: "One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic."
Xavin: That's idiotic! A million deaths is a million times more tragic than one! It's simple arithmetic!

"A Decepticon kills an Autobot, you hate him. But a million Autobots? A billion? It's meaningless. That's the problem: the greater the crime, the harder it is to process a response."

All planet 824 facilities and defensive vessels destroyed. Total losses since initiation of hostilities with Galactic Empire: 21 planets, 856 vessels. 163.24 billion Borg. Redirect all available vessels to attack on Imperial power base. All other priorities rescinded. Assimilate Imperial forces. Priority level 10.00.
Cumulative losses to Imperial forces: 745 planets, 12 trillion drones, primary unicomplex, 29000 ships. Species 3387, Species 1242, Species 6211, and 35 other species have now allied themselves with Imperial forces and launched attacks on Borg planets since destruction of Unicomplex.

"One single Anne Frank moves us more than the countless others who suffered just as she did, but whose faces have remained in the shadows. Perhaps it is better that way: If we were capable of taking in the suffering of all those people, we would not be able to live."
Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved

"Your population is six billion nine hundred million right now, and ten more of you are born every four seconds, so why do you make such a big fuss over the loss of just one of you?"

"The turians lost twenty cruisers. Figure each had a crew of around 300. The Destiny Ascension, that asari dreadnought we saved, had a crew of ten thousand. [...] The Alliance lost eight cruisers. Shenyang. Emden. Jakarta. Cairo. Seoul. Cape Town. Warsaw. Madrid. And yes, I remember them all. Everyone in the Fifth Fleet is a hero. The Alliance owes them all medals. The Council owes them a lot more than that. And so do you."
Commander Shepard to Khalisah al-Jilani, Mass Effect 2

Shepard: "Are you calling [your nephew] because you're worried we won't make it back?"
Mordin: "No. Aware survival unlikely, but actually contacted him for famliy connection. Hard to imagine galaxy. Too many people. Faceless. Statistics. Easy to depersonalize. Good when doing unpleasant work. For this fight, want personal connection. Can't anthromorphize galaxy. But can think of favorite nephew. Fighting for him."

"Ten billion people over here die, so twenty billion over there can live. Are we up for that? Are you?"
Garrus, Mass Effect 3

"Ever notice... you can wipe out whole platoons of solders... no one cares. But you kill one collie..."
Dr Johnny Fever, WKRP in Cincinnati

"The war? I don't think it's so bad! The death of one man: a catastrophe. A hundred thousand dead: a statistic!"
Kurt Tucholsky, 1925

"Death... destruction, disease, horror... that's what war is all about, Anan. That's what makes it a thing to be avoided. You've made it neat and painless. So neat and painless, you've had no reason to stop it."
Capt. James T. Kirk, Star Trek: The Original Series, "A Taste of Armageddon"

"A splendidly inept thing, the human capacity for grief. It just isn't capable of providing an adequate emotional response once the dead exceed a few dozen in number. And it doesn't just level off — it just resets itself to zero. Admit it. None of us feel a damn about these people."
Dan Sylveste, Revelation Space

"Kill a man, and you are an assassin. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill everyone and you are a god."
Jean Rostand, Thoughts of a Biologist

"General, you are listening to a machine. Do the world a favor and don't act like one."
Steven Falken, WarGames

Porridge: I feel like a monster some days.
Clara: Why? Why do you say that?
Porridge: Because instead of feeling sorry for a billion trillion dead people, I just feel sorry for the poor blighter who had to push the button.
Doctor Who, "Nightmare In Silver"

"For every hero commemorated, a thousand martyrs die, unmourned and unremembered."
Imperial Guard Proverb, Warhammer 40,000

"Yes, we just trivialized the destruction of several video game universes."

"It is too late! Steven, I am sorry I couldn't save you or the billions of other life-forms that matter far, far less to me!"
Peridot, Steven Universe

"What do you think you're gonna achieve with this interview? You think somebody in the Pentagon's gonna read it and come after me? Shit no. I'm a necessary evil. They want me here. They're glad I'm here! Because if I wasn't, they might have to come try to stem the tide. It will be thankless and worthless, and once the bodies started coming home in bags, they're screwed. A dead twenty-three-year-old from Iowa gets more air time than the death of fifty-thousand people he gave his life to protect. So even if they did give a shit, their own media prevents them from taking action."
The Jackal, Far Cry 2

"Visualize a football stadium that seats fifty thousand. Imagine you're in the top bleachers and the playing field starts piling up with bodies, about 1.5 meters tall, 20 cm thick and 40 cm wide. Kinda small on average, because we're factoring in the kids. The corpses fill the field and head past the first row of bleachers. Not seated—just pile them flat, end to end, like planks of wood. But they compress more, so adjust for that. Keep stacking. They reach your feet at about 20.5 million."
StatsMan, Cyberpirates pg 93, Shadowrun

"Three million souls can be starved and murdered in the Congo, and our Argus-eyed media scarcely blink. When a princess dies in a car accident, however, a quarter of the earth's population falls prostrate with grief. Perhaps we are unable to feel what we must feel in order to change our world."
Sam Harris, The End of Faith

Lisa: (Reading sign) On this battleground in 1881, fifty-six Indians lost their lives, and four brave Americans lost their hats.
Homer: (Whimpering) Those poor hats.

"Good news everyone! I just killed about fifty thousand complete strangers. And now I'm all alone with the people I actually hate."
Tagii, Schlock Mercenary

"Hildern is a good example of "big picture" obsession gone too far. At some point he became so fixated on large scale results that he lost the concept of "the common good" along the way. It's an inhumane kind of public service when people and the basic resources they need become numbers in a ledger."
Arcade Gannon, Fallout: New Vegas

Picard: Guinan, they will die moments after they return. How can I ask them to sacrifice themselves based solely on your intuition?
Guinan: I don't know. But I do know that this is a mistake. Every fiber in my being says this is a mistake. I can't explain it to myself so I can't explain it to you. I only know that I'm right.
Picard: Who is to say that this history is any less proper than the other?
Guinan: I suppose I am.
Picard: Not good enough, damn it! Not good enough! I will not ask them to die.
Guinan: Forty billion people have already died! This war's not supposed to be happening. You've got to send those people back to correct this.
Picard: And what is to guarantee that if they go back they will succeed? Every instinct tells me this is wrong, it is dangerous, it is futile.
Guinan: We've known each other a long time. You have never known me to impose myself on anyone or take a stance based on trivial or whimsical perceptions. This time line must not be allowed to continue. Now, I've told you what you must do. You have only your trust in me to help you decide to do it.
Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Yesterday's Enterprise"

"One death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic; 6 billion is funny!"
Sir Isaac Ray Peram Westacott, Date A Live

"When I did this in my universe, it didn't wipe out the Klingons. A decent number should be able to save themselves. Plus, they'll have an advantage - no Terran ships firing on them as they try to escape."
Mirror!Philippa Georgiou, Star Trek: Discovery, "Will You Take My Hand?"

"He may end up destroying a planet or two, but such is life."
Star Dream, Kirby: Planet Robobot

Quotes on works

"...democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, but it disappears. It doesn't matter if someone dies.

"Kill one person, that's murder; you go to prison. You kill ten people, they send you to Texas and they hit you with a brick; that's what they do. Twenty people, you go to a hospital, they look at you through a small window...forever. And over that, we can't deal with that, you know. You kill 100,000 people we're almost going '...Well done! You killed 100,000 people? You must get up very early in the morning. I can't even get down to the gym.'"

"A cyclone struck Bangladesh in November 1970 and killed 225,000 people. (And it sometimes seems, when writing about Bangladesh, that I could put any number in that last sentence and people would believe me. I could say a million people died in a Bangladeshi train wreck, and readers would scrunch their brows and shake their heads in little mimes of concern, then wonder if Ortho-Novum can't be sprayed from planes.)"
P.J. O'Rourke, All the Trouble in the World

"The fact, complained about several times throughout this entry, that nobody ever deals with Nyssa's anger at the Master or with the extermination of billions, perhaps trillions of people across the universe is an appallingly large problem that requires some thought about how it was allowed to happen...That there are people who openly prefer the series in this era to the supposed silliness of Gareth Roberts blowing Cybermen up with love. This is inscrutable. Whatever overdone sentimentality Roberts's tendencies may have, surely it is preferable to this amnesiac sociopathy. Surely an excess of an emotional core to a story is preferable to none whatsoever. It cannot be called a victory that the show so bloody rational-minded that it forgets to find any emotional content in genocide, treating it as a purely intellectual exercise in thermodynamics."

"The death of Miracle Day is a death of a thousand little blows. There isn't one big, resounding moment that can be pointed at to explain where the death narrative went off the rails.... In 'Categories of Life,' words like 'vivisection' and living 'petri dishes' are tossed around and we are meant to be horrified and disgusted that the governments would do this to living people but even the damn story doesn’t treat them as living people, they're more props than anything else."
Jill Burrato on Torchwood: Miracle Day

"The Janeway/Borg Queen scenes continue to lack any tension or chemistry. They seriously need to rethink this hero/nemesis relationship because it has never been exactly riveting, but now Mulgrew and Thompson sound like bored housewives who are trying to convince each other that their child is the more gifted one...In these scenes the Queen is literally murdering thousands of people to make a point to Janeway that she will no longer allow even one silent drone to pollute the Hive but Kathryn barely batters an eyelid, apparently unmoved despite the Queen's attempts at psychology. Surely we should feel something during these scenes? It feels like the Queen is ticking off a shopping list..."
Doc Oho on Star Trek: Voyager, "Unimatrix Zero Part II"

"Granted, destroying the entire world would be the single greatest act of dickery he's performed yet, but somehow the slaughter of six billion anonymous people seems to lack that personal touch we get when he kills Lois or ruins Jimmy's life."

"Killing the orc horde by drowning them all at once is heroic. Killing them by drowning them one at a time is an alignment check."

"Think about it. If you're watching a movie, which makes you hate a bad guy more - watching him press a button and casually remark that he's just levelled Des Moines, or watching him throw a golden retriever down an elevator shaft? Logically, you are aware that the city of Des Moines, Iowa contains dozens, if not hundreds, of innocent golden retrievers. And yet, that toss - particularly the audible thud in the darkness, perhaps followed by a pitiable whine - that solidifies him as the baddest of bad guys, someone we're going to root for the hero to vanquish."
Mason Williams, Leftover Soup, #585

"You cannot stop me, I spend 30,000 lives a month."
Napoleon Bonaparte