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Heterogeneity Is Evil

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Keeping things pure is good; combining things is evil or dangerous.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
SolipSchism on May 26th 2015 at 3:09:52 PM
Last Edited By:
SolipSchism on Mar 7th 2018 at 11:18:57 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

A recurring and abstract theme in fiction is that homogeneity (consisting all of one thing or quality) is good, while heterogeneity (consisting of multiple things or qualities) is bad.

This manifests in many forms, both In-Universe and out, and while it doesn't always feed into a coherent Aesop, it often carries the underlying implication that, well, heterogeneity is evil. Of course, it may also be used to carry the opposite aesop—for instance, if the half-elf Big Bad is a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds because of Half-Breed Discrimination, the work may convey an anti-racism message.

When played straight, this generally falls under the "Homogenous Heroes vs. Heterogenous Villains" variant of Alike and Antithetical Adversaries.

This concept often shows up in the following specific forms:

  • Half-Breed Discrimination: An In-Universe variant, when the mixture of two races (one of which is usually human) is seen as an inherently bad thing (which in itself is another example of this concept), and the offspring of such relations is therefore anathema. Half-elves are probably the most commonly shunned half-breeds in fiction, but there are also the half-vampire Dhampir, the half-angel Nephilim, and more. Needless to say, this line of thinking has its roots in Real Life proscriptions against mixed-race relationships, which means it may (accidentally or deliberately) deliver a pro-racism Aesop, but it's predictably common to see this variant used to deliver an anti-racism Aesop instead.
  • Magitek is Evil: Pretty much says it all; the act of combining science with magic, especially technology with magic, is considered evil. Why? Pick your favorite explanation. Maybe God said not to do it. Maybe the combination is just too powerful for any human to be trusted with. Or maybe it's just inherently evil and no reason is needed or wanted.
  • Bio-Augmentation is Evil: This one is essentially Technology+Biology. Using technology to enhance, alter, or fix the human body (or any sentient species, depending on the setting) is evil or at least dangerous. This can be as reasonable as "Don't put your Brain in a Jar," or it could be as restrictive as "Don't use prosthetics," and in some cases it can even go as far as "Don't use modern medicine," in which case it's less about cybernetics and shades into the more general Science Is Bad. Many of these works, though, won't actually condemn science as a whole, but will instead focus on the evils of using science specifically when meddling with the natural state of the human (or other sentient species) body, which is what makes it an example of this concept. A key trope of this variety is Cybernetics Eat Your Soul, in which a person who has been augmented will turn out to be evil. When an Evilutionary Biologist is making Mix-and-Match Critters, it often provokes cries of Playing God; likewise, Hybrid Monsters are generally evil or at least antagonistic, and Bio-Augmentation is usually portrayed as ethically questionable at best.
  • Split Personality: In itself this isn't necessarily an Evil Trope, but whenever a character has a Split Personality, Two Beings in One Body, or (most obviously) a Superpowered Evil Side, one or more of their "personalities" is almost invariably evil or at least highly unstable/insane/dangerous.

Feedback: 13 replies

May 26th 2015 at 3:11:39 PM

All right, so this one is really rough, even by my standards, but here's the breakdown:

  • I'm not sure if this is a Super Trope (to the tropes mentioned in the bullets) or should be more of an index of thematically-related tropes. Need help to figure that out.
  • I do have examples, but if this ends up being an index, they'll be worthless. So need to figure out the previous issue first. I'll post them here momentarily, though.
  • Need help identifying other related tropes in addition to the ones mentioned, because I know there are a ton.
  • Oh, and the name is... not super witty. Feel free to make any and all suggestions that come to mind.

May 26th 2015 at 3:12:41 PM

Here are the examples I have on-hand, rough write-ups that will be cleaned up if they get added anywhere:

  • Saren, the villain of Mass Effect 1, is a turian who has been heavily augmented with technology and is basically a cyborg by the end. It turns out he's been so heavily augmented that even after shooting himself in the head, the Big Bad robot is able to continue controlling his body remotely. Ergo, combining technology with the "human" body.
  • The Consult, the villains of the Second Apocalypse series, are evil for a number of reasons (such as their intense love of rape and murder), but their unique school of magic, the Tekne, is viewed as independently evil (more evil than all other forms of magic, in fact, which are already viewed as inherently evil) due to the fact that it is a mixture of magic and technology. Ergo, Magic+Technology=Evil.
  • The Big Bad of the The Godless World Trilogy is Aeglyss, a half-elf (or half-whatever passes for elves in that world, it's been a while since I read it). He's a textbook Woobie Destroyer Of Worlds who was a genuinely abused Cosmic Plaything, but the fact remains; Human+Elf (or whatever)=Evil.
  • The Big Bad of Tales Of Symphonia (and his entire organization) is a half-elf, and another Woobie Destroyer Of Worlds with a powerful Freudian Excuse due to Half Breed Discrimination (everyone hates half-elves).
  • In Universe and thoroughly deconstructed in Orthogonal; the entire trilogy is an exploration of the physics of an alternate universe with slightly different laws of physics, through the eyes of the characters living in it. They face near-constant opposition from people who fear change and oppose scientific meddling with the status quo, but the opposition doesn't really become terribly violent until the scientists start using science to interfere with natural childbirth—and then their opponents start blowing shit up to make their point. Which makes this one Technology+"Human" body=Evil, In Universe (from the antagonists' point of view).

May 27th 2015 at 7:31:39 AM

  • Warhammer 40 K: Genetic purity is brutally enforced all across the Imperium. Not in the racial or skin-color sense, mutants (who have visible mutations like extra limbs and uncontrolled psychic abilities) are actively hunted down because of how often they fall to Chaos, and Genestealer cults slowly taking over a planet by assimilating its inhabitants in order to weaken resistance to Tyranid hive fleets. Some kinds of mutants are tolerated due to their usefulness like psykers and ogryn.
    • This is biologically enforced with the Navigators, without which FTL travel is impossible. The Navigator gene allows seeing Warp currents, but comes with side effects like permanent blindness and a third eye that kills anybody looking into it. The gene only surfaces in the children of two Navigators, so the houses are all heavily inbred.
    • Part of the reason Imperials find Tau so alien is that not only do they accept many races within their "Greater Good" philosophy, they take traits from one species as readily as the new species take on Tau mannerisms.
    • The Adeptus Mechanicus finds flesh repulsive, and replace organs with mechanical versions when they go up in rank. Which also explains why they tend to worship Necrons as servants of their Machine God, up until the Necrons wake up and kill them horribly.
    • The Red Scorpions chapter of Space Marines takes this even further, refusing to work alongside tolerated mutants like ogryn (super-strong and super-stupid giants).

May 27th 2015 at 8:48:37 AM

^ I would just like to clarify that naturally-occurring mutations wouldn't fall under this trope, even if people consider them "impure" or otherwise bad. There has to be a combination of elements that are considered evil or wrong or dangerous, or portrayed as such, for this trope to be in effect, like crossbreeding between two races, or mechanical augmentations to a natural body, etc.

So it sounds like the Tau example fits as an In Universe example, and the Adeptus Mechanicus might be, but the example doesn't really explain how they are, or are perceived as, evil. But the fourth example (Red Scorpions) don't really explain exactly what is being mixed, and the first example (Navigators) seems less about evil or even purity and more about just breeding for a desired trait.

Lastly I'm not really sure if that very first paragraph is a separate example or a very, very long statement covering all the sub-examples. It looks like it violates Example Indentation though, and I'm not confident enough in my knowledge of Warhammer 40 K to say one way or another or fix it.

I am, of course, woefully uninformed about Warhammer 40 K so please help me out if I'm misunderstanding anything.

In any case, not adding any examples yet, but they are here if we decide this is a trope with examples that aren't already covered by Subtropes.

May 28th 2015 at 3:42:26 PM

^ Most of what I know about 40K is from the novels, I can't afford to play the game. But going off that, the Genestealers should count — they "taint the pure bodily essences of the Emperor-fearing" (that's a quote from Duty Calls, specifically a news report Amberley quotes).

May 28th 2015 at 4:13:45 PM

In the Halfbreed Discrimination bullet, it might be worth it to note that it's rarely but occasionally used to deliver a (family unfriendly) actual racism Aesop.

—- If an Evilutionary Biologist is making Mix And Match Critters it normally invokes cries of Playing God.

Relates to Hybrid Monster and maybe Bio Augmentation?

Interesting possible relation: Whenever someone has a Split Personality, Two Beings One Body, or Super Powered Evil Side (that is, all of them heterogenous within the same person) one or more parts are almost invariably evil.

May 29th 2015 at 3:46:32 AM

^^^ Mutations are definitely considered bad in-universe, since they're associated with the Dark Gods who hand them out to favored followers. Similarly, psykers can have their heads explode into daemonic portals if they don't receive years of training and indoctrination (and even then it still happens) due to their connection with the Warp (the psychic dimension where daemons live).

Genestealers add their own genetic material to hosts, with each generation showing progressively more Tyranid traits like claws, exoskeletons, or extending mandibles (though they somehow manage to hide them from sight until the final generation of purestrain genestealers). The hosts are indistiguinshable in society unless discovered.

The Red Scorpions refuse to work alongside any soldiers whose genetics are in question. Ogryns (nine-foot-tall Heavy Worlders with the intelligence of children) are a subrace of humanity and considered impure by the Red Scorpions (but not the Imperium in general). Imagine if an American special forces unit made up of Texans refused to work alongside non-Americans for ideological reasons, then imagine if it refused to work alongside any non-Texan soldiers for the same ideological reasons.

May 29th 2015 at 9:25:26 AM

^^ All great points, will work them in. (EDIT: Actually, the Split Personality discussion is a whole unique variant of its own, so I added a fourth bullet. Nice!)

^ I think I might not have been getting my point across very well—this is an idea with two important components, and if either is missing, it doesn't fit. I understand that you're saying these mutations are considered bad In Universe, but what I'm not seeing is an indication that they are all the result of mixing something. Like, people are born with mutations; that's a thing. If Alice is born with three arms and is decried as a demon, that's not an example, because Alice is still a pure human, albeit one with a mutation. Now, if Alice is born with three arms because her mom had sex with an angel and people think Alice is a monster, then it counts.

I would like to reiterate for everyone reading this that I still need help determining if this is going to be an index of tropes or a full-fledged Super Trope with examples (when those examples don't fit under Subtropes).

Feb 13th 2018 at 11:45:09 AM

In Universe Magi Tek is evil example:

  • Titansgrave The Ashes Of Valkana: The Prophet Dhawan rose to prominence after the fall of the Saurian Empire, proclaiming that the empire's fall was punishment from the gods for people blurring the line between magic with technology, and only by completely segregating them from each other could the races of Valkana earn atonement.

Feb 13th 2018 at 4:15:03 PM

Steven Universe: Homeworld sees Fusion between Gems of a different type as abhorrent, despite using same Gem Fusions for combat.

Mar 7th 2018 at 11:19:12 PM

  • Warrior Cats: Characters like Tigerstar believe that only cats with pure Clan blood deserve to be Warriors. This extends to Half Breed Discrimination, as he made loyal warriors into prisoners for the crime of being Half-Clan, but it also means he looks down upon cats like Firestar, who started out as a kittypet before joining the Clan. After Firestar became the ThunderClan leader, he saw the rest of the Clan as weak and ruined for allowing a kittypet to lead them. Other characters with this same point of view also tend to be villians; However, Spiderleg, an average (albeit Jerkass ) ThunderClan warrior, expressed similar views in distrusting Stormfur, who was both a former RiverClan warrior and former member of the Tribe of Rushing Water, and not considering him a valid member of the Clan. He was also opposed to allowing in any more outsiders, and protested when Daisy and Millie refused to get Warrior names. In general, this seems to be a common opinion in the clans, even as more and more outsiders begin to join their ranks; the other Clans even viewed ThunderClan as weak and disgraceful for helping and accepting cats outside their own Clan, and attacked them over it.

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