Series: Prey

A short-lived science-fiction TV series that premiered on ABC in 1998. The show lasted only for a single season (13 episodes).

Dr. Sloan Parker (Debra Messing) is an anthropologist studying genetic variation in humans. After her mentor is killed by the serial killer she was studying, Sloan discovers that the killer's DNA is substantially different (1.6%) from human to be considered a new species. In fact, after analyzing several cases involving serial killers, she determines that many of the killers have the same genetic markers. This new species is characterized by high intelligence, sociopathic attitude towards normal humans, and extreme aggression. Several people are made aware of this, and Sloan even theorizes that this new evolutionary development may be due to global warming. The new species likes Hunting the Most Dangerous Game (hence the name of the show; i.e. we are the prey) and views killing lesser species (including humans) as a rite of passage. Taking a page from humanity's evolution, the new species seeks to supplant homo sapiens sapiens as the dominant race on Earth. They also appear to possess what may be limited Psychic Powers (e.g. they can sense one another, cloud human minds, sense others' emotions, and see a few seconds into the future). Sloan meets a federal agent named Tom Daniels, who turns out to be a member of this species. Unlike the others, he is content to coexist with humans and is determined to track down his own kind's serial killers. Sloan develops romantic feelings to Tom, although he is unable to fully reciprocate them due to the new species' inability to feel positive emotions like compassion and love (he is, however, incredibly protective of her, willing to kill his own kind to keep her safe). Not only do the new hominids have cloning and nanotechnology that they use to attempt to "convert" humans into more of them, but they can also interbreed with humans with the offspring always being a member of the new species. By the end of the show's run, the knowledge of the new species, dubbed homo dominant, becomes public, and an inter-species war appears to be brewing, as radicals on both sides are determined to wipe out the evolutionary rivals, while other factions on both sides are working towards a peaceful solution.

This series provides examples of:

  • Artifact Alias: Tom Daniels is only ever referred to as "Tom Daniels", even though this is actually the name of a dead federal agent whose identity he took over.
  • Assimilation Plot: Several episodes deal with attempts by the Dominants to use their superior technology to turn humans into more Dominants by modifying DNA with nanites. Reversed in other episodes, where human scientists are working on an attempt to turn Dominants into humans. Tom volunteers to be a guinea pig and spends several days enjoying human emotions (Dominants are unable to feel compassion, love, and other positive feelings) before finding out that the "cure" would eventually kill him. Their genes are also dominant, meaning that their children with humans are always Dominants.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: While most differences between humans and Dominants are mental in nature, a discovery of mummified remains of a Dominant 9-year-old girl from half a century ago reveals that Dominant females are born with four uteri and are able to give birth around that age. In fact, they can give birth to all four offspring much easier than human women. This is, likely, an evolutionary advantage to speed up the rapid growth of the Dominant race. By 1998, it's estimated that there are about 200,000 Dominants in the world, and that number is quickly increasing. On a smaller note, their crania are slightly smaller than human with a significantly higher number of synaptic connections (i.e. their brains are smaller but much more efficient). They are also much more comfortable in hot climates than humans, suggesting that Sloan's guess about global warming being the trigger may have a grain of truth in it.
  • Explosive Breeder: One of the traits of Dominant females is their ability to bear four offspring to term at the same time from multiple partners thanks to their four uteri. They are also able to start having children at a much younger age (around 9). The births are also significantly easier than for humans, requiring less medical intervention. The protagonists assume that the species first appeared in a now-deserted Mexican village and rapidly spread from there. Their numbers are now in the hundreds of thousands, and the growth is not slowing down.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Averted. The Dominants' genes are dominant (hence the name), so any children they have with humans turn out to be Dominants.
  • Hollywood Evolution: It's a bit strange to see a whole new species pop up out of nowhere with no "in-between" examples to show a progression of mutations.
  • Hot Scientist: Dr. Sloan Parker. Also, Dr. Ed Tate for a male example.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The Dominants like to hunt humans for sport. They frequently do it without any weapons to prove their superior strength and speed.
  • Interspecies Romance: Sloan and Tom, although Tom looks nearly identical to a human on the outside. Being a Dominant, Tom has trouble returning Sloan's feelings, although he is extremely protective of her.
  • Neck Snap: The Dominants can do it to humans due to their superior strength. They frequently do it to monkeys as a symbol of their species' greatness. In fact, it's almost an instinct to them, as a Dominant boy with no prior contact with others of his own kind does this to show his loyalty.
  • Peace Conference: After the existence of the Dominants becomes public knowledge, a Dominant faction comes forward, offering peace. They meet human representatives, but the meeting turns out to be an ambush, and a number of people on both sides are killed. Naturally, the more aggressive Dominants are immediately suspected, only for the protagonists to discover that it was some of the more hardline humans who want to start a war between the species while the numerical difference is in our favor (6 billion vs 200,000).
  • Psychic Powers: While not specifically stated as psychic, the Dominants appear to possess unexplained mental abilities, including the ability to sense others of their kind in the vicinity. They can cloud human minds and sense their emotions. They may also have limited precognition.
  • The Right of a Superior Species: The Dominants wish to supplant humans as the dominant species on Earth, seeing it as their destiny. They have no problems with killing humans and even hunt them for sport. They do have to be careful, though, as there are only about 200,000 of them vs billions of humans.
  • The Sociopath: The Dominants are a whole species of those. Lack of Empathy is a big part of this. Sloan figures out that a large number of serial killers are Dominants. This even applies to their children, who are likely to kill someone at a young age.